A disappointing 3 points …. an orchestra with 3 conductors

Before ….

I had a drink with 6 of the finest, most wholehearted Arsenal supporters you could hope to meet before arriving at The Emirates. Several had travelled great distance to attend the game. The good natured banter and camaraderie of kindred spirits is one of the great joys of being an Arsenal Supporter.

The game …..

After a disappointing performance in the NLD, we had high hopes that the team would bounce back and show its class. I will admit to being surprised at the team selection with Giroud and Welbeck consigned to the bench and a midfield 3 of Cazorla, Ozil and Rosicky.

The first half was a cautious affair with little quality on show from either side except for the finishes for the 2 goals which comprised an excellent striker’s finish from Koscielny from a corner and a trademark, reflex, low into the corner goal from Theo (how often do you see him blaze it over the bar?)

So at 2 goals up and the game seemingly secure, most were wondering how many we could add in the second half. Immediately it became obvious that the team had lapsed into that weird alternative Arsenal characterised by low energy, lack of penetration, pass it sideways rather than forward jaundiced football.

Leicester played with fight, pace on the counter and width. They looked determined and dangerous and were rewarded with a deserved goal after some typically poor defending by Arsenal. We could all see it coming. Would the team respond and up the tempo? ….. No. We held on for the rest of the game. Ospina once again made a couple of key saves that saved us points but all in all this was a tepid performance. The overwhelming feeling at the final whistle was relief, not joy at gaining 3 points.

Why …..

Before the game, GoonerB had been banging on about how we could not play 3 of our 5 or 6 attacking midfielders together at any one time. He argued that we needed pace and width and runners. The longer the game went on, the more I could see he had hit the nail on the head. I lost count of how many times one of our midfield 3 came out of defence with the ball only to stop once in the opponents half and pass backwards or sideways. Result … moment lost, opportunity wasted, the oppositions defence assembled to keep us out of the danger area.

The best team seldom comprises the best 11 players. If we call the attacking midfielders playmakers (last night that was Rosicky, Ozil and Cazorla) it becomes more obvious why we lose attacking edge. No orchestra plays to 3 conductors – that just causes confusion and yet we field 3 players all trying to do the same job and operate in the same area. This compresses our play in the centre of the pitch and means we are short of bodies and options when it comes to an attacking pass. We must hold the record for the number of times the ball is passed 5 yards and then straight back again.

GoonerB said before the game that he’d rather see players like The Ox, Welbeck or even Akpom who are direct and have pace, but more importantly make runs for a playmaker to exploit.

It’s been said before, we have too many identikit players trying to play in the same area. I thought Coquelin was our best player. He reminded me of Sol when he came back, trying to rouse those around him seemingly unable to understand why there was so little fight in them. You could see his frustration growing in the second half to the point where it was he (our DM) who was actually driving play forward.

What’s to do? ….

Arsene Wenger obviously doesn’t see it this way. He repeatedly puts out teams that lack balance and his options are restricted due to the type of player he signs and the inevitable injuries. Ozil was poor last night. Despite declaring that he had come back stronger, he was knocked off the ball too easily because he was looking for a pass, but the lack of runners meant he ended up in blind alleys. I love his talent and ability but in our current set up he is just not cutting the mustard.

Nothing will change whilst Arsene is manager …. so there’s nothing we can do.

Hats off to Leicester. They’d never complain after getting 3 points. I can and do complain, the guys I met before the game deserve better than this.  We have consistently underperformed. Our team is less than the sum of its parts and that is the opposite of what we should expect.


25 Responses to A disappointing 3 points …. an orchestra with 3 conductors

  1. Funny that some in the press are saying that Ozil has been excellent since coming back from injury. Personally, i think hes been decent but not yet near his best. Is that 4 assists and 3 goals in his 4 games back? Thats not bad really.

    I think hes similar to Theo in that he produces goals and assists but doesnt have the all-round game and workrate of someone like Alexis, Ox or Welbeck.

    I do agree that the balance was wrong yesterday and if Ozil is going to play he needs to play central with Giroud in front of him and pace out wide. The problem is Cazorla has been playing really well recently (although not so good the last 2 games).

    Wenger has said he has an ideal starting 11 in his head, hopefully yesterday wasnt it.

    Still, delighted with the 3 points.

  2. chas says:

    Nice ranting, Rasp.
    I’m still digesting the game and will comment more later.

    Here’s Wenger’s post-match. He seems to know we were poor and Leicester pretty good, so at least there’s no self-deception.

  3. Shubham says:

    Looks like we scrapped through last night albeit with the cost of having 2 players down. I agree friend, some components of our midfield don’t gel properly. Yet Le Prof goes for it. Some of his decisions baffle me these days. Anyways, lets gather steam again. The FA cup game will be vital and a win will be important in keeping the morale high…COYG!

  4. chas says:

    As usual Arsenalist has many of the main incidents from the game.

    This is my favourite, Mike Jones booking Giroud for having the ball kicked into his back.
    Effin priceless. 🙂


  5. chas says:

    Superb to see everyone last night.
    Shame LB didn’t show.

    We got back only a little later last night despite the M1 being shut between junctions 18 and 19.
    This was down to Ant’s excellent cross-country driving and a belting satnav.

  6. Rasp says:

    Great to see you guys chas. I shall be visiting that excellent forfarfor website more frequently in the future 🙂

  7. chas says:

    Tactical sales promotion of the day

  8. chas says:

    Cheers, Rasp.

  9. RC78 says:

    I think many of us agree with GB and your analysis indeed. The sad part is that we actually have a few players that offer pace and width to our game so it is a mystery for me why they are not played more regularly…But our team lacks real wingers like Willian, Cuadrado, Di Maria, Valencia and our great teams in the past always relied on wingers and width with pace…

    That said, we still need to buy one winger especially a lefty…even after Gnabry comes back.

  10. chas says:

  11. RC78 says:

    Just to let you know that Arsenal is reportedly preparing a 34 Mln EUR bid for Nebil Fekir of Lyon. He is a very talented forward that can play on the wings but relatively unproven…

  12. chas says:

    I’ve just seen on Twatter that it was Mike Jones who refereed the Liverpool v Leicester game on 1st January.
    He awarded the dippers two penalties in the first half of that game, apparently one which clearly smacked the Leicester defender clean in the face. Leicester came back to draw 2-2.

    Three things from this
    1. Mike Jones must have been subconsciously (if he’s not consciously bent) trying to pay Leicester back for his previous dreadful officiating.

    2. Leicester have a track record of forcing their way back into games against top half teams (ask Manyoo 🙂 )

    3. Somehow we managed to hold on to the 3 points which is more than the dippers did.

  13. chas says:

    Right, I’m hogging the blog.
    Off to give someone else a chance.

  14. Rasp says:

    Good positives, I was hoping someone would chip in with a contrary view – thanks chas 😀

    Another positive for me was that I though Ospina had another good game. I don’t feel nervous when he plays and surprising for a ‘short’ keeper he is very good at coming for crosses and high balls.

    The ref was pants yesterday, I just didn’t want to focus on that because we were poor without his bias being taken into account.

  15. Rasp says:

    One point abut the refereeing. As it currently stands, a club cannot contest a yellow card. If a player receives a mandatory ban for accumulation of yellow cards and one (or more) of those cards was a mistake by the ref as with Giroud yesterday, then the club should be able to ask for a review of that decision because it has led to a ban that is unfair.

    So no to contesting yellow cards routinely, but yes when it leads to a ban.

  16. chas says:

    Just popped back to see if anyone’s added comments.

    I can’t really give a contrary view – we were awful in large parts last night.
    We needed the 3 points and got them. A week or two from now we’ll have forgotten how spawny we were to get them.

    That’s the best I can do. 🙂

  17. The Cockie Monster says:

    Thanks Rasp.
    Although we are like chalk and cheese in our pursuit of Eddies affections….me being up on the scale closer to Giroud and you being closer on the scale to Danny DeVito….we are pretty much alike in our thoughts on most things Arsenal…..basically a couple of Doomers !. hahaha

    Although, I`d settle for a disappointing 3 points from every game now on in !.

  18. Rasp says:

    Cockie …. you do realise that people new to the site will assume that Eddie is a fella!!!!

    Just for the record everyone, Eddie is a lady don’t you know 🙂

  19. Rasp says:

    Massive cockup – all my fault. We have a match report from a fine new author ……

    ……. 2nd New post ……..

    Please address comments to the n
    latest post by @SirAHussain14

  20. GoonerB says:

    Thanks Rasp, it is true i do bang on about a lot of things. The nails in the head is normally what others do to me to stop me banging on about things.

    I mentioned just before the new post went up how much I enjoyed meeting up with the guys last night, and even more so that I only secured a ticket late on to go, so was a surprise addition to the gang. It was so nice to see all their happy little faces when I arrived. Having said that you guys do need some lessons in proper smiling though as you all strangely look more like you are grimacing.

    That aside I think Rasp has highlighted my view in a far more eloquent fashion than I could. To clarify one point I would say that we normally take up 1 midfield slot with a player who can sit a bit more in front of the back 4, which I agree with. After this I feel we have 2 central(ish) midfield slots left. Vying for those slots in our current squad I feel are Ramsey, Cazorla, Ozil, Rosicky and Wilshere.

    I accept that each of these players have sightly different qualities in terms of defensive ability, play making, ball carrying, box to box skills e.t.c. Further some are more adaptable to both deeper or more advanced CM roles while others are better at one or the other. The end result for me though is that we only need 2 of the 5 on the pitch at the same time, at a push 3 if it is balanced out elsewhere in the team.

    I would either go further and say we actually don’t need that many in the squad and that it is complicating things. Personally I feel to get things right Arsene will have to make the tough decision on benching a couple of our good technical CM players and may have to make the even tougher decision on letting 1 or 2 go at the end of the season, like Maureen has recently with Mata and then Schurrle (sorry sacrilege to mention him I know). This may cause personal upset or put noses out of joints but if it is for the long-term betterment of the team then so be it.

    For those that agree with this view each of us will have different opinions about which of the 5 they would prefer to see playing and even which of the 5 should stay or be sold. I went down to the bookies to put some money on who LB feels shouldn’t play and / or be sold but the odds were awful 🙂

  21. chas says:

    Eff off, Tony Cottee. 🙂

  22. Rasp says:

    Hi GB, I meant ‘banging on’ as a term of affection 🙂

    Sorry I referenced you without seeking permission, but I could see the truth in what you were saying and wanted to highlight it for others.

  23. RC78 says:

    FGG – I think it is an interesting debate.

    Do you value more the performance of an attacking player on
    – his ability to be decisive (goals, assists, chances created, crosses delivered, key passes…); or
    – his overall play/team contribution (including his defensive contribution).

    On my side, I value both very highly but I have noticed this following trend:

    – When players like Walcott (or Ox) are doing fine in terms of their overall play, they get criticized for not being decisive;
    – Similarly, when they are being decisive, we focus on the fact that they are not contributing to the team enough.

    There are not many Sanchez, Diego Gosta, Luis Suarez and that’s what makes them so special…It seems they are a breed of hungry forward that understand the need for defensive work…Messi does not do much defensively and he is hailed as the Best Player in the world by many…because he is decisive.

    So what’s your and our fellow Gunner Fans opinion?

  24. RC78 says:

    that said, I am happy when an attacking players does well what he is supposed to primarly do: score, assist and create chances. If he is good at the rest, perfect 🙂

    I rate Giroud highly because he is a great team player but I also would like him to be more decisive. How many times did people have a go at him for not scoring 20 goals per season in the EPL? Did they take into account that the team has a better winning rate with him in the squad – not sure?

    Anyways – what do we rate and value more is totally subjective? However, a team should play to the strengths of its best players – look at Barcelona, Madrid, Munich, Chelsea…and it s the manager’s job to make sure that the team ticks…In my opinion, we have to play to Ramsey, Ox, Ozil and Sanchez’s strengths and build the team around them…but I am quite silly 🙂

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