Not top of the league yet………

….well not until todays games have completed anyway…I am a bit of stickler for the Top of The League shouting, like in Tennis where a player gets a break of serve, its not really a break of serve until he holds his next service game, the same goes for being top of the League, we are not really top of the league until everyone has finished their games this weekend…by 4pm today hopefully we are top of the league. Ok Doomer bit over…..and back to yesterday’s game.

This was never going to be an easy task, with the “could go top” match previews hanging over the head of the Arsenal players coupled with the after effects of the midweek Bayern performance, the media were surely sharpening their keyboards to write once again that when put in a position of pressure we failed. Well that may have been what the media wanted, but thankfully the players and manager didn’t give them the ammunition.

We started brightly enough, pressing Everton in their third of the pitch and not allowing Howard, Jagielka or Stones time on the ball to pick out Lukaku and build from there, or play through their midfield, this meant we were winning back possession regularly enough and dominating the game. The team looked up for it, Giroud leading the pressing from the front but also helping to move the ball around the attacking midfielders giving a good platform to build on. In fact Giroud did a very good job of re igniting the Theo v Giroud debate which Theo looked like he had settled in recent weeks.

As the half wore on we were not really creating much in front of goal, and although Giroud was giving us that platform there were times where it appeared that Ozil, Santi and Alexis couldn’t perhaps find the pass they would have had Theo been leading the line.

We created a few opportunities but not really any clear cut chances, that was until Ozil found himself in time and space, Giroud made a good run having initially laid the ball off and pointed to where he wanted it, Ozil didn’t need asking twice and put the ball perfectly into the box, tempting Howard off his line and giving Ollie the simple task of helping it on in to the open net.

Within 16 seconds of the restart (as shown on MotD) Arsenal pressed Everton back in to their own half and after good work from Ollie, Alexis got fouled and we had a free kick in a dangerous area. Santi delivered an even better cross than his one against Bayern on Tuesday night and Koscielny found himself with a simple header into an again empty net because Howard had again vacated his line. I am not sure there are many players like Santi in the English Premier League, on Tuesday he delivered a bending cross from deep with his left foot, and yesterday he provided the same with his right foot. We are very lucky to have him. The fans responded in full voice and the Emirates sounded like a fun place to be.

Unfortunately as is often the Arsenal way we managed to conspire to make the game difficult for ourselves, with a few minutes of the first half remaining Ox found himself with the ball on the edge of Everton’s area, Hector available to his right and players closing, if he had managed to get a shot off first time then we would not have been chasing back towards our own goal five seconds later, instead Ox chose to shoot after a couple of touches in to a mass of Everton bodies when there were better options on, the ball broke to Delofeu who managed remarkably to stay on his feet for twenty or so yards before releasing Barkley, Koscielny had been dragged wide by Lukaku and Ox and Hector were in hot pursuit, they both probably had a chance to take the booking but allowed Barkley to continue, he took a speculative shot which would not have troubled Cech until it took a big deflection off of Gabriel and drifted into the gaping net. Some have drawn comparisons between the two incidents, saying that Barkley’s attempt was the same as Ox’s but because his resulted in a goal he was applauded whilst Ox was criticised, the difference in my opinion was the options, Barkley really had no other options and most of his team mates were safely behind him, therefore he bought a ticket to the lottery and won, Ox had options, plenty of them and at 2-0 up there was no need to try and force a third before half time.

This gave Everton a lift and made the game closer than it needed to be for the second half, Arsenal continued to play their football, as did Everton which made for a really enjoyable game of football, in truth either team could have scored the next goal, and both had opportunities to do so, Grioud denied by the bar, Ozil by the post and Lukaku by the post, Delofeu was was also denied by a good block by Cech with Kozzer and Nacho in close attendance.

The game ended with Arsenal fans cheering every tackle and interception to the rafters and the final whistle was greeted with a mixture of celebration and relief.

Given the recent run of games, the opponent and the energy expended on Tuesday night, this was a very good result, if we are top of the league by the end of today does not impact that, its more fuel to the fire of belief spreading around the Emirates and the Arsenal blogosphere and fandom, lets hope it continues to roll on.

Man of the match is tricky one for me, Coquelin, Ozil, Giroud and Santi all in with a good shout. For me Giroud edged it, by way of explanation i liked his workrate and his distribution and his finishing, in the face of the criticism he has faced since the start of the season I think he deserves recognition.

Gooner in Exile

80 Responses to Not top of the league yet………

  1. Rasp says:

    Spot on GiE, that is exactly how I saw the game.

    Apart from the Ox who was trying too hard, every other player had a good game and this is the difference to games earlier in the season where we just didn’t seem to have our rhythm.

    Giroud would get my MotM for the reasons you give, but Ozil was superb and Santi and Le Coq excellent.

    I think we have the best wing back pairing in the league, Monreal was superb and if Bellerin continues to improve at this rate he will be on every club’s wants list in a season or two. We’re lucky to have them both.

  2. Big Raddy says:

    GIE Great stuff and just how I saw it.

    Gird my MotM closely followed by everyone else.

    It seemed to me that Ox became frustrated by his inability to reach his own high standards. A run of games will give him the confidence to relax.

  3. chas says:

    Cheers, GIE.
    I think you’ve summed up a hard-earned 3 points very well indeed.
    The shocking weather conditions made it even harder, especially for the goalkeepers.
    Petr Cech spilled a ball which bounced across him straight to Stones when the score was still 0-0. Who knows what would have happened if we’d gone 1 down. Though it would have been against the run of play as both teams struggled with the conditions.
    At the moment things are going right for the boys – long may it continue.

    I think the only way we can stay top is if ManU win by less than 3 goals, though 3-0 to the red mancs will leave us with identical records.

    In other news Tim Nice but Dim has been sacked by Villa.
    Thank Dennis we’re not one of those clubs who change managers as often as their underpants.

  4. It’s hard to criticize a winning team but we do still tend to get a bit carried away at times. Two nil up and a couple of minutes to halftime is not the moment to get all gung ho. We still have a little bit of naivety in the team.

    By the way, a very good match report Exile.

  5. chas says:

    Giroud pointing where he wanted the ball and Ozil’s inch-perfect cross finding the top of his immaculate quiff was a thing of rare beauty. 🙂

  6. RA says:

    Excellent stuff, Exile, and very well summarised.

    As a ‘post-match’ article is an after the event assessment by another name, I suppose we can nitpick even after another superb game – and I do have a couple of things (nothing new) that still get me twitching – like one of Terry’s girlfriends, or perhaps more aptly one of GoonerB’s camels when either of them approach with the wormer in hand. [I have never seen the pair of them together – are they, perhaps, one and the same?] 😀

    My first beef is that even when we are on top, again Terry and his barbie doll come to mind, we carelessly give the ball away, even if it is only a pass of 4 or 5 metres, and altho the Ox’s lamentable non-shot into a forest of legs was not quite in that category, it resulted in a fortuitous goal and some of our passes could have ended up the same way. The solution is simple — our players must stop dribbling in ever decreasing circles before disappearing up their own asses like the oomegooly birds, or having the ball ferreted away from them by a toe surreptitiously inserted betwixt an Arsenal foot and the ball.

    My other point of contention is, as I mentioned yesterday two minutes after he came on, why did Flambo assume the role of Captain Marvel and immediately go upfield to show Oily Aginous [Ok, there is a pun in there for the discerning] 🙂 how a CF should perform – only to show he is crap at it, and should have been defending our 2:0 lead like a demon, especially in the 85th minute.

    Shocking decision by the ref to award a penalty to Sunderland for what looked like a simple shoulder charge. And then sends him off.

  7. Gööner In Exile says:

    Now Sherwoods available I bet Roman is ready to pull the trigger. 😀

  8. RA says:

    Co-commentator Nial Ex-Chairman of Sunderland Quin thought it was a good call. Funny that.

  9. Gööner In Exile says:

    RA I think when we are winning is the perfect time to nitpick, not that the players read our blog I’m sure but we all know Arsene and Bouldie do so rest assured they will be at Colney on Monday morning addressing our concerns 🙂

    I forgot to mention about Flamini that annoyed me too, but at the same time I was grinning because it is just typical of us and the way we try and play football, when Gibbs arrived he was clearly seen telling Flam to go and play alongside Coq which at least it seemed he did.

    There was also a period where Giroud seemed to shift to the left hand side as Alexis assumed duties up top, and Ollie was one of the deepest attackers trying to win possession back in our own half.

  10. Rasp says:

    Hi Redders, I think we have to see the second half performance in context of the Bayern game earlier in the week. We definitely looked to be tiring towards the end.

    I think we saw plan A – where A = Arsene 😀

    The surprise for me also was to see Flamini and Gibbs take up advanced positions when I had assumed they’d come on to shore up the defence.

  11. RA says:

    I think that you are right, GIE, about Ollie lying deep to re-gain possession in our half, and it is often overlooked that he is a superb extra defender with his heading ability against corners and free kicks into our penalty area.

    I remain unconvinced about him and Theo at CF, altho both have done well when they have played there this season, in their differing ways, it has to be said — so let’s have a vote about it — who agrees with me? who agrees with Arsene?

    Fine so I got one vote – mine – oh, yea ‘orrible bloggers. 🙂

  12. RA says:

    Contextualising action in games is a good way to express our observations, as it is really what we all do on here – guess! 😉

  13. chas says:

  14. kelsey says:

    Well done GIE

    I have already made a few observations and Chas picked up the point about the downpour which only lasted for the first half which in hindsight went in our favour.

    Sanchez should have come off after an hour, he was completely knackered or possibly not even played but he still had his moments..

    Le Coq has been a revelation but the early booking made him play more cautiously.

    I still think it is glaringly evident that we are a couple of really good players short.Chambers is not adequate cover yet.Campbell has hardly ever played and who else is there.

    If Sanchez or Ozil or either Kos or Gabriel got injured the cover is not great.

    The OX is rusty but we may see him play on Tuesday

    Pity Welbeck is injured as he would have been an ideal sub yesterday.

    I like Everton and their manager.They come to play football which will always suit us.

    I wonder what Cech is thinking about everything going on at Chelsea.A wry smile on his face during his interview..

  15. RA says:

    My 1:06 was for you Rasper. 🙂

    [WordPress has told me to sod off because I am commenting too quickly — what a nerve — machines telling a huming bean what to do – or not.] WP Bastard. 🙂

  16. LB says:

    Summed up perfectly GIE.

    I thought Arsenal oozed self belief as they game got underway, a very useful byproduct of our epic win in the week. Fatigue started to take its toll and we wobbled a bit towards the end but there is no doubt in my mind that we were the better team and deserved all three points.

    Interesting call to start with TFP ahead of Walcott; Everton were always going to have a go which created all sorts of space, absolutely perfect for Walcott but Wenger obviously noticed that Everton’s backline is such that they are clearly vulnerable in the air and so it proved with a a superb goal from TFP and Koscielny.

    For the more eagle eyed, you might have noticed a huge improvement in our corners, every single one in the first half almost led to a goal. About time I suppose, it really has been an aspect of our game that needed improvement.

    TFP has rightly been awarded the MOTM, he has responded well to competition: gone are the Gaelic shrugs and in is more Alexis Sanchez work ethic. He probably no longer deserves his acronym.

  17. RA says:


    Not wanting to start WW3, but that Swiss Ramble pic looks a lot like you in drag. 😀

  18. RA says:

    Sorry, Chas, that was disrespectful — I should have said; ‘looks a lot like you in drag, Darling.’ 😀

  19. Gööner In Exile says:

    Kelsey I think if you take two first choice centre backs out of any team they would struggle to field two quality replacements, in Chambers and BFG, or Gabriel and Chambers (depending who you think is first choice out of BFG and Gabriel) I reckon we are better placed than most.

    Terry, Cahill, Zouma…..Ivanovic can always cover i guess
    Company, DemIcheles, Mangala ad Otemendi
    Smalling, Rojo, Jones, McNair…..and they play a midfielder/fullback Blind there

  20. RA says:


    I am not sure what you meant about our corners have improved as every single one in the first half led to a goal.

    Both our goals came from free kicks, which were not corner kicks, altho they have been a bit better this season. 😉

  21. chas says:

    I don’t mind looking like Lord Percy but would hate to resemble that pillock of a ref. 🙂

  22. RA says:

    If there was ever an old adage that has been proved to be correct this weekend, it is ”ave a dig, son’ because the Everton goal came from a shot on goal, which was going nowhere until deflected, and Sunderland have scored goal #2 from a hopeful shot through a forest of legs.

    If either chance had been passed elsewhere, those chances would not have brought the goals,

  23. RA says:

    And I was only kidding, Chas! 😀

  24. RA says:

    Big Sam will be hailed as The Fat Saviour after the NE Derby – courtesy of the ref.

  25. LB says:


    That should have been all our corners almost led to a goal. You are more eagle eyed that I am.

  26. Gööner In Exile says:

    Police horses of Sunderland are cowering in their hooves

  27. Rasp says:

    Football is a funny old game ©.

    Newcastle have had 61% possession with 21 shots compared to Sunderland’s 9 of which 8 were on target compared to Sunderland’s 3 – all of which resulted in a goal 🙂

  28. stevepalmer1 says:

    Afternoon all, That was a really good post Exile thank you. Of course i have to disagree with not being top of the league, I said when we were 5 or 6 points behind that we would lead the league and we are. City getting knocked off the top has put pressure on them, and that’s what we have done.

    Pretty pissed off that the Cretin has stolen the news, for every thing bad in the Premier, but the Media love a story rather than praise The Arsenal.

    Although you gave your MOTM to Giro, I believe it could have gone to many, Personally i would have given it to le Coq, He does the same thing in every game, and we get used to it, his passing is getting more assured, long cross field defence splitting passes which is getting better and better.

    I have to say Giroud did more yesterday than he usually does, but so many of our team do it every game Belerin Monreal Sanchez Kos Gabby Cech santi lets face it any of them could have had it.

  29. RA says:

    I certainly agree with that, LB. 🙂

  30. Eddie says:

    A very good match report, thank you very much GiE!

    All fine and dandy but you will not get away with ignoring the impact of one Petr Cech on our incredible result after result. Come on, be a big guy and admit that we would never do that with any of the 3 previous goalies

  31. RA says:

    The point is tho, Steve, only one player can be the MOTM, and with each of us having our own opinions, who is to say who is right?

    Giro for me, too, as it happens, altho you are correct I would also be happy with Özil or Cech or Kozzer, but maybe Rasper can give us a Postal vote and see who is elected the winner by majority. 🙂

  32. stevepalmer1 says:

    RA, if i speak the truth mate i don’t care who gets it, as long as its one of ours. 🙂

  33. Gööner In Exile says:

    Eddie, as I’ve said on numerous occasions, Cech is a good goalkeeper, and he has had a couple of good games in the last two, they’ve not been without fault though, but they have not led to goals. I’ll give you three incidents in the last three games that “could” have led to the opposition scoring but thankfully for us they didn’t:

    Cech coming out of his area against Watford and nearly tangling with BFG
    Punching clear a ball he should have held into Stones (and thankfully it wasStones)
    Getting under a high ball and playing ring a roses with Koz and Lukaku yesterday

    And one moment they didn’t show on TV live because they were reshowing a goal chance where Cech took on Lukaku in our box, when they cut back Cech had the ball no Arsenal player in sight and a couple of Blue shirts in close attendance

    I don’t doubt he has made some good stops, but I would say apart from the Lewandoski save against Bayern I’d be disappointed if any ended up as goals. Make saves like that week in and week out and i’ll change my mind.

    He seems to bring some assurance to the back line and that is good, but those issues highlighted above would be seen as weaknesses if any of our other keepers had committed them and we still won (just as I said after the Community Shield and was unfortunately proved right the following weekend).

  34. Eddie says:

    GiE – I think he is more than a good goal keeper and certainly a huge improvement on Fab, Szcz and DO. His calm and concentration are what I find very reassuring. Even just watching the game I am not a nervous wreck every time the ball goes in the direction of our goal, as I did in the past few seasons. I am sure the back 4 feel the same

    I wonder how much of Chelsea trouble can be attributed to Courtois’ injury and Cech’s departure? I hope LOTS 🙂

  35. stevepalmer1 says:

    0’0 at half time, Spuds leading 3.1 still top of the league. 🙂

  36. GunnerN5 says:

    Still 0-0 in the 83rd minute – I know a draw is best for us – but I still want Man U lose…………………

  37. chas says:

    I’m all footballed out.
    Can’t sit through the Liv v Sot game after that tedious draw.

  38. chas says:

    2nd on GD, not bad after 5/19ths of the season gone.

  39. Big Raddy says:

    What a dull game that was. Hardly a shot from either team.

  40. Gööner In Exile says:

    5/19ths 😀

    Anymore of that nonsense and I’ll unleash swingo…..(which would take me a while as ive not done it at all this season)

    An inconsiderate Brother in Law turned up to announce his other half is expecting at 2pm so I didn’t see that game.

    Will now have a look at Klopps Pool for the first time.

    Seems Kane found his level today.

  41. RA says:

    The ‘Pool v S/Hampton game is dire too. Giving it a miss for the 2nd half. HT 0:0

  42. Big Raddy says:

    From BBC

    “No player has scored more headed goals in the Premier League since 2013/14 than Christian Benteke (14, level with Olivier Giroud)”

    That makes OG a €35m striker!

  43. Gööner In Exile says:

    Correction Raddy…..Benteke only scored 26 in that time so 12 with feet, whereas Ollli has 35 so 21 with feet, surely that makes Ollie a €50m forward?

  44. fred1266 says:

    Manchester side look poor today let’s up they keep that form up

  45. Big Raddy says:

    Fred. Very true.

    GIE. At least €50m if it is MC money!

  46. chas says:

  47. chas says:

  48. LB says:

    Gibbs – Flamini

    Defend from the front and all that, what’s not to understand?

  49. Gööner In Exile says:

    Maybe Klopp isn’t aware of Bill Shankly’s quote……

    “It’s only a goal, only a game of football. It’s like it’s the last thing in your life and we have to calm this down”.

    Or maybe he is and has chosen his words carefully, either way he is swimming against a tide of over fifty years of Shankly’s quote being repeated. Good luck with that.

  50. LB says:

    There is something fishy going on with Mertesacker, home in bed, unwell? That man would crawl onto the pitch to play if he lost a leg.
    There is something we are not being told here, or maybe it is just me.


  51. chas says:

    Glandular fever, M.E., malarial limpness?

  52. chas says:

    Better get used to it Jurgen.
    The premier league is a place for knee-jerk reactions.
    ‘Sich beruhigen, sich beruhigen’ just isn’t going to cut it on Merseyside.

  53. chas says:

  54. chas says:

    Explanation of the term PDO.
    ExpG is expected goals.
    Apologies for the 4 letter word in the diagram above. (luck) 🙂

  55. chas says:

  56. chas says:

    Still happy with second place on GD after 26.3% of the season gone. 🙂

  57. Gööner In Exile says:

    Bloody ell Chas I just read that PDO explanation got half way down and am more confused than before I looked at the explanation.

  58. mickydidit89 says:

    Sorry to miss yesterday. Really great MR, thanks.

    Wow, all the charts this morning. Like having homework before you can begin

    Lucky Chart 🙂

  59. mickydidit89 says:

    That chart ranking goalscorers or “xG per 90” is so broken

    I mean, how could the sweaty little swot that published it not look at the results, see Sanchez ranked below Ollie and Theo and not think my model is bollocks, it lacks common sense

  60. Eddie says:

    me not getting involved in stats.
    how about tomorrow? average age 15?
    Do we care?

  61. mickydidit89 says:

    Is it League Cup tomorrow?

    Morning Eddie

  62. chas says:

    “average age 15?”
    ………….. of Adam Johnson’s girlfriends?

  63. chas says:

    Ant and me are going to Sheffield.
    Pitiful disgrace.

  64. chas says:

    You seemed to care about who might be a fudge packer yesterday. 🙂

  65. chas says:

    Ant’s earmarked this as a means of continuing the disgracefulness. 🙂

  66. mickydidit89 says:

    You know what Chas, I actually think that’s acceptable if you get to see the stars of tomorrow

  67. chas says:

  68. chas says:

    Cheers, Micky, I can rest easy now with the DidIt seal (lion) of approval. 🙂

  69. chas says:

    Love the heffalump pic.

    I liked this, too.

  70. chas says:

    Gorra go.

  71. mickydidit89 says:

    Ha ha ha brilliant rabbit 🙂

  72. Big Raddy says:

    Morning All,

    “Seal (lion) of approval 😀

  73. Big Raddy says:

    I wonder if there is a Royal Seal Lion?

  74. Rasp says:

    LB, we have inside knowledge of Mertesacker’s affliction. It was a serious chest infection that would have had him consigned to bed and made him weak for some time. He did well to play 90 minutes the other week. ….. the source is from someone close to him who also had the same bug

  75. stevepalmer1 says:

    Morning all.
    Some rather unspectacular football this weekend, Of course the main game was us and a more exciting game you could not ask for.
    Everton as we knew would make this game tough, both teams wanted to win and in all honesty either could have won. Everton led by Martinez had got his players believing they could win, and after the game Martinez seemed upset by how his team defended our goals.

    Arsenal are making chances, where we have lacked the finishing touch, the chances still come, The old add-age of the more chances you make, the more goals scored, is starting to happen. Many will moan about Everton’s goal but Barkley took an opportunist strike and showed that a deflection can also be a great help.

    Arsenal pressed even though we were leading, while many wanted us to shut up shop, i felt the Arsenal players was going for a 2 goal cushion before they did. The third goal never came, but it has to be said Arsenal worked hard both in attack and defence right up till the end.

    Our stamina seems to be very good , and our team working is better than ever. Cech has given us more belief at the back and his safe hands even in greasy conditions looks more assured.

    I have to say that it is making me wonder now what system we will play as we seem now to have the Defensive the Attacking, or the combined, but whatever the system, at present it’s collecting points, Our use of Giroud and Walcott is working well, not forgetting what Wenger said this week, that they can also play together, perhaps another plan he has.

    At present the plans seem to be working. Same points as Leaders City who at present have a better goal average, we pulled back the points, the goal difference will soon not be a problem. We are on the march, rumours of Scouts watching certain possibilities for January bodes very well with our progress, Jack and Danny soon to return, it all seems Rosy in the old Garden.

  76. Eddie says:

    Rasp is so mysterious 🙂 loves keeping us in suspense 🙂 first corbyn now per….

    Come on, spill the beans – who’s the source?

  77. Rasp says:

    New post ……

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