Arsenal master Bate Borisov 3-0 – Player Ratings

February 22, 2019

Mesut to start – thank funk for that.

First Half

In need of a goal, the team started really well. Wobbly had a chance to shoot immediately. Only a few minutes had gone when Bate scored – in their own net, the defenders confused – not realising that, since it was Auba crossing the ball, nobody would be in the middle.

Frustratingly the foot then came off the pedal. Either that or Bate realised that an away goal was their best chance and upped their game. One in the side netting and then one off the line cleared by Lichtsteiner. As usual Arsenal allowed the poorest of opposition good chances.

Gradually we regained superiority. Xhaka had a cracking pot shot. Just before half time and after a succession of short corners which produced diddly squat, Xhaka planted one into the perfect spot for Shirley to fool the defender and then get in front of his man, bulleting a close range header for 2-0. Superb celebration from the master carpenter!

Second half

After a bit of Keystone cop defending in the first few minutes after the break and a few heart flutters, the result was never really in doubt once that half time malaise had worn off.

Papa majestically finished off another Granit corner launched right into the mix. Shirley put the goalie off and the big Greek planted the ball into a gaping net with the back of his swede.

Auba struggled to find a goal but he could have played all night and not scored. Saving them for Southampton on Sunday, I hope. Mesut scuffed a relatively simple volley with the goal at his mercy but the three goals would have to suffice, and they did.

Conclusion

Job done. Relatively straightforward in the end. Bate had two decent chances to get the away goal they craved but we really should have had more to show for such dominant superiority. An OG and two headed goals from corners from 22 efforts on goal did prove enough to put us in the last 16 though.

The draw for the round of 16 is today at 12 noon GMT. There are a few teams we’d  miss ideally, though we’ll have to beat some good teams if we’re going to win it, no doubt.

Ratings

Cech – nowt to do … 7

Lichtsteiner – looked more like his experienced professional self against the Belarusians … 7

Mustafi – excellent header – relatively untroubled throughout and even showed some composure on the ball … 7

Koscielny – class again – hope his injury isn’t too serious … 8

Monreal – battled manfully – love his commitment to the cause … 7

Xhaka – available throughout – passing excellent – went a little anonymous when moved forward to accommodate Torreira but two assists and plenty of great work – loved how he defended Nacho from the thuggery near the end… 8

Guendouzi – enjoyed himself – he’s going to be some player if he continues progressing at this rate … 7

Ozil – class – his movement is incredible – mind you, the opposition weren’t up to much … 7

Mkhitaryan – a bit lightweight – he really should be able to shine in these sort of games … 6

Aubameyang – poor Auba – a goal was never going to come, nevertheless he competed well and came deep when nothing was fed to him in the area – the dink over the keeper near the end should have ended up in the back of the net … 7

Iwobi – always a threat, just lacked that killer final ball …7

Subs

Sokratis – he was good enough that Kos wasn’t missed and he also popped up with the decisive third … 7

Torreira – not sure why he was brought on for Matteo, contributed little of note – a run out, I suppose … 6

Suarez – late sub to give him a run also – inconclusive … 6

Managers

Emery – got the job done – picked Mesut for a game against lowly opposition and it was the right decision – lovely heartfelt goal celebrations … 8

Wagner – should go back to Huddersfield … 6

chas

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If it wasn’t for bad luck, we wouldn’t …

January 29, 2019

Much of the pre-match attention will focus on the tragic loss of Sala. In a sport dominated by brusque masculinity it is rare to hear someone speak with as much dignity and emotional honesty as Neil Warnock. Hats off to the chap (henceforth known as David Wagner). I know Arsenal will handle the event with the tact and grace we expect from our club.

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Chapeau

I appreciate Mr. Wagner the man but certainly not his footballing philosophy. Wagner/Warnock knows his teams don’t have the skill sets to compete so he instills them with aggression, shit-housery and an ability to PTB. All of which we will witness this evening.

As you would expect the prime reasons for Cardiff being in the relegation zone are an inability to score goals allied to an propensity to concede. They have scored only 19 goals, second lowest to Huddersfield, and conceded 44, second highest to Fulham. Mr. Wagner has problems. Thankfully, David is used to the relegation battle and I wish him luck in keeping Cardiff in the PL, hopefully at the expense of some Northern team of cloggers.

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Mr. Emery. These are our 3 Best Players

We go into this match with a skeleton crew of defenders. Two lost in our last match. With both Bellerin and Holding on a gap year and the young Greek lad still in the treatment room we are down to bare bones. It must be awful if Mustafi is the first name on the teamsheet 😦

There is the possibility that Koscielny may play with a mask – he can be our be our Lone Ranger with Monreal as Tonto and Mustafi as Silver (only the older reader will get that joke!)

Elneny can play central defence. A chimp can write Macbeth.

No problems upfront, just a selection. Does Mr.Emery play an attacking team or continue with the midfield diamond? You know my opinion. We are at home against a team in 19th who have picked up 5 points on the road, scoring just 6 times. It is a night to unleash the attacking talents in the squad.

I would like to see Iwobi start, alongside Ozil, PEA and Laca. Drop Ramsey and Wardrobe and Nacho playing left of a back 3. This requires Iwobi to cover much ground but the lad is young and will love running about on a chilly night in London.

We need a win after the confidence draining result last Friday and with a trip to Maine Road on Sunday.

Let it be So

COYRRG


Emery’s Bermuda Triangle

January 7, 2019

Prompted by my Bros to expand on my criticism of Dick’s current tactics evident at the Fulham game, I offer another controversial effort for the perusal of AAers the world over.

I qualify what I am going to say in advance with the facts that…….

  1. We have lost Holding for a long time.
  2. Have not had Kos (and may never have the old Kos) for  a long time.
  3. Have missed an Improved Hector and reliable Nacho in recent weeks.
  4. Let alone had no chance to see the other Greek God, Mav, who I think could prove in the future to be the solution, together with Holding, to Dick’s Bermuda Triangle.

To explain:- Dick has regularly opted recently for the following three players in the vital “central triangle of defence”, and it is here he is making his mistake. Mustafi and Sokratis as CBs, with Xhaka in the central holding/receiving slot.

I will start with the CBs (without really needing to for anyone with eyes).

Sokratis has got guts, is committed and occasionally is in the right place at the right time (See fourth goal against Fulham). But good enough for us as a CB? Nah!

Mustafi is dog’s poo (thought I’d do your job for you, ed). Positionally poor, rarely wins a header as he is a short arse, slide tackles late and nowhere near the ball. Good enough for us as a CB? Nah!

Now, given this criticism, Dick has doubled the problems in his triangle by allowing Xhaka to play at the top as holding/receiver of passes from these two! Xhaka is in my eyes massively overrated. Sure he can spray long balls, but only when the oppo back off, and these long balls are rarely “dynamic” in their effect. (He is no Alonso). Under pressure he shovels poop, and under real pressure, he makes potentially disastrous passes. (He is no Gilberto). He cannot tackle really, and is regularly booked for this (lack of) “skill”. (He is no Kante……or for that matter, Terrier). And much of this slaughtering criticism is because he is not quick enough of thought or limb.

Sorry, I seem to have been a little scathing!

Does he deserve a place in the starting eleven? Well, for the moment my answer is ‘yes’. But play him forward of Terrier and Ouzi (alongside each other and in front of the defence). Both of these two are better at the job required there and, will shore up some of the defensive frailty currently evident. “For the moment” for that is the position I advocate for A M-N in the future, and then it could be bye bye Xhaka for me.

My view, sorry if you think I am still drunk with joy from my recent Birthday.

Written by LBG

Mustafi or Holding – who partners the Greek Colossus – Poll?

October 16, 2018

Morning all, fellow suffering Gunners.

Back to me poll do-da to help fill the gap.

Pretty sure we’d all be pretty close now after 8 league games to picking Unai’s starting XI.

I’m by far and away the most knowledgeable on this site when it comes to attacking football, but beyond useless when it comes to defenders, so although it appalls me to admit this, I need your help.

My interest in defenders goes no further than Tony Adams, although I’m aware that when it comes to the overall defence, continuity is vital as it’s the misunderstandings that lead to more let-ins than anything else.

Sadly, and hopefully only for now, I’m having to leave Laurent out of the equation and just hope he makes a full and speedy return. He would make the poll irrelevant.

So, here we go. Same as before,  4-2-3-1. Difference today is that I’m insisting Sokratis is a starter, so you’re picking the other CB. Does Holding have a real future? If so, and it’s a close call between him and Mustafi, would that swing it? I have no idea.

mickydidit89


Away form to Continue?

October 7, 2018

A trip to The Cottage is full of nostalgia. Cosy ground by the river, no longer owned by that clown Al-Fayed (now owned by a Pakistani American) and managed by a chap from Serbia, Fulham are a fine club

A family club (whatever that means).

They have some decent players as well … the wonderkid Sessegnon, the powerful Mitrovic, the speedy and very expensive ex-Chav Schurrle, a very good Italian MF named Seri. They are a decent team who have yet to find their feet in the PL.

If you need to know more, read GN5’s excellent post from yesterday.

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I expect a tough game this lunchtime. We returned from a very long Spursday trip to Baku  late Friday morning and had only a day to prepare for this one, though many players were rested for the Qarabag tie.

The team almost picks itself with only the Holding or Mustafi selection in doubt. My hope is that Emery rewards Holding with a starting  role but I suspect he will give the shirt to Mustafi (AWTH).

Oh … I forgot. We still have the Ozil & Ramsey quandary. I much prefer Iwobi to play instead of Aaron but think we will see a repeat of the early subs with Ramsey starting but not finishing the game.

My Team:

Leno

Bellerin    Mustafi    GB   Monreal

Ramsey   Terrier    Xhaka

Ozil

Lacazette    PEA

As usual we will have a very strong bench.

Much is being made of the possible 9. Given we have yet to see a solid consistent 90 minutes in any of our victories it is proof that good fortune remains important in a fledgling managerial career. Had our opposition taken the many chances on offer we would be discussing Emery in a very different manner.

Should be an entertaining game and, if we can score early, a positive result.

COYRRG

 


Sticky Taffy Pudding – Cardiff ratings

September 3, 2018

Well, the world feels a whole lot better having beaten Cardiff than had we drawn. We got there in the end but not after more stressful defending nightmares. The image that came to mind was of a group of eleven men dressed in red and white Father Christmas outfits arriving in Cardiff bearing gifts (or should that be goals) for all the poor local children who had gone without for so long. The only thing missing from the cartoon was big white bushy beards.

Mustafi’s bullet header opened the scoring

I am really tempted to say that everything new that Emery has introduced is causing downright panic and everything that was already there is working really well. The attack was already there and it is getting closer to firing on all cylinders. First rate goals from Aubameyang and Lacazette back this up. Was the defence any better last season? Mah, maybe not. Was the midfield cover of the defence better last season, mah also maybe not? Perhaps, I should have said that I was tempted to say that ‘almost’ everything that Emery has introduced has caused downright panic.

The obvious example is the insistence of Emery to have Cech play the ball out to players waiting near the corner flags only to have it passed back to the keeper who continually deals with it like a hot potato and on more than one occasion passed it out badly creating a goal scoring opportunity for the opposition.

You might expect that I am going to rip into Emery at this point but you would be wrong. Let’s ask: if all this manoeuvre went well and Cech had the foot skills to carry this off what is Emery trying to achieve? I obviously can’t be certain but what I can see happening is that the opposition are being drawn forward and are staying there in the hope of exploiting an error; this in turn, creates space beyond these advanced opposition players which gives our attackers incredibly valuable and extremely important extra space to operate in up front.

Not convinced? Did West Ham and Cardiff park the bus, surely we would have expected them to do so, it certainly would have happened last season, so why didn’t it – because they were cleverly manoeuvred away from it.

If this turns out to be right then Unai Emery deserves a lot of praise but in the mean time watching Arsenal has become a viewing past time that should be avoided by the faint-hearted.

Laca celebrating Auba’s goal – Photo by Geoff CADDICK / AFP

This obviously is a work in progress but I would bet a barrel of Danish herrings that that is exactly what Leno has been brought in to do. The new keeper will be slowly introduced through the Europa and the Caribou and by the end of the season or, if not, by Christmas he will be our number one keeper. Why not start with him now? Woooo, hold your horses, too much change too quickly can be very risky. Cech is still a fine keeper and after the ten minutes at the start of the game and ten minutes after the restart he reverts back into an absolute first class keeper.

Two wins in two games and apart from some Keystone moments there are some real signs of progress being made. Perhaps I should have been tempted to have said that quite a few things that Emery is doing are working. Lol.

Do you want me to describe the game? Is there a need? Mah, we all saw it.

Mesut looks left out of the bromance

Cech: notice that after the first ten minutes of cartoon football he changed back to clearing the ball however he saw fit, this is not a player defying his manager; it is a player carrying out instructions. 8 for his keeping but for his footwork, hmmm, not so much.

Bellerin: I really wanted to say that his crosses into the box continued to improve but they didn’t. The message has finally been received that he needs to be covered when he is advanced and play breaks down; this was done by Guendouzi and then better by Torriera. 5

TAWTH: Good goal; still continues to be a headline star in Arsenal’s defensive comedy show. 6

GB: starting to get his feet under the table, maybe a bit better this week. 5

Monreal: nothing spectacular today, not sure he fully understands what the plan is. 5

Guendouzi: still a bright spot, obviously the player that is not tainted by previous seasons and also seems to be the player that Emery feels he can most easily mould to the way he wants the team to play. 5

Xhaka: someone whisper to him that the food in Italy is very good. 4

Ramsey: no lack of trying, he knows he is getting prime real estate on the pitch; the much sort after terrain where Mesut’s mansion usually sits is not often vacated. He is aware that he is being given a chance and he is doing his best to take it. A bit slow in his manoeuvrings at times which slowed our counter attacks down but on another day he will score a hat trick so all is well really. 7

Ozil: you have to bear in mind that when writing about Mesut I start from a point of thinking that the man can do no wrong. It made me laugh watching Ozil today, shunted out to the right obviously on Emery’s orders he decided that rather than spend another weekend in the sick bay he would tow the line; he stayed out there for 50 minutes and was completely ineffective. Clearly bored of such nonsense, he then reverted back to what Mesut does best – playing where ever he likes and he was magnificent; watch his involvement in the Aubameyang and the Lacazette goals and the play in general around that time. Emery had his opportunity to reassert his control by hooking him off later on. 7

Lacazette: Man of the Match; Emery has man managed him well, the Butcher’s dog was let off the lead from minute one today and he was just dying to get stuck in. 8

Aubameyang: great goal, should do his confidence the world of good. 7

Oh, I have just seen the spud result, there clearly is a god.

Written by LB


Truly, Ugly, Deeney – Watford Ratings

March 12, 2018

Troy Deeney being fit to play (when I say fit, I mean breathing and able to walk as long as it’s not uphill and too fast) was the best news this game could have had. With Watford in the relative safety of mid-table obscurity and ourselves being so far off the title pace, meant that there was little to play for except a few points and some comparisons of testes size. Deeney was the vital ingredient in the latter and he didn’t disappoint.

 First Half

Shkodran scoring a carbon copy of his goal against the spuds after 8 minutes calmed any supporter fears that Watford might spawn a couple of early goals as they did at the Emirates last season. It was a perfect delivery from Mesut with which he smashed Cantona’s first to 50 assists record. How the first half finished 1-0 is anybody’s guess. There really were some great chances. 4-2 was Ant and mine’s assessment of the possible goal score.

Amongst our better chances, Auba missed a one on one right at the start of the game, The Beast battered one across the penalty area so quickly that Auba could only get a toe on it and then Mesut got into a magnificent position with a glorious first touch only to lose his composure with the keeper floundering on the deck. Pereyra missed Watford’s best chance skying over after Petr had ended up behind his goal line blocking a free kick.

Second half

The cones did not do their job at the start of the second half. The Arsenal crowd and players all looked as though they wished they could be at home (along with the many who didn’t bother attend). Watford, on the other hand, had their best spell, pressing Arsenal back towards the Clock but without giving us too many heart flutters.

Our first attack of note in the second period resulted in the BVB connection putting us two up. Micki slipped the ball through to Auba with perfect weight, stranding the keeper in no man’s land.

Then came the moments everyone had come to see. A Watford striker went over Maitland-Niles’ knee (in live time it looked to me as if our young Tory had got himself in a position to field a cricket ball rather than make a tackle) and the ref had no option but to give a pen. The pantomime villain stepped up to take the kick, only to allow Cech to make a one handed block which went away from the goal rather than back towards fatty. Cue wild celebrations – it was just like scoring a goal. Two one and things could have gone tits up quickly, but with a two goal lead we were still cruising. Great fun.

Conceding and then saving the penalty woke up both the crowd and the team. We looked comfortable from that moment onward, even with Calum having to deputise for Shkod. The third goal came with a quarter of an hour to go when Micki and Auba reversed roles allowing the Armenian to notch another Arsenal goal so quickly after his crucial effort against Milan. The Emirates crowd even produced a little volume, asking Mr Deeney if he knew what the score was. To his credit, he did seem to be smiling, the hideous gargoyle.

Ratings

(Ratings are always subjective and always likely to be swayed by confirmation bias. Some like them, others don’t – perhaps it’s worth remembering that they’re there to give you something to bounce off.)

Cech – A save from a penalty against our Troy, no flapping and 200 clean sheets, lovely … 9

Maitland-Niles – a few sloppy passes didn’t detract from a quality performance, defended well with both interceptions and tackles, while looking smooth with the ball at his feet  … 7

Mustafi – Excellent early header, drove the defence and looked more like the leader he could be. Hope his groin isn’t too sore this morning  …7

Holding – All of our defenders struggle against the high press when the rest of the team do not give enough options for a pass, Rob was no exception. Made some fine tackles and blocks, and was even making better decisions about when to just get rid, TA6 style as the game progressed  … 7

Kolasinac – Improving as an Arsenal player, whether that’s partly down to the standard of opposition or down to eating less fish and chips, we’ll find out later  … 7

Elneny – Had a fine game in the centre. Chosen to start alongside Xhaka we might have thought that the midfield would look a bit static and lacking forward drive, but Mo provided plenty of thrust and no small measure of forward attacking passes, too … 8

Xhaka – Granit’s form is improving game by game, his defensive positioning is better and I still love his left foot  … 7

Ozil – No subjective rating is ever possible for Mesut, he oozes class and the number of goals and great chances he creates is testament to that  … 8

Mkhitaryan – Looking more like an Arsenal player with each game, should have had a penalty which Atkinson (Fifa referee, yeah right) chose to ignore to add to his goal and assist … 8

Iwobi – Watching Alex from the upper tier, you can see that he’s seeing great passes all the time, it’s just that, at the moment, his execution is lacking somewhat. It’ll come, keep working hard BIG17  – 6

Aubameyang – Settling in nicely, once he gets his razor-sharp finishing back up to scratch, his partnerships with Mesut and Micky could be most productive  – 7

Subs – Chambers slotted in well, Danny produced a rasper and Jack came on for no good reason.

chas