Life without Sanchez

July 6, 2017

So before talking about options for life without Sanchez lets just talk about what happens if he stays. Personally I think this is rather easy. He lines up as the left sided of our double number 10’s (with Ozil as 1st choice to the right of centre) behind our new boy Lacazette. That front 3 should have creativity and goals in it and would be exciting to watch. It could be a title defining front 3 in a formation where they all compliment each other. There is also excellent back up to each of the front 3 players.

In essence I hope Alexis stays but this is far from certain and the most recent rumours are of him demanding £400,000pw. This could just be paper talk of course with no basis whatsoever, but if it were true I am giving it the thumbs down. At that point I am looking to get us the best deal, but what is that?

Probably the worst deal would be a straight cash deal with an EPL rival. A straight cash deal would be better with an overseas club. Probably the best deal would be a swap with another big club. If it were Munich could we nab Lewandowski in return? One of our bloggers described Lacazette as a true 9 ½ so could he adopt the left sided 10 role behind a prolific 9 like Lewandowski? Ditto with Aguero. Could that happen?

Both of those latter mentioned deals would still leave us looking pretty strong with a lot of fire-power even without Alexis. Other possible considerations could be Sterling or De-Bruyne but for some reason they don’t appeal to me quite as much.

With all the Sanchez talk there is another player issue that, although receiving some media coverage, is flying slightly more under the radar. We are in danger of losing Alex Oxlade Chamberlain, a player I really like. It is hard to believe that he has been with us since 2011 yet is still only 23 years old.

In many senses he hasn’t had a dissimilar pathway to Sanchez had to their respective 23rd year. The stats for both are not hugely different, where Sanchez was with Udinese to 23. Sanchez has slightly more favourable stats but then I have always maintained that AOC has been a slight victim of covering a multitude of positions, so a significant amount of games would have been in less favourable positions that would allow him to boost his goal-scoring stats.

Sanchez really only started to thrive as a goal-scoring wing forward from his 23rd year when he moved to Barca. It is time to nail down a regular position for AOC or risk losing him. He was excellent at right wing back but I am still not certain this is the position where we will see the best of him. Similarly I don’t think it is the position he feels is really best for him. We have Bellerin, who is excellent there in our back 3 formation, and I am sure we can find other alternative cover there.

I say that if we lose Sanchez then it is time to unleash the Ox. Give him the opportunity that Sanchez had at that same age to show the world that there is a world class left inside forward in there waiting to burst through, one that as his confidence increases in the position is full of goals and pacey attacking intent.

Is it a risk? Some would say yes and that we need to get some big foreign player to replace someone like Sanchez. But there is a risk there as well. Even some celebrated names have historically struggled in the EPL. There is as much risk in any player coming in as there is in one of our own changing to a new role.

Back up would be required, but Welbeck is adept from the left attacking position. We may need to bring another in though. Perhaps a player that can cover this position but could also cover Ramseys more attacking of the central 2 role. I like the look of Lemar at Monaco but I also like the look of the lad Golovin from CSKA that we have been linked with. World of football describes his strengths as dribbling, acceleration, flair and passing. What is not to like? Even better when listing preferred foot their answer was both.

I wouldn’t be unhappy if AW released AOC and just see if at 23 he is primed to become our own English Sanchez. There are no guarantees in football and sometimes you just have to be brave enough to take a chance on a player and put your faith in them.

Written by GoonerB


Arsenal 6 Ludogrets 0…………a few thoughts on the game.

October 20, 2016

Thracians thrashed and we have a better clock tower; well we do, the clock tower near the Highbury barn is much better than theirs by about six goals I would say.

Sanchez, Walcott’s twin brother, Oxlaide-Chamberlain all got on the score sheet but it was Mesut Ozil’s night with his first hat trick at THOF.

Arsenal cruised past the Bulgarian champions with the ease in which I think most anticipated; that’s to say, anticipated in the way that none of us knew what to expect from Ludogrets but most presumed, and rightly so as it turned out, that the champions of such a lowly league were hardly going to produce a team capable of beating us in the form we are in.

No, but, that is not to say that we didn’t have a few scares; it took two fine saves from the outstanding Ospina to keep us ahead: Sanchez having scored from what is fast becoming his trade mark “Scoop”. I am not sure what else to call it; it was as inch perfect as the “Scoop” he sent over for Ozil to score one of the best goals I have ever seen against Swansea on Saturday.

alexis-sanchez

The Chilean’s goal settled the nerves and gave a moment to reflect on what a clever team selection Wenger had made. For twenty years I have been trying to guess the team he is going to select and although there have been a couple of times when I have been really annoyed usually following a sound thrashing; that said, I am not daft enough to realise that my criticism was made with the use of hindsight. Anyway once again I couldn’t guess and once again I was really impressed with the way Wenger deployed the troops: Monreal needed time to cool down from his weekend roasting which gave Gibbs a chance and the Ox for Iwobi was smart.

It is all very well going on as we do about how much depth we have to the squad but it is easy to forget that they are human beings with feelings and they need be kept on side and motivated and that was exactly what Wenger was able to do to two key players in the very important Gibbs and Oxlaide-Chamberlain. Oops I almost forgot, that is three key players with Ospina.

Theo’s twin brother continued to impress with a superb long range effort from way outside the box just before half time which allowed us to go into the break having doubled our lead and a whole lot more relaxed. I say Theo’s twin brother of course because there is no way anyone is going to persuade me that this is the same Theo that we have had at the club for what, ten years now? No way. Theo’s twin seems to have worked out his best position in no time and even more important he has been given provisional membership into the elite Ozil, Sanchez and Cazorla club. Yes a very exclusive club that very few get invited into, Ramsey has a provisional membership, Giroud by contrast doesn’t.

What this membership gets you is — the ball, it means that Ozil, Sanchez and Cazorla will pass to you; they wouldn’t have passed to Theo of last season, no point he would have just lost possession but his twin this season is able to control it and make some telling passes and score some very important goals. I am not sure that Giroud will ever be in the club, have you noticed how those three will try a really complicated pass to one another rather than make a simple short easy pass to the Frenchman.

In Arsenal world tonight was a resounding win but it will still go almost unnoticed. I am not sure whether to be pleased or annoyed. I suppose it is useful that all the media continue to kneel in front of Pep, lip gloss applied, while we go on winning almost unnoticed, it certainly keeps the pressure on Man City and off of us. It is a two horse race, no doubt in my mind about it.

But we were good tonight, we are very good, who would have expected Ozil to start scoring the way he is and before I go any further I want make sure Perez’s two assists do not go unnoticed. Do you remember when we bought him and we were all excited about how finally we might have someone who can play with Ozil and Sanchez up front, someone who has the same close control as those two titans of our team, well you saw it tonight. Perez was outstanding which of course leaves me with a bit of a problem choosing my superlative for Ozil but before I do a thought crossed my mind as he completed his hat trick.

mesut-ozil-match-ball

What would Ozil have to do to be regarded as the best player we have ever had at Arsenal? I will leave that one to you to discuss.

Back to the game, no actually I am done, Ozil’s three goals were magnificent and boy what a pleasure it was to be there and witness them. One last very personal point that gave me goose bumps. It is always a sign that we are on top and cruising when the you hear We’re the North bank, we’re the North Bank followed by we’re the Clock end, we’re the clock end, nothing new here but the difference last night was that like phoenix from the ashes the sound of we’re the East Stand, we’re the East Stand, we’re the East Stand Highbury came ringing out for the first time ever at THOF, I have goose bumps just writing it. Oh how lucky I am to support this football club, thanks Dad.

Written by LB


Arsenal’s Most Valuable

September 30, 2016

A couple of seasons ago, I penned a post making the case for Theo being our most valuable player.

It stated that I didn’t think he was our best player in any particular position, rather that he was the most irreplaceable because of the threat he posed an opposition defence, and hence the value.

This summer saw us make some great signings right the way down the spine of the team. Of course we haven’t seen too much of Lucas Perez, but that is more to do with Arsene’s juggling of the pack across the front.

Right now, Arsenal are playing the best football we have witnessed in many years, however, one thing is for certain, both injuries and fatigue will come, and then we’ll see the real strength of the squad.

We have been watching what many would consider our best starting XI, and equally, many will be nervously thinking about where it will go wrong. Therefore, I’d love to hear your thoughts on where you see our Achilles heel.

The little I saw of Holding fills me with enormous confidence, and I also have a sneaky suspicion Gabriel might come good in the same way Laurent did, meanwhile the defensive side of midfield looks to me our strongest area.

My own view on Aaron differs to some regulars on here in that I don’t see him as a specialist in any role of our current system, however, he is a superb multi-functional stand in for a number of roles. I remember how last season we played arguably our best two games with Aaron on the right.

Strangely, and here you’ll think I’m being wildly optimistic, I fear injury to Mesut less than before as I believe Iwobi would do a more than adequate job standing in for an unreplaceable.

If I had to pick one player to represent that bit of Achilles, then it would be Bellerin.

What do you think?

Written by mickydidit89


Gunners sting Hornets and Xhaka can!!!

August 28, 2016

A confident Arsenal performance was too much for Watford as Granit Xhaka put in a man of the match performance on a warm afternoon in Hertfortshire.

Much of the talk en route to the game was of incoming transfers as Arsenal have raided La Liga with the signings of Lucas Perez and World Cup Winner Shkodran Mustafi. Fans were then delighted to hear of the news that Mustafi’s compatriot Mesut Ozil was named to make his first start of the season.
Watford1

The Arsenal away fans were in full voice yet again showing their fantastic support despite the negativity around the around the club in recent weeks.

The game kicked off and Arsenal came flying out of the blocks with Alexis looking lively and the Gunners using the flanks to exploit Watford’s weaknesses. Granit Xhaka was starting to impose himself on the game and fans were purring at his range of passing. One fan commented that the boy is “different gravy.” The talk in the stands was that the fans were pleased to see Granit put his foot in and stamp his authority in midfield.

Watford2
Arsenal’s fast paced start was rewarded as Alexis was clattered and Santi Cazorla stepped up to take a penalty. He sent Gomes the wrong way and 1-0 to The Arsenal as the fans were singing Cazorla’s name.

Arsenal then controlled the game with Xhaka’s passing combined with the movement of the Arsenal attacking players causing all sorts of problems. Walcott was then denied by Gomes with a low effort assisted by the the impressive Cazorla. The noisy away support were then shouting obscenities at referee Kevin Friend and when he booked Prodl it was greeted with sarcastic applause.

Watford3
Arsenal were bamboozling their opponents  but Watford did try to get rewarded by floating in crosses for Deeney and the dangerous Ighalo. Arsenal fans at this point were seething especially at Bellerin and Monreal claiming they were not going out to stop crosses. Cech had to be alert saving from a defected effort. Arsenal then looked to  ramp up the pressure and on 40 minutes a lovely cross from Theo Walcott was met by Alexis whose effort was over the line to send the Arsenal fans in raptures.

Then on the stroke of half time Alexis turned provider and fan favourite Mesut Ozil headed home a lovely move and Arsenal supporters were jumping for joy and the deafening chant broker out- “We got Ozil! Mesut Ozil! I just don’t think you understand!” Half time and Arsenal were cruising to their first win of the season. Arsenal were brilliant but the name on everyones lips was Granit Xhaka. My friend came to me from the lower row to tell me that Granit was running the show  and at 23 years of age he was showing so much maturity.
Watford4
The second half began and Watford were trying to restore some pride. Arsenal though took their foot off the gas and Watford then scored through Pereya with a close effort. Arsenal fans were complaining about the players failing to clear their lines and that if they got another one then it would be squeaky bum time. Some fans to the right had some toilet roll which was taken from the toilets and wanted to throw in the air at the right moment with a young fan claiming “this used to happen in the seventies!”

Arsenal were then hanging on as Cech made a save from Holebas and later made a fantastic double save showing his goalkeeping prowess. Troy Deeney looked like he was still on his holidays with a fan next to me eluding to the fact that he was 55 and not as fat as Troy Deeney. He commented that “he looked like a Sunday league player!” The same fan was enjoying himself and amusing the other Arsenal supporters around him as he then mocked Isaac Success who came on for Watford stating players have funny names now and that he has not joined the right club if he wants “success!”

Watford5

Mohammed Elneny, Jack Wilshere and Kieran Gibbs then came on to shore things up but Ighalo had a chance late on when his spectacular bicycle kick was over the bar. Arsenal saw the game out and secured their first win of the season.

The away support was unbelievable yet again and as fans were leaving the stands Granit Xhaka was being praised for a masterclass performance. The passing was sublime and he made some snapping tackles which made the supporters happy and feeling we have a player who will give us the bite in midfield.

Still work to be done but a big win and we look forward to the home match against Southampton after the international break.

If anyone can, Xhaka can! Up the Arsenal!!!

Written by Sir A

 


Arsenal 2 Burnley 1 — A Supporter’s View.

January 31, 2016

Thank you Burnley Football Club and all your supporters; we at Arsenal have not been having such a good time recently, results have not gone the way they could and should have for a club with aspirations of winning the league for the first time in thirteen years and so a win yesterday was vital to get us back on track. Thank you again for making that happen; you may just have been the stimulus that wins us at least one trophy.

If the team that Wenger chose to go out and play were a car I think it would be fair to say that Arsene put just enough petrol in the tank to get us to the fifth round; that’s to say that there was just enough quality in the selection to win the tie without wasting the precious energy of Özil, and importantly Ramsey who was looking very tired against Chelsea so this little break should see him back, fresh and raring to go on Tuesday. Not only that, Wenger got to play and we got to see our shiny new toy: Elneny, and what a perfectly respectable debut it was. The man is clearly happy on the ball. I would guess that in the first half the Egyptian had the ball more than any other player; well, except Sanchez, of course, he always has the ball more than any other player on the pitch.

It didn’t stop there, more presents were still under the tree and needed to be opened; we got the chance to welcome back Tomas Rosicky and what a fine reception he received when he came on with twenty minutes to go. But I have saved the biggest present until last: Alex Iwobi, if there was any doubt as to what he can do it was cleared up today, this young man went from strength to strength as the game went on. Buoyed by a fine first half he was obviously encouraged by Wenger during his half time team talk because the Nigerian came out and bossed the midfield in the second half until that is his young legs started to tire and was given a standing ovation as he walked off to make way for Arteta.

The game started as expected with Arsenal having the lion’s share of the ball, putting Burnley under constant pressure. The passing was slick and the commitment was tangible, a goal was on the cards although the scorer was not: Calum Chambers on duty for the rested Bellerin curled the ball with the outside of his boot past the Burnley keeper and into the top corner, a fine finish to what had been at least a twenty pass build up, Sanchez was instrumental throughout and it was his assist: rolling the ball deftly between the legs of a Burnley defender that enabled Chambers to get onto the score sheet.

Chambers goal

One nil to the Arsenal and the world was a wonderful place; we should have simply gone on and crushed Burnley but they had other ideas and equalised from a header while our central defenders had momentarily gone awol. This goal upped the tension and in fact turned a gentle stroll into a cup tie — a cup tie that we needed to win.

In every round of the FA cup there is a giant killing and we very nearly went from being way down the viewing list on Match of the Day to the opening game which you may have noticed happens with every giant killing: Burnley came mighty close to going ahead shortly after the start of the second half but this fright didn’t last long and help was on hand, in the form of Sanchez, our very own Whirling Dervish who put us ahead with a well placed shot, wide of the keeper from an excellent cut back by Oxlaide-Chamberlain. The Ox was better than he has been recently but all it showed me was that this is his level – Championship; he just isn’t improving anymore and others are waiting in the wings ready to take his place in the pecking order.

Interestingly Wenger chose not to shore up the defence and see the game out by bringing on Monreal as he does nine times out of ten in these situations but instead he went for an attacking option and the pace of Walcott who had a golden chance to put the game completely out of reach but Theo fluffed his lines and Burnley almost equalised on the counter attack. The final whistle was blown, we are in the hat for the next round draw and all in all it was an entertaining game of football.

Quick player ratings:

Ospina: back to his best, made some excellent saves, if he is looking for a move he would have done his chances no harm at all with that solid performance. 7

Chambers: he is obviously never going to take Bellerin’s place in the starting line up, well certainly not at right back anyway but he exuded more confidence than I usually notice and a goal certainly helped that. 7

Easter: you can see that the legs are better than Mertescaker but the brain is still not quite there, nothing really wrong but still room for improvement. 6

Koscielny: commanding, possibly even more so that he was captain and had full responsibility for the back line. Not sure where he or PE were when Burnley equalised. 7

Gibbs: a very good performance by his standards, did all the simple things well, just when you can’t see him ever being the first choice LB he surprises. We are lucky to have such quality back up in the still young Englishman. 8

Coquelin: great to have him back, all started well but then he got a knock which looked bad enough that he was going to be forced off; he stayed on but his concentration had gone and he got sloppy. 5

Elneny: I really expected him to throw himself around alla Coquelin but no he was on his feet throughout the game. I was hoping to see if he could defend but I am left with less idea than before the match started. Good start though. 7

Iwobi: this is my Man of the Match, like Elneny I still have no idea which position he is best suited to but if he has aspirations of being a number 10 then he is going to have to be world class to make that position his own at THOF because the competition for that spot is fierce. Good luck young man. 8

Oxlaide-Chamberlain: Keep going Ox we all want you to succeed. I have spoken above about this player. 6

Giroud: I wonder if it is possible to start a game with a back heel, I mean from kick off, the Frenchman seems to like that way of passing so much that it crossed my mind that he could be the first player in history to start a game like that. Ollie was clearly not impressed with the opposition and as such seemed to be only working on 80% effort. 6

Sanchez: still holds the ball longer than he should but being one of only three world class players we have at the club I am just grateful that he is back. 8

Written by LB


“Rubbish Game, Great Result”. A Fan’s View.

January 3, 2016

“Play shite and lose is unforgivable……..play shite and win is what champs are made of.”

I can’t improve on that. It is not easy making Newcastle look good but we really gave it our best shot. They are poor, really poor but the same team that were mauled at Southampton returned and it could have oh so easily been the sequel to Nightmare on the South Coast.

I felt sorry for Ozil from start to finish: an artist surrounded by journeymen. It was embarrassing at times watching Walcott and Oxlade-Chamberlain failing to fulfil the most simple of football tasks such as trap the ball and pass it to someone in a red and white shirt.

As I was watching I was trying to work out what had gone so wrong with those two, the only idea I could come up with was that although in training the energy of Sanchez and his determination to defend from the front has clearly rubbed off; they track back with greater determination, the problem is they also seem to both be copying the man from Chile’s unnecessary obsession of trying to beat at least two opponents before making his pass, Sanchez can get away with this – just — but it is downright infuriating when Walcott and Oxlade-Chamberlain try and do the same as neither of them has Sanchez’ close control; nothing like it in fact, the result is that we lose possession so easily and so unnecessarily which gifts attacking opportunities to the opposition. This happened so often yesterday I wanted to scream.

Some plum on this site wrote a match report not so long ago suggesting that the collective eleven were playing better without Sanchez; he might have had a point when the collective were playing simple, one touch, find your man football, but that was not the brand on display yesterday. Walcott or Oxlaide-Chamberlain going to keep Sanchez out of the side, I don’t think so. The Whirling Dervish can’t return soon enough as far as I am concerned.

We started quite brightly really with two excellent chances in the first five minutes both of which should have been converted and both of which should have put the game to bed but, no, we insisted on making Newcastle look better than they are by giving them opportunity after opportunity to go ahead; the most generous being at the beginning of the second half when one of their players got free and found himself one on one with Cech, fortunately the Helmeted One was on his game and saved our bacon again.

The breakthrough came our way, although, it could have just have easily have fallen to Newcastle considering the amount of chances they had. Özil sent in a corner, it pinged around a bit, Giroud did well to keep it alive and Koscielny was Johnny on the spot to tap it home which produced a huge sigh of relief around the ground rather than wild celebrations.

Laurent-Koscielny

Wenger made his usual changes with Campbell replacing the Ox, and Gibbs replacing Walcott to shore up the left flank and then finally Chambers to add some more steel to the defense.

I find it fascinating how Wenger has introduced Chambers. Not so long ago both Arteta and Flamini were injured and Wenger was forced to throw Chambers into the fray; he was poor. GIE wrote after the game that he felt he could never see Chambers becoming a midfielder, his body language was all wrong. This is not meant to have a go at GIE, I like a bold comment, after all where would this blog be without them and what’s more I agreed with him at the time. But since then Wenger has been slowly building this one with a few minutes at the end of a game here and few minutes at the end of the game there and then interestingly a good twenty minutes against Southampton, the more observant would have noticed that Wenger always tries to salvage something when all seems lost and in this case it was giving valuable unpressured pitch time to the young would be DM before finally starting him against Bournemouth during which he found his confidence and got better and better as that game went on to the point where we were all singing his praises at the end. Chambers is a better passer of the ball than Flamini although the latter’s experience was exactly what was required yesterday but I do expect to see Chambers start next week.

I am going to give GIE the final word on yesterday’s game: “1-0 is 1-0 is 3 points”. Can’t argue with that.

Player ratings.

Cech: I don’t know much about this breed, I could never understand why people used to give Szczesny a hard time — I do now. Another clean sheet. 8

Bellerin: This young man has set high standards for himself and yesterday he fell below them, too many stray passes, substandard crosses, positioning not so good. 5

Mertesacker: Per is not likely to start getting called the Luftwaffe of the Arsenal defence in the near future; his aerial cover is non existant, time after time Newcastle were first to get their head on a cross when it really should have been cleared by the BFG. However, that said, he was as composed as ever on the ground again. 6

Koscielny: his goal covered a multitude of sins or miss placed passes if you prefer; he was slightly better than the others and a winning goal goes an awful long way. 7

Monreal: again, way below his usual high standards, poor passes, poor crosses; still, he has a lot of credit in the bank. 5

Flamini: the Frenchman is playing with far greater control; well, apart from the booking when he tried to kick the ball when it was a good six foot in the air. Not the man you expect to score us goals but gave a decent Flamini performance nevertheless. 6.

Ramsey: his day was summed up by the pass he failed to make to Campbell for a tap in which would have put the game to bed. Too many poor decisions. 4

Ozil: People questioned his ability when he first arrived, what we now know is that the problem wasn’t his ability it was his commitment. Mesut had been used to playing with the likes of Ronaldo for goodness sake and then what, Gervinho? Santos? If that doesn’t lower a player of his calibre’s self esteem I don’t know what will and yet the change has been incredible, this man has brought into Arsenal lock stock and barrel. I mean, did you see him wearing that silly Arsenal Santa jumper, awful, absolutely awful, but he wore it and he did do with a smile on his face, now that is a man who is committed to this club. Wenger must take a huge amount of credit for patiently guiding him to where he is now and my guess is that he will continue his integration by making him captain next season. 9

Walcott: put the ball in front of him to run onto and we have good Theo, put the ball to his feet and ask him to think and we have bad Theo. Too much bad Theo yesterday. 4

Oxlade-Chambelain: how did we all get so excited about this player, someone remind me because I cannot see a single attribute that is above average and most were well below yesterday. 3

Giroud: little bear’s porridge, not too good, not too bad, played an important part in getting the all important goal. 7

As Peaches’ title says “Rubbish Game, Great result”, I’ll take that right now.

Written by LB


Zagreb Victory Discussion

November 25, 2015

Things to discuss:-

The brilliance af the Alexis/Ozil combination. Best since DB10/TH14?

Why has Monreal improved so much?

Flamini is good enough for teams like Zagreb.

Is Campbell any good?

Why were there 12,000 empty seats?

Which was the best goal?

Can Chambers develop into a DM?

How do flies stand on glass?

Giroud’s record is good, make that very good. Why do fans not believe in him?

Unknown

Was winning last night the best result for the club?

Should Alexis or any of last night’s team be rested on Sunday?

Is Mrs Frith a force of good or evil?

Does Bellerin’s pace allow Campbell the freedom to play with confidence?

Why did DZ allow Cazorla so much space?

Hastily written by BR