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   

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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.

===================================================================

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 


Emery, the master carpenter.

February 17, 2019

Unfortunately we are getting closer to the Emery in or Emery out debate, I feel reassured that this site has risen above the playground name-calling on other sites to date from the usual suspects.

I have been trying to put into words by way of comparison how I feel about Unai Emery right now. I know in the past I was one of the most loyal of Arsene Wenger supporters, the reason for bringing that up is that I just want to make clear that I am nowhere near reaching that level of devotion; AW had a bank of great Arsenal memories to refer to and as such people like me probably carried the torch a tad longer than was good for all concerned. Unai Emery has no such bank of Arsenal memories………..yet?

The comparison I came up with to describe our Basque is that of a master carpenter having been invited to work on a prestigious London project only to find on his arrival that the project managers expect him to do his job without making available a saw, a hammer or a chisel.

Did you ever wonder what is going through his mind during a game when the camera cuts to him standing in front of the dug out with that pained expression on his face? I do, and the caption I see coming from his mouth is – What did you expect?

The recent Chelsea game seems to be frequently reappearing with both ends of the spectrum being debated: Chelsea are poor so that reduces the significance of the win or that the win shows that we really are not far off where we want to be.
The truth, as is often said, lies somewhere in the middle and that certainly seems to be the case with this game.

It is correct, of course, to say that Chelsea do not offer the same threat that they have in recent seasons but they offer more of a threat than Bate for example so why the difference, why doesn’t Emery set his team up in such a way that replicates that winning formula?

The answer in my opinion is personnel, or in this example, the lack of them because as much as he might want to play the same line up or the same system, he can’t and that is through no fault of his own.

This was the line up against Chelsea.

———————-Leno

Bellerin, Sokratis, Koscielny, Kolasinac

—–Torreira, Xhaka, Guendouzi

——————Ramsey

—–Aubameyang——–Lacazette

I know I have said this before but I am going to say it again, the biggest loss has been Bellerin; he gave us goal scoring options from the right; he also enabled Kolasinac to do his magic on the left, this is subtle – no Bellerin = no Kolasinac magic. It is now too easy to crowd the Bosnian out and nullify his threat.
I know that GN5 justifiably points to the earlier part of the season when Bellerin’s sorties into the opponent’s half left gaps behind, but look above and notice how Torreira is set up to cover such gaps.

I don’t really need to explain the loss of calibre to the team having Sokratis replaced by Mustafi but the loss of Ramsey is underestimated. If you look at that team above again you will notice that there is a connection with London buses, we have been crying out for a defensive midfielder and now we have three, how else would you describe Xhaka, he may not be a very effective DM but he certainly isn’t a AM.

Ramsey is the only person from that midfield who could augment the front two; he is the only one who is capable of getting a goal from midfield. Unfortunately I don’t expect to see him play at THOF again, we got a flurry of determination for what looked like a final push to secure his lucrative Juve contract but from now on his foot will be off the pedal as I suspect he worries more about injury than our success.

What of Ozil? I see no reason why Ozil simply couldn’t be swapped for Ramsey in the above set up, there certainly is enough defensive cover to give Mesut a free rein; the problem is as I see it is that is like a house of cards.

No Bellerin, no effective AMN, no effective AMN, no effective Kolasinac, No effective Kolasinac, no effective Ozil all of which equates to: Arsenal 0 Bate 1

Personally I have very little hope of coming 4th, I don’t think we have the personnel to achieve that goal, I would be happy of course but I am not holding my breath. However, I do not think the responsibility for that misfire sits squarely on Emery’s shoulders; although that said, I might not be quite so sympathetic if we are in the same position this time next season after Emery has had an opportunity to buy his own saw, hammer and chisel.

LB


Kippered.

February 12, 2019

Despite the fact we have discussed the Mr. Ramsey situation for over a year I feel that we will have to do so again., after all over 1200 comments on the BBC website following his statement shows a high level of interest.

And what is the focus of the ire? His wages and the level of inefficiency of the Arsenal negotiating team.

My response to both is that there is a misconception based upon ignorance.

Let’s start with the wages.

Aaron Ramsey is a very high profile player in the world’s most popular sport. His wages pale into insignificance when discussing high earners in a minority sport like American football or baseball.

It is a simple case of supply and demand.  Those of you who are lucky enough to travel the world know that wherever you go there is passion for the Premier League above any other, countless millions know the name of Aaron Ramsey.. He may not be in the rank of Messi/Ronaldo or Calum Chambers but he is definitely in the top 100.

He earns the Big Bucks because someone is willing to pay. It seems as though there were a plethora of clubs willing to pay €400k a week, including Man Utd and the Chavs.

Footballers are not overpaid, lawyers are 😀

The Arsenal Backroom Boys effed up the negotiations? How can anyone know outside of the meeting room what was offered and refused?

Some time ago LB wrote a post on this very subject and he is a man who knows about contracts.  Mr. Ramsey employs an agent to get him the best deal possible. It would be foolish to imagine that his agent didn’t tout Aaron around the big clubs in Europe at least 18 months ago. He would have known the benefit to his client of running down his contract. It is called Player Power. and Arsenal got shafted. They aren’t the first and will not be the last.

It is also the job of his agent and press office to present Mr. Ramsey in the best possible light – they have done a superb job. Arsenal are left looking foolish. Very clever.

Aaron is one of my favourite players (despite his Welshdom). In his 11 years he has been superb for Arsenal and we will miss his genius.

I wish him the very best of good fortune on his new adventure.

I am deeply envious.

written by Big Raddy