Arsenal Decisively Indecisive?

August 3, 2017

Being decisive is usually recognised as recognising a problem, or identifying a need to improve a situation, and arriving at a decision to quickly and effectively act to resolve it.

And in some ways, that has happened, in that defensively we seemed to be all at sea last season, until realising that the absence of the wise old head of Per Mert and the continuing frustrating injuries affecting Kozzer, AW decided to change to a three at the back, primarily until the injured CBs returned to the roster the following season at which time he would review which formation fitted the team the best. And undoubtedly the change in formation worked very well.

The ‘3 at the back’ was self-evidently caused by the lack of resources in defence because in addition to the loss of Per and Kozzer, Chambers had been loaned out, Gabriel had shot himself in the foot, or something, and Holding was still learning his trade and making a good fist of it, but to cap it all there were injury problems in the backs as well.

So, good decisive reactions helped us to almost qualify for the CL, except for possibly one of the more inept performances seen in many a year, when we lost to a poor Crystal Palace team who every pundit expected us to put to the sword. The three points conceded there would have given us 4th place, instead of just missing out.

It was clear in a very confusing time, when even the Chief Executive Gazidis said it was a catalyst for a change meaning that there had to be a restructuring of the team personnel and the management, presumably in the close season.

Frustrated fans reacted with a glimmer of hope that a decisive reaction had come at a time when Arsene was indecisively stalling on renewing his contract. Again – action and reaction – yin and yang – decisive and indecisive.

Last summer the club should have reacted decisively to the failure of Özil, Sanchez and Chamberlain to extend their contracts, but instead there was a sense of apathy and indecision throughout the summer 2016 transfer window, and eventually AW announced he was sure contracts would be signed during the season, and anyway there was still 2 years left in which to negotiate. Wishy washy? Selling such important players under 2017 transfer window pressure and attempting to buy top replacements has been predictably difficult.

And what has happened to the reinforcement of the CBs? Kozzer has what is known as a chronic injury that is not going to go away, Per has announced that he will retire soon, and although he has the right mental attitude to play, his physical decline has continued as was clear in the pre-season and he is unlikely to be able to play regularly – and both are getting older.

To add to that, there is still no sign that Gabriel is likely to recover from his injury any time soon, and with Calum on the ‘to sell’ list, not much attention seems to have been shown in shoring up a key area for the team. Decisive? I think not.

AW explained quite clearly that he did not like other clubs continually asking for Sanchez, Chamberlain and Özil, and ignoring his decisive message that they were not for sale.

He went on to declare that Arsenal’s policy was that when we wanted a player we would inquire if that player was available for sale, but, if told they were not for sale, then the club would respect that and walk away.

But hold you hard. How does that decisive statement square up with the rumoured bids for Lemar when it seems Arsenal have been told he is not for sale, and yet we appear to have been going back with increased offers in trying to acquire him. Not taking ‘no’ for an answer there then.

It beggars belief that Arsenal will reject the prospect of possibly making £150m in sale proceeds for selling the above-named trio this summer, and simply lose all that money next summer, as they walk away on ‘frees’.

Either the manager will decide late on in this window that he will sell after all, and probably find it difficult, if not impossible, to buy replacements at short notice, or we will be without 3 key players next summer, and to make matters worse – also without that £150m needed to buy the equivalent replacements.

Does anyone feel a little tremor of indecision creeping into the Arsenal thought processes – especially from Kroenke, the man whose money it is?

Me too.

Written by Zee


Riverside Revolution? – Player Ratings

April 18, 2017

Match Thoughts

So three at the back is less than four at the back but as we generally play with the full backs over the halfway line, three is more than two. That’s the tactical bolleaux over with.

I’ll leave more in-depth analysis to the specialists.

The first half was pretty unmemorable with both Boro and Arsenal struggling to create many meaningful chances. The referee seemed hell bent on giving the home team free kicks anywhere in Arsenal’s half for the softest of challenges as if he realised Boro needed as many opportunities as possible  to lump the ball in the box.

The one cast-iron free-kick correctly awarded was for a foul on Xhaka at the edge of the ‘D’. Thankfully, Alexis had brought his up and over boots to the game and produced a magnificent dipper which the keeper would have struggled to have got anywhere near, even if he had been able to see the ball.

The second half started in customary ‘what are you smoking at half-time?’ fashion.

Boro equalised and looked capable of going ahead. Gradually we eased our way back into it and Mesut scored with his swinger from a fine chest lay-off from Ramsey. The last 20 minutes were reasonably comfortable and hanging on to the three points was exactly what was required.

The team looked genuinely pleased to have won after a difficult run of results and the new formation had been given its baptism.

Ratings

Cech– Fairly solid, though a huge upgrade on Martinez, I’m not so sure ……7

Gabriel – Gabs likes defending and maybe the back three will suit him  ……7

Koscielny – So good to have him back though Negredo gave him the slip for the equaliser ……7

Holding – Hopefully will mature into an Arsenal great. Very accomplished….8

Oxlade-Chamberlain – The Ox looked more comfortable in a middle 4 than stuck out on the flank. Involved throughout  …..8

Xhaka – Looked composed against an admittedly poor Boro side. Always looks good when a destroying DM is not really required   …..7

Ramsey – A little ponderous in the first half but grew into the game as some match sharpness returned …….7

 Monreal – Maybe Nacho will enjoy playing a role further forward without having to worry about the huge gap he’s leaving behind him as in a 4-3-3…. 7

Ozil – Ran his heart out for team and scored a really crucial goal …..7

Sanchez – Peach of a free kick. Many wasted dinks and chips into the box but one helped to produce the winning goal, so keep it up Alexis…..7

Giroud – Fought manfully (mais oui), was unlucky not to win a pen for being manhandled but should have scored with an attempted curler from one of our few clear-cut chances. …..7

chas

Match Thoughts from FGG

Don’t Juve play 3 CB’s under Allegri? Bit of conspiracy theory for you. Maybe this was nothing to do with what Wenger wanted and with the season practically over our new manager is now influencing things! 😄

Back to reality, I feel we need a ball playing CB to really make this formation work. Mustafi is decent but another is needed aswell. I’d also like to see a new LB, hopefully the lad that’s been linked is the answer. If not then why not go for Rodriguez who were linked with in the summer? His new manager is the guy who just left us and took Ljungberg with him. Could be an easy deal to sort out. Another question is how do Ramsey and Wilshere fit into this formation? It’s been an ongoing issue for a while and I don’t think this change makes it any clearer! Fabregas has found it tough to get in the Chelsea side.

Does this formation help or hinder Giroud? It gives us more crossing opportunities based on what we saw yesterday with Ox and Monreal getting chances to put it in the box, but at the same time there will be occasions where Özil and Sanchez get into narrower positions and are looking for a run in behind. Do we still need a better CF or could Welbs or Giroud thrive.

Finally, where does this change leave Walcott? If we are to switch permanently, how can you fit him in the team?

 fatgingergooner


What is your best midfield?

January 17, 2017

The choices are Elneny, Cazorla, Ramsey, Xhaka, Coquelin.

Let’s make it more difficult and add in the attacking MF. So now we have to include Iwobi, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Ozil.

If we have 3 attackers and 5 defenders (inc Gk) it leaves 3 or 4 places.

Ozil is a guaranteed starter but no-one else. So, it is 3 from 7

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Much as I love Santi, he requires a holding MF alongside him which has historically been Coquelin but I think both Elneny and Xhaka are better passing from deep.

This isn’t an exam so let’s not have any of that “it depends upon the game” lily-livered indecision.

And if we can’t make a concrete decision, imagine how hard it must be for Mr Wenger whose selection is scrutinísed by a million people a week.

written by Big Raddy


Ozil is better than Bergkamp. Match Report.

November 2, 2016

Character building, yes, character building is the way I would describe that win and probably the best preparation for Sunday we could have had. What, I hear you say; surely another six-nil win would have been better giving us the chance to rest Ozil and Sanchez after seventy minutes? Not necessarily, there is no way it is going to be a stroll in the park on Sunday and if we go a goal behind we will have had very recent experience in knowing how to put it right. The same goes for if we are two down but I don’t want to dwell on that possibility for too long. What I am saying is that we are in good shape and are now completely prepared to face the knuckle draggers.

Ludogorets looked pretty good in the first twenty minutes at the Emirates and if it wasn’t for a couple of fine saves from Ospina we could have just as easily have been two down inside the first twenty minutes then. Things didn’t fall inch perfect for them in that game but they did last night and they also had luck on their side: the ball was drilled at speed towards Xhaka who no more than turned away but the referee who was poor all night wrongly gave a free kick from which they scored; our defending wasn’t at its best, but it was one hell of a good cross. Shortly after, Gibbs was given a Brazilian by one of their nippy players who played a slide rule pass into our box for another one of their nippy players to slot home. Don’t ask me their names I don’t know and I don’t care.

gibbs

Two down, things weren’t going to plan and we were looking rattled which showed in our hurried passing and unnecessary loss of possession; still, we do not sing that “we are by far the greatest team the world has ever seen” for nothing.

The fight back was on.

Özil of course was involved it was his cross from the byline that was missed by several players in the penalty area before falling invitingly to Xhaka who guided it home and brought us back into the game. The goal steadied the nerves, confidence returned and with it the accuracy of the passing. We were the better team overall but they were still looking dangerous on the break.

giroud-ludo

Enter our two returnees.

Ramsey was everywhere or so it seemed; a tireless engine, superb vision and my man of the match, it was his pinpoint cross that enabled Giroud to bring us back on terms: a well-taken header from the man who seems to push himself just that much more when he perceives his starting place is under threat. Do you remember the last time he was out for a while and Theo seemed to have taken his place? When the FFP did start again he scored something like four goals in four games. Two on Sunday, Ollie, and the world will be a wonderful place.

Chances fell to both teams in the second half and the game could have gone either way, I had resigned myself to a draw and had already persuaded myself that two-two was not a bad result away from home and all that. But Mesut Ozil had different ideas which leaves me in the really bad situation of having to try and put that goal into words; save from a long list of superlatives, I can’t.

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Goal of the season, yes, one of the best Arsenal goals I have ever seen, yes, I am trying to stop myself from gushing ahhhhh, I can’t, it was fantastic, brilliant, breathtaking, sheer class from the best player I have ever seen play for Arsenal. There I said it; forgive me Dennis, I couldn’t stop myself. lol

Nothing left now but to watch that goal over and over again and purrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

Written by LB

 


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


Swansea hoodoo broken

October 16, 2016

Yesterday’s game had everything: excitement, drama and sex, yes sex, the third goal from Mesut was sex. One of the best games, excitement wise, I have seen at THOF in a while.

Here are some player ratings……….

Cech: will you stop hoofing the ball up field, almost always we lose possession, just roll it out, simples. 6

Bellerin: Hector can do no wrong. 8

Mustafi: Everyone’s favourite new player looks more and more like a bargain after every game he plays. 8

Koscielny: Captain Fantastic. 8

Monreal: OK, but got roasted a few too many times in the second half and was responsible for Swansea’s second goal. 5

Xhaka: did start off quietly commanding but he gave the ball away badly for Swansea’s first goal and it should be noted that that is the second time that he has done that. The red card should have been a yellow, just rugby tackle him if you want to make sure the player doesn’t go any further. 5

Cazorla: passing was a bit off today, not the best game but with his smile how can you not love him. 6

Ozil: this man is getting near to being the best player we have ever had, his winner was worthy of the great Dutchman himself; one of the great Arsenal goals of all time. 9

Iwobi: it is impressive that someone so young can hold his own in the ball control stakes with Ozil and Sanchez, in many ways he looks more comfortable playing with those two than Walcott does but the hyperbole has advanced quicker than the reality of where Alex is in his career. I am not suggesting that there isn’t an awful lot more to come from the player but right now Welbeck would and should walk straight back into that team. With maturity you get a confident selfishness as a striker, a determination and a self belief that you can always score. Welbeck has this Iwobi hasn’t — yet.

Sanchez: passing astray, trying too hard and then he crosses the ball for Ozil to score our third with such accuracy I wonder why I even bother thinking about a negative side at all. 7

Walcott: New Theo and Old Theo were on display today, New Theo scored two vital goals, Old Theo missed two sitters. 7

Good subs by the way, the Ox was impressive.

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