Wembley – First Half Ok – Second Woeful – Player Ratings

February 11, 2018

First Half

Arsenal defended pretty well, restricting the spuds to minor chances. Early on it didn’t seem very likely to be our day when the lino flagged Auba offside when put through brilliantly by Jack. ( I was so looking forward to him bamboozling Lloris).

Note how the linesman is meant to be on the line of the last defender but is in line with Mkhitaryan instead, which means he would see more of Auba

On the break we were poor. The team had been set up with quick, talented players at the sharp end, ideal for effective counter attacking. Misplaced passes were to prove very costly when we had clear overloads.

Second Half

We appeared to come out half asleep (as usual). A goal down in the first five minutes to a hopeful punt into the penalty area. Confidence drained, we could have been 2, 3 or 4 down in the next 25 minutes.

Tottenham sat back, alarmed they hadn’t gone further ahead, and we finally created some chances, the best falling to Lacazette almost on the bell.

LB says:

Things we learnt and thoughts on players.

Forget fourth place.

Mkhitaryan is much better playing on the right, evidence Everton.

Wilshere is not good enough when top level tested.

FGG says:

We just didn’t come out with enough intensity second half and it cost us. Then we fell apart for 20 minutes where we could’ve easily been 3 or 4 down, before finally creating something in the last 5 minutes. Not good enough.

What I learnt today is that whilst we all know we have defensive issues, these last 2 games have shown us how our attacking play is just as much to blame for those defensive frailties. I would argue that we defended much better as a team in the Spurs game (certainly first half) than we did against Everton, but our inability to keep the ball or sustain pressure meant that Spurs had loads of the ball and were able to pin us back in our half. It’s too much to expect our defence to hold out for 90 minutes against the likes of Kane if we are constantly on the back foot. The Everton game showed that when our attack clicks (it’s bound to be inconsistent given how new it is, so I’m not overly worried about the attacking performance) then it’s good enough to cover over defensive frailties.

GIE says :

 The defence did well for the majority of the game but were guilty of giving very poor ball to the midfield.

The midfield were pretty good at holding shape and not letting runners go, but were not making most of the ball when at feet.

The attack, when they did get the ball didn’t do enough with it.

Nearly all the above compound each other, and I found it pretty much the reverse of when we played them at the emirates where we were the ones picking up loose balls off their back line and putting them back under pressure, don’t think we did that enough today although they had a plan to go longer from defence to attack so bypassed those passing channels into midfield where we punished them at home.

Player Ratings 

Cech: kept us in the game but wow has his footwork become embarrassing. 6

Bellerin: tough job dealing with Son although he did it quite well, my beef is that there were too many cheap give away passes which after losing possession forced the pressure back onto Arsenal. Spuds simply didn’t do that. 5

Mustafi: probably one of his best games, very pleased with him. 8

Koscielny: jump man for goodness sake. 6

Monreal: had to stay further back than he normally likes due to out of place Mkhitaryan, did ok. 6

Elneny: used every ounce of his limited talent and was well deployed. 7

Xhaka: never going to be a constant goal threat and never going to offer enough of a defensive shield. 6

Wilshere: ran into blind alleys, made poor passing decisions added very little to the defensive cause, being so slow and short and all. Just not top level materiel. 5

Ozil: the telly Ozil that I saw looked as though he was struggling to get into the game, maybe it was different if you were there. 5

Mkhitaryan: look at the difference when played on the right as per the Everton game with his pin point accurate passing compared to his wayward display today. Easy to get this right after the event but I hope we learn from it. Offered nothing defensively and there was me fearing Iwobi on the left, goodness the left is the Nigerian’s best position and again when he came on he was sent out to the right — why? Both players. 4

Aubameyang: still in his honeymoon period, he gets a pass today, mah. 6

Ratings from LB (written just after the game had ended)

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No Baked Spuds – A Point Gained or Two Lost?

November 7, 2016

15th of June – fixtures for the new season released and I scroll down the list looking for the Arsenal v Tottenham game.

6th November, yuk, 5 more months to go, but never mind, it will be worth it. Or will it?

Yep, sad old me was really looking forward to that game. Both teams were in good form, both have strong attacking abilities, mutual hatred going back 103 years and counting, it was going to be a game to remember. We were off to a good start, several chances to score, good tempo, looked promising. But……all the chances were wasted and with each ball going to row Z, I started to think that this could be costly. Fortunately, Spurs gave us an opening own goal and the team perked up a bit.

nld2

A silly mistake from Koscielny cost us a penalty, well executed by the not-exactly-Pierce-Brosnan look alike, Harry Kane. One all and I’m sitting deeper and deeper on the sofa, showing signs of resignation. The penalty was game changing, as it always is, and Spurs attacked with new belief and energy.

nld1

There were no more goals, hardly the goals galore I expected, but all in all, I think it was a good result for us. We played beautifully, technically beating Spuds hands down, but that is not a recipe for success.

I’ve said it time and time again – any team that allows us to play beautiful football will be punished. Any manager worth his salt knows by now that you can get a result against Arsenal by playing a disruptive game – don’t let the Gunners dominate the game and you can match them on their own turf. And that is exactly what Tottenham did yesterday.

The second glaring reason for yesterday’s poor result was, in my opinion, the absence of Santi. He is the player who can deal with the kind of pressure Spurs inflicted; he will cherish and distribute the ball and make sure it stays with us. He was missed, both yesterday, and in the previous 2 games. When is he back?

I am not angry, I am deflated, which is probably worse. We will not win the league, 13 years on the trot. That is really poor from a club that claims to be one of the best in the country.

Player Ratings

Everyone gets a 6 to match my feelings about an average performance.

Maybe Cech a 7, because of that save from Eriksen

nld3

Written by Eddie


Coquelin to Conquer Crystal Palace?

April 17, 2016

The season is getting exciting, which is not what I expected. I thought we were strolling to a Top 4 position, probably 2nd or 3rd but instead the Manchester clubs are finding some form, progressing to semi-finals and steadily picking up points.

Which makes this afternoon an important fixture. Under normal circumstances I would welcome Palace and wish them well, after all we usually beat them (don’t we?), instead I want them to get at least two players sent off and succumb pre-match to a series of nasty , short-term, debilitating disease.

We need a win.

One would have thought that to go to WHU  and return with a point would be heralded with joy, but instead it felt like a defeat. With hindsight, Getting out of Upton (could be a title for an album),  where WHU have been in superb form was a decent performance with many positives. Means nothing today though …

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One reason we need to beat CP is Alan Pardew. Being a hippy I don’t hate anyone (apart from the obvious) but I have an active dislike of Pardew. He is one of those blokes who hides his vicious personality behind an expensive haircut and clothes. How anyone can employ him given his CV is surprising and once again Pardew’s team is falling down the league after a decent start.

Another reason to beat CP is the return of that oddity Adebayor. Rarely has a man been blessed with so much talent and yet been hated at every club he has joined. I don’t care how many he scored for us I can never forgive him for the run towards the away fans at the Emptihad. Hope he gets Coquelinned.

An absolute must for today … Cech has to start. I like Ospina but IMO Cech would have won us another 2 points at the Boleyn. If he is fit enough for the bench then he is fit enough to play.

It will be interesting to see whether Mr Wenger picks Ramsey and if he does who gets dropped. The two possibilities are Iwobi and Elneny, who are just bedding into the team. Unfortunately for Ramsey they have been our standout players in recent weeks. Thankfully, this is not my problem.

Whomever plays, they have to give 100%. Pardew has stated that anyone who shirks will not be playing at Wembley in their upcoming FAC semi-final (It should have been Us – another song title?), we should expect the same endeavour from our chaps..

We have to win. Let it be so.

COYRRG


Szczesny to Return?

April 1, 2016

The Pole in Goal (henceforth known as TPIG) has had an excellent season in Rome. Roma have enjoyed a good season so far and TPIG has been their first choice GK, missing only one game. The fans like him, the manager likes him and it appears he has rebuilt his crumbling reputation,

But is Wojciech off the naughty step at Arsenal?

I like TPIG, he has presence, he has character, he works hard and in my opinion can become an excellent GK but does Mr Wenger agree? The signing of Cech indicates a No, though in my opinion the Cech transfer was a no brainer – the man is fantastic. However, this leaves us with 3 very good GK’s all of whom are looking for first team action, if TPIG returns what of Ospina? All  3 are under contract so it is AW’s decision.

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Rumours are that Ospina is unhappy playing second fiddle to Cech and TPIG will be even more dissatisfied returning to a club where he has been demoted from No.1 to not even a bench seat.

Should Ospina leave would TPIG settle for a few games in the Cups? It seems unlikely.

Thankfully this is a luxury problem – long gone are the days of Almunia.

Arsenal own his contract so if we want Szczesny to return then he will. Roma have said they would like him to stay. The media are reporting that Klopp wants him at Liverpool.

What do you think, should he stay or should he go?

written by Big Raddy


Grow up! … Arsenal Don’t Need To Sign Any More Players …

January 28, 2016

With the end of the transfer window looming and many supporters calling for Arsene to reinforce the squad with new additions, I thought I’d look at the age range of Arsenal’s current EPL squad including some on loan. Obviously age isn’t the prime criterion when assessing a player, but it is the significant indicator in terms of longevity and therefore team development.

When Arsene was asked recently about the signing of Elneny, he praised his attributes and added in characteristic fashion that he was 23 and that 23 to 30 was an ‘interesting’ age for a footballer. We all know what he meant by this.  For all but one position, 23-30 would be considered the peak years of a player’s career. The exception is the keeper, where experience is crucial and the toll on the body is less, meaning that they can remain at the top of their game into their late thirties … and guess what ….. we’ve got one of those!

In the past, it was the case that centre backs could still be at their peak into their early thirties, but I would argue that the pace and physical demands of the modern game mean this is seldom the case nowadays. Hopefully Koscielny will prove to be the exception to that rule, sadly it is becoming apparent that Mertesacker is not.

I don’t expect us to sign another ‘first team ready’ player before the deadline on Monday, and maybe the stats below will convince you that we don’t need to.

The area marked in yellow in the chart below represents the age group of those who are considered to be in their peak years (Bellerin is the exception to that rule) . The names in red are unlikely to be with us next season, and those in green are currently out on loan but a good prospect for the future.

I have divided the midfielders into 3 categories just so the pedants among you can tell me I’m wrong 🙂

X7

In an ideal world, the first choice players in every position would be in their peak years – in fact it would be perfect if the second choice option was also in the 23-30 zone.

But that’s not how it works, the top players are in the zone and the back up is either younger hoping to break into the team, or older and with lower expectation. This theory is backed up by the fact that both Ospina and Debuchy are in their peak years, neither are first choice and both want to leave – and who can blame them?

By my estimation, 8 out of 10 of our first choice outfield players are at their peak in terms of age. That’s pretty good and I suspect compares favourably with the other top EPL sides.

So which areas should we be looking to reinforce in the summer?

Martinez is currently gaining experience on loan at Wolves and may be the man to take over from Cech in a few years. We  have a wealth of talented young attacking midfielders waiting for their chance to make an impact on the first eleven. Unluckily for them, most of the current incumbents are at the perfect age.

Arguably centre back and striker are the two areas where we could be vulnerable. With Mertesacker coming to the end of his career, and only Chambers as back-up I can see procuring another CB as a priority. As far as strikers are concerned, we will only be able to assess that situation once we have seen Welbeck stay injury free and get a run of games. If he can replicate the form he showed before he was injured then Arsene may well believe we don’t need another striker. Personally, I’d be happy to blow £50-60m if the right striker became available in the summer.

Your challenge for today ……. convince me we need to buy another player this January!

Rasp

 

 


“Rubbish Game, Great Result”. A Fan’s View.

January 3, 2016

“Play shite and lose is unforgivable……..play shite and win is what champs are made of.”

I can’t improve on that. It is not easy making Newcastle look good but we really gave it our best shot. They are poor, really poor but the same team that were mauled at Southampton returned and it could have oh so easily been the sequel to Nightmare on the South Coast.

I felt sorry for Ozil from start to finish: an artist surrounded by journeymen. It was embarrassing at times watching Walcott and Oxlade-Chamberlain failing to fulfil the most simple of football tasks such as trap the ball and pass it to someone in a red and white shirt.

As I was watching I was trying to work out what had gone so wrong with those two, the only idea I could come up with was that although in training the energy of Sanchez and his determination to defend from the front has clearly rubbed off; they track back with greater determination, the problem is they also seem to both be copying the man from Chile’s unnecessary obsession of trying to beat at least two opponents before making his pass, Sanchez can get away with this – just — but it is downright infuriating when Walcott and Oxlade-Chamberlain try and do the same as neither of them has Sanchez’ close control; nothing like it in fact, the result is that we lose possession so easily and so unnecessarily which gifts attacking opportunities to the opposition. This happened so often yesterday I wanted to scream.

Some plum on this site wrote a match report not so long ago suggesting that the collective eleven were playing better without Sanchez; he might have had a point when the collective were playing simple, one touch, find your man football, but that was not the brand on display yesterday. Walcott or Oxlaide-Chamberlain going to keep Sanchez out of the side, I don’t think so. The Whirling Dervish can’t return soon enough as far as I am concerned.

We started quite brightly really with two excellent chances in the first five minutes both of which should have been converted and both of which should have put the game to bed but, no, we insisted on making Newcastle look better than they are by giving them opportunity after opportunity to go ahead; the most generous being at the beginning of the second half when one of their players got free and found himself one on one with Cech, fortunately the Helmeted One was on his game and saved our bacon again.

The breakthrough came our way, although, it could have just have easily have fallen to Newcastle considering the amount of chances they had. Özil sent in a corner, it pinged around a bit, Giroud did well to keep it alive and Koscielny was Johnny on the spot to tap it home which produced a huge sigh of relief around the ground rather than wild celebrations.

Laurent-Koscielny

Wenger made his usual changes with Campbell replacing the Ox, and Gibbs replacing Walcott to shore up the left flank and then finally Chambers to add some more steel to the defense.

I find it fascinating how Wenger has introduced Chambers. Not so long ago both Arteta and Flamini were injured and Wenger was forced to throw Chambers into the fray; he was poor. GIE wrote after the game that he felt he could never see Chambers becoming a midfielder, his body language was all wrong. This is not meant to have a go at GIE, I like a bold comment, after all where would this blog be without them and what’s more I agreed with him at the time. But since then Wenger has been slowly building this one with a few minutes at the end of a game here and few minutes at the end of the game there and then interestingly a good twenty minutes against Southampton, the more observant would have noticed that Wenger always tries to salvage something when all seems lost and in this case it was giving valuable unpressured pitch time to the young would be DM before finally starting him against Bournemouth during which he found his confidence and got better and better as that game went on to the point where we were all singing his praises at the end. Chambers is a better passer of the ball than Flamini although the latter’s experience was exactly what was required yesterday but I do expect to see Chambers start next week.

I am going to give GIE the final word on yesterday’s game: “1-0 is 1-0 is 3 points”. Can’t argue with that.

Player ratings.

Cech: I don’t know much about this breed, I could never understand why people used to give Szczesny a hard time — I do now. Another clean sheet. 8

Bellerin: This young man has set high standards for himself and yesterday he fell below them, too many stray passes, substandard crosses, positioning not so good. 5

Mertesacker: Per is not likely to start getting called the Luftwaffe of the Arsenal defence in the near future; his aerial cover is non existant, time after time Newcastle were first to get their head on a cross when it really should have been cleared by the BFG. However, that said, he was as composed as ever on the ground again. 6

Koscielny: his goal covered a multitude of sins or miss placed passes if you prefer; he was slightly better than the others and a winning goal goes an awful long way. 7

Monreal: again, way below his usual high standards, poor passes, poor crosses; still, he has a lot of credit in the bank. 5

Flamini: the Frenchman is playing with far greater control; well, apart from the booking when he tried to kick the ball when it was a good six foot in the air. Not the man you expect to score us goals but gave a decent Flamini performance nevertheless. 6.

Ramsey: his day was summed up by the pass he failed to make to Campbell for a tap in which would have put the game to bed. Too many poor decisions. 4

Ozil: People questioned his ability when he first arrived, what we now know is that the problem wasn’t his ability it was his commitment. Mesut had been used to playing with the likes of Ronaldo for goodness sake and then what, Gervinho? Santos? If that doesn’t lower a player of his calibre’s self esteem I don’t know what will and yet the change has been incredible, this man has brought into Arsenal lock stock and barrel. I mean, did you see him wearing that silly Arsenal Santa jumper, awful, absolutely awful, but he wore it and he did do with a smile on his face, now that is a man who is committed to this club. Wenger must take a huge amount of credit for patiently guiding him to where he is now and my guess is that he will continue his integration by making him captain next season. 9

Walcott: put the ball in front of him to run onto and we have good Theo, put the ball to his feet and ask him to think and we have bad Theo. Too much bad Theo yesterday. 4

Oxlade-Chambelain: how did we all get so excited about this player, someone remind me because I cannot see a single attribute that is above average and most were well below yesterday. 3

Giroud: little bear’s porridge, not too good, not too bad, played an important part in getting the all important goal. 7

As Peaches’ title says “Rubbish Game, Great result”, I’ll take that right now.

Written by LB


The two Arsenal players Barcelona fear most

December 15, 2015

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…….

Rasp