Arsenal’s winning run ended by Atkinson – Palace ratings

If you had to run 100 metres it would take you a certain amount of time, yes? With a bit of training you might improve slightly but it wouldn’t take long before you reached maximum capability. This is what yesterday’s game felt like to me; there was no more to give, the team that Emery fielded reached the peak of their collective talent and it wasn’t enough to beat Palace.

The defence didn’t play badly but I don’t think they could have played better. Naturally, we desperately missed the attacking qualities that Monreal brings to bear down the left flank but, with him missing, it was easy for Palace to work out that all our threat would come down the right and so they simply increased the number of bodies in that part of the field, pretty much nullifying our ability to dominate the opposition within our usual game plan. When Bellerin went off we became even more pedestrian; we were forced to play solely through the middle and that made us even easier to control. This was not helped by the link-up play from Torreira and Guendouzi; again neither played badly, in fact, I would have made Torreira my man of the match but neither one of them played a single pass that put an attacker into a goal scoring opportunity. To repeat myself, they had reached the peak of their talents.

And so we get to Ozil and, of course, this is where my little theory falls flat on its face. Ozil did not have his best day at the office and certainly did not play to the peak of his ability but I thought we saw the first chink in Emery’s armour today; it was a bad decision to take him off. Ozil is the only player who is capable of pulling a rabbit out of a hat; that’s to say, no matter how ineffective he is looking, he is always the one most likely to create the little bit of magic needed to win a game like that.

This frustration is compounded in my mind by leaving Iwobi on; this is the equivalent of saying that Iwobi is likely to be more effective than Ozil in the closing stages. Wenger tried taking Ozil off early and it always went wrong, you bring Ozil off when you are three up with ten minutes to go in order for him to get a standing ovation, apart from that, you leave him damn well out there.

Do I need to cover how poor Atkinson was? I think that one has been done; do I need to say that Zaha dived? I think that one has also been done but what I would say is that I thought Zaha was the best player on the park and I wish we had him at THOF.

All in all, a frustrating day. I thought we were going to get away with it again after the team had taken Emery’s half time magic potion as we came out and dominated, scoring two quick goals in succession but alas, no. It was irritating to lose our winning run but I suppose the reason for my sombre tone is a sign of just how high Emery has lifted us in the recent past. I suppose the only way we are going to get that euphoric feeling back is to beat Liverpool next week but if we are to, we are going to need Bellerin and Monreal fighting fit and raring to go.

Quick player ratings

Leno: clean sheet from open play, top keeper. 8

Bellerin: too much asked of him today. 7

Mustafi: someone must be coaching him as he is getting better every week. 7

Holding: I am not sure we can ask any more of him. 8

Xhaka: playing out of position and unsurprisingly got suckered into giving a penalty away. Excellent goal. 6

Torreira: held the fort, if it wasn’t for him it could have been worse. 9

Guendouzi: I really want to say that from here on it was pedestrian, it is all very well looking busy but you have got to be effective as well. 7

Ozil: ineffective but should have stayed on. 6

Iwobi: is he really going to be Emery’s pet project, heaven help us if it is. Ran around a lot and very fast at that but was totally ineffective. 5

Lacazette: not his best day, poor service. 5

Aubameyang: another game another goal. Mah. 7


Lichtsteiner: it made me laugh watching how he dealt with Zaha, the Palace forward had the run of that flank in the first half but that all stopped in the second. Lichtsteiner gave him such a hard time that he was forced onto the other flank, maybe that wasn’t such a good thing as, of course, that is where he was able to con Atkinson.

Welbeck and Ramsey: not enough time for them to influence the game.



44 Responses to Arsenal’s winning run ended by Atkinson – Palace ratings

  1. chas says:

    The highlight of the game by a country mile………..

  2. chas says:

    Thanks for an excellent summation, LB, and for taking the time to write something no-one wanted to write.

    We have been riding our luck in some of the games we’ve won this season and I think you’re bang on that it had to come to an end, playing at the limit of the team’s current abilities, as we have.

    Your ratings should provoke some comment
    (as you planned, I imagine 🙂 )

    I would have scored them all a lot lower. Palace aren’t very good but they were our equal.
    Auba, Laca, Mesut and Wobbly were all utter garbage, having little or no impact on the game. Auba and Laca on from the start just doesn’t work.
    Terrier and Douzi were hampered by this.
    The defence did well not to concede a goal in open play, but Licht and Xhaka at full backs, plus Mustafi never knowing when to lunge on the floor or not. Eurgh!!!!!

  3. chas says:

    Sorry about the title, LB. 🙂

    Palace hadn’t scored at Selhurst for four hundred years minutes.

    They still haven’t!

  4. RC78 says:

    excellent post – I just felt that some players were ineffective and that some others went back to their bad habits:

    1. Leno – no complaint
    2. Bellerin – went off injured
    3. Mustafi – Oh my…the guy is a liability in many games. He needs to learn how to defend standing.
    4. Holding – most improved player. A good display.
    5. Xhaka – great goal and played out of position and it showed.
    6. LT – industrious but not his usual disciplined.
    7. Guendouzi – looking busy but he needs to become more effective with and without the ball.
    8. Iwobi – what happened? The guy was a phantom.
    9. Ozil – where was he? Poor game.
    10. Auba – a goal and some movement but overall, not great
    11. Laca – a day to forget.

    I felt that Emery could have brought in subs earlier. A draw is not a poor result but it s just that we gave 2 PKs that make it annoying.

    In some games away, we need to play with more density in the middle. Can’t wait for Monreal, Kola and AMN to be fit again.

    Now Holding is in a good form – what will happen when Sok and Kos come back to fitness?

  5. RC78 says:

    Cup Game next – here is the line up:

    Cech – Jenkinson, Mustafi, Sok, Lichten – Ramsey, El Neny, Guendouzi – Miky, Smithe-Rowe – Wellbeck

  6. Big Raddy says:

    Morning All,

    LB. Well written and to the point as always.

    When so many individuals fail to perform it has a huge impact upon the team combination play. Having a front 4 who were all dreadful and Xhaka at FB meant we really struggled against a workmanlike team.

    My pre-match lauded Lichtsteiner’s use of the Dark Arts, sadly Zaha is also a Master and Atkinson is so poorly prepared that he, once again, got fooled. No surprise there.

    Would I like Zaha at Arsenal? Yes & No. Yes, he is a terrific player in the C. Ronaldo mould i.e. physically very strong yet skillful (great feet for a Big Man). However, is he a team player, which is what UE is aiming for? Iwobi may have had a poor game but he is younger and more of a team player. If we are to spend the kind of money that Zaha will cost I would prefer if it were spent on the defence (Chilwell from LCFC?)

    Overall, we got an away point from a poor performance against 12 men. I am satisfied with that.

  7. Big Raddy says:

    RC. A home return for Corporal Jenkinson? Great idea.

  8. LBG says:

    Thanks as always for the effort LB.
    My man of the match would have been Holding and, as Chas picked out clearly your match marks might make a neutral squirm. Only sentence I disagree with is criticism of Terrier and Ouzi for lack of dynamic passes. Any player advancing play in this way, must have a target to hit, easy or otherwise. Aubang, Wobbly and even Lacs were non-existent in this area. If you add Mesut’s mysterious absence from everything, including his wide runs, who could they pass to?

  9. chas says:


  10. RC78 says:

    As for Zaha – if he came to Arsenal, he d come as a sub; a bit like Shaqiri at Liverpool.

    If we are to invest on a wing player, my vote goes to Douglas Costa.

    If we are to invest on a defensive player, I would still go for a midfield like N’dombele, Thiago (Bayern) or Gueye.

    If we really want to bulk up the defense, then we need 2 players: One LB and Chilwell would do and one CB and in that case, we go for someone like Koulibaly from Napoli.

    Leno – Bellerin, Koulibaly, Sok, Chilwell – Douglas Costa, LT, Ndombele- Ozil, Auba – Laca

    Cech – Lichten, Holding, Kos, Monreal – Guen, Xhaka, Kola – Iwobi, Miky – Wellbz

  11. RC78 says:

    Yes – Douglas costa can play in midfield.

  12. chas says:

    Arsenal’s pass map from yesterday illustrates the lack of presence of the front 4 which led to the backwards, horseshoe passing which characterised play when we were poor under Arsene.

  13. chas says:

    Compare and contrast with the Leicester pass map.

  14. Big Raddy says:

    Costa would do!

    I don’t think we need more in midfield as we have young players who will become greats – Smith Rowe, Douzi, AMN (Cons), Iwobi, Terrier are all under 23.

    They may be less defensively minded than Gueye but they can learn, especially Douzu and AMN

  15. VP of Oz says:

    just as the 1st half has been theorised as a rope a dope strategy of lulling the other team into a false sense of security and then we come out in 2nd half and smash them
    I think UE is taking the strategy a step further and lulling LFC into a false sense of security by playing poorly against Crystal so that we can beat them next week. Thats why Ozil was subbed, with LFC in mind.
    And even when we played poorly with this strategy it still took the ref to steal our win.

  16. RC78 says:

    I have seen Emery at work at PSG. I think he will do better at AFC.
    However, he needs to realize that the EPL is not the Spanish league and that although the transition game especially counter-attacks is not the only way to score goals…With PSG, when we had possession and most of the time we had it, we were sometimes struggling to create spaces.

    So Emery will improve AFC on the transition game especially offensively BUT we need to improve our game when we have possession, which means we need more width in our game, more depth, more options to shoot from outside the box and more movement. This requires more work from our FB, our strikers and mids. Lacazette can be the fixation point but Auba then needs to move behind him and the defenders and on the other side, we need to have Bellerin offering an option while the CM would also come closer to the box for a shot option – then Ozil has 4 options: deep with Auba, short up with Laca, short side with a CM and wide with Bellerin. I know it sounds simple but yesterday, we just didn’t do enough.

  17. LBG says:

    So three comments which make me smile broadly after Atkinson’s anarchy.
    Chas 9.39- Didn’t want to repeat the AW comparison, but felt it was clear compared to Leicester.
    10.40 VP of Oz, brilliant plan and will lead me on to my final question.
    11.22 RC78 Just as brilliant and exactly how we should be playing. Add AM-N to a central post and you have a player with tricks and dribbling ability.
    Interesting comment from City players at weekend on Pep’s strategy against current Liverpool – ” bring them on to you even further, then break fast in numbers”. Do we have the players defensively to do that and not be ripped apart early on? So to the biggest question. How do we beat Liverpool?

  18. Big Raddy says:

    First, we have to beat Blackpool

  19. fred1266 says:

    Don’t agree with letting ozil stay on I actually thought he brought on welbeck to help defensively

    As I said earlier anyone at fault it is lacazette he turned a counter attack into a penalty against us

  20. chas says:

  21. RC78 says:

    Ozil polarizes critics and compliments…

    LBG – you are totally right about AMN, get rid of Kola and put AMN in my line up

  22. RC78 says:

    According to you, who has the best shot outside the box in our team?

    A) Xhaka
    B) Laca
    C) Auba
    D) Miky
    E) Ramsey
    F) Other player

  23. Red Arnie says:

    Thank you, LB, and the anonymous title-maker. 🙂 Perfect.

    All good things come to an end eventually, so that is not an issue. Hopefully we spring to greater heights in the next couple of EPL games.

    I actually thought the midfield yesterday played too many missed passes and handicapped both the frontilibne and the backline.

  24. RC78 says:

    RedArnie – the midfielder also did not release the ball quick enough.

    Some say it is because the lack of movement of players around them, some say it is because they were slow but all and all, they coud have passed it better and quicker.

  25. RC78 says:

    Not sure if the link will go through but just in case, I compared 3 players: Paredes (Zenith), Allan (Napoli) and Ndombele (Lyon). The stats say Paredes but I haven’t watched him so can’t be sure and he plays in Russia so caution there…

    I have watched Allan and Ndombele and they are strong. Allan is quite interesting because he is very solid in defense and has a good passing range and Ndombele is interesting because he can get the ball back and he can run between the lines.

    Any of these 2 (maybe three if we count Paredes) next to Torreira will totally solidify our midfield and also give it a bit more depth technically and physically.

  26. Red Arnie says:

    yes, RC, agree

  27. fred1266 says:

    I would prefer dembele instead of Costa

  28. GunnerN5 says:

    Thanks LB, take away the twp penalties and I think our defense had their best game of the season. It improved greatly when Lich came on for teyh 2nd half – apparently Bellerin has a muscle strain.

    I just read a tasty Red Top rumour that Emery is lining up both Mata and Cesc on free transfers in the summer.

  29. Red Arnie says:

    “Hearts striker Steven MacLean could face a two-match ban for allegedly grabbing Celtic midfielder Eboue Kouassi’s groin area at Murrayfield.” Poor lad! He must have just had the urge! 🙂

  30. Red Arnie says:

    RC. A) by a long mile. the closest in recent memory was Rosicky.

  31. LB says:

    Pitch looks in bad shape, could be a few injuries…………..

  32. Red Arnie says:

    ha ha. that is what I was thinking as well, but dared not …. 🙂

  33. Big Raddy says:

    Shameful pitch. Good start though 😀

  34. chas says:

  35. chas says:

  36. chas says:

  37. chas says:

    Fans entering Highbury’s North Bank via Gillespie Road entrance for Arsenal’s January 1930 game with Chelsea

  38. chas says:

  39. chas says:


  40. LBG says:

    Sorry, I know Blackpool is the sequence and until that game is done we don’t even know who is fit and available, but I cannot shake the debate on who to play and how to play against Liverpool.
    Going to lay down some musts for me and then some ideas.
    Anybody but Xhaka must play at left back. If Sokratis is fit he should replace Mustafi with Rob holding his place.
    So hopefully Nacho is fit and will get a run out against Blackpool to prove it. If not I would even play A M-N there for his pace against Mane. The Granit question in midfield still troubles me but I would probably play him in this game but with modification. I would put him slightly in front of Terrier and Ouzi in midfield. Ahead of them, I am sorry for this game I do not even want to hear Mesut doesn’t turn up against big teams, he is on the bench and I would have Wobbly as left sided 10 and Micki as right side10. This decision is also based on dropping my feeling, for this game only, that Lacs and Aubang should play alongside and off each other, and that, because Aubang wide left looks wasted/not prepared to work at it. So one up front with more pace than Laca for this oppo.
    (I would then ask Sokratis to wipe out VVD and Gomez at the first corner and the rest of the defence to chop Sane, Salah, and Firmino at waist height soon after! Who says we are going to get a corner! Even my widely optimistic normal approach is wavering).
    Don’t know if this should be left to later in the week, but what do you think?

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