Things we Learnt from the weekend

September 17, 2018

When Lucas Torreira was bought from Sampdoria, a clause was inserted in the sale agreement which would trigger large additional payments if he started a League game before Christmas.

Auba doesn’t appear to like his left wing duties and didn’t look best pleased when substituted.

No-one really knows what happened at half-time at St James’ Park. Torreira came on as sub for Guendouzi, but that still doesn’t explain how virtually every other player came out of the tunnel with a spring in their step, at least two yards quicker and with a desire to actually play some football.

The Ramsey/Ozil conundrum becomes more complex, unbalancing the side with both vying for the same free role.

Sokratis, while not quite in the Usain Bolt category, has not been taking sprinting lessons from the BFG. Catching and dispossessing  Newcastle’s speedy youngster, Murphy, was no mean feat for our Kalamata Colossus.

Sokratis gleefully runs to celebrate our second goal with the rest of the lads

Our next League opponents, Everton, were finally beaten having drawn three and won one of their opening four games. The hammers rode their luck and took chances to make West Ham Bob’s weekend. Jack is back in the sick bay with an ankle knock.

Liverpool and Citeh look strong but the chavs have somehow managed to keep pace by hook or by crook. Burnley are in an early season swamp, as are Newcastle.

The analysis around the spuds defeat centred around Pochettino having a bad game. Is he getting homesick and looking at Spanish weather forecasts with an envious eye? Let’s hope so. 🙂 (yep, I realise he’s Argentinian – his birthplace is called Murphy!)

chas

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Toon dooned by a Xhaka boom

September 16, 2018

First Half

Nothing happened. Hopes (and fears) for a deluge of goals were battered on a sea of directionless football from both sides. No shots on target, virtually no shots. Duller than a day trip to Sunderland.

Second half

Another half time sub, presumably a firework or two tactically inserted and a different Arsenal emerged for the second period. The ball suddenly became an important ingredient in the footballers’ toolkit. Torreira injected an urgency and positive momentum that the first 45 had totally lacked.

Ozil and Ramsey, instead of looking like Arsenal’s equivalent of Lampard/Gerrard, started to enjoy finding each other. Every player looked hungry for the ball and keen to find space for a pass when not in possession.

Auba was fouled a few yards outside the area and it looked as though Torreira had decided he fancied a pop. Lo and behold, Granit produced a peach and Arsenal’s first goal direct from a free kick for donkeys. Beauty.

The whole red and white machine was suddenly infused with extra confidence and a second looked likely as Toon heads dropped. Mesut passed the ball into the net 10 minutes later after a blocked effort from Laca and that looked to be enough to see off the demoralised barcodes.

Arsenal, being Arsenal regardless of who the manager is, still managed to give us all kittens in the final 5 minutes of the match. First Cech had to make his first meaningful save from a free header at the back post, before an identical chance was duly despatched as injury time began. Thank Dennis there were only the three extra minutes to endure.

Summary

Guendouzi must have been perplexed seeing the Arsenal side which emerged from the tunnel after half time. It looked one he might have enjoyed playing in. That first period, on the other hand, probably made him grateful he’d been hooked.

Why did we ease off after the second goal? Was the tactic to allow the opposition to come on to us and then to pick them off on the counter? Two goals rarely seems like a convincing lead where Arsenal are concerned.

Anyway it turned out that they were enough in the final reckoning. Another away win, three points in the bag plus two home fixtures next up and things look a whole lot rosier than when we were in ‘crisis’  a few games ago.

Ratings

Cech – more comedy on the floor from Petr’s feet. A couple of dangerous passes followed by humping it up the pitch. Strange. Had little to do with his hands, one decent stop from the header and numerous catches of overhit lofted balls into the area….6

Bellerin – acres of space behind him in the first half. Good job Shkodran is always there to cover with his lightning pace. Still think Lichtsteiner behind him makes sense. Hector is always dangerous going forward though….6

Mustafi – some good stuff in amongst some typically crazy moments….5

Sokratis – stoic and resolute from our stone faced Greek. Made several important tackles, blocks and interceptions plus he even showed a yard of pace. Settling in nicely….7

Monreal – competent without having too much to do….6

Guendouzi – seems to have lost just a touch of his earlier confidence. Though when passing backwards is your only option as it was in that appalling first half, it’s always going to be a struggle….5

Xhaka – grew into the game, usual high number of passes and a glorious peach of a dead ball which sailed into the net….7

Ramsey – completely anonymous and disinterested in the first period. Much better when the football began in the second….5

Ozil – looked especially pleased to mark his 200th appearance with a goal….6

Laca – tried hard to make an impact throughout. Didn’t have a great deal of service….6

Auba – no smiles in the first half and didn’t look comfortable on the ball before finally being withdrawn….5

Subs

Torreira – another 45 minutes for the Uruguayan. Seemed to make an immediate impact with tempo and forward movement….6

Mkhitaryan – tidy in possession without achieving much at all….5

Welbeck – one impressive break but didn’t have the balance to finish off a fine chance….5

Manager – changed things at half time which was much needed….6

chas


4-3-3 …. Who plays in the front three?

August 31, 2018

Having sorted out our right flank issues on Tuesday plus deciding who should partner Lucas Torreira on Wednesday, it’s time to shift our attention to the business end of the team and the front three.

When you’re taking half chances and scoring at crucial moments in a game, victories look easy. If the boys at the sharp end are misfiring, as against the chavs 2 weeks ago, it doesn’t matter how many golden opportunities are created, you’ll always struggle.

Unai Emery is still moulding the Arsenal players into new shapes but he does seem to favour 4-3-3 (or 4-2-1-3). The front three are a little undefined as yet. Let’s take a look at the runners and riders.

Pierre Emerick Aubameyang – yet to break his duck early on this season after scoring for fun during Arsenal’s tepid second half of last season. Has a career average of about a goal every other game and was prolific for Dortmund. Our most versatile out and out striker which is probably why he gets pushed out to the left flank to accommodate Alexandre Lacazette.

courtesy GK Edits

Alexandre Lacazette – only slightly lower strike rate across his career than Auba, scoring at just under a goal in every two. Perhaps our most natural finisher. He doesn’t seem to score many tap-ins for Arsenal which either says something about the type of chances created by his teammates or about his natural positioning as a striker. Seems to enjoy bouncing off Auba, though maybe the pair are better suited to playing together in a 4-4-2?

Danny Welbeck – Danny appears to be 3rd in the pecking order of strikers, though his physicality could make him an enticing prospect as a powerful left sided attacker. Gets into great scoring positions but often seems to lack that killer instinct in front of the posts. It would appear that when everyone else is fit, he is destined to be our best hope of a goal from the bench, Lord Bendtner style.

Alex Iwobi – a starter against the chavs and hammers, Alex is the go-to player for left side wing duties when Auba is chosen at centre forward. This is probably due to his natural ability to take players on. Bit of a marmite player with some choosing to dismiss him outright.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan – His high work rate and creativity up front seem to have made him one of the first names on Emery’s teamsheet. Expecting him to be constantly helping wingfender Bellerin with defensive duties is too much of an ask. I keep expecting his goals and assists figures to explode once the manager settles on a final plan of attack. Could he play as the tip of a midfield triangle?

Mesut Özil – Mesut doesn’t appear to have found a conclusive position in Unai’s team structure as yet. He seems the man most likely to create a goal-scoring chance with just one pass that we possess. Does he play left side in a front three or the furthest forward of the middle three? Answers on a postcard. I’d imagine he’s hankering for Arsene to appear and to tell him, ‘just play where you like while you dismantle the opposition’.

Aaron Ramsey – the Welsh Messi would also love the free role in any set up. He’s been used as part of a double pivot, as a box-to-boxer, as a number 10 and a right flanker up front. Like Mesut he’s another who doesn’t naturally fit into any particular slot in Unai Emery’s team structure wall chart. Reading LB’s Cardiff match report from November 2013 yesterday reminded us that Aaron has goals in him. Wouldn’t it be great if he could hit double figures again?

Of the other three who had fine pre-seasons, Reiss Nelson would appear to be off to Hoffenheim this week (hopefully just on loan) and Emile Smith Rowe and Eddie Nketiah haven’t made the bench in our first three games.

Similarly to choosing a midfield partner for Lucas Torriera, there will always be an element of mix and match when selecting a front 3 depending on the opposition and if we’re home or away.

On paper an Auba, Laca and Micki combination looks to have the most goals in it. Alexandre hasn’t been chosen to start a 90 minutes up to now and if he was chosen, would it mean Auba moving out to the left wing? Choosing a front three might be based on other factors in addition to goals such as team balance, the fabled high press and workrate. It’ll be interesting to see if Mesut can find a natural slot in the new manager’s plans, perhaps starting on that left side but then dropping into more of a number 10 role at times.

It was only a few weeks ago in pre-season that we were talking about an embarrassment of riches up front but we know it will take time for the new boss to find the right blend.

I’m really looking forward to everything clicking into place soon and for the goals to start raining in – as, I’m sure, are we all.

Thoughts? Who  would you have in our front three?

chas

 


Who partners Torreira? – Poll

August 29, 2018

Having sorted out Arsenal’s right side rearguard and assisting flank provider yesterday, today we turn our attention to the midfield pivot.

Everyone is clamouring for Lucas Torreira to start just in front of the back four. Surely the only reason for this not happening so far is due to fitness and/or acclimatisation. So Torreira is a given.

The question then arises, ‘who partners him?’ or, in fact, ‘can he handle the job on his Jack Jones?’.

Let’s take a look at the candidates………………..

Granit Xhaka – building up some decent experience of Premiership skirmishes, Granit possesses a fine left foot. His passing range is good though eye of the needle passes are rare. He’s more of a spread it wide to the wingfenders kind of midfielder.

Mo Elneny – economical, functional and effective, Mo does his job with a minimum of fuss, shifting the ball to others in better positions to deliver a telling pass. Has a great engine and is very mobile.

Matteo Guendouzi – his storming pre-season earned him a place in the team for our opening fixtures. Has a keen eye for a pass and really does like to play the ball forwards into dangerous positions which makes him stand out. Let’s hope the occasional misplaced pass so far, doesn’t knock his confidence too much and he continues to shine.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles – it has been mooted that A M-N could be an effective element of a double pivot. Fast, confident and excellent in the tackle, he does seem to possess the necessary attributes. Has become a bit of a utility player with Arsenal’s need for an auxiliary left back and others suggest his natural position is further up the line providing ammo for the strikers.

Aaron Ramsey – could Aaron find the discipline required to remain in that central area of the midfield? Or maybe Lucas requires a partner with more of a box-to-box feel.  Perhaps Aaron might partner Torreira against particular types of opposition? Though maybe Rambo’s creativity and eye for goal are wasted playing in a deeper role.

Mesut Ozil – perhaps Unai has asked Mesut if he fancies becoming more of a Pirlo-style midfielder, conducting the whole orchestra from a deeper podium and that has caused some consternation. Apparently Mesut has had the highest number of turnovers so far of anyone playing in Emery’s new Arsenal high press.

What do you think? Perhaps you don’t think Lucas Torriera will be the first name on the team sheet even when he has got used to London and the English Premier League?

Maybe Unai Emery already has a good idea of his ideal team members and all with be revealed in the fullness of time.

chas 


Drop Özil for the sake of the High Press?

August 22, 2018

Below is a comment RC78 wrote on 22/5/18 in response to a question from Micky about Unai Emery’s style of play and what we can expect. RC78 was convinced Mesut would be a sacrificial lamb to Emery’s favoured high press tactic. (So far he has been right about Calum Chambers, Jack and the recruitment of the DM.)

What do you think – would benching the player who creates more chances than anyone else be crazy or make perfect sense in the new system?

Guys – I can tell you all about Emery. The guy is a football fanatic…He is so meticulous and he wants his teams to play with character and aggression. He wants the teams to play:

1. Direct football – get to the box as fast as possible

2. Fast counter attack based on placed attacks

3. High press

At PSG, his desire, attention to details and aggression were not well appreciated by some players. He loves videos and he loves tactical chats.

With him as a coach, I am worried for either Miky or Ozil because there will be space for only one of them in the team. He will move Ramsey up the pitch for sure. He will also heavily rely on Auba and I think Lacaz will have a role to play up front as well so I can see the front three to be:

Ramsey, Auba – Lacaz

He will also want 3 mids with quite an engine so I expect to see Emery keep Xhaka as a starter but in a different role and I think that he will try to recruit a DM and if he doesn’t get the one he wants, he will ask Wilshere to play there so you will have

Xhaka, RECRUIT, Miky OR Xhaka, Jack, Miky

In terms of his full-backs, he relies on attacking minded full backs so expect Bellerin and Koli to be starters

In terms of his CB, he wants 1 old school CB that is strong in the air and on the man and 1 CB that is more modern with pace, positional awareness and good passing range. Expect us to recruit another CB.

Possible team:
Cech – Bellerin, Mavropanos, RECRUIT, Koli – Xhaka, RECRUIT, Miky – Ramsey, Auba – Lacaz

That leaves Wilshere and Ozil on the bench but he will make that team work because all of them are ready to play with heart. They will give him what he wants and they will maximize their potential.

Due back in Drayton Park on Saturday

Expect players like Mustafi, Chambers, Holding, Iwobi to be sidelined.

Expect players like Ozil, Wilshere to be frustrated but to fight for their place.

Expect players like Welbeck, AMN and Nketiah to be given a chance.

The guy is a football freak but he can maximize a team’s potential. With him, I feel that Top 4 is achievable and that a Cup win is on the cards.

Can’t beat Micky in a 30 yard sprint

If our recruitment team can get him a solid CB like Koulibaly (Sokratis – ed), a solid DM like Gueye (Torreira – ed) and maybe 2 promising defenders (1 RB and 1 CB), he will deliver to meet clubs and fans expectations.

Taken from a comment written by RC78


The Ramsey Question

August 3, 2018

The transfer window closes shortly, and I believe the manager has hinted business may be done, albeit with the inevitable ‘but you never know’ proviso tagged on.

I’m guessing the tag refers to unfinished business as far as Ramsey is concerned, although, as usual who knows whether arrangements have been concluded behind closed doors.

The way I see it:

Hot on the heels of the Sanchez and Mesut contractual. Issues at the same time last year, then I’m sure the club have matters in hand as far as they. Can

My laptop keeps putting full stops everywhere. Any bright sparks. With ideas?

Part of the thinking must include whether Emery considers there are 1st XI gaps remaining, and I say that because to acquire that quality of footballer may necessitate big funds, so a Ramsey sale/exchange. Could solve both issues.

My take on the footballing side is that we can live without Ramsey. Of course he’s good, but I’ve never had Aaron on my essential list, and I’ve long argued that you cannot play him if you have a  Mesut in the traditional No 10 role as I feel the side is better balanced with two more defensively solid players behind, but of course Emery. May have his own clever ideas on that aspect.

Ok, now for some honesty. I’m writing this while thinking…”what the hell am I doing? I really  don’t care either way. He’s an ok footballer who’s had some truly heroic Arsenal moments, but as a man….nah, can’t warm to him. Stay or go, whatever, as I struggle to see him. As more than just another mercenary. Ok, so many are,  just have this nagging feeling he does it for Aaron Ramsey not The Arsenal”.

Written by mickydidit89 and a dodgy laptop


The Catalyst that Sparks the Revolution?

July 30, 2018

LB wonders what it is that’s different in the air. My observations, amateurish though they be, can be summarised in three words. Pierre. Emerick. Aubameyang.

He never EVER stops smiling. And if you look at training vids/photos, publicity moments like the new kit launch, or even match time, Mesut seems to have taken a real shine to him.

I think he’s going to turn out to be a phenomenal signing, not just for his goals, and general play, but for his esprit de corps (a while back I posited a theory about Wenger’s handover: well here’s another one – the arrival of Mkhitaryan, PEA and Sokratis, all from BD, almost at once is no coincidence). And I agree furthermore with FGG. Bring on the Golden Boot!

Will the Sanchez/Mkhitaryan player swap plus subsequent signing of Auba turn out to be one of the most significant pieces of transfer business ever done by the Club?  Only time will tell but let’s pray to Dennis it is! (ed)

Taken from a comment by Maxwell