Wilshere MOTM, Pellegrini moaning and another draw

September 14, 2014

A 2-2 draw with City, Pellegrini making excuses for his team, Arsenal conceding stupid goals but scoring some great ones. Football came back after a fortnight and it was as enjoyable a game as could be hoped for, even though the result wasn’t.

It was a tough match at the Emirates yesterday 🙂

But Arsenal showed that they are tough too, albeit prone to moments of weakness. We began with a flourish. None of the hanging back and letting the game come to you nonsense. We went out to grab the game by the…. neck.. and City had no response beyond kicking out and disrupting the rhythm of play.

Maybe this is what Pellegrini is trying to hide with his statements against the referee, who although did well to at least call the fouls (rare in the English game, especially when it comes to Arsenal) did not produce yellow cards as quickly as he should have. Check out Welbeck being taken out by Kompany before Debuchy had his shot, and I think Silva bundled Ramsey over during another move. Both were blatant, (ref played advantage) and Kompany had many more such fouls and I don’t think he got a yellow card all night.

I thought we did well to respond to that physicality with some of our own. We aren’t, and probably won’t be, very good at the dark arts, but we can handle ourselves on the field given a fair referee, which we did yesterday including with the supposed fouls that Pellegrini complained about.

We all saw the goals, have our own thoughts on our defending and fullbacks pushing up. I said in a comment that I think Ramsey and Flamini share the blame for the first goal we conceded. I also think we wouldn’t have conceded a second if Debuchy had not gotten injured, though of course we’ll never know.

As an aside, Debuchy has apparently not had a fracture, but has to undergo a medical exam tomorrow. He would have been suspended for Dortmund anyway. Let’s see how long we have to do without him.

Another injury doubt before yesterday’s game was Ramsey. He played, and ran his heart out as usual, but he was far less effective and involved in the game than his midfield partner Jack Wilshere, who ended the game with a goal and an assist. He also seems to be developing a good partnership with Alexis, who was brilliant as well yesterday.

Jack Wilshere has his detractors, and I suppose that is to be expected, partly as a consequence of his early hype. (I said partly LB. Don’t chew me out) His early promise is almost like a burden on him rather than cause to hope for better in the future for many. I don’t see it that way. He’s had his injury worries and missed a lot of football. Just over a season ago, Ramsey was in a worse place but has come back to become almost the heartbeat of this team (yesterday was the first time in a long time we played well when Ramsey didn’t) My hope is that Wilshere can do something similar. I am not alone in holding this hope of course, and a Ramseyesque emergence is not something that just happens, but yesterday adds to that hope.

I think the formation change  we’ve seen (blamed for Ozil’s woes) not only provides us some more stability in midfield, but also helps Wilshere. Last season it was tough to see where he’d fit in, but he now has the opportunity to make this midfield spot his own. He’ll still need to work on building an understanding with Ramsey. Still needs to be better at knowing when to release the ball. But his increased confidence and strength are now almost as visible as Nasri’s surprise and frustration as he bounced off him onto the ground where he’d have hit his chin if he had one.

I’ve never been one of the Jack the Lad guys. His being English means nothing to me. His being a Gooner though, does. I have been sceptical of that too in the past, but I think the way the team his shaping up, his recent comments, and hopefully, his continued improvement, makes him an important part of our success for years to come.

 


Is it time for round pegs in round holes?

September 11, 2014

I started to write this post after Alexis started up top against Everton, before we decided to bring Welbeck into the fold, and before we knew the extent of Giroud’s injury.

This is probably Arsene’s biggest weakness as a coach, I am not sure if it is due to pressure from above, the players or maybe even the fans but I feel that he is guilty on occasion of playing players because of their status rather than because they are best suited to the position, I’m not sure this was the case at Everton definitely more to do with a well holidayed Olivier Giroud, but far too often we see square pegs in round holes to get the best 11 names available on to the pitch rather than the best team on the pitch.

Before the Everton game I was convinced that Alexis wasn’t the answer to the centre forward conundrum but also that playing him there for any length of time would result in the team suffering overall.

Let me clarify I think Alexis can play up top he proved as much in his performance against Besiktas, but in our current style of play and because of his other attributes I do not see that position as being the best utilisation of his skillset. He is fast, he is hungry to win back possession and can score goals from wide, these three ingredients make him ideal to play on the wing. When he loses possession the defenders are not given time to clear their lines, he often wins the ball back and his presence on the pitch stops opposing fullbacks pushing on as much as they normally would. (Have you ever seen Kolarov so deep before?)

With Giroud now out until the new year there is a vacancy up top, I hope this is filled by Welbeck rather than anyone else, mainly because he is a centre forward and unlike Sanchez does not offer much more to the team than an end point for fast attacking moves. And if Welbeck isn’t fit? Then I’d rather play Sanogo or Podolski.

In my view our best attacking front three all fit would be Theo, Giroud, Alexis. The centre backs never push on, but the pace of Theo and Sanchez wide would be a constant question in the full backs mind and prevent them helping their wingers regularly. However Welbeck has a chance to stake a claim for the shirt with Olivier out but he needs to show the ability to assist link up play and to be better than Oli use his pace to get on the end of the return pass.

Theo is probably not the best at winning the ball back but if it becomes a new ethos in the team I can see Campbell giving him a run for his money before long if he does not add this to his game.

Santi and Ozil are not wingers, again they should be utilised where their attributes are used to greatest effect, unfortunately for them that means they compete for the same spot in the side, and if Welbeck is out I don’t want to see Theo or Alexis moved central to use one of Santi or Ozil out wide, if Theo or Alexis get injured I want to see real like for like replacements so Campbell or Ox.

Then we have the box to box midfielder that’s Aaron or Jack, and holding midfield well that’s Arteta or Flamini.

At the back we have three centre backs, although another body in there would have completed a capable defence, should an injury befall Debuchy I think i’d rather Bellerin be used than Chambers keeping him fresh for when he is needed in the more key central position.

So please Arsene let’s stick to players in their positions rather than finding a spot for them in the team.

This is how I see first and second choices from the current squad.

…………………….Szczesny
………………………Ospina

Debuchy…..Mertesacker…..Koscielny…..Gibbs
Bellerin…………….Chambers…………..Monreal

………………………..Arteta
………………………..Flamini

……………………….Ramsey
……………………….Wilshere

…………………………..Ozil
………………………..Cazorla

Sanchez…………Giroud……………Theo
Ox………………..Welbeck……….Campbell

That leaves Martinez, Hayden, Coquelin, Rosicky, Podolski, Sanogo to make up the squad numbers when absolutely necessary.

It is not an easy task keeping players happy, but squads need rotation in the modern game, so Santi will not be sitting on the bench for weeks on end, to play him ahead of a more natural and pacy winger is appeasement of the player rather than for the benefit of the team and the system. And I’m sure at this point many will be saying “but x is too good to be a squad player”, well Petr Cech is too good to be a no 2 keeper, Sagna too good to be a no 2 right back, or BSR too good to be no 2 striker, they all probably are, but what City have shown in the last few seasons is that ready replacements playing in their natural position in the attacking half of the pitch is much more important than like for like defensive cover.

What say you?

Gooner in Exile


Arsenal’s Weak Spots

September 10, 2014

Last night Aaron hobbled off with an ankle injury, and although we won’t know until later the severity, it made me wonder about our vulnerability to injury.

At the beginning of last season, I would have said the areas of most concern would have been injuries to Theo, Ollie or one of our defensive pairing of Mert and Kos.

During the season, we witnessed the meteoric rise of Aaron, and by the end of the season it could be argued he was our most valuable player. By valuable, I mean an injury to this player having the biggest negative impact to our overall play.

I think we have covered the CB pairing with the arrival of the phenomenally talented Mr Chambers.

Ollie is now covered by Welbeck as well as Sanchez, and to an extent both can play both Left and Right providing cover for both Theo and whoever is the best Left Sided option.

It is actually very difficult to isolate the weakest spot, as we simply don’t yet know how the new side will settle down, and who will ultimately play where and in what formation.

Ozil is as yet far from the pivotal player we anticipate he will become, and I’d say it is possible he becomes the most irreplaceable only if he becomes the fulcrum in the middle. If he continues to be deployed more from the flanks, then I don’t see him as being especially irreplaceable.

Again, it is very hard to assess the key players up top. Either Sanchez or indeed Welbeck could emerge as Key Men. Of course, Ollie could return rejuvenated and become a Must Player.

Overall, and it’s difficult at this early stage of the new look side, but Aaron does appear to me to occupy the “most essential player” slot right now, although overall when fit, Theo still shades it for me.

The other day, a chum asked me who I saw as our most valuable player this season. I answered Theo, but went further to add that my biggest single wish for the season was that either Mesut or The Ox would emerge to challenge Theo for that particular honour.

Written by MickyDidIt89

 

 


Arsenal’s four new faces, how will they fit in?

August 12, 2014

The Premiership doesn’t get under way until next weekend but the Community Shield curtain-raiser gave us a chance to size up our reinforced squad.

Although our trio of World Cup winners was be missing, due to Wenger’s generosity in allowing them a couple of weeks extra holiday, it was instructive to see how Alexis, Campbell, Chambers and Debuchy got on against the reigning Premiership Champions.

The Emirates Cup produced a truly Jekyll and Hyde performance, an excellent and inspiring win over Benfica followed by a lack-lustre, low key kick about against a more committed Monaco team.

Joel 1

Campbell, who spent last season on loan at Olympiacos, looked comfortable against Benfica and took his scoring opportunity with aplomb. His World Cup and Champions League experience will stand him in good stead, as will the memory of scoring against Man. U. at Old Toilet. Not much can be said about his all too brief contribution against City, but he didn’t seem to be fazed by the occasion.

Calum 1

There has been much talk about Chambers and the possibility of his moving to central midfield but for the present, and in the absence of Mertesacker and the sale of Vermaelen, it appears logical to retain him at centre back where he did very well in his two previous outings. In another assured performance, against City, he showed good positional sense and the calmness of a much more experienced defender. Certainly one for the not too distant future.

Debuchy 1

Debuchy should slot in well at right back, an experienced international and, more importantly, an experienced Premiership player he has all the attributes to succeed as the long term successor to Bacary Sagna. He also had a good game, not only defensively but also showed his willingness to get forward and into the opposition’s box.

Alexis 1

And finally…Alexis. Of all the players signed during Arsene Wenger’s reign this one can stand alongside those other ready-made stars Vieira, Pires and Ozil. Of course Dennis Bergkamp should be included but, strictly speaking, he was signed on Bruce Rioch’s watch. A truly exciting signing, a player who can score goals, can light up a game with his pace, movement and trickery on the ball. His 45 minute cameo was enough to show that he can slot seamlessly into Arsenal’s attack. Finally I believe he will show just how good he is now that he’s out of Messi’s shadow.

Personally, I’m really excited by the signing of Alexis, more so even than that of Mesut Ozil last season. I think he is the player that Arsene has been looking for over the long lean years of Emirates Stadium debt. The player who will make a real difference. One that can inspire the team and make a big contribution to the future success of Arsenal FC.

Norfolk Gooner.

 

 


Oi, Wenger, spend some money.

August 4, 2014

One day chicken, next day feathers; I trot this line out at times like this as it always seems to strike the right note.

On Saturday we were already dreaming of where in Islington we would be standing as the bus drove by with our players holding the EPL up high and just one day later we were wondering, more seriously than we had done for a while, just how likely the chances really are of signing Khedira.

Well, I was anyway, shallow moi? You just can’t have enough new toys; that’s what I say.

I actually think that that signing is far more likely than we are allowing ourselves to dream but anyway back to the game.

This is where I should say that is was only a friendly and we shouldn’t read too much into it but grrrrrr, I hate losing. I am sure Wenger learnt a lot from the two games and should be able to pick a formidable side to face City next week.

If Wenger wants to win that game rather than simply give players pitch time then Rosicky is surely a must start; he linked the defence with the attack and moved the play forward with a greater intensity than any other player was capable of yesterday. Rosicky also freed Ramsey up to burst forward with a far more effect against Benfica than he was able against Monaco.

I know it is wrong to start pointing fingers this early on; it was only a friendly as I made clear above – but we are Arsenal supporters and that is what we do. lol

Giroud – really?

I know things didn’t go exactly as planned against Monaco but we all know that amongst our squad we have a very good first team and the one thing we lacked last season: a fast, creative, goal scorer with great control has now been procured. Sanchez is going to give us everything we lacked up front last year and the EPL should be scared, very scared.

Ollie obviously still has a place, there will be teams that suit him more and he can be deployed when needed.

Wilshere?

I can’t, I shouldn’t; it really is too early for that one. All I would say is that I did notice a little boy in the middle of the park pointing at Jack while mouthing something about an emperor and not having any clothes on. OK I lied about it being too early.

Chambers seems more assured that Miguel which was a bit of a surprise to me, maybe, as GIE suggests, he should have gone out on loan earlier.

I was also surprised to read people disagreed with my comment that I expected Chambers to spend the same amount of time on the bench as Jenkinson did last season.

What? Is he going to play ahead of the BFG? No. Is he going to play ahead of Koscielny? No. Debuchy? No, so how is he going to play more than Jenkinson? Come on people, keep up.

Debuchy was almost anonymous yesterday which I liked; he did everything he was supposed to do and did it well, without fuss. And here’s the kicker, his crosses are so much better than Sagna’s, I know I am probably telling some the incredibly obviously equivalent of grass is green but it needs to be said.

So much for Wenger learning not to over use Ramsey, that man is going to work so hard that Welsh pit ponies will feel sorry for him.

And lastly, if you ever wondered why I don’t do match reports after we lose? Well now you know, I am a miserable git.

But this will all change next week after we beat City.

COYRRG

Written by LB