A Dutch landscape rollercoaster

rollercoaster

And so to the rest of the season. The Premier League has another round to go before the trips to Munich and Sutton United. I’ll make no bones about the latter; losing at Gander Green Lane doesn’t bear thinking about. And won’t happen 999,999 times out of a million; you just don’t want to be around that one time.

With the Southampton match postponed due to their involvement in the EFL Cup final, it means that is the last first team match for almost a fortnight. There’s no reason to rotate the side heavily; it should only be injury and need for a rest that stops a player from being used in the FA Cup now.

The Premier League is gone; twelve points is the double-digit barrier to success and Arsenal is united as one in knowing that from the supporters through to the owner. All he cares about now is a top four finish. Not a problem according to the stats geeks; it will happen. Rest easy, people; the Daily Star said so.

Europe is a pleasant enough distraction but seeing the performance at Stamford Bridge – following on from the Etihad and Old Trafford – soon to be a short-lived one. I don’t have one ounce of confidence that we’ll even get a draw there.

I don’t know why that surprises me; I didn’t think they were going to win the title at the start of the season although, in true football supporter fashion, I still hoped they would do well; better than I expected, even if the bar was set relatively low.

Engage Recovery Mode

Now we’re in the familiar recovery mode. It won’t be a surprise if Hull nick a point this weekend. We have a tendency to take time to recover from a bad defeat and nothing this week will repair the damaged belief of this supporter.

Relaxing back into the familiar territory of disappointment is nothing new; the rollercoaster of a season comes to rest there are varying points; it always has done, it always will. When apathy and disinterest set in, regimes struggle.

You can see that everywhere. If you ignore the extremes which surface or sustain some platforms, even the average supporter is disaffected. The pattern of change at Arsenal is set to continue with Arsène.

Just so long as he doesn’t go ‘direct’ and become a ‘long-ball merchant’, in the way that Mee, Howe and Graham did before him, there’s hope for football as a whole. Route One is the road to despair in football.

This isn’t all about the manager, though. He takes ultimate responsibility – or should do – but the players as well. You can guarantee that a new boss pitching up will see efforts redoubled, and games previously lost or drawn, become handsome victories. Human nature, I suppose.

But I can’t see it with this squad, or not a sustained improvement. Olivier Giroud isn’t suddenly going to chip in 35 goals, Mesut Ozil won’t suddenly see every pass converted to a goal and Alexis won’t stop trying to beat everyone on his own.

Of our group of players, I genuinely believe that only Bellerin, Mustafi and Iwobi – maybe Xhaka and Welbeck – can move to a higher level. The others are at their peak or on the slope downward, with age against them.

No more peaks or troughs, enjoy the Dutch landscape rollercoaster

Some, like Ramsey, Walcott, Ox, of the ‘older’ squad players, might do with a system more suited to them or a manager who can rebuild their self-belief. That’s the view of an outsider looking in, rather than any inside information.

The question that the board must answer is whether they believe Wenger can rebuild the squad quickly with some sharp moves in the summer. Time isn’t on his side if reports of a two-year deal are correct.

Two years isn’t enough time to remould an entire squad; it needs decisive action in key positions this summer and a dynamic approach so that pre-season training is productive.

A major issue is that the boardroom carries the same dangers as social media. It’s an echo chamber; they are all in Wenger’s awe as John Cross’s PR pieces showed that last week. “Never had it so good”? Obviously, as they decided to milk the club level season ticket holders once more.

Arsenal is a club in cruise control. There’s a stretch of road ahead; the leaders are driving it along, listening to their mixtape of Simply Red, Level 42, Phil Collins and the like. There’s no adventure, no ambition, no urgency. It’s all very safe, with no hint of any excitement to come.

They modelled our rollercoaster on the Netherlands landscape; no peaks, no troughs, just water to occasionally dump us in.

’til Tomorrow.

77 thoughts on “A Dutch landscape rollercoaster

  1. Thanks Yogi,

    Wenger “pulling off some sharp moves in the summer” had me rolling on the floor. Wenger can’t rebuild the squad inside 13 years let alone do it in two! Oh sorry I forgot, the stadium.

  2. I’m still confused over the media’s view of that attack on Hector, but why, with almost the same team , bar 1 , that won 3.0 we looked so poor. The system? The players ? The manager?

  3. Phew, just when I thought Wenger had lost it or our players are to blame for crumbling under the pressure again, I have had a trip on the sunshine bus and its assured me that the refs hate arsenal with a passion and its all their fault for us not winning anything as they have a deep rooted axe to grind against afc and are stopping us from winning. Thank fuck for that I thought we were shit again for a moment..

  4. I see Kos the Boss has been speaking about the Chelsea match:

    “I think we played some players in front of others and I think we should have played more as a team and there was space to do so. They hit us on the counter.”

  5. ‘Just so long as he doesn’t go ‘direct’ and become a ‘long-ball merchant’, in the way that Mee, Howe and Graham did before him, there’s hope for football as a whole. Route One is the road to despair in football.’

    Sorry YW, but Arsenal should mix the play. Scoles and Beckham were pinging 40 yard passes for Manchester United and they won the league almost every year with style.

    When we had Henry he used to stand on the left wing on the half way line when defending. Then if we won the ball, a ping over the top and Highbury was so small he was one on one with the keeper.

    I saw a Real Madrid match when they needed a goal last five minutes. They are playing it into the box with six players all coming in a straight line to head it.

    If you don’t have long ball in your locker, you are going to suffer. Even if it when an opposing team plays it for example, If you do not practice attacking with a long pass then how can you defend it?

    Graham only resorted to long ball when he knew he did not have the players to win any other way:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1994_European_Cup_Winners%27_Cup_Final

    It is better to win ugly than lose beautifully.

  6. Dukey

    ;lol;

    Your comments are always much more entertaining when switch off the optimistic mode.

    C

    We talked about this earlier in the season but there was no way we were going to sustain an effective high pressing style irregardless of which players were on the pitch. The stuff about needing pacey players was misguided. The critical factor for that sort of style is consistent energy and concentration and the club culture is just not built for that.

  7. phe

    Mixing the play is not ‘Route One’. That happens when you play long balls every time.

    Howe in his final season sacrificed the relative style of his players, for Route One at John Cartwright’s behest.

    Graham went Route One when Benfica beat us in 1991. He had one of the best Arsenal sides I can remember at the time and dismantled them, buying Jensen, Lydersen, etc. He bought functional footballers to fit his system so it was his choice.

  8. Well done Yogi during these yet again strange times at Arsenal.

    I think its the quality of the squad that can change and also a mentality that is needed. Sure Ozil and Sanchez are in their peak years, but put quality around them and maybe Sanchez will pass to them, maybe given a more prolific striker the chances Ozil creates will be finished on a more regular basis. But then you have players like the “old” squad players you are talking about, maybe they need a new man that gives them a specific role with specific instructions and maybe that will help. Not sure but one thing is for sure, things need to change and confidence needs to re-built in some.

  9. Bill,

    I can agree with you on the culture of the club not being able to but I also think some players simply don’t fit that style of play anyways.

  10. I remember thinking at the end of 2015 season that Carzola, due to his age, would probably need replacing or at least someone similar to come in and take some of the pressure off him. It’s such a shame that for two seasons in a row we have had to complain about the lack of him playing.
    Who thinks we will finish above Tottenham this season?

  11. @Wavey

    I agree, I think when teams press us we struggle but I think its because of the particular players in those positions or that feature the most in those positions. For instance, Le Coq isn’t best when pressured and often times struggles which is a problem given he is generally starting and when he played next to Santi it worked; but next to say Ramsey whose natural style and nature is to get up the pitch and attack, it doesn’t work because it either leaves Mustafi and Kos looking for a pass or Le Coq being pressured. Xhaka does well until he gets casual and then it becomes a problem. You spoke about Sanchez coming deep, I would say you tend to see it with our attackers as a whole: Ozil, Sanchez, Iwobi, hell even Giroud all drop deep to help which then hurts our attack when we try and break at pace. Its why Chelsea are able to break so quickly, often times against us you saw Pedro, Costa and Hazard just floating around the half-way line because they knew that Matic, Kante and even Moses and Alonso would win the ball back and quick get it up the pitch. Its why the moment Santi went down I started calling for Elneny, sure his passes aren’t always spectacular (though they can be when he sees the chance to) but he is consistent and has a higher futboling IQ than he gets credit for; you see it when he passes, he doesn’t need to take a touch, its a natural movement because he knows where he wants to pass to because the ball arrives and contrary to popular belief its generally not backwards but either short quick passes to get out of danger and send the team on their way or he will look to push one of the wingers into space that they can run onto.

  12. Even if it was all change at the end of this season (let alone in another few years), I think an incoming manager might opt for root and branch surgery of the squad.

    Not the ability of players, but the mentality.

  13. The reference to our being on a rollercoaster is true in my view.

    When we have a good win, everybody raves.

    When we lose, there is gnashing of teeth.

    There seems to be no middle path.

    That we have scored almost as many goals this season until now as we did the whole of last season, must mean something.

    That the Chelsea result was the 1st defeat by more than one goal this season, excluding the league cup, should mean something as well. How many other teams can say that?

    Last season’s collapse by our main rivals could not possibly have continued over to this season, especially as 3 of them had new managers. Even the new managers are struggling, except for Conte, who seems to have found the winning combination, after a shambolic start.

    I reckon the whole culture of football in this country has changed radically. For a number of years now, even the top teams have regularly been paying the “come and get me” style of play.

    We complain about teams parking the bus, but isn’t that what we have done occasionally also and the other top teams have done against us?

    Everyone is now finding it difficult to break through well drilled defences.

    The Arsenal style for the last 20 years has involved skilful players, playing skilful football.

    The general style nowadays of pressing and harassing makes that style difficult, if not impossible.

    The more stylistic players do seem to be intimidated by that style, which is why teams do it, especially against us.

    If you’re looking to change, in the current atmosphere, it may have to be root and branch to achieve what everybody wants, which is victory in the league.

  14. YW
    I’d move Mustafi into the maybe bracket he hasn’t convinced me but I am hoping he can.

    Wailsey that is spot on but I think we can add silent, disinterested, boring, no history, steady as she goes Stan fucking Kronke into the mix

  15. Great post Yogi

    I think we are just like any fans and we consistently over rate our players, however, I think we have enough good players to be able to challenge. We have certainly spent more then enough money in the last 5 years. By far the biggest problem is between our ears. Last season we struggled to score especially in the second half of the season but the defense was adequate. We only conceded 1 goal more then the best defensive team in the league last season. This season we are actually for the league lead in goals scored but we are now on pace to concede 44 goals while Chelsea/Spurs are on pace to concede only 25. There is no way you can challenge for a title when you can’t defend adequately. How in the world can a team like ours with some good individual defensive players concede that many goals?? The frustrating thing is that there is always something that goes wrong and its often something different every year. That just speaks to the fact that we need someone to come in and change the culture and build somehow find a way to bring actual mental strength into this squad.

    We spent $90M in 2016 so there is money in the bank and Stan has been willing let our football people spend money. If we sold a couple players we could have a war chest well above $100M. We need a better CF and that will be massively expensive but the money is there and with better defensive organzation and a cultural makeover it could all be turned around very quickly with the right manager.

  16. Well, this is timely, with my antipathy for the club at an all time high I have received, not one, but two glitzy promo brochures from Arsenal offering me, amongst other delights, the opportunity to purchase a ‘Hospitality Package’ for the Sunderland game from only £550 plus VAT.

    I’ll have to think about it. Maybe splashing out £800 (plus VAT) to watch us get beat by Manchester Utd would be a better buy? What do you think?

    Cracking picture, by the way, YW. Very witty.

  17. C:

    “Its why Chelsea are able to break so quickly, often times against us you saw Pedro, Costa and Hazard just floating around the half-way line because they knew that Matic, Kante and even Moses and Alonso would win the ball back and quick get it up the pitch.”

    As you point out. Effective attacking football does not have to be complicated. You need forwards who are good at scoring goals and you get the ball to them in dangerous positions before the defense has a chance to set up and organize. Counter attacking football the way Chelsea and Fergie’s best teams in this century played makes it much easier to be consistent as opposed to our complex multilayered system of deep and shallow playmakers and midfield creative hubs and interchanging forwards. You marry that simple but effective attacking formula with solid defense and you have a great team capable of competing for league titles.

  18. JJGSOL

    “The general style nowadays of pressing and harassing makes that style difficult, if not impossible.”

    I agree completely. The complex style we favor is dependent on technical skill and multiple layers of midfield creativity and it worked for Barcelona but even they needed the worlds best forward in this century in order to make it work. We have had some great runs of form since we switched to the style of play but realistically we have never been able to make it work consistently in England. As you point out it has become even more difficult in this decade as the rest of the world has gotten better and better at shutting down what we try to do.

    On the other hand defending well and counter attacking has been around forever and it has always been successful if done well.

  19. The defense has always had the advantage for as long as there has been football. If you give a team the time to set up and organize it will always be difficult to score and the better the opponent the more difficult it is to score.

    We have consistently had more technical skill and more creativity then any team in England and I am confident we have a huge lead over the rest of English football in ball possession during the last 10 years. However, despite those advantages our record against the other “big teams” in England has been consistently abysmal during those 10 years. We have always struggled to break down the better defensive teams with our creativity and passing and I think A big part of the problem is that we give those teams time to set up their defense. On the other hand we have consistently been vulnerable to teams which hit us with a counterattack.

  20. YW

    ‘Graham went Route One when Benfica beat us in 1991. He had one of the best Arsenal sides I can remember at the time and dismantled them, buying Jensen, Lydersen, etc. He bought functional footballers to fit his system so it was his choice.’

    Yes it seems GG was self funded in the transfer market at this time, having brought in Seaman already and had to sell to afford Ian Wright and then buying back Keown who had been an Arsenal academy player.

    It would not have been possible to get Bergkamp and Platt, (and whatever people say about him 27 goals in 62 games for England from the midfield speaks for itself) without the attraction of the winning machine that GG had assembled; LC, 2 league titles, FA and LC double and a CWC, in a few years and self funded, these kind of players, including Ian Wright also would not have arrived.

    http://www.transfermarkt.co.uk/fc-arsenal/alletransfers/verein/11

    Now players who demand success go to Chelsea; 5 league titles and CL in the last 13 years and 4 FA cup wins, one more than Arsenal.

    They are going to build their own 60,000 seater stadium and then the question will be asked, who would you rather have as owner, Abramovich or Kronke?

    These are some Steven Hughes goals from distance. You can see what GG training does to a player. Accurate long shooting at the first sight of goal from 35 yards:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N58yj4x3DkQ

    and these two goals against Chelsea 2-0:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yPPp76IP3sQ

    Wenger strips out the hardy players for wengerball: too may touches, sideways and short passes, and no efficiency or volume when finishing.

    In defence no one is organised.

    Yes long shorts can lose possession as Wenger complains but they are a way of taking a crack at goal while keeping your team in position.

  21. Bill,

    I think the 2 things that Chelsea currently have that we lack is a midfield player to connect the defense to attack (though I think Elneny coming back will and can be that player) similar to Kante and it doesn’t mean they have to be a ball carrier, it can be done with the pass, but it must be done. The other thing is that you have to have mobility in the front 3 and not always need them to track back as what happens all to often in our teams. Does Hazard, Pedro and Costa interchange, absolutely, they do it all the time and from time to time track back but they are there to create and score goals. Personally I think a midfield of Xhaka and Elneny could be what Matic and Kante are (not comparing the players but their effectiveness and role in the team).

  22. Cech
    Bellerin—-Mustafi—Kos—Nacho
    ———Xhaka———-Elneny——
    —————Ozil—————
    Theo or Perez—–Welbeck—-Sanchez

    Nothing to do with pace or anything. Let the back 6 outfield players defend, let Xhaka sit deepest and Elneny be the “worker” and tell the front 4 to attack and with Sanchez and one of Perez or Welbeck on the pitch you have players that will work their socks off and Theo when motivated will but he also provides that goal threat.

  23. phe,

    I think it actually works best when they can move freely as the match dictates. Its not interchanging for the sake of interchanging but for a purpose.

    Then once we are up I would take off Ozil and bring on Le Coq and go with a midfield 3 of Le Coq/Elneny/Xhaka to see out the match while still being able to play on the counter. This managing thing seems pretty easy to me and I would do it for less than 8m

  24. phe,

    I have to back YW up here. Watching GG’s Arsenal from ’93 onwards was like watching planes taking off. Boot the ball to Ian Wright, and let’s see what he can do.

    Saying that I would have that back 5 without blinking.

  25. C

    You are way overthinking with the whole idea that there has to be a single critical players who connects the defense to the attack. I know how much you want to believe the problem is Ramsey or Le Coq or anyone not named Elneny and Xhaka. However, we have some great midfielders over the years but we have never been a counter attacking team so this year is not really any different then any of the last 10 years. We are not going to suddenly morph into a team that moves forward at pace and counter attacks when Xhaka and Elneny come back. That is just not what we do.

    Fergie’s best teams after Scholes did not have this nebulous connection player. Just like Fergie’s teams the job of Chelsea’s midfield is to defend and close down space in the center of the pitch and disrupt other team and whomever gets the ball back moves it forward quickly. The mentality that Arsenal has with a deep player and then a link player is not conducive to moving the ball forward at pace. If you have to look for a specific “link player” and wait for him to move into position to receive the pass and then pass it to him so he can move the ball forward it adds time and 1 -2 extra passes which slows everything down and gives the defense more time to get into position and organize.

  26. C,

    ‘This managing thing seems pretty easy to me and I would do it for less than 8m’

    Yes you could do the job and if Wenger loved the club as much as he states he could say ‘look I’ve been saving this 100M for a rainy day. Let’s get a great centre forward!’

  27. Hi C,

    Gotta say I am disappointed with you!

    I have just learned that since early Dec 2016 when we beat Stoke, it seems that we were out run by every team we faced – even those we beat – something of the order of 2 or 4 kilometres on average.

    Were we not fit? Were we showboating – even where we were getting our asses kicked, by Everton, Citeh, Watford and Chelsea – or were we just happy to play pretty and hope to win, and cry when we didn’t?

    I need to know what the Oracle thinks. 😀

  28. Bill,

    I think you are underselling what Kante does, yes he is a worker and constantly closes down space but he carries the ball and makes quick decisions that allow the ball to quickly get up the pitch while constantly making himself available. Through no fault of his own, Ramsey’s style is to attack not sit and wait for the ball or always be avialable which is required of that position. You always talk of Fergie’s teams, but Carrick is exactly that type of player and has been in Manure’s midfield since 2006 playing this exact role. Say what you want but ALL of the best counter attacking teams have a player that can think quickly and move the ball quickly either by pass or dribble.

    Arsene’s Invincibles had Silva who was absolutely brilliant at that and if not Vieira would burst through midfield and link with Henry. Go back and watch Henry’s goals, the counter generally starts with a quick thinking pass from Vieira or Silva to one of the attacking players or Henry himself. You can’t say its not what we do because that was a large part of how we played early in the season and especially when we looked at our best after Cesc left. The other thing is that our players are best on the counter: Ozil, Sanchez, Perez, Iwobi, Ox, Welbeck, Theo; all players that are best when playing on the counter and its why we have struggled in midfield since Santi went down. Its not about just Xhaka and Elneny being the only players that can do it, but they are less likely to lose possession and thus kill the move.

    I know your not a big midfield person but there is a reason why managers focus so much on making sure they don’t lose the midfield battle and not to mention its literally central to everything on a pitch.

  29. ‘Boot the ball to Ian Wright, and let’s see what he can do.’

    Yes Pete our midfield was a bit bunged up but we were still winning well.

  30. Yogi,

    You said we are a club on cruise control — with all the angst building for what seems another duff, same again season, I suspect it is more likely a cruise missile is coming for the club in an attempt to blast us into the changes needed to achieve success in the future. 🙂

    Go Gunners! Pretty Please! 😀

  31. C, @ 4:27

    Could not agree more.

    Kante is an absolute ball of energy. He disrupts the opposition players by always buzzing around them – he is pacey, has great control, tackles well, and ………. well I wish we had bought him when we had the chance.

    Poor old Rambo comes up short — he has no pace, no control and cannot tackle — but he does have a great heart and that bloody Shaw injury did for him really — shame for the guy! 🙁

  32. C

    The downside of moving the ball forward with pace and counterattacking is that you will often lose possession if the attack fizzles out.

    To me Elneny’s style is move to a position to recieve the ball, pass it to a teammate and then move to the next position to be available to recieve the ball again. Certainly he makes some forward passes but his instinct is to avoid passing the ball into contested forward areas where we might lose possession. To me he is the definition of a ball possession player and he does not strike me as someone who will be that critical link you are looking for to move the ball and the team into dangerous contested areas at pace.

    Before you say we all remember that Mo made a great pass to Ozil for that goal against Ludogrets but the reason that one stands out so much is because it is an exception rather then what usually happens.

  33. C,

    Watch out for phe — he gets his shots and his shorts mixed up – could be awkward if he gets his shorts on target! 🙂

    [Sorry, phe, had enough of the miseries after the Chelsea game. We shall overcome — someday… ] 🙂

  34. HenryB,

    I didn’t see that, that is shocking!

    So that’s Palace, Bournemouth, Preston, Swansea, Burnley, Southampton, Watford and Chelsea. While personally I have never been one to pay much attention to run stats (I was always taught the ball moves faster than the man and work smarter not harder), I do think over the course of 8 matches that is quite a run.

    Okay, so Southampton I get since we just stroked the ball around the pitch, Chelsea have Kante, Moses, Pedro and Costa who all seem to be able to run all day, Bournemouth well we all know what happened there, but Palace, Swansea, Burnley and Watford are unacceptable. Seems to me the players have actually ran less which is odd but does it lead one to believe that they have stopped trying? It can’t be that they are not fit, no reason for that.

    No its not because Theo has played and then disappeared during the Chelsea match or its not because of Ozil’s languid style (since I’m sure somebody would throw them our there 😉 )

  35. HenryB,

    Yup, I think what Kante brings is often understated and that is saying alot. The attacking side of his game is really underrated.

    I really do feel for Ramsey but at the same time, I often feel like he is a crutch that Arsene leans on in order to not bring in another midfielder same with extending Santi’s contract.

  36. C

    Kante is a great player and his energy and his ability to disrupt the other teams midfield is awesome. We tend to get sidetracked and get away from the big picture issue everytime we debate something like this.

    To me the big picture issue is that we have had many good to great players come thru our midfield in the last 10 years but in the Emirates era we have never been a team that is good at consistently moving the ball forward at pace and counter attacking because that is not Arsene’s philosophy and its not what our system is built to do.

  37. Henry

    Sure you can lose the ball moving forward at a snails pace but you are more likely to lose it moving forward quickly into contested areas in front of goal. However, the upside of moving forward quickly is the chance of creating a good scoring opportunity is significantly increased if you get the ball into a dangerous area in front of goal before the defense is set up. That seems rather straightforward to me.

  38. C,

    despite what some bloggers claim, data/stats are simply information, and interpretation of the data is key — but it is not always easy to interpret without looking at other factors.

    You have put your finger on one reason — Arsenal’s superiority in some games may allow them to stroke the ball around and let the opposition do the running – but that does not altogether hold up, as you again say, because we should have been running our socks off where we were losing.

    Another option, is that maybe the heads of our players go down and they give up — the nonsense from Cech in giving Chelsea that soft 3rd goal was a bit like ‘f*ck it – we are losing 2 : 0 why bother?’

    That is why interpretation and not confirmation bias (it’s the refs fault – he should have made us run further) is bollocks. Whatever the answer is, it does not reflect well on the team or the manager for allowing it. My attitude, if I was manager, would be – if you let your head go down in a game, you are not the guy for me – whoever you are f*ck off.

  39. Bill,

    Yesterday or the day before you mentioned something about seeing what you want to see and I think Elneny is that guy for you. For all the talk of him being primarily a possession player, he sure does get forward alot. I think his nature is to keep things moving and if the pass into a congested area isn’t on, he picks out somebody else to keep the quick counter going. He is exactly the type of player you want in that position, sure he makes himself avialable but its not just to pass for the sake of passing, its passing and moving quickly to help with the counter.

    This is courtesy of squawka.com who I have found to be pretty good at what they do:
    429 passes this season at 92% accuracy, 69% were forward passes
    Average pass length: 16m

    So the notion that he is some 5-10 yard passer and doesn’t pass forward is rubbish even by the eye test is you watch him play. I know you’ll say well that doesn’t mean anythiing. So I did a bit more digging as was to be expected:

    Ramsey: 369 passes completed at 90%, 66% were forward passes, average length of pass 16m
    Le Coq: 771 passes, 88% accuracy, 74% forward passes, avg length 15m
    Xhaka: 1096 completed passes, 89% accuracy, 74% were forward passes, 18m avg length

    So if your looking for the best and most accurate players to make a forward pass as quickly as possible then you want Xhaka and Elneny.

  40. Kante is a really good player and Arsene has said he tried to buy him twice. Why the heck didn’t Arsene just spend the money he needed to buy him instead of dilly dallying over price or whatever caused him to miss twice?

  41. Exactly, Bill, so why are you always against pace? Usain Bolt might lose his shorts (there’s phe again) 🙂 much more easily running at pace – but if he runs slow he is a loser.

    We do not want losers at Arsenal ….. OK, so we do have a bunch of ……. but you get my drift? 😀

  42. Bill,

    Exactly, we haven’t until Santi and not Elneny but also we haven’t consistently had any sort of consistency so that plays a part too. Personally I say lets play quick countering attack futbol with the ability to press when the occasion arises.

  43. C @ 4:56

    1) I don’t put much stock into passing stats. Denilson and Arteta were the worlds greatest midfielders if based your opinion on passing stats.

    2) The actual differences between those players you don’t like and the ones you do like with regard to the passing stats you quoted is negligible. Those stats hurt the case you are trying to make that somehow Xhaka and Elneny are significantly better.

  44. HenryB,

    I agree with all of that and I would even say in those matches from the off it was quite obvious that the levels of energy wasn’t there. Again, I do love stats but running stats generally mean nothing to me because your suppose to let the ball do that work.

    I would venture to say that heads going down plays a part no doubt about it. The shocking thing for me is that you constantly hear from both ex and present players as well as Arsene himself, talk about how much he tracks that stuff and all that; he should have told them, heads go down you sit on the bench next to me plain and simple. I think the other thing it shows is that Arsene really might not have the ear of the players because of this persistence with not wanting to either sign an extension or state he is leaving. As a player, you may think, well if the manager has come out on quite a couple occasions and said he isn’t sure he wants to continue and sign a new contract, then its hard to look at him and want to run through a brick wall for him.

  45. Henry

    I have nothing against pace. If everything else is equal, you certainly want to have the player with the most pace.

    The point I am always trying to make is that pace is not a magic bullet. You don’t need a team with great pace in order to move the ball forward with pace. Chelsea is the perfect example. Chelsea’s players are not slow pokes but we clearly had as much and almost certainly more pace on the pitch then they did, but they play the game at a faster pace then we do.

    Again that seems very straight forward to me.

  46. C:

    “Personally I say lets play quick countering attack futbol with the ability to press when the occasion arises.”

    You got it!!

    I have been banging on about this for years now. Unfortunately we have not really played that way since 03/04. I believe the reason we stopped playing like that is because our style of play, our team culture and Arsene’s philosophy since he broke up the 03/04 team moved in a different direction.

  47. Bill,

    That is the same thing I have been saying and the only way I want to play futbol. I’m not understand!

    All these hours of back and forth and you agree with me, I need a drink!

  48. C, then you can understand my puzzlement with Bill.

    @5; 14 he said, “If everything else is equal, you certainly want to have the player with the most pace.” — whatever all else being equal means on a football pitch. But then goes on to say, “You don’t need a team with great pace in order to move the ball forward with pace.”

    But then there is great leap: “Chelsea’s players are not slow pokes but we clearly had as much and almost certainly more pace on the pitch then they did, but they play the game at a faster pace then we do.

    I love Bill and his passion, but that is an example of why he always baffles me — but I admit he probably makes sense in his own way.

    My problem is that I cannot agree or disagree with him – as he seems to be saying two different things. Hmm, let me see — Bill says we have more pace than them — but — then he says, they play at a faster pace than we do. Ermm – no I just don’t get it – but we have got it sorted pace is great!! Yaay! 😀

    Sorry, Bill. 😀

  49. C:

    In this case we disagree about the details. You get all excited and develop this intense emotional attachment to specific players and make you search for reasons to blame all of our problems on the players you don’t like. You love pace and width and a deep lying playmaker behind an intermediate link playmaker who moves the ball to the worlds greatest #10 and then he picks wonderful passes and thru balls to our pacey interchangable front 3. If our “link player” is the critical ingredient to all of this then what in the world is the point of spending tons of money on Ozil? To me, most of that stuff is over thinking and the complexity of all of it actually slows us down and makes it impossible to really play counter attacking football.

    I realize that I over simplify to some extent but we would be much better off if we just concentrated first on playing great defense and when we get the ball we should move it forward before the defense has time to set up.

  50. Henry

    It all makes perfect sense to me. I have been blogging for about 9 years and I have had plenty of people who disagree with what I say but I can’t remember any one else who has struggled to understand my comments the way you do. Perhaps everyone else was just trying to be nice and did not want to tell me that I don’t make sense. 😉

  51. Hi Bill,

    Now that bit I understand — “we would be much better off if we just concentrated first on playing great defense, and when we get the ball we should move it forward before the [opposition] defense has time to set up.”

    But why could that not be done with our most skilful player, Özil, orchestrating it, as C has said?

  52. HenryB,

    Well now you fully understand why our discussions generally go on for quite some time and tend to stray one way or another and not always on topic.

  53. Perhaps you are right, Bill.

    [That is an example of a Bill-ism — I am agreeing with something — but is it that some do not agree with you – but are trying to be nice with you —– or I am agreeing that I am the only one who has not understood you, and therefore it is me that is out of kilter?]

    Well, I accept the latter point — it must be me. 😀

  54. By moving the ball on the ground from our defenders or from our deep playmaker thru our “link player” and then to Ozil we give the defense time to set up. I think we transition better with Cazorla but he has been here for 5 years and even with him we have only been able to maintain a faster pace of play for short runs of form. To me the problem is the managerial philosophy and the system.

  55. Despite some pretty poor performances of late, Arsenal fans still have a lot to anticipate until May. We are still in the ko stage of the CL and the FA Cup. And at least 4th place in the EPL.
    And for the real “moaners” there’s still a chance that Arsene will depart this Summer.
    Count your blessings!!!! 😉

  56. You are a ray of sunshine, Nicky, and you would sell it 100%, if you promised us all an ice cream next June, come what may. 😀

  57. nicky,

    I suspect that our CL adventure may end as is traditional well before May (if I’m generous I’d add at least until the second leg of the Bayern game) 😉

    At least our FAC journey might last a bit longer, as for fourth place, Zzzzzzz

    As always feel free to come back and chide me for lack of faith should I be proven wrong!

  58. @Henry B and Andy 1886,
    Remember last season when, after a series of disappointments, we still finished EPL runners -up. This year we are progressing OK in the FA Cup, Bayern will not relish a visit to the Ems and our usual Spring Surge will see us progress up the EPL table a tad.
    And if it doesn’t all work out that way, Arsene Wenger will there awaiting all the slings and arrows that our outrageous fortune will throw at him! 😉

  59. HenryB,

    ‘I said what I look for in all players is technical ability, application, desire, ambition. If they are to stay at this club, then ambition is absolutely vital. I didn’t want anyone here for the fun of it, to see out their career, put in a few years. I am here to win things, not have fun. The fun will be in the winning, when it comes.

    Looking around, I said I can see some amazing talent here. But, looking around, I can also see a lot of under-achieving. My job is to put that right. And, together, we’ll achieve things.’

    GG

  60. Odds on two more years, a flurry of ins and outs at the start of the window that work out a net profit of £1.376 million and a £37,245 per week wage saving. Which will offset AW’s slightly above inflation wage increase in his new deal. And Kronke’s £3.6m management fee that isn’t a dividend so the Ukbek gets stiffed twice over.

    Then silence until August Bak Holiday and the dildo waving masses go into overdrive and Arsene buysMahrez from relegated Leicester for £24m and says we’re getting really quality and not to worry about a CF. When Welbeck returns from injury (he’s going to break his toenail dropping a run size Milky Way on it on the beach in Torromolenos in the summer – 7 months on the sidelines ensues) he’ll be like a new signing

    He had his chance at a last hurrah. Twice already. He cocked it up both times and he’ll low ball it again this time

    Morning, by the way

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