Responses, Contracts & Common Sense

He’ll talk. And when does, he’ll crack like the Arsenal defence at Anfield…

So tonight is the night when the pressure begins to show. Whether Arsenal will be the ones to feel it or nerves overcome Chelsea remains to be seen. Their bus driver appears to be quite enjoying himself at the moment, Pellegrini well on course to become his Keegan. For Arsenal, at the end of ninety minutes at The Hawthorns, they expect to be four points behind the leaders. West Brom go into a fixture they have won for the past two seasons in abject form. Despite not losing at home in the Premier League for nearly two months, they have won once in 2014 and only twice since drawing 2 – 2 at Stamford Bridge in November. Even in a season which has thrown up some eye-catching results, this is one step too far. Surely?

In a way, it will be good for Arsenal. They know they have to respond to Saturday’s mauling, the players freely admit that. Being two points behind Chelsea or less offers them the prospect of having ‘gotten away with it’; a sense that they have somehow cheated the bear trap of a poor performance. The problem is that I want them to get away with it, life becomes simpler if it is in their own hands and to a certain extent they did with Manchester City dropping points at Carrow Road. You could end up with Marty Feldman eyes looking for too many teams results and working out the various permutations. Title aspirations remain resolutely in Arsenal’s hands; beat both Chelsea and City whilst accumulating more points than them over the rest of the seasons will see silverware lodged in The Emirates trophy room for the first time. But first there is the small matter of winning tomorrow night.

Thankfully Manchester United put in a limited performance on Sunday but like Arsenal, they have a point to prove tomorrow. Arsène will sympathise with David Moyes’ media coverage but it will be a tight affair, even drab. Moyes never sought to entertain when Everton visited, simply to stifle; expect more of the same on Wednesday. It is up to Arsenal to provide the wit to break them down whilst keeping the attack at bay. Moyes won’t care about the chiding his players received for the number of crosses, he will have been more concerned with their lack of imagination and he will have noticed Arsenal’s vulnerability to pace; expect a repeat of his November employment of Antonio Valencia in a wing back role.

Wenger was reportedly furious at half-time although it stirs to mind the Gerald The Gorilla sketch from Not The Nine O’Clock News;

“Of course, Gerald was wild when we caught him.

Wild? I was absolutely livid.

Let’s see if it did any good beyond the second forty-five minutes. That period is dangerous to relate to. Yes, Arsenal were better but by then Liverpool had sewn up the game and were not pushing as hard for goals. It would be easy to fall into the trap of trying to minimise the first half aberration by countering the improvement shown in the second. That shouldn’t happen and rightly, I don’t think the manager is minded to offer respite to the players even if they have “Learned our lesson” and “Will not let it happen again“.

Fortunately for them, the media has been seduced by the strong unbeaten runs that the club embarked on after defeats this season; not yet have they looked to see the upcoming matches and divorce the two notions. Let’s be honest, if Arsenal come through winning their next seven Premier League matches, the authorities can deliver the trophy in April ready for the parade at the season’s end. The difficulty level has ratcheted up and little respite is offered in defeat. Which is no bad thing, players continually tell us that they want to play in big matches; Arsenal can offer that in abundance in the next month. I wouldn’t like to offer a view whether there will be any after this burst until the final whistle tomorrow.

And so to Bacary Sagna. Arsène hinted last week that the French full back had rejected a new contract offer from the club. There is a long way to go until his current deal runs out but news that he has signed for another club would come as no surprise. If it were another player, questions might rightly be asked about commitment over the coming months. Wenger’s recent assertion that there should be no concerns about that resonate with me; Sagna seems to be too professional to be distracted by the future. It might turn out that he re-signs with Arsenal and that should be welcomed for his departure would be a big blow to the squad yet it is going to come at some point, he will gradually lose his place in the side to Jenkinson or whatever young buck comes along to usurp him.

What would be disturbing is if the club has lost an experienced professional over £10k per week. In an era when they are expecting record revenues year after year, there is a commercial naïvety in contract negotiations which fail over small amounts, especially when experienced players who benefit the squad now and in the future are concerned. Equally, deals for Rosicky and Mertesacker seem far less near to completion than the spin had them six weeks ago. News ebbs and flows but right now the club needs to show the same Common Sense that Gilberto Silva speaks so eloquently of in this morning’s Guardian concerning the future of Brazilian club football. Resolving contract issues quickly would be a good start.

’til Tomorrow.

90 thoughts on “Responses, Contracts & Common Sense

  1. Sagna did not show that he will play with the passion needed against Liverpool, in fact he was poor for the first goal walking back when caught upfield.

  2. “Scottie” Parker with a black eye…..nice one although would have been nicer when he was actually playing for the lilylivered whites.

  3. Morning YW qui ta raison with your point regards keeping Sagna. What is mere £10.000 a week. Sagna has been a loyal servant

  4. Super Post, Yogi.

    From belatedly reading Bill’s comments, from yesterday, repeatedly denying we have a pace ‘problem’ he will not be happy to read your mention of Moyes’ critique “he will have noticed Arsenal’s vulnerability to pace;’! 🙂

    You are surely correct, of course.

    You have described the Sagna situation very well, although I suspect that your concerns regarding Arsenal being niggardly over £10K a week being the deal breaker will be groundless, as I am sure he would only move to the oligarchical Monaco or PSG for a big bucks increase over his Arsenal deal.

    Unlike us fans, players always depart their clubs/teams, for a variety of reasons — and in those circumstances it becomes ‘The King is dead, long live The King’ and we move on.

  5. I see the bitter cunt Robson is trying to stir up trouble again…this time saying he has heard rumours the Germans are miffed at Wengers training methods, did Wenger shag his wife or something.

  6. Stewart Robson has been sitting in his padded room stabbing dolls of Wenger all season waiting to be called on to talk sport after a disastrous result, he briefly got let out on day release after the shitty win. Fuck knows what will happen if we lose to utd.

  7. I used to like Robson as a player, but he is so anti Arsenal it’s not true. I have added Michael Owen to that list after his “unbiased” commentary on Saturday. The guy who really earned my respect is Gary Neville.. As a player he was up there with Cashley on my hate list

  8. Morning Yogi, illustrative post as usual. Tomorrow would be a good chance for the team to prove their title credentials, if they are able to surmount the threat of the red Mancunians, then subsequent top matches are doable but anything less than resounding victory against the floundering champoons would leave more questions than answers, create further doubt in the players mind and further erode their confidence.
    I think Arsene at this point should bridge the gap of the few quids separating them and sign Sagnal on extention because he is better than many available replacements and could cost less, while giving Jenky run for his money for another three years. Arsenal should avoid another Flamini situation that would reduce the team strenght rather than imprpve on it. Jenky is good and has potentials but he seems not ready for the rigours of consistent title contention.
    Rosiscky and Per should also be retained as integral part of the first XI.

  9. thanks for the post, sagna has been a good player for us, but im in agreament with gary neville who recently said that being a full back is a young mans game. If we see jenks as a replacement then imo it shows a lack of ambition, jemks is a tryer and so i believe a dam good egg but he is not what is needed for a team with ambition at the very highest level. as ive said before, we have done very well this season, CL, FA cup and second in the prem, our current sqad is ageing and lacks pace, we have genuine prospects coming through. I think that the ballance , in terms of age and experience i observe that there is a gap, i look forward to next season as a start of good things to come as long as we invest well.

  10. Yea that Michael Owen has turned out to be right little shit eh!
    Id like to see Podolski up front for Man U.. We have become so dull and predictable in our play that a shake up and new approach may not only invigorate us but also throw off our opponents who will be setting up to play against our 4-6-0.
    Lets surprise them, a front 3 of Carzola, Podolski and Ox in front of Rosicky, Arteta and Ozil. It really cant be any worse than what we seen on Sat.

  11. Yogi top post as usual and always goes well starting my day off reading ACLF instead of work reports!

    I agree, Moyes will look to stifle our attack and it is now up to the likes of Ozil, Santi, Mozart, Podolski, Giroud and whoever else starts to figure it out and rise to the occasion. The good thing though is that Manure don’t really have the pace that has troubled us nor do they have the players capable of high pressing us. Mata, RvCunt, Rooney, Young, Jnazai, Valencia? none of them are really pace even though Valencia and Jnazai do have some pace but nothing to absolutely fear. I do think though that we have to play at a higher tempo especially with Carrick and Fletcher probably starting in the middle of the park, let them chase shadows and get at their slow back 4.

    If we lose Sagna because we won’t pay him 10K more per week then to me that is a problem especially on the back of our Puma deal plus minor deals like our new watch deal with JeanRichards plus Arsene ready to sign a new deal worth 8M per year. While I couldn’t hold anything negativity if Sagna did leave because he has done it the right way and been a brilliantly classy servant to the club from the moment he signed.

    Jenks for me just isn’t ready to step up and be a starting RB on a squad that is contending for the EPL, CL and FA Cup title. Maybe in a couple years but not presently and I wonder if all those rumors about us chasing a RB was Arsene saying he thinks the same thing.

  12. @Pistol

    I actually really like that idea as it would allow us to play a more 433 that against a side like Manure with a shit back 4 and a slow Carrick and Fletcher would give them plenty of pace and movement to deal with.

  13. Yogi: Another fantastic post. Thanks

    ManU has been in miserable form this season and we need to beat them. I am confident our defense will regain its integrity and we can hold them to 1 goal or fewer. If it does not then we are in a world of hurt. We will need to score a couple of goals which will be the difficult part. I expect a nervy 1-0 or 2-1 win.

    We really need to resign Sagna. He has been excellent for the majority of this season. I think his crossing and his attacking play has been better this season then at any time in the last 3 -4. He has brilliant at bringing the width to our right flank. Almost every game (with the exception last Saturday) his crossing has been consistently accurate and he has been putting a few extremely dangerous crosses into the penalty box in almost every game. We need to keep him or get someone else who has similar ability.

  14. C

    Im convinced Podolski can do a job up front for us. I keep hearing its not his best position but he has played there before many many times. It wasn’t RVP’s position either when he was first asked to play there. Given a fair run of games Im sure as shit he will score more goals than Giroud.
    I could not begrudge Sagna leaving, he has been a great servant to the club for many years and apart from deserving a nice fat pay check for his last few good seasons he really deserves to win something. PSG or Monaco can probably offer far more opportunity for him to do that than we can.

  15. @Pistol

    I completely agree and have been banging on about it since we were first linked with Podolski. I think the thing that people say is that he drops deep to receive the ball and then make a run or spin his defender to get behind him plus he makes late runs into the box but the funny thing is that, that is exactly how we played when RvCunt was here not to mention we play that way with Giroud the only difference is that his back is to goal but he doesn’t spin off his defender he just reposts(which has been working for us). I also think that with Podolski and either Gnabry or Ox on the wing it will play to the strengths of Ozil and Santi; they will be able to find and pick the movement of those players infront of them not to mention Mozart, Santi and Ozil will have Manure chasing shadows as well as making forward runs. Another thing people always say is that Podolski doesn’t hold the ball up as well as Giroud but he actually does just doesn’t do it in the same way that Giroud does. Thing is people say Theo couldn’t do it either but the times he played centrally this year he looked pretty damn good at holding up the ball.

    The biggest thing is that we would be playing with more movement, interchangeability and pace and might even make us more attacking on top of our already top defense.

  16. Giroud, stopping trying to recruit Lloris as we have a top class GK in Sczny. Plus I need you to stop focus on recruiting and focus more on scoring goals!!

  17. More club news:

    Seems we will never see Joel Campbell in an Arsenal shirt as he is looking to leave this summer and apparently stay at Olympiacos on a permanent.

  18. Henry:

    “From belatedly reading Bill’s comments, from yesterday, repeatedly denying we have a pace ‘problem’ he will not be happy to read your mention of Moyes’ critique “he will have noticed Arsenal’s vulnerability to pace;’!”

    Pace is a valuable weapon and I would certainly love to have more pace but it is not a magic bullet. Liverpool’s pace makes them difficult to defend but if we had played well we could have dealt with their pace in the same way we have been dealing with our relative lack of pace all season. We handled Liverpool with ease the first time we played them and they had just as much pace then. We have handled pacey teams such as the 2 games with Spurs without difficulty. The difference between those other games and the game last Saturday was between our ears.

    I agree completely that we should add more pace and athleticism especially in deep midfield position. Pace makes a team more difficult to defend against and it can cover up for some of your defensive mistakes. However, we have dealt very effectively without that pace for the last 13 months (especially this season) and we can do it now if we play the way we have most of this season. The reality is that if lack of pace is our problem then we might as well raise the white flag right now because we are not going be suddenly finding more pace anytime this season. We might also need to sell Ozil, Wilshere, BFG, Arteta, Giroud and all of our other slow pokes since they are going to be getting any faster.

  19. Sagna isn’t the only contract that needs renewing though, on the youth front there are 9 players that are out of contract come summer. They are: Benik Afobe, Chuba Akpom, Zak Ansah, Daniel Boateng, Zachari Fagan, Isaac Hayden, Kris Olsson, Leander Siemann and Ignasi Miquel; of those I expect Olsson, Hayden, Ajobe and Akpom to for sure get new deals and the rest I think could be let walk. Such a shame for Miquel that he has been injured for most of his loan just now returning to match fitness for Leicester City who are possibly on the verge promotion. When he has shown in the 1st team he was actually quite good and I think he is one that depending on how the rest of his loan goes could be offered a new contract.

  20. @Bill

    On the issue of pace, I think we do lack pace and that is what allows teams to high press us. Would teams do that if we had Theo in the side or even Podolski who has the ability to get behind back 4’s? I highly doubt it. Ozil has quite a turn of pace if you watch him, he glides and runs past player quite frequently but also pace allows our creators to be at their best. Its not about selling those players that lack pace but where the pace is. We severly lack pace in our attack, not only in players but actually pace of play. We have become predictable and play so slowly because of that lack of pace. Pace also brings about movement which we all can agree is something that has been severly lacking since Theo went out injured and Arsene disliking Podolski and Giroud posting up.

    Pace infront of players like Ozil, Santi, Mozart, Jack and Ramsey makes us deadly because all that possession would ultimately lead to an end product. The defense falls asleep for a moment allows the attacker to “get on him” and he is toast once the ball is played because by the time they react the player is off to the races or either past him in a scoring position. As opposed to a attacker that lacks pace who can “get on” a defender and the defender still being able to react because the attacker won’t always beat him. That is not a knock on players like Giroud because of everything they bring physically but you need pace around him to allow him to be at his best.

    Lastly, pace creates space!

  21. Also our lack of pace allows the other team to hold a might line with out having to worry about getting caught by a ball over the top or well placed through ball. This congests the mid field and results in all the back and sideways passing that is doing my head in. We also cant catch teams on the break, or from corners like we used to do. Remember the thrill of seeing Henry receive the ball high up in our half after a corner or free kick and tearing off towards the opposition goal ? Who ever was left defending would shit themselves into a panic. Now when that situation arises Giroud is usually the one closest to our goal, and we have a midfielder up there who has to hold up the ball and wait for support. The other team has all the time in the world to get back and by the time we have the ball at the edge off the box there are 10 men back behind the ball and its ultimately passed all the back to our keeper who hoofs it back up field. Rinse and repeat.
    We really need to mix it up.

  22. @Yogi

    Wouldn’t it be a shame to lose Sagna to an extra 10K per week especially on the back of singing yet another multi-year partnership deal with Cooper Tires starting at the beginning of the 2014/2015 season.

  23. C:

    Pressing high is one of the best ways to defeat a team with pace by putting pressure on the passer so he can’t make the outlet pass. Barcelona are the best example. Despite playing their high line without pacey CB’s (Pique and Puyol) they conceded fewer goals then almost team in Europe because they were so effective pressing up high.

    Pace is a certainly a good thing and it would be great if we had more. However again it’s not a magic bullet. Walcott for all of his pace was relatively useless for years because he didn’t have the technique. Gervinho had plenty of pace but he was not effective for us. In the last game against Liverpool Ox had almost as much pace as Walcott on the right but was not effective. Gnabry had a couple of good games but despite his pace he was not consistently effective. Cazorla is not slow, neither is Ozil. Wilshere is not pacey but he can be very effective at moving the ball forward quickly when he is playing well. Players like Bobby Pires or DB10 were not blessed with bags of pace but they were extremely effective at attacking the goal with pace and counter attacking. Pace helps but non pacey players can attack at a high tempo. The scenario you dream of with the wonderful through ball to the pacey striker or winger who has gotten behind the defense is an uncommon exception even for the best counter attacking teams. Man City didn’t cut us open with through balls behind the defense. They moved the ball forward at pace and attacked the goal before we could set our defense. Clearly it helps but you don’t need players with bags of pace to play a high tempo attacking game. Additionally, a less pacey defensive team can neutralize a pacey attacking team if they are organized or can press effectively.

    This season we have slowed our down our attack either by design or just because that is the habit we have fallen into. We can’t move forward at pace with our backs to the goal.

    I hope that makes sense.

  24. @Bill

    While your arguement makes sense in writing it is a tad off kilter IMHO.

    You speak of Barca, where when they did press high lets be honest, teams just didn’t attack them for the most part because they feared what Messi, Xavi, Inesta, Pedro and the rest of them could do attacking wise so that really isn’t a good example for your argument because not only did Barca press high they also have pacey players like Pedro, Messi, Sanchez, Villa, Tello not to mention Inesta’s strength is his quick burst of pace and quick turn of pace.

    As for Manshitty, they do attack at a blistering pace on the counter which is led by Silva who may not be the fastest of players but has good pace but also Aguero and Navas with Negredo(underrated pace is you watch Manshitty play) and Yaya Toure who has a nice turn of pace plus is a load to stop once he gets going. In my post I talk about both player pace and playing at pace which is 2 different things. You talk about Ox having similar pace to Theo(which i don’t believe) but its also what you do with it and they are different players. Ox does make the movement to get behind the defense neither does Gnabry but that is one of Theo’s strengths which allows us to relieve the pressure. When a team does press and play with a high line against a team with a pacey winger/striker if they have players that can create a bit of space like Ozil, Santi, Cesc, Silva, Mata and then play the pass whether its into space or a through ball, teams are less liable to press the whole match for fear of what will happen. We have seen this time and time again throughout the years, Spain when Torres and Villa were at their best, Arsenal earlier this year when Theo was fit not to mention when Cesc was hear and plenty of times last year, France when they had Zidane and Henry. You speak of Pires, well he was the pacey winger that we had on our squad at that time, not to metion that is what made Henry so special was his ability to pick a ball up and run past defenders as though they were standing still. Berkamp was special because he could pick any pass he wanted after, Henry and Pires got behind the back 4 with their pace.

    Now I’m not saying pace is everything because it isn’t obviously or players like Ozil and Santi wouldn’t be praised for their exceptional passing but it does help especially in a side that loves to keep possession in midfield and then play those passes into the paths of the wingers and attackers making those forward runs.

  25. @Bill

    Plus, if you watch earlier in the season when Ozil was at his best, alot of times Giroud wasn’t playing with his back to the goal but was moving and looking to get into goal scoring areas along with Ramsey and Theo(pre-injury).

  26. My theory is that we have adapted this slower back to the goal style of play because it plays to the strength of our lone striker. The striker has to be the key player in almost any successful attacking plan because he is the furthest forward and most central player on the team and you can’t really build an attacking plan with utilizing his strengths so we didn’t have a lot of other options. Arsene envisioned our midfield playing off Giroud and spreading the goals around. We were successful early mainly because of Ramsey’s incredible start. It was inevitable that Aaron could not continue at that pace and the rest of our midfielders have struggled to finish consistently. Probably even more important is that over the course of the season the rest of the league has adapted and figured out how to defend against us. Unfortunately, there are not a lot of ways to vary your attack and you can’t attack at pace when you play with back to goal. The other teams have time to set up their defense and it’s difficult to break down an organized defense that knows what to expect.

  27. C:

    If we were attacking with pace and Giroud was facing the goal early in the season when we were so effective, then why did we change? Walcott and Podolski have hardly played this season. Early in the season we were playing cazorla wide left and Ramsey and Wilshere wide right. We have up just as much pace now as we did then.

  28. @Bill

    I will agree with everything except that I think Arsene envisioned Theo playing a massive part with Ozil and Giroud which we saw when all 3 were healthy but with Theo now out for the season we have changed our style. I am not completely convinced that Giroud is strictly a back to goal striker. When he was helping Montepellier win the Ligue 1, many times he was on the move and playing with movement and receiving the ball and finishing as we have seen him do plenty of times for us and was doing earlier in the season and I think it would not only make him but our overall team more dangerous if this was the case. I do think he has goals in him.

  29. Sorry for that link trying to embed during a meeting isn’t always the best. But that’s Giroud in the 11/12 season on Montpellier. That is the Giroud that would help bring the best out of Ozil and Santi and in return they would bring the best out of him.

  30. @Bill

    I think part of it was injuries to Theo, Ox, Podolski that made Arsene change to having all those midfielders and then we started to see the results with the heavy legs which IMHO kind of forced Arsene to slow down the tempo at which we were playing. When we were playing Ramsey and Jack on the wide right alot of times they would drive to the byline and the interchangeability of the players that were on the pitch helped create a type of pace but it was never going to last with the amount of matches they were all playing coupled with the injuries to Ox, Theo and Podolski made us slow the tempo or risk burning the players out. So Arsene adapted as we actually discussed on here if memory serves me correct because we talked about “Has Arsene become more flexible” and he proved to have done so.

    As you say, teams have figured us out and how to defend us and stop us so maybe its time to bring Podolski back left Santi back right and allow Podolski and Giroud to play with the movement and only play with their backs to goal if they are going to play a pass back to a midfielder to then spin and get behind the defenders.

  31. C:

    Pires and Henry were effective because of there ability and technique not just because of pace. Clearly the truly great attacking players have both technique and pace. ( Henry, Messi, both Ronaldo’s). Obviously that is the idea scenario. However there are plenty of strikers who are not fast but are very effective. Eduardo, RVP, Rooney, Van Nistelroy etc etc etc etc. How many attacking players with blistering pace but not much technique are effective? Someone like Agbonlahor or the early version of Theo come to mind. Again pace is a good thing and it makes a team more difficult to defend against and I would love to have more pace in our team but you can still be a very effective team without great pace. Look at last seasons ManU. They outscored the rest of the league by a fairly wide margin with very little overall team pace other then Valencia and he had had a bad season. The point of all of this is that more pace would be great but tou can stretch the field, score goals and play at a high tempo and defend very well without a whole group of pacey players. If we fall away from the title race our relative lack of pace will be a factor but it will not be the main reason. If we start to fade it will be because we lost our mental strength and focus on defense and we don’t have enough finishers

  32. @Bill

    I agree Henry and Pires were more than just pace but pace was as big a part of their play as their technique which both have openly admitted that Arsene left them focus on their pace and technique.

    Again you must not have been reading my whole posts(I know they were pretty long but still). I have continually said that we need both pace of player and pace of play which at present we lack in both areas. Sure teams can score a shit load of goals but it depends on how they play and the players that they have. We have players in Ozil and Santi at present plus Podolski and Mozart who excel at playing at a higher tempo in which Giroud can play at once he or Arsene remember that he is more than just a post up striker. Don’t get me wrong we have gotten to top of the EPL and challenging playing both ways this season, the primary point though is that teams have figured us out and we have seen Santi and Ozil at their creative best when we play at tempo and the attackers and wingers in front of them have movement and play both at tempo and at pace. In the summer I hope that Arsene does bring in more pace because we need it. When we play slow and methodical we struggle to score goals because we don’t have a consistent finisher that plays that give 1 chance will bury it every time but when we play at tempo(most of our goals even in matches we struggle with are created once we pick up the tempo while still having a rock solid defence). That is a large reason why so many people, you included have banged on about Mozart being included and starting matches because he does play not only at tempo but with a bit of pace that he has left which makes everybody around him pick both their pace of play up and the pace at which they move.

    At the end of the day the point is, with our defense being rock solid(2 minor blimps don’t count) we can play at a higher tempo attacking wise and it will lead to not only more good chances created but also space for our players to operate and helping to take some of the pressure off the back four once we get the ball and start on teh counter.

  33. C:

    The pace helps but Theo is not effective just because his pace helped to open up the pitch. . He has had that pace for 8 years. Theo has become effective because he figured out how to finish. I don’t remember that he opened up space on the right wing or him running behind the defense to receive a through ball and he didn’t use his pace to get to the byline. He spent the majority of his time cutting into the middle. Our style of play was just as slow against Chelsea, West Ham and Newcastle. The 2 games that he played that when we actually scored more then 1-2 goals were the 2 games that he scored a brace. It was not his blistering pace that helped us in those games. It was his ability to finish.

  34. I here u on that last comment. Gone are the days of aesenal mounting a devastating counter attack or hitting a team on the break due to an interception or forced opponent error.
    We have mostly played well throughtout the season but our goals seem to alway come from build up play (dare I say slow) and breaking there team down which has worked against most medium to lesser teams but has failed against the top 4.
    It difficult to explain the reasons why but some of it has to come down to personnel. For example arteta, as good player as he is likes to protect the ball at all costs. This means foward penetrating balls are the exception so we end up not playing out from the back quickly. Also defensively he like a lot of arsenal playetx does not like to press (the execeptions are rosiscky, Ramsey, gibbs, and wilshire). This means we always resort to absorbing pressure, with no thought of quick devastatinh attacks.
    A possible solution is to play rosiscky and wilshire as holding midfielders. Wingers should be poldoslki and ox/ganabry attacking mid carzola/ozil annd upfront giroud as we have no other options at the moment.

  35. We dont need blistering pace to attack with pace. We just need to be more direct. Somtimes it seems like a training exercise where the attack is required to wait till the defence is set, complete 20 passes, and then score within the penalty area.

  36. @Bill

    Again with pace its also about what you do with it. Theo is very good with his movement but making his movement at pace helps him when he getting behind a defense because he can “get on” a defender quickly and by the time they react he is gone. Now yes his finishing allows him to really flourish and open up the match not only for him but for others. Typically when Theo does makes his runs and movement he starts on the right and naturally when the ball is played through to him or however he receives it in space or to feet he will cut inside because that gives him more of an area to score. But his pace allows for him to get to where he has to go and causes the problems. I am a massive admirer of Theo probably more than more over the years but he is not a player that will take you on one on one with his dribbling because that’s not his style of play. His style is using his great movement and pace to get him into positions so that he can use his finishing ability.

    RvCunt’s last year when Theo was providing him with assist after assist most of them was him driving at the byline but from a wide position.

    I think this is really going nowhere because your going to keep saying that the other parts of the game matter just as much as pace and I’m not arguing that at all but the fact currently we need more player pace and pace of play is a FACT. The funniest part is that after matches you seem to always mention pace of play and Giroud not having enough pace to get behind defenses yet at present you are trying to minimize the effect of player pace. I understand that there is a lot more and there have been plenty of players with 0 pace that have been brilliant(at present Pirlo and Xavi come immediately to mind) but those players are made more effective not only by playing at pace but having players around then that have the pace and movement from both wide and central positions to get on the end of their passes.

  37. C:

    We have beat this to death. We both agree that more pace would be great but we also seem to agree that we don’t necessarily need a bunch of pacey players to play at a higher tempo. However we have chosen to play this slower back to goal style. We have been talking about our back to the goal all season and early in the year we were all praising the decision. Now that the rest of the league has adapted and it makes us look slow we don’t like it. IMO it will be difficult to play a different style with Giroud as our CF since this style fits his strengths. Podolski could play CF but he has been here for 2 seasons and we have no clue if he can be an effective at that position. Even though it appears boring and ineffective sometimes, it would be a huge risk to switch gears and try something new at this point. I suspect that we are going to finish the season playing this way and hope the defense can hold up and we can continue to nick enough goals to get the points we need.

  38. I think we will see a ineup tomorrow something like:

    Sagna—Mert—Kos—Nacho or Gibbs(doesn’t matter)

    But I wouldn’t mind seeing especially at home:

    Sagna—-Mert—–Kos—-Nacho or Gibbs

  39. C

    I agree to disagree! 🙂

    I am not his biggest fan but I think dropping Giroud at this point would be a huge risk. A whole new system without him at CF might not work and even if it does it will probably a few games to get up to speed and we don’t have a enough games left in this season to be experimenting.

    I hope we start Podolski out left but my guess is that we move Ox back to the Wilshere spot and keep Cazorla out left with Rosicky or Gnabry or may be even Wilshere out right. I also think we will bring in Gibbs.

  40. @Bill

    I really hope Jack doesn’t start because at present as me and you agreed yesterday, he just isn’t fit enough to be a regular and it is unfair to the team if he does. Gnabry I doubt starts due to the magnitude of the match. I do hope Mozart starts next to Arteta with Santi/Giroud/Podolski upfront and Arsene lets Ozil, Santi and Rosicky play their natural games and let Giroud and Podolski play with movement.

    It wouldn’t be a whole new system because we keep possession anyways, it would be more of Giroud and Podolski making the runs that we saw Giroud make earlier in the season when he was scoring goals and Podolski’s movement on the left flank.

  41. C

    Will be interesting to see what line up Arsene starts. I don’t think Wilshere’s poor game can necessarily be blamed on fitness. He was brilliant that entire first season but since then even when healthy he has been frustratingly inconsistent and I suspect he will have to play regularly for a lot of games over a long period of time before we will see him “back to his best” if that ever happens. However, I still think that Arsene considers him an important part of the team and I suspect he will start a majority of games that he is available.

    I agree with pistol fish at 6:16 regarding podolski but we shall see what happens tomorrow.

    I do hope Rosicky starts somewhere, but he has not started a league game for a couple of months and I think Arsene just likes having him as the first sub. Hope I am wrong.

  42. @pistol

    Honestly I do think he will be in reality he probably won’t. You just never know with Arsene because who would have thought Jack would have started after facing a late fitness test against Liverpool.

  43. I’d be happier if we abstain from extending Rosicky (admittedly he has been excellent this season) and instead use the money on Sagna, give him the extra season he requires.

    Reason being I don’t believe Rosicky will be as durable as Sagna over the next 3 seasons + whilst we can cover creatively in midfield, we are still half baked at RB without the Frenchman.

    That said, Seamus Coleman and Debucchy are surely possibilities we can bring in with immediate knowledge of the league.

  44. C

    We didn’t know before the game that jack was available. I may be wrong but I don’t remember JW not starting any game this season when was available so his starting was not really much of a surprise.

  45. @Bill

    “I suspect he will have to play regularly for a lot of games over a long period of time before we will see him “back to his best” if that ever happens. However, I still think that Arsene considers him an important part of the team and I suspect he will start a majority of games that he is available.”

    I think that is a risk(I think Jack can produce the goods when he is fit and firing), because your banking on a player that is still working his way back to his best to play through it during a massive set of matches that will more or less play a key role in whether or not we win the EPL. At present I would start Ox, Podolski and Mozart in front of Jack.

  46. With regards Rosicky, he is a player who is always up for the scrap.

    Ozil is quality but he drops his head far too quickly when things don’t go our way. This does not help either the team or himself.

    If he invest 10% extra effort in being positive (much like Ramsey did with being aggressive), it will improve him as a player, much as Fabregas did in his last seasons with us.

    He should start against United. However if he still looks nonchalant about things, then Rosicky is a perfect player to come in to bring on some fight and get us going quicker.

    I think the back 4, Arteta and Jack pick themselves along with Giroud for the game tomorrow.

    Where there may be need for rotation would be in our attacking midfield 3.

    Santi should get the nod at LW ahead of Podolski. I still like to have Chamberlain on for speed. Many have gone on about him not being that quick but that is deceptive. Granted he isn’t as quick as Walcott but their use of speed is different. Where Walcott makes runs for the ball, Chamberlain runs with the ball. What Chamberlain does need to do (along with Jack) tomorrow is give us more vertical movement, particularly for Ozil and Santi.

    Come second half, I’d like to see Podolski come on. Maybe shift Santi RW and drop Chamberlain to Jack’s position if Jack is flagging. There may also be call for Rosicky alternatively in a slew of positions if we are chasing the game.

    The key I feel to our success is to use our assets in midfield fully within the game. We need to sustain through 90 minutes pressing high and keeping the other team on the back foot. Where we have been a bit more calculative and defensive, we have often invited teams into our half which may add extra pressure on the back 4 and result in goals against.

    keep them in their half I say, and keep at them mercilessly.

    We need to prove a point (or preferably 3) to keep up this time round. we failed last Death Run but were fortuitous. This time round may not be quite as forgiving.

  47. C @ 6:56

    I completely agree that letting JW play his way back to fitness and form is a risk as this point in the season, and like you I would rather see TR7 starting regularly. However, the evidence to date would suggest that the boss does not agree with us.

  48. In a game against teams like United, we need fighters.

    This is the central problem with Ozil in that hitherto (and I hope he proves us wrong) he is very good bbut he isn’t a fighter.

    Neglecting the fact that Flamini was playing against city when we were drubbed, this may be a reason why many were calling for him.

    Jack to me even if not on best form is a real fighter as is Rosicky. To some extent Chamberlain can be counted on to put in a shift too.

    I think Ozil will get an opportunity to redeem himself and Santi will be a must to ensure creativity.

    Next to Arteta, one can play either Jack or Rosicky. I still think Jack is slightly more useful defensively.

    There is a possibility of course of playing both Rosicky and jack to help Arteta. That would however mean Ozil may have to operate a bit wider right in balance with Santi on the left. Chamberlain will be then left out and we will sacrifice a bit of his pace.

  49. @Bill,

    I think Wenger being who he is, he will give the same starting 11 (bar likely Monreal) a second chance.

    If things don’t improve, he will have some options to choose from in midfield.

    Wenger is not the most tactical of coaches and prefers an open form with the players adjusting to situation within the loose 4-3-3 framework. One can argue he is slow to react to tactical issues but this team simply should have more quality than suggest over last game.

    I’d love to see Rosicky and Jack together but I’m not sure one can do that without sacrifice to either Ozil or Santi. As illustrated above, teh alternate in accommodating both may mean a change in system which Wenger will be loath to adopt at this point as he will view it as too risky.

  50. @Bill

    You do make a good point, Jack has started 22 matches, been used as a sub 6 times and an unused sub once. I tend to agree with you that Arsene seems to value Jack as an important player for this club but that doesn’t mean he needs to start if he is not playing well.

  51. @poodle

    Puma is doing very well when it comes to players around Europe to be honest. I wouldn’t mind them using their powers for good in the transfer market lol

  52. Santori.

    Agreed. Other then perhaps in the upcoming FA cup game, I don’t think we will see either Ozil or Cazorla rotated unless they are injured or so tired that they can’t play.

  53. People in the Goonerverse are going crazy! People are calling Podolski and Santi disgraces because the official page posted a photo of them smiling during a training session.

    Do they think that they are suppose to not smile and enjoy their time and that because they smile they are not working hard. I don’t get it.

  54. I don’t even know if we will be putting out anything that much different in the FA cup because of who the opposition is. Then just after that Bayern.

    Unless the result (again) is poor after United, he will resist too many changes through this period.

    Hope we show a bit of resilience both mentally and physically.

    The only area as I mentioned we have play is in midfield where sensible rotation within the game may give us better impetus to stay the course over a 90 minute period.

    I feel we have enough for the domestic push but seem slightly light up top for Europe. Giroud is a strong player who puts in a good shift and has a good touch (at times) but as we’ve all remarked upon before, a slightly different striker with a bit more pace to play off shoulder could be useful in Europe.

    Podolski could be a possible alternative to the Giroud or Bendtner target man play but I suspect he is the sort that likely will be better in tandem with say a Walcott (added threat). Alas Theo is unavailable so there it is.

  55. @C

    The alternative take would be they don’t let the pressure get to them.


    You just can’t please the Goonerverse can you? (* Unless we trash United by 6 goals of course hat trick to Ozil.)

  56. C.

    I didn’t know the numbers but I am actually surprised that JW has started on the subs bench in 7 of the 29 games he was available. Arsene rotated him more then I remember. Nonetheless I agree with Santori and I suspect he will start.

  57. @Santori

    I think that is it more than anything. I mean both have played in massive matches in their careers and both have always said in interviews that when they are playing futbol they tend to play with smiles on their faces because its such a joy playing. 😉

    The Goonervers will never be happy even if we trash Manure. They will find something to bitch and complain about even if its, “Well why did Arsene put Yaya on the bench”.

  58. @Bill

    I was surprised to more with the number of games he has started but then I remembered that for most of the season we have been without Theo, Podolski and Ox not to mention Arteta was out for quite a bit early.

  59. Hmm wonder if we could have done with player like Matic. Young, strong and all that…Not that i do not like Arteta or Flamster but Matic is very good…

  60. Poodle.

    Chelsea has the same problem as we do. Dominate possession but struggle to score. If they hold on it would be their 4th clean sheet in a row. As we know you can win that way but it leaves very little margin for error and a lot of nervy games. Hopefully the Baggies can nick a goal

  61. Victor Anichibe booked for excessive celebrations

    2 million gooners would have been sent off

  62. I’m quite curious now how the press will deal with the West Brom v Chelsea result. I mean, they are the champions elect, no one could touch their class apparently. In all honesty, a poor game by Chelsea, comfortable enough on the ball but created very little and seemed to lack the desire to go for the throat (sounds a little like another mean I’m very well acquainted with). West Brom and Brunt in particular must be ruing some of his missed opportunities with that left peg.

    Anyone else catch Bourinho’s comments with regard to their desire to sign a top name striker but being unable too due to the limitations of FFP? Interesting if true. I also saw that Man City’s owners own to buy another club to hide money from FFP by using it has more infrastructure costs (like their acquisitions of NY City FC and Melbourne Heart).

  63. “Loads of pace in Chelsea’s starting 11 and it’s not helping them score”

    hmm, apart from Salah coming on late what pace are you talking about? Arsenal and Chelsea both lack pace in the advanced roles.

  64. Hazard, Willian and Oscar all have pace, Ramires and Matic are not speed burners but both move well for deep midfielders. Torres and Eto’o could certainly outrun our strikers.

  65. Chelsea dropping points!

    Please, just a win tomorrow. Any win.

    I still remember the feeling when we last did it in November 2008. Nothing compares to beating that lot. It’s delightful. Hope to experience this high again.

  66. Pace analysis…

    Wojo v Cech… Wojo
    Sagna v Ivanovic… Draw
    Per v Cahill… Cahill
    Kos v Luiz… Draw
    Monreal/Gibbs v Azpilicueta/Cole… Gibbs
    Arteta/Flamini v Matic/Ramires… Ramires
    Jack/Ramsey v Willian… Willian
    Santi v Oscar… Oscar
    Ozil v Hazard… hmm, tough… Draw (neither really run with real pace)
    Giroud v Torres… Giroud

  67. If I were a Chelsea or City fan, I would have concerns about their long term ownership. Both in effect are rich boys playthings and the day may well come when they find another toy to play with. I know the Emirates pretty well and there is huge competition between Dubai and it rich brother Abu Dhabi. Dubai had the best airline… Emirates, so Abu Dhabi created Etihad. Dubai had one of the top hotels The Burg Al Arab so Abu Dhabi built the Emirates Palace. Dubai had the worlds largest flag, so Abu Dhabi got a bigger one. Roughly translated Etihad means United. So City play at the United stadium stadium. Could you imagine Arsenal playing at Spurs stadium.
    I do wonder where these teams will be in 10 years time

  68. @Bill

    “Hazard, Willian and Oscar all have pace, Ramires and Matic are not speed burners but both move well for deep midfielders. Torres and Eto’o could certainly outrun our strikers.”

    You make me giggle sometimes. Of course it is rather subjective. The difficulty of course is that players like Ozil, Santi, Oscar and Hazard never really play with pace they use their feet to dink and move the ball around. Chelsea do have Salah who does have genuine pace just like we have a currently crocked Theo. Torres is no where near as fast as you seem to think he is but Eto could will be the winner between all the strikers (even at 32). Podolski definitely isn’t in the running for that award. In retrospect I probably rate Kos as a faster player than Luiz, the later is definitely more physical.

    Perhaps what you see as pace is the fact that you have more runners from Chelsea willing to commit to the box going forward? In that regard I would agree they seem to be faster but it misses the point that Arsenal just don’t have player willing to commit like that aside from Oxlade and Ramsey. Arsenal will typically surround the 18 yard box on the counter rather than risk a nose bleed at the 6 yard 🙂

  69. @The Flame is Storey in disguise says

    Man City are definitely spending a lot of money. The recent acquisitions of no name clubs has been done arguably to help them hide money from FFP scrutiny. My personal favorite from the recent City accounts was the money the owner paid his own club for intellectual property and expert knowledge (approximately 12M). Deliottes seem to think City are still, going to be 11-12M shy of FFP regulations so it’ll be interesting to see what the summer holds. I thought Bourinho’s recent comments about the spending habits of City were rather rich, but then hypocrisy has never been a stumbling block for the man.

  70. @Miami

    Doesn’t surprise me at all. These guys have incredible amounts of cash available, I am sure they have highly paid lawyers working on how to get round ffp regs

    Thanks for posting

  71. Alright I will agree with you that “loads of pace” is probably an overstatement but Chelsea has plenty of pace up front and they certainly have more pace then we do. I guess it all depends on your definition of pace. If you call anyone slower then Walcott/ Sterling/Saleh as lacking pace then I would agree that chelsea lacks pace but so does every team. We talk about Man city having pace but the only real true pacey player they have is Navas. Aguero when he plays is fast but pace is not his main weapon and he is not Henry or Ronaldo fast. He has great technique and a a very thick lower body and a lot of strength. Negredo, Dzeko and Yaya all move well for men their size but they don’t rely of their pace. Fernandinho does run very well for a deep midfielder but so does Ramires. Silva is not any faster then JW. IMO. It’s all relative. The difference is that Man city moves the ball forward at pace and even silva gets involved despite his lack of foot speed. We don’t move the ball forward at pace.

  72. @Bill

    Fluidity in your movement is certainly something to admire in a player. Yaya has it, deceptively quick and fluid but more so because he is so tall and his strides so long. I think man for man Chelsea may well have the edge in pace, but it is not “certainly” which implies it is obvious. I don’t think it is obvious at all. I do think Chelsea are a more physical team to go with their ability on the ball. I would also go so far as to say I think they have a better mental edge in big games, actually that is pretty obvious. The thing is with both us and them is that both teams play very narrow.

    Nava does have pace, but more importantly he holds a wider position when the transition from defense to attack occurs. An ability demonstrated by both Suarez and Sterling in the last game and one that troubled us from the opening whistle. When I talk about pace, I talk about wanting a player who can stretch the field with pure speed. Now as you would say “their is no magic bullet” and you are right there isn’t. But what pure speed offers is a shift in the mentality of the defense in addressing that concern, with respect to Navas the left back is often stuck wider left than we may like and opens more of a channel between himself and the CB. With us on the ball, the opposition can squeeze us through the middle because everyone and his dog knows we’ll move the ball back inside. Now, we do have backs able to provide width but it is only achieved when we can control the tempo of the game. Lumping the ball up to the CF and hoping they can hold off two CB’s is an effective tactic in every single game.

  73. *Lumping the ball up to the CF and hoping they can hold off two CB’s is not an effective tactic in every single game.

  74. @Bill

    I do think some smart transactions in the summer could see us as real challengers against next season. This team has a decent blend of youth and experience. I personally would add a striker (happy to see a 40M plus deal if it comes), a winger (Lazaette for instance) and a physical deeper midfielder. That is aside from any subtractions. I have made my views known on Podolski probably being on his bike and at this point Sagna looks like he may leave as well. Tv5 may finally angle for a deal else where to get regular football (not sure what he thinks obviously). I imagine Ryo, Park, Bendtner, Le Coq and Djourou are also on their respective bikes.

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