Arsenal 1 Brighton 1 – Player Ratings

May 6, 2019

Team selection –  meh- does it really matter?

First Half

Mkhitaryan hit the post in the 2nd minute and things looked bright for a moment.

A fortuitous penalty put us in front but we singularly failed to capitalise on it.

Brighton had a few half chances on the break. It’s such a disgrace that we made a team which narrowly avoided relegation look our equal.

Ryan made a decent save from Auba just before the break. Can’t really remember much else on target

Second Half

At least we created a few more chances but the keeper, some courageous defending and Auba not being able to score an open goal meant that the crucial second was not forthcoming.

Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

Taylor evened up the score with another ridiculously soft penalty. 1-1 and a reasonably fair reflection of the game.

The triple substitution seemed to destabilise the team rather than give it a boost.

Plan B is give it to Iwobi. Cosmic.

Conclusion

Brighton deserved their point and we don’t deserve to be in a top 4 which contains a poor spud side and a poor chav side.

I feel sorry for anyone who made the journey for an end of season celebration and witnessed that travesty of a performance.

I find it hard to agree with those who say we have made progress this season. As far as I can see, we are as poor as last season and much worse than 2016/7.

Man U drawing away to Huddersfield made me laugh. Us drawing at home to Brighton did not. We haven’t been any better this season than a shambolic Man United in Mourinho disarray.

The whole season rests on the Europa now and let’s hope Auba’s late goal helps get us to the Final where anything can happen in a one-off game.

Tara Rambo
Credit Epa-Efe/Neil Hall

It was unfortunate that Rambo, Danny and Petr had to say their goodbyes during the lap of dishonour.

Getty Images

Ratings

I can’t really be bothered with separating the players out from one another.

A rating of 4 for everyone including the subs? Maybe 3?

Leno made a great save to stop us losing 2-1. Where was Lucas Torreira meant to be playing in the first half? – I really had no idea. The strikers tried to score but didn’t have the quality of that early season purple patch when they defied the xG.

Managers

Emery – didn’t get his team playing well enough in the League for the 4th? 5th? 6th? game in a row. We’ve been garbage for weeks … 3

Chris Wagnerson – managed a team which had just escaped relegation, with nothing to play for but pride and made them the equal of a poor Arsenal team – I’d give him a higher rating but other managers have made their average teams look much better than us recently … 5

chas (written just after the match to give a true reflection – please disagree in the comments)

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Arsenal 2 Napoli 0 – Player Ratings

April 12, 2019

Ramsey and Ozil play together again along with our most prolific goal scorers up front. Wingbacks and three at the back. Mustafi on the bench – no sign of Xhaka.

First Half

A brilliantly constructed opener saw A. M-N set up Rambo for a pass into the far corner.

The second came after Koulibaly had blocked a couple of fine efforts on goal but his third blocking attempt diverted Torreira’s effort beyond Ospina’s replacement.

The BT Sport commentary team with Nobbie Savage and some other moron was so awful, mute was the only sensible option for the second half.

Second Half

The second period saw us have several brilliant chances of stretching our lead even further while also allowing Napoli a couple of sniffs at that important away goal.

Rambo could have had a hat trick in the end, he seems to be revelling in his his desire to win something with us in his last season. Auba’s clinical early season finishing is not there at the moment but he’ll be fine now that the antibiotics are out of his system.

Even the subs were decent, adding extra oomph when needed.

Conclusion

Brilliant result at home – a third goal would have been superb but what’s  better 3-1 or 2-0?

If we score in Naples they will need 4.

It was a fine game of attacking football, so much better than the tepid snorefests dished up by the Champions League this week.

Ratings

Cech – good fisting when required – clean sheet, all good … 8

Sokratis – excellent from Papa – Mustafi will struggle to get back his right side back three position … 8

Koscielny – how good a defender has he become? Ligue 2 defender to world class – who was our Director of Football when he signed? … 9

Monreal – the billy goat came good again even with creaking limbs … 8

Maitland-Niles – really superb tonight – sharp passing, quick to cover, bang up for it … 8

Kolasinac – likewise for Sead – contributed throughout and his passing went up a notch as it did for most of tonight’s team … 8

Torreira – absolutely majestic in the first half, interceptions and successful tackles galore – only understandable that he faded a little near the end … 9

Ramsey – playing like a man possessed – he wanted to leave for the change but wanted to stay because he loves Arsenal – scored one, could have had two more – reborn in midfield … 9

Ozil – everything was good in Mesut-world for tonight’s game – his use of the ball and ability to find space are world-class … 8

Lacazette – another banging performance just lacking that goal to cap it off – maybe one is waiting for him in Naples? … 8

Aubameyang – a few decent sniffs but no goals – what are the odds on both him and Laca scoring in Italy? … 8

Subs

Mkhitaryan – nearly got an assist for the Ramsey chance which was skied – it was the perfect scenario for him to come on with both teams going for it … 7

Iwobi – didn’t let the team down by adding drive and enthusiasm in exchange for tired legs … 7

Elneny – good that his non-performance against Everton has been consigned to the history books … 7

Managers

Emery –  dominated his much-lauded opposition manager – top marks, Unai    … 9

Carlo Wagnerotti – his side came to play football which should be praised, though the early goal forced his hand somewhat … 5

Ref

Alberto Undiano Mallenco – Spanish, so an expert at spotting diving. He has been a full international referee for FIFA since 2004. Undiano is also a part-time sociologist. He was almost invisible which is exactly what’s required from all refs … 9

chas


Arsenal 2 Manchester United 0 – Player Ratings

March 11, 2019

A really attacking team selection was announced at 3.30pm. Both Ramsey and Ozil playing along with twin strikers Laca and Auba. Width provided by wing backs maybe or some other genius Emery plan to extract a win from such a difficult fixture?

First Half

We started well but Lukaku had the best early chance, clumping the ball into the turf and up on to the bar.

What a banger from Xhaka! Perhaps he should take all the penalties if he can send the keeper the wrong way when he’s 35 yards out. We’d started well and Xhaka’s goal was the crowning glory; the best keeper in the Prem left floundering.

Action Images via Reuters

The red mancs perhaps had the better of the chances in the remainder of the first half, with Lukaku attempting to round our German keeper but being foiled by an oustretched glove and another nobody bouncing one off the post when Leno had it covered.

Our best chances came from driven crosses from Wardrobe, Laca just failing to sneak one in at the near post and Auba cutting back instead of launching himself at the far.

One nil at half time and for a change we defied the xG, scoring with our only shot on target and United couldn’t capitalise on their slightly better chances as these half time figures show.

Second Half

Arsenal’s second half performance was a credit to each and every one of the players and also a credit to their manager. Man U’s chances were far less dangerous after half time and when they did threaten to score, Leno was invincible in goal. The save with his foot when Lukaku was put clear by Rashford was superb.

The penalty on 69 minutes proved to be a real make or break moment in the match. Fred (not the Trinidadian one) had clumsily challenged Laca in the box and the salad dodger decided that to even out the 99 things he’d given Man U, he’d finally give us something.

There can’t have been many Gooners around the world who weren’t looking at Auba through their fingers as he sought to make amends for missing against the spuds. As it turned out, it was a penalty of supreme ease as De Gea was still going the wrong way from Xhaka’s swerver in the first half. The ball went straight down the middle and the Emirates went into raptures.

It was a shame Laca couldn’t squeeze in his cross shot just before the end – I’ve always liked three nils. I suppose just the three points will have to do. 🙂

Conclusion

With the spuds losing and chavs sneaking a point late on, the winner of this match was sure to reap the benefits in the race for the CL places. Beating the red mancs so conclusively and ending their great run was the stuff that dreams are made of.

What a great game of football it was, too! Sky picked the best game of the weekend with chances galore, drama and non-stop action.

Unai Emery’s team must have made him a very proud man.

Ratings

Leno – did everything you’d hope a top class keeper would do for the team – and when United did get round the defence he was immense … 9

Maitland-Niles – Unai had obviously been saving him up because he blew away any doubters with his best performance for a long time … 8

Sokratis – rapidly becoming one of my favourites – gives no quarter, asks for no quarter – plays football as it should be played … 8

Koscielny – a rock at the back – he consistently gets battered but always comes back for more – will be pleased he can have a rest after Thursday’s Europa rematch … 9

Monreal – dealt with everything thrown at him playing in a back three .. 8

Kolasinac – sometimes you get the impression he thinks that playing wing back absolves him of all defensive duties, but he does contribute a great amount going forward … 8

Xhaka – love his left foot – love it even more now – had one of his best performances for ages – extra point for the goal … 9

Ramsey – my MOTM – didn’t stop running for the cause the whole game – if he’d shown this kind of form and discipline before his contract wranglings, no-one in their right mind wouldn’t have re-signed him to his last big contract … 9

Ozil – probed and prodded – attempted to close down and do the dirty things asked of him … 8

Aubameyang – a point to prove and didn’t he just with that ice-cool penalty – closed down better in this game than I’ve seen him so far in his Arsenal career … 8

Lacazette – another personal favourite of mine – he knows what it entails to fight to win a game – absolutely love his commitment … 9

Subs

Iwobi –  came on and made a real nuisance of himself taking pressure off the defence … 7

Suarez – Denis came on and worked really hard for the cause while show some silky ball skills … 7

Nketiah – chased everything and ensured United couldn’t build from the back without coming under pressure … 7

Managers

Emery – Everything bang on from the manager today – team selection excellent – formation excellent – whatever he sacrificed on the upper slopes of Muswell Hill to the footballing gods so that they’d smile on us, was well worth it … 9

Solskjaer – curious how his team had defied the xG in their unbeaten run, scoring a lot more goals than expected and conceding far fewer and yet when it came to a game when they did have chances to score, they couldn’t convert –  as BR pointed out yesterday, this kind of luck has to run out eventually – unbeaten away run over, mate, haha … 5

chas   


Weak officials and poor finishing cost Arsenal NLD victory – Player Ratings

March 3, 2019

Ramsey and Laca to start just as Wednesday’s team against Bournemouth had suggested. A back four with Shkodran as right back – hmmmm.

First Half

We started really well. The spuds looked devoid of confidence, perhaps a win at our second home was on the cards. Sixteen minutes in and a wobble from the defender gave Laca the freedom to set Aaron free from the halfway line. His run and rounding of Lloris was just beautiful. LBG suggested that his goal celebration was to emphasise that Wembley was a pitch he owned.

Stuart MacFarlane

The rest of the half was played out without the red and white goal coming under much threat despite shed loads of spud possession. The lino spotted Vertonghen offside on the one occasion they did get the ball past Leno (Shame his counterpart at the other end wasn’t anywhere near as competent in the second half).

Our German keeper’s double save was the only real scare and he deserves off-the-scale credit for keeping the score at 1-0.

Second Half

Could we hang on and bag all three points? One thing was sure it would be 45 minutes of nail-biting tension as it always is in an NLD.

The Terrier came on for Guendouzi who looked a little swamped in the first half. We looked tighter immediately with the defence playing superbly.

The equaliser was just disgraceful from the linesman. He was 2 yards out of position and could not see along the line to spot Kane offside. Mustafi’s cretinous push on an offside Kane should never have even been a consideration for Anthony Taylor. If the linesman’s flag had gone up as it should, it would have been a free kick to the good guys. Instead, we had to endure an undeserved penalty for a side who never looked like scoring from normal play. Absolute and complete bowlocks.

Just look at the lino – pathetic

Salvation appeared to be at hand when Auba (who seemed a poor substitute from the word go) was fouled with seconds of the 90 remaining. Please Auba, no eff ups. What followed was such a dreadful penalty that Gunnersaurus could have saved it by sticking out a large black boot.

No retake, ref? Especially considering Vertonghen blocked the follow up from Auba

Torreira’s sending off for an unintentional contact on the serial diver Rose made no diiference to the result but presumably means a 3 match suspension and the little Uruguayan out of the red mancs game next weekend.

Oh yeah, Anthony Taylor, wasn’t this worse?

Conclusion

A massive missed opportunity of beating a poor spud side but, then again, most of us would have taken a point before the game.

Such a shame that yet more officials’ incompetence was the cause of the spud equaliser. I hope that lino is ashamed of himself when he watches it back.

Ratings

Leno – a glorious double save worthy of winning any match … 8

Mustafi – not surprisingly a weak link and his push on Kane stupid beyond words … 5

Sokratis – just superb – never bullied – commanding like a god from Mount Olympus … 9

Koscielny – class personified again – battered with elbows and forwards backing in but still came back for more … 8

Monreal – excellent yet again – if his legs hold up he has several more seasons in him on this showing … 8

Guendouzi – a bridge too far for Matteo – he was too ponderous in that first period for the helter skelter of an NLD … 6

Xhaka – back in his rightful place, he saw more of the ball with a more natural partner in the second half … 7

Mkhitaryan – he worked hard and put Auba free a couple of times late on … 7

Iwobi – one of his more frustrating performances – gave the ball away umpteen times – his one decent effort on goal had to be aimed slightly outside the post – in the end Lloris could have headed it away … 6

Ramsey – his goal celebration showed how much he realises it means to be a Gooner playing Tottenham – worked his leeks off throughout – I was disappointed when he came off, though he was a bit knackered maybe … 8

Lacazette – he was never going to have much support but should have done better with an early chance and also in the second half from a nice Iwobi cutback – another player that I was disappointed he was substituted – as was he, judging by his reaction … 7

Subs

Torreira – added some steel to the midfield – unlucky to get a red for an accidental challenge …7

Aubameyang – never looks comfortable leading the line in the same way Laca does – yet, having said that he did have some decent sniffs at goal but his penalty miss will give him nightmares … 5

Ozil – did very little and contributed far less than Rambo had done previously playing in the same position … 6

Managers

Emery – got everything right in his initial selection, made a good half time sub and then two less effective substitutions – still, a point at Wembley and 4 points out of 6 against those hideous swamp-dwellers in his first Prem season gets him an extra point. Love how his quote about the officials could be taken two ways – “VAR is coming for them.”  … 8

Podgytino – outclassed and only had incompetent officials to thank for not losing – his comments that the spuds were superior in all aspects of the game were patently ridiculous … 3

chas


Saints Alive! – Mesut starts again?

February 24, 2019

Since David Wagner took over at Southampton in December, they’ve won 4, lost 4 and drawn 3 in the league. Their victories included our dreadful performance at St Mary’s when the bounce effect of a new manager was in full force. Under Mark Hughes they were tending to draw or get battered, so it was definitely the correct thing to do to get rid of such a loathsome specimen, since it looked very likely he would have taken them down.

AFP Images

They still sit in the bottom three but are vying to escape that third relegation spot with 5 other teams only a couple of points above them. That’s assuming Fulham and Huddersfield are doomed. We must ensure they get no points from their trip to The Home of Football to help with their fight against relegation.

Team news

Kos is a doubt after his knock against Bate but as a replacement, Big Sok fills me with confidence – even when paired with Shirley. (If anyone is offended by the gentle ribbing of Shkodran’s abilities, then please don’t be as he is as important as any other member of the squad and has given us some outstanding performances already this season). There still appear to be some doubts about Mavro’s fitness but this has been difficult to confirm.

Will Mesut retain a starting place? That is the burning issue team selection-wise. Unai was quick to suggest that Mesut isn’t guaranteed a starting spot after Thursday’s win. Perhaps Ramsey will be asked to play in the free role again. It’s the sixty four thousand dollar question.

Getty Images

Up front Laca will be itching to get back into the action. I’d imagine he’ll start in the next few Prem games while Auba is wrapped in cotton wool for the Rennes tie as our only eligible senior striker. Wobbly should keep his place as he’s been one of our outstanding recent performers. Maybe Denis Suarez could get a start to replace Micki who’s been looking a little jaded? It would be great to see what he can do when he plays for longer than 15 minutes.

Team news update – according to Jeorge Bird on twitter, both Kos and A.M-N were in full training on Saturday, so both could start. Eddie Nk also trained with the first team.

Possible Team

……………………….Leno

…Licht…….Shirley……Papa……Nacho

………….Terrier ……..Granit

…………………..Ramsey

Suarez…………..Laca………..Wobbly

Our home form is good in the League, unbeaten in 12 – including six wins on the bounce in our last half a dozen.

Score predictions in the comments, please (as it drew a few on Thursday).

Another strong performance in front of the Emirates unfaithful, please lads.

COYRRG

chas


A big chunk of our season is on the line today – Bate preview

February 21, 2019

First and foremost, please remember that kick off is 17:55pm UK time today. We wouldn’t want Micky rolling up at 7.30pm wondering what the team news is. 🙂

Last week in Belarus was dire, there’s no getting around it. A shapeless, ineffective Arsenal team, admittedly hampered by an appalling pitch surface, delivered a performance of virtually zero quality.

That game has been and gone – nothing can be done about it. If we play to our strengths tonight and score enough goals to get us through to the Round of 16, it will be consigned to the past as a deep and distant memory. Simple, isn’t it?

Invoking the spirit of Big Raddy in 1970

Team News

There has been a bit of a Mugabe media lockdown at Arsenal over the last week. Probably best, since any attempt to appease supporters with ‘we’ll strive to put it right’ platitudes would only be met with abuse. The only place to make amends is on the pitch.

The team news made public so far is that Aaron is fit and in full training. Big Sok is also nearing a return – whether it’s in the Europa or for Sunday’s Prem game against Southampton, we shall see.

Maybe Unai’s press  conference will tell us more.

Press conference update – Mesut has been training well this week (?) and Ainsley M-N missed Wednesday training with sickness. 

Rambo’s return will definitely help to cover that creative shortfall we saw in the away leg. Could Mesut find favour again and both of them play? Doubtful perhaps, but could work as long as both don’t attempt to play in the same position..

One thing is for certain, Lacazette will not be featuring due to the Bate lad running into his elbow, which leaves Aubameyang  as our main threat.

Possible team

………………………………. Cech

Licht (if no A.M-N) … Shirley … Kos … Nacho

……………………..Terrier ………….Granit

………………………………..Rambo

…………….. Micki ……… Auba …….. Wobbly

As far as possible game scenarios go, the only way extra time and penalties will happen is if we are 1-0 up at 90 minutes. If Bate score first, we will have to score three times to counter their away goal.

In fact, a Bate goal at any point in the match might give cause for concern (unless we’re over the hill and faraway by that stage). Perhaps dead balls are the most likely source for the Belarusians.

Having said that, this game isn’t really about how Bate play but more about the level of performance Arsenal can produce. As LBG said, three up at half-time and we’ll be laughing.

Your score predictions in the comments, please.

chas 


Who would you pick in Arsenal’s midfield three? – Poll

February 19, 2019

Time for a poll.

This post has been prompted by various discussions on the site with bloggers stating various individual preferences for our midfield line-up – Guendouzi, Mo Elneny, Xhaka in a double pivot or even Ainsley M-N as a box-to-boxer are among the choices/favourites.

For the purposes of today’s poll let’s assume Unai is playing 4 at the back with his first choice players available. Also assume we have three up front, perhaps in a 2 wide and 1 centre forward formation or alternatively a number 10 behind a striking duo.

Here are the runners and riders for a place in that middle three listed in the order they appear on AFC.com (let’s include Alex Iwobi even though he’s down as a striker).

Mo Elneny

An excellent squad player and perhaps a touch underrated, though rarely gets picked as a first choice starter. Why?

from AFC.com

Henrikh Mkhitaryan

Often used as part of the front three on the right side to provide some width. Could he be better employed just in front of two DMs?

Aaron Ramsey

Perhaps his best position (well according to his new Juve boss) is just behind a front two and it’s difficult to deny that proposition. Could he still be used in the middle three? When tried before, his natural tendency to be looking to make bursts forward into the box has sometimes left us exposed in midfield.

Mesut Özil

Another whose best position appears to be just behind the striker(s) in a front three. Then again, he often plays wherever he feels he can do the most damage which might be the cause of his contretemps with Señor Emery.

Lucas Torreira

When he first came to the Club and was being gently eased in as a sub, it seemed he was being used as the central DM sweeping across the width of the back four. Now he seems to be established on the right side. Where’s his best posititon?

Celebrating his goal against the spuds

Ainsley Maitland-Niles

Mr Versatile means that we’re not sure which is his favoured spot in the team. Could he play in front of a double DM formation where his youth, energy and calmness might be perfect weapons for the position?

Denis Suarez

It’s a bit early in Denis’s Arsenal career to know where he might end up in the team. Does anyone have more of an idea they could share?

Matteo Guendouzi

Still 19, he can’t have imagined he’d play so many games for The Gunners in his first season. Not a natural DM perhaps, but another with a great engine. Maybe he’s also suffered playing in a team which is low on confidence sometimes and others look to him to provide a creative spark.

Granit Xhaka

A marmite player if ever there was one. Usually picked by whatever manager he plays for, so he must be doing something right.  Should Granit get an automatic starting berth?

Alex Iwobi

Another player maybe best suited to a front three position. Has he got the discipline to stay central? Or would he be wasted further back where his dribbling skills might be less useful?

Others

Perhaps one of the Academy lads might be given the opportunity to step up. Smith Rowe and Nelson are on loan, but Joe Willock, in addition to his 2 goals at Blackpool in the FA Cup 3rd round, has had a fine season up to now for Freddie’s u23s .  Robbie Burton and Charlie Gilmour are also getting decent reviews and are names to look out for in the future perhaps.

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Now for the poll. Choose the three you would prefer in your midfield three.

They could be in a 1-2 formation, a 2-1 (double pivot 🙂 ) or any other variation you can think of.  Specify your preference in the comments below.

chas