The Good the Bad and the Ugly

This was probably the most important and stressful NLD in many a year for both sets of fans. I have said over the last number of years that the NLD is the best of the lot. Maybe this sentiment is because of my having a greater emotional involvement in it, but I have looked at other derby’s like the Merseyside and Tyneside ones and I really feel that the NLD’s are more frequently infused with the best atmosphere, the best end to end attacking football, and the most goals and drama. For that I say kudos to both clubs and both sets of fans and I feel both sides are a credit to the EPL in these fixtures.

Right that is enough of giving the Spuds praise, now to the game. I thought Spurs started the better team. The reason for this is because they just had to play as they had been training and developing to play all season. They employ the (Guardiola Barca style) high press game with quick intricate passing when in possession and pressing quickly in the opposition third when possession is lost. They just slipped into a style of play that is now becoming second nature to them.

In contrast we have not been playing this way, although I have seen evidence we can, and I still feel we are a team currently without a solid identity of playing style. We seemed to struggle with their play and energy early on in the game, as we often have against the sides playing this way. However, we have quality players and we took the lead against the run of play with a very well executed goal. Ramsey’s finish was sublime but Bellerin’s hard low pass when shaping to shoot, which most players would have, showed a calmness and maturity beyond his years.

This seemed to galvanise our belief and we then came more into the game with the rest of the half ending on an equal footing for me. Entering the second half I was expecting us to weather a storm, but low and behold we soon started to take the game by the scruff of the neck and were the team in the ascendency, and 1-0 up to the bargain. They were the team struggling to free themselves from our high press all of a sudden.

That was until that moment. The danger from where Kane was moving forwards relative to his support and our defensive set up was minimal. The challenge was therefore unnecessary and really poor game management in that situation. I didn’t know whether to be angry with Coquelin for sheer stupidity, or the coaching and management for not instructing their players better. On hindsight I think that the players that are more in the heart of the battle (like the Coquelins, Vieiras and Keanes) will always have some reds in their career, and it needs to be accepted to a degree. This one was silly and unnecessary though and harmful to us, but I believe that Coquelin will learn from this and I still feel he is a very important player for us.

However we paid for it. I am not even sure whether it was the missing of 1 player that resulted in the next number of minutes of play, or whether it was more purely a massive psychological boost in a positive way for them coupled with a nervy negative psychological blow to us. Either way we were all of a sudden 2-1 down with 10 men, seemingly only in a matter of minutes, from having been 1-0 up with 11 men and playing the better football.

I was worried then but it seemed we were made of sterner stuff. The much touted spirit that Arsene often talks about, sometimes to my annoyance, was actually there. We created a few chances and one of them resulted in our equaliser and a much needed goal for Alexis. We weathered a few shaky moments but gave as good as we got in the last 20 minutes and it could have easily gone either way, even with us down to 10 men. Ospina, who had a great game, was required on a few occasions, but then again so was Lloris and their defenders.

So what did we learn?

Elneny, in Santi’s absence, looks a better bet alongside Coquelin than Ramsey. I refer to LB’s comment yesterday :

The thing that impressed me the most today about Elneny was not his incredible engine that enabled him to cover every blade of grass, not his ability to be able to read the game and position himself exactly where he was best needed; no, what most impressed me was the continuous metronomic accuracy of his short range passes; that’s to say, when he played a pass it seemed to always find its man. Nothing fancy, nothing Hollywood just plain simple passing which took the pressure off and enabled us to build.

I agree with slim that he needs to bull up a little bit and then he would be completely running the midfield.

We look better with a more mobile striker up top and, along with Ospina and Elneny, Welbeck was the third stand out performer for me. We need to develop this and these relationships that work more.

The third thing, and likely more controversial, is about the high press. I am largely a believer in it as being the more effective modern style of football. Now we actually spent some of this game doing it and some not. For me this style of play normally sees quick incisive forwards passing between players, and into fellow team-mates, even when the opposition players are in close attendance. The risk is that you may lose possession more easily than passing backwards or sideways, but then if you have “x” amount of players near by anyway, if the slick pass doesn’t quite come off, you can press immediately to win back possession or force them into a mistake.

We did this at the start of the second half and Spurs didn’t like it. What they liked was when we slowed it all down a bit and took less chances with our quick forward passes and started to pass the ball back more and circulate it around. They could then push out again themselves and pressure our defenders. This all says to me that we need to move away from the slower, more possession guaranteed, passing back to defenders and move towards the slightly higher risk quick passing in the opposition third but with a quick press when possession has been lost.

We can do it and possibly could be the best exponents of it in the EPL, if we adopt it. I think this game showed both our weaknesses and our strengths, and it showed us what we have been doing wrong, and what we need to do with the set-up and style of play to really move forwards. We have the capability to win every remaining game this season, and what would that mean? Time to pull the finger out and get the best out of this highly talented squad I say.

Written by GoonerB

87 Responses to The Good the Bad and the Ugly

  1. Rasp says:

    Thanks GB, a hard hitting report that I think is fair in its praise and criticism.

    I particularly agree with your comment about being confused about our style of play – and it seems the players are equally confused.

    I don’t think ‘go out and express yourselves’ qualifies as a game plan. The consistency is not there and that is why we don’t have a discernible style.

    It appears we cannot cope with the high press and can only apply it ourselves for short periods.

    But at least we did show some fighting spirit. Coquelin may have gone too far, but he is a warrior and like Flamini, when he senses the others are not battling hard enough, he tries too hard to compensate.

    I like the idea of the Elneny/Coq combo for the rest of the season.

    Welbeck was great and Ospina showed us that he is probably too good for a No.2

  2. Big Raddy says:

    GB. Very good read.

    I am not sure that I can agree with both you and Rasp about not having a style of play. It is insulting to AW to suggest that after 20 years of coaching he has not developed the ability to commit to a style.

    I think we play a far more fluid style than any other team – sometimes it works and sometimes not. In the past two weeks we have seen AFC play a pressing game for 45 mins (yesterday, PTB for 70 ins (Barca) and all out attack with both FB’s pushing forward on the wings (Swansea).

    It is not true to say we cannot play the pressing game – we can, but without Santi or JW, we are not as good at it.

    I am afraid I am out for the next few hours to discuss this interesting subject.

  3. fatgingergooner says:

    I’m with BR.

    I think we do have a very fluid style of play. One of the issues of our style though is it’s very fragile, in that the balance of the team between attack and defence has to be spot on, and the passing has to be very accurate. If we are missing 2 or 3% it can fall down. I think other styles, like ones that concentrate more on the defensive side (high press, Chelsea under Maureen etc) are much more robust and you can still sneak results even if 10% below your best. Confidence is also the x-factor in all teams and when it’s missing it’s very noticeable.

    We shouldn’t forget these are the same players that beat Bayern, United and City earlier in the season. When we were winning those games people were lauding Wenger for his tactics, saying the players had fight, and saying we had new leaders like Cech in the side. When we lose to Barca, United and Swansea we are accused of having no leaders, no fight, and no tactics!

    Unfortunately we’ve just chosen the wrong part of the season to have a bad run. Hopefully the result yesterday will give us the confidence to go on and win a large amount of our remaining games and who knows where that will take us.

  4. Rasp says:

    Hi Raddy, ‘insulting’ is too strong a word.

    Our style hasn’t changed and that is the problem, we are no longer team that others would seek to emulate – quite the reverse. The style is very much dictated by the players available – but we have a large squad and a strong bench so a ‘press when you feel like it’ approach seems a bit lame.

    Don’t forget the defining feature of the press when we’re on the wrong end of it is that the side (Arsenal) that is lauded for its passing – loses the ability to pass. There is none of the fluidity you mention, but only frustration as the player with the ball cannot find a successful forward pass or has no choice but to pass backwards/sideways.

  5. Rasp says:

    FGG, having a fragile style (and I agree with you) is ridiculous. We need a strong, fully understood style that all the players buy in to.

  6. fatgingergooner says:

    I think a bit too much is made of this high press. All styles have a negative side aswell, otherwise every side would be doing the same thing. Spurs pressed us very well yesterday, but there were plenty of times where we tore them to shreds on the counter and got behind their high line rather easily.

    I don’t really have an issue with the way we play, but I do have an issue with the players Wenger has identified to play his desired system. He is his own worst enemy by not having a rock of a DM (key in the way he wants to play) and not having 2 very quick CB’s. He also needs a faster striker (Welbeck being fit helps). This where the ‘stubbornness’ can be a big issue as he will play the same system regardless of if he has the players to play it.

  7. LB says:

    Thanks for taking the time to write a report GB.

    I think you are a bit too generous to spuds in the first part of your report though. I think it would be more accurate to say that spuds started the game the more likely to score rather than being the better team.

    Spuds game plan to throw the kitchen sink at us was predictable to the point that Wenger cut his cloth or chose his team accordingly with addition of Elneny to the midfield and Ramsey out wide but being able to add to the midfield when needed.

    The first twenty minutes were vital but our bulked up midfield held its ground and built from there, slowly getting on top before taking our chance and scoring first. At this point we were in control and the game was ours, in my opinion, Coquelin cost us the game and I would have preferred a title of “Coquelin to the Gallows” but after going 2-1 down a draw feels an awful lot better today.

    As for there being no game plan, I think the problem here is that the people who are accusing Wenger of not having one are in fact the ones who cannot see it.

    The game plan was to contain them for the first twenty minutes when they would predictably throw everything at us and slowly build from there, and that is what we did and Wenger chose a team to do just that.

    What was particularly noticeable was just how much more effective Ramsey was having been freed from a large amount of his usual midfield duties and responsibility; the addition of Elneny made this happen and as a result Ramsey was so much more influential. Yet again not a coincidence but an important part of a game plan.

  8. fatgingergooner says:

    I agree Rasp, but we all know Wenger wants to entertain, and I won’t knock him for that. The style he uses, when at its best, is a joy to behold. Some of the more robust styles are boring on the eye.

  9. LB says:

    “Our style hasn’t changed” Errrrrr, well it did yesterday.

  10. Rasp says:

    Agreed LB, we looked much more solid with Elneny next to Coq and Ramsey on the right. I think we saw our best midfield and attacking options on the pitch yesterday.

    But we still fell apart once Coq was sent off, the fragility of our confidence (and therefore style of play) is there for all to see.

  11. LB says:

    Watch the 2005 FA cup final again. If you think that Wenger isn’t capable of sending out a team to park the bus think again that set up was so defensive it would have embarrassed Sam Aladyce.

  12. Rasp says:

    FGG, I’d rather win enough games to finish totl than be everyone’s most entertaining runners up/4th.

    And I think your comment highlights my main problem – not all of our players have a sufficient ‘want to win’ and that stems from the manager.

    I’d bet the reason Alexis walked off the pitch without any ceremony was that he was pissed off with more points dropped. He may not have been at his best recently, but his effort has been 100% as always.

    When the tots scored, there was a 9 man bundle, when Alexis scored there was hardly any celebration at all. Which of the two sides looked to have the better team spirit?

  13. Rasp says:

    We shouldn’t need to park the bus against any team in the EPL.

  14. Rasp says:

    The fact remains that our team is way below the sum of its parts.

    A passage of play here …. a few minutes there …. should not be used to illustrate that ‘we can do it’, but should prompt the question ‘why don’t we do it most of the time’.

  15. LB says:

    There are three things going on here:

    No game plan — wrong, Wenger clearly had a game plan yesterday and it very nearly worked.

    We fell apart after we went down to ten men — If we had lost I would have agreed with it but as we got a draw I think again it is a tad harsh.

    A style of play issue — I have some sympathy for this accusation as I thought that the way we played against Swansea made me think, for the first time, that the model is broken and that is to say that our style of football is no longer effective; but, Wenger did change it yesterday and he is the one who made the decision to bring in Elneny so my spirits are lifted and Arsene remains for me the right man for the job.

    Ok it should take more than one game but we are not out of the race and I don’t want to be part of throwing the baby out with the bathwater brigade so I remain open minded until the end of the season.

  16. LB says:

    In the 2005 cup final it was a case of needs must and we won. It works for me.

  17. Gööner In Exile says:

    Well done GoonerB, good summing up of yesterday’s events.

    I was happy with the selection because if anyone has watched Spuds this year they will know they have overloaded the middle of the park, and demand full backs run up and down all day, Poch rotates his full backs every game as they run the most miles for his team with his tactics. So our deep two of Elneny and Coq made a lot of sense with our paciest full backs on either flank. Big credit to Gibbs who without much game time had a storming game at left back and kept Walker pretty quiet.

    I like a forward three of Rambo Ozil and Alexis behind Welbeck as its the best fit for the current players, as long as the defensive two I midfield do their job and don’t get caught joining in too often and also the full backs never commit in unison it gives us a front three of midfield that can hold and keep possession on the break. Welbeck’s selfless running is also key to this system.

    Now to Spuds press, sorry I’m still not buying it as the holy grail of football, it’s certainly a style that can be considered and employed on occasion, but here’s it’s biggest weakness, against ten men they didn’t offer an awful lot in the last 15-20 minutes of the game, and if they haven’t put the game away in the first 70 minutes, they will struggle against sides with well organised defences.

    Whilst we are all hankering for the high press Leicester are 5 points clear playing counter attacking football for the majority of the season……there is more tha one way to skin a cat.

    It reminds me of the zonal marking debate, pundits don’t like it, but as many goals are scored against man to man defences at set pieces as they are against zonal, the difference that with man to man they can say x player failed to do his job, whereas in zonal they can only blame the method, because they don’t know which player didn’t do his job on a man. Also in man to man defending it is very easy for the opposition to line up the markers and then block them off which doesn’t happen with zonal.

    It’s a decision like whether to press or not and in my opinion there’s not enough either way to say one is better than the other except that it’s in the eye of the beholder. 😀

  18. LB says:

    I am going to stop now, there is a post in there somewhere which I am going to try and put together but I am slow so it might take some time.

  19. LB says:

    Good to read one of your fine comments again GIE.

  20. Rasp says:

    Leicester may not play the high press, but they press very hard – doubling and trebling up on opponents. I watched them work their socks off for 90 minutes against Watford and eventually got their reward.

    No-one is explaining why our passing game falls apart under the press? If we were that good at ‘our system’ we’d be able to pass our way through the press.

    What is obvious to me, is that when a player likes Sanchez tries to close down the ball, the other players don’t react quickly enough and he just wastes his energy. This is partly Sanchez’s fault when he’s chasing lost causes, partly the midfield’s fault for not supporting him when he needs it, and partly the manager’s fault for not identifying this and trying to put it right. If the team is in sync, these things come naturally.

  21. Rasp says:

    Oops sorry, forgot my manners – great to see you GiE 🙂

  22. Bleeding Gums Murphy says:

    Up until his goal Ramsey was awful. After it marginally better. I do wonder sometimes if folk actually watch the game or just make tired lazy not very well thought out comments, bit like pundits and journalists do regularly.

  23. chas says:

    Thanks, GoonerB.
    All the tactical stuff is a bit beyond me, I’m afraid.

  24. GoonerB says:

    sorry guys will comeback later after mother day duties

  25. LB says:


    For the whole season people have been falling over themselves to compliment Leicester for playing games in which they soak up pressure before hitting the opposition on the break; and yet, when we do it we are awful.

    All of which makes me think that some Arsenal supporters are the most spoilt little babies on this football supporting planet.

  26. chas says:

  27. fatgingergooner says:

    There are 2 different things being discussed here. One is our style of play, which is always fluid passing and movement and trying to work the ball into perfect shooting positions. The other thing is our tactics within this style of play ie sitting back and soaking up pressure and playing on the break, pressing the opposition, playing wide or narrow etc

    As LB said, yesterday the plan seemed to be to sit in for half hour and soak up their fast start and then play our game from there. This worked for the most part until the sending off. There were periods of the game though where we pressed and there were parts we sat off. It’s in this area that we don’t seem consistent during a game. Maybe it’s just poor management/execution, or maybe it’s got something to do with Wenger being worried about what it takes away from our attacking energy and play. We all know he’s attack first, defence second, so there could be something in it.

  28. Gööner In Exile says:

    LB your earlier comment about Ramsey freed from those responsibilities was my thoughts entirely, in central midfield those flicks etc lose possession in vital areas, but like Mesut and Alexis you forgive them in the final third as you do giving the ball away because they are trying to make a telling pass and the intention should always be applauded.

    One thing did occur yesterday during the game and id love to see someone do a comparison but it relates to reaction of the crowd and oooohs vs aarghs. Spuds hit a number of shots which didn’t look like troubling Ospina, Kane being one of the most profligate, but even his volley into row ZZ seat 588 Drew an oooh from the Spuds. In this end we have been spoilt as much as the players are by their training facilities and moddy coddled existence in that at the Emirates I fear most of Spuds efforts would have resulted in the groans if perpetrated by Ollie or Alexis

  29. chas says:

  30. Ian Ure Face says:

    My point about the high press tactics is that…….if Poch` can make an average team like the Spudz be 3 points above us, what would he do with an Arsenal team with better quality players ?.
    You only have to look at Barcelona to see what a high press tactical game will do with quality players !
    Also amazing that the Spudz for all their harder work dont get as many injuries !………………….like I`ve always said…………………..tell players they are fatiqued and in the red zone and they will believe it !……………………fatique is a load of bollox for theses young athletes, they could work a lot harder and benefit !.
    We are doomed for the future on two fronts imo……One) Wenger is behind the times on tactics and too stubborn to change. Two) Not having a complete one owner who will put funds in to take us further !. We will fall by the wayside in the next few seasons when all the one owner or one company owned teams benefit from new stadiums and in the case of Spudz and W Ham, owners who are die hard fans !.
    Believe or not, Usmanov is a fan and would undoubtably take us to another level with investment in players, he`d like nothing better to get one over Abramovitch, sadly Kroenke will not sell and we will inevitably become average like all his other sorts franchises !…….Arsenal is the only one he doesn`t own outright !……so what chance of us becoming competitors ?. Simple equation to answer that one !………………….Ranch £501m – £5m Egyptian = he doesn`t give a toss about us winning trophies.

  31. LB says:

    Paul Easter’s English is coming on.

    That was a very rememberable moment in the game I thought.

    It clearly shows that the accusation that Arsenal have no leaders in their team is correct. Raises eyes to heaven.

  32. LB says:

    “Simple equation to answer that one !………………….Ranch £501m – £5m Egyptian = he doesn`t give a toss about us winning trophies.”

    If he spent all £501 million on an Arsenal team and we didn’t win trophies would that make him more of an Arsenal supporter or might that make him stupid?

    Couple of things to consider, are you sure that all £500 mil came out of his own pocket and not his billionaire wife’s, and we should remember that the figure is only £200 million more the manu spent and look how that is working out for them.

    Spending money can help but it does not guarantee trophies.

  33. LB says:

    Oh, I have just noticed Mutley

    I always liked that gravitar.

  34. fatgingergooner says:

    So having just fully read the post I realise what I have been saying has pretty much been said in the post! So by saying what I have said I am basically agreeing with what has already been said. Do you understand what I’m saying!? 😄

  35. Ian Ure Face says:

    It will certainly help, LB………………….doesn`t guarentee it !………no !…………but has not Manshafter Std won trophies in the past by spending money, it was only recently that we spent more than the £30M they paid for Ferdinand in 2002 !. Have Mansour City and Chavs won/bought trophies since their new owners and won f##k all before !.
    In a anomaly season like this year it`s a bit thick to forget what money has historically bought before, so, yes, money will make us more competitive, doesnt guarentee, but thats because their will be 3 others spending as much and in a few years times add Spuds, W Ham and Liverpool into the mix !.
    We are and will be hindered by our majority share holder system of self sufficiency !.

  36. Bleeding Gums Murphy says:

    LB. I agree with you that at times hitting on the break is great tactic. And some times the opposition actually takes the choice away from you as the scum did yesterday. To say Ramsey was influential other than his goal is very blinkered. He was and has been all season an average player. I won’t bother replying to silly bollox

  37. fatgingergooner says:

    I still think personnel has a lot to answer for in our set up. Had Cazorla not got injured I think Ramsey would’ve been playing RW most of the season and we would be running away with it.

  38. Ian Ure Face says:

    There was a report recently that said Arsenal have the most cash reserves of any club in the world !………….yet we are the most unlikely to use it to speculate to accumalate !.
    Correct me if I`m wrong but the usual suspects even though having less in the bank will dip into their own pockets !.

  39. Ian Ure Face says:

    Double that of City and 4 times more than the Spudz !………159 more times what the Chavs have !…………………..lets see how much they will spend though !.

  40. fatgingergooner says:

    For me, Ramsey is being played out of position. He is not a CM in a 2 with a number 10 in front of him. He should either play the 10 or play from the RW but in a free role. When he was banging in the goals he was playing in a midfield that often included the likes of Wilshere, Cazorla and Arteta around him, thus meaning he didn’t have to get involved in defence as much as he is asked to as part of a CM pair. Keep him in the RW and let him get in the box and the goals will start coming again and we will all be praising him again.

  41. fatgingergooner says:

    People keep raving about Spurs, and I can’t deny that they are a very good pressing team and have some good young talent, but they are close to being a very average, hard working side. They score more goals than any other team from set pieces, and they score tons of long range goals. Anyone who knows football knows that these types of goals can suddenly go missing from your team, and when that happens to Spurs, they are going to find it very difficult to carry on doing what they are doing. A fine example of this was yesterday, when, before the sending off, Ospina was only really stretched once despite them having most of the play for half an hour. If they see a drop off in set piece and long range goals, then expect to see a drop off from Spurs.

  42. LB says:


    We are saying the same thing: yesterday “Ramsey was so much more influential”.

    That is so much more influential than the average performances he has been putting in of late.

    You see, it is possible to communicate on a blog without rudeness and accusation.

  43. Red Arnie says:

    Very nice if somewhat provocative post, GoonerB. Thank you. 🙂

    well well well. I read the post and thought. I dont agree, but AA probably does not want repititive arguments. So let me not repeat myself.

    I am enjoying the dicussion, and just to say. Just because something is good for the Oilers and the other numpties does not mean it is good for us. I think we have our own somewhat independent style. I am a type of fan who would not give up independent style even for better efficiency in gathering points.

    However, where I would like us to be better is in gathering clean sheets. I did enjoy the game yesterday and I feel it would have been fair if Dier had received a second yellow as well. We might have won in that case.

    Onwards and upwards. COYG.

  44. Red Arnie says:

    Also, agree with LB about LB. In fact I would be even more scathing and say that one of our main problems is too many miss-passes in the centre of the pitch.

    Finally, a strong holding man offers us a better chance to get the ball out of our defence rather than trying dainty but inaccurate passing near our box. OK, I have said it now. 🙂

  45. Red Arnie says:

    I meant “agree with LB about El Nino”. 😛

  46. Big Raddy says:

    Great news. Sniffer is back 🙂

  47. akinzo says:

    That was really a commendable match report.

    For the first time in a long while, the players actually played with some gusto. We are far behind in the race but I guess we are all elated that we didn’t lose to the spuds. Some sort of consolation even if we are getting left behind in the the race for the title.
    Coquelin cost us the three points period. He had absolutely no reason to be reckless as he was yesterday. But did I expect his expulsion to cost us? Yes! And I must admit that even in my wildest imagination I could not see us fight back one man down. That means if we had put in as much effort as we saw yesterday then we could have salvaged the game against Swansea.
    It’s a pity that we didn’t have Welbeck for the earlier part of the season. He had provided us with new dimension since his return.
    On the debate about a playing pattern I believe Wenger has been more pragmatic this season. I still remember a lot of the fans slagging him for not varying the team’s pattern over the years. Many labelled him as the worst manager in the EPL with claims that he doesn’t respect his opponents by sticking to his possessive pattern. Now, he does that often and a lot of us fans still believe he is not isn’t up to scratch tactically. I am still reeling from the poor form of the team that has seen us lag behind in the race for the title. I strongly believe if we have had the duo of JW and Welbeck from the start of the season and not have to rely on only the duo TW and Giroud leading the line, we could have stacked up more points. Injuries to Carzola, Sanchez and Coquelin during the season have also had crippling effect on us.
    The title seems out of hand but if we play with the spirit we adopted after we fell behind yesterday for the rest of the season then all hope is not lost.

  48. mickydidit89 says:


    Not here today, but had to register my thanks.

    No surprise whatsoever to a purist that Ramsey was better. Slightly surprised anyone would be surprised. He was just filling in for Santi, and why Arsene addressed the problem and brought in The Egyptian.

    It’s taken him a few games to get up to speed, and now we can see his potential to the team.

    Bloody Utd losing. Want all hands on deck to stop Totnum, and if Utd can be in contention for top four when they play Spuds, then better for us haters 🙂

    Enjoy rest of day all, and especially the Two Mums, Peaches and Eddie.

  49. Red Arnie says:

    Brilliant comments, GiE, and welcome back. 🙂

  50. Big Raddy says:

    Mourinho must have signed to MU.

    Reason? Mata sent off for two really silly yellows in two minutes. The man wants out of Manchester a.s.a.p.

  51. Big Raddy says:

    Akinzo. Fine comment.

    GIE. You too and good to see you on AA 🙂

  52. akinzo says:

    I also agree that the presence of El Neny next to Coquelin yesterday was vital to us eventually coming out of the early pressure from the spuds and threatening them swiftly on the counter. Ramsey has tried his best in Carzola’s absence but his penchant for the extraordinary has been inimical to our transition from defence to attack, especially, as this is Coquelin’s biggest flaws in the DM role. That was why I found comments by some fans that Ramsey is a better replacement for Carzola quite intriguing. No doubt, Ramey’s has a better engine than the Spaniard but pales significantly to him when it comes to ball retention and redistribution and his penchant to be indiscipline has not been too good for the team. I would say we would have been better off if Carzola had retained his place beside Coquelin and Ramsey had kept his place somewhere else

  53. Big Raddy says:

    I agree. When Cazorla was injured I thought ” Unfortunate but this opens the door for Ramsey and Ox to develop alongside Coq and we will not be hindered by his loss”

    I was wrong. Santi is very important to our team. His ball retention is unmatched in the squad. His connection with Ozil is better, his energy level and enthusiasm inspires the team.

    Cazorla’s injury could well cost us the title.

  54. Red Arnie says:

    Interesting thoughts on Santi. When he was playing I did not think he was that influential on the game. But in his absence …. hmmm

  55. Eddie says:

    arnie – perhaps you didn’t think that, I have 🙂 I have always said that Santi is our best playmaker since Cesc and at times he does more for the team than CF did

    GB – great post, thank you! I am sorry I have not read all the comments, so apologies if others said this already. Yes, Spurs play nice footy at times, but when the push comes to shove they kick long balls to reach Kane who then flies like a bat out of hell to outrun the opposition’s defenders and bingo, they score. Nothing pretty about that.

  56. mickydidit89 says:

    Santi often made the team tick , and his vision is great, but he COULD also disappear altogether in games, what with being little 🙂

  57. mickydidit89 says:

    Ooo 8:56 Night Manager

  58. GoonerB says:

    Thanks guys for a great debate. Great comments from all today from different perspectives. Fantastic to have GIE back. Thought I had lost my tactical bolleux wing-man there for a bit, even if we do sometimes sing from different hymn sheets. But he is back with a bang with a fantastic comment and analysis. 🙂

    I will start with that one. While I disagree about how important employing a high press is as part of the modern game, I agree that it does not stand alone as being exclusive to all other considerations in a game. I would say there is a time for being compact and hard to break down and hitting quickly on the break as well.

    It is these 2 combined for me, the ability to be compact and hit quickly and also press high and win back possession in the opposition last third, which looks to be the hallmark of the best sides these days. I feel for huge parts of this season we have not set up to do either that well.

    I would say we have learned to be more compact over the last 2 seasons, but then we have often been more compact without having the players for quick counter-attacks. When we do we are a very good counter-attacking team. Similarly I feel we have not pressed and closed down quickly and high often enough either, but again when we do we are very good at it.

    We have the players to do all of this and mix that play within any given game but we more often haven’t. I think if we did we would have been the best team in the EPL by some way this year and I agree with Rasp that too often we are not the sum of our parts.

    We should be at least 10 points better than we are now IMO, and I still maintain that AW has got caught up between different playing styles. There have been flashes of style in certain moments but also a lot of mid tablish style of football with lots of hopeful long balls, that really doesn’t look like the usual Arsenal style under Wenger. Now we have added better players we should be able to find that middle ground of being hard to beat coupled with a great and fluid attack.

    What I was trying to get across in the post was that the Spurs game had periods where we showed what we could do, being compact and playing it quickly through the team on the attack and employing the high press on them in periods we had them pinned back and were in the ascendancy. There were also the periods of being too slow and going too sideways and backwards and not pressing them enough which coincided in periods we were struggling more.

    We just need to do more of the right stuff and less of the iffy stuff and this game represented both brilliantly at times. I hope I don’t put anyone’s noses out of joint here, and no-one takes it personally, but I do feel that those that are championing us on our ability and style this year are to a degree influenced by the sentimental memories of us having been, by and large, the most stylish team over many years.

    When I step back and think about how we have played in many games this season to me it has completely lacked our usual style and traditional way of playing with a quick game on the ground. There have been flashes of our normal fluid play but not enough, and that is why I feel AW has got caught up in a bit of a no man’s land in how the team should play.

    However, what I am saying is that when we do it right we shift up at least 3-4 levels so our potential is massive but we are currently under-achieving with the players we have. Get it right and I think we could storm the end of this season and set a new benchmark of performance level.

    Eddie, I didn’t feel the spuds went long that often at all. In fact I feel there were more long balls coming out of our defence than theirs for periods of the game, but I could have got that count wrong. As I say when we did settle into the quick forward passing and quick reclaim of possession when we lost it I felt Spurs struggled to live with us.

    LB I hope you didn’t mind me using your comment from yesterday but it epitomised how I saw Elneny and that position. He is definitely the best option for me there in the absence of Cazorla and /or Wilshere.

    Anyway, till tomorrow.

  59. fatgingergooner says:

    Just seen that with the United and Spurs games out of the way, in terms of average PL position, we now have the easiest remaining fixtures.

    West Ham. 9.2. C (3)
    Man United 10.1 (4)
    Man City. 11.4 C. (2)
    Spurs. 11.5 C L. (1)
    Leicester. 12.1 C. (2)
    Arsenal. 12.7. (2)

    C = Chelsea to play
    L = Liverpool to play
    (?) = Top 6 to play

    So as you can see, we’ve actually gone from having the worst set of remaining games, to arguably having the best. It seems Wenger and the players have decided to stop talking about title chances as it relies on a lot of things that are out of our hands, but if we can start to take care of our own business, then who knows.

  60. mickydidit89 says:

    I like this sort of thing

    Sanchez storms off. He’s leaving. Fact
    Mata sent off. Mourinho.s coming. Fact.
    Eddie’s bulk buying boxes. Giroud is a deadly finisher. Fact.

    Good game eh? 🙂

  61. kelsey says:

    Sorry the Devon Tandoori isclosed on a Sunday night.

  62. kelsey says:

    Comment of the day from FGG

    “we now have the easiest remaining fixtures.”

    Having spoken at length last night to an expert on all things Arsenal we have revised our predictions that we may come anywhere between first and seventh,but the worst scenario is for Spurs to win the league and us to come fifth 😉 Of course that couldn’t happen, could it.

  63. mickydidit89 says:

    Bloody foreigners 🙂

  64. mickydidit89 says:

    Actually Crystals, since speaking to a foreigner, I’ve revised my thinking a bit.

    As I said yesterday, I wanted Utd to win yesterday, as we want them in top four contention when they face Spurs.

    I then read an Erik comment about Maurinho arriving, and actually the WBA result may prove Utd players know this and won’t give 100%. Therefore I think it will be between us and W’Ham for 4th.

  65. Eddie says:

    I don’t like being painted with the same brush as Giroud. I am not a ponce

  66. mickydidit89 says:

    Dear God Eddie, I would never do any such thing.

    Give us some good news. Ebay related always works.

  67. kelsey says:

    Don’t worry Eddie, Giroud will be our match winner when he leads the line at Hull tomorrow.

  68. mickydidit89 says:

    Oh do stop being so bloody miserable Crystals. It’s the morning, and it’s a Monday one at that, so gently does it is the order of the moment.

  69. Eddie says:

    there, I replied to him:

    Thank you for the offer
    The price is £26, but I will throw in a box for free

    1906 characters left


  70. mickydidit89 says:

    Whoa, hang on Eddie.
    “Jo Mallone”???? Are you the squillionairess candle lady in disguise?

  71. Eddie says:

    I wish 🙂 it is just another of my disguises 🙂 love the scents

  72. mickydidit89 says:

    Oscar struck gold yesterday by getting Mrs Didit some smells. He’s learnt from the master 🙂

  73. Eddie says:

    good boy Oscar 🙂 I never understood how men don’t get how to please women, it is sooooo easy

  74. Eddie says:

    what do you think the eBayer will write in reply?
    “what box?”
    ” I don’t need a box”
    “Are you crazy?”

  75. Eddie says:

    Kelsey – not you as well, amongst the deluded ones. Giroud the match winner, yeah, I am really Jo Mallone

  76. Big Raddy says:

    Morning All,

    Eddie. 7.28. Not to us chaps it isn’t 😀

  77. Rasp says:

    Morning all, we need a post for today, all offers gratefully accepted 🙂

  78. Eddie says:

    raddy – I know 🙂

  79. mickydidit89 says:

    Hey Rasp
    Can we have a simple poll. Where do you think we’ll end up in League then numbers 1-6
    Nice easy opener for the week. We like a poll, and it fires up debate arounf the why’s and wherefore’s
    I’m on scholl run now, then back at 9:30’ish

  80. mickydidit89 says:

    The rules of engagement are so simple
    1. Keep a stock of scented candles
    2. Carry a clean, ironed, pocket hankerchief at all times, and never ever use it for yourself. Ladies cry.
    3. Look at the creatures like you’re interested in what they’re saying.

  81. mickydidit89 says:


  82. Eddie says:

    micky – spot on, I am in love already 🙂

    Raddy – you’d better find out the lady likes candles before you start stocking up. I don’t. I would much prefer an Arsenal scarf 🙂
    2. not good offering an ironed pocket hankie if you made her cry!!
    3. if she was boring, I wouldn’t bother pretending I am listening.

    we want poll, we want poll!!!!

  83. Big Raddy says:

    Rasp. I wrote one a few days ago that can be used. Not one of my best but a post nonetheless 🙂

    PM tomorrow. Report Weds. We can use Micky’s idea on Thursday.

    Rant Friday

    Bosh …

  84. fatgingergooner says:

    If we win tomorrow, when do we play our FA Cup QF?

  85. chas says:

    Win – FA Cup QF 1.30pm Sunday
    Lose – Prem 5.30 Saturday.

  86. Rasp says:

    Morning again ….

    …. New post ….

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