Olé Oli; Giroud nets late Arsenal winner

Giroud

Preston North End 1 – 2 Arsenal

Olé Ole or Ra-Ra Rambo; I couldn’t really decide which one to go with. Both Olivier Giroud and Aaron Ramsey scored different kinds of cracking goals to put Arsenal into the fourth round of this season’s FA Cup.

Footballing clichés aside, this was a game of two halves. In the first, Arsenal were abysmal; probably the poorest performance by the team so far this season. In a rare candid moment, Arsène absolutely slated the XI:

“We are top-level Premier League and we were dominated in the first half. Preston had chances you know and I believe we were just not at the pace of the game or the pace that the game demanded.”

That’s relatively speaking obviously but even the manager couldn’t have expected the positive start to the second half he got. Aaron Ramsey’s strike, as instinctive as his miss in the first half was timid, was outstanding. He took full advantage of the shield provided by the defenders in the goalkeeper’s line of sight. As if he had a chance of saving it with a clear view of Ramsey’s shot.

The equaliser convincingly took the wind from Preston’s sails. The urgency of the first half was nowhere to be seen. Any desire or conviction that they could hold out for 15 minutes or so was blown away by the ferocity of the strike.

And fair play to Ramsey. It hasn’t been his best season for which, in my view, player and manager are equally culpable but the Welshman’s always struck me as a couple of goals short of full confidence. Hopefully, this can be the moment which kickstarts a scoring run.

How did we only go in one-down at half-time?

There’s no two ways about it, we were bloody awful in the first half. Relatively speaking, of course. There were some bright moments – going forward toward the interval we were forceful with Ramsey and Giroud both having good chances. OK, better than good chances; we should have been level.

Or more than a goal behind. Just we rued our missed chances, so did Preston. They at least had the one moment to cheer.

It was an appalling goal to concede with the defence undermined by lethargy in the tackle. How can a Championship player pirouette on the ball when facing supposedly superior opponents? Wenger’s answer at the press conference tells you his view.

Peculiarly, Ramsey and Giroud said in their post-match interview that they were surprised by the intensity Preston showed in the first half. It was an utterly baffling comment to make. Either the players weren’t listening in training or they went into the game with the wrong attitude. To be honest, I can believe both.

The home side had other chances to extend their lead, on meaningful chances alone, the one-goal lead was probably a fair reflection. Preston were better, there’s no question, but as badly as we played, there were still opportunities to score. Arsène rightly gave Simon Grayson’s men praise for the speed of their attacks and willingness to fight for each other. It was the execution of a gameplan which every ‘minnow’ has.

But it comes at a cost. The physical exertion, combined with Ramsey’s delicious strike, had a mental impact. I’d call it ‘negative’ but I’m sure that would be misconstrued.

Oli Giroud to the rescue

Giroud had one of those games. I thought he was Man of the Match but Ramsey, Lucas Perez and Iwobi were also in the running to varying degrees. The French international was in a physical battle and that environment is one which in which he thrives.

It wasn’t much of a surprise that he was captain. I’m struggling to think of a more experienced player on the pitch in yellow. Giroud responded well to the responsibility. Arsène may not rate the captaincy but players do. It’s a source of pride and in his compatriot’s case, a motivational tool. Giroud was involved in the game and didn’t slip to the fringes as he has done in the past.

And the goal was an excellent summary of his game. He battled for the angled pass and won the header, flicking the ball perfectly into Lucas’ path. The Spaniard’s next move underlined the gap between the two sides. A backheel in the final minutes of a cup tie, away from home and executed exquisitely? “You got a lot of technique”.

Giroud got lucky with the goal which got Arsenal out of gaol. It deflected but the build-up alone was worth the admission money. Deflected in via the defender’s boot but it didn’t matter; Oli was having his moment and why not? This was a last-minute winner, not salvaging a long-lost point. Take the spotlight, sir, and enjoy it.

Danny Welbeck returns

Danny Welbeck returned for a decent ten-minute outing. Welcome back, sir; a good effort of goal, a ‘sighter’ as we might call it. It’s a positive for us – god knows what it is for him – but we need to see him fit for the rest of this season before take his inclusion for granted.

It’s one of those moments when you know it can be a huge boost for the team but banking on it to ignite any sort of challenge for any trophy is a dangerous game to play. What will be interesting is if he can keep fit. Jack Wilshere has stayed fit at Bournemouth despite being injury-prone at Arsenal. If Welbeck remains fit despite staying at the club, there’s a strong case for suggesting that the club has learned the lessons of the past on the injury front.

But today was all about reaching the fourth round and we did it. As Arsène put it, “I didn’t want to go home and be out”.

Job done.

’til Tomorrow.

50 thoughts on “Olé Oli; Giroud nets late Arsenal winner

  1. “And fair play to Ramsey. It hasn’t been his best season for which, in my view, player and manager are equally culpable but the Welshman’s always struck me as a couple of goals short of full confidence. Hopefully, this can be the moment which kickstarts a scoring run”.

    My feeling precisely. His shooting has been truly execrable this season but we know he has it in him and confidence is very much the key with him. If it kick starts from here we could yet see a at least a facsimile of the 2013 model.

    Well a guy can dream eh?

  2. Morning,

    The fourth round draw beckons, which was what we set out to achieve. Job done then really, but we allow teams to dominate us too often.

    Next up is Swansea, a team in a complete mess. I guess they won’t be too worried about being out of the FA Cup, but they must be concerned that it was a fellow relegation candidate who put them out.

  3. Worst first half performance, I’d agree, but that’s saying something given how bad we were against Bournemouth. Wenger needs to sort out why we start so badly.

    As for Ramsey, yesterday everyone here seemed to agree he playing along side Xhaka doesn’t work. Would be work against any of our other CM? For me if he plays it has to be in the n10 role…

  4. Good morning, thanks for the preview Yogi, so much was said yesterday that there is little left for today.

    One question though, how many tackles did Arsenal players make in yesterday’s match? I can remember a lot of pressing but very few attempts to actually win the ball, a bit of grappling, a bit of shirt pulling, the odd shove or two, but an actual tackle? Very few I suspect.

  5. The thought of an angry Wenger berating his underperforming players at half time brought a smile to my face, I imagine it must have been something akin to Sgt. Wilson addressing the platoon in Dads Army. Would you mind awfully coming to attention? 😀

  6. Ha ha. The old written word eh. Do I really need to put smileys on…

    Anyway I caught that finishit post yesterday before you edited it Yogi. And those were just two of the words he so eloquently used to describe us all..

  7. Great review yogi.

    Had we played a better team we probably would have been knocked out but that is irrelevant because we did advance and if we make a deep run in the FA cup no one will remember how we played. The complacency we have seen in the first half of our last 2 games is just part of our club culture in the same way as the slow starts to every season. I complain about it but in reality and it’s been this way for the entire decade and it is what is and part of who we are as a team. Hopefully the next draw will be a lower league team at home

  8. Mornin’ one an’ all.
    Granit (without wanting to single him out),had a shocker I thought,misplaced passes etc.Maitland Niles was completely out of his depth.Mustafi was not his usually assured self,he screwed up on more than a few occasions-although he cleared one off the line.The Ox…….well……need I say it?If Liverpool offered £25 million for him I’d drive him there myself-he was abysmal.
    I don’t like to pick out players really as it seems a bit vitriolic but equally they have to show up on the night.

  9. Easy win. Ahem.

    I`m with Adam. Ramsey is a 10 or not at all.

    I`m really hoping that Xhaka is just having problems adapting to the pace of the game over here.

    As for the Ox , I really have no idea such are the inconsisties in performance. He made Danny W look like Ronaldo yestersday.

    Overall though , a win is a win no matter what the circumstances are. As it`s likely to be our only realistic chance of silverware lets hope we get a nice home draw next time around.

  10. When both teams emerged from the dressing rooms at the start, my dear wife observed that “the team in white are in shirts but Arsenal are wearing those lovely warm windcheaters”.
    I said “Preston merely want to show how tough they are compared to those fragile souls from the south. It’s mind-games time”.
    She said “Well if they catch cold standing around before the start, they’ll regret not coming out in warm gear”.
    I said nothing. 😉

  11. G’d Afternoon, All. 🙂

    The only way to make sense of the abject performance yesterday is to sing;

    “I can see clearly now, the rain is gone
    I can see all obstacles in my way
    Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind
    It’s gonna be a bright
    bright Sun-shiny day

    It’s gonna be a bright
    Bright, Sun-shiny day

    I think I can make it now, the pain is gone
    All of the bad feelings have disappeared
    Here is the rainbow I’ve been prayin’ for
    It’s gonna be a bright
    Bright, Sun-shiny day

    Look all around, there’s nothin’ but blue skies
    Look straight ahead, nothin’ but blue skies”

    Thanks for cheering me up, Johnny, it’s just I do not believe a word of it! 🙁

  12. I’d play Ramsey as a 10 if Ozil was unavailable and Coquelin & Elneny were the other midfielders.
    Or Coq and Xhaka but preferably the former.

    With that in mind and given that I concur he is far less effective on the wing and plain wrong as any kind of holding mid or pure DM…

    Assuming Ozil stays and Iwobi is progressing into a decent 10, are we in agreement that we might as well sell him?

  13. Ramsey and Giroud who are certainly our #1 & #2 opinion dividers saved us yesterday. Ramsey is who he is and at this point he is a squad player and not a difference maker but for now he is the best option we have in central midfield. Giroud has scored the match winner in each of our last 3 wins and the equalizer and 2 assists against Bournemouth. The positive influence OG has when he is in form really highlights how critical it is for us to get goals from the CF position. The fact that OG lacks footspeed is irrelevant when he is scoring regularly. Alexis and Theo and to a lesser extent Ozil carried the scoring load earlier in the season but it was almost inevitable that the career best scoring pace of each of them was unsustainable and we would need an in form Giroud at some point to maintain any hope of a title challenge and possibly to hold on to the top 4. Last summer we predicted that this season had the potential to be one of the toughest fights for the top 4 in the Emirates era and with ManU rounding into form and Klopp and Conte reigniting Liverpool and Chelsea and Spurs always lurking we sit in 5th place after 20 games and it looks like that prediction has come true. We need a heavy dose of pragmatism and to collect every point we can get. Like him or not we need to ride OG while he is hot.

  14. I think we can disregard the idea that Le coq was somehow responsible for Xhaka’s struggles against Man City. He does not need help to have a poor game. I suspect he will be a decent player and potentially compete with Le Coq and Elneny for the first choice DM role but he has certainly not been done anything to justify his $35M transfer fee at least so far.

    The Ox is who he is which is a decent squad player. I think he still has potential and I would not want to sell him to a direct rival but it selling him and using the money someone better is probably not a bad idea. Same with Aaron Ramsey. We need good squad players but if we can get a big fee for either, then it would make sense to make a move with the caveat that we use the money to buy someone better.

  15. That was a pleasing and strangely upbeat Post, Yogi, and you are to be commended for it, altho I suppose the winning result that flew in the face of a deserved beating must have helped.

    The win thinly veils the poverty stricken team performance which candidly was an embarrassment, and is the latest in a series of such performances.

    Some say that a team’s captaincy requirement is just a media invention to explain a performance that is greater than the sum of the parts, but even giving credit to Giro for his winning goal, his captaincy was noticeable by its absence.

    The quality of most of our players compared to PNE was unarguable – but without a strong captain, preferably with a bad temper, the team were pathetic. Missed passes; dithering in defence; no one working in little units, too much ass-scratching and no one to yell at them and to promise the culprits a thick lip at half time. Maybe if per does sign another year’s contract that might improve – but don’t hold your breath.

  16. HenryB,

    Per appeared to take on many of the jobs of a captain when he joined the club. He was responsible for collecting player fines for lateness etc. and I remember him digging out Ozil when he didn’t go over to applaud the Arsenal away fans after a mediocre performance. There just doesn’t seem to be any of that strength or passion from a player now. I can’t pick out a single player who would show the necessary qualities to lead the team on the pitch.

  17. Me neither, Wavey, and hello to you. 🙂

    Hopefully if he is OK from injury Per’s return will steady the ship – fingers crossed.

    I hate to say it, but John Terry, for example, was a terrific captain for the Chavs, and in future that sort of captaincy is what we need too.

  18. Alexis is a world class wide forward and it will be almost impossible to replace what he can bring from the LW. Alexis had a really nice run at CF earlier in the season but we have seen with Walcott, Welbeck, Podolski and Gervinho that moving to CF does not suddenly transform a player into something he is not. Giroud is a real difference maker when in form and we will need him since he is the best option we have right now but if we really want to be a title contender our best move would be to keep Alexis at LW and buy a more consistent and better CF.

  19. Wavey:
    HenryB,

    Per appeared to take on many of the jobs of a captain when he joined the club. He was responsible for collecting player fines for lateness etc. and I remember him digging out Ozil when he didn’t go over to applaud the Arsenal away fans after a mediocre performance. There just doesn’t seem to be any of that strength or passion from a player now. I can’t pick out a single player who would show the necessary qualities to lead the team on the pitch.

    I hear ya. Per is a good leader in some respects but as an enforcer he’s about as much use a wet tissue. There has been no one of the Terry, Adams, Keown, Keane, Viera mould since, well Viera really. Even he was not quite in the same bracket as the rest of those mentioned but at least he had the deep-seated hatred of losing thing.
    In our side the only player for whom losing seems to viscerally affect them is Sanchez. The rest it annoys for sure but, at the very least, they don’t seem to be eaten up by it.
    Personally I think it stems from the manager through the players. It feels odd to say that as AW is one of the worst losers out there but I just don’t know that he ever transmits this to his players – all of whom contend he has never raised his voice once.
    I have said it before but AW’s lack of belief in the importance of captaincy and his cold professorial dismissal of man management are tangible mistakes on his part.
    He’ll never lose the dressing room but I don’t get the feeling he inspires players to run through walls for him either.

  20. Look at all them glory hunting Plymouth fans at anfield! I wonder if Bob is there! (smiley face flipping the bird)

  21. I think the captain thing is over rated. I agree with Wavey but who on the current squad really seems like an emotional leader?

    Mert lost his credibility as a leader when he hardly played in the 2014 World Cup but he couldn’t get himself motivated for the first half of the next season.

  22. Top work there Yogi.

    I’m excited about Welbeck coming back into the team. I thought he and Iwobi linked up beautifully late last term. Lovely Pacey one touch football.

    I’m worried Sanchez might start berating him the way he does others for a poorly weighted/directed pass, which does no ones confidence any good. I don’t mind leaders on the pitch giving out a gob full when justified but I don’t see Sanchez as a leader.

    I’m not to concerned with what was said in the post match interviews. More concerned with why we can only play 25-30mins of football each game. We either don’t turn up until the 2nd half or we disappear down the tunnel at half time and don’t bother to come back out.

  23. Arsene is such a dominant personality that its hard to imagine any player we name as captain could do anything to modify the group culture that has developed.

  24. Liverpool’s starting line-up averages less than 22yo today – looks as though they have some decent youth. Woodburn looks pretty handy.

  25. Torino said Arsenal made a bid of 50 million for their striker…. Belloti… but they want more

  26. Hey Yogi, how about a tribute to the late Peter Sarstedt, who died today, maybe on Grandad’s Jukebox?

  27. Bill,

    Strange because he brought in Vieira and let him command the team on the pitch. Vieira was fiercely protective of his players and hated losing. He wasn’t a natural leader as such, but he was the heart of the team and drove us forward.
    We haven’t had a player with that passion for the club since. Although Henry and Bergkamp both love the club, neither could take charge of the team on the pitch.

  28. HenryB,

    I trust you are well. 🙂

    Much as I think Terry is a despicable human being, he has proven in the past to be the heart beat of Chelsea. Are we seeing fewer of that kind of player as they become more mercenary about earnings? If your drive is the next big pay cheque your loyalty to the club is limited. There’s a huge difference between passion for the game and passion for the club.

  29. Rewatched the game today. The first 45 was unbelievably poor today too😊. Second 45, different story. Quite weird and inexplicable, a team with borderline personality?

    I guess most things were said yesterday. But it’s still very confusing. Can it be that we can’t handle high pressing and therefore looked all lost. It used to be the top teams but now even the likes of Preston NE can do it?

    I’m grasping for straws here😊.

  30. Not really ML. If Ozil wants to work only with Arsene, I’d suggest he becomes his butler. Of Ozil and Sanchez, if I had to choose one, it wouldn’t be the German.

  31. Wavey,

    True that, really not sure how we’re gonna come up with a gegen trick. We don’t seem to have an answer to it.

    I was sort of hoping that Elneny and Xhaka would be comfortable enough on the ball to withstand the high press. Then again, what do I know😊.

  32. YW:
    Not really ML. If Ozil wants to work only with Arsene, I’d suggest he becomes his butler. Of Ozil and Sanchez, if I had to choose one, it wouldn’t be the German.

    I don’t think it’s a case of Mesut only wanting to work with Arsene but I think it is interesting in the sense that a world cup winner with such standing in the modern game has faith and belief in Arsene Wenger. As far as I’ve seen/read/heard a vast majority of past and current players think very highly of the managers ability.

    I wouldn’t be surprised to see all three (Özil, Alexis and Arsene) sign new contracts

  33. > As far as I’ve seen/read/heard a vast majority of past and current players think very highly of the managers ability.

    No, and they all stayed loyal to him didn’t they? You know, when push came to shove, their loyalty was priceless, wasn’t it?

  34. Arsenal Vision-

    It’s a smart thing for Ozil to say regardless of true intent.

    Being the highest paid Arsenal player with a contract running down, the priority for Ozil and his representatives is to secure (or give the impression the negotiations are advancing) a higher paid extension. Praising Wenger will advance his cause particularly as the board has yet to show any sign of independent thinking let alone decision making.

    For all I know Ozil’s comments were sincere.

    However, if there is even a slight possibility he would move, this signals to a potential suitor they need to come in with an offer that trumps the rumored pay. It’s a win win either way.

    The contention the players love Wenger is one I would question – or rather idea they think him the best manager. I believe they like Wenger but love the atmosphere around Arsenal more. It’s a relatively pressure-free zone, a fluffy Ferrari and Hugo Boss lined womb where coming up short is patently not the end of the world.

    Unlike YW, Ozil is my favorite player so I would not want to see him leave. However, I fully agree with YW’s acid comment regarding Ozil being Wenger’s butler. At this point I would question anyone who does not regard Wenger as anything but a manager in decline…so Ozil’s comments left me feeling deflated in a similar manner to how Eddy Howe’s suck up to Wenger do.

  35. So Ozil will only stay if Wenger does! Let’s be honest there are probably thousands of arsenal fans wanting the same conditions.

    Yogi you are spot on about Wengers legacy. There are now fundamentalists on both sides now. Both encamped in their positions. It’s no longer about watching afc for these people, it’s all about him staying or going.

  36. I’d rather see Ozil leave than another year of Arsene. I love the bloke for all he has done for Arsenal, but it is time to go. 12 years and no title is simply to much for a club the size of Arsenal.

Comments are closed.