Does Munich Defeat Mean A Change Of Priorities?

As Arsène wrestles with the aftermath of defeat to Bayern, the immediate questions in his mind concern the physical and mental impact on the squad. An hour spent chasing the ball must have been tortuously draining on the outfield players, with little or no light relief available as injuries and Szczesny’s red card used the three available substitutes. It will be no surprise to see all of the outfield players who began the match on the bench, starting against Sunderland. In years past, that would have been an ominous feeling but with the likes of Rosicky, Podolski and Giroud (if he is mentally ready), alongside Santi Cazorla, offer a strong set of alternatives.

Per Mertesacker observed that the defeat must not be allowed to affect this weekend’s performance and is confident that it won’t,

We have to switch on quickly again on Saturday in an important game in the Premier League and get the three points and after that we have a little break. We need that because we have played a lot of games. Our team has great spirit and will come back from this.

There are many positives to come out of Wednesday’s defeat, centering on the spirit and effort but also individuals such as Wilshere responding to the circumstances with the type of performance that has maybe been missing for a while. Yaya Sanogo continued his promising start, as well, something for the manager to draw on rather than dwelling on the problems. One of which, I hasten to add, is not Mesut Özil. Criticism of his penalty is valid, it was awful but some of the comments on anti-social media were just abysmal, feeding more stories in the media such as this morning’s Daily Heil attempt to fuel the notion of a breach of spirit in the Arsenal camp. Frankly, it’s just pathetic and if internet trolls are the future, God help humanity because its nappy needs changing.

When he looks beyond Saturday – something which has probably already happened – does Arsène feel the landscape of Arsenal’s season has altered, has his sense of priorities succumbed to pragmatism? Wenger has made no secret that before each campaign, his primary ambition is to win the Premier League or achieve a top four finish. That is followed by the Champions League, FA Cup and League Cup in that order, as grabbing his attention. With a two-goal deficit to retrieve in Munich, at the home of the World and European champions, has his sense of the achievable shifted?

The upcoming fixture list was always difficult, different from last year in that involvement in the FA Cup has extended into March with a semi-final place a realistic ambition. The first three games in that list take place in eight days, after there are clear weeks between fixtures offering plenty of time for players to rest. At the same time, the rest of the top four have few difficult fixtures in the same spell. Indeed, Manchester City appear to have few fixtures at all with domestic cup competitions meaning that this weekend’s home meeting with Stoke is their last Premier League match until they visit Hull on March 15th. If it is any consolation, before they arrive at The Emirates, they visit Old Trafford on the preceding Tuesday. That is not Arsenal’s concern, they remain in the business of gathering as many points as possible, hoping to capitalise on any slips by Chelsea and City’s inactivity.

Opponents (Home games in bold)
Bayern Munich
Tottenham Hotspur
FA Cup Semi-Final

For Arsène, he has to choose whether he believes lightning can strike twice or if sacrificing the second leg of the Champions League by resting key players is more beneficial to the domestic campaign, which offer his best route of success. A similar philosophy, born of poor domestic form, produced an outstanding result in Munich last season. History can repeat itself of course but no-one should rely on that. As much as Arsenal will look at last season for hope, Bayern will look to learn that lesson although their final group match with Manchester City offers a glimpse that maybe they have not. Realistically, the manager whilst fielding a team which he believes can win, will surely have more than half an eye on the visit to White Hart Lane five days later.

It isn’t that black and white of course. A win in the Champions League could prove as inspirational as last season, it might give the Premier League campaign an unstoppable impetus. Defeat would hardly be damaging; the players will have accepted that progressing to the quarter-finals is an unlikely outcome, even if that will never be publicly admitted without being couched in terms that offer hope and belief, on their part at least.

For Arsène, the issue is more on the impact of injuries, fatigue and the return of those who are currently on the sidelines. The breaks between games will help, they allow recovery and recuperation for the fit. The problem is that any niggles or knocks exacerbate the situation and tired players are more susceptible to these. No immediate respite is appearing on the horizon; Aaron Ramsey is targeting the visit to Chelsea as a possible return date; it leads to hope that maybe he is being cautious and he may make the visit to Tottenham. History suggests that footballers tend to be overly optimistic and whilst I am not suggesting Ramsey is being that, any earlier seems unlikely mores the pity. Kim Kallstrom is, well, who knows; back injuries can be notoriously difficult to heal.

The FA Cup tie against Everton will, I think, dictate a lot of the manager’s thinking about the following games. It is a significant change to last season and so far, Arsène has picked strong sides for these matches. Had there been any sort of lead to defend in Munich, I suspect that he would have been tempted to rotate a little for the quarter-final. As it is, surely that demands his strongest XI, particularly as Everton will view the cup in surely the same light as we do; this season, it is an eminently winnable trophy. You would expect a rip-roaring cup-tie at The Emirates; one, like Liverpool, in the best traditions of the competition’s history. If that happens, it will be a physically demanding affair and to be blunt, resting players ahead of the North London Derby should, in my mind, be the priority.

Let’s not fool ourselves. Winning the Champions League is beyond the squad at this moment; that may come in future years but not this season. For the first time in half a decade, Arsenal have a chance of the Premier League title or the FA Cup; those seem realistic aspirations at this stage of the season and pursuing them should be the focus. Perhaps its time for the Champions League to slip to third place in the list of four?

’til Tomorrow.

91 thoughts on “Does Munich Defeat Mean A Change Of Priorities?

  1. Decisions, decisions…

    I agree with all of that, YW, except for the resting of players before the Spurs game.

    It depends on what we mean by ‘resting’, of course. If that means playing Podolski and Sanogo, for instance, instead of Cazorla and Giroud, then fair enough. Not too sure what the rotation options are now.

  2. Spot on, Yogi, you have neatly summed up the quandary Arsene is faced with as a result of the club having a very encouraging first part of the season.

    You started off the Post with an astute observation, and it highlights a longstanding problem we have had at this time of the year, and which hopefully we may be at last able to address in the near future.

    You said, –“As Arsène wrestles with the aftermath of defeat to Bayern, the immediate questions in his mind concern the physical and mental impact on the squad,’ and that is because we fans have high expectations and the team has responded with a terrific effort in three out of the four competitions we are still in.

    And with the improvement in our on-field performances, it has caused a comparable increase in the stresses in our still very thin squad. More high intensity games leads to a greater risk of injuries, the better the performance the greater the toll on the psyche of the players and so on, and so on.

    The solution can only be a marked increase in the quality and the numbers of the squad. I know that the squad numbers are limited to 25, but within that number we have a number of ‘guest’ players like Bendy and Park who need to go, and we need to see more of our youth team making into the squad – and they do not count in the overall squad numbers.

    Sorry for rambling — I am not really awake yet! 🙂

  3. Morning YW 1st is where I want us to be and win the FA Cup. Domestic Double. As for the internet trolls and a supposed division in our ranks its nappy just the nappy that needs changing its the bath water also. Pity they could not drown in it.

  4. I don’t know, Ras.

    A bath full of drowned trolls and filthy nappies full of fecal matter derived from pizzas, Nandos, chips and Carling.


    I mean, who is going to clean it up?

  5. Hi Yogi, for Arsenal, optimizing resources that generate maximum returns is the best route forward. I think Wenger will go for the FA cup and the League. A bad result against Everton in the FA cup might prompt him to go for the second leg against Bayern. But with a 2-0 deficit, I feel the fate of the tie is a foregone conclusion. However, a valiant effort in Munich might boost the team’s confidence going into the subsequent tough run of fixtures. So lets see how Wenger acts as things hang in a balance now.

  6. Great question Yogi.

    If pragmatism is to take hold, surely the Premier League and FA Cup have to be the priority. Notwithstanding that we can do a job in Munich, the path of least resistance of focusing on the 15 remaining games in the EPL and FA Cup seems the most logical given the players we have and the injuries.

    The tricky bit about the return leg in Munich is that it can been as equally inspirational as it is devastating and sapping to morale, but it won’t go amiss for the team that takees the field in Munich to apply the same attitude that they did, regardless of the score. It will stand us in good stead in the last mile of the EPL and FA cup.

    My feeling is that it’s better to focus on beating Chelsea and Man City in the league, as this is more achievable, is a one-off as opposed to the 2 legged ties that could come against Madrid, or PSG, or Barca – and also 3 cup-final-esque games in the FA cup must surely give us a chance for a trophy.

    I like the “anti-social” media line. Twitter especially can sometimes be mind-boggling after a defeat.

  7. Brilliant use of a film image Yogi, “Long Good Friday” Bob Hoskins facial expressions at the end, from anger to revenge and then acceptance…… brilliant scene! Will we go through the same emotions this season, I don’t think so. I’m pleased to see that there will be no action taken against Szzezzers for his self abusing handshake gesture, but not sure if his red card will constitute a one match ban???? If AW goes for similar team selection and tactics ‘a la Bayern’ against Sunderland then there should be no problems getting 3 points.

    I always think that AW’s target is the CL, a trophy that has eluded him, but this season he has to be realistic and go for the League and F.A .Cup. That doesn’t mean I’m not hopeful that we will go for it in Munich to try and win, why not, we’ve got nothing to lose. Ozil, Giroud and Wilshere to be rested for at least the next game, Podolski, Ox and Sanogo to head the attack.

  8. Si Bob I think that might take some cleaning. I think a word with the very foul mouthed Msr Nicolin of Montpellier- Club owner and also has a huge cleaning/waste empire

  9. YW – Nice write up.

    I don’t believe we should throw the towel in for the Munich game. Not one bit. We shoulld start with our strongest team and go for it; if the tie is still alive at half time anything could happen. If Munich steamroll us in the first half, fine, bring off players with the next game in mind. But if we take the lead at any point in the game, it will set the cat right amongst the pigeons.

    For tomorrow, I would like to see:





    Sub: Fabianski/Jenkinson/Flamini/Ozil/Sanogo/AOC/Zealam

    That is a fresh team and some of the players have a point to prove to the manager. That said, I think he will start with Ozil if he recovers well in training (fitness wise) which is just fine and dandy.

  10. Interesting problem for tomorrow. If he doesn’t play MO, the pressure will increase on the player next time he plays. Don’t think he’ll start but can see him being a sub tomorrow.

  11. Northbank I think CL will be a bridge to far this year. In my honest opinion we’d be far better of concentrating on domestic chose. I believe were 2 players short of being in that echelon,group of teams who can win it. As we’ve witnessed this week for the 1st 25-30 minutes we bossed Bayern. Had we scored who knows? Its all conjecture and we can debate til the cows come home.It changes nothing

    We beat Everton and were one game away from Wembley. You imagine a Wembley final, the feel god factor for the Club, players and fans. These so called “Pundits” would have to eat more than humble pie.

  12. I agree with you YW that if AW does not play MO demain, it can/will ramp up the pressure. Mais its what AW is paid for” Man Management”, its why we have a squad. Put Santi in the middle. I’d start with Flamini and leave Arteta on the bench (Goonerandy)

  13. YW – Another irony is that if the likes of Sanogo, Gnaby/AOC and Podolski do play, it would suit Ozil mucyh more and he is likely to have a more effective game.

  14. “For the first time in half a decade, Arsenal have a chance of the Premier League title or the FA Cup” – Got a bit of a tingle when I read that. It’s so true!

    I think we need to swallow our pride, let the Champions League go and go for a realistic trophy. It’s not like bringing home the FA Cup/Premier League/both wouldn’t be AMAZING would it?

  15. 100% agree with Yogi’s comment above, dropping Ozil is Wenger admitting that he deserves to be dropped and could make his next appearance be it from a subs or in next match 100% of everyone will be judging everything he does even more. I don’t think we played that badly considering, red card ruined the match until then we were in it and losing two goals to Champs with Sanogo starting up top etc isn’t bad in my opinion. I do think we’re using Ozil wrong though, he needs someone with guile in pace in front of him to aim a pass at etc! Already everyone has forgotten how good he was against Liverpool, amazing ball to Ox etc…But…It’s funny how his form has dropped around the same time as Ramsey has been out! I think Ramsey gives us a different work rate and outlet in midfield and he and Ozil always seemed to click really well!

    Summer is going to be vital…I hope Wenger knows to being someone in that Ozil can play with up top..Perhaps that’s why Benzama is always touted! But i think we need someone beside Flamini in that midfield in the mould of what Diaby should be like and allow Ozil the freedom to look forward, let’s be honest, we didn’t pay 42.5million for his defensive qualities…

  16. Morning all, I think the Ox got a knock the other day. Havn¨t seen it confirmed at but been reading about it at different blogs.

    Anybody in the know?

  17. Ras – I only went with Arteta because:

    a. He is fresh where Flamini covered loads of ground on Wed.
    b. AW always starts Arteta when availabe.

  18. Welsh Corgi Cardigan

    I’m led to believe it was just a dead leg, which means he could be out for 3 days to 9months given our medical teams luck

  19. @Ras

    Biensur…. suis d’accord, mais il y a le chance pour gagne en Munchen!

    Ozil needs to be rested, he’s a professional, so should understand, he will know his own limitations and AW will have a word with him and boost his ego. At the moment he is psychologically unfit, putting him into another game where he might again under perform could do serious damage.

  20. Northbank1969

    I said as much on the match day thread, i think he’s unlucky that Theo and Ramsey picked up their injuries when they did because he wouldn’t have started as many games as he had. He’s played in every Prem league match since his arrival along with international friendlies, cup games and Champs league. He needs a rest, it’s unfortunate that he’s going to Brazil straight off the bat for the WC really. I dont’ think he’s struggling mentally with his price tag or anything like that at all, he just looks plain tired. I’ve done some sparring with people who are pretty new to the MMA before and had absolute stinkers as it’s as much a mental rest needed as it is physical! Next season i think we’ll see him shifted centrally, i’ve got a feeling we’ll be bringing in a Draxler type but we should be building our midfield are Ozil/Ramsey/Jack/Ox

  21. MLF

    It’s a fucking shame that we have both Theo and Rambo out injured at the moment and as a result Ozil has had to play too many games. Considering he is new to the toughest league in the world, it seems like madness to have to play him every game and furthermore he didn’t get his usual Christmas holiday! However, a small break now, against Sunderland and Stoke should do him the world of good, and hopefully, by the time he returns, Rambo will be back in the side. We may also have Kallstrom ready to play soon. Sanogo, Gnabry and the Ox need to be used more in the games against the mid to lower teams.

  22. I see Gibbs is out for Sunderland, i fear our LB is destined to become so injury prone he’ll never reach his potential…Getting to the point where every 3 games he is injured now!

  23. Northbank1969

    I actually think Sanogo should perhaps start vs Sunderland….He did well vs Bayern and i think he looks like if he gets that first goal he’ll get a taste for it!! For me:
    Flamini/Jack Jack/Arteta
    Ox Sanogo Pod

    Looking to break with pace!

    Re Ozil. Yes, thats 100% it! I also think, if Mesut plays and scores a goal he’ll go back to Madrid Mesut we had for first few months. He’s just tired and low on confidence

  24. MLF – Yeah, it is a worry. We have two good left backs, but I do think it is a position that we could improve on. Not really a priority though.

  25. goonerandy

    I agree, RB / CB back up in summer is definately needed! Kouayte from Anderlecht is a BEAST and he’s looking to move, versitile as he can play CB, CDM and full back if required! He’d be a good buy! But CDM/CF are definate priorities!

  26. It depends who leaves I suppose. I think we actually have good depth of squad for the most part. A Striker is an obvious priority. If Sagna leaves we certainly need a new RB and another CB. If TV5 leaves that means we would need a RB, CB & a CF.

    I can’t see us adding more than three players who a first team standard. It is just not the way Arsene works. That said, if AW believes somebody like Draxler can also operate as a striker maybe we will get him leaving AOC to play for centrally.

  27. Considering there was debate on the pitch as to who should take the penalty against Bayern, you have to assume that the decision wasn’t taken pre-match. I have a fantasy (too late now I know) that Szzezz stood up to take it….. with his passion for the Gunners, could you imagine the feel good factor of him scoring. I’m sure he practices penalties in training in case of penalty shoot outs. Just a dream I know, but imagine just imagine the reaction.

  28. Harold Shand emerges from the Tower Hotel having just called a mafia boss a long streak of paralysed piss,he whistles his driver (Razors) over but gets a nasty surprise when he gets in the back,a future James Bond currently moonlighting for the IRA leans over the front seat & points a revolver in his face,’oh well..lets give it a right old go in the league and win the FA Cup to shut a load of these mugs up’..

  29. From AW’s interview comments we can assume Ozil will be rested at the weekend. The guy is suffering going by his comments on twitter.

  30. Really Northbank? 90% of that movie was filmed in Wapping,I know cos me & my mates used to go have a gander at filming on our choppers & grifters before being told to get lost,I suppose the mafia would stay in the Savoy but the bit where the bloke from Casualty tells Helen Mirren he wants to lick her all over is definetly the Tower Hotel. 🙂

  31. @Mel

    You may be right about the interior scenes, but the exterior scene, leaving the hotel, is most definately the Savoy….. I know it well. But a fucking good film, probably the best ending to a gangster movie ever. The way scenes are shot are interesting, having been brought up in Islington I remember seeing a film once where the street it was filmed was Highbury Grove, however, when the shot was taken of the actors from the opposite direcrton, the street was not Highbury Grove but somewhere totally different. Anyway we digress 🙂 but interesting though.

  32. Northbank,the best British gangster film ever? For me definetly,whenever I drop people that live in wapping home I always tell em to watch TLGF if they want to see what the area used to look like,everything’s changed apart from George In The East Church where they blew the car up! It all started going pear shaped in Wapping when News International built their Death Star there! 🙂

  33. Yogi I agree 100% with you today!

    I think the positives taken from the match against Bayern far out weigh the negatives. I do think that the FA and EPL should take priority as catching lighting in a bottle twice is hard enough but when its trying to do it to the same club that you did it to the season before and the players from Bayern understand and respect us even more now its damn near mission impossible.

    Rotation is something that I think we could do well to start using. Very few positions if rotated is there much of a drop off and depending on who is rotated and how they play, the balance and team actually look better. Is putting Podolski on the left over Santi a drop off? Arteta and Flamini? Jack, and Rosicky? Giroud and Yaya on current form and talent?

  34. @GA

    I actually like the look of your lineup except I would start Yaya and bring Giroud on as a sub. I also doubt that we see Ozil dropped which means we would probably see Gnabry not in and Santi on that wing. I think that lineup would actually better suit Ozil and allow him to dictate and boss the match like he was prior to the penalty.

  35. @MLF & GA

    It is worrying about Gibbs. Its not just the long injury layoffs but its the fact that when he is fit it seems like he is destined to get a knock generally on the routine plays not tackles like when Ox got injured or Diaby. Its the regular parts of futbol and regular actions in futbol that seem to be causing his injuries and that’s the most worrying thing for me.

  36. Its funny how the media and twatter trolls are ripping us a new one and our players for losing to Bayern who is the best club team in the world, leading their League by 100 points and lets be honest could probably beat quite a few of the teams in the World Cup come this summer. Yet I haven’t heard anything about Spuds losing to Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk last night in the Europa. So if Ozil is a 42M flop(which is clearly isn’t seeing as though his introduction to the club and team has been teh catalyst to us 1 point off the EPL title thus far), does that make Spuds a 100M+ flop club?

  37. C

    it’s worrying that teams pin point it though, they know that if they pressure our left side it’s the route to getting behind the defence. Nacho is great but he’s not been in good form in a few games either! Gibbs is vital but unreliable!

  38. @ C

    You need to see AW’s comments in his press conference….. from the sound of it he has decided to rest Ozil.

  39. @Mel
    It all started going pear shaped in Wapping when the artists moved in to use uninhabited warehouses for studios, once that happens, the property developers sniff the potential. My nephew had a superb studio in docklands but the developers soon moved in and all the srtists got kicked out. It happens like that in all major cities, London, Paris, New York…… shame really.

  40. @MLF

    Teams attack our left flank because Santi is on the left flank and they know he will tuck in centrally and that if they break with enough pace like Bayern, Shitty, Manure, Chavs, Napoli, and the rest of the good teams(minus Manure) do that they can overload that side of the pitch. While both Nacho and Gibbs are very good LB’s, they aren’t the type to be able to shut down a whole flank by themselves the way that we have seen Sagna do. That is why I am constantly beating on about Santi playing on the right because Sagna is such a dominant defender that he can man that flank until Santi or whoever arrives in support.

  41. @North

    I have learned not to trust to much of Wenger’s words. He big upped Mozart as being “Arsenal’s big game player” and then proceeded to not start him. He has been big upping Podolski all season but doesn’t play him. He talked about not rushing Jack back but he starts him every match. I’ll believe it when I see it. Though Ozil does need a rest and Sunderland would be a good time to do it.

  42. I think Sanogo will start vs Sunderland and we’ll see Giroud second half, last two games with Yaya we’ve seen a much higher tempo! Like i said above, i think once he gets a sniff at goal and takes it we’ll see the reason Wenger got him! He was pretty good pre sending off, when he controlled, spun 3 Bayern players and put it over the top for Ox i was seriously impressed! Ozil will start since it’s at home, but Stoke i can see him being on the bench!

    I’d say Start Pod, Sanogo and Santi with Ox, Flamini/Arteta/Jack in the midfield behind them! Ox pace from center mid could be vital!

  43. C

    Nauer is, by far, the best keeper on the planet right now agreed.

  44. I want people to keep in mind that Yaya is 21 years old so its not like he is a teenage sensation. Not to mention he is 6’3″ and understands how to use his body and pace. I think the moment he scores a goal he will really take off. Honestly I bet he scores in teh next 2-3 games.

  45. @MLF

    Exactly my point! Maybe 3-5 keepers in Europe would have saved Yaya’s shot and Ozil’s penalty while it wasn’t very good, Neuer was basically on his way down when Ozil shot it to the middle of goal.

  46. Good news in Ramsey’s rehab from injury is coming along quicker than expected. If he’s back for Chelsea/City games that’s a massive boost for us!

    Anyone else see Chelsea and City dropping points this weekend? I think Stoke could really frustrate City and Everton always smell blood when they play Chelsea

  47. @MLF

    I think Chavs are more likely to drop points than Shitty. Everton have players that are more than capable of exposing the Chavs lack of pace in their back line and really get after their fullbacks.

    Stoke will park a couple of buses and no doubt take advantage of whatever free kicks and corners they get.

  48. I also think Ramsey’s return will be a massive boost and teh thing that will be interesting with Ramsey’s return is the affect on Jack’s playing time. If Ramsey comes back in the form he showed earlier in the year than it will be very interesting to see what Arsene does with Jack, does he put him on the wing again to make sure that he plays or does he rotate Ramsey and Jack?

  49. C

    Hopefully challenges Ramsey for his place back in the squad! No need out wide with Ox, Pod, Santi, Ozil and Gnabry all able to play there

  50. @MLF

    Completely agree but who knows with Arsene?!?!?!?!? He seems to really enjoy trying to put round pegs in square holes.

  51. This season was shaping up to be Gibbs most in appearances, and still could be if the injury doesn’t have him out very long. 31 in all competitions this year (2nd best) behind his 34 appearances in all competitions last season. We still have 12 (EPL) +1 (at least, CL) + 1 (at least, FA Cup) to go.

  52. I have to say I like what I have seen from Sanogo to date. The concern in the back of my mind remains his injury history but I think he has done a decent job leading the line whilst the cheater (Giroud) has been benched. I still think the latter is the best option at this point but you can see potential in Sanogo and his gait is deceptively quicker than people might have thought. Would be great to see him score and thus gain more confidence (bit saying he doesn’t have it, but a goal often does wonders).

    For me, I would love to see both Podolski and Oxlade assuming the wider roles tomorrow.

  53. @C

    All I’m trying to say is that Gibbs injuries in the past two years have been a shadow of the hell he had to endure prior to that.

  54. @MA

    When we first got Yaya, me and you spoke about his goal record last season which was 10 goals in 13 matches. I think once he gets 1 they will come. He seems to be just the type of striker that Ozil likes to play with: pacey, good link up play, good movement, plays both infront of and on the shoulder of the defense and willing to run at defenders with the ball and play little 1-2’s with him, not to mention likes to shoot.

    I think in the short term Giroud is the more safe option but I think once Yaya gets back to his best or atleast shakes the rust off, he will be the better option for the style of play especially when Theo comes back.

    I think something else that isn’t really being talked about but I think is probably the most impressive thing about him this far. The fact that his 1st 2 starts at Arsenal were up against Liverpool and Bayern and both cases he was good to very good and was a nightmare for the defense. That to me shows that he is not only not afraid of the big teams or moments but also that once he does shake off the rust, we could have a player that is a clear match winner and perfect for our style of play that Arsene wants to play in a more mobile 433.

  55. First summer signing should be a new medical & fitness team. We have an abnormal no of long term muscle injuries. Look at Cesc – always out with hamstring injuries when at Arsenal, but has hardly missed a game for Barcelona. There has to be something we can do to improve this situation. Either the Red Zone is faulty, or Arsene is ignoring it because he hasn’t got anyone else who could do the job of the said player.
    Having a bigger, higher quality squad would help as there then could be genuine rotation of players.
    We already need a first rate striker, DM, CB, RB and back up keeper in the summer. Be honest, can you see us getting 5 new excellent signings?! Plus Wenger is spending a month in the summer commentating on the World Cup, and nothing will happen until July, after the World Cup anyhow, when the mega bids for anyone who had a good World Cup start kicking off.

    One point on Ozil: he’s young; he was at his dream club and was sold as part of a makeweight for Gareth Bale. For Ronaldo read Sanogo (or Giroud). I’d also be a bit depressed.
    Getting Theo and Ramsey back will help, but aren’t enough if Wenger wants to get the best out of him.

  56. @MA

    I understood what you were getting at. Its such a shame to because with him and Nacho in the squad there is room to rotate.

  57. Seems Sczny has been reprimanded internally for the gesture as he walked off the pitch against Bayern.

    I wonder if he will be benched for tomorrow’s match. this comes on the back of Arsene talking about he wants Fabianski to stay but understands that he could very well leave.

  58. The injury to Ramsey is the worst case this season in my mind, he gets injured and then just as he gets healthy (or starts too) he is injured again. This I think frustrates the fans, whereas the Theo incident has absolutely nothing to do with trainers or medical staff it is just a hazard of the game in general. Diaby seemingly being permanently injured is another thing the club need to move on from. I was just thinking that the signing od Kallstorm doesn’t help the cause either 🙂

  59. @Jonny

    I loved it. The thing is we have all been there, mill maybe not right there but you know the point I’m trying to make. Life as a football fan for most is equal part pleasure and equal part pain. My wife doesn’t understand the pain I feel upon a loss, she thinks all sport is silly 🙁

  60. Yogi

    Another great post

    Interesting thought regarding how to prioritize the CL. I agree completely that our chance of winning it is very low. We hit Munich with the perfect storm that first 15 minutes and by luck they came out of it still even. Props to our guys for putting on that sort of display against a truly excellent team. Where is that against ManU, Chelsea or Man City. That was our shot at doing the impossible. Pragmatism would argue that we should rotate during the away leg and I agree but I just don’t think Arsene will do that. He is going to give it his best shot.

    Regarding Ozil. I think the guy needs a rest, perhaps more of a mental rest. However, we can’t give him a 2 week mental holiday and let him chill out. I think we should let him sit against Sunderland and play Rosicky at CAM. Our best teams for the last 2 seasons have included Rosicky at CAM. I don’t think moving Cazorla to that slot is the best idea. I think Ozil has to shake off the disappointment of the CL game and come back strong. I realize he is human just like all of us but he is also a footballing superstar. Managers have different ways to manage teams. I think rotating player is a good but rotating or not rotating because we are concerned about long term mental confidence damage from a bad play or bad game is not the way to handle grown men. If his reputation is correct someone like Fergie would might have rotated but he would have gotten in a players face and told him that missing the penalty was bad but then doubling the screw up and hurt the team by letting his game fall apart and that is not acceptable, expecially for a superstar. Ozil is smart enough to know that and if he is as good as we hope he should be able to handle the truth.

  61. @jonny

    Poojah sums up being a football supporter really 🙂


    Get rid of your wife and stick with the Gunners….. ultimately less pain

  62. I can’t say anything for certainty about the Medical team at the Arsenal but I would like think they are probably of the top calibre, similar to Man Utd, Chelsea or Barca and Real. Why people should think there is a problem in that department just baffles me. If a player is injured he is injured, if it takes longer to recover than initially diagnosed, then it takes longer. I’m sure it’s not the fault of the medical team.

  63. It would be interesting to know why Giroud did not start the last 2 games, Even more interesting to see if he comes back against Sunderland. He will have had a good rest. If missing the CL game was punishment for breaking team rules then hopefully his time in the penalty box should be over.

    I love the Yaya’s energy and work rate and the fact that we seem to be able to play at a better tempo with him in the side. However, so far we don’t have any idea if Yaya will be a goal scorer in the PL and how his finishing skills will work in the PL. Gervinho always looked brilliant and incredibly dangerous everywhere on the pitch except in front of goal. Gerv was an excellent goal scorer at Lille but that does not always translate into scoring goals in the PL. The bottom line for me is that Giroud is our starter and he needs to step up.

  64. @Bill

    He has actually only played against 1 PL side and the shots that he did have were saved and one was heading toward goal and was blocked but led to Ox’s goal. Against Bayern he had a shot that was destined to go in and if not for Neuer being such a brilliant GK that would have been a goal. Its only 2 matches so lets wait and see what happens once the rust comes off and again both of his performances thus far have come against top sides.

  65. C:

    I hope you are correct. I would be brilliant to see Yaya start to score and what we have seen is certainly encouraging. Time will tell if he is the next TH14 or the next Gerv or most likely somewhere in between. (hopefully closer to TH14 then Gerv). The point is that without a working crystal ball neither of knows how it will work out just yet. History has certainly given us plenty of examples that go both ways.

  66. @Bill

    That’s a sensible way to look at it. As Arsenal fans when has sensible ever really worked? 😉

    I do think though that once he scores his first goal(which I hope is this weekend) that they have the potential to come in bunches. Just have to shake the rust off!

  67. Considering we have thus far failed Test 1 and test 2, this one looks a tough ask.

    We will need to nick points of the Chelsea and the City game for the league. The Everton games will both be challenging too.

    I think we should go to Munich without pressure in the knowledge that we are very likely already out of it. Play some young surprises (maybe Gnabry and Ox to add speed on both flanks) and hope for the best.

    Assuming we do not drop further points in the league, and stay close to Chelsea’s shoulder (pray City have another ambivalent game shortly after the Barca defeat), we will have to win either or both the games against the rivals around us.

    That FA cup tie is looking increasingly important as we wear thin on points in the league.

    Delicate balancing act but we are not equip to push on all 3 fronts and the CL particularly looks a stretch this season.

    A domestic success (or two) will be handy enough at this stage of redevelopment.

  68. First the clamour to spend heaps of money on a player. Wenger spends on Ozil and everyone is over the moon. He hasn’t exactly hit the meteoric heights he is capable of just yet and now he is being castigated.

    Next Wenger spends nothing on Sanogo and everyone has a laugh. Sanogo gives a couple of very decent performances and suddenly he is the next big thing.

    A bit of equilibrium please.

    Our requirements in the summer are as follows :

    Priorities –

    1) GoalKeeper – back up to Szsc.
    2) Striker – Much as Sanogo will likely take over the back up service Bendtner provides for Giroud, we are still in need of a bit of magic up top. Preferably someone with pace and ability to work the gaps. No surprise that we were in the hunt for that sort of player in Higuain and Suarez last summer. Maybe someone like Benzema may suit us and come available for 30m with real likely to be in the hunt for Suarez, Costa or Falcao. he is mobile and drops deep to collect, and at 25/26 is coming into his prime with plenty of room for improvement (much like Ozil)
    3)Cback – Vermalene has not convinced sufficiently to rotate through Meterscielny. Preferably we need someone with some of the height of Metersecker and some of the speed of Koscielny.
    4) RB – Bellerin will push the technically limited Jenkinson but we will likely need a stop gap. Seamus Coleman or Debucchy (possibly 8-10m) will make decent cover with plenty of attacking thrust and good PL experience.

    Thereafter, less urgent :

    5) DM. Arteta is good for another season or two and Flamini adds additional experience. We probably could do with a bit of height and power that Diaby gave us sporadically. Maybe someone with double utility like Kayoute at Anderlecht for 10-12m may benefit both the Cback and DM cover.

    6) CM/LW/RW – Possibly the least that we need and likely as a replacement for Rosicky who does not get less injury prone with age. Personally prefer to let Rosicky go and use the extra money to extend Sagna’s contract. Rather than spending money on the high potential but expensive Draxler, I’d go for someone like Konoplyanka (15-16m) who can play across midfield with both feet at pace and would be wasted frankly at Liverpool.

  69. C:

    It sounds doomer thinking but I think its important for the people who make decisions for the club to always assume the worst and hope for the best. If you assume the worst then you will make contingency plans and do the best to cover your butt just in case the worst does happen. For example in this case you assume Yaya will end up closer to Gerv then TH14 and you make your roster decisions and your transfer decisions based on that assumption. If you are wrong and you end up buying a CF and Yaya turns out to be the next TH 14 then you have incredible depth and the ability to rotate and even to change up your formation and play 2 strikers, etc etc. If Yaya bombs out then you at least have done everything you can to cover yourself. I think we both agree in this case that we should add another “world class” CF this summer. However, In the past when we have started hyping young players like Yaya it was the prelude to the argument that we don’t need to buy someone because we already have Yaya. The idea that we might block Yaya and hurt his development into a world class CF because he is being blocked is false, IMO. It may take him a little longer to get there, but if he is going to be great then will do it with or without us buying a 30 goal/year scorer this summer and it can only hurt the club if don’t buy that goal scorer. I hope that makes sense.

  70. C:

    Just to follow up on my last comment. I suspect that the part of the reason Arsene did not spend the money for a high priced CF last summer was because we already had Giroud. It seemed logical to think that he did OK his first year and everyone improves after they adapt to the PL and they get better the second. OG’s preseason also made it easier for Arsene to not spend for a CF. However, the assumption that his finishing would improve in year 2 was a case of assuming the best and not adequately planning for the possibility that the positive assumption might be wrong. The reality is that a lot of players don’t get better after their first season and some get worse. Look at Benteke, Cisse, Michu and even our own Cazorla. You have to assume that what you see now may be is most likely to be what you will get in the future. OG’s struggles to hit the target last year are exactly what we see now.

  71. @Bill

    That’s not doomer talk that’s actually more sensible part for most of your post. I completely agree that we should buy a World Class goal scoring striker. Its not about blocking Yaya because we all know that having more than 1 striker with the amount of matches that are played nowadays is a requirement not a hinderance. Plus, say we buy a striker that is 26 years old, given 2-3 years both developing while playing regularly we will know whether Yaya is teh striker that I think he could develop into and at that time he can take over as the main striker and the striker that we bought around that time will be about 29 years old.

  72. Just. Back from the pub, Jonny. Poojah is the true voice of football. Bloody brilliant. There is no more to say about supporting a football team. YW? You can pack up now.

    By the way, how did you find this? I know you are a sad individual but do you really trawl sites like this?

  73. Jonny: That link is absolutely brilliant. The guy who wrote it deserves a Pulitzer Prize. I have no idea where Grimsby Town is but I am going to look it up in the lower league tables and cheer for them forever.

  74. @CBob – A friend of mine supports Plymouth Argyle and works for BBC sports – he forwards me things occasionally. I’m not that sad (yet). 🙂

    Dunno if y’all saw the stats package on GOD (nicely put together BTW Arsenal) but there is a delightfully understated titbit at the end for the Ozil h8ers –

    “Incidentally, in the history of the Premier League, Mesut Ozil has the best assists to games ratio of any player at any club, with one every 2.63 games (minimum 10 appearances)”.

    Keep it classy.

  75. I think my favourite line is

    “Dad, you can fúck off. This is your fault. Your idea. You introduced me to this shower of shít. “Come with me to Blundell Park”, you said, “Come and support the boys”. What could I do? I was fúcking four, what choice did I have? Why not get me hooked on Heroin whilst you were at it? I could have gone with mum shopping for bras and knickers at British Home Stores, but no, you knew best.

    Granted, I’d have probably grown up a homosexual but surely even being simultaneously búggered two guys named Seth and Quentin couldn’t hurt like this.”

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