It was clear right from the off that the crowd were fully tinselled up, had taken aboard one or two extra pre-matchers, all swallowed down by a festive Crème de Menthe chaser.
Perfect scene for the final game before Christmas, featuring the Bookies’ two favourites for the title.
A bit of cat and mouse from both sides during the opening gambits, and perhaps the casual observer may have sensed a long evening ahead. Theo changed all that with an absolute cracker.
Two chances, two goals, and Arsenal into the break at 2-0 following a clinical strike from Ollie. Both terrific finishes. Both created by the sublime Mesut Ozil.
Two behind at the 45, and City had no option but to attack throughout the second half, ensuring a pulsating game. City began with three strikers. This didn’t work, so they tried three other strikers, but it was Toure with a magical strike that proved the old adage.
Errr, what is the old adage. Goals win games?
Anyhow, a few fatigued Arsenal players were replaced by fresher ones, and being 2nd XI’ers, we looked shaky, but still managed to see out a memorable victory.
A week or so ago on here, our own LB asked who, with all our injuries, may step up to be the surprising find of the season, in much the same way as we witnessed with young Francis Coquelin last term. The answer is Joel Campbell, who at no point looked out of place last night. What a terrific attitude he has. Well played, Sir.
• Is Theo better playing from the left?
• Are the Team more effective with Aaron or Santi alongside Coquelin/Flamini?
• When, if ever, is Paulista a better option than Per?
• The Fans were superb, and few left before the final bell. Were the trains running later than usual?
• The Title is in our own hands. Does this victory convince you we are now favourites?
• Why can’t it be Christmas every week?
I was on my way to work this morning listening to an interview with Philippe Auclair on the radio discussing the CL draw. It was suggested to him that Barca would be very happy to have drawn Arsenal again.
On the contrary he said, there are 2 players that Barcelona fear. Immediately the names of Ozil and Sanchez sprang to mind … but no, he was referring to a different two players …. Can you guess who?
They know about Ozil, he plays with the ball on the ground in a style they understand and equally, they don’t fear Sanchez’s all action high pressing style – it’s what they do.
No, the players Barca are wary of are the in-form Olivier Giroud (he is the kind of striker they hate to play against) and Petr Cech who has put them out of the CL almost single handedly before. He is their ‘bogey keeper’, they seldom beat him. Apparently Messi has never managed to put one past Cech.
When I thought about it, this all makes perfect sense.
They should also be aware that in Koscielny we have one of the best CBs in the world and as I have said before, our wing back pairing of Monreal and Bellerin is unrivalled in the EPL.
We are a better team than when they played us last time. With the steadying influence of Cech in goal and the quality of our defence, Barcelona will not find it easy to score against us even with their unparalleled front three.
Add the fact that the FP (little joke betwee AA regulars 🙂 ) is in fine form and all of a sudden, Arsenal v Barcelona is the draw we should all welcome. If we manage to beat them, we can begin to dream…….
After the fantastic victory midweek and the joy which emanated around the Arsenal world a win today would make Xmas shopping just that bit more fun. Unfortunately this Arsenal team is quirky – last time we won 3-0 away (Swansea) we lost the next 1-5! This time I expect the 3-0 to precipitate a long run of success
Fortunately Villa are not yet at the level of Bayern Munich but they are improving under Remi Garde who has taken on a huge challenge; a job which if he takes them down will be money for nothing and let’s face it, Villa are in dire straits.
I like Villa and wish them well but no wins in 14 and 8 games without a home victory bodes ill. However, Gestede, Bacuna and Grealish are due to return from injury and the naughty step so they will be optimistic of a change of fortune.
Villa have some real “take the man as well as the ball” players – the mad Scot Hutton, the mad Dane Okore and the mad Englishman Lescott who will be looking to let Ozil and friends “know they are there”. A windy day, a heavy pitch and a determined team with more sweat than ability could lead to more injuries for our boys.
And what of The Arsenal? I expect the FP to be rested this afternoon and get the last 20 minutes, that said I am sure he will want to continue his scoring run and perhaps Mr Wenger will opt for his strength upfront. IMO we would be better off with the pace of Theo and Campbell against AV’s lumbering defence.
I would like to see The Ox start, so my team would be:
Bellerin BFG Koscielny Monreal
Ramsey Flamini Ox
This season has seen some bizarre results with unexpected losses by the top teams – let’s all congratulate Bournemouth – so Arsenal have to beware of over-confidence.
Our last match against AV was one of the best performances I have ever seen by an Arsenal team. Enjoy.
If we win we go ToTL and we will – if we play as a team and work in harmony, like brothers in arms
Let it be so …..
Did we deserve the point?
Why did we create so few chances?
Why was Giroud so quiet?
Should Sanchez have played?
Is it worth the time and effort to study French?
Given the much lauded and expensive signing of Chad Forsythia, why are we having so many soft-tissue injuries?
Would the team function better if Ramsey and Cazorla swapped roles?
Is Gabriel good enough to partner BFG?
Which would win in a fight between a big shark and a tiger?
Has signing another CM in January become a necessity?
Can we still win the title?
written by Big Raddy
One of the ways I assess how we will fare against a team is to play the game “how many of their side would get a start in our first eleven?”, I am sure you do the same. Based upon this I was very doubtful midweek – I would have to say that all 11 BM players were better in their positions than our chaps, even Sanchez and Ozil would struggle to play for BM’s first choice 11, though they would certainly get on the bench. It is alarming to think that Vidal was their first sub – Gibbs was ours!
I compared AFC with THFC a couple of season’s ago on AA and the only Spud who got in was Lloris. Shall we try it today?
GK: A huge strength in both teams, statistically Cech is 1st and Lloris 2nd in the PL this season. By any measure Cech is the better player.
RB: If Bellerin was playing he would certainly be picked but he isn’t. Debuchy of last season was a reliable cog, not so this (so far). I know this is foolish but I rate Kyle Walker – the man is clearly a berk but IMO would make a decent deputy for Hector.
LB: Monreal vs Rose. Both fine players. Monreal’s experience and vast improvement makes him the chosen starter though Rose has proved (against us) that he is a decent attacker.
CB’s.: BFG & Koscielny are top players, they have a wonderful understanding and improve season on season. Spurs have Vertonghen and Alderwsomething. Also fine players and I was surprised AW didn’t sign the Belgian. Neither are as good as Gabriel who doesn’t get into our first 11. Maybe Vet’s would be on the bench for a combined 11. It has to be said that Martin Keown chose both Spurs CB’s ahead of our chaps, but if MK knew anything about football he would be managing and not clowning about on the sidelines! (just kidding Martin)
Midfield: Santi, Le Coq, Ozil, Campbell vs Dier, Dembele, Alli, and Eriksen. In this case we are going in with 3 against 4 assuming Campbell plays further forward. Ramsey is better than all the Spurs midfield but sadly is still injured. All looks a decent prospect. Dumbbell is in fine form but not as good defensively as Le Coq, Santi is different gravy to Eriksen, who is Spurs most talented player. Dier is another decent young player and could be excellent, but could and is are far apart.
So, Spurs have a midfield which has potential to be excellent but we have a midfield which is already excellent. Would Eriksen get into our team? Without Ramsey the answer is Yes, with a fit Ramsey, No.
Forwards: Sanchez & Giroud vs Kane and Lamela.
Lamela is interesting – the Argentinian cost ￡30m which is almost the same as Sanchez!! Is he as good as our Superstar? Is the Pope Jewish?
Giroud or Kane is not so simple. Kane is more direct, faster and a better lone striker, but Giroud has better touch, is better in the air and a better team player, The question is would Kane be a better player with Ozil and Sanchez to play off? I think he would. Looking at their goalscoring record shows OG scores slightly less than OG since 2014 but Kane has played more games. It is a tough call but Kane shades it for me.
So the combined team looks like this
Walker BFG Koscielny Monreal
Cazorla Coquelin Eriksen
This team appears a little unbalanced and perhaps I would choose to drop Eriksen for Dumbbell to give more defensive control.
What do you think?
A worry is the appointment of the imbecile Atkinson as referee. Our record with him is abysmal (check out Untold Arsenal), essentially we will be playing against 12 men and very possibly Atkinson will find a way to make it 10 vs 12.
Any NLD is exciting but this one is special. Spurs are unbeaten in 10 and we are joint TotL. A draw seems the obvious result but quite frankly the idea of the blue-bellied Scum leaving the Emirates with anything other than a damned good thrashing is unacceptable. Just think 5-2. This is a reasonable and just scoreline.
You may think that I have been remiss in my usual bating of the Shite Hart Lane knuckle-dragging, cave-dwelling inbreeds; if so I can only apologise, but rest assured that my disdain for those poor miscreants whose mothers are also their sisters remains, as always, considerable.
If any of the Miscreants can read and are stupid enough to go onto an Arsenal blog, just remember ….. You won the League – In Black and White.
Much has been written about this being a MWG; in terms of winning the title I do not agree but in terms of keeping the world righteous and in good order then Our Forces of Good have to win over the N17 Orcs.
As a famous Gooner who used to work at the Globe Theatre once wrote
“Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;
Or close the wall up with our Arsenal dead.
In peace there’s nothing so becomes a man
As modest stillness and humility:
But when the blast of war blows in our ears,
Then imitate the action of the tiger;
Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood,
Disguise fair nature with hard-favour’d rage;
Then lend the eye a terrible aspect;”
Cry God for Liam, Arsenal and St. Dennis
Arsenal went to Swansea determined to keep their Premier League hopes alive, and yet filled with a certain tremulation at meeting a club who had outclassed and outplayed them twice last season.
As it turned out, one man who could not wait to get on to the pitch to show what he is made of was Joel ‘Gimme a chance ‘ Campbell, as he chomped at the bit to make his career at Arsenal lift off, rather than warm his ass on the bench.
Let us take a moment to consider the nature of the Arsenal, who are like a skilled electrician who on being called out to repair a complex machine with a fault can expertly disassemble the machine in a jiffy, and only to realise that, in a forgetful moment, he did not bring the replacement part. Frustrating? Much!
Arsenal are undeniably capable of creating magic – and can ooze with class one moment, and in the next second carelessly give away the ball and allow the opposition the gift of an undeserved chance.
Not yesterday! Giro scored the 2,000th goal of Wenger’s reign, by hiding behind Mert and then launching himself by using the captains’ elasticised shirt to deftly flick the ball into the net.
The second goal was an oddity, in that Flappy should have caught a high looping ball, but somehow managed to lose it and allowed Kozzer to shield it and cleverly toe-poke it into the net, leaving Swansea howling with rage. Boo-Hoo.
And then our man Joel’s big moment came – a strong drive across the goal area by Özil reached him and controlling it smoothly he despatched the ball with aplomb into the net for the third, final and decisive goal.
Referring back to our mythical electrician above, Arsenal played well within themselves, and perhaps mindful of the results of their recent games against the Swans, who had pecked up the three points previously, sometimes played silly passes, but twisted the beaks of the home team when it mattered, and had not forgotten what they had come to do.
In truth, Gomis should have blasted the Swans ahead when receiving a clever ball from Shelvey he dithered and let Hector complete a lung bursting sprint back into defence and smack the ball from his toe into touch for a corner. Determination, skill, pace from the Arsenal lad, and quite the opposite from the Swan’s centre forward — all the difference in the world, and spoke to Arsenal’s qualities and made the result inevitable.
An important result achieved – a great game – three points – thank you very much!
Cech – 8
Bellerin – 7
Mert – 6
Kozzer – 8
Monreal – 7
Le Coq – 6
Cazzor – 7
Mesut – MoTM – 8
Joel – 7
Alexis – 6
Girroo – 8.
In 1974 Muhammad Ali fought George Foreman for the Heavyweight Championship of the World. Throughout the bout Ali hung on the ropes, covering up, defending and soaking up the punishment being dealt out by the favourite. When Foreman inevitably tired, Ali took advantage and won the title. Ali called it his Rope-a-Dope method.
Last night Arsenal emulated the great Ali.
Bayern came to play Tika Taka, a style of football developed at Barcelona under Bayern’s manager Pep Guardiola. They dominated possession, they dominated passing, they dominated territory. Arsenal defended, as the first half went on Arsenal defended deeper and deeper, Cech pulled off some terrific saves. It was not all one way however, Arsenal attacked on the counter and it was Neuer who pulled off a great save to scoop Theo Walcott’s close range header off the line. Still Bayern created the intricate passing patterns but the didn’t score.
The second half was a repeat of the first, Bayern keeping the ball for long periods, racking up the pass count but being unable to break down Arsenal’s resolute team defending. Eventually the Bayern players began to tire and the inevitable happened. Santi Cazorla swung in a free kick from the right, Koscielny went for the ball Neuer flapped at it and missed, Oliver Giroud stumbled into the gap left by Koscielny and somehow got enough contact on the ball to force it over the line.
On nil to the Arsenal.
The tiring Bayern players swarmed forward in a desperate search for an equaliser, leaving ever widening gaps at the back. Hector Bellerin won the ball near the half way line, sprinted forward and beyond his full-back to square the ball to the onrushing Mesut Ozil whose shot crossed the line fractionally before Neuer knocked it out but it was just too late, the fifth official stood with his arm upraised signalling the goal and a remarkable Arsenal win.
A two nil victory that seemed as unlikely as Ali’s over Foreman all those years ago in the Rumble in the Jungle.
Written by Norfolk Gooner.
We have been blessed with 2 match reports today – only fitting after such an epic performance 🙂
…. and now the inimitable Steve Palmer’s unique view of the game …..
It was interesting to hear Ferdinand’s thoughts on Ollie coming on and the difference it made, basically he said that if you are not switched on as a defender it is tough to switch from the way you have attempted to contain the small pacy forward and suddenly you have to switch to a physical game against someone who wants the ball in to his body.
And I guess that the defenders have been worried about the ball in behind so much they are giving themselves one or two yards head start on the foot race, suddenly the ball is going into Ollies body and he is bringing midfielders into the game with a platform. Also the fact that at the set piece with they had to put Muller on Kozzer so the centre backs could deal with BFG and Ollie, and that adds further confusion to their game plan.
Whilst possession might not have been level according to stats zone we had an equal number of shots in the box however we got far more of ours on target, and Munich were adjudged to have 2 clear cut chances whilst we had 4.
And that at the end of the day was the biggest difference.
Here’s a stat for you, we completed 207 of 278 passes against the possibly the best team in Europe, Chavs managed only 278 out of 378 in Kiev with an equal number of passes on the other side.
Biggest difference between us and those Chavs playing Munich in the CL final is the way we break with the ball, it’s not a hit and hope to someone to chase and then attempt to polish a turd, it’s worked through the midfield with pace and precision, we did the same vs City last season.
But best of all is probably the way we have changed our game in the last three matches.
United….high tempo….high pressing….
Munich…..defensive shape…..quick counters…
But obviously we never change our game plan for the opponents 🙂
The thing is it’s always been the same 11 and the same formation, and that is why players should be able to drop in and out without issues. The subtlety in tactics is what we do with and without the ball.
The thing is we often play sides like Watford so that style gets seen as our norm, we rarely face three contrasting opponents in quick succession so the tactical changes are never as evident.
United have a front three that can hurt you, but if they can’t get the ball to them they can’t hurt you, so you press their poor passing through midfield and from the back, Watford like so many others will sit back and kill you on counter, that tactic will work against us once in awhile but generally we find a way through to a win, and Munich like us to teams like Watford can kill you with fullbacks, midfielders and forwards, so you keep them in front of you and use the ball when you have it well.
There was a very interesting discussion about Klopp and his style on one of the podcasts, basically the theory being that he won’t yet have realised that the game is played at 100mph every week in the PL and that teams do not accept their fate even 1 or 2 nil down. His ability to cope with that will make or break him and his “heavy metal” football at Liverpool.
Gooner in Exile
It’s a funny old game, football, ain’t it? as someone famous once said. And that is not the half of it.
During the first part of the game against the Hornets, Arsenal played like a light bulb that is undecided if its day is done, or not, and flickers indecisively between light and shade.
One minute the Gunners were brilliant, and the next they were as gormless as any Sunday League team down the Marshes before the traditional booze up, and, frankly, with a better forward Watford could have been one or two goals up in the first half, and as it was, the feller sitting in Row Z had stinging hands parrying the ball as he became the target for the ball rather than the net.
The second half saw a better attitude and after our indomitable Chilean had made the most of his opportunity and opened the scoring we suddenly found ourselves 0 : 3 up and coasting as Giro, on for an ineffective Theo, nonchalantly tried to put the ball over the bar and fluffed it by hitting it inside the roof of the net instead, and the industrious Rambo managing to dink the ball slowly into the net through a ruck of players.
What is it with this team? Capable of the most sublime football and the most awful dross all within the same minute.
That said, they collectively played pretty well and special mention is due to Bellerin, Cazorla and Ozil but the real star of the show was Sanchez. When we are hitting our noses on an invisible screen in front of the goal, he is always alert, energetic and capable of pulling the plum from the pudding.
Fo me the player who personifies the Arsenal at the moment is Rambo. He frustrates the hell out of me with his poor decision making, misplaced passes and wonky finishing. And yet his sheer guts, never say die spirit and his ability to cover every blade of grass on the pitch and yet somehow he still manages to be in position in the area to score a killer goal while Theo is busy posing or Giro is handsomely scratching his ass.
Football is a results driven business and all fans love a win, but some of us also love the beautiful game, like the one against Manyoo, and this bunch of players is capable of delivering both, but they are also capable of self inflicted, fart-assed, puke inducing, brainless stupidity which seems to occur for no discernible reason.
Fortunately the good outweighed the bad yesterday, and all teams have off periods during a season, while Arsenal are capable of off moments every week, but I think we are going to eliminate these moments with wins like this – and I am now prepared to call it — we will win the Premier League this season.
We’ve had some debate as to who should be awarded Man of the Match for the game with several candidates being put forward. Place your vote below and let’s see what the majority think …….
There was one part of LB’s excellent post match report from the weekend that struck a chord with me when he made the following observation :
Ramsey on the right, really? This smacks of trying to maintain a political harmony rather than being ruthless in the team selection. Yes, he scored the winning goal and that should not be scoffed at but on the wing when we have Welbeck and Walcott on the bench and we were crying out for pace down that flank.
I felt that was a very interesting observation from LB and echoed thoughts that I have had for some time, and have also expressed on A.A before. I have previously taken a view that we potentially get a problem when trying to accommodate Ramsey, Santi and Ozil all in the same set up as one of them has to be a more designated wide player. Despite each of their varying great technical attributes they are all predominantly central midfielders and lack a crucial ingredient for a wide player, that being pace. I noticed that some of the comments on LB’s post indicated that many felt Ramsey on the right was the right call, and potentially also the right formation choice moving forwards.
Now it could of course be that for reasons unknown to us that Arsene identified some tactical area specific to a Burnley away game that was more suited to Ramsey playing this position, a type of horses for courses if you like. If not, however, then I am also slightly confused as to where this leaves both Welbeck and Walcott, if it is that Ramsey is considered a superior option to them in this role. I further seem to recall that on more than one occasion, earlier in the season, an available Ox was also overlooked for the Ramsey, Santi, Ozil trio with one of them taking up the wide right position rather than the more naturally pacy AOC.
Now I am not saying that this formation and combination can never work. There are many games in a season and it will likely be suited to some of them. The problem for me is that many of my recollections of games we were poor in had this trio in the starting line up, combined with Giroud up top, and with limited pace options from the wide areas.
Giroud actually becomes an important part of the consideration on this subject. I have always rated Ollie and have stated so, but have also stated that I felt we needed something even more world class if we were to compete in the final stages of the EPL and ECL. I still harbour some feelings in this direction but I will actually hold my hands up and state that my stance on this may have softened somewhat, such has been his recent performances, and I am potentially willing to change my mind on this with one particular proviso.
There is one point regarding Giroud that I still adhere to which is, that due to his lack of pace, he needs to have that natural pace either side of him that can run beyond him. Preferably these will be players that also have a decent eye for goal. This both enhances Giroud’s hold up and lay off skills and minimises exposing his one key weakness of a lack of pace.
We are all in a bit of Ollie heaven right now but I still cast my mind back to some earlier season performances where he was nullified and ineffective in certain games, and I strongly feel it was when we played slower but technical players behind and to the side of him rather than opting for wide pacy goal-scorers. My feeling is that we can get away with it when the opposition is not of the highest calibre but a better team uses that imbalance to take control of the game and nullify us.
In my view we have already seen this happen, even if not so recently so the question is, will it happen again to our cost, or have we now developed further as a team and it is no longer a relevant tactical consideration? Your great collective thoughts on this would be much appreciated.
Written by GoonerB