Palace Preview, Ox & British Core

I suppose we’d better get used to Sunday’s and Monday’s  being our match days with next season’s foray into the Europa League. Acquaintances are renewed with Sam Allardyce’s cultural brand of football as Crystal Palace look to beat the drop.

Palace have the run-in from Hell but will take heart from the win at Chelsea. However, they face the rest of the top six – us included – as well as Hull, so it’s hard to see them surviving if they don’t take all the points tonight.

They’ve won four of their last five in the Premier League. The past few days can’t disguise that we’ve struggled for form and West Ham were so poor that its foolhardy to declare the corner has been turned. Taking seven out of the last twenty-one points underlines the wretchedness of our form.

Results this weekend ratcheted up the pressure on Arsenal. The rest of the top seven won which Everton breathing down our necks  but no different in terms of finishing in the top four. Win games in hand and we overhaul Liverpool. I don’t expect that to happen but you’d be a brave man to bet against it right now. At the end of ninety minutes? That’s another matter…

It’s hard to see any changes from the XI which beat West Ham. Martinez will continue in goal but can expect a busier evening, with plenty of crosses slung over by the Palace wide men. The back four? Gibbs or Mertesacker are the real alternatives; there’s no sense in a change in either position, particularly since Gabriel has come in and played well for the last game and a half.

Good Morning Britain

Which takes us to the midfield and attack; the heart of the team and the British core. The soundbite of building a side around them proved to be just that. There were footballing reasons for the fanfare which heralded the committing of their long-term futures to the club but they are but a distant memory. Arsène spoke about Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, claiming that, “He has a great mentality and a good football brain and it would be big damage for us to lose this kind of player.”

Presumably that’s not the same Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain who can’t win a permanent place in the starting line-up, despite good performances. Ox has his critics, as with Aaron Ramsey; a major problem for both has been how and where Wenger uses them when fitness isn’t an issue. The Welshman’s best season came in his best position, as did his excellent performances for Wales at Euro2016; I wonder if there’s a common theme there?

Ox likewise. Mohammed Elneny came in and did well against West Ham. The pairing of him and Granit Xhaka is altogether more cerebral than other partnerships but where does that leave Ox? He was the only player to emerge from the Bayern drubbing with any credit but does Arsène trust him enough? The manager’s comments are a load of old flannel, designed to soothe egos and counter the media talk of Ox’s contract situation. Were I the player, I’d want him to back his words up.

Union, Jack

But the English core are regularly hauled over the coals. Jenkinson and Gibbs aren’t good enough to nail a first team place at Arsenal while I’ve mentioned Ox and Ramsey previously. As for Jack Wilshere, he’s criticised for being Jack. To many, his nationality brings forward an instinctive criticism given the paucity of national team performances while the loan spell at Bournemouth is used against him because he’s not leading them to glory.

We need to keep some of them to fulfil quotas but it’s hard to see Jenkinson and Gibbs being at the club at the end of the season. While Arsene is at the helm, it’s hard to see the style of play changing so where do these players fit in beyond being in the squad? Are any of them capable of nailing down a first-team place, and if not, does that fit in with their idea of how their career should develop?

The summer is going to be busy for the club in contract negotiations, as well as transfer business which doesn’t bode well given our lacklustre performance in these arenas in previous years.

Tonight’s line-up won’t be:

Martinez; Bellerin, Gabriel, Mustafi, Monreal; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Xhaka; Walcott, Özil, Sanchez; Giroud

Yes, I’d include Giroud tonight. His ego was (rightly) boosted by the scorpion kick which dominated the headlines following the 2 – 0 win at the Emirates. His stats argue for his inclusion ahead of Danny Welbeck in the centre, although there’s a strong case for using the England international in away games with his pace. However, this is the physical encounter which may suit Giroud better. And Elneny will keep his place ahead of Ox.

Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it.

’til Tomorrow.



164 thoughts on “Palace Preview, Ox & British Core

  1. ‘Boro must fancy their chances next week. I’m not looking forward to the Spuds game either. A bad performance there and the pressure really will be on.

  2. we were ” unlucky”, sportsman bet he uses this one….
    “mentally strong/weak” rinse. repeat.
    “a little surprised”
    “their intensity”
    “we lacked a little bit of focus”
    “their goals weren’t goals”
    “mental strength going forward”

  3. 4 consecutive away games lost in League on Arsene’s watch for the first time ever. Another record broken.

  4. It’s like watching a boxer who’s legs have gone. There is no one to pick us up. Still no emotion, no shouting, no geeing up, nothing.

  5. He tapped out on credit years ago. he’s well in the black & he’s got no way of paying it off.

    Give it up Arsene.’s becoming embarrassing.

  6. Nothing to worry about, no need for change on or off the pitch. All is well. Move along, just off to sign up to a new deal with a nice big pay rise. Bonkers.

  7. Can this be true, courtesy of our ‘old friends’ at PA.

    ‘Blimey – Arsenal haven’t come back to win a Premier League away game since a 5-2 victory at Leicester in September 2015 #CRYARS ‘

  8. So how do those who want him to stay carry on defending performances like that? The players take a lot of blame as well, but they look so badly under prepared. When you keep losing the same way it has to be down to the manager.

    3+ goals against in 4 consecutive away games for the first time since 1929. Just keeps breaking those records.

  9. Another little factoid, Palace are closer to us (-20pts) than we are to Chelsea (-21pts). Another four points for the leaders and our title ‘challenge’ will be mathematically over for another season.

  10. The problem is that we can’t avoid Europa. 7th will qualify. Next season is going to be a horror show.

  11. If A Dubya stays, who else is going to? The ones that we are now being told are not talented enough?
    Ozil is going, Sanchez is going, Hector Bellerin is going, half the fucking stadium is going.
    I don’t think that the players we have are as bad as they looK and if AW stays we are permantly losing top 4.
    We could change the team, but we don’t spend anywhere near enough, so hadn’t we better change the manager before we have that fucking huge bill?…..
    Or finish 10th.

  12. So if the players have downed tools, then who is responsible for it? The players or the manager? Surely the manager has to take responsibility for not getting his players to work hard for him. It must always be the boss fault in any organisation if the staff are not doing their jobs properly, It’s poor management. Or the players have lost faith in the management.

  13. consolsbob:
    Henry, you run with the hares and the hounds. Pick your side.

    Not so, CBob.

    I am bored with constantly repeating myself. So here it is once again. I think AW should have retired 3 years ago. I recently listed the players I think need to be axed so I will not do that again, but we have a weaker squad than all the other ‘top’ teams.

    What more are you expecting me to say?

  14. Everyone knows how to beat us, and has for years:

    Crystal Palace manager Sam Allardyce, speaking to Sky Sports: “Tactically the players were aware of how to beat Arsenal. The first thing was to defend and frustrate them, keep them playing sideways, then use the space behind the full-backs. Arsenal have been weak defensively, they leave the centre-backs exposed.

  15. Henry, you post ambiguously here and on PA.

    You are free to do as you like, but I can’t take you seriously.

  16. Dukey,

    That’s the narrative – if you know nothing about the history of our great club and swallow the pro-Wenger propaganda hook, line and sinker.

  17. Very interesting remarks to Shreeves post match. I am sure YW will address AW’s post match in tomorrow’s post.

  18. Wenger had pretty much nothing to say. He tried to go down the path of talking about how much possession we had and realised he was on a loser.

    He was asked what was said in the dressing room are half time as nothing changed and they were actually worse in the second half. He replied that what’s said in the dressing room stays in the dressing room. WTF?

  19. Theo “biggest thing is letting the fans down and that’s not us”…..hahhahah it’s a comedy show, that’s exactly you you bunch of lemons.
    “they wanted it more” good god you are a professional how can you say this ? how can you not want it more than your fellow professional..? retire.

  20. I blame players, manager, exec, board and owner. Everyone bears some responsibility here. But changing this requires a different manager at the outset. At least we might see some fight. Fundamentally Kroenke will drag us into mediocrity but first priority is a new manager who can oversee a major rwbuikding of the playing squad and inject a different ethos.

  21. I watched that rocky, Wrighty doc the other day aswell….. This is just pathetic what’s being served up now. Rocky would be turning in his grave.

  22. Wavey,

    He made a little slip. He said he can’t stay forever and after a defeat like that… then he recovered himself and went back into blah blah mode.

  23. “i cannot go on forever after a game like that”
    i think that may well be the end.
    if so, the club and the players have been hugely complicit in his demise.

  24. Limestonegunner,

    Nothing will change whilst Wenger remains in charge.I would prefer he hold off until the end of the season before announcing. With the likely results we will produce now I would hope he would slink off in disgrace.

    United, Spurs, Southampton and Everton could all give us a shoeing. City will beat us in the FA Cup if they stay on point for a change.

  25. Clueless, leaderless and rudderless. In all my years of supporting Arsenal I don’t think I’ve seen such a group of good players play so badly as a team.

    Its blatantly obvious that the manager has no idea whatsoever how to inspire this squad. His idea of coaching is to sit on the bench either with his head in his hands or fiddling with his zip.

    The one bright aspect was the sight of a very disgruntled Gazidis watching from the stand, surely he must now sack Wenger if he won’t leave of his own free will.

  26. he said you wouldn’t be pleased if your daughter bought them home, they’re not real men !
    haha trolled by carragher ! arsenal players are limp biscuits.

  27. Wavey:

    Nothing will change whilst Wenger remains in charge.I would prefer he hold off until the end of the season before announcing.

    The way things are he must just go. He didn’t manage from the sidelines and there is nothing left in this team with him in charge.

    If they don’t have a replacement lined up then he should just announce that they are interviewing. Results this year could not get much worse, we are heading South so rapidly Allerdyce is expecting to be competing with us for 10th.

  28. Buffalo heard the same thing. Quite a telling slip. Clearly he can see he has lost the confidence of the players. But he’ll sign a new contract. Can’t help himself–wants to manage and thinks he can turn it around. Soon he will have to openly blame the players.

  29. Limestonegunner,

    When a manager starts openly blaming his players he has to be sacked. Maureen lost it at Chelsea and they had no choice. Wenger said a couple of things about the defence tonight and you could see him going further.

    I am expecting us to win next weekend though. One of those typical situations where a loss would be the last straw, so we’ll win.

  30. The Arse in Namib (AITG),

    He won’t walk away and they won’t sack him when his contract is up in the summer anyway. He’s at least here until the end of the season. They actually want him to stay. The question for them now is whether or not he can motivate a dressing room he appears to have lost next season. Most of the players will be the same and he can’t get them playing for them now. Why would it change next season?

  31. Might be interesting to see how many don’t bother to turn up for the remaining home games. I’d guess that apathy rather than outright revolt will still be the order of the day. And I’ll bet that the board will be banking on the summer break easing tensions and that they can all go back in August and sell the same old bullshit about this season being different yet again. Depends on how many mugs are still prepared to fall for it.

  32. I may have been wrong about climbing back into the top 4 this season. That was perhaps one of the most uninspired performances of the season. I honestly expected a 2-1 win. May be this is finally the time that arsene the escape artist will fall short of his goal. If it happens I know the public stance will be that it was a 1 off but I certainly hope there is some real concern behind closed doors. If we lose Sanchez this summer we are looking at a serious fight to get above the top 7 much less get back into the top 4.

  33. The 1 game winning streak was nice while it lasted. We had as much ball possession as in any game of this season today. So much for the idea that Elneny can help bring the team back into balance. We would have beaten West Ham last weekend no matter who played in that position. Mo is a nice squad player but certainly not a difference maker.

  34. Another thing we talked about after the West Ham game was the theory that a pacey CF like Welbeck would help our defense by pressing the other teams defenders. Having Welbeck upfront did not help our defense against Man City or West Brom and it certainly did not help today. Welbeck is versatile and has good work ethic and reasonable technical skill and like Elneny he is a nice squad player. However, he has been around the first team of Man U and Arsenal for nearly a decade and never shown any real indication that he is going to suddenly morph into a difference making forward.

  35. Bill. I agree. I thought Welbeck would help with the pressing, but it didn’t happen. If there is one thing that is vital against a counter-attacking team it’s smothering their counter-attacks before they kick into gear. That is the whole Barcelona/Pep (recover the ball in 6 seconds) philosophy. I just didn’t see that sort of desperation against Palace. Maybe this was the sort of game for coquelin, where he is used to get forward and close down defenders and doesn’t have to help carry the ball upfield. Or maybe there are no solutions except a new team.

  36. Freddo

    You are overthinking the whole pressing thing. Defense is a team game but its a real stretch of the imagination to believe that a CF is critical to a teams defense. Pep’s best teams had Messi at CF and David Villa on the left wing and I don’t think either of them were great defensive players. What you need from a CF is goal scoring and at least based on 10 years of past history we are not going to get very much of that from Danny Welbeck.

  37. Danny Welbeck has been hanging around the first team for ManU and Arsenal for about 10 years and never scored more then 9 league goals in any season. You could argue that his Arsenal career has been injury plagued but that was not really a big problem for him at ManU. He has loads of pace and reasonably good technical skill and a good work ethic. However, the reason ManU gave up on him was because he was not a good finisher and never scored nearly as many goals as you would expect based on his physical attributes. I don’t think you can teach someone to be a good scorer and Danny has never mastered that skill.

  38. This striker, that striker. We should press more, maybe Coquelin would’ve been better in the middle…….


  39. Infact, these are all the kind of questions I think Arsene is posing himself so he can avoid facing the one and only sole reason for all of this

  40. I just didn’t see that sort of desperation against Palace

    sorry Freddo, when did you ever see this ‘desperation’ from an arsenal side recently? that attitude went long ago with the invincibles era

  41. How LOW can we go is the question, well if the last few months are anything to go by its going to get worse before any possible green chutes. The set up is rotten to the core.

    Under the steward ship of SK the inevitable has happened to another of his franchises “sporting mediocrity”. Does he give a damn? No most likely.

    AW should be sacked, told to go in the next 48 hours. It wont happen.

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