The Invincibles would have struggled too

Discuss……

Ok I won’t leave it there, I’ll put some thoughts down first and then you can all have at it…..

Over the last few games a similar theme has arisen, why don’t we move the ball as quickly as we used to, obviously this often conjures up images in the mind of Paddy passing to God and him choosing which pawn to move next normally a rushing Thierry or Freddie and we just waited for the inevitable sound of ball in onion bag.

Repeat a couple of times then coast through the rest of the game conserving energy for the rest of the season. It is widely accepted that at some point Arsene shifted away from pace and power to smaller more gifted technical players, why?

I have a theory it stems from when we lost our unbeaten record, Ferguson decided stopping us playing would be far more beneficial than playing against us. He put a couple of solid banks out there and had his men go about kicking everything that moved, theory which proved successful in that upsetting the rhythm of our team stopped counter attacks early and denied us space in behind and time. This formula was gradually copied by everyone else, some like Allardyce had already done it.

With everyone else copying this tactic how would pace and power get round crowded midfield threes and solid defensive lines who were reluctant to move further than twenty five yards from their own goal, the power might have worked but the pace not so much. Hence the move to technical players who can unpick these packed defences and pass round midfield anchormen.

But here are my questions and the point behind the post:

Why did the likes of Blackburn, Newcastle, Middlesborough etc turn up at Highbury and play a proper game of football (ie both sides attacking)?

This allowed our pace men to burn away from opponents and exploit gaps left.

Why have teams adopted a very different style now?

They’d rather escape with a point, because Premier League survival is paramount and secondly once that is secure the next step is Premier League prize money, and every point counts. So when they arrive at the home of football they prefer to park the bus, would the Invincibles have had more weapons to break this down? I’m not sure.

Gooner in Exile

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84 Responses to The Invincibles would have struggled too

  1. Le Coq Monster says:

    Not sure if it works in with your post, Exile, but it is a different game now, was there pressing teams back then ?.
    If an average team like the Spuds have a chance of winning the league with a pressing game, then why oh why do we not do it ?
    The best team in the world do it !………… me and GB have been calling for it for ages, it goes hand in hand with working players harder in training and making them fitter with more stamina……..dont see the Spuds getting as many injuries as us for working harder !.

    http://dailycannon.com/2016/02/vermaelen-arsenal-dont-train-like-barcelona/

    And Wenger says……………..” I used to wonder whaat if I had signed Luis Suarez”…………………………..Yeah !, and I`m still wondering why you didn`t spend an extra £10-20M to get him instead of a £1 !.

  2. chas says:

    Yep, I think The Invincibles would have struggled as well, GIE.

    We scored 73 goals in the 2003/4 season.
    It’s only in our heads that we blew every team away in the first 15 minutes with glorious, fast counter attacking football from a team of Herculean warriors and then coasted through the next 75.

    This match report could have been from a more recent season.

    http://www.fulhamfc.com/first-team/2003_2004/league/away/arsenal

  3. Herb's Army says:

    I agree with Cockie.
    While it’s universally accepted that intellectually Arsene Wenger would destroy the ‘Eggheads’ (although Kevin might give him a run for his money), he hasn’t fully utilised that intelligence in his football strategy/philosophy, and he doesn’t suffer anywhere near as much as the fan-base. Why? Because fans have to pay premium rate to watch the same mistakes repeated almost every year, whilst our manager picks up a fortune to orchestrate and indulge these flaws without any pressure.
    Arsenal have put themselves in a strange situation where they are totally reliant on Arsene Wenger and don’t appear to have any obvious contingency plan.
    Despite the arrival of so-called ‘world-class’ stars, nothing much has changed in years, and I’ve seen nothing to convince me that he deserved to be rewarded with a new contract in 2014.
    Sure we won the FA Cup, but that was small potatoes compared to throwing away a genuinely realistic PL title opportunity.
    If Arsenal win the title this year he’ll be forgiven, but even then it will have taken far longer than it should have done. And if they don’t, we’re fulfilling everyone’s expectations with an ageing manager who has nothing new to offer.
    Thanks GiE.

  4. Le Coq Monster says:

    Thanks Herb !………….anyone who agrees with anything I say is my best mate…………..I haven`t many !. hahaha
    Not to just have a pop at Arsene, I do also have misgivings on other managers intelligence. Like I rate the Spud Ponceachino for his obvious grasp of tactics and how to play a system/formation as to get the best out of limited players, but will he deliberately get knocked out of the Europa League just to have the best chance of the EPL ?…………..he is almost guarenteed CL with a top 3 finish and playing extra games in the EL will only hinder his already great chance of winning the EPL !.
    Mansour City showed yesterday that they had a complete disregard for the FA Cup by playing their youth team so to concentrate on the CL and EPL.
    If I was the Argie Ponce and being the common sense intellectual bastard that I am, I would chuck the EL and have the best chance of winning the EPL for his bastard club since the invention of colour !……………..Lets hope he is a thick bastard and keeps playing in the EL to try and get into the CL even though he is already nearly mathematically in it !…………be thick and chance some nice juicy injuries !.

  5. Herb's Army says:

    Hi Cockie, I might not always respond to you, but you do make me laugh – with you, not at you 🙂
    Your vids (a few years ago, I know) are legendary.
    Football is the only industry in the world where you can fail miserably and still be guaranteed a King’s ransom, and there’s loads of examples.
    Coventry still haven’t recovered since Gordon Strachan got them relegated from the PL, and they now have to ground-share with new tenants, Wasps RFU. Coventry languish in the third tier whilst Strachan has got his nation’s top (football) job. Alan Shearer’s the same. Spectacularly failed at Newcastle, yet they hang on his every word at the Beeb.
    Our own Alan Ball took five or six clubs down, and just kept getting top jobs. The one I hate the most is Sven, who took £2.5m for managing the Ivory Coast (most of whose population is starving), for four games in the 2010 WC.
    And despite refunding fans at Old Trafford in August, 2011, I bet Arsene Wenger’s wages weren’t docked for taking us into that season totally unprepared, and then relying heavily on an 18 year old, who has struggled ever since.
    Football rinses fans and gives very little back, but on the flip-side, we are complicit in allowing it to happen.
    Complete utter madness.

  6. Gööner In Exile says:

    I didn’t expect this to be a debate on Arsene it was a question about how other teams now set up.

    If you want to talk pressing please don’t make out it is a guarantee of success……

    Spuds 0 – Leicester 1
    Leicester 2 – Liverpool 0
    Barca 0 – Bayern 7 (aggregate)

    I could go on.

    Spuds 0 – Palace 1
    (Although obviously Poch threw it)

    See the press is all well and good if you are playing teams that are going to try and pass round you as Barca do most weeks, and when they face us, although when they faced Chavs in CL semi? That’s right play against good enough opposition like Bayern who can evade the press with good passing or Chavs who would have no problem going long to a forward who can do it on his own the press is as questionable as our style.

    Spuds have gained support in recent games, although look at the five games they have won on the trot after losing to Leicester : Sunderland, Palace, Norwich, Watford, City. All games we can also win on our day.

    There is more than one way to skin a cat. If you want to press that’s fine, but please don’t make out its the only way to play, am you yourself correctly point out that very few teams do it, because every manager is not comfortable with the style, because it is very risky. Press when the opposition calls for it, tomorrow we will do the same as we will do at the Lane, look for the channels with outlet balls from deep and hope Theo and Alexis can exploit the space left. keep the ball well and eventually the press is exhausted, not one team has ever kept up the press for 90 minutes against us, because we keep the ball well, the question is are we still in the game when that happens.

  7. Herb's Army says:

    Problem is GiE, people over-complicate a very simple premise.
    Twenty-two players on a football pitch, and all they have to do is stick it in the onion-bag.
    Some are clearly more proficient at doing that than others.

  8. Le Coq Monster says:

    Barca seem to be doing well pressing !. 😀
    Spuds are above us !. 😦

    We may be 3rd and only 2 points adrift, but other than a few games this season…..notably Manshafter at home !…….we have looked rather average, won games looking average, drew and lost games looking average or even the better team !….in fact how the f##k are we even 3rd ! hahahaha
    Watched highlights of Spuds losing against Palace and for the post, they would have won !…..just unlucky !………….they can hit the post and all we can do is hit straight at the keeper ( eg Soton ) hahaha
    To tell the truth, even if we were 10 points in front now I would be bricking it with our remaining away games from hell, so being 2 points adrift is a lost cause !………………..my Dennis !, what a fantastic bit of dooming that was !. hahaha

  9. Herb's Army says:

    I think you out-doom me, Cockie 🙂

  10. Le Coq Monster says:

    Me and Herb dooming for the rest of the day is probably Exiles worst nightmare !…………..I bet he`s already rang the Samaritans !……………just need Micky and GB to come on and rant about lack of Super Striker and we could have a first AA suicide ! hahaha

  11. Le Coq Monster says:

    Got to admit Herb…..and I dont mean I need to admit you to some kind of facility ! hahaha………….Got to admit, Herb !….that`s better !…………….dooming is much more fun than trying to put a possitive slant on the undefendable situation of our intermittant form . 😀

  12. Herb's Army says:

    It’s a weird paradigm Cockie, because the things you and I would identify as Arsenal’s biggest problem, would be seen by many on here as the solution, thus they’re never offered up for main-line discussion.
    It’s ‘boring’ to expect better of our club, whereas doing the same thing every year to finish third or fourth has a lot of our fans in raptures. You couldn’t make it up!

  13. GoonerB says:

    Thanks GIE for yesterday and today’s post. I will try and incorporate a bit of an answer to both.

    I seemed to stand alone when I declared that I was far more encouraged with Saturdays performance despite it not yielding the result. I must admit to watching the game with an old friend, and therefore lots of chat rather than with absolute 100% dedication to not missing anything in the whole game. I have taken a mind, therefore, to defer to those that were at the game and so obviously saw more of it than I did.

    As you know GIE I am all for a very mobile and pacy front line (or attacking front 3) rather than anything that may slow down our movement up front. This is why I do slightly cringe when I hear the word target man. I just feel it is regressive for where we should be aiming to go to now, and I do in fact think we have somewhat regressed this season in our playing style as a result.

    We have started to bring in world class players like Ozil and Sanchez, and for me they are players who will be at their optimum if surrounded by quick and mobile players to both feed into and to feed off. I really don’t think they are players that would envision themselves playing off the knock-downs of a target man, even if it does work out at times.

    Ozil and Sanchez should be the start of our exciting new project with a team being built around players like this to get the best out of them. I feel we have somewhat put the handbrake on the project with recent playing style we have favoured.

    The reason I said what I did about the game on Saturday was because I thought we moved the ball around very well for large parts of the game. The interchange between the attacking players was often very crisp and fluid and I felt we played some excellent and dangerous defence splitting passes and engineered some good chances and shots on goal. 68% possession, 24 shots on goal with 11 on target (they had 1 on target), and 12 corners to their 1.

    We do like to talk about the bad luck with keepers having blinders and refereeing decisions not going for us. Well I thought that was more in evidence in this game, on both counts, than in some other recent ones we have felt this about.

    As Chas pointed out this can happen to the best sides, even the invincibles, and even Barca at times. My view would be that if a team continues to play and develop that way then more often than not we will be the winners and often by a decent score-line. Also remember this was a different set-up than we have been playing so is not as practiced.

    I tend to agree with Cockie about the newer style of pressing game as well. I know that there is no guarantee with it but in football I would take more of a general overview. The evidence seems to point towards a big club, with an attacking style, and with world class players and finances to get them, being more successful with this newer style of play. I would however also add that they all seem to play with a pacy goal-scoring front 3, that open up teams with quick passing and mobility concentrated on the ground rather than with longer balls.

  14. Le Coq Monster says:

    The pattern or model we should be following, Herb, is the Mansour City and Chavs one in that we need to have a one owner sugar daddy !. This season is an anomoly so it`s not worth my time listening to people who state the case of Leicester and Totnumb. Normal service will resume shortly. ManshafterStd are a one off, we will never be as big as them and they would survive even without a one owner, we would have to win the EPL 20 years on the trot and them to be relegated for the same amount for us to catch them up !.
    Having no sugar daddy means we are basically f##ked. Spuds, W Ham have owners who are die hard fans and with new stadiums will more than likely spend more than us eventually. It all looked rosey untill FFP bit the dust !.
    Doesn`t make me less of a supporter than the likes of GIE and Transplant, but I feel I am more realistic, I find it hard to believe their kind dont get pissed off at some time in any season and then come on and say it`s all great !………just show some emotion !. hahaha
    We are all the same and will love Arsenal to the end no matter what, we just have different opinions on tactics, owners, the way we are run etc` etc` .

  15. Le Coq Monster says:

    Exactly GB !. 😀

    Pace, Press and Penetration !.
    Barca come to THOF with MSN….Messi, Suarez and Neymar !….it`s quite fitting that A&E Arsenal have NHS !…No Hope Shafted !. 😀

  16. Herb's Army says:

    Totally agree with you, Cockie.

  17. TERRY MANCINI HAIR TRANSPLANT says:

    NIce one GIE

    Eighty percent of games we play teams sit back. Tonight I will go into my garden, were I have recently erected a six feet brick wall in the middle of the lawn to divide the garden with my estranged wife. No small time Steptoe & Son for me, when I divide, I divide bog time

    i shall press myself against said wall and emit some audible but slightly disturbing groans.

    if the wife calls the police over claims of relations with an inanimate object, i will say that Cornwall and Herb asked me to do it, claiming better results and instant satisfaction.

    Arsene knows what hes doing. in the home games with City, Utd, and Munchen , we have adopted different approaches, pressing high, counter attacking etc.

    I dont want a sugar daddy. In my youth there was this older gentleman, who owned a string of well known west end nightclubs, who offered me the opportunity to accompany him and select his trousers.

    Yes, I was tempted, but one look at his trouser length put me off.

    Be careful what you wish for. Usmanovs millions may be tempting, but the price may be setting up residence in the Uzbekis Oliver Hardy sized trousers.

  18. GoonerB says:

    GIE, your 1.24 is interesting because I actually agree that the high press is not infallible. In fact, like all systems, it has its weaknesses. A good team with the right set up can exploit it. We haven’t by and large got to grips with it going back a few years.

    I would still maintain that the high press teams function better with a high defensive line to compress space in the opposition half.That makes the closing down of space easier.

    The two key weaknesses of the high press for me are if a good passing team can pass or evade the initial press you can take “x” amount of their players out of play temporarily. If there is then space behind their defence and we can break on them quickly and with pace and a certain amount of numbers then the players that pressed high can’t get back into the game in time and the defence is defending a quick break on the turn, which most defences hate more than defending in front of them facing the opposition goal.

    To me it comes back to pace in the front 3. Not 1 or 2 of the front 3 but all of them. That gives you a 1 in 3 chance (possibly 1 in 4 with Ozil) of evading that initial high press with a quick pass through it. As you have 3 quick players all then haring up the pitch to support the counter attack, and likely the play making number 10, they cannot often re-organise quick enough.

    Our big glaring fault for me is in AW always seemingly playing Giroud in these games and we lose all initiative in exploiting the weakness of the high press system and if anything play into its hands. I will be interested in AW’s set up tomorrow, because I feel if he gets it right the mighty Barca will have a game on their hands. Get it wrong and……jeepers creepers….

  19. Le Coq Monster says:

    I seem to remember that the great Bindipper teams first line of defence was….Ian Rush, he was the probably the first original high presser, fair enough he did have a Hitler tash and the high pressing came natural to a Welsh SS officer trying to occupy English border villages !.

  20. Shard says:

    GIE

    I don’t understand how this idea that we don’t move the ball around quickly enough gets any traction when we’ve created the most shots in and around the box in the league. And this is when we’re also accused of not shooting when we should.

    The fact is our finishing has been poor.

    Giroud and Ozil are our best finishers. Theo, Alexis, Ox, Ramsey are all shooting less efficiently than their norm. Wenger’s frustration after the Hull game about efficiency was well to the point. If we are to go on a run, these players need to step up their form, and their finishing. Welbeck looks hungry but finishing has been his weak point historically (even though I believe there’s a great striker in waiting somewhere in there).

    The encouraging thing is that at least we are creating chances. Even without Santi who was our second most prolific creator after Ozil, and importantly a second player for the defense to worry about. (One of those little technical players)

    In terms of the Invincibles, I believe they would have broken down teams who defend deep, because in that season our finishing was very good, and we had a variety of goalscorers. Of course, the squad was less deep than we are used to seeing now, so any of the sort of injuries we’ve had this season and they would probably plummet down the table.

    Alexis is a major disappointment for me this season in terms of his output. But he’s still got time to make the difference. As does the team. We’ve been good in the big games recently. So I see no reason to fear our league fixtures.

    As for Barcelona. They are expected to win. This can either damage us in the game, or liberate us. I think Bayern are tougher than Barcelona this season even though Barcelona’s strike force is better. We’ve done ok against Barcelona at their peak with worse sides. I’m just looking forward to enjoying the game and hope it isn’t ruined by the referee (though if he wants to send off Messi and Suarez for nothing that’s fine by me. They owe us)

    On pressing,I like it when we do it. We started with a proper press right after we bought Alexis, but for some reason we’ve moved away from that. Using it only occasionally. Such as vs ManU. Obviously either Wenger doesn’t believe that is the best way to play, or feel we can’t play that way right now. Like you say, pressing (and there are various styles of it) has its own limitations. So I don’t know whether it’s a style we necessarily need to adopt all the time. It’s nice to know we can do it when we decide to though. That adaptability is something we didn’t have for a while when we had to focus on building around Cesc Fabregas to maximise our returns.

  21. Big Raddy says:

    GIE. Thank you for the post.

    I was at the grounds for most of the Invincibles season and saw some absolute pap. Were not alway fluent and free-flowing. TH14 could be in one of his stroppy moods, DB on the bench, Bobby peripheral.

    The difference was that there was always the real potential for goals – something this side lacks and which the Goals For column highlights.

    To hypothesis about how AW builds his teams is always interesting. Is it a policy to build a team around the bulk of OG and another with tricky, pacy small players? We wanted a Plan B; now we have one

  22. Aaron says:

    Press, press, sit back, play a high line; all useful depending on the situation. No one system will be infallible. No one manager has all the right answers. Pep is going to find out soon enough, especially if Kompany goes out and Toure leaves. Front 3 of Barca cost more that most teams totals combined. I would even venture to say that front 3 is the best futbol has ever seen, anywhere, anytime. But, back to pressing. If a team presses Barca they will get torn to shreds. They have pace and clinical finishers everywhere. Most here think Pot has all the solutions with the spuds. Hell, if they lose 1 game in Europa, and 5 games in the EPL their dreams of winning anything will be gone and including a top 4 finish. It is also quite amusing that the chavs have tossed league for the FA Cup. A top team has to win something. manure, if they go to giggs will win nothing-ever, please let it happen.lol
    Arsenal are well equipped to win, now and in the future, no certainties, but nonetheless I am reasonably optimistic.

  23. Big Raddy says:

    Aaron. Thank goodness there are some who remain positive for the future.

    I agree. We have as good a squad as any in the PL.

  24. Gööner In Exile says:

    GB, here is my thinking about a target man…..Suarez, Aguero etc can do both, they can be the wall in a one two but they can also offer an option in behind, importantly they can do both. Ollie can do hold up, Theo can do pace in behind. Danny is best placed to be the man who does both. When fit his place in the starting eleven at the spearhead of our attack is a no brainier and one I think the manager will settle on. But why I back him with Ollie at the moment is that without a man who can do both, id rather a man that can do the hold up bit because he can bring midfielders and wise men into the game. If we are only an option of pace in behind it is too easy to defend against and you will end up with far more sideways passing with no option to feed into.

  25. GoonerB says:

    Yes pace, press and penetration Cockie is the way forward. You could even write to Arsene explaining how successful it has been for you and recommending him trying it out in our first 11 🙂

    Shard, I think we had been asking too much of Alexis to carry us in games with not enough threat from all points of our attack. It was always likely for me that he was going to have a dry period. I also feel that if all points of the attack carry a significant goal threat that this collective threat further raises the threat from each individual…if that makes sense 🙂 The threat of each one makes it harder for the opposition to cover all bases and nullify each threat.

    I think there is risk of too much hope being placed independently on Ozil as well, which could come back and bite us.

    Raddy. I too think it is good we have a plan A and plan B. The question is which one is which. You will probably not be surprised to discover that I think it is arse about face at the moment and our current A plan should be our B plan.

  26. Rasp says:

    Thanks for the post GiE, it’s given me a headache just thinking about it 🙂

    It would all be simpler if we had a front man of the calibre of Aguero and Suarez, but since we don’t, we have to get our tactics right depending on which of our strikers plays in the middle.

    I have a little sympathy with Herb’s view that football is a simple game. If we get the basics right and all the team play to a plan then with our squad we should win the league this season. The thing that is hard to understand is why are we so inconsistent?

    This may appear to have nothing to do with the topic of the post, but actually I think the rigidity of our style of play means that the things we can’t control (the opposition) have to be just right for it to work. The counter to this is that teams who play us generally know exactly what to expect and how to negate it.

  27. GoonerB says:

    GIE, it is interesting how we see it from slight opposites but with almost the identical explanation to explain why you prefer that way to the other way for me.

    As I said I would go for the pace option rather than the holding up option and I feel the mobile front player brings his team-mates more into the game, especially with a top table possession side. I think the mobile striker does it by pulling defenders around looking to latch onto little slide rule passes and then feeding their team-mates who should be runners into the space created by that movement and space vacated by defenders.

    While the target man can bring others into play it is less efficient for me. Relying on knock-down headers is not as certain to see the ball fall for our players as a pass into space that the mobile player gets to. It does work at times but I feel these times seem to be remembered more than the many times we surrender possession because no-one got onto the 2nd ball from the target man.

    I have watched carefully and while not knocking Giroud being good at what he does I feel I see an awful lot of wasted possession and opportunity. As such I don’t believe the hold up player brings players into the game enough, at least not as much as a mobile front man. I kind of feel it is one of those urban myths.

    Also we have been playing the target man game for some time now and we really have put in some turgid performances. It has been given some significant time to show us it works, which I feel it doesn’t, at least not for us. In contrast I feel we have seen or tried very little of playing with the mobile striker but even with a small amount like this it has resulted in some of our best performances, IMO at least.

  28. akinzo says:

    The problem with Arsenal this season is that we aren’t scoring as much as we should. Because we aren’t there’s more scrutiny on the tactics. Arsene continues to divide opinion but sentiments apart he has truly tried varying tactics this season. He doesn’t just go into games blindly as he once does regularly, believing he will outsmart the opponents no matter what. There were times when after three in replied goals he would continue to attack but now he will bring get in players to defend a lead but this still obviously displeases a lot of fans. There’s no manager in this world that can please everyone, especially if he hasn’t been winning trophies for years. I’m one of the school of thought that strongly believes that Welbeck’s return would greatly aid our run in but I also felt if there’s a need to bring in a player that would improve the team then he must be a striker.
    Can we beat Barca? Yes! But we will need a lot of luck just like every club. Chelsea went past them the last time not because they were better but because they were resolute at defending. Alas, that’s one of our biggest flaws too. A lot of teams would be one man down and that’s when you see the best of them but you could count on your finger the number of times Arsenal have succeeded with that. I would be glad if we end the game at the Emirates scoreless and achieve same at the Not Camp and leave the rest to mother luck. But can we?

  29. kelsey says:

    Thanks for standing in for me cockie,you are doing an admirable job 😉

    Shard I said the same thing 2 days ago.our entire front line is misfiring and anything more than a 0-3 defeat tomorrow would be embarrassing 🙂

  30. akinzo says:

    Only a few sides have created more chances than Arsenal this season. It wasn’t our tactics were bad or too slow that enabled Southampton to stop us at the Emirates the last time. Rather, we were not clinical enough. Same for game against Chelsea. When at 0-0 we had the opportunity of clinching victory but our players bottled them. We could have won the FA Cup tie against Hull last Sunday by 6-0 if the numerous chances created were taken. Clinical…that what how we were against Bayern at the Emirates and the mercurial Germans lost their first game of the season. That victory was built on solid defense and on the counter we finished one of the best possession sides in the world. How did the Germans analysed the loss? That they were too slow or not tactical enough? No team can win at all times even with the ‘best players and manager’. A team must improve its game management always and vary it’s tactics. There will be times pressing would work at other times keeping possession would be ideal but not working hard on various drills could be counter productive.

  31. RA says:

    GIE,

    I think you have made a good effort to put forward your views on the pros and cons of moving the ball forward faster, and whether that is productive.

    Not sure what the ‘to press’ or ‘not to press’ tactic has to do with your point – it is an interesting discussion in its own right – so fair enough.

    The fastest way to move the ball forward is to larrup it upfield bypassing all the players except the opposition’s GK – so that probably won’t work beneficially.

    The discussion that started the discussion about moving the ball forward faster was Rasp’s concern, seconded by me, about the slow sideways and backwards passing from the back, until we eventually reached the Hull penalty area, where ….. we did some more painfully slow backward and lateral passing at a pace even Cockie could have matched. Well, that might be a gross exaggeration. 🙂

    We have in the past, as a skilful team, also capable of moving the ball quickly, but to do so requires players who have pace – my beef is that we do not have enough of such players. (Another discussion there I suppose).

    Anyway, against Hull, who were defending with a minimum of 6 players in their own penalty area at all times, our slow approach helped there massed ranks no end.
    Importantly, as an addendum,when we eventually crossed the ball into their box, there was often no one in the penalty area – certainly until Giro came on – and even our ‘header’ man went AWOL more often than not, which probably led to more dribbling backwards and forwards across the box to find an opening.

    The result was disappointing, and has led to an even greater fixture pile-up, but if the ref had given us even one of the two cast iron penalties, we would have won comfortably, and we would now be talking about something else. Or not.

    Well done with the Post, and I agree with your clarifications and the surmises in your Post. 🙂

  32. GoonerB says:

    Sorry Raddy, don’t wish to steal your thunder (as if I could) but I can’t resist naming my best team for tomorrow 🙂 Probably a couple of surprising choices.

    Our paciest back line available for me to stand up to their pace forward players. Lots of shepherding and frustrating them I feel is required. That would be Bellerin, Kos, Gabriel and Gibbs (who I feel is slightly quicker than Monreal, and that may just be more important than the all round game tomorrow).

    2 screening CM’s with mobility who who will work to close down and can provide a base to spring attacks from once possession has been won. Le Coq and Elneny for me.

    Ozil in the hole as the creator in chief with sanchez left and walcott right, all behind danny up top.

    I would have Giroud, Monreal, Ramsey and Mertesacker on the bench purely because they are not as quick as other options in their position and I feel the pace and mobility to match their midfield and front line players, and to launch our own counter-attacks is vital against Barca.

    Ramsey is perhaps the surprise one. If Ozil was injured and Ramsey was further forward in the hole I wouldn’t mind as much but Elneny looks more mobile in the heart of midfield and for this game I would go with that.

  33. LB says:

    Cockie

    Do you really not understand that if Suarez was available for an extra 20 mil then Chelsea would have offered 25 and if Suarez was available for an extra 25 mil to Chelsea don’t you think that City would have offered an extra 30 mil.

    Come on Cockie,

    We were never going to out bid those two for him.

    But the smart thing that Wenger did was offer 40 mill plus one pound and do you know why he did that?

    Just in case Suarez really wanted to come to THOF

    That’s it, simple as, worth a punt wouldn’t you say?

  34. RA says:

    Correct, LB.

    I have got to stop agreeing with everything you say!! 😀

  35. Le Coq Monster says:

    Seeing as you put it in such a nice way and manner I will agree with you, LB. 😀

    I must add though, that I was only using it in a satire way seeing as Arsene said ” I used to wonder what if ?” 🙂

    I love looking on Arsenal newsnow, but am usually drawn to the general news bit on the right hand side as there are some cracking bits of weird and wonderfull stuff !. Today there`s one about the Apollo 10 mission………………….”Apollo 10 astronauts heard ‘weird music’ on the dark side of the moon, it has been revealed”…………..and straight away thought…….Didn`t they get Pink Floyd in America ?.

    And currently there is a story regarding Hitler…………………Hitler ‘had tiny deformed penis’ as well as just one testicle, historians claim !………………… he had better luck invading other countries as his missus would have had no idea she was being invaded from behind !.

  36. RA says:

    GB,

    I see you have outed yourself as son of Yoda.
    Your prose – strange it is. 🙂

    — “Our paciest back line available for me to stand up to their pace forward players.” Can you even play amateur football?

    — “Lots of shepherding and frustrating them I feel”

    Not that Ioony tunes – you are – saying I am.

  37. GoonerB says:

    Actually in all seriousness I think if we had scored 1 on Saturday we would have scored 3-4 more as their 6 man defence pushed out. It was just one of those.

    I still felt than when Hull weren’t camped deep with a 6 man defence we moved the ball forwards between the lines quickly and well. I would prefer to look at that type of team as the type we need for Barca because the 6 man defence will not be an issue so it will be completely different.

  38. RA says:

    GB, oh, strange Yoda man @ 6:37

    My 5:23 said; — “The result was disappointing, and has led to an even greater fixture pile-up, but if the ref had given us even one of the two cast iron penalties, we would have won comfortably, and we would now be talking about something else. Or not.”

    Are you saying you agree with me — or did you not read my massive missive? 😀

    Gotta go.

  39. LB says:

    Cockie

    Thank you for taking it in the spirit that it was meant.

  40. Eddie says:

    “Paddy passing to God” 🙂 🙂 brilliant 🙂 🙂

    It is difficult for any team to shift a bus, but I don’t think Barca would find it particularly difficult to destroy the likes of Hull. Would the Invincable succeed? not sure, chas is right pointing out that they only scored 74 goals in their best season. But what they had and this squad does not possess is belief, arrogance and hunger. Yeah, I think they’d find a way, by hook or by crook 🙂 Teams were scared of them, they wouldn’t dare sitting on the goalline for 90 minutes. Now, anything goes

  41. Aaron says:

    Just puttin’ it out there: Arsenal could have surely defeated Barca had Jens and vanP not got red carded. FIFAlona have their way this year too?
    The vanP red card was the strangest one I have ever viewed in my entire life.

  42. GoonerB says:

    Absolutely right Aaron. The RVP red card was the most obvious sign of potential football match corruption I have seen. It wasn’t even disguised well as a 50-50 call. The silence from the governing body after said it all for me.

    RA, sometimes I fly on to make a comment and fly off again and then read back on other comments from before mine at a later stage. A tad strange you may think. Now that I have read back on your comment, I agree with you and I am pleased that you agree that your comment is agreeable with mine 🙂

    I am actually looking forward to tomorrow. A chance to pit yourself against the current best. We have the players to give it a really good go as well but also I feel we could be exposed if we get the tactics wrong, so Arsene had better bloody well pay attention to my preferred set up 🙂

    Oh and did I say thank you to GIE for a fine post, and then for agreeing to disagree with me so agreeably 🙂

  43. GoonerB says:

    Oh and sorry RA, my grammar was poor earlier. I was suggesting that we pick our quickest defenders that we have available because I think it will be the best way to deal with their attacking players.I would pick these quick players, maybe only for this game, at the expense of more regular current first team players, e.g Gabriel for Per and Gibbs for Monreal.

    It does sound funny with a Yoda voice over though, very good at which I am 🙂

  44. RA says:

    I am used to you by now, GB, and where necessary, my mate Corky the Camel and I, your strange prose work out what you mean we do.

    Tiddly-om-pom. 🙂

  45. JM says:

    Press conference, pre-Barcelona match with Wenger and Giroud:

    http://storage.googleapis.com/arsenal-player/cache/production/dotcom_article/321a2a32c64db33fc7e90ad6865b4edd?thumbIndex=0

    i.e. Giroud guaranteed start vs Barcelona.

    a) Cüneyt Çakır (from Turkey) will referee the match. He was previously in-charge of the team’s home match vs Bayern in the group stage, which was won 2-0.
    A UEFA Elite association football referee, he also officiated the 2015 UEFA Champions League Final match of Juventus vs. Barcelona. He is selected to be involved at EURO 2016 as Turkey’s representative referee official.

    b) Giroud, Campbell & Özil are 1 yellow card away from suspension in the next match; Pique is the same for Barcelona. (Hint: The team should look to target and provoke Pique to getting that yellow card during match as much as possible).

    Sideshow:
    c) Sponsorship bragging rights (and more) battle between major Arabian airlines, Fly Emirates (Dubai, U.A.E.) for Arsenal and Qatar Airways (Doha, Qatar) for Barcelona.

  46. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Thanks Exile

    Have not had time to read and digest post or comments, but will do so on train later. Quality reading material always nice.

    Now, morning

  47. Big Raddy says:

    Morning All,

    I am excited. Can’t wait for kick-off.

  48. Big Raddy says:

    Micky. Are you going to the match?

  49. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Indeed Erik. I like goals 🙂

    Still would have liked to go to the away leg as well 😦
    Although, beat Barca and then Zenit 🙂

  50. Big Raddy says:

    You lucky fellow. Wish I could join you

  51. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Once in a lifetime to see Neymar, Suarez and Messi live. Looking forward to seeing their movement. I’ve seen them all individually live before, but together, oooo, tasty

    Then Danny and Theo on the counter 🙂

  52. kelsey says:

    So piers morgan is going to do a Conga naked around the stadium if Giroud scores.

    I am sure we will get a positive match report from Raddy but remember we are totally goal shy, won’t get 30% if we are lucky which all counts to us winning comfortably.

    Mertesacker is in for an easy game

  53. Eddie says:

    my Barca v AFC ticket will be delivered today.

  54. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Eddie
    And if we lose 0-5 it’ll be on ebay by 10pm. In a box 🙂

    Morning Crystals
    I whole evening is pretty pointless when you think about it 🙂

  55. MickyDidIt89 says:

    ha ha ha brilliant

    Perfect image of Doctor Doom

    Probably see him today gloomingly wandering the streets of London with his “The End is Nigh” placard

  56. Eddie says:

    0:5 and it will indeed be on eBay, but no box.

  57. MickyDidIt89 says:

    Eddie 🙂

  58. chas says:

    Which cat is kelsey?

  59. Big Raddy says:

    ” it’ll be on ebay by 10pm. In a box :-)” LoL

    7.35. Superb

  60. chas says:

    kelsey expectantly waiting to enjoy the football later on today.

  61. MickyDidIt89 says:

    he he he the look on Dog Kelsey’s face
    Pure misery ROLF 🙂

  62. Big Raddy says:

    chas. Which programme do you use to make these wonderful creations?

  63. Eddie says:

    I love guilty looking dogs 🙂 the silly things look so mortified

    in yesterday’s interview Wenger said we have strong defence and good goalie. Never mentioned our attacking strengths

  64. chas says:

    We ain’t got none

  65. chas says:

    No idea if you’re serious, BR. 🙂
    7.35 Microsoft Paint
    7.57 Paint plus IrfanView (because they have a ‘sepia’ option)
    http://download.cnet.com/IrfanView/

  66. chas says:

    Anyone remember this?

  67. Eddie says:

    what’s the web address for the weird stuff?

    we have Ollie.

  68. kelsey says:

    Not sure if all these pics are insults or compliments .No one else gets this treatment .

  69. Big Raddy says:

    Haven’t heard that in many a moon. Reminds me of this – must be the drum sound

  70. Big Raddy says:

    kelsey. Unquestionably a compliment. No-one else pays you that much attention 😀

  71. kelsey says:

    Nothing physical or tall about those three. Thanks raddy, I love you to 😉

  72. chas says:

    Cmon, kelsey, as BR says, it’s got to be better than being ignored like usual. 🙂

  73. chas says:

  74. Big Raddy says:

    There is a

    New Post

  75. GoonerB says:

    Morning all.

    Chas, your 8.20? a bit doomy for you old chap 🙂

    The 2nd from the left in the 8.31 picture could sort out any attacking deficiencies 🙂

  76. GoonerB says:

    Bloody typical

  77. GoonerB says:

    Might just stay here and talk to myself for a bit. Much easier to accept being ignored if you comment after Raddy has put up “there is a new post”.

  78. GoonerB says:

    Oh sod it, a bit lonely here. Think I might move on with the others….wait for me…..I’m coming.

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