Albion Preview: Dark Artists Need Not Apply – Vacancy Filled


If you put antiquated aircraft into service, the likelihood is they will break down. And take a long time to repair. If you happen across a Pappadeux’s Seafood Kitchen at an airport, the Calamari is recommended.

The international break is set to interfere with Arsenal’s progress following today’s visit to The Hawthorns, Arsenal need to continue their scintillating away form to return to the top of the table although a point may suffice if those from the wrong end of the Seven Sisters do not beat West Ham by three or more goals.

For the third time in thirteen games, Arsenal face West Bromwich Albion and seek their third win. Form since the opening day has been an extension of the run which began following the back-to-back defeats against Chelsea and Manchester City; the difference is the performance levels have been more consistent. Instead of veering from the sublime to the ridiculous inside ninety minutes, Arsenal have dominated matches but looked comfortable at the back without the ball, defending from the front.

This afternoon will see that challenged when arguably this season’s most consistent defender will be missing. Bacary Sagna’s hamstring is knacked and Carl Jenkinson will step forward to press his claims to be the French international’s successor. The youngster – at what age do players stop being a youngster – has all the credentials to be so and re-signing Sagna would be a good move not just from the playing perspective but also reminding Jenkinson of the levels of consistency needed, that selfishly, we have become accustomed to. If he hits those levels, he will dominate the right side of defence for club and country because frankly, like Gibbs on the other side of the pitch, the competition in the national squad isn’t up to much.

Key to the form have been previously unsung heroes. One betting offer from Arsenal’s bookmaking partner is gambling that Aaron Ramsey doesn’t continue his impressive form into this game, presumably for fears over the health of several celebrities although that might be something of a new market for them to enter. It’s fairly certain that life would imitate art at some point.

The unsung heroes are getting their own choral support. Ramsey’s ‘rehabilitation’ in the media is complete, Mathieu Flamini‘s contribution being respected and those of Giroud and Szczesny being appreciated. Flamini’s re-signing suffered at the time with expectations, his wasn’t seen as an urgent requirement and he wasn’t the centre-forward that the club had been openly chasing. Injuries offered the opportunity for his immediate inclusion in his favoured midfield position and the Frenchman does not look like ceding his place in the side. His work is being widely appreciated, Wenger referred to it as the “dark arts“, underlining what was previously missing in midfield. To do so hints at a underappreciation of the defensive work undertaken by Mikel Arteta last season which is not the case; it’s just a nastier side missing since, well, Flamini occupied the role in the centre of the pitch five seasons ago. Even then, was he that nasty or has he matured into the role?

It has provided a platform upon which the side has built. Despite not scoring recently, Olivier Giroud has nonetheless been a key player for the side, leading the line. Influential in the goals against Napoli, he has noted this week that criticism flowed freely in his direction but seemingly more in his native France than here. His ethic is appreciated here, encapsulated by the striker,

I don’t need to change the way I am. I should stay the same and my reward is being able to express myself on the pitch as I am doing…The Arsenal supporters can see I always give my best. They recognise that I’m not just thinking about scoring and that, beyond the goals, I try to be helpful to the team. Of course a striker’s job is to score but you must also be able to do the pressing job and set up chances for team-mates. Sometimes we misjudge strikers because we do not see all the work they do.

It doesn’t bother me too much because for the moment I am scoring goals. But the day I start scoring less, I hope that the experts will look at the work I do.

The summer was spent pursuing another striker causing Arsène to quip in midweek that maybe the media need to motivate Giroud more by reporting such matters more consistently. It hides the truth that was evident then and remains so now; Arsenal do not have enough depth up front. To have an experienced, proven Plan B is crucial; it avoids the feeling that Arsenal are hostages to injury fortune, that any dip in form be that during a game or over a series of weeks, is covered. Crucially, it allows the likes of Sanogo and Akpom to learn their trades without pressure, without having to enter the fray as a saviour.

Nicklas Bendtner’s rehabilitation continues with revisionism seemingly incapable of computing that, like all players, we want him to do well when he is in the squad. It doesn’t mean he is a long-term solution though; you suspect that Arsène feels the same and will seek an alternative to the Dane in the next window with Karim Benzema once more linked with a move away from The Bernabeu this morning.  Bendtner has ability but has never scored regularly enough to warrant the position as lead striker at the club. Loan spells indicate that the manager feels the same, that he was on the verge of leaving for Crystal Palace on a permanent basis until Demba Ba’s loan move fell through.

It is hard to see the manager changing today’s line-up beyond Sagna. In beating Napoli, Arsenal crushed their spirit with the performance. Overwhelming them at the beginning, suppressing any attacking instinct in the visitors once a two-goal lead had been established and stifling them with efficiency in the remainder of the match. A top of the table performance from a confident side. Albion will be confident following their win at Old Trafford and will not be under-estimated but consistency means repeating performance levels and Arsenal have mastered that this season. They will be put under more pressure today than the Italians managed but that offers the chance for counter-attack and the speed of Özil and Rosicky’s passing is made for such patterns of play. It means that Jack Wilshere will be seen on the bench, Albion have hastily built a smoking shelter for the England midfielder for this afternoon. No doubt his omission will be cast as punishment for his indiscretion rather than recognition of those who cast Napoli to the four winds on Tuesday. Such is the triviality of the press.

Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it.

’til Tomorrow.

227 thoughts on “Albion Preview: Dark Artists Need Not Apply – Vacancy Filled

  1. Moe

    Totally agree. They had their tactics pretty much spot on and have that little bit of pace up front which can turn defence into attack quickly when the men at the back have done their job.

    Was a bit disappointed that we don’t ever change our tactics to adapt to teams who play with numbers at the back. Didn’t help that we had no width, we will always struggle against a set up like that when we can’t stretch them across the pitch.

  2. What a wasted sub that was the one and only Bedtner. Too late and why not give Gnabry a chance. Not our best game but we came back and a draw isn’t the worst result in the world.

    WBA played well, ran their hearts out. One thing I would say is that as good as he is, Arteta slows the game down a lot. Jenks is no Sagna.
    Giroud strikes me that a twin role would suit him as he always looks more comfortable laying off the ball then scoring, but AW doesn’t play that way.

  3. One has to wonder how far the Suarez-Sturridge partnership can get Liverpool though. They are at same points as us… If we are title contenders then surly they are too

  4. Not a bad result considering WBA fought hard, it could have gone either way.

    The kind of performance you get after a big CL game. We are still at the top.

    No complaints here….On to the next one.

  5. That’s one away fixture that I’m glad we’ve got out of the way. Not an amazing performance, but we’re always going to have days like this. This league is so tough now – in any fixture you’re going to have to deal with experienced internationals. The good thing about this break is it means we can give nice long rests to three of our most important players.

    And fucking hell, Shane Long dived three times in the few minutes he was on the pitch. Lee Mason I thought let way too much go – it reminded me of the Villa match.

  6. Tactical substitution of Ramsey so that we can keep him home for the internationals? They can’t qualify any way so would be great not to have to risk him in pointless games.

  7. Seen it again now and I’m convinced he came through Wilshere to get that ball, player first and then ball. That is a pen and the ref got it hugely wrong.

  8. Wavey

    The ref was (for me) blinkered. It’s either he’s incompetent or blind. It almost did feel like the Aston Villa game.

  9. well im just glad its AW tht is the manager and not me. Poodle would have swapped Wilshere at half time and put on rosicky, then swapped Arteta and put on Gnabry and moved Ramey down to Artetas spot.

    But now Wilshere scored and we got a draw… We could have lost with

  10. A reasonable day. No complaints. The team looked happy with the result and west brom were well organised.

    Not much else to say. Look forward to absentees returning.

    Well fought effort, could have nicked it.

    Move on up.

  11. Bah we’re fans, we know nothing compared to a manager like Arsene but that won’t stop me shouting at my TV for a sub! 😀

  12. The Suarez and Sturridge partnership is over hyped right now. They’ve had 2 games with each other, plus we all know that come Jan or summer Suarez will be on his way to Madrid.

    To be fair, i thought we showed a lot of spirit. West Brom don’t have to play midweek like we do, they haven’t got stars like Santi, Podolski and Theo injured. Rosicky upped the tempo when he came on and i thought we could have nicked it. But West Brom were resolute, they are a good team and many will struggle to win against them.

    My assessment is still that we’re stiff from Napoli game, away from home and goes in the catagory of “one of those games”. Last season we’d have struggled to come back from that 1-0 at half time. League is wide open, i mean if we lose to Norwich and Pool and Chelsea lose, a Southampton win and they could be top of the league haha! We’ve a tough run of games coming up, let’s hope all the team stay injury free and we get all our injured players back.

    I this game was at the Emirates, we’d have been able to push more and won! The home crowd did really well.

    Thought Arteta or Flamini should have started, not both. Took the pace out the team a bit, having Serge in place of one of them would have changed it up a bit. Jenk was really poor, probably one of the worst games i’ve seen him play, his deliveries, touch, passing and tracking were all over the place, really missed Sagna.

    End of the day…We’re still top of the League! Spurs got gubbed.

    No worthy football for two weeks now though…GET HOME SAFE LADS

  13. There’s almost a perceptible sigh of disappointment by the media that we didn’t lose.

    We drew and they don’t know what to make of that.

  14. Ozil’s workrate is astonishing.

    The amount of times i saw him chasing and chasing today impressed me. I didn’t expect that if i’m being honest.

    Keep it up laddie!

  15. Got to say Giroud was really unlucky when he was through. Great first touch and he had to take the second to try to get past the goalie. Myhill stayed with him really well and Giroud was a bit off balance when he got his shot away so couldn’t give it that dink it needed. Myhill did really really well to stay with him when he had made the second touch. Could Giroud have done better? I don’t think so given how he stretched for it.

  16. Moe

    I thought the exact same thing, i’d put money on; “Arsenal showed they’ll struggle a bit this season because of lack of depth” on MOTD tonight and won’t mention fact West Brom are a hard team, we’ve just played champs league and we’ve got 4 players who could be game changers out injured.

    Big picture; We’re top of the league after being tipped for 5th by everyone after Villa. I’m happy enough with draw, i kind of saw it coming.

  17. So many games on the trot are bound to have a toll and even taking nothing away from WBA we looked a little jaded yet still earned what could be later on be a valuable point.
    A player like Suarez would most probably have secured the points today.

    I support any player who wears our shirt but Bedtner really takes the biscuit.What was he doing on the pitch ?

  18. Well done West Brom, well done Arsenal a draw was a fair result in my opinion. On the ref he had an shocker, terrible display.

  19. If AW is trying to put Bendtner in the shop window with the hope that someone wants to buy him in January, it isn’t working.
    Am assuming we are just using him to give Giroud a rest late in games, but today we should have been going for a win and Bendtner never looked like he was going to add anything to the team.
    We might as well stick Park on the bench, he has a longer contract so we could do with him attracting some buyers.

  20. I thought a draw was as much as we desrerved and that WBA played very well. All their long balls found one of their players and their passing was simply better than ours.

    Jack kept on either misplacing his passes or running into deadends.

    WE certainly missed TW or any proper winger, so I am suprised he did not bring ion Gnabry

    Jack was certainly better when he moved into the centre when Mozart came on.

    I agree that it was a penalty and that the defender got Jack before the ball.

    Later on was not one of our players penalised for a simlar tackle.

    In truth they had good shouts for penalties, although we saw a few examples of clear simluation from them as well.

    I am happy with the draw after a clearly indifferent day at work from our boys.

    The icing on the cake, however is the fact that the scum got hammered, buy a team that did not have a recognised striker in its squad.

  21. I was very impressed with West Brom. Agree with the general sentiment on here that it was a well deserved point.


  22. Poodle @ October 6, 2013 at 4:39 pm
    “I know its hard to be jack, getting tackled and haveing all taht preassure etc, but honestly he needs to step up and earn his place in this team. Ones the others are back from injuries there will be nothing that justifies him starting if he does not step it up.. You can only live on your name and reputation for that long tbh…

    he needs to assist and score more to justify holding onto the no10 shirt tbh… ”

    I think he heard you loud and clear homie. 🙂

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