Sticky Taffy Pudding – Cardiff ratings

Well, the world feels a whole lot better having beaten Cardiff than had we drawn. We got there in the end but not after more stressful defending nightmares. The image that came to mind was of a group of eleven men dressed in red and white Father Christmas outfits arriving in Cardiff bearing gifts (or should that be goals) for all the poor local children who had gone without for so long. The only thing missing from the cartoon was big white bushy beards.

Mustafi’s bullet header opened the scoring

I am really tempted to say that everything new that Emery has introduced is causing downright panic and everything that was already there is working really well. The attack was already there and it is getting closer to firing on all cylinders. First rate goals from Aubameyang and Lacazette back this up. Was the defence any better last season? Mah, maybe not. Was the midfield cover of the defence better last season, mah also maybe not? Perhaps, I should have said that I was tempted to say that ‘almost’ everything that Emery has introduced has caused downright panic.

The obvious example is the insistence of Emery to have Cech play the ball out to players waiting near the corner flags only to have it passed back to the keeper who continually deals with it like a hot potato and on more than one occasion passed it out badly creating a goal scoring opportunity for the opposition.

You might expect that I am going to rip into Emery at this point but you would be wrong. Let’s ask: if all this manoeuvre went well and Cech had the foot skills to carry this off what is Emery trying to achieve? I obviously can’t be certain but what I can see happening is that the opposition are being drawn forward and are staying there in the hope of exploiting an error; this in turn, creates space beyond these advanced opposition players which gives our attackers incredibly valuable and extremely important extra space to operate in up front.

Not convinced? Did West Ham and Cardiff park the bus, surely we would have expected them to do so, it certainly would have happened last season, so why didn’t it – because they were cleverly manoeuvred away from it.

If this turns out to be right then Unai Emery deserves a lot of praise but in the mean time watching Arsenal has become a viewing past time that should be avoided by the faint-hearted.

Laca celebrating Auba’s goal – Photo by Geoff CADDICK / AFP

This obviously is a work in progress but I would bet a barrel of Danish herrings that that is exactly what Leno has been brought in to do. The new keeper will be slowly introduced through the Europa and the Caribou and by the end of the season or, if not, by Christmas he will be our number one keeper. Why not start with him now? Woooo, hold your horses, too much change too quickly can be very risky. Cech is still a fine keeper and after the ten minutes at the start of the game and ten minutes after the restart he reverts back into an absolute first class keeper.

Two wins in two games and apart from some Keystone moments there are some real signs of progress being made. Perhaps I should have been tempted to have said that quite a few things that Emery is doing are working. Lol.

Do you want me to describe the game? Is there a need? Mah, we all saw it.

Mesut looks left out of the bromance

Cech: notice that after the first ten minutes of cartoon football he changed back to clearing the ball however he saw fit, this is not a player defying his manager; it is a player carrying out instructions. 8 for his keeping but for his footwork, hmmm, not so much.

Bellerin: I really wanted to say that his crosses into the box continued to improve but they didn’t. The message has finally been received that he needs to be covered when he is advanced and play breaks down; this was done by Guendouzi and then better by Torriera. 5

TAWTH: Good goal; still continues to be a headline star in Arsenal’s defensive comedy show. 6

GB: starting to get his feet under the table, maybe a bit better this week. 5

Monreal: nothing spectacular today, not sure he fully understands what the plan is. 5

Guendouzi: still a bright spot, obviously the player that is not tainted by previous seasons and also seems to be the player that Emery feels he can most easily mould to the way he wants the team to play. 5

Xhaka: someone whisper to him that the food in Italy is very good. 4

Ramsey: no lack of trying, he knows he is getting prime real estate on the pitch; the much sort after terrain where Mesut’s mansion usually sits is not often vacated. He is aware that he is being given a chance and he is doing his best to take it. A bit slow in his manoeuvrings at times which slowed our counter attacks down but on another day he will score a hat trick so all is well really. 7

Ozil: you have to bear in mind that when writing about Mesut I start from a point of thinking that the man can do no wrong. It made me laugh watching Ozil today, shunted out to the right obviously on Emery’s orders he decided that rather than spend another weekend in the sick bay he would tow the line; he stayed out there for 50 minutes and was completely ineffective. Clearly bored of such nonsense, he then reverted back to what Mesut does best – playing where ever he likes and he was magnificent; watch his involvement in the Aubameyang and the Lacazette goals and the play in general around that time. Emery had his opportunity to reassert his control by hooking him off later on. 7

Lacazette: Man of the Match; Emery has man managed him well, the Butcher’s dog was let off the lead from minute one today and he was just dying to get stuck in. 8

Aubameyang: great goal, should do his confidence the world of good. 7

Oh, I have just seen the spud result, there clearly is a god.

Written by LB


54 Responses to Sticky Taffy Pudding – Cardiff ratings

  1. chas says:

    Cheers, LB.
    What a fun day all round!

    I’m loving the idea that our really crap playing the ball out from the back is Emery’s way of defeating a ‘park the bus’ tactic. Genius. 🙂

    Lull them into a false sense of security, even give them a goal or two, then wham, a stiletto to the heart.

    It was a great game for the neutral. The only difference from last season I could see was that we won. What a massive difference! Laca’s goal changed everything.

    I certainly spent as much time as last season saying, ‘What the f*ck’, ‘For f*cks sake’ and ‘Oh my god!’ during the game.

    Watford scoring three goals in their game with the spuds was the icing on the cake.

  2. LB says:

    Thanks Chas

    Excellent title and more great pics.

  3. chas says:

    You can almost see the hand brake of the bus being released and it moving out of the parking bay!

  4. chas says:

    Sometimes I think bullet headers are my favourite type of goals….

  5. chas says:

    Or maybe it’s little set up flicks followed by sublime curling passes into the corner of the net from the edge of the D……………..

  6. chas says:

    Nah, it has to be strikers finding a yard of space, then swivelling before crashing the ball past the keeper at the near post…….

  7. Rasp says:

    Thanks LB, I’ve only seen highlights, but could feel the sense of deja vu whilst reading reports during the game.

    I think Unai is a clever and patient man. He’s giving the old guard maximum opportunity to prove themselves before making the changes he must be itching to implement .. .starting with Leno for Cech and Torreira for Xhaka/Ramsey

  8. LB says:

    Good points Rasp.

    I hadn’t thought, or certainly had not put into words, the idea that Emery is giving the old guard maximum opportunity to prove themselves before making the changes, this makes complete sense as does the idea that he must be itching to implement changes.

    I think that now we have won a couple of games these changes will take a bit longer but had we lost, things would have got very serious and he would not have had time to indulge as he is doing now.

    Interesting times though.

  9. LBG says:

    Loving the analysis LB, keep the really shit attempt at playing out from the back going for a few weeks and eventually all eleven opposition players will be pushing up, in our half, and it’s then just a chip over them with a nine iron! We will know when he thinks he’s given us all enough heart failure, when he stations Aubang and Lacs on the half way line in the ” on your marks” position.
    Feel some of the “old guard” need a rest.

  10. fred1266 says:

    The passing out the back the only issue I have is they do the same same thing over and over cech to cb, cb back to cech then cech try to find midfield

    If for once the cb try to pass to monreal / bellerin or even midfield and just mixed it up the opposition would press cech cause they wouldn’t know where the ball is going

  11. kfdickie says:

    Great read LB. But surely Cech giving the ball to the attacker for him to blast over the bar is really taking the piss. Can he be sure they will all do that?

  12. LB says:

    All part of Emery’s secret plan kfd, all part of Emery’s secret plan.

    Obviously I jest but I do find myself asking what on earth is he trying to do because he is not that stupid; there must be some kind of method to his madness?

  13. kfdickie says:

    The only secret that I would like to know is why he continues with Xhaka. Thats the big sigh when I look at the team sheet. I am optimistic, like most people about the new regime, but he costs us a goal every now and then. Too much Hollywood and not enough jolly good. I get the young wizard, I think he will be great, but play Torreira as well.

  14. RC78 says:

    As we said earlier – if Ramsey comes in and clearly he should be a starter, either Ozil or Miky goes on the bench. I think that Miky has more of an engine than Ozil so I would start him ahead of Ozil but that said – it seems both won’t play together at least from a start.

    Aubameyang and Lacazette seem to enjoy playing together and are clearly a potent partnership so the 4-3-2-1 option may be best optiion in the end:

    Cech – Bellerin, Mustafi, Sokratis, Monreal – Ramsey, Guendouzi, Torreira – Miky, Auba – Laca

    Ozil and Xhaka on the bench?
    Clearly Torreira will start very soon and Guendouzi seems to be a good surprise so far so I would put Xhaka on the bench. I would also put Ozil on the bench because Miky has a bigger engine and has a good partnership with Auba on the field but if Ozil is fielded, also OK.
    Big worry is still Bellerin, Mustafi, Sokratis and Monreal a bit 😦 This back four is like Swiss cheese

  15. fred1266 says:

    Did cech even noticed he had a man free at the right size

  16. LB says:

    RC, RC, RC

    I have been dying to ask you a question. I assume you are bilingual so you would know: did Emery learn French or did he already speak French before he arrived at PSG?

  17. LB says:

    Kfd. I think the reason why Emery continues with Xhaka are two fold: he could genuinely believe the Torriera is not fit enough to start and the other being it allows Ramsey and Ozil to be in the same team.

    I guess…………………

  18. LB says:


    I have another question: was Guendouzi on your radar and if so when did he appear. I know he was at PSG but I understand he got let go. Was he forgotten about; he must have been for a while if so when did he reappear?

  19. RC78 says:

    LB –

    Emery is Spanish and Basque. Spanish is very close to French but he learned it when he arrived at PSG and his French was very poor – it was heavily accented so we still needed subtitles…lol

    Guendouzi was let go at PSG when he was 14 I believe and he was let go because we thought we had some higher caliber players (Bernarde, Diaby…). He went to Lorient and did well there but he had a relationship that soured with his coach so much that he was actually ousted from the group for about 10 games. At PSG, we have a lot of talent inour youth team but we are not great at integrating them into our 1st team so we see plenty leave and do well Dembele (Celtic now Lyon), Zagadou (Defender Dortmund now), Georgen (Italy now)…

    Xhaka can be a starter but he needs to really up his game – then Guendouzi or Torrreira will be out of the team…

  20. chas says:

    We could buy Zagadou and have the perfect song for him already.

  21. mickydidit89 says:

    Thank you very much LB

    Bloody love the theory about Cech doing pretendy shitpassing to draw the oppo. out 🙂

  22. LB says:


    We can all see that Emery is trying to get the team to play out from the back with comic results right now. The man is not blind to the danger that this is causing and yet he continues to pursue this way of doing things. My take is we must be missing something, are there any clues as to why he is insisting on this from his time at PSG, what is the big picture here?

  23. mickydidit89 says:

    This is strictly for Chas

    (I found it from a Daily Mirror piece), although I edited somewhat to shorten, and anyway, I won’t have anyone taking the piss out of Spunky 🙂


    Charlton Athletic’s signing of Anil Koc prompted many a guffaw. It is reminiscent of the time that Manchester United are scouting Schalke’s Christian Fuchs, a period that inspired a host of ‘Fuchs off to Old Trafford?’ headlines. But neither of those two even make it in to our list of rude footballer names… and neither is Danny Shittu!

    An early England one-cap wonder, Segar Bastard naturally went on to become a referee.

    Winger Wayne Wanklyn played in the same Reading side as keeper Steve Death.

    Former Grasshoppers striker Andre Muff

    Argentinean striker Mario Turdo

    Chilean centre back Waldo Ponce

    Recently assistant manager at Bury, former centre back Peter Shirtliff

    One of Kevin Keegan’s worst signings, Dutch winger Brian Pinas
    Finally retired at nearly 40, it’s a lasting regret that Czech defender Milan Fukal failed a week’s trial with Leeds in 2006.

    Johan de Kock won an unlucky 13 caps for Holland.

    A £5m disaster from the John Barnes/Kenny Dalglish management team at Celtic, Rafael Scheidt

    Briefly linked with the Liverpool vacancy before Kenny Dalglish returned, former Brazil defender Argelico Fucks is, unsurprisingly, known as Argel.

    Chelsea disappointed everyone in 2009 by dropping their interest in Independiente keeper Fabian Assman.

    The number one club in the Peruvian Andes, widely criticised in the mid-‘00s for moving their stadium to the city of Cerro de Pasco, 4,380 above sea level, are named after a local tribe… Deportivo Wanka.

    Marseille right back Rod Fanni.

    Germany’s Under-20 manager is named Ralf Minge .

    Germany keeper Hans-Jorg Butt

    The former Germany striker who enlivened the video for Baddiel and Skinner’s Three Lions remake in ’88, Stefan Kuntz has embraced his name’s brilliance since becoming general manager of Kaiserslautern, by signing both Danny Fuchs and Florian Dick 

  24. Big Raddy says:

    Call me childish but 2.43 had me roaring with laughter

  25. RC78 says:

    LB – At PSG, we were used to playing from the back from Laurent Blanc’s time. At PSG, we were used to the 4-3-3 system since Ancelotti. Emery tried to convince the team to play a hard press football rather than fully possession-based football and the team rejected it and he had to adapt to the team

  26. GunnerN5 says:

    Hi LB,

    We are very lucky at AA to have such fine authors writing posts for us – and you are no exception – thank you for taking the time, it’s greatly appreciated.

  27. LB says:

    Thank you GN5

    For the very kind words.

  28. chas says:

    Haha, Micky.

    More Bradley Walsh

  29. Big Raddy says:

    LB. Thank you. You maintain a high quality level and have a clinical eye.

    I have to agree that Ramsey had a good game, many saw him as slowing down the attack but I saw a man who tried to create chances. As you say, Once Ozil stopped playing on the wing we improved.

    TAWTH could not be blamed for the goals yet continues to cause alarm whenever we are under pressure. GB improved but has yet to press his character upon the team (I was hoping for a Greek TA6)- he is such a big personality it is surely just a matter of time.

    I expected more of PEA, lovely goal notwithstanding. I hope he can become a striker who can create his own chances, much like TH14.

    Lacazette is so strong for a little chap and his goal was spectacular – to beat a decent GK at his near post requires accuracy and immense power.

    Xhaka? 31 passes at 86% success rate implies he was not so poor. As the fulcrum in front of the defence Xhaka has a difficult job and TBH he can be a little flaky. But, we complained last season when he went to ground to tackle or drew stupid yellow cards which he no longer does. It is an improvement in a player who at 25 y.o. still has time to mature. To blame him for the 2nd goal was as harsh as blaming Iwobi the week before.

    My hope is always to watch an exciting game and yesterday was a cracker with two teams committed to attack. We had 17 shots in an away game, of which 14 were on target!

    No complaints from Copenhagen.

  30. LB says:

    I don’t usually get into the statistics but I wondered, percentage wise, out of Xhaka, Guendouzi and Torriera who had the better pass completion figure.

    I think the reason for this is that it seemed that Torriera was almost perfect, ok he played less of the game but he looked mighty accurate.

    This might be bias as I usually treat Xhaka as my pantomime villain.

  31. Aaron says:


    Thanks for taking the time to write for our reading pleasure.

    I disagree with your and BR’s assessment of Ramsey. Most of the time, he slows the attack down, turns his back to his outlets and as his team players are making runs into the channels and elsewhere, he tippy taps the Arsenal into oblivion. Dooming the Arsenal to the long, slow, laborious process of trying to penetrate a team that has settled nicely into a defensive position with shape.
    The way around that is to hit teams on the counter with pace or win the ball up high and take one touch and pass it as Torerria does incisively.
    Ramsey does not fit into a side with Xhaka, and Ozil. Would rather have Mesut in the center dictating things. As other sites have mentioned it was when Mesut started to drift in from the byline did he start to have success, as that is where his assist came from and he does this better than Ramsey by miles.
    By the time he scores that hat trick he will be retired.

  32. chas says:

    This from
    Three columns are Key Passes, Total Passes and Pass Accuracy %

  33. chas says:

    Not sure where BR got 31 passes from. Must have been a typo as we had over 70% possession as a team.

  34. MickyDidIt89 says:


    Spot on re Ramsey

    I have been reading comments and noted how both LB and RC rate him, then Erik’s agreement finally sent me over the edge 🙂

    I didn’t comment as I’ve said the same thing for years, and didn’t want to negative, but delighted someone else sees the same thing

    Arsene struggled with Ramsey for years at the expense of a balanced side

  35. mickydidit89 says:


    Now add the Elneny pass stats, as I bet he scores 100% (just ignore the distance and direction stat that accompanies it) 🙂

  36. LB says:

    Thanks Chas

    I was right in my guess of Torriera’s 100% pass success.

    But the thing is, I always get confused with these things, when looking I can’t tell if Douzi was more effective than Xkaka?

    It seems that everyone on that list did well.

  37. LB says:


    Interesting comment, I agree with you about Ramsey but I had not been able to articulate it as well.

    “Most of the time, he slows the attack down, turns his back to his outlets and as his team players are making runs into the channels and elsewhere, he tippy taps the Arsenal into oblivion. Dooming the Arsenal to the long, slow, laborious process of trying to penetrate a team that has settled nicely into a defensive position with shape.”

    It can be argued that he contributes in other ways but what you say has a lot of depth.

    The thought that jumped into my head as I read your comment was which player does the opposite; that’s to say, is decisive and moves the ball forward quicker than almost any other player.

    And the answer is………………………Guendouzi

    It had crossed my mind that he was the future and that he was challenging Xhaka for his place but it had never crossed my mind that he was seriously challenging Ramsey.

    Wooo, deep stuff.

  38. LB says:

    I think there are two ways of looking at Ramsey and Ozil. There are the two players that people rate and love to watch and then there are the two players that need to be assessed as to whether they are going to fit into the Emery vision.

    I am so biased, I would always want Ozil ahead of Ramsey.

  39. chas says:

    Elneny didn’t get on the pitch on Sunday, so his key passes were zero, total passes zero and pass accuracy percentage also zero.

  40. chas says:

    As Micky implies, pass accuracy can mean what you want it to mean.
    Those who try more creative dangerous passes will, inevitably, have a lower pass accuracy rate.

    If Mesut had the same pass accuracy as Xhaka, we’d be in trouble using him as our number 10.

    Our accuracy percentages for players are always quite high because we have loads of possession, but whether that possession is dangerous or meaningful is another matter entirely. I realise this is pretty obvious.
    For instance our centre backs always make loads of accurate passes but those passes are usually less than 10 yards and sideways to boot.

    The reason Xhaka was criticised for Cardiff’s first goal (quite rightly as far as I’m concerned) is because there was no need to play that long, dangerous crossfield ball at that time and it opened us up in our own half completely unnecessarily.

  41. mickydidit89 says:


    Oh dear, I’m struggling today 🙂

    It was a joke. The point being completed passes is irrelevant if they go sideways, or backwards.

  42. mickydidit89 says:

    Ah, thank you. Didn’t see your comment

  43. chas says:


    For the record I thought Xhaka was good on Sunday. Such a shame that his worst pass of the afternoon was such a high profile one.

  44. fatgingergooner says:

    Xhaka has been better than Geundouzi the last 2 weeks. Geundouzi did very little at the weekend and quite a lot of his passes were sideways or backwards.

    As for the goals conceded, Monreal was actually at fault for the second goal (ball went over his head and he ball watched and lost concentration on where his man was who then scored), and it can be argued he was weak for the first goal (cross came to far post and their player span away from him far too easily), but it seems it’s far more in fashion at the moment to hammer Xhaka.

    I’m not the biggest fan of Xhaka, but it does feel at times that fans are going into games already deciding that he’s played poorly before a balls been kicked. If he does something shit like that crossfield pass on Sunday then he deserves the negativity, but that doesn’t mean the rest of his performance should be deemed terrible. He was actually quite good for the most part, and was one of our better players against West Ham. I actually think he will improve with Torreira next to him but I could of course be very wrong!

  45. Gööner In Exile says:

    Didn’t see game, didn’t know Spuds lost til an hour a go as I have been busy travelling the various worlds of Chessington….oh the joy of the last week of summer holidays!!

    Anyway LB thanks for the report the suckering then in seems to make sense, if only we could actually play it out via midfield which is I think Xhaka’s responsibility and weakness he has to receive the ball on the half turn for it to even work but it’s very easy for midfielders to block supplynor he on his first touch quickly, and he isn’t quick enough to offer options. And surely if the idea was to sucker we also need to go longer on occasion to allow our midfield more space, going longer 1 in 5 times after ball goes to wide centre back would at least give their defensive midfield reason to hold back.

    My other concern is if we play out from the back like this then in order for hard and high press to work the defence and midfield have to cover a lot of ground in a game, maybe too much, as in order for high press to work the game needs to be squeezed, so that means ball from back to centre back, to midfield and then attack, every player covering 60-70 yards as team squeezes up, and then 60-70 yards back. Obviously the less we lose the ball up the pitch the less back 60 yds we have to do, which maybe means Ramsey and others are encouraged to slow play whilst we get up pitch and to make sure if we lose it we have numbers to win back. But that’s an awful lot for some of our lads to take in!

  46. chas says:

  47. chas says:

  48. chas says:

  49. mickydidit89 says:

    OH FFS

    No-one told me there was an international break!!!!

    Bloody cosmic, no Arsenal until Newcastle game, and what exactly may I ask is the Nations League anyway?????

    You’d think England would have given up after their pathetic performance in Russia

    Bloody hell. So beyond livid

  50. mickydidit89 says:


    The London vid. towards the end, the pub on the riverbank has served many a jar to many an explorer before/after expeditions.

    Also of interest were the line of lesbians in their dungarees

  51. chas says:


    I’ve written a space filler for today.
    Maybe you could expand your 7:09 into a post for tomorrow and send it to me via email?
    Pretty please.

    If you agree, i’ll take your comment down to stop others replying to it.

  52. chas says:


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