Bellerin’s Out But Is He In For Hull & “Et Tu, Thierry?”

Bellerin

Look, we saw it was a foul, so let’s get that over and done with. Your blood pressure isn’t going to stand it if you continue to pick the bones over Alonso’s elbows. That’s after Hector Bellerin has finished picking them out of the side of his head.

Football Association guidelines recommend a fourteen-day break from, but as per usual, there’s a get-out which leaves the decision in the hands of the club doctor. The speculation that he may return for the Hull game seems to be based on his social media account as well.

Arsène is in a quandary over his right backs in these circumstances. Gabriel’s initial decent performances waned with Watford and Chelsea exposing the Brazilian.

I thought we put ourselves at greater risk of a battering on Saturday by using a square peg in a round hole. Instead of using Gabriel in a 4-2-3-1, we should have used 3 centre-backs. Away from home 3-5-2 or 5-4-1; Arsène didn’t, my assumption is that we don’t use that in training and can’t adjust to an untried formation during a game.

Thierry Henry says Wenger doesn’t need to leave but questioned whether he could change his way of thinking. We know it is bankrupt in a football sense; the absence of a challenge for the title when in good positions underlines that. It can work in the cup, particularly when we’re able to play on the counter-attack. In the Premier League, we’re too easily stifled.

We need Bellerin in Munich

Bellerin places pressure on the manager. All hell will break loose if we don’t take three points against Hull. The last thing Arsène needs is more pressure ahead of the trip to Munich. That game concerns me. Our last visit there resulted in a pathetic capitulation; the lack of heart, once an early equaliser was chalked off, doesn’t fill me with confidence that we’ll still be in the tie come the second leg.

However, Bellerin’s fitness is more important for that match than Hull; Gabriel can cope with the Premier League strugglers, even if they are on a decent run of results.

Henry’s observation resonates with many people because we know Arsène won’t change his way of thinking, not fundamentally. That prospect is not realistic at all; he believes in a way of playing football and isn’t going to change that for popularity’s sake. That being so, change at the top is necessary to progress.

His problem is that the next three away games define our season. Most expect us to exit the Champions League – with good reason – while the trip to Anfield may have great bearing on the shape of the top four. Given we have so far accumulated five points from a possible fifteen against top six sides, it’s no surprise we’re not given much chance in that game. There’s plenty of football between now and then so I’m not even thinking about that game yet.

Sutton is different. I can’t conceive of a situation where we will lose that game. The side which played at Southampton ought to win that game and will. In The Heil this morning, Martin Keown and Chris Sutton ‘banter’ about the tie.

The nonsense about basic facilities isn’t an issue. Getting used to the pitch is and Arsenal will no doubt be looking to replicate it either at Colney or finding facilities with a similar pitch to use in training. Thoroughness ought not to be an issue, especially with the game the Monday night cup-tie on TV.

Players are not immune from the speculation

Both Keown and Sutton agreed that defeat in Surrey signals the end of Wenger’s reign. I wonder if the players speculate the same; even in their bubbles, they can’t ignore the conversations.

None of them should be contemplating defeat; it’s not acceptable but guarding against arrogance is. We’ll get an insight into the manager’s thinking when the side is known. With a ten-day gap to Liverpool, there’s no reason not to field his best XI, but in the same way he is overly loyal to his staff, there’s no reason to think he won’t be loyal to the players who got us this far in the competition.

We’ll know whether that choice is right at the final whistle.

Dad’s Jukebox

A reminder that we’re at 1990 in Times of Lives with 1991 chomping at the bit to land on Thursday afternoon.

‘til Tomorrow.

59 thoughts on “Bellerin’s Out But Is He In For Hull & “Et Tu, Thierry?”

  1. “Gabriel can cope with the Premier League strugglers”, like he did against Watford! If Alonso’s goal was ok, then Xhaka’s accidental clash with Joe Allen was never a penalty for the same reasons given for Alonso!

  2. Gabriel looks an accident waiting to happen in most games he plays, whatever position he plays in.

    Is Jenko really that much worse than him at right back? At least he can get up the wing.

  3. I like the idea of playing with three central defenders plus the wing backs. It’s become popular again and takes me back to ’89 & all that>

  4. Contrary to most, I actually agree with Lee Dixon in stating that Gabriel did well against Chelsea; his biggest problem is that he doesn’t offer much attacking wise but o well his first job is to defend. Sure again Watford he struggled, but then again, did anybody in our back 4 cover themselves in glory that day or for that matter against Chelsea (see, why was Bellerin marking Costa?). Gabriel will be fine I’m not worried.

    To my mind, we can’t play with 3 CB’s because we lack anything resembling a DM against Chelsea. Its not just about playing with 3 CB’s, fine cool, but those 2 at the base of your midfield have to be disciplined and focused because you don’t want your wing backs going narrow and generally it means that you want your front 3 (the 2 up top and the one creative midfield type) so stay as high as possible and not worry about defending just worrying about scoring goals. Could you imagine having Le Coq and Ox in midfield, they had a tough enough time playing the system they knew, something different that required them to stay disciplined adn focused the whole match, sorry not for me.

  5. Speaking of Bayern, Lahm has announced he is retiring at the end of this season. Outside of Cafu, Maldini, Zanetti, Roberto Carlos , Lahm was one of the best FB’s of my lifetime (yea I know Dixon was quality from start to finish). Naturally he isn’t in the same breathe as Carlos Alberto Torress(who for me is the best FB ever), but he certainly will go down as one of the best ever and a true one club man from the start of his career to the end.

  6. C

    Can’t agree that he did well against Chelsea. He, like the rest of the back four in the second half, was all over the shop. I don’t like centre backs as full backs nor vice versa. It’s square pegs and round holes. We need to play a back three when Bellerin isn’t in the side and also in the big away games, we need full / wing backs. We know we’re poor in defending from the midfield in recent games so let’s shore up the defence.

  7. C,

    ‘ Its not just about playing with 3 CB’s, fine cool, but those 2 at the base of your midfield have to be disciplined and focused’

    Yes we would need Elneny and probably Xhaka .

    ‘Outside of Cafu, Maldini, Zanetti, Roberto Carlos , Lahm was one of the best FB’s of my lifetime’

    I was watching England Brazil 1997 the other day and Cafu and Carlos, Romario and Ronaldo were up against Keown and Seaman.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ajrWOvkTg88

    We lost 1-0 from a good late Romario goal after Keown went off injured but it was really tight and we won Le Tournoi with France and Italy wins anyway.

    Gascoigne was playing with Scholes in the centre and I think if we had played them at 1998 World cup we would have a real chance. He was turning the Brazilian’s inside out, back heels nearly leading to a goal and a perfect pass. Gascoigne never had a red card for England, never lost a tournament match he played in, won Le Tournoi, and only lost one qualifier in 10 years when placed next to Carlton Palmer in 1992.

    We were playing 3 at the back with Gareth Southgate a converted midfielder, and Sol Campbell next to Keown. Ince a To think we have been stuck with 4-4-2 for so long after is ridiculous.

  8. We’d used a back five since the start of April ’89. Used it at Old Trafford in the 1 – 1 draw, then for the next half-dozen games, including a run of four or five without conceding. Graham stopped using it after losing 2 – 1 to Derby, reverting to 4-4-2 against Wimbledon in the following game (penultimate game of the season), before using the back five at Anfield.

    I have a feeling an injury to Paul Davis brought about the change but can’t remember if that was Graham’s rationale at the time.

  9. YW,

    I didn’t think he was poor and defended well but naturally the overall performance of the back 4 (especially those 2 CB’s) overall I guess sums it all up. Question is who are you going to put at wingback on the right that will be disciplined enough to not only attack but also understand they have to track back? Jenks, Debuchy; no and no as neither should still be at the club. Theo, for as much as I like Theo we all know he isn’t disciplined enough defensively, Ox nope, so then we have a problem at wingback. The other thing with playing 3 CB’s is in midfield, sure we will have enough in attack, but who is going to currently sit in midfield and be disciplined enough. Elneny’s return certainly helps matters because he can play that “busy” CM, but of recently (say last 5-10 appearances) Le Coq was doing anything but defending let alone being disciplined.

    I have never been a fan of the 352, but I’m open to it just don’t think we have a manager that demands the discipline that is needed nor the midfield and rightsided wing back to do it. Now we could certainly try it once Xhaka comes back as he is comfortable with it given that was what they played at Gladbach, but how would the rest respond.

  10. C,

    It is more of a 3-4-3 that Conte uses I think.

    Starting lineup 3-4-3:

    —-F–F–F
    LM-M–M-RM
    —CB-CB-CB-

    When defending: 5-4-1 the LM and RM act as full backs and LF and RF act as wingers.

    ———-F-
    –F—M—M—-F–
    LM-CB-CB-CB-RM

    When attacking the LM and RM push forward to act as wingers and the three forwards squeeze in:

    Attack:

    —-F-F-F
    LM——-RM
    —-M—M—
    —CB-CB-CB-

    It means the wing play is divided and you do not need to make a sixty yard run to get back into position as with a traditional 3-5-2.

  11. Great post Yogi

    Clearly Chelsea’s first goal was a foul and should have been disallowed. However unlike the elbow that Xhaka threw which hit Joe Allen, the Chelsea goal did not look like a foul in real time at full speed. We only knew it was a foul after seeing the replays whereas the elbow Xhaka threw was an easy call in real time. To be fair its unrealistic to judge referees based on ultra slow motion multi angle replays. That again points out the need for video review. Chelsea’s first goal would have been disallowed but our game winning goal against Burnley would also have been disallowed so we would actually have 2 points fewer right now and tied with ManU for 6th if replays had been used. I think every goal and every penalty should automatically be reviewed and the managers should have a couple challenges each game. To complicate the matter even more, if I remember there were a couple people who honestly thought that the elbow Xhaka threw was not a foul because they thought there was lack of intent. Replays will be a huge help even with replays you can’t accurately judge intent. The way the rules can be interpreted are vague enough that even with replays there will still leave room for some controversy.

    I agree completely with your view that using Chelsea’s first goal as an excuse for how poorly we played and how comprehensively we were beaten is utter rubbish and just points the culture of excuse making that has evolved in the second half of Arsene’s reign.

  12. phe,

    Yea but it takes a central midfield partnership that has one stay and one be the busy player. The thing with the FB’s though is that they neither get to far deep or too far forward, when you watch Conte’s sides either for Chelsea, Juve or Italy, the wing backs are more focused on keeping the flanks between the defense and attacking 3 secure.

    Yes you don’t have to make a 60 yard run to get back into position but you also have to cover, for instance Alonso would cover in midfield.

    Also with it, Conte is pretty adaptable with it and due to the players that he has can just as easily drop into a 433. The freedom that he gives his attacking players though is something that can’t go understated, he doesn’t’ require nor does he seem to want them to track back but instead press the defenders into mistakes.

  13. I like the look of that silver bloke, the Hull manager. Has that leader of men quality. Has absolutely transformed Hull lets be honest. Another good manager is the Watford manager Tony Curtis.

  14. phe,

    I’m not sure you know but I actually support Brasil (even though I’m American just my futboling roots), and because of that I remember Cafu and Roberto Carlos being the very definition of the modern FB’s. Cafu’s stamina even in modern futbol is unmatched, I remember times he would not only whip in a cross but would then run down a winger and make a tackle.

    Gascoigne, well Brasil wasn’t the first nor the last team to have difficulties with him.

  15. Regarding Gabriel. He is certainly not as good as Bellerin but I agree with C and I don’t think he was as bad as some of us think against Chelsea. I think we over rate or under rate specific players performances based on how the whole team played. Le Coq is a great example. 2 years ago he came into the side and replaced Flamini just about the time the players were finally shaking off the World Cup hangover and starting our annual false dawn purple patch. Back then every one thought Le Coq was absolutely a revelation and the best DM in the entire PL. 2 years later he is the same player and there are suddenly a lot of questions about him. Its hard for me to accept that Le Coq has really regressed to that extent as he has matured in the last 2 years. More likely our opinion of him was positively influenced based on how well the team played in 2015 and now our view is negatively influenced by the need to look for an explanation for the shambolic nature of the whole team in the last 2 games. I think the same is true of Gabriel. You could pick apart individual performances of each and every player on the pitch in the last 2 games.

    My real frustration with the Gabriel situation is that we should be able to find some way to compensate for the loss of RB no matter who he is. Its never an ideal situation but Fergie used CB’s all the time to cover for an injured full back for short or even longer stretches of time and he found a way to compensate. In 2006 when Ashley Cole was injured, Arsene used Flamini at LB during our incredible run of great defense that carried us to the CL title game and Arsene figured out a way to compensate. The fact that we are concerned about our inability to compensate for Gabriel playing at RB for a couple of games says a lot about Arsene has changed since 2006. The teams psyche has devolved to the point where the players, coaches and manager seem to be less able to adapt to any sort of change or adversity. The fragility of our system and the ease with which it is disrupted is disturbing. I hope that makes sense.

  16. phe:
    C,

    It is more of a 3-4-3 that Conte uses I think.

    Starting lineup 3-4-3:

    —-F–F–F
    LM-M–M-RM
    —CB-CB-CB-

    When defending: 5-4-1 the LM and RM act as full backs and LF and RF act as wingers.

    ———-F-
    –F—M—M—-F–
    LM-CB-CB-CB-RM

    When attacking the LM and RM push forward to act as wingers and the three forwards squeeze in:

    Attack:

    —-F-F-F
    LM——-RM
    —-M—M—
    —CB-CB-CB-

    It means the wing play is divided and you do not need to make a sixty yard run to get back into position as with a traditional 3-5-2.

    Tell the truth, the, are you sending encoded obscene messages? Hmmm? ? ?

  17. Henry: From yesterday.

    “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?”

    I think Ozil could orchestrate a faster transition but he has been here 4 years now and you and I both know that it has not happened. The million dollar question is why he and Arsene don’t figure out a way to make it happen and that was one of the major points of the whole discussion.

  18. I am in the fortunate position of agreeing with both Yogi and C, and not just to score brownie points. 🙂

    Generally, I do not like CBs trying to play in the RB/LB position, unless it is an emergency. However, I think within the limitations of playing at RB rather than CB, I think Gabriel was OK.

    It would have made more sense to me if we had a Gorgeous George set up at the start, Belli Button, Gabby, Mustafi, Kosser and Nacho. [i.e. a 5]

    I am bored witless by chat about 4:4:2 — 4:14:1, 8:1:1, or any of that stuff – no one listens and that includes all the managers – so why bother? [Damn – now Bill and C will discuss this topic for hours, lightly fricasséed in sensual pace, no doubt!] 😀

  19. Bill,

    I am on a mission to agree with everything you say!! 🙂

    You make a sweeping statement to say that you and I both know that Özil after 4 years has not tied down the role of transitioning from defense to pacey counter-attack, but I actually think some of the most exhilarating, attacking, goal scoring football has featured Özil.

    Umm – I am sure we can make that seem like I am agreeing with you – maybe? 🙂

  20. Henry

    I don’t want to put words in C’s mouth but one of the things we have talked about a lot is the notion that Ozil does not play like a “link player”. Ozil is not like Kante but there is not a specific instruction book detailing the exact nature of how a “link player” must play. Ozil is our most skillful and highest rate player and you would think he could have adapted and helped to facilitate a faster smoother transition thru the midfield after Cazorla went down. Again its a frustration that the manager and whole team seems to lack the ability to adapt.

  21. Bill:
    C

    My last comment yesterday was a bit over the top and I apologize.

    What did you say, Texas? If it concerned Mr C, you were probably right – if it was me — ? — then it is war!! 😀

  22. I sort of agree with that, Bill, and genuinely so. 🙂

    Your view that most people see Özil as our most skillful and highest rate player – is also mine too.
    What has been disappointing is that he does seem to go missing too often when the going gets tough. Perhaps he needs the rest of the team to be firing on all cylinders – but he would then only be putting the icing on the cake, and what we need is for him to grasp the game by the neck and control it, but ….. it just isn’t happening at the moment. [Contracts/disappointment with the way we are playing? Who knows?]

  23. Henry @ 2:49

    “I actually think some of the most exhilarating, attacking, goal scoring football has featured Özil.”

    The critical word in that sentence is “some”. You can’t focus on the good 1/2 of every season and ignore the bad 1/2. No doubt when the team plays well such as it did in Sept/Oct we look exhilarating and everyone plays well when we are in good form. If we could maintain that form we would challenge for the title every season. Unfortunately we don’t do anything well with any consistency. That is not ozil’s fault but one of the key things that happens when we play poorly is our transition slows down and we fall into ball possession without penetration mode. Ozil is our ‘best player’ and you would think he should be one of the players who adapted his game when needed to help us break out of the our annual 1/2 season in the doldrums. Doesn’t that make sense?

  24. Henry

    “what we need is for him to grasp the game by the neck and control it, but ….. it just isn’t happening at the moment.”

    That is the frustration. Ozil is one of worlds best players and in theory he should be able to grasp the game by the neck and control it. However, he has been here for 4 years and it seems like there is 1/2 of every season where no one including Ozil has any inclination to do that. The whole team floats at the same time and then sinks together.

    We debate this all the time but my own beliefs are.
    1) Ozil ability to influence and control the game is over rated
    2) Much much more important is the team culture has devolved to the point where when things start to go bad the whole team just loses its nerve and they all sink together. You could argue that Alexis tries to fire up the team but even his gesticulations and antics seem to get more annoying then effective after a while.

    Again i hope that makes sense.

  25. The other thing that I think goes back to Henry’s comments about Arsene changing is this whole style of play when it comes to needing our attackers to always track back. The best Arsene side didn’t require his attackers to constantly track back, he let defenders defend and attackers attack. Sure Pires and Freddie worked defensively but our attack was fluid. How often do people complain about Ozil, Theo, Iwobi, Sanchez not tracking back but then complain about not getting enough numbers forward on thr counter? Nacho and Bellerin are good to really good consistently at doing both but I would rather they defend a bit more and our pivots sit more and let our attackers attack and not have to worry about constantly needing to track back.

  26. Nope – I am trying, Bill, but I cannot disagree with you!! 🙂

    On many occasions I have said that no one has more respect for Arsene than me – but equally, I feel everyone of us reaches a point in our lives when it goes downhill. That is just the way our life cycle works, and that is true of AW too, so I hope he will gracefully step aside, as another manager may work a treat to fire up our top players — and fire the ones not capable of that — a bit like Conté has already done at Chelsea.

    That would include Özil as well, as on his day he is majestic.

  27. Out of curiosity, Bill, I went back and had a look at the end of yesterday’s comments, including yours, and I could see nothing wrong at all.

    I occasionally visit other sites, because there are many bloggers on those sites I really like, but as well as the guys I like to chat to, there are others I do not care to chew the fat with, and that is because their tone and angry denunciations of others [usually not involving me] do not meet my criteria of enjoying myself — and even though I do have a nasty side, as we all do — it always shames me if I respond in kind, so I try not to.

    That is a long winded way of saying that there are many ‘good’ guys on here that i do like to chat to, including you and C, with his roots in Brazil, [In the UK he might be called a Brazil nut] 🙂

  28. C,
    C on the right you could play Naitland Miles.

    If you look at The Chelsea team are they man for man better than the Arsenal players?
    Is Cahill better than Kos? Is Alonso better than Mustafi? No. The 2 genuine world class players are Hazard and Costa.

    Here is a question. If this weekend ALL the Arsenal players were available for selecton, would AW know his best team? I say he would not. It is this and the inability to engender a ” Squad” mentality where ALL are deemed important.

    Ferguson back in the day would tell players you are not playing in this game as I need for you the next match etc. Players were not dropped but rotated. A Core a spine of the Man U team was always evident. Players when they were brought back into the side by Ferguson would bust a gut for the Team ( Manager).

    Everyone KNOWS AW is afraid of confrontation. Do you think Conte or Ferguson would have put up with Alexis ways?. Ferguson would have had no hesitation in dropping Ozil. Wenger no. He buries his head in the sand. Conte dropped The Club Captain. Dropped Cesc. He sold sold Mikel. Thus shows you a Man who is not afraid take decisions. You have all seen the results this season. It is the same Maureen had.

    Still in a hypothetic situation, if we once again had all the players fit, who would start in the midfield berths? There are so many possible variants but none in my view that are World Class.
    There is not one midfield ( Ozil is not a true midfield ) player currently on Arsenals books whom we can say is World Class. What player currently in the Arsenal team is better than Kante or Matic?

    This position should have been looked at a long time.

  29. C

    ” I would rather they defend a bit more and our pivots sit more and let our attackers attack and not have to worry about constantly needing to track back.”

    I happen to agree with you. However, whenever Nacho or Bellerin make a mistake or have a bad day we start looking for explanations and comments about our fullbacks being isolated and other comments about Iwobe or Walcott not being very good defensively resurface. Either they need to be good at helping or they don’t. Even though it would be more convenient, we can’t really have it both ways.

    The other problem is that if both pivots “sit more” then neither can be as effective as the critical “link player”. Then we would need Ozil to start dropping deeper to help provide better “linkage” between attack and defense which is not the way Ozil plays.

  30. C,

    The amazing thing about that Brazil team with Cafu and Roberto Carlos: They could play but they were also warriors.

  31. C,

    And as for Gascoigne – he’s the only England player I have seen that cared even more than the fans about victory.

  32. …He was like a fan in the pub, given an out of this world skillset, and a kit and told he is about to play for England.

  33. Cazorla who is probably our best link player the team seems to play better for the most part when he is around and he does not really sit deep and defend. Kante is Chelsea’s link player does not really sit deep either.

    Perhaps when Cazorla is available then we can afford to have Ozil hang around the penalty box and wait for Cazorla to get the ball forward. However, when Cazorla is unavailable it seems like it would really help if Ozil would be willing to drop a bit deeper to help control the midfield and control the tempo and speed of our transitions thru the midfield. The critical factor seems to be the manager and players being able to adapt.

  34. I suspect one of the reasons Alexis always seems to start dropping deeper when we are not playing well is because he subconsciously knows that he could be more effective if we got the ball to him more quickly in the dangerous areas. Once the defense is set up and organized it becomes exponentially more difficult for him to find space and make something happen in the penalty box. So he drops deeper and hopes to get the ball sooner and drive forward himself and make something happen. Inevitably he will start losing the ball or won’t get his head up and find an open team mate when he is focused on trying to do something special himself.

  35. Bill –

    I agree with your comments regarding Gabriel and Coquelin (2.20) – the idea players have truly regressed is a ludicrous proposition.

    No one is denying individuals have had bad games(s) but, stating the obvious, how would they look under Conte’s stewardship?

    This leads me to invoke another in a long line of ‘canaries in the coal mine’- Shkodran Mustafi. Within a game or two, Mustafi looked like the best single signing of the summer and capable of transforming the team. Everyone agreed he was imperious.

    A couple of months ago (originally) I remarked on some mistakes creeping into his game. I posed recently it mirrored the same scenario as Gabriel and Chambers (but applies in a wider sense).
    Players arrive at Arsenal and impress. They are steeped in discipline and tactics from their prior club (s) and manager (s). As weeks then months pass, cracks in their games appear, fundamentals go missing.

    Is it their game or our style of management and coaching? I believe it rests with Wenger and Bould. Not to mention the lack of true captains (by design) on and off the pitch etc.

    The flip side to this being Chambers. From the fewer glimpses I have seen of him, he seems to have had confidence and structure drilled back into his game at Boro.

    I agree with you, people try to write a narrative around what they want to see.

    For what it’s worth, Wilshere been largely unimpressive at Bournemouth, but is playing game after game without injury. Is this (small sample size aside) yet another indication of another systematic problem at AFC?

  36. DFS

    With regard to Gabriel I think new players tend to want to start well and impress the new boss and fans and the first few performances can be some of the best they have, additionally everyone wants to believe that a new player will be a real difference maker and they give him more of the benefit of the doubt. I am not sure what to think of Gabriel and I am not sure he was ever as good as we thought or hoped after those first few performances. We have seen the same thing dozens and dozens of times. Perhaps the best example was Tommy Vermaelen. I have seen the same thing happen so many times which is why I am not quite as ready to jump on the Perez bandwagon as many of us are.

    Regarding Le Coq, no one really expected that much of him when he came in 2014/15 and we were all just so overjoyed to get Flamini out of the first 11 that we would have been happy with almost anyone. That said, I thought he really did have a good first season and the idea he has regressed so profoundly that he is now a liability seems hard to accept.

  37. DFS

    Regarding Mustafi. I was one of the many who were praising him as a fantastic signing and I thought he was really special. However, he has regressed to some extent as the team moved out of its early season purple patch.

    New players come to the club from a different team culture and I suspect that the odd mistakes and other frustrating things begin to creep into their game as they merge themselves into our culture which seems to be more tolerant of lapses in concentration and mental letdowns. Perhaps that is a bit harsh but it does fit with what seems to happen on the pitch.

  38. Petr Cech was a world class GK in his best days and he is not really that old for a GK but he does to seem to be as great as he once was. I can’t imagine he made a whole lot of mistakes like the one for Chelsea’s last goal on Saturday with his previous club. Perhaps he is going thru a similar cultural reversion. No matter how good Wojo has been in Italy, his mental strength has never been a strong suit and bringing him back would risk his recurrence of his previous issues. “Bad Wojo” was really bad and bringing him back into the starting line up would be quite a risk.

  39. Mustafi hasn’t played as well since coming back from injury. Wonder if he’s fully fit and trusting his body yet?
    What has happened to Debuchy? At the time of his horrible injury he was our first choice and France’s. Can he have regressed that much that he’s worse now at RB than Gabriel or Jenkinson?
    Mustafi imho is too slow to play RB.
    I don’t think Bellerin should be considered vs Hull, too soon after concussion. Arguably Bayern is too soon too but I think he’ll def play in that one.

  40. I have to admit that all of that stuff I write about our club culture is subject to my own bias confirmation. My concerns about our clubs culture causes me to expect to see certain things when I watch us. Obviously that has an influence on what I think I see.

  41. Good evening all, nice to see the arguments are continuing.

    I hope to be home in time for the Bayern game, in the meantime I intend enjoying my holiday and ignoring football altogether

    See y’all in a week or so

  42. This is an extensive article from December showing the position of Chelsea players during attack, defence and transition:

    ‘Hazard’s freedom

    The system switch has also had positive effects on the individual performances of the agents within it and this is perhaps most notable in the case of Eden Hazard. On the most basic level, the width from the wing-backs allows Hazard to act not only closer to his fellow attackers, but also more consistently in his favoured action zone; namely the left half space.

    Since they occupy the same role, Hazard and Pedro have many of the same action patterns, however there is one major difference which is the higher level of freedom the Belgian forward is afforded. With the ball on the left side, Pedro is often tasked with giving depth with advanced positioning and threatening the opposition’s defensive line with diagonal runs.

    In Hazard’s case, he has the licence to drift over to the right flank, create overloads and participate in combinations there. His diagonal runs beyond the oppositional full-back are another interesting feature of Hazard’s role, and these runs often allow him to reach the byline to look for a cutback, cross or even shooting opportunity.’

    http://spielverlagerung.com/2016/12/25/antonio-contes-3-4-3/

  43. phe,

    Yup, Cafu and Roberto Carlos were so good and they mixed that brilliance with being warriors but then again that whole Brazil team.

    Your right, he did care about winning and was one of the few England players that I think would have fit into any club or country.

  44. Bill,

    The problem isn’t that Nacho and Bellerin make a mistake and we are talking about them being isolated, the problem is the way that the system works to were we rely on our “wingers” to drop and do so much tracking back as to not leave them isolated. I know Arsene tries to copy the tiki taki style but in reality, the way Barca and Pep (who I assume he is trying to emulate that style) play, the wide players don’t always track back.

    Sitting more doesn’t mean you lose the link, but it does mean they don’t ALWAYS have to join the attack. For instance, Santi and Ramsey when they play there often times become the furtherest midfield forward (in Ramsey’s case even the furtherest player), they can provide that link while still sitting a bit deeper. Provide that link play and naturally the team will push forward but be more an “outlet” should we need to quickly switch from side to side, as opposed to pushing so far up that you can’t recover. I have heard people talk about wanting Kroos and players like that or even Conte’s style, well those midfielders “sit” while still being able to provide that link and an outlet should the attack break down.

  45. C:

    To me the idea of sitting deep and maintaining defensive position but also joining the attack and being the link player sound like wanting to have it both ways at the same time and it would be difficult for anyone to do both effectively at the same time. Cazorla is not a bad defender but he certainly more of an attacking type player and focuses more on moving the ball then on defending.

    In all honestly I think all the stuff about link players and deeper playmakers etc is over thinking and over complicated tactical mumbo jumbo, but that is just me.

    The one thing that really does make a lot of sense to me is that ozil should be doing more to help control the midfield and improve the tempo of our transitions when we are stuggling. He had a decent run of scoring ealier in the season but that has stopped and whats the use of having him hang around the penalty box when we are being over run in the midfield and we can’t get the ball to him or Alexis before the defense has had a chance to set up. It seems like the best use of his talent would be to help us have more control of the midfield and improve the tempo of our transitions.

  46. Morning,

    Jenks thanked all those sending him birthday wishes on his 25th birthday via Twitter. Some nasty individuals responded by giving him grief. One said, “get out of my club” and another called him a leach. Just disgraceful. Jenks move in the transfer window didn’t go through due to disagreement over personal terms, but we just don’t know how much of a pay cut he was being asked to take. In addition, the lad is an Arsenal fan through and through. Playing for Arsenal must have been one of the greatest things to ever happen to him and the idea that he isn’t good enough to play for the club must be very tough for him. We have had much worse players than Jenks on our books for much longer and he doesn’t deserve the abuse. If Arsenal are paying over the odds, it isn’t Jenks fault. I don’t think he’s good enough, but I wouldn’t expect him to take a massive pay cut. Hopefully he can get a loan deal which will lead to a transfer in the summer. And Happy Birthday Jenks!

  47. Wavey,

    With a bit of investigating it seems that Jenks was offered £35,000 a week, whilst Shlupp was going to get £56,000 a week. In itself a disagreement over what a player gets paid relative to another seems petty, but it depends on what each player was being offered relative to their previous salary. If Schlupp was to get the same, or even a pay rise over what he got at Leicester it would seem harsh if Jenks was expected to take a pick cut.

  48. Hull new manager unbeaten in 5/8 and only conceded 3 times despite playing 3 of top 6, i’d get your draw no bet and asian handicaps for Hull on now. I can see a stormy couple of weeks, Hull look organised, Bayern oh dear and Liverpool need a win and will be nicely rested. How will he talk his way out of this one if things start to head south…..we will soon see if the players want him to continue….i get the feeling possibly not judging by their continued inability to put up a fight.

  49. Wavey,

    I also think you have to take account of position as well, with Schlupp able to play as both a winger and FB not to mention even before Jenks got injured for West Ham he had already been benched in his 2nd loan because of several poor performances with a couple directly leading to loses so Jenks was potentially seen as much more of a wild card and needing a chance to resurrect his career while Schlupp was moving because they really wanted him.

  50. Week off this week, so watching day time tv is something of a novelty for me.

    Homes under the hammer is something that isn’t a completely alien concept to me, but WTF is Dion Dublin doing presenting it!!??!!

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