Is Arsène Wenger able to find the right balance?

This comment, in response to yesterday’s post, was put on the blog late last night by GoonerB. As it was unlikely many would be around to discuss the points raised so I’ve lifted it to use as today’s post. ED

The ref on Saturday was awful but I really can’t go along with this being the main reason for losing the game.

The performance is actually hurting me more than the loss as I think it points to a far bigger issue. I can accept a 2-1 loss if we have been a bit unlucky but, I hate to say it, we were largely dominated and Spurs fully deserved the win. We literally did what we so often accuse other sides of doing and parked the bus. We looked a mid to lower table side against a top of the table team and that for me is hurting and is more embarrassing than the actual loss.

There have been so many mentions in the days running up to this game about how many Spurs players would get in the Arsenal side and I agreed with most that it was hardly any so we should have been the better side…. right? At the very least we should have been the better side that lost through bad luck and some dodgy refereeing calls….right? Wrong, we just looked utterly inferior, lost and bereft of ideas.

The worrying thing is that for me we have a worrying trend recently of, not just losing, but being outplayed by teams who on paper are inferior to us on a player by player comparison.

So if we had the far superior side and were still outplayed as easily as this what explains it? For me unfortunately the finger has to be pointed at the manager. He chooses the team, sets it up how he wants it and provides the tactical instructions. Almost from the moment we scored we started to lose the control of the game. The dynamics and balance were not right and it was there for all to see.

Why then was nothing changed between the goal at 11 minutes to the 67th minute? When the change came I am sorry to say that Cazorla for Rosicky seemed a like for like. It didn’t for me change the dynamics and balance in any way, and further didn’t suggest to me of any recognition of a need to do so.

I suppose this is why I have been cautious in becoming too optimistic on the back of our recent results. I had a bad feeling that another stinker was around the corner. I made a point on a couple of occasions last week that I was concerned that as we got more options coming back from injury that there was a possibility of not getting the right balance in the set-up. I believe this is what happened and I feel we also saw it earlier in the season.

I still think Arsene just wants to get what he considers all his most technical players out there regardless of anything else. I think I commented even as early as last season that AW always tries to get Ozil, Ramsey and Cazorla on the pitch at the same time but I feel it doesn’t work and it leaves us unbalanced and weakened particularly in the threat from wide and pace aspects.

This becomes more important when Giroud leads the line as, despite his attributes, he rarely gets the better of defenders in a straight foot race. Having another quick player close to him to work off and get past him would to me have been important. IMO it just invited them to play a high line and compress all the space in our end of the pitch so that they were more able to win it back in our half and we had no outlet to get the ball out and hold the possession while others joined in the transition from defence to attack.

They were also able to bring there FB,s into almost permanently supporting the attack and must have felt like Christmas had come early that we didn’t seem to be the slightest bit interested in utilising the space the FB’s were leaving behind them or the space behind the CD’s due to the high line.

Danny was our only pace player to start but is only just back from injury, so is likely still a bit short of his full pace and sharpness. Also, bar a couple of instances, he seemed to spend most of his time deeper and defending and did look rusty on the ball to me often losing possession.

We have seen this before when we sacrifice pace for too many midfield technical players who prefer to operate centrally. I may of course have this all wrong but it just seems such an obvious thing that we often don’t look good with this set-up and with a lack of width and pace. I just feel it looks an easy thing to correct and we have the players to do it but just overlook the obvious.

Maybe it is just me (and Micky I think) who sees it this way but unfortunately I do lay the blame fully at Arsene’s feet for this one. The players didn’t perform well for sure but we keep blaming individual players and talk about how the players let Arsene and the fans down.

Is it not possible that a huge amount of blame is due to an unbalanced set-up, that provides a poor platform for our (superior to the opposition) players to perform to their best from?

Discuss.

Written by GoonerB

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133 Responses to Is Arsène Wenger able to find the right balance?

  1. mickydidit89 says:

    I read this earlier, and it is excellent.
    Well played GoonerB, thanks.

    Must go to a meeting, but cannot wait to get back and comment. Later, I may expand on the two words I have used on here before:
    Pot Luck. It’s a light hearted approach to tactics 🙂

  2. GoonerB says:

    Right, now I have criticised Arsene I have got my tin hat on and am ready.

    Having said that I would prefer it if those that don’t see it the same as me say so and why. Discussion is what it is all about.

  3. GoonerB says:

    Chas, just looked back. I loved the park life thing with the fan.

  4. eldergooner says:

    Some great observations there GoonerB, thank you. You have said some things I have not had the nerve to for fear of being ridiculed. Thin skinned – I know !!
    Sometimes things seem so obvious that as no one else comments on them I really begin to think I’m missing something – hence my silence for fear of ridicule.
    Anyway.
    I touched yesterday in a comment as to why no subs before the normal 69th minute. I honestly found it hard to believe that nothing was being changed on the pitch.Arsene seems to have incredible faith in his selections.Surely there are times when a rethink is necessary when things are not going your way ? Like TMHT said yesterday , it sometimes frustrates the fcuk out of him. Well me too.
    Nonetheless, I have faith that we are going in the right direction and would’nt want to change him(Arsene) for anyone else. Just wish that sometimes he was’nt so bloody stubborn.
    Let’s have a bagful tomorrow night. Onward and upward.

  5. Good morning ladies

    Good post GB…. very hard cheesy, difficult to get off a plate. Love the comments this morning, specially the Falcao crash 🙂

    Is it Wengers fault, I suppose the initial blame for set up, team selection and tactics has to be down to him. But then the players have to go out on the pitch and put it into practice. If Wenger gets it wrong most blame is on him, if he gets it part right and the players get it patly right it’s 50/50 blame. If Wenger gets it right and the players fuck it up, most of the blame is on the players.

    I’m not prepared to make any real judgement on Arsene just yeat. I think the only time we will truly be able to judge if he has been getting right or wrong is when another manager finally steps into his shoes. If the new man does a better job with what the Frenchman leaves, then it will be clear that Wenger got it wrog. However, if the new manager does worse with what he inherits then we will know that Arsene did a good job with what he had. Does that make sense?

  6. stevepalmer1 says:

    Morning all,
    A blinding post, question or comment, well put GoonerB
    Many times after a game people read into what happened and why it resulted in the way that it did. The sheer shame of losing to them was a lot to take in and the word shell shock comes to mind.

    Goonerb like most ardent supporters, was much like the rest of us after the game, Now i don’t know if he is a bad loser like me but i do know that he knows his football. Analysing the game after, sometimes takes a while as Hurt pride is a thing that takes a while to subdue.

    Goonerb has worked out where he thinks things were wrongly done and thinking logically i don’t think he is far out. With a clear mind a day or so after the event and with the Stat mans information readily available, we can now dissect what went wrong or can we.

    Normally a confident team do not need to be bellowed at prior to the game they know who they are playing and they know what the supporter expects. They train the week before on what the manager expects of them, and by the time kick off comes they should all be fired up and ready to fight the cause.

    Now what GB has explained is pretty close to the mark, he has said himself he is not sure exactly what happened and i feel the same. The team seemed to lack the belief that they could take this game by the scruff of the neck and impose themselves.

    I remember my school days and the bullies, most schools had them and i can remember thinking the next time he pick’s on me i will whack him and hurt him as much as i can, i may lose in the end but he wont want a lot more of that, and although i may be sore for a week or so i am sure he will pick on some one else.

    What happens along comes the bully you put up your defences you keep most blows out but a couple get through that bloody hurts Now i think a lot of that goes on in football, we often feel that the referee does not offer enough protection, and when our boys get rattled they go in with intent and the ref is quick to punish them But strategy can overcome a lot of that a well worked plan can come together and foil the bully, but for that to happen you need a good Strategist, and to be honest i don’t think we have one.

  7. mickydidit89 says:

    Firstly, my perspective. It’s the fact that it was losing to THEM that makes everything worse. Dropping three points is certainly not the end of the world, and we could even be third by tomorrow night. It’s close, and that’s exciting.

    What makes me cross is that we were beaten by the better “team”, not by superior footballers.

    A team is a unit. An entity. It is made up of components that are all pulling equally together for the same end. One aspect of a team is that the components of the team understand their role within that unit.

    So starting Danny on the right was bloody stupid 🙂

  8. chas says:

    That is a fine post, GoonerB.

    Surely Cazorla and Ramsey had to start?
    Are you saying that Wenger should have played Walcott instead of Ozil?
    Judging by Theo’s contribution after he came on, I doubt it would have made much difference.
    How should the balance and dynamics have been changed after it was plain they weren’t working?

    It seemed to me that the team just weren’t up for it.
    You have to fight fire with fire in a North London Derby.
    Also, the early goal led us to think we could scrape another 1-0 as we did last season. This encouraged us to sit back far too deep.

    A banger up each player’s derriere would have been my solution. How we got to half time at 1-0 up I’ll never know.

    Sorry if this is unstructured nonsense, I’m just trying to contribute.

    I keep reading the post, then halfway through I lose concentration and have to go back to the start again. When I have managed to get to the end, I’m at a loss to know what it was about, other than we were shite and nothing was done to sort it out. 🙂

  9. mickydidit89 says:

    Chas
    In this day and age you cannot go around inserting pyrotechnics up gentleman’s bottoms every time you get cross with them.
    Those days are long gone. I blame New Labour myself.

  10. chas says:

    Micky
    Are you saying Walnutt for Danny, then?

  11. chas says:

    I thought the selection was excellent.
    Sitting too deep and not having big enough cojones seemed to be the problem to me.

  12. mickydidit89 says:

    Chas

    Here’s my plan.
    You have a first XI.
    Then you have back up players for each position, a 2ndXI.
    Fatigue or injury to one first teamer, and the second XI’er slots seamlessly in.
    You can have a Plan A and a Plan B if you like that sort of thing, however, you don’t go around putting anyone you like anywhere willy nilly.
    Theo or Rosicky would have been more natural choices for the right berth.
    The left is harder I grant you, because we have not had a left sided attacker since 1907.

  13. chas says:

    Rosicky on the wing. Really?

  14. chas says:

    Smacks of willy nilly to me. 🙂

  15. GoonerB says:

    Steve I think Arsene is a bad loser but I actually like that about him. I have never been one to say Arsene is useless like some bloggers and fans (on other sites) will do. That would be ludicrous as he is still one of the best around.

    I do however feel he has a slight flaw but it is enough to hold us back. I also think it is an easy flaw to eradicate and we have the players to do it but as with anyone in any aspect of life if there is something they need to personally improve upon then they need to be willing to accept the flaw and change it.

    NB may be right and what I think I see may be wrong, and that Arsene is actually doing the best he can with what he has and other managers out there could have done no better.

    Elder, I think if you have a view point that you are consistent with and back it with a logical argument then put it out there. I know after games like this negative comments / posts can be considered knee-jerk reactions but you do get a feel as to where the regular bloggers stand on things so, particularly on AA, I don’t think anyone can really be accused of over-reaction with no basis.

    Not that we can remember everything about what each of us have said in the past, but the Ramsey, Ozil, Cazorla thing and the pace and width issue is a view I have put out a few times over a reasonable period of time (last season as well). I have commented before on playing too many technical centrally types with less pace creating an imbalance and that Giroud’s lack of pace allows the opposition to play high if he is the only player that high up the pitch.

    I do feel that we could playcertain teams with the same set-up and it works. I feel it goes wrong with this set-up against better sides and although it is sacrilage to say it Spurs currently have to go into the bracket of one o the better sides we will face.

    I think sometimes you can compare 2 players in our squad and say player A is technically superior to player B but player B brings an attribute that player A doesn’t have and is important to the teams balance in this game. One of the technically centrally lot should have been benched for pace IMO. Walcott is the obvious who is coming “bang into form” (parklife), but I would have even looked to get Akpom up by Giroud if not Theo.

  16. chas says:

    This is what we needed playing those miscreants.

  17. Rasp says:

    Thanks for the comment that became a post GoonerB – I suggest we use the term ‘compost’ to describe the practice in the future 😆

    I agree with your points but also chas’ about the cojones. Some managers get their players fired up – I don’t think Arsene is one of those – although I reckon Bouldy could get them running through walls if he were given the chance.

    I also agree that the use of subs only within the same small timeslot every game is weird – I don’t now of any other manager that is so regimented in the timing of their subs.

    We could all see half way through the first half that things weren’t going to plan …. so change the plan; change some personnel …. do something!!!!!

  18. chas says:

    Yeah but Theo was pretty shite against Villa, so where that bang in form stuff comes from, heaven knows.
    Surely Akpom and Welbeck are very similar choices?

    I hate it when anyone says on here that they’re afraid to say something through fear of ridicule.
    If you think something, say it, but surely that doesn’t mean that if someone disagrees they’re not allowed to say so?

  19. mickydidit89 says:

    Yeah, but had I said Theo, you would have banged on about how ineffective he was in his 12 mins!!

    He’s ineffective for about 70 mins when he starts, but he will score in the other 10, will annoy their full back, will pass to someone else to score, and has played right wing for Arsenal before 🙂

  20. chas says:

    Haha, sorry for banging on. 🙂

  21. mickydidit89 says:

    Ah haaa, the Villa game.

    The one where I was saying we were pants for the most part. The score so flattered us, and yes Theo, for all his uselessness, scored. 🙂

    Loving this 🙂

  22. GoonerB says:

    Sorry Chas as I was typing you put yours out there and I guess I have half answered your question of what I feel should have happened. I actually anticipated the bit about Walcott not making much of a difference when he came on so what would his earlier introduction have achieved. I believe the dynamics and momentum of a game can be influenced at different times. By the time Theo had come on Spurs were well in the ascendancy and it was almost as if our whole team had adopted a certain backs to the walls attitude. I think it is very hard at this stage for one individual to alter that whole way of being.

    No-one can be sure but IMO If it had been done earlier not only is there a possibility that we would have been approaching the game differently from earlier but also that may have seen the dynamics change earlier in our favour which would have carried into the latter stages of the game. I think we all recognise that a team that plays well earlier often continues this with confidence through a game while a team that is under the cosh often loses its way and it continues to spiral out of control.

    The other thing I would consider is what role and instruction Theo was given. i know some cite his lack of tracking back as a weakness but I think this is a game where you tell him to stay high and be ready to exploit the space on the counter and not to track too deep, others can do that.

  23. mickydidit89 says:

    Chas
    12:06
    Through ball hit a tuft 🙂

  24. mickydidit89 says:

    Look Chas,
    We’re supposed to be taking this seriously and want people fired and stuff 🙂

  25. GoonerB says:

    Haha, compost Rasp….only for my ones though 🙂

    Chas I agree about Theo not being effective across a whole game but we do seem more dangerous when he starts. It’s the player A versus player B technical thing I mentioned. I bet the opposition hate itwhen he plays and I bet Spurs wouldn’t have liked it if he came on earlier and stayed higher.What the opposition don’t like is always a kind of yardstick for me.

    We have players like Ozil and Cazorla who can more consistently influence a game and we have Theo for 2-3 key explosive moments. Sometimes that is as important as a player who s always on the ball with great passing stats IMO. It is a bit like how Wenger used to analyse Drogba, that he wasn’t seen so often in the game but when he popped up those 2-3 times he could cause damage. He certainly was a game winner and that is how I see Theo.

  26. chas says:

    Yeah, but bringing Walcott on after 20 minutes, say, might have meant that we’d missed the 10 minutes when he scores and the 10 minutes when he annoys their full back and just been left with the 70 minutes when he’s completely ineffective. 🙂

  27. chas says:

    Through ball hit a tuft.
    PLMSLL

  28. mickydidit89 says:

    ha ha ha 🙂

  29. Rasp says:

    Ok, so the answer is to bring Walcott on just before he’s about to score … simples 😀

  30. GoonerB says:

    I remembered that miscontrol Chas from Rosicky’s pass. On 87 mins. If we had seen that on 17, 27, 37, 47, 57 , 67 e.t.c (you get the point) then he may have controlled and scored 2 of them.

  31. chas says:

    Leave it out GoonerB.
    We hardly had the ball in their half until after they’d scored in the 86th minute.

  32. GoonerB says:

    I’m still waiting for the “what is Wenger supposed to do” argument. “If he attacks then we criticise him, but when he listens and adopts a more solid defensive approach he is criticised as well”.

    Pre-empting that one, as I won’t be around as much later, I would suggest we seem to go from one extreme to the other. Being ahead and having 7 players caught the wrong side of the ball is one thing. Playing with 1 non pacy CF with little support is another. There has to be a middle ground. I am sure we could have sacrificed 1 other player (with pace) from defensive duties to stay up by Giroud. That still leaves 8 players to make it hard to break us down.

  33. chas says:

    Right, can’t stay on here enjoying myself all day.
    I hope I haven’t annoyed anyone with my banging on.

    I still honestly think it was how we played rather than who played which was the problem.
    Laters.

  34. GoonerB says:

    So Theo did make a difference then. His introduction allowed us to get in their half. I am glad we agree Chas 🙂

  35. GoonerB says:

    See you later Chas, your banging is fine with me and if I have miffed you I may buy you a pint next Sunday (should be going).

  36. chas says:

    Just saw your comment, GoonerB as I was logging off.
    100% agree, Welbeck should have played higher up, Cazorla should have been tearing into Bentaleb and Mason. The whole team should have been 10 yards further forward.

  37. chas says:

    No, them scoring allowed us to get in their half.
    And no, you haven’t miffed me at all.
    I don’t mind playing the deville’s role at all. 🙂

  38. chas says:

    Definitely off now.

  39. RC78 says:

    Spot on Post 🙂

    I always say that we have to impose our game and system (4-2-1-3) against most opponents but there are a few exceptions to the rule where we need to slightly adapt our tacticts/set-up or keep the same set-up but use different players…

    It is obvious that we need more width and pace against some teams. If Ox and Sanchez are out, you must play Walcott and either Bellerin or Gibbs as wingers. If Walcott is out, then you play both Gibbs and Bellerin as wingers. It is that simple if you want to keep your set-up. Otherwise, change your set-up.

    Spuds were able to press high because we did not have any pace up front from the start…Wellbeck is pacy but he is no Sanchez, Ox, Bellerin, Ox or even Gnabry/Chuba. If there is no threat of pace, teams can play the high line…Giroud is not going to sprint pass players, is he?

    So two options
    -> keep set-up but use players that offer pace, width and are able to cover defensively as well
    -> change the set-up to make sure that you win the midfield battle – we could have played a 4-3-1-2 with: Ramsey, Coquelin, Chambers as the 3 and Cazorla as the one and Giroud, Wellbeck up front. This would have allowed Cazorla to keep Mason on his toes and Coquelin to focus on Dembele…Wellbeck would have kept Rose or the other FB on his/their toes as well.

    I really like Ozil but he does not deliver consistantly defensively and his offensive genius is not regular either. He can dribble and he can pass but he is no “Hazard” yet, which is a shame. So keep him for the last third in these tight games against tough opposition. He is a wonderful craftsman but he needs space in front oh him and if he does not have it, his offensive threat almost gets nullified.

    Cazorla is having a fine season but he and Rosicky are not going to dribble passed players, they will make great link-up plays and are of the few players that can score outside the box but overall, they are good at distributing the ball. Replacing Cazorla by Rosicky? What for…same same…

  40. TERRY MANCINI HAIR TRANSPLANT says:

    Thanks GB

    Dont think I can add much more to what I posted yesterday but just for you I will try.

    Basically I agree with what your saying about the balance. it reminds of that old mantra that “your strength is also your weakness”

    Arsenes propensity for “over balancing” the midfield three especially for technique as opposed to height, power, and outright ball winners, is what makes us special to watch and gets results most of the time.

    In certain games however, especially when throwing in some one like Ozil into the midfield 5, mainly against sides in the top eight who play a fast and athletic pressing game, it often comes unstuck.

    I am not a big stats man, but the results speak for themselves. We also tend to do better in 2nd half’s when the pressing of our opponents subsides.

    I am sure Wenger will put it right. I have every faith in him and the Clubs future

    Losing to them always brings out the worst in me, but thankfully the urge to kill is placated by medication.

    The Ghosts of the Thirties are Stirring

  41. GoonerB says:

    Very good points RC.I have seen you advocate the use of 2 FB’s on each side before. I should have commented on it before but I can see some merit in that and it is an idea that shouldn’t be sniffed at. We have seen it with Gibbs and Monreal and it does seem to work, as you say, where we get defensive solidity but still have pace and attacking intent. Maybe it could also work on the right. In many ways AW has always seemed to favour developing FB’s that have more the characteristics of a winger so it is a possible consideration.

  42. Vintage Gooner says:

    Thank you for an interesting and provocative post GB..When I finished reading it together with comments the first thing I did was to look back to the GB comments immediately after the Man City game and was fascinated to see no mention of parking the bus then!

    I would like to continue the comparison with MC game because I think the changes AW has made were epitomized in that game and against Spurs we tried but failed to do the same thing and it is interesting to see why the different results.

    There are two fundamental changes in my view. The first is that we now give total consideration to our defensive shape when we lose the ball and drop much deeper rather than press high up the pitch. This broadly worked well on Saturday as.Spurs had very few chances in the greatest danger area comprising the six yard box extended to the edge of the penalty area. Most of what Ospina had to do was from shots at distance and he looked reasonably comfortable with those although I would rather he had caught more often.

    What went wrong defensively? Aaron turned off at a corner and Kane had an easy chance to score the equalizer.Should not have happened but sometimes non-defenders do this and it often gets punished. For the second Bentalob hit a hopeful cross which finished to be inch perfect and Kane with half a yard of space given by Kos dispatched a perfect header..Frankly not much else went wrong and with very minor exceptions like Bellerin struggling with Eriksons mobility the defence did their job.

    The second change and the point where we really lost it on Saturday was in the transition which has to be quick, inventive and effective. Firstly credit to Spurs midfield who pressed hard and well making it difficult for us to create space to exploit. It must also be said that Cazorla had one of his invisible days, Also Aaron lost his passing game. And poor old Ozil felt he had been stuck out on the left wing again where he tries to keep his width and so is much less active and effective. All this added up to very little service for forwards and very little respite for the defence.

    Finally I must mention the refereeing. Atkinson gave everything he conceivably could to Spurs thus denying us rhythm and speedy response. He then compounded this by allowing a lot of very physical challenges particularly on Giroud the worst of which was the Rose stamp on the Achilles which was well worth a red but got nothing at all. The first card they got was for not retreating ten yards from a free kick for Mason who should have seen at least two yellows long before. Against this leniency Arsenal were being showered yellows like confetti and for very little if any actual physical contact.

    The refereeing did not change the game although it influenced it and credit should sadly be given to Spurs for being well organised, hard working and sticking to their game plan. We did not overall have a good day at the office but it happens and we will get over it. I am still confident of a strong finish to our season giving us good cause for optimism’

    Come on you Gunners.

  43. GoonerB says:

    Terry, thanks for the comment mate. I know more than anyone how a post criticising Arsene is tricky to swallow, but to your great credit you still comment.

    Although it may appear so I actually don’t think we are too far apart in our thinking. The main difference is where you are sure Arsene will turn it around I would say I think he can turn it around and has the ability to do it, but I am not certain he will. I hope you are right.

    Tactics has been my big beef with him for some time now. I think he ticks most of the other boxes. Just my opinion though.

    BTW can you forward on some of your medication as it sounds like the way to go after weekends like that.

  44. Shard says:

    Gooner B

    I agree that the way we played was embarrassing, and said as much. It ended up becoming very much a park the bus, lower end of the table, football.

    We had a lot of our players saying before the game that we have a blueprint from the City game to keep our shape. That seemed to be their primary focus. Now you know, it actually worked. We scored on a breakaway (because of Welbeck’s speed I might add) and forced Spurs into taking shots from outside the box. Defensively we played well, except for two errors (Ramsey leaving Kane free on the corner, and none of Ramsey, Walcott or Coquelin closing down Bentaleb after the throw in, whether due to wrong positioning, a lack of alertness, or confusion)

    But what we weren’t doing is keeping the ball for enough lengths of time. A small part of that is down to how the referee called the game. But a large part of it is down to us. So what was the difference with the City game? Well, for one, there was no Alexis. He is one player who has a good understanding of how to press and to counter attack better than probably any player in our squad, for whom he acts as a sort of reference point. He is also very good at maintaining possession.

    The other was Cazorla, who, contrary to what you said, I believe is very good at dribbling and keeping possession of the ball under pressure. Except he couldn’t do that in this game. Ramsey is supposed to provide the all round energetic display of the box to box role, offering support in both attack and defense. With both of them underperforming, you could make a case for taking of either of them. I disagree that Rosicky is like for like with Santi. I think he is different to them both, but offers the energy of Ramsey more than the close control of Cazorla. In hindsight, I would have started him over Ramsey, but that doesn’t matter.

    The other option would have been to have Rosicky in place of Welbeck so as to better control the midfield. But this would effectively take out the option of a counter attack.

    Contrary to what you and Terry seem to think, I believe we actually lack technical ability right now. Pace and power/physicality seem to be the first things fans identify as a team lacking, but I disagree that it had anything to do with our loss. We had space in behind, and I believe enough speed to exploit it. We just couldn’t find the passes for it because we couldn’t get through the initial pressure they put on us. I feel that is down to a lack of technical ability. When was the last time we imposed our passing game on a good side?

  45. The Cockie Monster says:

    Thanks Go Boner !. 🙂

    No one having a go at Wenger !

    These are my thoughts. I keep hearing about how many of these lesser team players will get into the Arsenal team and according to a lot of blogging Arsenal experts it`s not many !.
    So other than a few of the bigger teams ( you know who I mean ) no others have more than 2 or 3 which will get into our team !. We`ve had Spuds, Swansea and Soton wipe the floor with us, maybe it`s an “S” thing !…….lets take the example of Soton…..Chambers sold to us, Lambert, Lovren and Lallana sold to bindippers, shaw sold to Manshafter and Rodriguez and Shneiderlin out injured against us, yet they still spanked us !.
    So whats the problem ?.
    Do the teams who beat us pressure us because they know we cant handle it ?
    Are they more up for it ?
    Do they have better coaches who know how to get the best out of their lesser players ?
    Do they have coaches who are just better tactically than Wenger and know how to set up disciplined and organized teams ?
    Is it because Wenger is not reactive enough to see we are getting swarmed all over and try to counter measure the act with erlier subs or playing a pressing team himself from the start to fight fire with fire ?

    Losing the odd game is fine, but to make a habit of it is down to the manager !. We were 1st this time last year…..anyone think the Chavs will buckle and end up getting 4th by the skin of their teeth ?…….not one of you will say yes !. We are The Arsenal…..we dont do things easy !.
    As for you my friend being more upset by the performance than the result…..well, last season we went there, scored early with a Rosicky cracker and hung on by the skin of our teeth……very similar to Saturdays game, but the difference is that The Spuds got what they deserved on Saturday and not last year, but fcuk if I was worried about out rubbish performence and lucky win last season !…..I just swung from the chandelier !…whereas this time, I felt like hanging myself from it !.
    To me, it`s down to the manager, as the buck stops there !. Yes Morinho suffered a 5-3 loss there, but look where he comfortably sits !.
    With a squad thats beginning to look strong, we should be wiping the floor with some of these teams and if we dont , then it`s time for a man who knows how to !.
    As much as Wenger has done in the past, I honestly believe he is not the one to take us further !. Football has moved on from when he had the best players and could let them just get on with it, now there are more than 3 teams better and on a par with us, this needs a better tactical football coach !.
    Wenger was outsmarted by Pocahontas ……he off the lesser players !
    Wenger was outsmarted by Koeman…..he of the lesser players and Steve McClaren`s dutch language teacher !………and others etc` of lesser players !.
    Yes we should beat Leicester and possibly get back above the spuds and quite possibly get our magnetic 4th place trophy, but who other than the Transploant …..who has shares in Arsene`s zipper….. truly believes we will not go through the same perennial average disappointment next season !.

  46. LB says:

    It’s a really good post and I agree with much but in my opinion it lets itself down by suggesting that the team selection was wrong and it was therefore Wenger’s fault.

    Just in case anyone forgot we beat Villa 5-0 the week before with the same team apart from Welbeck replacing Walcott. No one can argue that that was the reason that we lost so the idea that the selection was wrong does not make sense.

    Everyone and their dog has identified the embarrassingly poor ball retention in the final third as being the main problem. Not one of them seemed capable of making the simple pass to find a fellow Arsenal player and as a result, more often than not, we lost possession.

    The change I would have made is Rosicky for Ramsey on the hour but I obviously say this with the use of hindsight.

  47. The Cockie Monster says:

    It seems to me by reading plenty of comments during game time that even though we were winning at half time…we were getting over run and that it was only a matter of time before the spuds equalized !……so at half-time, I would say that Wenger had plenty of hindsight how the game was going !…..shame he didn`t act on it !. Would another manager have acted ?……..plenty on the blogs were voicing their concerns at one nil up !.

  48. Shard says:

    Cockie

    Not talking specifically about your comment, but it did remind me of something I’d thought before. That football fans don’t seem to get the concept of a bad matchup. Now I’m not saying you don’t get it or that you are wrong to question Wenger. But I have seen so many comments and posts over the years about how we could lose to x when they got pounded by y so easily.

    I think apart from a bad matchup, football is still more variable than other sports because of the nature of the game. What is a foul? What is the appropriate penalty for the foul? And because a single goal changes the game so much, it doesn’t lend itself to an easy analysis.

    As for Wenger and why we get beaten by certain teams or in cerain ways. Which team doesn’t? Honest question. You say Chelsea won’t crumble the way we did last season, but I say, despite their big money, if they get the injuries we did, then they will. Or if they hadn’t had the referees grant them penalties or freebie assaults earlier in the season then they wouldn’t be there in the first place. Like I said, there are no easy comparisons, also because stats are in their infancy in football and understanding their meaning/relevance is a work in progress.

    Personally, I believe we’re not going the Chavs route of buying for and planning for every season, but for a longer cycle of a team, with the ultimate aim of winning the CL while also challenging in the PL. This is incredibly tough to do because both demand different things. I believe we can do it, but I also appreciate that it is risky to try and build a perfect team rather than have a very goo purpose built team. But that is why I love Wenger, and I don’t think 3 years (the length of his contract) is in any way an unreasonable length of time to let him try.

  49. The Cockie Monster says:

    Which brings me to one of my pet hates !…………why the fcuk is the manager not up in the stands where he will get a much better view of the game and where it`s all falling apart so he can adjust tactically !.
    None of us are professional coaches, but being up in the stands it is easy to see what is going wrong or right in the simple game of football !

  50. The Cockie Monster says:

    I`ll tell you what Shard…..I may not be a genius like Wenger or Guardiola, but I can tell you that give me a team of eleven Alexis`s and we would win the league !…….High tempo high pressure high stamina and fitness will always beat a skillful team of eleven Arshavins !. It`s all down to just plain simple hard work….probably what the spuds did to us!….lesser players, who worked harder !.
    At the age of 35, I did my quickest 10k run of 35 mins !…no medical science, no coach,just hard work…..I`m sure these overpaid kids could at least do some of what I did for nothing, just pride and self goals !.
    If Ferguson had our crop of cream players, I`m sure we would have won something or put up a fight…..Wenger comes across as too nice !.
    Remember, this is not just a one game rant, but it`s a succession of years of the same old same old !………and the same old…..next year will be different !.

    As for the Chavs, they are abiding by FFP just like us and over the last couple of seasons have sold players to buy players ( just like we used to do )……..Get rid of Luiz for a ridiculous amount and bringh in Costa and Cesc !………….How many of you if told that Fabregas was coming back to London and was going to win his first EPL title would have thought that it was going to be with the Chavs !……unbelievable booboo by Wenger !.

  51. wally says:

    One of the big differences Saturday from the city game was that Santi wasn’t magnificent. His ability to hold the ball against city was the difference and we didn’t get that yesterday. He was merely average.
    Too often we lost the ball through poor passing in our end or we simply didn’t win the one v one battles for possession that we needed to.
    I’m not going to slate wenger for his tactics or choices, and typically i’d be among the first to do so. The only thing i think he might have done differently was bring on rosicky sooner, maybe for santi, maybe for ramsey but i might have tried to change that midfield dynamic sooner. For me that was the major difference.
    I think that new style of playing big games away is a work in progress.
    Despite the result I’m encouraged about the direction.

  52. Bayonne Jean says:

    Wally, you’ve just made the point I was going to make. The barometer for Arsenal’s recent strong run has been Santi. On Saturday he was not average, he was below par, and was knocked off the ball and relinquished possession too easily. I would have subbed him out for Rosicky early on in the second half.

    The other change would have been to bring on Theo much earlier for Welbeck, who was teetering on getting sent off and may have been teetering physically in his first game back. While Theo is thought of as an ideal supersub with his threat of pace, it often takes him time to integrate so you really need to get him on earlier. Had that Rosicky to Theo pass taken place earlier and Theo had been on earlier, he might have done something with it to make it 0-2, and he could have flashed that scoreline to the assembled masses. Even if he mucked it up as he did, if it were earlier, you can bet that Spuds would have had to back off to respect that possibility.

  53. RC78 says:

    In any case, if a team presses you high – you bring in a fast/pacy player to threaten them on the counter. It could have been moving up Bellerin as RW and bringing in Chambers as RB or bringing in Walcott for Ozil…Or even bringing Chuba for Giroud…We did not do that and it cost us the game (among the two stupid defending mistakes) as they were able to press high and get possession quickly…

  54. Shard says:

    Cockie

    It’s about balancing the short term vs the long term. Ferguson did it but he had the biggest budget for years, and when he didn’t, he had the refs to help him win a few points. Plus, when he left, he prioritised his record and hence the short term over the medium to longer term. Which is why ManU find themselves where they do, despite spending nearly 300m in less than 2 years. (This is something Wenger would never do because he sees himself as a custodian of the club)

    Same old it might be, but it has been absolutely necessary for us to grow as a club. We might have ‘won something’ with a different approach, but we might also have dropped out of the top 4, which would have made it much much harder to reach the elite level. Look at Liverpool for instance. A few cup wins don’t make up for that in my opinion.

    If you think the Chavs are abiding with FFP JUST LIKE US, then I don’t know what to say. And even if you say that, how do you think they got there, and do you think their years of spending have no role to play?

    Look at this way. Chelsea spent 3 times the money that ManU – the closest – spent when Abramovich got here, and still took 2 seasons to win the league. This was in an era when they were basically alone in their spending. The first year we spent, we won the FA Cup, in an era when that level of spending is almost the norm. And you expect us to overcome the decade of no transfer spend immediately? I’m sorry. Change the manager and you still don’t win the biggest prizes, even if you win something. That’s the larger picture of years and years.

    As for the point about overpaid footballers. Well yeah, they are all overpaid. But what makes you think they don’t work hard. It might have been true of many in the team in the past, but I’ve yet to see it in this bunch of players. A team of 11 Alexis is just not possible. There is a reason he is special, and while hard work is a minimum requirement for success, it is not sufficient.

    Lastly, Let the Cesc thing go. I wanted him back too because he is a good player, but there were plenty of reasons to not get him back.

  55. Shard says:

    RC78

    What’s the point of bringing on a speedy player if we can’t get a pass to him to exploit the space? The idea that their fullbacks will simply drop back to cover for it is not necessarily true. They certainly didn’t in the last game. If anything it was Walcott who was forced to drop back.

  56. RC78 says:

    Shard – with a speedy player to watch, the full backs and center backs will not venture as high for the fear of being caught out on a long ball or a ball behind their back…If you watch the game again, their full back and CBs are playing in our half for some good part of the game..

  57. Shard says:

    RC78

    Yes, and this was true even when Walcott came on. Rosicky’s intelligent play in the centre, combined with the fact that they took the lead meant that they dropped off a little. Otherwise they had no need to drop deep since they had cut off the supply to the wings.

    Besides, I don’t think it is so easy to change a team’s mentality. The manager can try but I doubt too many players can make sense of it, and execute the plan to push up, when they have spent almost all of the game sitting deep trying to hold on.

    In fact, I believe that if we hadn’t been a goal up at half time, we’d have won the game. Like many have said, there were problems evident in the first half. But we were winning, and I think the players felt more concerned with keeping the clean sheet rather than trying to play themselves.

    Mainly, I think the influence that managers have during a game is not as great as is generally made out. Substitutions sometimes can and do change games, and so can certain tactical instructions. But they are still counting on the players to execute and I do not believe that Wenger’s plan was getting the players to sit back camped in their own half.

  58. Rasp says:

    chas, if you’re about? Are you going to the FFB pre-match tomorrow?

  59. The Cockie Monster says:

    Shard…….I know the Chavs spent an enormous amount of money in the past, but ( and Maybe some of the AA accounts can confirm this or not ) they are abiding by FFP now……….as I said they sold Luiz to buy Costa and Cesc and in the last window sold Schurle , Bertrand and loaned out Salah to finance the Cuadrago deal !…….that tells me that they abiding by FFP…….and some more info that we are on their level !

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/teams/arsenal/11110007/Arsenals-annual-wage-bill-moves-ahead-of-Chelseas-for-first-time-in-more-than-a-decade.html

    Plus !……a few on here will say that we have a squad as strong as them….if not a first eleven as strong !…….so with our inability to hardly beat them, whats the problem ?……..simple to me…..the management !.

  60. mickydidit89 says:

    Hey Chas

    When you get back, stick this in your pipe and smoke it, because it’s from Shard, not me, and he’s clever and stuff 🙂

    “The other option would have been to have Rosicky in place of Welbeck so as to better control the midfield. But this would effectively take out the option of a counter attack.”

    And Welbeck as CF 🙂

  61. mickydidit89 says:

    Rasp

    I’ve just emailed him same question

    And I’ve texted you

  62. Rasp says:

    Thanks micky …..

  63. TERRY MANCINI HAIR TRANSPLANT says:

    If you guys go to the FFB, let me know and I will skip work an hour early

    Ive never met Micky, so would like to wind him up the point he has no other option but to chin me.

  64. mickydidit89 says:

    Tramsplant,
    I’m easier to spot on cold nights as I wear red and white pants on my head and look out through the leg holes

  65. TERRY MANCINI HAIR TRANSPLANT says:

    hahaha, in my world that dont narrow it down much Micky

  66. Shard says:

    Cockie

    My focus was on the words ‘just like us’, not the fact that they are abiding with FFP. The latter is true. The former, not so much.

    I’ll say again what I think the ‘problem’ is. We played 4-2-3-1 last season with Arteta and Ramsey as the 2 in midfield. This season we began with more of a 4-1-4-1, or a 4-1-2-3 if you prefer.

    We did not proceed linearly with our growth. We changed formation, which necessitated taking a step back. I have already mentioned why I think this step was taken. To make us competitive in BOTH the PL and the CL (we were among the worst teams in the CL last season in terms of shots created and allowed), and because the formation offers more flexibility. Easier to change to a 4-3-3, while also staying more compact generally speaking. And we also added some speed and players who know how to press from the front (Sanchez and to a lesser extent Welbeck)

    This formation however takes intelligence and understanding to execute, and thus it took time to become effective, not helped by our injuries preventing players from playing together. (It also needs a younger and perhaps better version of Arteta, which will probably be our summer’s big signing)

    Everyone agrees that our squad is better this season than last I think. Even you who thinks Wenger’s the problem. So I doubt there’s much dispute there. I just think you need to look past only the squad members and also to what it is building towards. The points may not show it, but I for one think we are a better team, playing better this season.

  67. mickydidit89 says:

    Shard

    You make many good points, and I’ll try and be serious, albeit with less words.

    When you say our squad is better this season, then I’d agree it certainly is now (post Coq and Paulista), but when you say you think we are a better team, then I’d say “on occasion”.

    We’ve had moments in some games when I’ve been really excited about our set up and the quality of football together with work ethic, but it is very much dependent on the personnel on the field at a particular moment.

    For me, our best football came at the beginning of the season with Danny playing up top. However, there were only glimpses as Sanchez was just settling in, Danny was getting accustomed to a new role for us and England, but the signs of a new Arsenal style emerging were so exciting.

    In the back of my mind was the tntalizing prospect of adding the vision of Mesut and the speed of Theo. However, the prospect simply has not matured, and to my mind it is purely down to retaining Ollie as first choice CF.

    I really hate to be as harsh on any individual as I am on him, but that’s the way I see things.

  68. Shard says:

    micky

    Thanks for being serious 🙂

    I’m not sure about a definite statement about Giroud being to our detriment or holding us back, but I don’t think I disagree with you that we’ve only seen flashes of what we can do. Rather than Giroud I would have put that down to injury, but you may be right. We’ll see in time.

  69. Lovely stuff chaps… good debate, have enjoyed reading

  70. mickydidit89 says:

    Shard
    It won’t last long 🙂
    Time will tell as you say
    Must go. Bon Nuit.

  71. mickydidit89 says:

    Ah
    Bonsoir et plus tard Le Bank Nord

  72. chas says:

    Micky, Rasp and Terence

    We will be going to the Faltering Whole Defence. Be good to see you all there.

    Terence
    Every time we go through Bounds Green stationon the Piccadilly, Ant expects you to board the train strutting, wearing your John Travolta outfit.

    Micky
    Shard was suggesting Rosicky bolstering the midfield, not being stuck out on the wing because he’d forgotten his boots and had to wear size 11 plimsolls from the Lost Property bin. So suck my fat one. 🙂

  73. mickydidit89 says:

    That’s the last straw Chas
    See you in the Faltering Whatnot for a blazing row 🙂

  74. LB says:

    If we want to get forth then Giroud is our man, if we want to get higher then we are going to need better, right now we need forth so Giroud is our man.

  75. LB says:

    That pub the FFB is so far north that they are going to have pictures of Harry Kane on the wall.

  76. Rasp says:

    Why don’t you join us LB?

  77. LB says:

    Thanks for the offer Rasp, I might just do that.

  78. Gööner In Exile says:

    Evening all, I’m with Chas on this ten or twenty yards up the pitch and we witness a different game. I do think both Rose and Mason would have had slightly more ineffective games if Atkinson had done his job.

    Having said that I was disappointed at the way Welly let his booking affect him. Had a Spud client today….joy, fair play to the window cleaner who turned up in his red members wooly hat. He told my client to wait until the end of the season and stop celebrating their cup final. I also brought up the pic of Kane celebrating Arsenal’s 2004 title with red Freddie hair.

    The big thing with Spuds is whether they can play at their current intensity when Europa League starts up again, it’s no surprise that whilst the Europa has vermin break they have had better run of form. Poch’s style is very similar to Klopps at Dortmund.

    Tomorrow night is a big three points for everyone.

  79. GoonerB says:

    Some excellent comments today chaps and chapesses. I can’t react to all of them this late on but I thought I would clarify a couple of points.

    Firstly when I said we parked the bus I didn’t mean it in a sense that we deliberately did it like some teams do but we did end up looking that way.

    I am happy to hold my hand up and say that I was not pleased with the suicidal over-committing of players forwards when we are leading a game as happened with Anderlecht and Swansea. I am also happy to say that I championed the more disciplined approach at Man City but in that game we managed the transition of defence to attack very well. Does this have something to do with AOC and Alexis playing who bring extra pace to these phases of play?

    LB makes a good point about having more or less the same team against Villa. I have felt that with some teams the balance of our line up is less important and for me Villa at home don’t offer anything near the threat that Spurs away do. I think it is the better sides where I feel some pace is needed in the attack but I feel Arsene defaults to his most technical players at the expense of this. Just my opinion.

    It may also be the instructions, or perhaps lack of them given as well. For instance I would love to know what was said to Danny because he didn’t seem to get that close to Giroud for large parts of the game and seemed to spend most of his time working back in defence.

    Anyway onwards and upwards, lets see a response tomorrow. I am jealous of all those that seem to be heading towards the FFB. I hate to miss out on a party.

    Night all.

  80. Gööner In Exile says:

    GB I think Welly’s presence at the back was because Hector had frequently drifted inside to track Erikssen and that left acres for Rose to run into, if Welly doesn’t track then he has free roam. To expect him to then get back up pitch and closer to Giroud was a big ask, although he did it well in the first half just couldn’t continue in the second.

  81. Just checking in to see how the post went down today. Thank you to Gooner B, you should know that any comment over 300 words is gonna get snapped up for a post 😉

    My twopenneth …..

    We lacked pace, had nothing to frighten them slimy scummers and they played out of their skins. They wanted to beat us, we were hoping they’d run out of gas, which they didn’t because it was the NLD and they wanted to win – very naive if you ask me.

    Even if Theo only gives 10 minutes of something close to brilliant he’s still there as a threat.

    Ball retention by our mid-field was atrocious.

    Santi couldn’t get into the game partly due to so many misplaced passes.

    They got the rub of the green in almost all the 50/50’s

    Villa were rubbish, we can’t use that game as a yardstick, they were so rubbish we should have won 20-0

    I’d say it’s 50/50 as far as responsibility goes – Team/Arsene, lets hope that tomorrow is a whole lot better.

  82. Has Raddy gone awol? We’ll need a pre-match if he has …………. anyone know?

  83. mickydidit89 says:

    London Weather check for the travelling fan

    8°C
    High

    3° C
    Overnight Low

    AM Clouds / PM Sun

    Chance of Rain 0% Wind E at 4 mph
    Humidity 79% UV index1 – Low Snowfall 0 cm Sunrise 07:25 Sunset 17:06 Moonset 09:46 Moon Phase Waning Gibbous

  84. mickydidit89 says:

    LB and Transplant coming to the boozer?

    We shall talk about Jack Wilshere and Greek Customs of the Single Gentleman 🙂

  85. mickydidit89 says:

    Will the Hippy, Won’t the Hippy?

    Unreliable as well as weak

  86. chas says:

    “I remain in lock-down mode. So much so that I am going to Bornholm (an island between Sweden and Poland) for a few days. It is blowing a gale here and we are going by ferry 😦 😦 ”

    I’d say the chance of good wi-fi there is low.

  87. chas says:

    When I see the word “gibbous” I have to look it up.
    I try to remember what it means.
    Next time I see the word “gibbous” I have to look it up.

  88. mickydidit89 says:

    Doesn’t a couple of days bring our intrepid writer back early this morning?

    Looking at that map, and where he’s circled, the words lost at sea sprung to mind

  89. mickydidit89 says:

    Gibbous

  90. mickydidit89 says:

    Right. Later on.

  91. chas says:

    Ah, you might be right.
    I read ‘a few days’ as more than two.

    (BR’s comment was at 11.02 am Sunday morning)

  92. Eddie says:

    o shit, it seems I missed a great post and an excellent discussion yesterday 😦 we are growing teeth at the moment, very unsettled time in one’s life

    I agree with chas, ie the players didn’t turn up, they really underperformed. They are top pros and should know how to deal with a situation, especially if it arises at the Shite HL. They definitely should know how to park a bus effectively, any team can do it to us, so how come we cannot?

    But in all honestly I will add (before I wash my mouth) that perhaps Pottechino is a better tactician than Wenger. The man is simply brilliant. He had our tactics well predicted and dealt with. No cure for that I am afraid.

    We lost, ok, end of the world for any Gunner and although we can get ahead of Spurs tonight, personally I doubt that we will.

  93. Eddie says:

    about professionals. My car was stuck in mud last week. In a field. I drove her there to rescue an injured dogglet.

    The guys who came to the rescue the following day were the dogs testis, absolutely amazing. It costed a bomb to free the car, but it was money well spent – just to watch them manoeuvring with a military precision. Aaron was the top dog, what a guy! I was told that if Aaron cannot get her out, nobody can. He loves that job and a challenge 🙂 Terrific guy, no interest in football.

  94. chas says:

    Pottechino 🙂

    Have you recovered from last Wednesday?
    Any Eddie-cam footage or maybe just what happened?

  95. chas says:

    Did you get his number?

  96. Eddie says:

    chas – no, I won’t need his number, going to buy a 4×4 instead. Always cheaper than getting involved with a man 🙂

  97. Eddie says:

    you guys would have been proud of this lezzer. It was a huge german sheppard that grabbed my daughter’s-in-law pugglet by the neck and was shacking him to kill. The owner was standing there calling the dog. Eddie jumped on the beast’s back, punched him and pulled off the victim. My legs were like jelly, but I saved the dogglet, who I love to bits, my first grandson

  98. chas says:

    Wow, sounds scary.
    So you punched the alsatian and it let go?
    Your car got stuck going back to pick up the injured pug?

  99. chas says:

    Pulling off the victim, as well. Nothing is too much.

  100. chas says:

    You’re very brave.

  101. Eddie says:

    it was very scary, awful, I have never seen anything like it. Honestly. No, the Alsatian would not let go until I grabbed his collar and pulled him up upright. Thank Dennis he didn’t turn on me.

    Yes, the pugglet was crying and shacking. I was sure he had broken neck. I ran for the car, drove there, but could not get back out. I ran again, up the hill, my heart hurting like feck all the way to the owners’ house. My future neighbours didn’t recognise me, but I knew them. The woman took a detour, called her husband who picked her and their dogs up from somewhere else. They didn’t go the same route to avoid me. Let’s say they were shocked when they saw me running, covered in mud, crying and in shock. Eventually I forced them to go with me and take the pugglet to a vet. The bastards kept asking if I have insurance!!!

    Anyway, the dog is recovering, I was stopped from going to the police, my car is almost clean although there is some damage underneath, but I no longer care. Want a 4×4 again

  102. Eddie says:

    thank you chas 🙂 I am brave, that is true, my madness helps a lot 🙂

  103. Eddie says:

    nb – that’s a beautiful film, especially coming from you 🙂

  104. chas says:

  105. Eddie says:

    that’s Freddie?????????????? yuk!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  106. GoonerB says:

    Morning all. Actually Chas I know a Swedish guy who lives in Norway that looks like him. Just wondering if it is him and not Freddy.

    Whats up with NB going all mushy and lovey dovey on us. Maybe he is saving the Mid West lesbian muscle wrestling final video till we have all had our breakfast

  107. Nothing from Raddy 😦 does anyone have time to write a pre-match ………… pretty please. Just a few words to warm us up.

  108. chas says:

    Soz, the Ljungberg pic was a joke.

  109. Eddie says:

    mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm Freddie mmmmmmmm 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

  110. GB and Yvonne

    ha ha I’m painting so my soft and cuddly side comes to the fore, so my feminine personality shines through. 🙂

    Where’s the hippy………. still fecking hiding on a remote island with the vikings.

  111. Rasp says:

    Hmm, dereliction of duty from Raddy 😦

  112. 25 minutes to the deadline….. It won’t be the same without a Raddy Pre-match.

  113. Raddy has just texted me apologising for no pre-match but he has no internet.

  114. Mmmmmmmm nice pic of Freddie 🙂

  115. oh dear……….. No Raddy but Peaches is lusting after Freddy 🙂

  116. A butterfly flaps it’s wings in Japan and Wenger has a bad day at the office in London

  117. Rasp says:

    Couldn’t Raddy have given us a bit more notice? The hippy thing has gone to his head 😕

  118. Nothing worse than an ageing hippy…….. I think something else has gone to his head 🙂

  119. Shard, Micky, Chas, … Rasp! Write a pre-match quick!

  120. mickydidit89 says:

    Chas at 8:11
    ROLFing badly
    Train in five
    If connection will pen something

  121. Eddie says:

    Chas and micky – I just realised what you meant. When did I ever pretend to be a victim?.?

  122. mickydidit89 says:

    sending

  123. Rasp says:

    chas … “Pulling off the victim, as well. Nothing is too much” 😆

    Here’s my pre-match …..

    We must win ……..

  124. Well done micky…….. you hero!

  125. Yvonne

    At the moment I’m working wet in wet 🙂

  126. On it ……………..

  127. Rasp says:

    micky’sdoneit2015 ……

    …. New post …….

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