Arsenal 5 Bournemouth 1 – Player Ratings

February 28, 2019

Contrary to the apparent opinion of many in the Arsenal blogosphere, this game  might be more important than any of the matches coming up in early March in the Premier League. In all actuality, each game has its own significance.

First Half

The game got off to a flyer, plenty of space and a goal for Mesut from Kola’s instant pass within the first 4 minutes. Perfect. Bournemouth made a tactical change and were suddenly right back in it. Their tails were up and then we scored the second to take the wind out of their sails after a sloppy pass across the back four. Micki found Mesut and his return pass was just sublime; the Armenian’s finish clinical.

Stuart MacFarlane

Surely that would kill Bournemouth’s fightback? Nope. Some more titting about playing out from the back gifted them a goal. Guendouzi caught on the ball, though he was also caught with the follow through of the challenge which I always thought was a foul. Anyway 2-1 and raised heartrates all round.

The remainder of the first half was spent searching for a working stream. Did anything happen?

Second Half

According to the commentary I had, Emery laid into the players at half time.  It showed. Ferguson hairdryer, Emery blowtorch – who cares if it produces the right reaction from the players.

Kos scored from a free-kick which looked like it was going nowhere but back to our own half. It ended up being a nicely constructed goal which created the space in the penalty area by virtue of the backwards passing.

The fourth from Auba was all down to Micki’s strength bringing the ball out from deep Who would’ve thought? Taking the ball round the keeper – how often does anyone get a chance to do that these days?

Andy Rain/EPA-EFE

Mesut hit the post before the coup de grace. Laca’s free kick really was the cherry on the cake. The ball travelled over the jumping wall and still came down six feet from the ground. Boruc got a touch but had little chance of keeping it out.

Conclusion

Excellent home win – something we’ve come to expect at THOF as out home form is that of title contenders. The first half definitely had some worrying periods, but overall it was a football match of which the manager should be proud.

Spuds losing meant that we’re only 4 points behind their title challenge. 🙂 The chavs and red mancs winning meant fourth to sixth position stay exactly as you were.

Ratings

Leno – no chance with the goal – crucial save from Fraser in the first half … 7

Jenkinson – didn’t disgrace himself without adding too much. A true Gooner  … 6

Koscielny – deserved his goal – luckily his injury at the end looked an impact job rather than one which would affect the knee joint for any length of time – the studs into his knee were unnecessary  … 8

Sokratis – implacable, indefatigable, imperturbable … 7

Monreal – La Cabra produced his usual high energy committed performance … 7

Kolasinac – an assist for Mesut’s goal – his attacking prowess is one of the team’s strengths … 7

Torreira – fought manfully with little protection from the ref – still not sure he knows his role in the team – seemed lost in the first half … 7

Guendouzi – Matteo, what were you doing for the Bournemouth goal? – his usual all action performance aside from that though … 7

Ozil – a goal, a superb assist – will always make a significant contribution to our goals tally – is it enough? … 8

Mkhitaryan – involved in most of the meaningful attacking action – his assist for Auba’s goal was brilliant … 8

Aubameyang – finally got his goal after looking disappointed in the first half … 7

Subs

Iwobi – will play against the spuds for sure … 7

Lacazette – hungry for goals and scored from a peach of a free-kick … 7

Suarez – we finally saw what he might be capable of in some impressive glimpses … 7

Managers

Emery – can rest easy before the spud game that he overcame a team which briefly threatened to come back at us – if it’s true that he went at the players at half time, then we need more of that Unai … 8

Wagner – struggling with a depleted squad … 4

Please give your own ratings/match report in the comments.

chas

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Arsenal FC – Our home record against Bournemouth

February 26, 2019

The 2018–19 AFC Bournemouth season is the club’s fourth consecutive season in the top flight of English football and their 129th year in existence.

Bournemouth’s stadium is the smallest in the Premier League, they play their home matches at Dean Court, which has a capacity of 11,329, and this season it will be the smallest stadium in the Premier League.

Dean Court early 1970s

The club’s badge has Bournemouth’s red and black stripes and also a footballer heading a ball.

The club is currently owned by Maxim Demin, a Russian multi-millionaire involved in the petrochemicals trading industry. He became co-owner of then Football League side A.F.C. Bournemouth with Eddie Mitchell, reportedly paying £850,000 for his share of the club. Subsequently (in 2015) the club were promoted to the Premier League. In 2015, he sold a 25% share in the club to Peak 6 Investments, although he remains the majority shareholder.

Demin spent £5 million on a mansion in Sandbanks (Dorset), also known as ‘Britain’s Palm Beach’.  He then promptly demolished it and employed Eddie Mitchell to rebuild a state of the art house.

Danny scored 2 in Arsenal’s 3-0 win in September 2017 © AFP / Ian KINGTON

Bournemouth is currently 10th in the Premier League with a record of W10, D4, L13, GF38, GA48. They have conceded 1.78 goals per game while we have scored 2.04 per game overall and 2.07 at home.

We have already beaten them away from home, sneaking the points with a narrow 2-1 victory. They scored one of the best OGs you’re ever likely to see to put us in front, before equalising on the stroke of half time with us committing 23 men forward. Auba got the winner midway through the second half. Remarkably we were wearing our pistachio kit – not sure if that was our first and only win in that kit in the Premier League?

Alex’s perfectly weighted pass inside the full back set up Kola to cross for Auba’s winner

We have a 100% home record against Bournemouth and I feel that, regardless of our squeaky defence, our attacking strength will be too much for them.

GunnerN5


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


Arsenal FC – Our home record against the Saints

February 23, 2019

Southampton FC was founded in 1885 and plays their home games at St. Mary’s Stadium. The stadium opened in 2001 and has a capacity of 32,589; it is the biggest stadium in the south of England, outside of London. The stadium was built to replace ‘The Dell’, where Southampton played between 1898 and 2001.

The Dell – a ramshackle ground with great character

The club has been nicknamed “The Saints” since the club was founded in 1885. This is because it was founded as a church football team and was originally called St Mary’s Young Men’s Association. The club was renamed Southampton F.C. after the club won the Southern League in 1897, but the nickname has endured.

The current manager is Ralph Hasenhüttl who was appointed on 5 December 2018, succeeding Mark Hughes. His first game in charge was a 0–1 defeat at Cardiff City. His first win as Southampton’s manager came on 16 December in a 3–2 win at home to Arsenal ending the Gunners’ 4-month 22-match unbeaten run.

His record as a manager is –

Southampton have played in the Premier League for a total of 16 seasons, they have been relegated once, in 2004-05, but were promoted back to the Premier League in 2011/2012. They reached the Premier League after back to back promotions from the third and second divisions.

Our overall home record against the Saints is extremely solid, just 2 losses, and they have not managed a single win against us in the Premier League – the last time they won a game was a slender 1-0 victory at Highbury on November 21, 1987.

Memorable home fixtures against Southampton

23rd September 1995 – Arsenal 4 Southampton 2

The press had made a massive thing about our new £7.5m Dutch signing not scoring yet with September nearly over, in true clickbait style. After 17 minutes in glorious Highbury sunshine, their story was dead in the water and a new legend born. Glenn Helder sent a looping cross over to the far post and DB10 thumped a well-controlled volley into the far corner. Bould and Adams conjured a second with the near-post flick on routine, before Southampton sneaked two back before half-time. Dennis crashed in his superb swerving second to restore the lead in the 68th minute and Wrighty squeezed in a 4th a few minutes later.

Dennis Bergkamp celebrates scoring his goal for Arsenal with Ian Wright, Lee Dixon, Ray Parlour and Paul Merson. Highbury September 1995 by Stuart MacFarlane

7th May 2003 – Arsenal 6 Southampton 1

This double hat-trick game became the very first match in a sequence of 49 unbeaten, encompassing the tail end of 2002/3, the whole of 2003/4 and 9 games of the 2004/5 season. Jermaine Pennant scored his hat-trick inside 10 minutes in the first half and two for Robert Pires made it 5-1 at half-time. Bobby completed his hat-trick with the goal of the game, a sublime chip over the stranded Southampton keeper. Forty eight more Arsenal teams were to leave the field in the next 18 months without being beaten.

Match odds

There is a 18.9% chance of a draw. In simulations where the game is not a draw Arsenal, at 71.5%, are heavy favourites to beat Southampton who have a 9.6% chance.

In simulation wins, Southampton upsets Arsenal by averaging 7.7 shots and 3.2 shots on goal. They average 1.7 goals in simulated victories vs just 0.4 in simulation losses. Overall, the average simulation score is Arsenal 2.2 to Southampton 0.6.

It is inconceivable that Ralph Hasenhüttl would become the first Southampton manager to have back to back home and away wins against us, therefore I foresee a resounding victory.

GunnerN5


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 


Unai Emery’s record as Arsenal Manager and before

February 18, 2019

Arsenal’s Premier League record after 26 games

As we can see, the stat that sticks out is that our goals against is the worst in our PL history (tied with 2011/12) and significantly higher than our average. But nothing else appears to be a big issue in comparison to previous seasons.

So we have to look elsewhere to find what it is that gives some of us concerns ……

The PL is a six horse race and we have been also-rans in the last 14 seasons, in that time Man U have won 5 titles, Chelsea 5, Man C 3 and Leicester 1. This season it will be either Man C, Liverpool, or even Spurs.

The Leicester win was a one off occurrence by an inspired team and manager – self belief was a big factor.

Man U won 5 titles in 7 seasons with Alex Ferguson as manager but has not won in the last 5.

Man C are the rich kids on the block and won their first title in 2011/12 and have since won 2 more.

Chelsea’s riches gave them their first title in 2004/05 they repeated in 2005/06 and have won 3 times since.

Liverpool and Spurs are still PL virgins and long may it last.

So all that said, what about Arsenal – if it’s not stats then what is it?

Arsene Wenger treated us to many wonderful memories, far too many to list, in his final 14 seasons he did not win the PL but did win 4 FA Cups and 4 Charity Shields.

Unai Emery took over the reins on May 23, 2018 and he has an array of achievements.

Getty Images

Sevilla

UEFA Europa League: 2013–14, 2014–15, 2015–16

Paris Saint-Germain

Ligue 1: 2017–18

Coupe de France: 2016–17, 2017–18

Coupe de la Ligue: 2016–17, 2017–18

Trophée des Champions: 2016, 2017

Individual

Miguel Muñoz Trophy (Segunda División): 2005–06, 2006–07

La Liga Manager of the Month: March 2014, January 2015

European Coach of the Season: 2013–14

UNFP Manager of the Year: 2017–18

 

Unai’s record as a manager

 

I would offer that Unai has inherited the same set of problems and issues that dogged Arsene in his final seasons.

Specifically,

  • Injuries to key players – in key positions
  • Lack of funding forcing creative purchases
  • Overpaid players
  • The Bosman Ruling
  • Inadequate positional balance
  • Over reactive supporters

Personally I’m not equipped with the knowledge to give definitive answers to these issues but one thing I do know and advocate is that Unai Emery has the future of our illustrious club in his capable hands.

He needs the support of both the management and supporters in order to achieve his goals and our dreams.

I wish him a successful and fulfilling career at Arsenal.

Give the man a chance.

GunnerN5


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