Players’ Foibles: Or As You Like It (Move over Shakingspeare)

Where there’s a Will…

A subject that has often fascinated or perhaps irritated this writer, especially as regards Arsenal players, is the brilliant skills often shown by our top players.

Skills are different in many ways, dependent on the role individual players are associated with. For example, a goal keeper is the only player on the pitch, for each team, who can, within the rules, handle the ball. So the best GKs are able to pick out a team mate in a beneficial space and either bowl the ball out to him, over-arm or under arm, and give the defence a chance to re-set, or enable the team mate to counter-attack at pace while the opposition is caught out of position.

A handy skill, and when used with accurate drop kicks to the wing, as an alternative, it can make the whole team more confident in the guy at the back who is able to put them on the attacking front foot, and this confidence is a way of relaxing players who may be struggling, and they can then bring their own skill set into play, which is clearly beneficial to the whole team. 

That is all well and good if the GK has those skills and can apply them to his work. But, if he throws the ball to an opposition player, or worse still, either kicks a long ball into touch, or heaven forbid taps a short pass to a defender who has opposition players surrounding him, that could cause the team to lose a game.

We have an ex-Arsenal youth team footballer with us on the blog, and it would be great if he could tell us how GK coaches could help to accentuate the skill set and decrease the heart wrenching cock ups – Go for it GIE. 

We could go through each position in a similar way, but I would like to concentrate next on the forwards, and particularly the specialist goal scorers, like… Auba, although he is not alone, because we have other goal scoring specialists too.

Recently, we have seen him scoring well when the option has presented itself, and then suddenly… he couldn’t!

The ball, even when within three metres of an empty net, seemed to wing towards Row Z whenever he tried to score, or finished up rebounding off the corner flag. Shots fired in from the edge of the penalty area were also doomed to fly high, wide and not so handsome, in the same parabolic as a penalty taker in Rugby shooting the ball 50 feet over the bar in that game — but that’s no good in soccer.

Then go look at Mo Salah for ‘Pool. I do not care that they are nowhere near as good as last year, but every shot Salah takes for them is like it is on a laser beam, with unerring accuracy, and little if any shots rising over the bar.

How can our top goal scorer waste so many opportunities, while Salah does not? Are their training routines so dissimilar? Can our coaches help Auba? If not – why not?

If Auba can reset his target shots, we could really be knocking on the door of the top four, where we belong.

As far as I know – unlike the goal keeping knowledge of GIE – we do not have a blogger who is proficient in the art of scoring great Premier League goals (apart from my friend, Cedric the Camel) so the door is open – we need the combined knowledge and intellect of the great AA bloggers to crack this problem – then we can tell Mikel and all will be well: “Oi, Mikel we can mend Auba, for you!” 



35 Responses to Players’ Foibles: Or As You Like It (Move over Shakingspeare)

  1. RockyLives says:

    Thanks for an entertaining Post Redders.

    Regarding GKs, the best we’ve had in recent years for the quick throw-out was Mad Jens. He was not as good an all-round ‘keeper as Seaman, but in that aspect of the game he was peerless.

    We scored so many goals from a quick Jens throw out to the wing, releasing Cole or Lauren to go bombing forward.

    But would Jens have coped today, when he would be expected to ‘play out from the back’ with all that entails? Who knows?

    The demands on top ‘keepers in particular have changed so much in recent years. The way coaches insist they play has opened up a whole new world of potential blunders for them.

    Leno’s distribution and decision making from the back have been poor lately, but then he doesn’t have the sort of ‘out ball’ for the long punt that we’ve previously had.

    We used to go long to Giroud, or to Sagna (who advanced up the right wing for the purpose). Now we don’t have the personnel to win the ball in the air and hold it up.

    As to you general point, I can only assume that the coaches must be trying to improve players’ skills (Leno’s passing, Auba’s shooting accuracy) but there is probably a point in a player’s development where the old line about ‘can’t teach an old dog new tricks’ comes into play.

  2. Pete the Thirst says:

    We’ve definitely had some bad keepers since Jens departed. He was generally very good, but prone to some really stupid errors.

    Flapihandski & Sczceny could be reliaed upon for some foolish keepin, but Almunia had a howler in his locker every game. How we put up with him for so long is beyond me.

    Leno is an upgrade on these three, but he needs to cut out the messy errors.

  3. Pete the Thirst says:

    Who was the best footballer you played with GIE?

  4. RC78 says:

    Great post – a very entertaining read indeed, Sir RA.

    For the GK, Leno is now 29 and he should be hitting his best form basically now so there is not so much room for growth for him, I believe. There is a lot of basics that he is still lacking: aerial ability, passing ability, decision-making and quick throw-out. He is quite a shot stopper, usually but he also lets in a fair amount of goals at his first post…All and all, it still beats me on why we kept Leno (who is older than Martinez by the way!) over Emi. Emi really grew into a fine GK last year and relieved our defenders with his aerial ability. Both GKs are good on their line but I think Emi is just superior in his decision making (except last week-end) and that makes a huge difference overall…Anyways, let us not except much from Leno…

    For Auba, his form this year is mind-boggling. The guy is usually so good and reliable – scoring goals and always being in the Top 5 scorers in the EPL. He delivered key goals for us the past seasons so I do not know what happened to him this year and where he hid his scoring shoes but he needs to find them quickly. He is still our most proven striker and it may just be that he rediscovers his form very soon but as many mentioned, I am not against starting other players ahead of him who may be able to make a difference in the attacking third for us. Laca’s form has been better and he seems to link up better with Ode and ESR so for me he is the best option as CF at the moment. As a LFW, I think we have the choice to play ESR, Willian, Pepe, Martinelli and Auba there and there is a case to be made for each of them but for me, I would go for Martinelli because of the directness of his play – he runs, he dribbles…I think that with him on the LFW, we can do great but we have seen what ESR could do there and it was quite impressive too :-)…

    As we discussed earlier, the key to unlocking Auba’s scoring potential may be to totally switch formation and move to a 442 with

    Leno – Cedric, Holding, Gabs, Tierney – Saka, Partey, ESR – Ode – Auba, Martinelli

    I think the combination of Auba and Martinelli up front would freak defenders out because Martinelli is very clever with his movement and so is Auba so they could be hard to follow/mark for defenders and that would also open the door for Ode to score more and for Saka and ESR to create more so this is my 2 cents for today and thanks again for the great post!

  5. RC78 says:

    Just a stat posted today on a French football site with the best scorers since 2015 to today and Auba is in the Top 5, along with Lewandowski, Messi, Ronaldo and Suarez but ahead of Kane, Salah, Lukaku, Cavania or Aguero for example…

  6. RA says:

    Morning, Guys, 😁

    You are right, Rocky, in saying that a good goal keeper needs to have ‘receptive’ players to make his throw out or kicking skills operative, so to speak.

    The converse is also true of course, a GK who is not too good at either the throw out or kick out is useless in that respect even if the players would be capable of controlling the ball if it does not reach them or goes out of play.

  7. RA says:


    You are absolutely right, we have had some rubbish GKs on and off, who don’t help our attempts to be a top team. 🙄

  8. RA says:

    Thanks, RC,

    As usual your data info is always enlightening.

    Altho the Auba data shows how odd he is — brilliant scorer when he is on-song, and then rubbish for no obvious reason.

  9. RA says:

    I read an article recently that pinpointed a problem we have had with our youth team transfers.

    Last summer we sold a real up and coming youngster to Leeds Untd called Sam Greenwood, and he has been fantastic for them.

    I moaned about it at the time, because altho he is different to Saka he is equally skilled in his own right, and it was a poor decision to sell him.

    A bit like the nonsense sale of Emi.

    We never seem to learn!!!

  10. RA says:

    I should have added that Leeds did not want Eddie Nketiah and sent him back as he could not get minutes, and we almost gave them Sam for peanuts, and yet he is bossing it for their U23s with all the goals he is scoring.

    Blast and damn it.

  11. RockyLives says:


    I do have some sympathy with the club (indeed any club) when it comes to deciding which youth players to back and which to let go.

    I suppose some are a no-brainer (Cesc, for example) but others break into the first team surrounded by lots of optimism and excitement and fall by the wayside (Frimpong, anyone?).

    Others maybe need a year or two more to mature compared with their peer group. People just physically develop at different rates. Rooney was balding and with a full manly physique at 17. Other lads don’t ‘grow into their manliness’ until 19 or 20. I’m sure that makes a difference.

  12. LBG says:

    Thanks as always for your educated thoughts.
    Two thoughts from me. The cliche is that goalkeepers need to be slightly mad and to a degree, madly extrovert. I think Leno is very serious, influenced considerably by the occasional( not occasional enough!) chaos in front of him, and able to “create his own self- confidence”, a character trait required by most goalkeepers,, IMO.
    I am in disagreement with several on here regarding Aubang. I believe he has lost his desire …….. which normally “feeds” his skills and, when flowing makes them accurate skills.

    Arsenal players as Shakespearian characters. A possible Post for you RA? Is Xhaka our Iago, and does he have the ear of Mikel?

  13. LBG says:


  14. RockyLives says:

    Some would say Xhaka is our Richard the Third.

  15. RockyLives says:

    Tierney would presumably be Macbeth.

    “Is this a dagger-like cross into the opposition penalty area I see before me?”

  16. RockyLives says:

    Pepe, or not Pepe: that is the question.

    (OK, I’ll stop now)

  17. RockyLives says:

    Don’t want to get bard.

  18. RA says:

    Fair points, Rockadoodle,

    It is no doubt very difficult for the Arsenal management to arrive at the correct decision regarding a youth player’s ability./

    The solution, however, is there for them ….. Justmgive me a bell – I’ll tell them. 🤪

    Both Arsenal and Leeds must have known he could/would develop into a special talent, as Leeds agreed to pay us £1.5 million fee, quite a gamble, but one that is paying off.

  19. RA says:

    How wonderful that you guys are so into Shakespeare.

    My favourite character in Othello is Desdemona, but I have always sympathised with Iago’s wife Emilia whom he bumped off because she told Othello what a scumbag he was .

    It was his ridiculous statement to Othello, to justify his actions, that bugged me: “O, beware, my lord, of jealousy; It is the green-eyed monster”.

    What a bastard.

    Can’t think of an appropriate person at Arsenal to attach that name to — so I am Iago, it seems !! 😛

  20. RC78 says:

    For the Shakespeare fans, a very troubling movie is Anonynous which is based on the assumption that Shakespeare did not write the plays but rather marketed them…

    My fav Shakespeare play remains McBeth – just love all the characters.

  21. RockyLives says:

    Very sad to see that Frank Worthington has died.

    A gifted player and, above all, an entertainer. The sort of player you paid your money at the turnstile to see, even if he was on the other team.

    To continue the theme of the day…

    Thou know’st ’tis common.

    All that lives must die,

    Passing through nature to eternity.


    Cheerio Frank and thanks for all the great goals.

  22. RockyLives says:

    If you haven’t seen his wonder goal for Bolton vs Ipswich, Google it.

  23. RA says:

    I have been experiencing some problems communicating with AA, and my comments are not on AA after posting them.

    If this disappears too, I will see you anon.

  24. RockyLives says:

    I can see plenty of comments from you Redders.

  25. RA says:

    Well I’ll be buggered!! Up she rises.

    I was writing about my preferred play, and that would be “A Midsummer’s Night Dream” its got hot girls, a magical Fairy (Puck), a Fairy Queen, and an ass (donkey) et al.

    And then it was gone, Oh, well.

  26. RA says:

    How old was Frank Worthington, Rocky?

    I don’t really know him, sadly.

    There seems to be a lot of players dying in their early sixties from Alzheimers — heading footballs, apparently.

  27. RA says:


    I haven’t seen “Anonymous”, but there have often been allegations that Shakespeare’s sonnets/plays were written by one of the following;– Sir Francis Bacon, or the playwright Christopher Marlowe — and also some bloke with apparent French connections called Edward de Vere, who was the 17th Earl of Oxford (probably goes back to the Norman invasion – I couldn’t be fagged to check).

    On the other hand, the Italians claim to have a playwright who wrote all the Shakespeare sonnets, and Shakespeare pinched them, translated them and became famous.

    Absolute bollocks!!

    I’m surprised that pillock Macron hasn’t claimed his great, great, great ………………………….. grandad was Shakespeare.

    Of course he was. 🙄

  28. LBG says:

    Is Guendouzi our Ophelia, whose state of madness leads to drowning?

  29. RockyLives says:


    Worthington was 72 and had been ill for a while, apparently.

  30. GoonerB says:

    Nothing like a redders post to get the juices flowing. Thanks RA but I’m sorry to say (although cue much jubilation elsewhere) that I had a longer comment earlier that got swallowed up by the ether.

    Probably the ides of March, and I would give my kingdom for a camel to retrieve it. Alas poor redders, unfortunately you won’t be getting your pound of flesh from me just yet. If it was to be it would have been but if it was not to be it wouldn’t….. does that make any sense?

    Anyway I dont know much about this chap that shakes his spear and I’m not one for quotes or cheesiness, as you know, but I did once read about one rather fanciful conspiracy theory that shaking spear was none other than Queen Bessie herself, but that it wouldn’t have sat well in those times for the reigning monarch, and a sheila at that, to have penned such stuff.

    Thus an alternative was needed to take credit for said works. Rather more fanciful than Bacon boy or Marlowe in most ways, but then why would they not have just taken credit themselves?

    Queenie maybe has a bit more behind the argument in that sense, that she really wouldn’t have been able to put her name to it.

  31. RA says:

    Hi GB,

    Very astute if I may say — why not take credit for your work, rather than allowing some blogger to get it.
    But, if you are good friends with the erstwhile author, you cannot hold him up to ridicule.

    After all, I think Cedric the Camel is such a close friends he lets you get away with pinching his work !! 😳

    Did you know that Chris Marlowe was a spy who sucked up to supposed friends, and then reported them for treason if they made so-called treasonous comments?

    Naturally he became well known by some, and they never contradicted his claims to being the real author, for fear of being a guest of the voracious bonfire.

  32. RA says:

    I saw his latest ‘photo on the news, Rocky, and I did remember him a little.

    Thanks for telling me his age — 72 — brings people into the age related diseases of dementia, cancer and all the rest.

    We should, as so called advanced humans, be able to find solutions to these problems.

    Did you see the US authorities are going to release updated info on UFOs, not previously released to the public, that shows unknown space vehicles able to fly faster than the speed of sound without creating a sonic boom or accelerating away at stunning speeds way beyond what we humans can achieve.

    Maybe they can help, one day, with the various medical diseases of mankind.

  33. RockyLives says:

    Interesting about the UFOs Redders.

    Apparently the little green men in one of them were shocked when they were overtaken by Thierry Henry.

    Those were the days.

  34. omgarsenal says:

    The Art (because it is one) and the Science (because it can also be perfected) of accurately shooting while on the move obviously can be taught. We often see wonderkinde shooting footballs through hoops, across wide spaces to hit a precise target, rebounded to hit a tiny opening in a trashcan and other such “trick” shots. However, trying to develop these skills while under pressure and on the move requires entirely different skills and mindsets. Coaches and managers as well as technical directors have still to develop a pragmatic and effective program ensuring high levels of accuracy. The biggest problem is practice under pressure. eye-foot coordination, bodily alignment, ball control and placement, strength and force calibration and many other elements prevent most footballers from perfecting their shooting skills as much as they should. The techniques needed to shoot accurately all the time are very difficult to learn and exhaustive.

  35. RockyLives says:

    New Post

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: