Arsenal Remain Masters Of Their Own Destiny


Arsenal 2 – 0 Olympique de Marseille

1 – 0 Wilshere (1)
2 – 0 Wilshere (65)

The performance didn’t matter, the result did. Three points was required on an inconclusive evening for this season’s Champions League Group of Death. As it happened, the performance was good; tidy, professional and of such authority that the result was rarely in doubt. Yes, more goals would have been nice, They were not a necessity because if as expected Dortmund win in France in a fortnight, Marseilles contribution to this season’s competition is irrelevant. It all rests on Arsenal not losing by three goals in Naples in a fortnight’s time.

Jack Wilshere grabbed the headlines with a brace of well-taken goals crowning an excellent outing but there were several candidates for Man of the Match, not least Nacho Monreal who gave a commanding performance at left back. The Spaniard dropped seamlessly into the side, offering reassurance to his manager that had has nothing to worry about ill-fortune striking that side of the defence. Context is all and the French side were as poor as any that has been seen in the competition over the years, surprisingly so given they sit fourth in Ligue Un. Thankfully, Arsenal do not have to rely on them to get a result to qualify; their final standing in the group will be as a result of their own efforts.

Afterwards, Arsène struggled to find reasons to dampen enthusiasm – perhaps temper expectations is a better phrase – left instead to ponder if it would have been nice to score a few more. It would apparently so it was left to other as rows simmered with Andy Townsend‘s exhortation of Marseilles efforts waiting to be passed off as him wanting the viewer to be entertained rather than being acknowledged as the latest addition to ITVs catalogue of woeful behaviour toward the club. Mathieu Flamini meanwhile is not being allowed to play with scissors any more as the media sought to build up a mutiny over shirt sleeves. It is all window dressing, a sideshow to distract from a routine European win.

There is a rigidity in thought about the tactics employed as the manager sought to explain. Just because Jack Wilshere is notionally on the right of midfield does not make him glued to the touchline. Indeed, “drifting inside” paid dividends inside the first minute as the England international found ample space to gallop toward the Marseille penalty area, look up to see no-one waiting for the cross so took the ball inside and neatly curled it into the net. Twenty-nine seconds on the clock and the fastest goal by an Englishman in the history of the Champions League. Whether that encompasses the Champions Cup, I know not. As good as the finish was, it contained a hint of what was to come from the visitors with Mandanda beaten too easily and the rest of the defence seemingly unaware that Wilshere was left-footed; there can be no plausible explanation beyond that for the space they afforded him and the manner he was shepherded into the middle. Such generosity from a team which can ill-afford it.

There was much to admire in the second as well. Arsenal ceded possession a couple of times before finally making the telling pass to Mesut Özil whose curled pass into the middle of the area was gleefully slotted home. Poor marking again but Wilshere concentrated and made sure that he stayed onside in a position where all to often wide players fall foul of the linesman’s flag. For the German it was redemption of sorts having taken one of the worst penalties from an Arsenal player. Not quite in the league of Pires and Henry but not far off it. Typically Arsenal you might think, to sign the only German international who makes England look good at spot kicks.

Redemption might have come sooner had the referee had the courage of Mark Clattenburg at the weekend, missing his second penalty incident of the night. Arsenal could – should – have been comfortable in victory by then. Rosicky was priming with energetic movement as Özil and Wilshere roamed freely. Ramsey ought to have done better from close range as Wilshere teed him up for the sort of chance that he gobbled up earlier in the season. With all the talk beforehand, it was no surprise his mojo went missing; the football gods are like that.

Other chances came and went, before and after Wilshere had completed the win. That they were not scored is not a cause for concern, Arsenal were barely out of second gear whilst Marseilles rejigged side offered little. When they did, Wojciech Szczesny was alert and sharp in his reactions, in particular from Thauvin as the second half wore on. That the chances for the visitors were so few and far between highlights the cohesive performance between the back four and midfield. Had his sleeves not been so ragged, Flamini would surely have rolled them up as readily as he did metaphorically with his pressing and snapping at the visitors when they ventured into mildly threatening positions. If that barrier were by-passed, Per Mertesacker provided as big an obstacle as you might expectt. BFG indeed.

Twelve points, so the mantra goes, is enough to qualify in previous years. It might well be this time also but that relies on the efforts of others, something Arsenal have steadfastly avoided thus far. It highlights how costly the moment of naïvety in the home match against Dortmund might be. Yet the performances aside from that game suggest Arsenal are more than capable of achieving the result they need in Naples. Explosive atmosphere or not, you sense not much is knocking the side out its stride at present. The international break, for once, seems to have done them no harm at all.

’til Tomorrow.

95 thoughts on “Arsenal Remain Masters Of Their Own Destiny

  1. So, a draw in Naples would be enough for us not only to qualify but top the group as well, right? It’s just incredible that we are sitting on 12 points yet we might not even qualify to the next round.

  2. We nee to make sure Nacho stays; needs a run in the side. I know Gibbs has been excellent, but most teams woudl give their right are (maybe left in this case?) for either of those

  3. Weird game last night – I think we started well, we looked well motivated, but after 10 minutes and an easy goal it looked like Marseille were going to offer nothing and that ease of domination drained a lot of the urgency out of our I think- we still played well but without the attention to detail you’d expect in the final third on a Champions League night. Ozil was quite bad in the first half, think he’ll get panned by most but his second half performance was much better I thought. Wilshere my MOTM, so happy to see him starting to play well again – he’s had a few very good matches recently I think, hopefully by the end of the year he’ll be finding some consistency. I was also impressed by Ramsey’s creativity, could have nicked a couple of assists if those on the end of his passes had had better fortune. Lots of other very good individual performances like Monreal and the entire defence including Szczesny but overall it felt a bit sluggish. No big deal, job done and done comfortably. Napoli away is a big test but one we all know we’re capable of passing, a win would see us finish on 15 points, our highest total since 05-06.

  4. Well written review,goodmorning YW,goodmorning all,i must admit that inasmuch as those talented young players that we used to field some few seasons ago were tantalizing to watch but they were scary because they were always like a time-bomb waiting to explode because of their naivety,inexperience and immaturity in most cases…this is a complete opposite to what we are witnessing in our team now,in the previous seasons we would have gone out to score more sensing OM level of play on the day thereby opening up to conceed goals but last night it was totally different….long may this continue please,am having this feeling that whoever qualifies from this group one of them may reach semifinal………

  5. Dear old Arsenal, drawn in the so-called “Group of Death” tipped not to qualify for the KO stage, now lead the Group and are favourites to finish in first place. It has always been that way.
    Succeeding when almost certain to fail…..and vice versa.
    There will be many twists and turns still to come in the rest of this season.
    Supporting Arsenal FC is not for the fainthearted.
    You have been warned.

  6. My gut breaks it’s 100% record for the season. Thankfully!

    Mrs Damon knocked up a spiffing ham, egg, beans and mushrooms while I took in the game.

    I fancy if Ramsey had taken his tap in on about ten minutes to go 2-0, it would have been a bit of a cricket score last night. At 1-0 Marseille always had a sniff of something.

    As it is, on to Naples

  7. Usual great write-up YW

    So a night of staggering simplicity in two weeks. Even if Dortmund win, a draw or better wins us the group and a one- or two-goal defeat sees us qualify second. However it could come down to coefficients, by my calculations. If Dortmund win 1-0 and we lose 2-3: then we and Dortmund will both have 6-5 goal difference and 3 away goals in matches between the 3 tied clubs (Nap’s will be 6-8) and have the same overall goal difference too (10-6). As we were seeded above them I suppose that means we have the best coefficient?

  8. The first sentence of the Post says it all Yogi. “The performance didn’t matter, the result did”. Very true, but the rest of your article summed up the occasion beautifully.
    Thank you.

    The game was a little like the parson’s nose, very good in parts, less so in others.

    I was particularly taken by two players that you have already mentioned, Nacho and Chezzer, both of whom played splendidly.

    Anyway, job done and now on to Cardiff.

  9. Well spotted CBob, 🙂

    A curate’s egg of a game which was good in parts is possibly – well almost certainly — a better summation of the game last night, which certainly would not offend anyone.

    I was being a little daring in the sense that the ‘parson’s nose’ reflected some peoples attitude in the blog world this morning, being a bitty sniffy and rather disapproving of last night’s performance, whereas for me the parson’s nose properly prepared can be very tasty dish, as was the game last night.

    Something for everyone I guess. 🙂

  10. We missed a huge opportunity last night to beat The Spuds to Thursday night silverware, but the team has to take credit for a solid, solid performance.

    I would hate to see the Shite-Heart Laners win European silverware when they are so crap and when our mountains are ten-fold of theirs.

    Lets concentrate on winning the League and bugger all the rest!

    The only satisfying point about Townsend’s comment is that he is unhappy this morning. A well run, well managed club that plays exquisite football, with a beautiful stadium prospered and it must get up his jaundiced conk.

  11. It’s starting to annoy me the amount of people on about Ozil not playing well…Missing a pentalty doesn’t mean someone isn’t playing well. He’s not played badly at all! A lot of people forgetting that his brace at Norwhich a few weeks back etc! The lads playing every match and most of Germany’s as well, people need to cut him some slack. I LOVE the lack Mert is there to help him settle though! Pod as well once he’s back in the team. Sick off all these “Is he worth 42 MIll? Should we be worried” the more i see the media printing it, the more i undertsand Suarez’s contempt for British media.

    Thought for the first time this season, our bench was looking strong. Carzola to start next in place of Rosicky. Cardiff ain’t the quickest in defence, perhaps a game for Theo to start!

    Game last showed two things: We dominated them, new Arsenal swagger style. Nacho can be a starter! Jack is looking fitter and Theo needs as many game as possible to get his tough back!

  12. I stand corrected about my comments yesterday about putting Monreal in and not Gibbs. He had a superb game.
    I keep looking at the group F table in amazement, seeing us on 12 points and thinking……….. why the fuck haven’t we already gone into the last 16?????? C’est la vie…. as they would say in Marseille! Good solid performance last night, immediately after the game I must admit, despite comfortably winning, I felt a slight disappointment, but a win is a win. A draw in Naples on 11th Dec is not beyond our capabilities.

  13. A goal from us in Naples puts that tie to bed and will probably see us securing the draw/win that lets us top the group of death,that ‘get in!’ from Townsend only confirmed what we already knew,I’m only surprised that people are surprised.

  14. CFP,

    My earlier chat with CBob re. ‘the parson’s nose’ alluded to that phenomenon.
    In my usual tour round the blogs this morning it was disappointing to see so many fans sounding disgruntled with x and y players, as well as the team in general.

    It is not for me to criticise anyone, but, as Yogi said, the performance was secondary to the win.

    As Gooners, let’s just move on to the next game.

  15. Have to say, not just the penalty miss, I thought Ozil had a pretty average game last night. Bits of class, but a few very wayward passes. He wasn’t quite on it. No harm in saying that, if that’s what you think.

    Take the positives from it!! If Ozil having an off run means he lays on an assist and doesn’t go missing, imagine what he’ll do when he’s firing?

    The pen was awful though and I’m a little disappointed in Giroud for not grabbing the ball with both hands and saying “this is mine”. As much as I’m a huge fan and love his all round game, I didn’t think that showed the killer instinct golden boot winners have.

    Anyway, Ozil, he’s just moved countries and leagues and clubs. He’s only 25? (or 26 now?). Either way, transition is to be expected. Hence the moments of brilliance thrown in with moments of head scratching. He’ll get there, no doubt. I seem to remember one DB10 having a bit of a stuttering start to what proved to be a fair fruitful career at Arsenal???

  16. Brilliant post Yogi and pretty much summed up our brilliance performance yesterday.

    Jack was at his best no doubt about it and if he can continue to round into form, with the likes of Ozil, Santi, Mozart, Ramsey, and Flamini in the midfield, we will boss pretty much any and all types of matches. Jack looked like the lad that we all remembered pre-injury for most of the match last night with energy and skill. He is such a talented boy and wants so badly to give everything he has every match for Arsene and Arsenal that at times he tries to hard, but last night it looked like he took a deep breathe and said to himself “I’m just going to go out and enjoy myself and let things happen.” and he did and was brilliant.

    I want to give a personal “job well fucking done” to Sagna and Nacho who were absolutely brilliant last night. They bossed their respective flanks both attacking and defending with a unmatched work rate. Nacho is such a brilliant futboler and I knew that given the chance he would perform as he has went brought on higher up the pitch and when he plays for Spain.

  17. We took care of our side of the street! We won Jack Wilshere played great! This is all we can ask. the guys took care of business. An old coach of mine told me Bobby take care of the task in front of you and the scoreboard will take care of itself. this means do my job period end of discussion. we won now it is in Adonai’s hands.

  18. @CFP

    I think the thing with Ozil is that many people judge him by a different standard to the normal player. He is a world class talent that is expected to get atleast an assist a match and create 10 chances for his squad. Well that is just unrealistic and the thing that people don’t realize is that he has an incredible work rate, often times tracking back and winning the ball then sprinting forward to lead the counter. IS every touch or pass of his perfect, no; but at the same time neither is Messi’s, Ronaldo’s, RvCunt’s, Neymar’s and the list goes on and on. They are human, but when they do turn the class on, they are by and far the best on the planet.

  19. I think we’ve only been on ITV so much this season—a record setting twice—because they thought we’d struggle. They used to have Ron Atkinson on co-commentary and Teddy Sheringham in the studio! It’s always been a delight.

    Also, Clive Tyldesley is by far the worst commentator we’ve got going. He doesn’t say what’s going on; but tries to perform a slick running analysis, full of clichés and prehistoric misconceptions (often racist or chauvinistic) about football.

    I’m annoyed that this riles me. But I guess I like football, and when I have to watch it through that kind of filter it all starts to wear me down.

  20. Fine to criticise a performance, not fine when you call into question the obvious quality of a player.

    And yes the British media will turn on Ozil, give them any reason to write something.

    Quite tragic the amount hyperbole in sports media, but then again it sells papers.

    And most of the public gobble it up like the herded sheep they are. 🙁

  21. Considering that the penalty really should not have been given, it may be said that it was poetic justice that he did not score.

    However, the moment I saw him standing so close to the ball I knew he would not.

    He just did not look comfortable at all in taking it.

    What pleases me is the interchangability of our players. One game Rosisky,who I think was marvelous yesterday, the next game Cazorla, who also did well when he came on.

    TW showed what we can expect when he latched onto that beautiful through ball and just missed. A few more games and he won’t miss those.

    We really have a squad who, if they can remain fit, must surely be able to give a good game to anyone, even BM.

    The important things is for AW to keep their feet squarely on the ground and to get them to concentrate for the full 90 minutes each time.

  22. @Moe

    I completely agree with you. Isn’t it funny how they try to criticize Ozil yet there are so many other players that they aren’t going after that aren’t still helping their teams win. I haven’t heard much about how poor Valencia has been or how poor Townsend has played for Spuds. O its quite funny.

  23. @JJGSOL

    I don’t think it will take a couple of matches for Theo. I think he just needs 1 to go in and I would start him against Cardiff so he can go ahead and get that goal.

    I agree about Mozart as well, he was simply a joy to watch as always. Bursting and gliding by players as though they are standing still and his passing yesterday was marvelous, it seemed every one of his passes beat 4-5 player everytime. We are truly spoiled with our midfield we really are.

  24. C

    If only it didn’t influence our own fans so much. The tragic part is some Arsenal fans will just eat it up and then you have them booing a player and etc.

    All after one penalty!

    Yes mate , it is very funny indeed.

    But then again, any reason to put some negativity in Arsenal’s campaign ey? We’re doing well and hey presto they find something to complain about.

    Beat Cardiff on Saturday with an Ozil hatrick and that should shut them up! 😀

  25. I see Bendy has been doing damage again – it’s just a door, but you have to wonder why the police were called. He’s just not quite got his head right, even now.

  26. @Moe

    The fickleness that is many Arsenal fans everywhere. He missed a penalty, the funny thing is like Yogi said, Pires and Henry have had a terrible penalty as well not to mention Arteta missed last term. Penalties get missed but how is his overall play, I mean the cross for Jack’s goal was picture perfect.

    Doesn’t even need a Ozil hat trick, just give a couple assists to Theo and everybody will be happy!!!!

  27. Another top quality post yogi

    I agree it was tidy and professional. Thats all you can ask. Wilshere took his goals well. I remember a couple of years ago thinking that his best spot might be in one of the wide attacking spots but the paucity of goals that he has scored tempered any real enthusiasm about that possibility. However, with our glut of midfielders it seems a good idea now.

    I have to admit that the last 6-7 years have conditioned me to believe the worst from an Arsene Wenger managed team and I have been half expecting us to fall back into our old habits and start losing games we should be winning and start to concede goals but so far it has not happened. I thought that the loss to Dortmund and Chelsea and then United might trigger the backslide but so far this season gets better as we go. More and more signs point to this being the year things will finally be different. There will be a couple more storms along the way I suspect but as long as we continue to defend well we will not slip into the prolonged bad runs that have killed us in the past.

  28. Ozil’s getting criticism because his general performance in the first half just wasn’t very good, high price tag or not he seemed isolated and off the pace, it was actually the penalty miss that seemed to wake him up. It’s OK to acknowledge if a player has a bad game, really no need to be overly sensitive & insecure over fair observations – we all know Ozil is class and he showed that again in the second half.

    Don’t know why there’s a section of our fanbase that seems to take any criticism of a player as a personal attack on them and the team, if you’re objective surely you can concede that not all Arsenal players are perfect all of the time, we comment on teams and players on a game by game basis – I don’t like abuse obviously and people who want to make grand statements based on small patches of form are more often than not talking rubbish but realising someone had a bad game is no big deal, stop making it one.

  29. If Ozil’s only contributions to this team are to help the squad realise that they are title challengers who can sit on top of the league and to help outsiders understand that Arsenal spend money when they can afford it, he has been worth the 50 million alone.

    Personally I think he has brought, composure and finesse to the center of the park and his contribution on the pitch can only be underestimated by people who only watch strikers.

  30. I’m know I shouldn’t be bothered by this stuff either, Zinc. But I think, following the example of Ramsey for instance, that things can escalate quickly. It will start with people noticing that he’s in poor form and making an innocent observation, but it can graduate to something bigger that harms the team.

    Ramsey’s dreadful reputation was probably built on a sum total of five genuinely sub-par performances; what contributed most to the ire was people scrutinising him unfairly and trying to get reinforcement for their opinion by picking up on his errors—probably unconsciously— more than on those made by others. So every missed pass was met by groans. AW had to think about keeping him out the side, just because of the fans.

    And it got to the point that whenever the team played poorly, a lot of the blame was put on him, even when he’d started to find his feet again. He was superb against Swansea (cup) and Man City away last year, but that was deep in the bad old days.

    What he needed was two whole months of world-class performances to turn the ship around. Even now, a couple of high-profile mistakes and the dickheads will be out again.

    What does it mean? I don’t know. It can’t be stopped. But all the same I don’t like it. I bristle when people slag off our players because it’s is a slippery slope and we know where it leads. Death threats and the like.

    A couple more sub-par performances in the absence of goals and assists in the next few weeks and Özil will have a reputation. What’s laughable though is that he makes a difference even when things aren’t working out for him on the ball. It’s in his movement and technique, he can influence our attacks in the most subtle ways. I’ve not seen many players who, with such subtle contributions, can change the whole dimension of an attack like him—like that pass for Ramsey for the long-range goal against Liverpool. It was unspectacular, but every little thing about it was perfect.

    This is a football issue, so means little in the real world (provided nobody goes really overboard), but I think it reflects badly on all of us.

  31. I could condense all that by saying that there’s a tipping point where aggregated well-meaning observations become an atmosphere that hurts the team, and it’s hard to identify.

    It’s probably a question of forbearance (knowing that players normally end up shining under AW), but here’s the problem with that—this kind of patience means being too pious for football, which is really meant to be a bit of fun. And the people who rail against negative appraisals (as I’m doing here) come across as deluded killjoys and inquisitors!

  32. Zinc

    It’s fine criticising a player (I do it myself more than other people) but it’s when one or two performances is turned into he’s not good enough or he’s not worth the money and then things escalate pretty quickly from there.

    And the thing is not everyone will think the same , and that is that he is a quality player going through an average or bad performance. People will not keep it in context and that is the problem mate.

  33. @Big Al and Zinc

    Well said mate and I completely agree with you except for 1 thing, he collected an assist last night on Jack’s 2nd goal. There isn’t anything wrong with saying a player had a bad game but for me Ozil really hasn’t played that bad. I mean yea his touch and passing isn’t always perfect but like you said the subtle things that create space for players and the simple things that he does so perfectly are what makes him truly a class player.

    I also think that Ozil’s mere presence and the possibility of him showing his class has helped free and better the players around him. The likes of Ramsey, Giroud, Jack, Mozart, Santi and Theo can play more freely not to mention they can do what they do best. He allows them to play their natural game and not have the burden of having to do eveything. Several players and managers have some out and say that Ozil makes the match easier for everybody on the pitch even if everyone of his touches and passes aren’t perfect because he does the simple things brilliantly.

    Its not about taking it as a personal attack for most fans, but I think there’s also the fact that most fans look at his price tag of 50M or whatever it truly was and say “he has to be perfect in every match to be worth that price” when there is so much more to it. The belief and excitement that he brought to the fans, players and manager was well worth not only the price tag but every match he plays. I know it might sound a little farfetched but he has seemed to revitalize the Goonerverse and because of that and because every single one of his touches or passes is met with such anticipation and excitement people will naturally be let down when things aren’t always pulled off then he is said to be having a bad match.

  34. Yeah, that’s probably it, Moe. Some people just won’t keep it in context. A minority seems deeply affronted when a player is off colour, as if he’s doing to spite them or something.

  35. Birdkamp

    Old bean! I hear what you’re saying, but from what I understand that you’re saying is that if someone has a bad game, we, as fans, shouldn’t say so. As the tipping point is difficult to define, we just shouldn’t enter into anything but positivity.

    I can’t buy into that I’m afraid. Booing and jeering our own is something I will never do. Shout and say someone is an idiot on a very odd occassion – possibly.

    To try to gloss over each and every performance that is average or worse in the name of protecting players for their own good, I can’t buy into. These are men. Young men, albeit, but should be tough enough and honest enough to take it. To do otherwise means you end up with a squad full of Bendtners, who all think they are fantastic and that what they’re doing is great. And it’s not.

    You wouldn’t raise a child that way, or even train a dog that way. Infact, there is a school of thought that if your dog craps on your carpet, you rub his nose in it until they stop crapping on your carpet.

    I’m not saying that in the past a selection of the fan base haven’t gone over the top, but that was during a period where nothing went right and they were bucking against everything and anything. It’s a bit easier to be pleasant now we’re winning again!!!

    I think most have just said something along the lines of, he’s class, world class, but last night wasn’t his best game. Which is about right.

  36. Any player in any team that came with Ozil’s price tag is going to get some grief when he goes through a down patch no matter who he is or what team he plays for. Fernando Torres being the most obvious example. That’s part of being a professional athlete in any sport.

    I think Ozil is one of the last things we need to worry about. He has not been a world beater so far but he has an excellent history and even when he is not in top form he is still the best player we have for that position.

  37. Yeah, the whole club is seen in a different light now, C. You even sense that when other fans write us off now they’re still worried.

    And that’s the best thing that can be said about Özil at the moment—that he does the simple things brilliantly. He’s efficient right now, without really catching the eye. The burst of pace and understanding of how to use his body will come a bit later, as it did for Pires. He’s doing more than enough in the meantime though.

  38. Very well articulated at 15.30′ Al.

    Just about sums up that particular issue in a few sentences.

    The terraces have always moaned about a players mistakes and we then promptly forgot about them before the next game. It’s the 24/7 nature of coverage and fan communication that makes most difference.

    Also the fact that the media are much worse than they used to be. No impartiality, no interest in actually doing any proper research and plain old ignorance.

  39. It all sounds a bit dramatic, but I think there is a process that starts with people making sensible comments and ends with booing, Damon.

    The problem for me is that I don’t think form is easy for a player to control. The cycles are weird—players will go through spells in which the ball doesn’t bounce for them properly, or if he’s a defender he might slip at a decisive moment or be just a little bit off balance when he goes shoulder to shoulder with an attacker and gets shrugged off, leading to a goal.

    So that happens, and the performances slip because of confidence. Negative body language follows, and that’s usually the point where the fans start to get impatient. I don’t see how the player needs any more pressure than that, or how giving him stick is analogous to scolding a child.

    But you are right that the abuse hurled at some players was tied in with the ill-feeling towards the manager. At one of the matches last year a nutter was waving his arms at Gibbs so furiously and leaning so hard over the upper tier rail that I thought he was going to go over. Gibbs had mis-controlled the ball and it had rolled out of play.

    This is what I think—I reckon the football we try to play depends on good will from the fans. When people were pissed off after the NL derby last year we became boring and hard to beat, because nobody was going to be the one to make the big mistake. The guys out of form just couldn’t get going again. Now the fans happy we’re more expansive; players seem to be more creative and are more willing to make runs. Guys like Gnabry can come into the side and flourish.

    I probably haven’t put it in the most convincing way, but I do think there’s a link.

  40. @Big Al

    Completely agree. He does the little things so well. The thing is that so often that when the small, simple, fundamental things are done so well that they go unnoticed we take it for granted because we are accustomed to the special and over the top.

  41. Glad to see the majority of people are re Ozil. We’re top of the league (both), winning games, playing well and looking good. Of course they need SOMETHING to critisize us about.

    As an example, Chelsea lost to Basel last night and failed to register a single shot on goal…And BBC media has decided the “Flamini cuts sleeves off top row” is more news worthy. We could destroy Chelsea if they played like they did, same for Man u etc! But for some reason we don’t raise our game against them! That’s the one thing we need to sort out this season!! I’d LOVE it if we put a City, Chelsea, Man U to the sword!

  42. Yeah, definitely, CB. We’ll see this season. If we’re still in the mix come April all that will make the tension unbearable. Arsenal fans will be completely neurotic. I know it’s asking for trouble reading his rubbish, but that Adrian Durham has already implied that AW should be sacked if we don’t win the league this season.

    Once we’re up there and the title is in sight we’ll forget about progress or how we’ve done it with our own money. If we’re neck-and-neck with Chelsea and Mourinho at the end of the season I don’t know how I’ll cope!

  43. Birdkamp,

    See, perhaps this is where the difference is. I’m saying that I don’t think calling a bad day at the office exactly that is a bad thing. Infact, it’s constructive, if taken the right way? To say it everyday

    Giving stick to someone off form is completely different. It’s agressive and abusive at worst and simply being negative for the sake of it at best. It probably says more about how the individual dishing it out is frustrated and doesn’t know how else to vent it?

    Therein could be the link to this behaviour being seen a year ago from some of our fans?

  44. A load of that post dropped off….

    To say it everyday/every time there is a foot wrong, is not the same thing. Its getting on someone’s back, or to say that you don’t think that they’re up to the job. If that is the case, there are more pleasant and constructive channels than leaning over the upper deck and screaming at a player that they’re a cunt and the reason that everything is going wrong for 90+ minutes every week

    Either way, I’m agreeing with you on the abuse, but will keep on calling a performance how I see it. I know that I can keep my eyeballs from combusting and foaming at the mouth when I say someone had a bad game and will applaud and cheer that same player when they come out the other side. It’s a pity that others can’t

  45. Sorry Birdkamp, just don’t agree with your general logic, but I sympathise with your point. It would be a bit farcical to me if we all pretended Jack hadn’t been through some bumpy form over recent months, I think most of us here would agree that at 21 years old, having had the last 2 years of his career severely disrupted by injuries there are some great explanations as to why he might be taking time to get back to his best – with that in mind it seems weird to not simply acknowledge his struggle, there’s no danger of us hitting some slippery slope and all becoming awful people if we do so – there are already reactionary people out there who swing to extremes with their opinions, that doesn’t mean other people aren’t capable of fairly assessing players, teams and matches, acknowledging both good and bad. This idea of mere acknowledgement being a gateway drug is more dangerous than free discussion in my opinion.

  46. Detest Arsenal fans (present company accepted)

    Right whingers. Jack was ‘not good enough’ not too long ago. Now they’re on Ozil despite the assists this season (admittedly not up to his best yet…something called transition?)

    Histrionics. Walcott, Ramsey the list goes on.

    By numbers and odds, we have a good chance that one of our midfielders will be scoring when others don’t.

    Jack, Ramsey, Ozil, Santi, Rosicky…

    Great point about MonReal. Probably the second most satisfying thing after the result. Good to see our options sharp and ready. He’ll need games and I do think Wenger can afford to rotate on that flank more.

    Szsc has been immense. Our defensive solidity is very encouraging indeed.

    With Walcott (and Podloski) coming back in, suddenly the pundits that be have discovered a ‘new found’ depth to this Arsenal squad. 😉

  47. Yeah, and I’d be nuts to try to stop you, Damon. I also do it. I’ve said a few times I don’t rate Flamini as highly as Arteta. Just by doing that I’m putting Flamini down.

    So while I think there is a slippery slope, I wouldn’t want to stop anyone speaking their mind—well, as long as they aren’t being offensive. If it’s reasonable and I disagree, then ideally I’d like to challenge the opinion in a civil way (my record is not spotless though!). There’s not much any fellow football fan can do about the people who feel the need to go overboard at players. For starters it’s not our place. I hope their parents, spouses, girlfriends or boyfriends tick them off if they catch them though!

  48. Moe says:

    November 27, 2013 at 3:44 pm


    It’s fine criticising a player (I do it myself more than other people) but it’s when one or two performances is turned into he’s not good enough or he’s not worth the money and then things escalate pretty quickly from there.

    And the thing is not everyone will think the same , and that is that he is a quality player going through an average or bad performance. People will not keep it in context and that is the problem mate.

    I agree that it’s sad people write off so many young players so quickly – Birdkamp is bang on when he says some people will spend time looking for faults once they have judged a player, that happens in all walks of life – people commit to an idea or ideology and in their quest to justify their opinions disregard evidence that doesn’t back up their opinions and focus selectively on that which does – perhaps we all do that to varying levels but being aware of it is a healthy & handy thing in the attempt to be as fair as possible when it comes to making judgements on players.

    The escalation thing applies to some people and not others and it certainly does not apply to each and every person who has acknowledged a bad performance.

    People will disagree but to say all people will fail to keep it in context is wrong and the idea that all discussion should be shut down any time something like this is mentioned is unhealthy and creates a weird environment.

  49. C says:

    November 27, 2013 at 3:45 pm

    @Big Al and Zinc

    Well said mate and I completely agree with you except for 1 thing, he collected an assist last night on Jack’s 2nd goal. There isn’t anything wrong with saying a player had a bad game but for me Ozil really hasn’t played that bad. I mean yea his touch and passing isn’t always perfect but like you said the subtle things that create space for players and the simple things that he does so perfectly are what makes him truly a class player.

    I also think that Ozil’s mere presence and the possibility of him showing his class has helped free and better the players around him. The likes of Ramsey, Giroud, Jack, Mozart, Santi and Theo can play more freely not to mention they can do what they do best. He allows them to play their natural game and not have the burden of having to do eveything. Several players and managers have some out and say that Ozil makes the match easier for everybody on the pitch even if everyone of his touches and passes aren’t perfect because he does the simple things brilliantly.

    Its not about taking it as a personal attack for most fans, but I think there’s also the fact that most fans look at his price tag of 50M or whatever it truly was and say “he has to be perfect in every match to be worth that price” when there is so much more to it. The belief and excitement that he brought to the fans, players and manager was well worth not only the price tag but every match he plays. I know it might sound a little farfetched but he has seemed to revitalize the Goonerverse and because of that and because every single one of his touches or passes is met with such anticipation and excitement people will naturally be let down when things aren’t always pulled off then he is said to be having a bad match.

    Good post, except that I said he had a bad first half – I said he was better in the second and that after the penalty miss he seemed to wake up a lot – joining the attacks, trying to break the defensive line and get in behind, glad to see him eager to make up for the miss.

    I agree with the rest – it’s going to take time for him to really settle, learn the league and get to his best, that’s only natural in a new league and new team and as I said before, I think our lack of runners with Walcott, Poldi and Chamberlain all injured has meant Ozil hasn’t been able to play to his real strengths, once those three are back in the squad I think we’ll see even more from the player.

  50. Birdkamp says:

    November 27, 2013 at 4:28 pm

    It all sounds a bit dramatic, but I think there is a process that starts with people making sensible comments and ends with booing, Damon

    I’ve been talking in this exact manner about Arsenal for decades, I’ve never once booed the team. Your theory is just plain wrong – if you’ve seen people do that then judge those people as individuals, rather than assuming causation – that type of thinking leads to bad ideas generally. There’s a difference between fans having a balanced discussion about the game they just watched and not supporting the team whilst at the game.

  51. It was a very professional job, a little casual for my liking but professionally achieved nonetheless. I didn’t know Jack had that type of goal in him (the first that is), beautiful finish.

  52. Zinc, my sentence wasn’t well-phrased. I wasn’t talking about individuals, more the culture of negativity. It might begin with people making what might be salient points, but often gets hijacked by impatient morons who take it personally when a player underperforms (or appears to).

  53. @Zinc

    I know you were only referring to the 1st half mate, I was just talking in general with regards to the whole topic including your post. I completely agree with you that once Theo gets back playing regularly and Podolski and Ox on top of him becoming more comfortable not only with the team but with the PL than we will see the real Ozil. Its funny because for as well as he has played up to this point even with the assists and everything, the best is yet to come from the lad. Imagine when he reaches top form with the likes of Santi(who is still recovering match fitness and rhythm), Jack, Ramsey, Theo, Podolski, Giroud; those lads at top form will be absolutely devastating even on an off day.

    We have to realize that at present Ozil who is still adapting to a new club and league is sitting on 2 goals and 4 assists. That is 3rd on the team with Ramsey(6 goals and 4 assists) and Giroud(7goals and 4 assists) who are already accustomed to both the way Arsenal play and the PL not to mention both have been on the form of their respective careers to date.

  54. “Sleevegate”, this is what makes the papers after Arsenal acquired there 10th, 11th and 12th point in the group of death. If it is tradition that the captain makes the call then so be it, but really why is this even a relevant story?

    By the way, where can I read this criticism of Ozil performances from? I didn’t think he was any worse than a number of players showing a rather casualness to their play last night. That said and as I spoke to earlier, it was a professional job done with yet another clean sheet. I do however wonder why Ozil was taking the penalty, what with Giroud on the park and him having taken the two previous in the absence of Arteta. None of it however should detract from what we achieved and what we made look easy. We can after all only beat the opposition in front of us.

    Nacho did very well and the way he did seamlessly step in to the side works for us going forward. There’ll be no sale of this lad, world cup year or not.

  55. OK cool, I’m on the same side as you really – I fucking love the group of players we have in this team, I get the pleasure of actually feeling proud of each and every one of them, I can’t imagine the shame of having a Rooney or a Suarez in the team, pretending they’re not horrible people, it’s a superficial luxury perhaps but the reality is it means I have genuine affection for the people who make up Arsenal and that’s a nice feeling.

  56. I must be easily pleased, but I think it was a job well done last night and that is enough for me.

    As I said – easily pleased.

    The differences of opinion are just that and although it is interesting to hear peoples views on our players, there will never be agreement and why should there be. Not worth falling out about so I shall keep my mouth shut. 🙂

  57. @C

    Ozil’s has made 14 total appearances for the club to date in both EPL and CL fixtures, recording 3 goals and 6 assists. There should be zero criticism of him by anyone, whether an Arsenal fan or a media scribe. Giroud in his 17 appearances is now at 9 goals and 5 assists. Ramsey’s stats are 17 appearances (one as a sub) with 8 goals and 5 assists.

    Looking at this information it is abundantly clear that all 3 are candidates for Arsenal’s man of the year at this point in the season.

    My point, just ignore the criticism which is often neither factual nor relevant.

  58. I’ll make the prediction already, Player of the season in the EPL will be Sergio Agüero unless the lad acquires another lengthy injury. His form and goal contribution this year has been nothing short of extraordinary. Between the EPL and CL, 15 appearances and 15 goals. Not to mention his 6 credited assists.

  59. It’s just about respect and being reasonable.

    We are all going to get hacked off with a player or performance sometimes.

    Just don’t start frothing at the mouth and abusing people.

    It’s a cliche but treat others as you would hope to be treated.

  60. @MA

    I think it could be Ozil if/when we win the PL. I think he will come good as we all do but also he will not only probably top the assist chart but also his signing will be looked at as the catalyst. But I could be wrong. Personally, he could have the Player of the Season in the EPL if Arsenal are crowned Champions of the EPL!

  61. Birdkamp

    I agree that is all a bit dramatic. The reality is that the fans reactions is guided by the players form to a much much greater extent the the converse of a players form depending on the fans. Players and teams go thru patches of good form and bad form and the fans react to the way they are playing. Its a huge overstatement to say that the football we play depends on the good will of the fans. If that was the case then a team or a player in bad form could never pick itself up if the fans were getting nervous and thats just not true. Example, The negative feelings were probably at their highest after the first game loss to Villa yet the team has picked itself up and played very well and the fans mood has followed along. Ozil came in with incredible hype and fantastic fan support, yet has not played as well as he is capable. His form will move back to his norm at some point and the fans will react accordingly. I am certainly not trying to advocate or excuse booing or cursing at a player but that sort of bad behavior is by far the exception rather then the rule for a huge majority of fans.

    The idea that the fans are responsible for the teams and individual performances was used as the basis for all the arguments and debates we had for years about good fans vs. bad fans and good blogs vs Le Grove etc etc. That sort of stuff was more divisive to the fan base and more damaging to the team then anything the few over the top idiots could say.

  62. So here is a question for all you wannabe football managers. Having watched Manchester City this season (at least at home) do you think that the style of the 4-4-2 they employ is something worth considering for Arsenal? I was watching two hours of the Barclays Encore program last evening and used my Tivo (or whatever it is they call it) and went back on forth breaking down the City v Spurs game. It is obvious that City’s ability to fast counter broke the back of Spurs. It was achieved using a predominantly 4-4-2 system. I am going to exclude the obvious issues on the day that Spurs had marking players or indeed putting a tackle in. But, when looking at the personal of both sides we are not that dissimilar. Where Nava’s can create width with his pace on the right we have Theo and or Oxlade or Gnabry. Where City have Negredo we have Giroud and where they have Sergio Agüero we have Podolski. Okay, they are not all exactly like for like but you get the basic point. Thoughts?

  63. Interesting development in the Bayern match with Lahm going off injured in the 28′.

    It funny that people are talking about us and Sleevegate and Ozil’s form when Barca where beaten by Ajax yesterday and Ajax were playing with only 10 men from the 48th min on.

  64. Bill, I think it’s fair to draw the conclusion that the atmosphere in the Emirates affects the performances and results of the team. It’s also logical to discern a connection between the culture around a player on the internet and how they’re supported live. It’s reasonable also to assume that if a player checks his mentions on twitter and they are filled there will be a negative impact on his performance.

    No good blogs and bad blogs, good fans and bad fans. Just normal people and a minority that harms the club (some of the normal people start to seem less normal when they obsess about that minority). My original point about abuse was that the ball begins rolling in Internet forums, and there’s nothing anyone can do to stop it.

    Supporting Arsenal, there aren’t many things more unedifying that hearing one of our player’s names booed by the crowd, and I respect the desire among many to try to trace the source and cut it out, even if I think it’s futile and some people take it too seriously. That’s basically the thrust of it.

  65. For me it’s quite an interesting topic (as far as it goes) to bring up while things are going well and nobody’s in meltdown. Personally too, I’m interested to find out how my opinions of players will change over the course of the season. I don’t trust that they aren’t unfairly distorted by conversations with friends, TV commentary, blogs, twitter and whatnot.

  66. Good debate….. no abuse……….. logical assumptions and positive contributions…… all in all, I think most people agree we have a fucking good team at the moment, despite the occassional off game by the occassional player in the occassional game……………..on occasion I would agree.

  67. Hmmmm Id say the performance of the team affects the atmosphere in the stadium far far more than the atmosphere affects the players performance. You dont hear anyone booing when things are going well.

  68. @C

    To be honest players of the season usually goes to the top goal scorer. Bale did well last year but if I were being totally honest I think he got the nod because he was British. Not to say be wasn’t in contention because he was, but I think RvP should have got the nod with his 26 goals and 8 assists. Suarez was up there as well with his 23 goals and 5 assists of course as well, however his baggage didn’t help his case. Bale of course scored 21 goals and managed an additional 4 assists. Statistically RvP was the strongest player in the league last season, even if we think he is or was a Judas.

    I’m more miffed that Santi was not included in the team of year at the expensive of players he was statistically better than. However, like all these awards I tend to find them rather self serving and politically motivated rather than an accurate reflection of player performances.

  69. Nice one Yogi.

    On the subject in hand, booing and hurling abuse at your own player’s is surely counter-productive. A toxic atmosphere within your own stadium can only be helpful to the opposing the team. After a while it creates an almost tangible tension, which there has sometimes been at the Emirates, that every mistake, every misplaced pass, will be greeted with audible groans of displeasure.

    Of course Arsenal didn’t invent the phenomena of voicing your dissatisfaction by booing or whatever, however what happened to Eboue, as an instance, was something I’d never seen before, and thought was utterly shameful. The atmosphere after the Villa game as well, which Bill uses an example there, was nigh on poisonous. The abuse that day, and there is no other word for it, by some, directed at the manager, was also way way over the top. I wouldn’t blame Arsene if he never wanted to be subjected to that again..

    I have no problem with criticism of a player, performance(s) or the manager if it is warranted (football supporters have always enjoyed a good moan). As long as you support the player when they are wearing the shirt (even if it’s Bendy;)), and, as Bob points out, it is done with at least a modicum of respect. Otherwise it’s just plain old abuse. Worse, directed at your own. No good can come of that.

    Ozil is doing just fine. He’s lifted everyone around him since his arrival, maybe he’s had a little dip in his own form, he just looks a bit tired (still makes sublime contributions though), he’s played a lot of games in succession and is still getting used to the Premiership. The best is yet to come there. Which is a wonderful prospect..

  70. @MA

    Isn’t it funny how Bale won player of the season but Theo had better stats than him?!?!?!? Baffling it truly is, really baffling. Santi being excluded was down to pure politics if you ask me. The thing is, what better way to show them how wrong they were than Arsenal lifting the EPL trophy this season?!?!?!?

    We shouldn’t be surprised though, British media is all about the here and now not the body of work. I mean Bale, not to mention look at Townsend(15 appearances for club and country 3 goal and 0 assists); has been poor for club and has been loaned out more times than Bendtner has been in trouble with the law but he is the savior of the English squad! I would and I’m pretty sure the players to a man would take teh EPL title over any individual awards in England.

  71. Harry @7:48

    I agree with every word.

    We all have a moan occasionally usually out of disappointment or frustration, but there is a line that should not be crossed.

  72. Birdkamp.

    It is an interesting topic and better debated now during the good times. I can understand the theory behind what you say but the level to which you take your argument and the slippery slope cause and effect relationships that you postulate go way to far I think. l am paraphrasing, but CF4 and Diaby are both on record as saying that they think the fans should question the players and management when things are not going right and the fans were overly accepting of subpar performances. The players should be motivated by the fans wanting more. I don’t think those players were asking for the fans to boo and hurl coins on to the pitch but fans that politely cheer when someone makes a bad pass is not useful. Players are smart enough to know when they are not playing well and they don’t need to look on twitter to tell them that. If what we are told is correct, Arsene tried to nurture the players and always build them up for years and that approach did not really work. According to Cazorla one of the things that is different now is that he has become more demanding. Again, I am not advocating bad irrational behavior, but players do need to be expected to perform. No?

    Its all a matter of degree and fans expecting the players to play well and being upset with a string of under performances is the way fans have always behaved and you can’t change that. If players can’t function effectively if he gets on twitter and reads some says he had a bad game when he did play poorly then that player will not make it in the PL. Thats just reality.

    Regarding the Emirates, Just like any stadium in the world the atmosphere at the Emirates will be great when the team plays well and it will not be very good when the team plays poorly. For many reasons the Emirates probably is less vocal then some other stadiums but its always been that way. Perhaps even more now that the ticket prices and the corporate boxes decrease the number of “blue collar” fans who are the ones who make the most noise.

    Bottom line for me is that its a matter of degree. Clearly I dislike the fringe element that curses at the stadium and gets on line and slags off players but thats a small minority I think. Unfortunately the fringe element is unavoidable if you want to be able to have access to internet discussion boards like this. Those types are best ignored. The other end of the spectrum was even more damaging IMO. The soldiers who fought the doomer wars of the past thought they were doing the right thing but in reality it just promoted a civil war that divided the fan base.

  73. Harry.

    I agree that there is a line that should not be crossed but IMO it certainly does not include voicing an opinion such as Arsene made a huge mistake for a lot of years by not placing enough priority on fixing the defense, or commenting that Jack W has not played up to potential most of this year and before yesterday’s game I would not have included him in our best 11. The fact that I am a huge Flamini fan does not mean I am slagging off Arteta. I know that is not what you are implying but some will take it to that extreme.

  74. MA

    Still in the Bahamas. Will make our way down South Sunday when the weather clears. Currently holed up in Compass Cay, one of the most stunningly beautiful places Ive ever seen. Just spent the last few hours swimming with about 40 nurse sharks and about to eat a dinner of fresh caught lobsters and conch.

    Not missing South Florida one bit.

  75. Hi all,

    Just wanted to ask about this cut-off sleeve deal. Why did he cut them off? I think I have seen something about tradition or something but I cannot find it now. I really don’t have a clue about it so if anyone explain me about this sleeve thing I would be much appreciated.

    And Jens Lehmann came to Mongolia few days ago. And we have met him. Never seen an Arsenal player before so we’re pretty excited about this. 😀

  76. MGS

    The tradition is that the kit man will ask the team captain before each game which sleeve length he wants to wear.

    Whatever sleeve length the captain decides is the one that the rest of the team wears.

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