Manchester United: We Can Work It Out

Arsenal 2 – 0 Manchester United

Arsenal hauled themselves back to the periphery of the top four with a very welcome three points over Manchester United. Despite the match losing some of its’ needle factor, there is something wholly satisfying in beating them.

A Lampard-esque goal from Granit Xhaka and a thumping header from Danny Welbeck put paid to Mourinho’s hex over Arsène and very briefly, he succeeded where no-one connected with Arsenal can: unifying the fanbase. A lusty rendition of “F*** off, Mourinho”, left the Miserable One in no doubt as to what he should do. With bells on.

What really matters is that it was our best performance in the Premier League since the 5 – 1 win at West Ham last December. Admittedly, it’s been a low bar since then…

We were helped by Mourinho’s usual defensive dullness. United sat deep and invited us to have the ball, hoping to launch a succession of counter-attacks. The early promise of Anthony Martial faded quickly. Aside from capitalising on Rob Holdings unfortunate error, he offered little threat. Wayne Rooney continues to be the journeyman boxer, not knowing when to give up and taking punch after punch.

With Liverpool’s determination to implode in a very Spursy way, the prospect of Arsène achieving a top four finish cannot be dismissed. Three games in hand but ten points behind; we play twice before they face West Ham. No doubt we will make an absolute hash of next weekend’s trip to Stoke to end any debate in that sense. Wenger’s benchmark for success is within reach. Those are for discussion another day; for now, we enjoy the win over a former rival.

Here, There and Everywhere

Aaron Ramsey picked up the Man of the Match, debatable because it ignored Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain revelling in his new lease of life at wing back. Not to say Ramsey didn’t play well; he did, in probably his best performance this season. The understanding between he and Granit Xhaka improves on a game-by-game basis with the Swiss providing the usual harum-scarum lunge along the way. Surprisingly, he didn’t get booked when he might, with an uncharacteristic show of common sense by the referee.

And when his calf twanged, Francis Coquelin arrived. His star has fallen among supporters since his arrival into the first team. His star also fell to earth yesterday as well.

That is an internet sensation waiting to happen.

Arsène put the victory down to patience and not chasing victory. A giant slice of luck helped. Xhaka’s shot was probably going nowhere but a looping deflection took it over De Gea. No wonder he was inclined to shoot from distance after that. Two minutes later, Holding dispossessed Martial with Ox delivering a cross which begged to buried in the back of the net; Danny Welbeck obliged. Wenger admitted picking Welbeck on his record against Manchester United, which is a polite way of saying he dropped Olivier Giroud. He has an equally good record – probably better – against the Mancunians, but his recent form has been dismal.

I Don’t Wanna Spoil the Party

Arsenal had the better chances, or at least made De Gea work harder than Petr Cech. Ox forced the Spaniard into action with his take on a ‘Lampard’ while Ramsey drew a good save after Alexis put the Welshman through. The infuriating Chilean was his usual bundle of energy mixed with casual loss of possession. The problem for his detractors – and it’s become something of an ‘Arsenal sport’ to do so – is that he is the livewire striker without which many of our attacks would flounder. I prefer him on the flank because centrally, he drops deep to get the ball and no-one fills his gap further up the pitch.

We visit Southampton on Wednesday and Arsène was right not to dismiss the importance of the game. The top four is important to him but to supporters, the FA Cup is surely ranked higher? The two aren’t mutually exclusive, despite the manager’s previous protestations and actions. For the moment, the Cup is on the backburner, looming in three weeks time. Before then, two away games at grounds where we have traditionally fared badly, lay ahead.

Mourinho continued to play games with the press. Wenger is a “big manager” who “puts too much pressure on the Fourth Official”. Because Jose sits quietly all game. There’s something he and Arsène have in common; both are extremely bad losers. Arsène’s just had more practice at it.

And that puts a little spring into everyone’s step.

’til Tomorrow.

PS: Oh, and for those wondering about yesterday’s playlist. It will be arriving today, here; technical hitch *coughs*.

80 thoughts on “Manchester United: We Can Work It Out

  1. I was trying to work out permutations with Man U winning Europa and hence extra CL spot for EPL but it still boils down to us winning all games and LFC further losing games. So unlikely but a welcome win nonetheless especially when you see the defence first football they brought. But that is what we need to do in the big games.

    Hey ho it will quite something if we can win the Chelsea game and parade the trophy in Sydney in July. Again seems unlikely…

  2. Morning YW. Finally ehh. Wenger must feel like an idiot in not playing Welbeck & Holding against the spuds.

  3. silver

    Yeah, didn’t understand Holding not playing and I’d ship Giroud out this summer. In this formation, he’s not even Plan C.

  4. Gotta say Xhaka and Ramsey looked more balanced but they played against a very defensive man u team. Midfield has been an ongoing issue one that we can’t loose sight off.
    Danny Welbeck de, de, de, de !!!!!

  5. If I am pedantically picky – I would have to say that apart from wanting the Gunners to stuff Utd, the game itself was pretty average.

    In previous years the Manure games – home or away – were always important, to make a statement and beat them, or knowing that our position in the table was dependent on the result, but somehow that game, yesterday, was a little bit like two old, once great boxers, were sparring with nothing much but pride hanging on the result.

    Pity, really.

  6. Morning all.
    Nice summary YW……have to agree with you and Silvergunner,I was perplexed as to why Holding wasn’t played against the spuds-and as for Giroud,well,take what we can get for him really,he’s a complete waste of time.
    Rob Holding though,has slowly worked his way into this team and if he keeps improving how he has done it’s going to be difficult to drop him again.
    Rambo had a pretty good game,nearly scored and seems to be more fluid in space now.The Ox is improving game on game in his new position,and if Gibbs could put in a tidy final ball he’d be a sensible option on the left.
    Bellerin must be wondering what’s going to happen with him if we stick with this formation,added to the fact that he’s not been up to scratch either of late.
    Rarely do I go to work on a Monday morning happy after playing United.
    The fact we ended their run(payback for Rooney’s dive way back when)and that smug Portuguese bellend is their manager gives added smugness for once.

  7. Just look what happens when we take a shot at goal! Lampard made a career out of flukey deflections.

    Fantastic goal from Welbeck. Whipped in cross by the Ox, thundering header from Welbz. Love those goals particularly when they’re right in front of me.

    How did Holding and Welbeck not start against Spurs? Still not convinced by Gibbs, but he may be a bit rusty.

    Disagree with you Alex, I thought Ozil offered very little apart from sideways passes. Also Alexis took the 2nd half off. Was he tired or just not bothered?

  8. Pete the Thirst,

    Sell Ozil, Giroud and Sanchez and actually buy a genuine world class striker would seem the obvious move. One I don’t expect Wenger to take though.

    When Mustafi is back Nacho can move to FB again and that seems like a decent set up. But again Wenger doesn’t seem to like playing 3 CB’s even if it works and makes the best use of our resources. He can’t drop Holding? He’ll do it just because people are saying that, after all, he knows best doesn’t he? 😉

    Great to stuff United though, even when they were really average and not winning a thing their fans always had that irritating “we’re the biggest club in the world” attitude. Wankers.

  9. I wonder how long Xhaka will be out for, reportedly unlikely, through injury, to play yesterday he nevertheless gets an outing and has to be subbed after suffering a leg knack. Was it a recurrence of the knock suffered against the Spuds or was he not fully fit. If that is the case then another odd decision by Wenger, bringing an injured player back too soon.

  10. Mo,

    Not sure that is going to happen, don’t the FA have a rule about clubs not being able to take the old tin pot out to the colonies. 😈

  11. andy1886,

    Yes United fans are a horrible mob, not far behind Spurs. Have experienced their ‘hospitality’ at Old Trafford a number of times, and I’ve witnessed Salford’s finest intimidating and attacking family groups of Arsenal fans.

    Saying that a group of us stood on the Stretford End in the early 90s. The naivete of youth saved us that day!

  12. Damon, I’ve been enjoying Juve this season, especially so since they out thought and outplayed Barca in the CL. That was a sublime tie, particularly the first leg. I can only dream AFC someday gets to that level of collectivity, balance, skill, maturity, and determination.

  13. andy1886,

    Welbeck should be that world class striker. Got everything except the confidence of his coach. Give him a full season up front. He’ll bang in 25 and do some defensive work as well. Giving Giroud another contract was way beyond inept. The club should give him away, if possible.

  14. Always nice to beat Utd , even if they were strangely half arsed.

    The fact that they’re now managed by that scruffy, poisonous, narcissistic prick just adds to the pleasure. And their fans are twats too.

    It’s hard to know how well we actually played , but in some games that hardly matters.

    I thought Holding did well apart from that one error, & nice to see our lads actually shoot from distance. The Ox stood out again , but I don’t see us sticking with the system for long as Arsene likes to do things his way after all.

  15. Thanks, YW. I agree: we should enjoy a victory over the Mancs and MU whatever the significance of the game.

    It’s a testing run in. Pool could make it more interesting. Regardless, a few more wins would be good preparation for the cup and practice with the formation.

  16. Paulie Walnuts,

    Even one as stubborn as Wenger must see that there is a little bit of balance between offense and defense now. Also hope between now and the end of the season we keep the same 11 if possible (Xhaka being the exception if injured)

  17. Alex,

    Sorry Alex but i think they (Ramsey & Xhaka) played well in spite of Ozils positioning. Ozil was better than he was against the spuds but from my perspective too much of the game passed him by.
    Just praying Ox signs a contract extension, we can’t afford to loose a player so capable of playing so well in such a variety of positions.

  18. Anytime we beat Manure and add to that Mourinho, I will enjoy and take it no matter how dull the match really was!

    Ramsey as MOTM, I’ll try to stay positive. I think Dixon is spot on in his assessment of Ramsey which boiled down really to: as a midfielder he isn’t that good at actually passing or dictating the tempo but when he is freed to run around with no responsibilities he can look like he did for Wales at the Euro’s. I think the formation works best for him because he is freed to run around and since Xhaka prefers to sit, we always have somebody there. Ramsey as MOTM, I think Xhaka, Ox and even Welbeck were better and more influential.

  19. silvergunner,

    I’m going to have to disagree with you about the game passing Ozil by. I think and this is just my untrained eye, but in this formation he is playing more of the Santi role and Sanchez is playing more the Ozil role. For instance, Xhaka will pick up the ball and often times when Ramsey goes bombing forward you see Ozil dropping deeper to pick up the possession and start a move, which generally leads to him finding Sanchez in space and allowing Sanchez to be Sanchez. For the Ramsey shot, Ozil picks up the ball and creates space which Ramsey runs into to, Ozil plays the pass to Sanchez who then picks out Ramsey’s run.

  20. Orson Kaert,

    I don’t want to crticize Arsene but I am left baffled like you because at Arsene said at his pre-match presser:

    on team news…
    We still have Granit Xhaka out from the kick he got in the game. Mustafi’s back in normal training. That’s basically it.

    on Xhaka’s injury…
    It’s a kick to the calf.

    on Xhaka’s chances for the weekend…
    There is a little chance.

    on David Ospina…
    Yes [he’s back to full fitness].

    Read more at http://www.arsenal.com/news/news-archive/20170504/team-news-mustafi-xhaka-and-ospina#gwWVkxjh5bDtocoR.99

    Yet the COMPLETE opposite happened.

  21. C,

    We should know by now not to believe Arsene, especially when it comes to injuries.

    Either he’s being deliberately misleading or hasn’t got a clue !

  22. Paulie Walnuts,

    I know, its the oddest thing every. Its like he doesn’t even want to tell the supporters the truth on injuries just because.

    I mean, we are still trying to figure out the whole Perez situation.

  23. C,

    There’s certainly a code of silence when it comes to the likes of Perez , Joel Campbell etc ,which could be contractual I suppose.

    I understand that not all players can be liked / used by the manager but I don’t like the line we hear that they’re injured when that’s not the case.

  24. Enjoyed the win over c**tbag, but more than a little vexed at some media reports swallowing the line about Moronho fielding an ‘under-strentgth’ team. Total cobblers.

  25. Paulie Walnuts,

    I completely agree, I mean I can throw Elneny into that group. O well just another day as an Arsenal supporter.

    On the bright side, we beat Manure.

  26. Great post yogi. Top quality writing as always.

    Fantastic result to beat ManU and finally break the Mourinho hoodoo. Full credit to the team. Ramsey and ox gave us another example of why we need players on the pitch who are willing to play aggressive football and push the tempo of the game even if it means that not everything they try comes off and they lose the ball sometimes

    It’s taken longer then I expected but I suspect that it’s time for our annual end of season run of good results to paper over the cracks. I suspect we win find a way to win the last 4 games and end up on 75 points. Whether that will be enough for the top 4 depends on Liverpool. Despite our table position This will actually end up being a better season then last year. We will almost certainly finish with more points then the 71 we collected last s a season and we will definitely finish with a deeper run in the FA cup. It’s all relative and gives the club plenty of reason to maintain the status quo.

  27. C,

    I just can’t decide on Ozil. I’m not convinced he’s the right player for our team. Given the way we play, we need a number 10 who can take the game by the scruff of the neck. I know Ozil can do great things, but he doesn’t often have one of those games where you think he took charge and ran the game. Not a direct comparison, but Bergkamp could grab control of a game and just make it all happen. We perhaps missed a trick by not bringing Cesc back. I accept that at the time Ozil had only been with us for a season, but maybe we should have had both of them at the club. It would been interesting to see.

  28. C,

    I agree that ozil seems to play deeper in this formation ,indeed sanchex seems to play a little deeper too, to be fair i don’t think he played badly but the game did imo pass him by and other than a couple of runs or balls that Welbeck and Ramsey were unable to capitalise from did very little.

  29. Wavey,

    I wasn’t trying to get into a long Ozil discussion but I think the problem all to often with Ozil is that before him we had Bergkamp and Cesc so he is often times, as you have done, compared what they brought to what Ozil brings. I think he is quite different to both of those players but at the same token you watch him for Germany and he is exactly the player that you say we need from the #10. I think its more difficult to compare him to Cesc since we all know that Arsene built the club around Cesc and even more difficult to compare him to Bergkamp who was more striker than midfielder. I think the thing with Ozil is that I’m not sure Arsene is the manager for him more than anything, he seems to me to be a player that when he does have a bad match or two needs his manager to back him (think Mourinho when he was at Madrid or Low for Germany) but this season more so than ever, Arsene has routinely thrown Ozil (and even Sanchez, Xhaka, Bellerin) under the bus instead of backing his players.

    I know people bang on about this or that with him, but for him to succeed at Madrid, be a key figure in Germany winning the World Cup, dragging Germany through the last Euros and continually being recognized in Germany; something is there that Arsene simply can’t get.

    To be fair and I know this isn’t universally accepted, but for all of the talk of Ozil, the argument could be made that Sanchez has been just as disappointing since the turn of the year but he just runs more.

  30. silvergunner,

    But with him playing deeper, I think you get a ‘different’ Ozil, no longer is he the one making the final pass but instead he is the one making the “hockey” assist or the one that starts the moves instead of being in the middle. I think the other thing is that, I wonder how much of the perception would change if say Welbeck finishes one of his passes or Ramsey learns to trap a ball and finish?

  31. Ozil is not the type of player who can help us push the tempo of the game and “make things happen”. Once Cazorla went down that was what we needed. At this point I think it would be a huge mistake to give Ozil long term ultra high wage contract. If we do that we are almost forced to use him even when its not working.

    I am not convinced about Ramsey long term but he was more effective yesterday. He is never going to replicate what he did in 13/14 but I suspect he will score a few more goals if he can stay in this role and he will be closer to the player we saw in Euro2106 if he stays in this role

    The player who really has a chance to be a long term difference maker is Ox. IMO. He has thrived as the right wing back running up the pitch with the ball at his feet as fast as he can. He is never going to complete 95% of his passes and he will always lose the ball more then we are used to. When he is playing well he creates disorder and its anti-Wengerball but its exactly what we need. Someone who can push the tempo of the game and get the ball into dangerous positions before the defense has time to adjust.

  32. Freddo @ 11:36

    Welbeck has been around for almost a decade and never scored in double figures in league goals. I love your optimism but world classs striker and 25 goals in a league season is more delusional then optimism.

  33. C,

    I think that was my point really. When we bought him from Real I was over the moon, because I knew he was class at both club and country levels. A player with a proven pedigree, but he just doesn’t fit us. If Wenger is to be our manager for an extended period that won’t change.

  34. Wavey,

    I think his influence when he first arrived was evident especially for players like Ramsey who were freed from doing things they simply couldn’t. I will say, the one thing that I think he needs is a manager that demands of him, think Mourinho and Low, and Arsene simply doesn’t. Problem is, Ozil isn’t the only player that has come here and this has happened too. I do hope though that if Arsene is the manager next season, we buy a CF and that would go a long way to not just helping Ozil but Sanchez as well.

  35. Anyways, I’m happy that we got the win and stranger things have happened outside of Arsenal stumbling into 4th place.

  36. This was an anomaly: a great one off but the table and our record vs Top 6 doesn’t lie. Pleased as I am about 3 pts, I am less optimistic for the future given the surgery needed through the club.
    I fear AW will get more time. I would regardless of who is there like to see Holding play more regularly, and also AOC. Can we also ship out the wasters and perma crocks this summer?
    IMHO Wenger cannot live from his first years of success forever, and we need someone to take us to the next level. Who would however put up with the degree of indifference shown by our owners and board members of they (any new manager) have a winning mentality?
    Not too many.
    Still lets hope for the best.
    COYG

  37. C,

    Well at least he wasn’t cutting the dejected figure he cut in the NLD. I would be happy for him to become Mr pre-assist, but i think he is better than that I also think both he and Sanchez should be playing a little higher than they are. I understand by dropping deep it leaves space for the likes of ramsey to make late runs but this should come at the expense of the damage they can do higher up the pitch.

  38. silvergunner,

    I completely agree with you, I don’t understand why you wouldn’t have Ozil and Sanchez higher up the pitch and its why I actually disagree with Yogi and like when Sanchez was playing CF because they played off each other and outside of the Everton and Citeh matches was the driving force of our early season success across all competitions. I think part of the reason why he has dropped deeper (and Sanchez as well) is because of our inability to link defense with attack because simply put, Le Coq is shit at it and Ramsey is a better runner than he is passer. So in order for the team as a whole to move up the pitch, those 2 drop deeper which in effect doesn’t allow them to be the attacking players we know they can be. I agree, Ramsey’s runs are great but they aren’t producing any end product and while Ramsey has looked better, I would rather have Elneny or even Iwobi next to Xhaka if it means pushing Ozil and Sanchez higher back up the pitch.

  39. Guys, it’s good to be demading with Özil but at times, it’s good to reward his good performances. If some think that he was too much involved in the game (sic), then why his partners felt the need to sollicitate him?
    Mesut was fantastic yesterday and ran and created and linked the play. If for some this is not enough, then he’ll never do enough. Some are nostalgic of Fabregas? The period when Arsenal won nothing? Fans truly puzzled me sometimes…

  40. Paulie Walnuts

    I agree that the whole phantom injury thing is annoying. Perhaps Arsene’s idea is that by saying the player has a phantom injury the player does not have to admit on Facebook or twitter that they are playing so poorly they are hurting the team and need to be dropped. Like any big team we have a squad filled with internationals who have all been the best players at their previous team or superstars at the youth levels. There are not nearly enough minutes to use all of those players and giving the player the excuse of a phantom injury allows them to not have to admit they are probably not going to be able to break into the regular rotation. Its all part of the culture that has evolved over the years of making excuses rather then admitting reality.

  41. Bill,

    Yup we sure are! 😉

    Did I see you and LSG talking midfield balance…..I most certainly made a mental note of those posts! 😉

  42. We do need the player who is playing at wide right forward to recognize that the best thing to do is often just to get out of the way and watch with admiration when Ox is bombing down the right wing at pace with ball at his feet. However, Ox is not a scorer so ideally we should have someone who is a 3rd player who is a threat to score as the right sided forward. The other option might be to move Ox to forward and put Bellerin at R wingback and with someone else who defends on the wing it would really free up Ox to create more havoc. The problem with that is it means that all the goals will have to come from the other 2 forwards.

  43. C

    Fair enough

    As we have discussed many times in the past the critical factor is to somehow move the ball as quickly as possible into dangerous positions before the opposition defense has time to adapt. That is relatively simple concept. We clearly need 1 midfielder who is defensive and it does not matter if he is a playmaker or has a great range of passing or not. That impetus to get forward at pace can come from anywhere on the pitch. If we want it to come from central midfield they we need 1 or 2 players who can do that so that player needs to be a completely different type of player then the deepest defensive midfielder. If you want to call that midfield balance then so be it.

  44. C,

    I think that’s spot on and Dixon knows what he’s talking about there. Give Ramsey a specific job and it doesn’t work. Let him be a less adept Stevie G and he’s more effective. I think AW even mentioned in the interview the other day with TH that the formation frees up Ramsey to range forward.

  45. Count me in the party that thinks it important to have Ozil and Alexis up higher to do damage. That was what we did during our best attacking spell of the season. I would force Alexis up top with instructions to move layerlu but not to drop to where Xhaka/Elneny are positioned in midfield. I think DW or Iwobi (anyone remember him?!) could play left with this formation quite well, I think.

  46. Bill,

    I get it but you are in your own very “Bill” way talking about midfield balance. I was just poking fun to be honest.

    I actually prefer and understand exactly what you r saying, personally I am still a fan of having like Xhaka and then 2 midfielders infront of him naturally with one being Ozil and the other being somebody that can do the linking and you know I like to play at pace so moving the ball quickly is preferred and them being dynamic or not doesn’t bother me one bit.

  47. Limestonegunner,

    Its strange though because while he does play better in that sort of free Steve G, role, his actual influence on a match is less because he isn’t really needed to pass or anything just make runs into the box and hopefully he will provide some end product. The problem thus far is that if he is going to be freed up, then going 24 straight PL matches without a goal can’t continue at all!

    I actually think with Sanchez up top you also get the best out of Ozil because he has somebody that is constantly on the move and they really do have quite an understanding with each other. I do think that Welbeck could play on the LW as well but because of the way that Sanchez and Ozil play together there might be times when Ozil is the furthest forward with Welbeck on the LW and Sanchez “in the hole”. It only makes sense to have your 2 best attacking players highest up the pitch.

  48. C,

    As usual, [well, most of the time] our minds are as one! 😀

    Özil is class — and frustrating — and the most skilful, play-making player we have — and frustrating — and when he is on fire, the Arsenal team are on fire — and he is frustrating.

    What am I on about with all the repetitive ‘frustrating’ notes?
    Well, as with many people at the top of their professions, in all spheres of life/sport, when they do not produce the goodies they are capable of, it is much more frustrating than watching another average person/player who is relatively poor in his work, but is trying his hardest.
    Poor? Yes, but you cannot ask a poor player for more than they are capable of producing — with Mesut, he is capable of being the very best in his position, but when he is ‘off’ he can frustrate the onlooker because it grates knowing what he can and should produce.
    Great? Yes – Grate? No thanks.

    In addition, he is playing with some players in the Arsenal team who are not quite up to the required standard, and he probably gets frustrated too when they are not on his wavelength.

    It is all moot anyway, as I am convinced Arsenal – yes, Arsenal, not Arsene – will not pay the £300,000 per week he is asking for and he will be off.

    As a side note, Sanchez is the second (?) highest scorer, so far, in the PL, in a disappointing season for Arsenal, but in his mind, he has already gone – and dreaming of Bayern, or a Spanish team.

    If my guesswork is correct (who knows) we will be losing our best two players this summer, and it is essential that Arsenal – yes, Arsenal not Arsene – (have I said that before 🙂 ) go out and buy top players to replace them or next season we could become a mid-table side – possibly/maybe/who-knows?

    Then the complaints will reach a new crescendo – don’t you think? 😀

  49. C,

    yeah i guess its about striking that balance against manure we seemed to have that balance but i wonder if it because Xhaka was given the kind of space where he can dictate the play from deep, time will tell if he can perform like that when up against a more combative midfield.

  50. drazy,

    I think he over-cuddles some and throws others to the wolves. remember last season when giroud couldn’t hit the ocean with the ball even while standing in the ocean, Arsene continued on with him and talked about how he was doing other things to help the team; fast forward to this season and Arsene hasn’t stopped talking about Ozil being short of confidence, etc. or how shit Xhaka was at tackling, or how Sanchez shows ‘excessive commitment’ I think it was as the reason he was dropped.

  51. “Best perforomance since west ham?”

    Was I watching a different game… as I saw a bang average AFC beat a really poor Manure. Until the goal all I saw was tika taka and nothing moving up front.

    A result is a result though and ☝✌ points count.

    Sorry but I’m not buying into the we could finish top 4/turn the corner malarkey because Soton on Wednesday will probably bring us crashing back to earth.

    Ox man of the match for me… I thought Ramsay ran a lot but again no final ball composure. Holding looked good though bar his Ramsiesque pass to Rooney.

    Would be funny though if Liverpool go Spursy and we come through the back door… seeing that Kopp was the new messiah.

  52. @Henry B,
    Your comment about Ozil reminded me of the late Johnny Haynes of Fulham, whose artistry and range of passing was such that his thinking was invariably a move or two ahead of his colleagues (not a difficult thing to do at Fulham).
    I feel Ozil is a bit like that and I wonder whether, for the team to prosper, he simply has to have the right players to feed off him. 😉

  53. Nicky,

    Never saw Jonny Haynes — but we are in absolute agreement inn your last sentence.

    This contract stand-off for Arsene, Mesut and Alexis is a nonsense and must be affecting all of them to some degree.

    Now, I understand Arsenal’s reluctance to seal the deals with Sanchez and Özil – altho – big transfers and big salaries are the name of the game – so to be in it – Mr Kroenke has to bite the bullet, so to speak.

    The situation with AW is puzzling. He is either staying – or not. So, as he/the club mentioned his contract they should now go ahead and spit out what is going to happen. [My guess is that he will stay — sorry, Andy/Wavey] 😀 – but I know nothing!

  54. If he is going he ought to be leaving to play poker…..every time he talks it is as a man who is in it for the long term, not a man about to announce his retirement. Quite often with that little smile, i dont know if anyone else saw the interview between him and Henry this weekend…..it was quite telling, he was as usual defensive reminding Henry of his top four record, Henry was laughing at him and saying but no this time it’s really serious….he gave a little smile like a guilty schoolboy,as though he knew he had been caught out just trying it on. He knows it’s not good enough but he aint going anywhere, he is totally convinced that he is the solution and the club is reliant on him, or at least it appears that way to me.

  55. Yes happy to have taken the points but Knickerless is bang on we were bang average and Manure really really poor. Arsene has lady luck locked in his sex dungeon.

  56. Limestone

    Sanchez and Ozil up top worked in Sept/Oct because we had 3 players that all hit a run of good form at the same time but that was never sustainable and we dropped 13 points to Chelsea and dropped out of the title race by mid December so we had to make a change. We went back to Sanchez at CF for a couple games after we lost to watford in Jan or early Feb and it did not work

    The reality is that I love Sanchez and he is our best player but long term he is not the CF we need. He will probably end up with around 20 league goals which is a great season for a wide forward but not the golden boot type player we need at CF. In addition building our hopes around Ozil up top being a critical impact player is not realistic given the way he has faded in his age 27 – 28 season and he is not getting any younger. Bottom line is Sanchez runs hot and cold. Not like Giroud and Alexis is a great wide forward but we need a bigger scorer at CF IMO.

  57. We have found something that seems to be working a bit better and we can’t go back to Sanchez at CF the rest of this season if we really want to climb back up to the top 4.

  58. Mourinho is a *Loser* period, nothing in front of it and nothing after it. For the 1st time he manages a team that didn’t already have good players and he’s floundering.

    If he was at Arsenal for the 10 money starved years we would have been relegated years ago.
    ****

    I wouldn’t look too much into the win over United, for many reasons, but the important one is they really didn’t care about the game. They didn’t want to lose it of course, but they did and that’s down to the fact that we wanted it more.

    Kudos to the players for getting the 3 points, just don’t let your heads get too big.

  59. C,

    Very fair point–the production hasn’t been there for Rambo. But we may see him shooting more. He came close yesterday.

    Agree with your analysis here on Sanchez and Ozil. They’ve spent too much time deep. They do good things there but Alexis, especially, is the best finisher so let’s get him in and around the box to score more.

  60. HenryB,

    Perhaps there is a third option. Like Schrödinger’s cat, AW will be simultaneously both staying and going and so long as no one on the board checks or announced anything this could remain an ambiguity indefinitely. It is essentially what we’ve been experiencing–who says it has to end and be decided either way!

  61. Great game by the U23s playing Manu — live on AFC.

    Some superb kids on show — there has to be 2 or 3 of them breaking thru to the seniors.

    We are winning 2:0 in Arsenal’s last game of the season. Lovely stuff.

  62. Bill,

    I see your point. But, better than what? OG up top? Gabriel at RCB? Bellerin at RB? Plus Xhaka will probably be out injured. Changes will happen and players be shuffled again. I think it has been incremental improvements and AW has yet to figure out how best to deploy his players in the new formation. If Mustafi is available, he might well bring him in at RCB, put Holding at LCB and Monreal at LWB. Or just drop Holding. Or put Mustafi on the bench.

    My sense is that the reason Alexis is playing on the left is because he wants to get on the ball more and be part of the buildup. AW keeps mentioning this. Just like he lets him play even when an injury doubt. So I agree we probably won’t see him up top, but not necessarily only because we have found a very effective way to play. AW needs Alexis happy too. But I think we could make a case for an even more effective lineup with Alexis as CF that would deal with the obvious problem we’ve been seeing in several games recently that Alexis isn’t in the best position to do the most attacking damage. Several times I noticed that Gibvs was further upfield for long passages of play than Alexis when I would have preferred the reverse. I also think Monreal switches back and forth better with Alexis. Plus Alexis up top may not get the ball quite as much but he won’t give it away in dangerous positions as much either. He’ll be shooting more rather than dribbling from deep or passing in build up–his passes will be in decisive attack more. So my point really is that Alexis at CF may not be likely but that isn’t entirely due to discovering an effective lineup that shouldn’t be varied. It will be varied anyway, it isn’t really figured out, and some of the reasons for players in the positions they are playing in has in part to do with other factors than purely tactical or player performance assessments.

  63. Not totally sure your hypothesis holds Limestone.

    Surely Schrodinger was disprovingthe Copenhagen theory of quantum physics, which held that radioactive material can have simultaneously decayed and not decayed in the sealed environment, and followed the cat is therefore both alive and dead until the box is opened.

    The cat was either alive or dead, regardless of being observed, or not.

    Wenger will leave or he will stay — he cannot physically do both at the same time — but who knows? 🙂

  64. Limestone

    If you remember at the time in mid December when Arsene moved Alexis back to LW we had lost the form that made us so good in Sept/Oct and fallen 12 points behind Chelsea. Ozil and Theo had stopped scoring and we had to do something. Moving Alexis to LW and Giroud to CF helped to stop the bleeding temporarily. Giroud’s goals were the critical thing that got us thru the holiday period with a good run of results and we actually gained a couple of points back on Chelsea. Without that change we would probably be somewhere behind Everton right now in 7th place. Arsene dropped Giroud back to the bench after the the Watford game and put Alexis back at CF for 2-3 games which did not work. For the rest of this season I think we carry on in with Welbeck at CF. I guess we could move Welbeck wide left and use Alexis at CF but I am not sure that would change anything.

    I understand that theory of getting Alexis closer to goal but his history with us is to run hot and cold. He is certainly not Giroud type streaky player but Alexis has never struggled to get into good positions upfront and score from wide left when he is in form. The idea that moving him back to CF will bring back his Sept/Oct form when that is not what he wants is probably not realistic.

  65. We can’t build next years strategic model based on the idea that Alexis the CF of the future and he will score in the mid to high 20’s in league goals if we just leave him at CF. His career history is mid to high teens in league goals in his better season which is excellent production from a wide player but not what we need at CF if we want a title challenge. We can’t expect Welbeck to score double 12-15 league goals or Giroud or Walcott to morph into players who will score in the 20’s. They all have long career histories and to show us what they are capable of doing. We certainly can’t build our hopes on Ozil returning to his best form and rediscovering his ability to be an impact player. He will be 29 at the start of next season and his career arc has not looked like a player who will maintain his ability to be influential as he passes age 30.

    I think we can count on mid to high teens from Alexis playing wide left but Ideally we need to buy a CF who will be our leading scorer next season and get somewhere in the mid 20’s and I would like to see us get someone to play wide right who we can count on for Freddie LLundberg type low teens goals. We need one more impact attacking midfielder and figure out how we are going to use Ox, Ramsey, Bellerin, Xhaka, Le Coq, Elneny to best advantage.

    In the back I would like to see us buy Fraser Forster or someone like that to back up Cech and may be even take over at GK and but we have enough bodies at CB if we can just get them to play defense more consistently.

  66. Bill,

    I think it had less to do with Alexis’ lack of effectiveness than the other players losing form, particularly Iwobi. With no other option at LW at that time and Alexis not getting service while eager to get on the ball more, Alexis went wide and OG came in centrally. If Welbeck had been available, he might have replaced Iwobi since DW has played quite a bit as a wide forward too. But now OG is out of form and the new formation especially suits a mobile CF, not OG. DW or Alexis can play there. I’m not suggesting it as a panacea but we haven’t been scoring enough and Akexis is a better finisher than DW usually and had been playing deeper. So, I’m suggesting there are some good reasons to try Alexis there with DW left. DW is quick, defends well, keeps the ball well, passes well–he would be useful there. We lose nothing really by trying this, I think. But we won’t see this, I don’t believe. And not because we have found something that works so well. It doesn’t work that well, actually. It was more effective than with OG up top. And thankfully AW finally made that adjustment after the Spurs loss for this game. He could make another small adjustment, I suggest. And we will see some tinkering anyway if Xhaka is injured or possibly even if Mustafi is fit. You might not think it will make a huge difference. I don’t claim it would. It is just a small adjustment to solve a problem I noticed from the last several games.

  67. We definitely need a top striker. We’ve needed one since RvP left as we all should recognize. AW failed repeatedly to recruit one over the last several summers and neither has he been able to recruit and develop a young striker as he did so in the past. I never believed OG, Poldi were replacements or that Sanogo would develop. It has been years and even before RvP was moved to the CF, we had to go through Bendtner, Chamakh. A new regime might have better success getting the top striker the team has needed for ages.

  68. Limestonegunner,

    Unless Ramsey’s production changes then him roaming free doesn’t help as much as it should.

    Sanchez is the best finisher and Ozil is the best passer and creator which means the only place they should be playing is as close to the goal as possible with as little need to track back as possible. Its why Hazard is flourishing this season again, maybe Arsene should take a page out of Conte’s book.

  69. C,

    Overall, I agree with you, hence my discussion above with Bill on Alexis as CF.

  70. Limestonegunner,

    Yea, I read you post to Bill after I posted. I actually think there was an overreaction to the Everton and Citeh matches in abandoning the Sanchez at CF thing just like you and instead of adjusting Arsene completely abandoned it and went back to Giroud and slow down and we are were we are.

  71. C,

    It’s a fair point when people say we had some bad games too with Alexis a CF. but was it really the best move to abandon that entirely?

  72. Bill,

    Bill, you’re very anxious to send players on the knackers yard on the basis of “form”. Vardy did nothing in the Premier league until he was 29. Lucky nobody said “if he was good enough he woulda made it by now”. I just judge what I see on the paddock and leave the past to others. Give Welbeck a full season up front and he should knocked in 25 easily.

  73. freddo,

    I am not sure OG deserves all the stick and pretty sure a similar header v Manu was dispatched too. Both great Ox crosses. He also has scored more consistently than DW who I like but is still potential really. Both good squad players if we can afford them although a shake-up is required if we are to compete.
    Ramsey as second ’10’ with Ozil and Sanchez CF? Elneny or Le coq with Xhaka

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