An Easy But Expected Victory (BR)

The title sums it all up for me, a four-nil cruise into the fifth round which was only slightly less troublesome than the previous round against Tottenham.

It had been reported that Coventry had been playing some decent football recently and that they were likely to come to the Emirates to give us a game. No doubt they would have been hoping for a helping hand from Wenger’s team selection but no such generosity was shown. It is easy to imagine the sigh of disappointment in the Coventry dressing room as the Arsenal team, with so many big hitters, was read out: Ozil, Mertasacker, Koscielny, Podolski. This smacked a bit to me of using a sledge hammer to crack a nut.

I was trying to work out why Ozil had been picked when an injury to the most talented player at the club would have had such a seriously detrimental affect on our season. The only answer I could come up with goes back to the much talked about conversation Wenger was supposed to have had with Ozil – in German — that persuaded him to move from Real Madrid.

Summed up I suspect by: If you come to THOF you will play.

What ever the reason the gulf in quality took very little time to show itself, Arsenal were passing the ball around as slickly as a hockey puck glides over the ice, leaving Coventry chasing shadows. Podolski was the star of the first half skilfully rounding the goalkeeper before slotting home for his first and then heading in at the far post for his second. There was a lot of rustiness in the likes of Bendtner, Jenkinson and Fabianski but this is not meant to be critical it is simply what happens to players when they do not play regularly.

It was unusual to be watching Arsenal on a Friday evening, I think it is the first time ever, I certainly can’t think of anther occasion, so it was a bit confusing when the lights went down towards the end of the first half, the question was asked: is this normal, is this mood lighting all part of the Friday evening experience, can we expect this in the future? The mobile phones being turned on to help light the pitch were fun.

Arsenal were bored and it showed in the beginning of the second half as they struggled to stay focussed. Coventry realising that the tie had gone started pushing forward and it has to be said that they created a couple of chances that they should have scored from.

Wenger was prompted to make changes, Cazorla came on for Bendtner and we got our first glimpse of Zelalem who I must say looked very slick. This gave Podolski a chance to play CF but he was tiring by then so we didn’t really learn too much.

Did you count how many German speakers were on the pitch at this time – 5. Who would have ever imagined that Arsenal’s lingua franca would become German?

Giroud came on and having just seen Bendtner and Podolski we all got reminded of just how much a superior option he is up front. It took him seemingly no time to fire home a quality pass from Gibbs. Coventry were a spent force, they couldn’t even muster the energy to protest, all that was left was for Cazorla to make it four and send us all home with smiles on our faces in the pouring rain.

Onwards and upwards.

Player ratings:

Fabianski: a clean sheet always says that a Keeper did well enough, but there was the odd moment when we were forced to remember how lucky we are having Szezceny. 6

Jenkinson: same applies really, hadn’t had too many first team minutes recently and it showed. Any player who grew up with an Arsenal duvet on his bed gets a lot of leeway with me. I hope he turns into the player good enough to eventually fill Sagna’s boots. 6

Mertasacker: immaculate. 9

Koscielny: this really is turning into a Batman and Robin act, a plyer may on occasions be able to out run Per but they are not going to outrun Kos. 8

Gibbs: I suppose last night was evidence that he has now slipped down the pecking order with Monreal although I regard him as being more advanced in claiming the LB spot than Jenkinson is in claiming the RB spot. Some excellent runs down the wing. 6

Wilshere: So we had Arteta out and Flamini rested, who did Wenger turn to for a bit of defensive cover? This young man has trigger issues, when a shooting chance is begging he will always opt for a pass. That said he did a perfectly decent job. 6

Oxlade-Chamberlain: Given the role of supporting Jack just in front of the back line, stayed there for two minutes, got bored and was last seen augmenting the attack. 6

Ozil: to question this players ability is to question Bergkamp’s ability when he was playing alongside John Hartson. I haven’t got time to go into this in detail but the knowledgeable should know what I mean. By far the most talented player on the park, I’m going to start gushing so I will stop. 9

Bendtner: still playing with the halo of saving our bacon against Cardiff with his last minute goal. The bar had been raised too high last night, I don’t want to start being rude save to say I hope he gets his big move in this transfer window. Good luck Nicky. 6

Gnabry: with Walcott’s injury this player is being fast tracked now, not as impressive as he should have been against such poor opposition but hopefully he will get there, if not the Ox will snuffle up his place quicker that you can say acorns. 6

Podolski: hungry, wanting, seemingly determined to get his place back – I like it, excellent player to have in the armoury. 8

Written by LB

114 Responses to An Easy But Expected Victory (BR)

  1. fatgingergooner says:

    I thought Ox was excellent 1st half in CM and it will definitely be the position he ends up in.

    Wilshere showed some great moments too with a couple of brilliant turns and passes to put people through.

    As people have said we definitely missed a DM in the 2nd half as Coventry upped their game, but it always had the feeling we were in control.

    Let’s not forget that Bendy, Ox and Podolski have all recently returned from injury, so it’s understandable that they faded as the game wore on.

    Can’t believe I’m going to defend Bendtner, who I think is a tit, but this was his return from injury and we have already seen this season how long it takes him to get up to speed. Remember the Capital One Cup game against Chelsea where he was absolutely dreadful?

    For me it was a job well done. We were professional for the most part and made sure there was to be no repeat of Blackburn. We also had no injuries and kept our sharpness for Southampton.

  2. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Ha ha LB,

    I don’t think it is possible to top your opening sentence 🙂

    Another great highlights for me. “the lights went down towards the end of the first half, the question was asked: is this normal, is this mood lighting all part of the Friday evening experience?”

    Great stuff, and sounds like you had a brilliant evening. Thank you.

  3. fatgingergooner says:

    Great write up LB, but I have a different opinion as to some of the ratings.

    I didn’t think Özil played that well, certainly in the 2nd half. He reminds me a bit of Arshavin at the moment in that his production of goals and assists is good, but his all round game is lacking slightly for a £40m player.

    I think it’s easy to praise him because he is our shiny new toy, but that can cloud judgement sometimes. I still think we have a lot more to come from him but we probably won’t see it until next season once he is truly settled into a position. I would have given him 7.5

    I also thought Fabianski made all the saves he had to, including a spectacular one in the 1st half, and his clean sheet deserved an 8. Again, he can be an example of a player who is often judged on persona rather than the game he played.

    For me, Koscielny was my MOTM and I would’ve given him the 9 and Merts the 8 as I felt he snuffed out most of the threat.

    Just on a side note, did anyone notice Mertersacker having a go at the midfield for not showing for a pass 2nd half. Just another example of why we are more professional these days and why he is such a good leader.

  4. Norfolk Gooner says:

    ‘morning AAers, Excellent post match report LB thank you.

    I thoroughly enjoyed last night’s match, well except for the first half hour of the second-half that is. Terrific passing, movement and intricate play by all concerned topped off by two fine goals by Podolski.

    Then came the shabbiest spell of football from an Arsenal side that we have seen for a while, LB is generous in saying that we got bored, in fact the whole team seemed intent on handing both possession and initiative to Coventry, passing became sloppy, movement dropped by so much that Merts was left fuming when he was forced to repeatedly play the ball back to Fabianski because the mid-fielders were not finding space in which to receive the ball.

    With fifteen minutes to go Arsenal suddenly woke up and took over the game again, scoring another two goals which owed much to the tiredness of the coventry players who had given so much previously.

    I think Fabiansky deserves an 8 for maintaining concentration, keeping a clean sheet and also for a great one-handed save high to his right when he managed to tip a fierce shot over the bar.

  5. Norfolk Gooner says:

    FGG, two minds working in perfect sync, SGG (Skinny Grey Gooner)

  6. nadal says:

    I dnt think u watch the game
    but if u do watch the game
    then ur the worst sport pundit on earth.why? on hell you rate ozil 9%

  7. chas says:

    Pretty much as I saw it, LB. Thanks.

    Loving the ratings. Ozil has class oozing out of every pore.
    When I said to Ant why weren’t BFG or Kos getting a rest, he said they were getting one even though they were playing. The first half was ridiculously easy.

    Here’s a quote from the Coventry manager…….

  8. chas says:

    Get back to playing tennis, Rafa.

  9. chas says:

    Ozil gets 8 just for existing and a further point for his assist. Simples.

  10. kelsey says:


    I didn’t offer to write a post as I never plan anything ,just write it down as I remembered the game but there is quite a big contrast as to how we both saw the game and arnie and I are in the same camp( Ithink)Nevertheless a win is a win is a win.

  11. chas says:

    Why does everything look better in black and white?

  12. chas says:

  13. arnie says:

    Very nice report, LB. 😀 😀 Micky has mentioned the first sentence, which is classic. I also liked the multiple mentions of not enough time now, it seems we are expecting several LB posts in the near future. Fantastic. 😀 😀

    Agree with most of the report, except, as I have said earlier, perhaps a bit too much generosity towards our DMs on the day. Personally, I would have been more critical of Jack and The Ox because they were too adventurous and kept forgetting they had a defensive responsibility as well. I noted several instances where Jack in particular was easily side stepped, he kept chasing and never caught up, Kos finally to the rescue.

    Personally, I would reverse the ratings for Mert and Kos, and give Fab a 7, but this is subjective. As you say: Onwards and Upwards!!!! 😀 😀 😀

    Kelsey, loved your alternate report as well. And thanks, Raddy and Micky, I lost my internet in the morning so could not come back to you. 😀 😀

  14. arnie says:

    Kelsey: Thanks. Just catching up, so not up to speed. Yes, I think I saw the game much the same way as you did. 😀 😀

  15. arnie says:

    5 Germans! Yes, that is the way the future looks like in Arsenal, plus 4 British of course, plus 3 Poles, and so on. Zelalem was tasty, I thought. Exactly the style of play you would expect from an Arsenal academy product. Not yet sure which nation he will play for: Germany, Ethiopia, or perhaps the US (apparently, Klinsman is wooing him).

    OK, on the German story, Draxler coming at some point, hopefully January. How about Reus in the summer. And, Çalhanoğlu? Yes, Turkish, I know, but a product of the German system. 😀 😀

  16. JanMan says:

    Well written post LB. I see there are some comments floating around about the quality of the performance and the fact that better teams may well have made us pay for some of our mistakes. Noted comments but the point is, had we been playing a better team would we even have made those mistakes? We all need to realize that we were in total control of this game and could have stepped up a gear at any time if need be. I believe the issue is simply that the team knew they were in control, knew they were going to win and during the second half made the mistake of only playing at about 85%. Of course that should not happen but I believe that was the case. At the end of the day we won 4-0 and are in the hat for the next round. Bring on the next game.

  17. arnie says:

    Chas: great comment from Pressley. I was listening to the intvw on 5Live. He went on to say that as a mark of respect and appreciation, he has a present for Arsene: a fantastic bottle of single malt. He recognises Wenger may not be a single malt person, but this is his culture and he wants to do this his way. He got this bottle as a present from his brother, and he would like to offer it to Wenger. A fantastic gesture.

    Great pic of the Ems. 😀 😀 😀

  18. arnie says:

    Arsene is hot in Germany at the moment. “News tricks from the seasoned magician”

  19. Bayonne Jean says:

    Still struggling mightily to find the odd moment where Fabianski made you feel we are lucky to have Szczesny — which we are, but for Chezza’s quality, not for any missteps Fab took.

    Ozi’s workl in that match was like watching a cat play with a mouse. That pass to Podolski for the first was a work of art, more of a Vermeer than anything in its precision and seeming simplicity. I hope AW sits down Gnabry, Ox and Jack to show them that play over and over to make them see how a maestro apples the brush.

    He may not have to do that with Zelalem, by the way…..

  20. RA says:


    A really good, professional quality match report, that was pretty much my view of things too.

    I think you got the ratings right, and altho I am always wary of commenting too much, there are 2 minor matters perhaps I could mention.

    The first is that I think Kozzer, as you said, or implied, must be the fastest CB in the PL, and like NG I would have put him on a par with the Mert. I love watching him play.

    The second matter is that I saw L’il Jack’s performance in the same way you did, but, in addition, he did get caught out in midfield by counter-attacks, and that ankle problem he has had definitely slows him down, and I thought the innocent coming together which ‘jangled’ his ankle could have seen him out injured with it again.

    Half the stadium lights going out, and the smartphone lights coming on, all around the ground, did give the stadium a surprisingly mystical appearance. Perhaps that should be a requirement for all evening games. 🙂

  21. LB says:

    The idea that Mertz and Koz get a rest by playing seems incredibly obvious once it has been said, but it struck me as being very profound when I first read it.

    This is an important point from Janman: “We all need to realize that we were in total control of this game and could have stepped up a gear at any time if need be.”

    The only thing wrong there is use of the letter Z rather than the letter S.
    Septics…..what ya gonna do?

    RA. Jack is now getting the run of games that so many said he needed; it would be churlish of me not to admit that he is improving, but if all players were fit he would still struggle to even make my bench.

    Ooh and Slim, the shinny new toy syndrome is of course valid, I may be suffering from it but I remain unrepentant in my admiration of the most talented player in the EPL (I’m starting to gush again, must stop)


    Very good post LB

    You have a very straight way of putting your point across that takes no prisoners and you have my utmost respect.

    However, your musings over Wilshere make me desire that one day I defeat you in a bike race to show you up.

    For me,Jack was man of the match. The guy was every were. Instigating attacks and getting back when needed. I would not be surprised if he had more touches of the ball than any one else

    But apart form that slight difference of opinion, great stuff. hahaha

  23. arnie says:

    Terry: Seldom do I differ from your opinions, but I have to respectfully do so on this occasion. Perhaps a bit unfair because I watched only the second half. Listened to first half on 5Live though. The context is Jack.

    I know LB is not one the greatest Jack fans ever, but in this case, he was in my view, very generous. Jack is one of the young guys in the team, and therefore is not played in a fixed position. This is fair, and a good way to help the player develop. But when you play in a particular position, you have to own that position. On the day, he was our DM, and in my view, neglected his defensive role. He was not quick enough in falling back, and when he did, he was passed too often for my comfort.

    Is he developing, yes, is he improving, yes, is he 100% committed, yes, but he is still work in progress. 😀 😀 😀


    Ok arnie baby.

    One day I will turn up at your University and whilst your giving a lecture will proceed to take over and give the lecture better than you, thus you will be showed up.

    What do you lecture on again? hahaha

  25. fatgingergooner says:


    As you can see from my Avatar, I too am a huge, huge fan of Özil and I am often prone to a bit of gushing, so please don’t take my comment as a slant on your excellent report. His balance, the way he glides across the pitch, and his perfect weight of pass are an absolute joy to behold. I also believe his performances are sometimes so easy on the eye that many ‘experts’ believe he’s had a poor game when actually he has dictated the play.

    I still, however, believe we are yet to see the man who was getting around 40 assists per season (for club and country) whilst at Madrid. If he gets a good rest after the World Cup then I’m hopeful we will be getting our full £40m worth next season.

  26. LB says:

    How can anyone who can write this not be loved for their sharp wit and excellent sense of humour

    “However, your musings over Wilshere make me desire that one day I defeat you in a bike race to show you up.”

  27. fatgingergooner says:

    Interesting mix of views on Wilshere yesterday.

    For what it’s worth I thought he did some brilliant individual things in the game, Espescially the way he turned his man on a couple of occasions, but I can also understand the issue with his defensive work.

    It was only a week ago the lad came out and said he’s an attacking midfielder, so his instinct is always going to be to go forward. Also we were playing a pretty average side, so it’s also understandable that he might have lacked a bit of urgency in defence (let’s not forget he wasn’t the only one guilty of this).

    From what I’ve seen in recent weeks he is definitely starting to refind his form and fitness and appears to be getting stronger as the games go by. The only issue I do have with him is his mental state of mind regarding his ankle. There is definitely a problem there and I think it’s going to take a while yet before he has full confidence in his own body.

  28. arnie says:

    Terry: 😀

    LB and FGG: Ozil is class, no question about that. His distribution is sublime, absolutely top drawer. There are, however, three aspects on which he has not reached his peak as an Arsenal player.

    First, somehow he is not always able to get his close control of the ball. Hence he is dispossessed a bit too often than what one would expect of one of the top midfielders.

    Second, he does not challenge often enough for the ball. Both in the air, when for example it is hooked out from our defence, and when the ball is with the opposition midfielders. Maybe, this is not his game. But this is a bit limiting as well.

    Third, his interchange of places with the right and left wing is not yet seamless. This will probably come in time, as he develops better understanding with the others.

    Hence, I would say Ozil is probably at 70% of his ability with Arsenal at the moment. One can only imagine what the next season will bring. 😀 😀 😀

  29. LB says:

    Hi Slim

    I must admit I hadn’t noticed your Gravitar, fair play.

    To answer your point, I go back to my reference of Bergkamp and Hartson. The Dutch Deity was always gifted its just that unsurprisingly it showed itself more clearly when he started playing with Henry for example.

    Ozil was playing with an awful lot better players at Real Madrid, to me that doesn’t mean he hasn’t been playing well for us its just that; well, Giroud for all his plus points is never going to have the speed and control of Ronaldo.

    But I think where our views do converge is that we are going to see an awful lot more from our number eleven.

  30. arnie says:

    This is long, and therefore I hesitate. Translation of today’s article in 11 Freunde, on Arsene.

    But what the heck!!! 😀 😀

  31. fatgingergooner says:


    Totally agree with that. I think technically our players are not much different to those at Real, but the pace at which they attack is the main difference. We’ve already seen that when Özil has Walcott to play in behind he can find the pass. If we can get a similar player coming from the left (Draxler) and Theo on the right, then Özil would be in his element.

  32. arnie says:

    11 Freunde. The text includes the work of the author Ulrich Hesse and was only translated into English by Marc Liebe. Since it was translated without having too much time at disposal, the well-written german style could not be resembled in the manner it should have deserved. Still, it is now available for any English-speaking person in an at least understandable textualisation. We hope you enjoy the article. It’s a great read.)

    Arsene Wenger’s new, old tricks

    Arsene Wenger has been the manager of Arsenal FC since 1996.
    These days, the club is competing for the title again.
    Revival or old poker-tricks?

    (Article originally written by Ulrich Hesse, translation by Marc Liebe)

    It has just been five months since David Winner sat on his seat inside London‘s Emirates Stadium and was clenching his fists. On the start of the new season, eleven players in Arsenal‘s famous red shirts were stumbling seamingly planless across the pitch and were defeated by a tame Aston Villa-side. It wasn‘t the result which ennoyed Winner. He was ennoyed by all the young men in expensive suits next to him which were jumping up and uttering insults.
    Their insults and abuses were directed at the man, who had been managing Arsenal for the past 17 years and who, for a long time, was reverently adored by its fans. Arsene Wenger. It‘s still just a minority group that holds a critical view on the Frenchman and thinks that he missed the jump. But in the past years, the number of fans asking frustratedly for why Arsenal haven‘t won any silverware since 2005, has steadily grown. And on that day in August, they all stood up and ranted.
    „I was nealy disgusted by these furious, stupid people“, said Winner. „They think, they possess the right to insult Wenger but the don‘t know anything about the history of the club. They don‘t know that for a long time Arsenal had been a middleclass-team, that didn‘t compete for the title. We used to be similar to todays Tottenham or Everton. The only thing Arsenal was known for was its boring, bad football. Everything that we have today, we owe to certain people but mainly we owe it to Wenger.“
    Winner was born in the 50s into a family of Arsenal-supporters but he is not the usual fan of the club. He is regarded as one of England‘s most renowned football authors and did release an uncommon as well as fascinating book with and about Dennis Bergkamp – just weeks before the Aston Villa-debacle.
    Bergkamp was one of the key figures in Wenger‘s big teams that had won 3 league-titles and four FA-cups in the time between 1998 and 2005. The team (with Jens Lehmann being the goalkeeper) that achieved the historical masterpiece and finished a whole season (03/04) unbeaten. Because Bergkamp is regarded as an Arsenal-legend, Winner was able to hold several talks with people who did shape or are still shapping the club.
    A lot of what these people told Winner only increased his deference for Wenger. In the meantime, he had come to the conclussion that the outstanding work of the manager doesn‘t show off in the titles that he had won in the first half of his tenure but rather in the coup de main that Wenger pulled off in the second half and which maybe is without equal. Or, how Winner puts it: „I think that in the past 10 years Wenger managed to get away with one of the biggest poker-tricks in the history of football“.
    In order to understand what the trick was about and how an unknown Frenchman managed to invent his own english football club, some research has to be done. But be careful: As with many things that concern Arsenal FC, one has to rely on speculation because in a way the club is a gathering of secret- mongering. Therefore, Wenger‘s poker-trick which is adored by Winner may be no trick. But for Arsenal being the most mysterious of the european top-clubs, only a handful of people know the truth.

    It has always been that way at Arsenal Football Club, London‘s traditonal club that keeps doing nearly everything different than the other english clubs. While competitors are being bought by russian millionaires or american buisnessmen, Arsenal is owned by an American and an Uzbek oligarch. Both nearly never appear in the headlines because the American could spend money, but can‘t really do it while the Uzbek could spend money but isn‘t allowed to do so.
    Puzzled? Never mind because that‘s the best way to approach Arsenal. Eventually, it‘s the club who kicked out the man who vitally ran the club‘s fate for a quarter of a century in a cloak-and-dagger operation. The man who nearly has the same share on the modern Arsenal FC as Wenger. But up to this day, we do not know why he had to leave.

    The man‘s name is David Dein. As the second chairman of the board he had a huge share on the club‘s brief period of success at the beginning of the 90s under manager George Graham, that became famous through Nick Hornby‘s „Fever Pitch“. But in the mid-90s Arsenal began to lose connection – financially as well as on the pitch. Dein came to the conclussion that Arsenal had to change and be modernized drastically in order to be able to compete with Manchester United.
    At the beginning of 1995 Dein already had the idea to sign Wenger but the other distinguished, conservative members of the board prefered the conservatively british, pale manager Bruce Rioch. It was only when Rioch suggested his players to form carpools that the board realised that maybe Arsenal was out of his league. At the end of september 1996 they decided to proceed with a foreigner, who may have been successful at Monaco but was now working anonymously in Japan.
    The men who ran Arsenal therefore didn‘t know what to expect. It‘s safe to assume that Wenger was in the same position. The club that he discovered was not anywhere near as professional as the ones he was accustomed to in France and Japan. His squad included a heavy alcoholic (Tony Adams, the skipper of England‘s national team) and someone who had just returned from cocaine and gambling deprivation (playmaker Paul Merson). Also, a professional that had just been tested positively on cannabis and who had been charged for a bizarre case of bag thievery (David Hillier).

    „Wenger does not only want to play good football.
    He wants to play football and win.
    At Arsenal, we knew how our style made our opponent vulnerable.
    Our stye included constant changes of position, a swift passing
    and – running running, running.“
    (Dennis Bergkamp)

    „Just look at who is plays against Arsenal.
    They just don‘t believe that they can win.
    They just don‘t believe.“
    (Jose Mourinho)

    Finally, a huge part of the team were members of the so-called „Tuesday Club“, which had a meeting every tuesday for binge drinking. Fullback Lee Dixon, a member of the clique, once – without any kind of irony – stated: „I never was a huge drinker. I was wasted after six pints.“ One can only guess what his more steady colleagues were capable of.

    The biggest star of the team was one of the few nondrinkers, who refused to board a plane. Dennis Bergkamp who had practically been brought in from Milan by Dein on his own, was soon only refered to as the „Non-flying Dutchman“. Up to this day the rumour remains that he would not have been signed if the rest of the board would have known that Arsenal had to do without him in most of the away-matches of the Europe Cup.
    The infrastructure of the club was in a bad condition as well. The venerable Highbury-stadium was legendary but unmodern. An expansion was impossible since it stood in a residential area and was partly under heritage conservation. It even was difficult to comply to certain requirements of the UEFA so that Arsenal had to move to Wembley-stadium for some of their Champions League home-matches.
    It even got worse when it came to training possibilities. Shortly after Wenger arrived at the club, he wanted to put in an extra trainingshift to get to know his players. He was told that the training ground was owned by the University of London and that at the inquired time the place was already scheduled for student activities. Not even a month later, parts of the facility were burned down under uncleared circumstances. It turned out to be a cast of fortune for Wenger for now he was able to convince the board that Arsenal needed a professional and club owned training facility.
    The Frenchman not only managed to turn his own club upside down but also achieved to modernise the whole league. The training methods, the style of football, the diet as well as the moral conduct of the players – all this can nowadays be found in the folklore of the Premier League. In retrospect it may has been dignified, how influental Wenger‘s methods were, how deep the impact was and how fast they began to flourish.
    When the author of these lines faced an Arsenal-professional for the first time in person at Easter 2001, it was at a Fish-and-Chips shop in London‘s suburb Kings Langley. Goalkeeper David Seaman was laden with enough greasy chips and fried codfish to nourish an extended family for two weeks. Two weeks onwards he didn‘t cut a fine figure as Arsenal was defeated 0:3 by Middlesbrough at Highbury.
    It‘s certainly untrue that all off a sudden the team was filled with choirboys. Young Jermaine Pennant did earn some fame because he was placed on probation and had to play with an electronic tag. (At the time he had been loaned out to Birmingham. Pennant ran his Mercedes into a lamppost and when the police arrived, he claimed that he was Ashley Cole.)
    Nevertheless, through his innovations Wenger did gain a competitive advantage for some years. He had also composed an inflammatory team riddled with offensive artists like Thierry Henry, Freddie Ljungberg and Robert Pires. Long before the term „Tiki-Taka“ was made popular, Arsenal conjured a breathtaking short passing game onto the pitch, which left most of the opponents chanceless. Titles and trophies were inevitable.

    In the middle of the decade the delightfulness suddenly was over. One reason was the fact that the opposition had caught up with Wenger‘s methods. On the other hand, unexpected new antagonists entered the game. Firstly, Roman Abramowitsch splashed his millions on building a championside at Chelsea FC and then a sheikh from Abu Dhabi did exactly the same at Manchester City. But most importantly, Wenger‘s hands were tied when it came to the transfer market. The reason herefor can be specified with the building of the Emirates-stadium which was opened in 2006 and lies 500 meters from Highbury. Arsenal managed to finance the costly and complicated project without being reliant on public funds. But the annual rates that serviced the loan were quite high. In addition, there were the costs for the training facility, the ambitious plan to build appartments on the old Highbury-ground and place them on the market. In order to be prepared for the 21st century, the football club became a property agency.
    Maybe Arsenal would have been able to lift all the costs if they would have obtained a rich investor but the deeply english-rooted club, which is managed by a Frenchman that beforehand worked in Japan and gave the team a dutch and spanish sprinkling, was and still is managed with german rationality and providence offside of the pitch. Alischer Usmanow, who, according to Forbes magazine, is the richest person in Russia, owns less than 30 percent of the club. But he is kept out of the board and Arsenal does not want any financial help from the Uzbek. Therefore, it is made sure that he does not gain more than a third of the shares because otherwise he would be entitled to have a look into the books.
    Wenger did receive the assignment to only spend whatever was coming in (minus the enormous expenses for the credits). On the other hand, he should assure that Arsenal would play on an international level as often as possible in order to keep the income stable. Most managers would have packed their suitcases and left. Wenger stayed. He even stayed on when David Dein was sacked under mysterious circumstances in April 2007. The amount of mockers increased with each unsuccessful season. When Osama Bin Laden was killed two years ago, a joke on Twitter went viral very quickly. It said, that Osama had been hiding in Arsenal‘s trophy cabinet for the past years and therefore could not be found. (Since the year of 2001, the not applicable rumour that Bin Laden was an Arsenal-fan persits tenaciously. Therefore, the fans of opposing teams often sang: „Osama, oh-ho, Osama, oh-ho – He‘s hiding in Kabul, he loves the Arsenul!“)

    We slowly return to the poker-trick. Come spring, each year Wenger – as by a miracle – managed to get into the Champions League with a mostly very young team. Plus, in contrast to the opposition, Arsenal sometimes could register a transfer surplus because Wenger sold stars and bought young talents. In the beginning that gained Wenger admiration but over the course of time it turned into frustration because the manager seemed to be reluctant to reinvest the profit he had obviously made. „Buying just to buy something – I‘m not the right person for that sort of approach“, Wenger answered to his critics. „This is not a supermarket where you can say: „Where is the shelf with the centrebacks?““
    Arsenal‘s managing directors at that time often pointed out, that there was money at disposal that could be spend on transfers. „We always claimed that ressources are available“, the American Stan Kroenke said in late summer. He is the owner of two thirds of Arsenal‘s shares. He does not own as much money as Usmanov but the board prefers his persona because he rarely intervenes. (His nickname is „The silent Stan“). „Some people think we should put more pressure on Arsene to make him spend more money“, Kroenke adds. „But Arsene is a very independent thinker and planner.“
    Thus the picture of Wenger as a stubborn, tight-fisted and sometimes quirky manager, who wanted to prove that success does not rely on a chequebook, tightened. It looked as if it would be a suitable picture as in 1974 at the University of Strasbourg, the Frenchman did not get a diploma in sports but in economics. But maybe did not represent the whole picture.
    „By now I believe that Wenger for ten years has only pretended that it was not a money issue“, says David Winner. „But in truth there was nothing else that mattered. As I was doing the research for my book, I was talking to Ken Friar, who had been Arsenal‘s managing director for a long time, and I pointed out that it looks as if the club would possess a lot of money but does not want to spend it. He replied: „Well, we do not tell everything to everybody.“ In other words, Arsenal was nearly bankrupt. Tony Adams told me, that the club would have been in existential trouble if the team would have missed out on the Champions League for a couple of times. It seems almost incredible that Wenger achieved to keep the team on this level eventhough about 10 years ago he had to stop spending money on big renowned players.“
    Whatever may be the true cause for Arsene Wenger‘s policy of cutbacks, it is certainly over now. Two weeks after the defeat by Aston Villa, Arsenal paid over 51 million Euro for Real Madrid‘s Mesut Özil. Up until then, Wenger‘s transfer record was at 21 million. Subsequently, the team survived a very hard Champions League-group and for the first time in six years managed to go into the new year being at the top of the league. Wenger affiliated the newly found strength to a key moment in Germany. The surprising 2:0 away-win in the quarter finals at Bayern Munich in March 2013 inflicted some new self-esteem into the team. What seems more important to the success is Wenger‘s ability of self-criticism, eventhough possessing managerial duties for nearly 20 years. After all the years he remains faithful with the swift passing game what can be seen by the capture of Özil. Likewise, there is a consequent emphasize on the defense. The shaky defense had cost Arsenal a lot of points in the past couple of years what Wenger finally had realised.
    Winner does not believe that Arsenal will win the title at the end of the season because Manchester City‘s bench does possess more quality. But he‘s certain of one thing. „The people who insulted Wenger in August“, says Winner, „got silenced.“

  33. LB says:

    OK, you have started me off.

    My view of Wilshere remains the same as I wrote above, he had a perfectly good game yesterday but it should be remembered that it was against inferior opposition.

    For someone who thinks of himself as an attacking midfielder he really seems to be scared of shooting. There were two glaringly obvious chances yesterday and he chocked. This happens often, contrast this to Ramsey, Gnabry and the Ox these are goal hungry shooting, machines.

    Right, so lets put this in a future context. Although before I do I want to explain that my idea of an attacking midfielder is the likes of Xavi and Iniesta both two footed par excellence.

    We have our equivalent: Ozil and Cazorla both superbly two footed; they need to be in order to be able to operate in an extremely congested 18 yards box.

    Now contrast this with Wilshere, it is an anatomical fact that he is left footed and only left footed, the right foot has no other use than to balance. A player like that will never make a good attacking midfield player. Average maybe, but I set my sights a bit higher.

    However, slightly further back in an area where there is a little more time and tackling plays a more important role and he has a chance.

    The last thing that sums it up for me is in the recent interview when he said he thought of himself as an attacking midfield player he made reference to Gerard and Lampard, these two tubs of lard would not get into our team and now if you compare them with Xavi and Iniesta you should see that Wilshere sights are set very low indeed.

  34. RA says:


    I was going to say ‘pish’ to your comment regarding Ozil @ 2:43, and then in your final paragraph you said he was only producing 70% of his total ability at Arsenal.

    So, it is a qualified ‘pish’ maybe.

    If he was a Ferrari then the majority of the other players are Fords, and if he was playing at 70% of his ability then that is still a world away from their maxima.

    If I was in charge of the gates at the Emirates, I would charge you double for your cheek — your lack of appreciation of a thing of beauty is like saying ‘the Moaning Liza is OK, but I prefer Marge Simpson’s blue hair’.

    Sacrilege!! 🙂

  35. RA says:

    Diego Maradona?

    Possibly the greatest attacking midfielder ever seen was predominantly left footed. 🙂

  36. arnie says:

    Hmm, LB, I am listening. If DM is the position he has to play, he has to learn how to tackle a player while getting back towards goal. You cannot tackle from behind of course, you have to catch up with pace, tackle, recover the ball and pass on. Quite a bit of learning to do.

    My point was slightly different. I imagine Jack as ultimately an attacking midfield player. His shooting skills are decent and can be improved, his one-twos are sometimes sublime, his sense of space within the box is very good.

    But two things. First, if he has to play in Arsenal, he has to learn the game from every position. This includes DM and wing play as well. There is just no alternative. Arsenal plays in rotating positions, so everyone has to be able to play multiple positions.

    Second, it has been noted, not least by yourself and me, that Jack may have a bit of an attitude problem. If this includes lack of ambition, as you suggest, it looks bad for him. I am afraid.

    But at the moment, he is learning and improving. He has to make the right choices as a youngster, and build his own future. Let us wait and see what he does. It does not of course help that, because of a serious lack of talent, every upcoming player becomes the next top star in the public’s eyes. But, we will wait an see. 😀 😀 😀

  37. arnie says:

    Redders: Who am I to blow against the wind? Just giving an honest opinion. As you know well enough, I am not afraid to open my mouth, even if the threat of being throttled is not ignorable.

    Seriously, I believe next year will be fantastic, for Ozil and Arsenal. 😀 😀

  38. evonne says:

    ha ha ha ha, you know why I am laughing LB 🙂 Bendtner and Jack get 6. Otherwise an excellent report.

    The game felt like a friendly, I think there was only 1 yellow and hardly any causes for contention. it was decided long before the game who is going to win it, and everybody played the part. The better team showed off some silky skills, the lesser guys pretended that they really believed they can win at the Ems and both sets of fans showed mutual respect. Nice family affair for a Friday night.

    The goals were superb though. My 2 favs being Poldi’s first wallop from a tight angle and Santi’s casual leg over.

    Thanks LB for the report, which did not disappoint 🙂

  39. fatgingergooner says:


    I’m not sure being 2 footed is that important to be an attacking player in the modern game. Giggs, Bale, Van Persie, Özil are all regarded as being pretty much 1 footed.

    What I would say is that saying you’re an attacking midfielder and then comparing yourself to Gerrard is 2 different things. Gerrard epitomises a box to box midfielder (certainly for the most part of his career) and whilst he is creative he does it from deeper.

    For me, Wilshere is a CM at the moment, but I believe his position will move forward over the next couple of years. Let’s not forget he is only a young lad and it sometimes takes players until they are 24-25 until they get their position.

    I’ve no doubt he’s going to be an outstanding player, aslong as he can overcome his ankle issue.

  40. arnie says:

    Arsène Wenger's face when he was asked about the possibility of signing Julian Draxler. (Source: BT Sport)— Transfer News Live (@DeadlineDayLive) January 25, 2014

  41. fatgingergooner says:

    City losing 2-0 at home to Watford!

  42. fatgingergooner says:

    One last comment on Wilshere before I go.

    He is almost exactly 1 year younger than Ramsey. Just remember where Ramsey was 12 months ago and where he is now. I expect a similar breakthrough season for Wilshere very soon! 🙂

  43. arnie says:

    FGG: positive thoughts. Let us hope that year is the next one. 😀 😀

  44. chas says:

    I enjoyed Santi’s casual leg over, too. 😆

  45. chas says:

    Jack’s right foot. 🙂

  46. evonne says:

    monster 🙂

  47. RockyLives says:

    So LB, you can’t remember watching Arsenal on a Friday evening before eh?

    I suppose on May 26th 1989 you were off cycling then. Nothing much else going on, was there? 🙂

    Great report. Agree with all of it (including Ozil and Jack).

    Evonne hit the nail on the head – it felt like a friendly at times and some of the players (particularly the younger ones) seemed to treat it as such.

    I was actually quite pleased that Coventry had a good spell in the second half because there seemed to be a good atmosphere at the ground and a good rapport between our fans and theirs. I never felt for one second that we were in any danger.

    Anyway, all things considered it was a much more enjoyable experience against lower opposition than Bradford and Blackburn last year.

    Last year those fixtures felt like banana skins. This year we are super confident against lower teams. We might throw them a banana or two (chances) but that’s about it.

  48. JanMan says:

    LB. Was it Chas or Evonne that said no one cares about spelling 🙂 🙂 However, I am glad that you concurred with my point.

  49. evonne says:

    JanMan – Chas cares about the fact that Evonne cannot spell

    Rocky – OMG, nobody else spotted the famous Friday on 26th May, well done you

  50. RockyLives says:

    Stopping sucking up just because I agreed with you evonne 🙂

    “maxima” 🙂
    Only you would use that word.

  51. RockyLives says:

    I care abuot spellign

  52. JanMan says:

    🙂 🙂 I promise I will try to do better.
    To bad that Watford could not hang on for a replay!

  53. arnie says:

    JanMan: Are you in Berlin end-Feb/early March? In that case perhaps we can have a drink together and perhaps even watch the Stoke game together? 😀

  54. I see that Justin Bieber got nicked for driving under the influence of alcohol, marijuana and prescription drugs !. Some Americans are calling for him to be chucked out of the country….could they be certain Arsenal Arsenal Americans ?. And do the Canadians want him back ?. Over to our men in Canada !. hahaha
    Just hope that with his almost pretty girl looks that he wasn`t put in a male jail !…..In a womens jail fair enough…Justin Beaver, but in a male jail….Justin his Arsenal Arsenal Arsenal !.

  55. LB says:

    RA: Maradona was the greatest left footed attacking midfield player of all time and because of that his right foot is often over looked — but it was very good

    Slim. What have Giggs, Bale and Van Persie got to do with attacking midfielders?
    Ozil, not two footed “pish” as RA would say.
    As for Ramsey, this time 18 months ago I was on here saying that he WAS an attacking midfielder which was met with shouts of he can play anywhere in the midfield. I have been proved right. Szezcney could play CF but he is better in goal, in the same way as Ramsey is better as an attacking midfielder.

    Chas: thank you for pointing out the exception that proves the rule. lol

  56. More like Maradona was one of the greatest left handed attackers !.

  57. kelsey says:

    I may not always have the most popular view on here but the acid test is nearly upon us then we can truly judge how far we have progressed.

    I agree that if Coventry had scored we still would have won the game but I beg you to look at the chances they had especially in the opening half hour of the second half that were squandered.They were more clear cut than many of the PL teams we have played recently.
    I know the counter arguement is that we had neither Arteta or Flamini to shore up the middle but nevertheless considering the gulf betwen the two sides it was slightly alarming.

  58. RockyLives says:

    I understand where you’re coming from, but I honestly think it was a case of the younger players finding it so easy for the first half hour that they all got over-excited and wanted to push forward to try and grab a bit of glory.

    Now I know we could argue that they should have showed more discipline and maturity, but there is no way they would be so cavalier in a more series match.

    So, all in all, I can forgive the poorer aspects of the performance.


    kelsey, I agree with you. A quick glance at the next dozen or so fixtures backs up your point

    My overall opinion though remains unchanged. This year we have a great chance and may just do it, but next year and the after that we will be even stronger

    We have a lot more untapped potential than our main rivals and are a Club on the up.

    The Ghosts of the Thirties are Stirring

  60. kelsey says:

    By the way TMHT I am having my annual haircut on Monday, so if you sre looking for a new look sliver grey syrup give me a call 😉

  61. JanMan says:

    Cookie monster: Funny that you bring up Justin Bieber. There are some that think he is a “nice boy” Personally I think he is a total twat but I am having a hard time convincing my 11 year old granddaughter not to listen to his music.

  62. JanMan says:

    Arnie. Why on earth would you want to watch Stoke play 🙂

  63. JanMan says:

    I fully understand the points being made about the various chances for Coventry but come on, were we ever really in trouble? Granted we should have played with more concentration but as I said earlier, if we were playing a better team, would we have made the same mistakes? We won with comfort 4-0. Bring on the next game

  64. fatgingergooner says:


    Özil is widely regarded as being a one footed player in the same way that the others I mentioned are.

    As for Ramsey, his tackling stats this year are just as impressive as his creative stats. Personally I would class him as a box to box midfielder, but again, that’s just my opinion (or “pish” as RA would say!).

  65. Hahaha JanMan…I know !…..I couldn`t help myself being a mischievous tease !. 😀

  66. Speaking of Rambo, his game is linked to an incredible amount of running, stamina and fitness, so he may need quite a few games to get back to that level after a few weeks out !. Patience may be needed as the potential crowd on his back will be………heavy !. hahaha

  67. LB says:

    Well we are going to have to disagree on this one Slim because I regard Ozil as more naturally two footed than Cazorla, and the Spaniard is good, very, very good with both feet.

  68. fatgingergooner says:

    I think we are LB, although I do agree that Cazorla is wonderfully 2 footed!


    Thank you ‘Your Hairiness’, but no need. Even if some young sprat tried to damage my confidence on the Tube recently with “mummy, mummy, that bald man over there, a piece of string is growing out of his head”

    What a fantastic period we are now entering. The team is really just in its early infantcy. So many young talents that will just kep getting better and better

    Did anyone notice how well Arsene looked yesterday. He looked as though he had a makeover from that Cok Wan bloke. Ten years younger.

    That article posted by arnie was truley fantastic.Its about time Arsene was recognized for his acheivements

  70. RockyLives says:

    meant to say, that German newspaper article was very interesting.

    It’s sometimes good to see how outsiders see us…


    Just got a message that Pat Rice is out of intensive care.

    That man was a fighter on the pitch and now off it.

    Pat Rice = Legend

  72. RockyLives says:

    That’s great Terry

    Good old Pat

  73. chas says:

  74. SharkeySuresGhost says:

    Quality write up LB.

    I like to think if myself as knowledgeable, and yes I know what you mean, even if I night not completely agree.

    Ozil is just class, plain as…

    Some people just aren’t happy with nothing to moan about, and with us doing so well for so long, their options are getting limited

  75. kelsey says:


    Not much to talk about except maybe the 5th.Round draw.

    Fifth Round Draw Numbers
    1 Sunderland
    2 Cardiff City
    3 Southampton
    4 Charlton Athletic
    5 Brighton & Hove Albion
    6 Nottingham Forest or Preston North End
    7 Hull City
    8 Sheffield Wednesday
    9 Arsenal
    10 Everton
    11 Wigan Athletic
    12 Chelsea or Stoke City
    13 Manchester City
    14 Liverpool
    15 Swansea City
    16 Sheffield United or Fulham

    Ties to be played on the weekend of 15 and 16 February 2014

    s\ndwiched between Away to United and Home to Bayern.

    For fun I will follow my roulette system in reverse order

    Hull, Charlton or Liverpool

  76. MickyDidIt89 says:


    That’s a fantastic pic of Mesut.

    He is pure class in every way. I agree with LB’s points about him being on a different frequency to Ollie, and the comparisons with the arrival of DB10.

    Mind you, I have still not got over the fact that we signed him at all.

    PS Hotel now booked. No car hire required this time. No hunting around forests for hotel. No nagging Raddy (oh, ok, I’ll miss the hippy) 🙂

  77. chas says:

  78. MickyDidIt89 says:

    I don’t know about these things, but with the help of steroids or shit, what are the chances of Zelalem beefing up?

  79. chas says:

    How beefy were you at 17?

  80. MickyDidIt89 says:

    That’s different, I was on drugs 🙂

  81. chas says:

    I must have been 8 stone max.

    Did you look like Iggy?

    Which hotel?

  82. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Don’t watch the whole thing, or listen to the noise, but this is a good pub when there’s a storm. Like today. About 30 mins away.

  83. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Might send you a pic. Not good. Orange hair!

  84. chas says:

    Can you imagine if players could come back at abusive fans?

  85. chas says:

  86. chas says:

    Yes please. Orange hair. Wow.

    Pub looks amazing. We had a 10 minute hailstorm and some lightning. Not much at all.

  87. chas says:

  88. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Ha ha @7:02

    Wouldn’t you just want to punch that fat skinhead 🙂

    Can’t get enough of our Beijing Red.

  89. chas says:

    Last one
    His timeline must be fun with stuff that others send him.

  90. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Crispy Duck. Makes I ROLF every time 🙂

    Indeed. Laters.

  91. Big Raddy says:

    Morning All,

    LB. Very good read. Much like Keira Knightley – easy on the eye!

    Very disappointing results yesterday. Only team from the top 10 not in it (i think )are the Hapless Hotspurs

  92. Big Raddy says:

    Very disappointed not to be joining Micky in Munich.

    Simple fact is that my mugging doesn’t pay as well as it used to. I blame the bloody banks – people just don’t carry cash anymore and I have yet to find the right “fence” for the credit cards. I have upped my work-rate and only target foreigners (they usually have more readies) but to no avail. I am reduced to trawling through the metro with a battered cup and pretending to be homeless, which quite frankly doesn’t give me a living wage.

    Well, that isn’t exactly true, the combination of mugging and begging provides for the family but I have had to give up the luxuries and that includes a trip to Munich.

    Bloody Banks ……..

  93. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Nice try Raddy, but you’ll have a tough time convincing people on here a whip round is in order, when you revealed to your loyal readers that you were in Zermatt last week, and in two weeks you seek writers to fill your gucci slippers while you slither off on hols again. Fair point about Banksters though 🙂

    Have to say, I’m worried about my Raddy stand-in for this trip 😦

  94. Gööner In Exile says:

    Morning all, top top MatchReport LB, ratings are subjective so never know why people get that het up about them.

    As others have said Jack and Ox in the centre left us a bit open at the back, but that was a bit of trial for future + we need to protect DMs more than AM’s from injury, Flamester will be back for So’ton.

  95. MickyDidIt89 says:


    I’m always fascinated when people interpret the Arsene mind.

    You say it “was a bit of trial for future”. How do you know that? I reckon Arsene said “look, this is Coventry, piece of piss. I want these 9 players here, here, here and those spots over there. That leaves two in the middle. Hands up who wants a go”

  96. chas says:

    It’s essential people challenge the ratings else there nothing to talk about.

  97. Gööner In Exile says:

    Challenge but get het up?

    As for you Micky, only on the basis of age, they are both young lets see what they can do together. Arsene has recently been interviewed saying Ox’s best position will eventually be CM due to his range of passing, so that also featured in my consideration.

    If he had thought they really were a piece of piss a lot more youth would have featured

  98. kelsey says:

    How do you define a piece of piss 🙂

    chas: I gave NB a 2 want to challenge me 🙂

  99. evonne says:

    I remember Ox’s dad saying 2 years ago that Alex is at his absolute best in the middle, seems he was right all along.

    8 stone? skinny wimp 🙂

    Kelsey – are you mad?? Challenge you? Nope, we are not brave enough 🙂 Bendtner 2, sorted .

    Mata to start for Utd on Tuesday, hm, I think that Moist hopes him to save the team

  100. evonne says:

    I think I will be buying that picture of Mezut, awesome
    Will look nice next to Cesc and Theo

  101. LB says:

    Hi Chas

    If you are still around, can you find that clip you put up of the fantastic pass that Ozil made to Monreal I think. It was on a loop, I think they are called “Giffs”. I can’t find it. Thanks

  102. I reckon chas has lost weight since then and is now even wimpier !. 😀

  103. evonne says:

    oh no LB, he is very athletic now 😉

  104. evonne says:

    sorry, Cockie not LB

  105. chas says:

    Who got het up? You can’t be talking about nadal surely?

  106. chas says:

    2 for Bendy is very fair, I thought.

  107. kelsey says:

    I reckon his next move will be on I’m a Celebrity get me out of here

  108. Morning all

    Just sorting the post ………. back in a minute ………

  109. Rasp says:

    Sorry I couldn’t get on yesterday. Top match report LB. I must admit I was getting a bit frustrated with certain players during that lull in the second half. I’d have sent Flamini on to give them all a bollocking. After all there were 50,00 Arsenal fans who were going to have to walk to the station in torrential rain after the game, they deserved a bit more effort I thought. I could see AW was very unhappy at the malaise, he was on the edge of the technical area getting drenched himself.

    The BFG was fantastic after the game and went round all 4 corners of the stadium applauding the fans – we in return sang him the BFG song which he seems to love.

  110. We have a New Post …………………

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