Köln Review: Emirates Europa League Debut Won’t Be Forgotten In A Hurry

Arsenal 3 – 1 1FC Köln

It was a farce which Brian Rix would have been proud to write. Arsenal won their opening Europa League group stage match 3 – 1, so it was job done but it was an unforgettable evening for the wrong reasons.

Social media clips of Köln fans walking beforehand through London’s thoroughfares chanting and singing seemed good-natured. However, it turned ugly when they attempted to storm the turnstiles. Postponing the match was a genuine option at one point. By half-time, such was the poverty of Arsenal’s display that we wished it had been.

Sensationalist headlines about a return to the 1980s only underline why sales of newspapers are falling. The police figures announcing four arrests for public order offences undermine the stupidity of both the headline and report.

It’s fair to say some found it an unpleasant experience to go to their seats only to find the area teeming with Köln supporters. It’s something Arsenal has to address. One group to be the first to suffer will surely be touts and there won’t be any sympathy for them.

Some found the 9.05pm kick-off meant they either had to leave beforehand or at half-time to catch the last train home. My sympathies there; gone are the days of milk trains and rail services which ran to meet customers needs rather than on a profit motive.

Others enjoyed the atmosphere created, treating it like the mixed but equally partisan motor afficiandos, experts in the Caulfield Cup Betting. I understand that but there’s a balance to be found. Home seats are for home fans and while some despise ‘football tourists’,  they are part of the fanbase. Equally, some parents might not want to expose their children to violence, potential or otherwise. They have as much right to attend a match as those who found the stadium vibrant with Arsenal voices inspired by the visiting support.

No-one Pushes Billy Hunt Around

Arsenal issued 3,000 tickets, in line with UEFA’s requirements. It’s easy with hindsight to tell them to increase that allocation. Consulting with Köln might have told them greater numbers of supporters were likely to travel. Might not, not would have. 17,000 supporters turning up without tickets was always going to create a flashpoint. Increasing ticket allocations for some fixtures is the only sensible solution but it’s a decision which must be taken beforehand not with hindsight.

So to the match itself. The first half was a disjointed affair reflecting the nine changes Wenger made to the starting line-up. A calamitous goalkeeping error from David Ospina followed by an outstanding finish from his fellow countryman Cordoba, gave Köln the lead. We huffed and puffed but were let down by sloppiness and Theo Walcott’s ability to be caught offside which took on Adebayor proportions at one point.

Nobody played well in that 45 minutes. Not the defence, midfield or attack. Some were less bad than others it has to be said but it proved to be a litmus test for a player’s popularity. It meant Theo, Elneny, Holding, Bellerin and Alexis copped most of the flak.

Holding found criticism easy to attract. A marauding run into the Köln half ended when the third German defender proved one too many. Derisory cries accompanied the sight of Elneny scampering back to halt the ensuing counter-attack while experience tells Holding to pass after beating two men; he had options.

 

Don’t Even Stop For A Cough

As big an issue is the lack of defensive planning: neither Bellerin nor Elneny dropped into the centre to cover. Contrast that with Köln in the same situation; a midfielder dropped into defence, an attacker to midfield, keeping their banks of four and five intact. Would that we had the same defensive discipline.

It’s important that Wenger keeps faith in Holding and improve the player, rather than consigning him to the Under-23s as some sort of punishment. We’ve seen what can happen to players in those circumstances and the damage it does.

The second half was a different story. Holding gave way to Sead Kolasinac and a back three shifted to a back four. Within five minutes, the changes worked as Walcott’s deflected hit and hope pass fell to the Bosnian to thunder home the equaliser. The Schalke shirt worn underneath his Arsenal top to taunt the visitors underlines why supporters have taken to him. Ability and a heart worn firmly on the sleeve.

Credit to Walcott for his part in the build-up. He deserved the good fortune his cross attracted after timing his run exquisitely to beat the offside trap.

Köln were on the back foot and the match panned out how we expected it to. Arsenal eventually found the goals to ram home their superiority. Alexis latching onto an overhit pass, cut inside and continued running across the edge of the area before whipping in an excellent curling shot. The goalkeeper crouched and wrong-footed watched in despair as the ball arced beyond his reach.

The third came from Hector Bellerin when he followed up after Walcott’s shot was saved, burying the rebound under the goalkeeper’s despairing lunge. Not as eye-catching as the previous two goals but no less important.

I Could Be A Human Machine

Swapping formations at half-time doesn’t signal the end of the back three experiment. Sunday will see more pressure put on the XI and a greater intensity overall in the match. Will it make a difference? You betcha! Expect Mustafi, Koscielny and Monreal to form a defensive trio once more.

There’s nothing to read into last night for the trip to Stamford Bridge. The line-up will see another nine changes back to the one which beat Bournemouth, most likely. Maybe Alexis will keep his place; that’s a decision the manager must make but otherwise, he doesn’t particularly need to rock the boat.

It was good to see Jack Wilshere return to the pitch. His substitute appearance proved a useful cameo with some neat passing. I’d expect him to be on the bench again this weekend with a start on the cards against Doncaster on the horizon.

Finally, a new ‘Record of the Week’ will land on Dad’s Jukebox later to accompany the Top of the Pops farewell in the Times of our Lives series.

’til Tomorrow.

70 thoughts on “Köln Review: Emirates Europa League Debut Won’t Be Forgotten In A Hurry

  1. Please may I buy two tickets in the family enclosure for me and my child. I am a lifelong Arsenal fan.
    Please post ticket to;
    Herr Heinze Shmidt
    24. Stauseenplaza
    Cologne
    Deutschland

  2. Before the game I felt that we shouldn’t rotate for a number of reasons – too early in the season for players to need a break, we are lacking a clear idea of who is first choice and what the line up should be, the need to get some consistency and momentum…….oh, and I wasn’t sure that we had the depth to do it successfully.

    Tired, at half time I nearly gave up and went to bed – BUT – it did seem like everything in the second half was better – but why oh why does it take us this long to settle into a game.

    I’d agree that walcott didn’t deliver & Iwobi struggled – BUT

    I did think that Elneny showed some good stuff – including being the one who worked back when Holding went so high he got a nose bleed in the first half – good engine, keeps the ball moving and normally passes to an Arsenal shirt

  3. Thought Maitland-Niles and Reiss Nelson had good games. Certainly more capable a midfield pairing than Le Coq and Ramsey. However I doubt they will get many Premier league minutes and don’t expect them to feature against Chelsea. Expecting another drubbing on Sunday at the Bridge.

  4. Good afternoon from a not so sunny Cote D’azur.

    The mind boggles to think just thinking of the possible carnage that could have been wrought had any of the Koln fans been “Ultras”.

    Bless him ( TW) he tried and tried but still could not manage to blow the FC Koln defence down.

    Girouds lack of mobility and pace was evident especially in 1st half.

    Midfield pairing v Chelsea on Sunday is of vital importance. We could suffer a serious mauling.

    I have oh

  5. Good stuff Yogi but from everything I read and saw from the live pictures, the Koln supporters overall were a good and friendly bunch, the problem came when they all tried to come through the same turnstile.

    It was a massive difference between the first half and the 2nd half. The first half was full of static attacking players, horrid passing and the look of a team that wanted to be put out of their misery.

    The 2nd half, vastly different and I think it came down to 4 players: Sead, Elneny, Maitland-Niles and Sanchez. I think it all started though with those first 3, they not only quickened the pace of the passing but because they were assured in their passing and passed to players wearing the same colored shirt, the whole team started to click. Elneny was superb in not only keeping things ticking but pushing forward (and Maitland-Niles like a good CM partner would sit and visa versa) and his ball to Theo that led to the goal was inch perfect (Theo’s first touch took him too wide). Maitland-Niles played well and made a couple of runs through midfield and if not for the GK being quick off his line would have had a really good goal. Sead is a beast who not only bombs forward like a runaway train but is skillful and still does all of his defensive work with equal effectiveness.

  6. I will say though, their were 2 players that were absolutely disappointing: Giroud and Iwobi. There was a running theme that Giroud would relish the chance to start because he knows that he is fighting for back-up mins, and that performance yesterday was of a player that we should have sold. He looked static, didn’t fight for balls played up to him, no movement in the box and an overall lack of ‘want to’ at all. I know that Theo didn’t score but he at least tried (his movement was key to actually 2 of the goals, Sead on the deflected cross and for Bellerin’s he forced the save and rebound that led to Bellerin following up) to were Giroud just looked like he didn’t give a flying fuck.

    I thought this match was set up for Iwobi to flourish especially in the 2nd half but it just never came off. His best pass was the one that forced Sanchez wide. I am a huge Iwobi admirer and I want him to continue to play in the Cups and Europa but he has to play better because off that performance I would start Adelaide or Jack next match.

  7. C,

    Agree with all of that. Should not overlook the dynamism Wilshere added to midfield upon his introduction. An injury free season would be a massive boon for our midfield.

  8. Jonny,

    Jack did look good and his dummy was quick thinking. The thing with Jack is that I want to see him do it over the courae of 90 mins but his cameo was what we hoped. I think the most intrguing partner for Jack would be Elneny as his pivot partner.

  9. The proverbial game of two halves.

    Holding has a bit of credit in the bank for me after a promising first season but he`s clearly lost some confidence lately.

    Playing at home in a back three shows up some technical issues but I wouldn`t want to sideline him completely as I think he could develop into a top player in the right circumstances.

    I agree with C about Iwobi & Giroud as they were the only two who didn`t improve in the second half.

  10. Iwobi wasn’t ready for CM. He looked lost. I think that was predictable and said as much. But I really expected more from OG.

    AMN looked so much better in CM, his natural and regular position. How surprising?! I think he can fill in for Coquelin and do fine in Europa and the odd sub appearance to shore things up in PL.

    Yogi might be right that changes mid game do not herald a shift to back 4 but AW should switch as the back 3 has given us no defensive solidity.

  11. C,

    I don’t know why we can’t use both a back 4 or 5 or whatever other formation applicable on a game by game basis, depending on the opposition & or player availability.

    Other sides do it & whilst I understand that a regular structure can help , players at an elite level should be able to cope if coached properly.

  12. Great review Yogi

    In the first half we played tippy tappy and made hundreds of short passes around the midfield in front of an organized defense and predictably we got absolutely no where on the attacking end. The defenders were able organize and cover the space in the dangerous areas and watch the game develop in front of them and track the runners and complete stifle our attack. Our defense was poor at the same time. In the second half we moved the ball forward mostly down the wings much faster and got the ball into the attacking zone before the defense was able to set up and organize and everything was completely different. The game was not only much more fun to watch but we were obviously much more effective on both ends of the pitch.

  13. Also, I don’t fault the Koln supporters inside the ground in Arsenal sections. They came to support their team and seem to have behaved well. Just passionate to support and sing for their team. Where’s our passion? I think many gooners were probably feeling jealous seeing their spirit, solidarity and fun celebration of their team. We won, but I think those fans had the better night.

  14. What I don’t understand is why AFC didn’t figure out the need to plan and prepare to fill the ground with younger gooners or those priced out of regular matches rather than Koln supporters seizing the initiative and grabbing tickets from jaded Arsenal season ticket holders.

    I do feel for people with kids, difficult travel connections, or work early who just couldn’t stay around because of the delay. That is genuinely unfortunate.

  15. I think everyone could have figured out that enthusiasm for Europa groups was low. The ticket prices were lowered accordingly. But if there was more good faith between the club’s corporate leaders and functionaries and supporters and supporter groups, perhaps there could have been a successful scheme to promote a Europa package to younger gooners etc… But does it matter to them who buys the tickets? Probably were delighted the Cologne fans bought Red Memberships to get Arsenal section tickets and AFC shirts and scarves to help enter through home turnstiles. Revenue.

  16. It was exciting to see JW on the pitch. Dynamic, feisty. But of course he was very rusty and gave the ball away. That burst of pace there but not as explosive as I recall. Hopefully he’ll get in form. Anything we get from him would be a boon given our weakness in CM.

    Kolasinac made a terrific tribute to Poldi with that thunderous left foot shot. Nice.

  17. Holding and Iwobe both seem like they have potential but they are another couple of examples of why it is such a risk to count on inexperienced players of their age. We now probably have several dozen examples of players who seem to start well but they struggle to replicate the early form and inevitably they have to be moved down the pecking order and lose their minutes. Iwobe lost his spot around mid season last year and Holding looked excellent in a few games at the end of last season but now it looks like its happening to him. I can’t explain why it happens but it’s been completely predictable.

  18. Bill,

    Agreed. Frankly, I think both could do with loans as the way AW is “developing” them is wasting their potential if not ruining them should their progress continue to be halted. Bellerin benefited from having no other option behind him, so he got games. But like all young players, he was inconsistent during those two first seasons. We cannot afford to play either Holding or Iwobi game after game through inconsistency and challenge or perhaps even make top 4 anymore. Once upon a time, we were able to. It is too competitive now. The only hope is that they can get some games and do well in cups then get a good loan in January and perhaps be ready next season. Given the recruitment challenges we have next summer, we really need to see if these two can start successfully next season. Ozil, Cazorla, Sanchez all likely leaving. Mertesacker, Kos nearing end, Mustafi status unclear. Iwobi and Holding could really help if they were proven and gained consistency. A lot to ask. But keeping them on the fringes here isn’t going to accelerate their development or clarify their future ms for us quickly enough, probably.

  19. Yesterday was another example of why I don’t like our philosophy of building our tactical ethos around creative midfield players. The whole point of creativity is to get the ball into dangerous areas where your players have a chance to score a goal. Creativity can come from any player in any part of the pitch and its much easier to create a dangerous situation when we get the ball forward quickly before the defense can set up. Even a non creative player like Walcott can become a creator when the defense is not organized. If we transition quickly down the wing then we don’t need to depend on patient build ups thru the central midfield with a creative midfield genius running the show and ultimately unlocking the defense with that inch perfect final pass.

    We all loved “Wengerball” in the early Emirates era but the rest of the league figured out how to defend against that tactical strategy long ago and Wengerball grew stale and morphed into tippy tappy sometime around 2010. I like the way we played in the second half of yesterdays game a lot better.

  20. That was chaotic last night. Arsenal need to have long look at themselves for the utter shambles of crowd control.

    There were Cologne fans all around the stadium last night. A group near me had clearly bought the tickets from touts. There are a number of fans that don’t go to games and sell their tickets to the touting community. The club needs to clamp down on this before there are major problems. I have written to them before about this, but it seems as long as the tickets are sold they don’t care.

    Why were the 20,000 allowed to walk up to the ground when the majority had no tickets? They were led across a bridge, surely the perfect place to set a cordon and check if they had tickets?

    A friend was in the family enclosure with his son. Apparently it was pretty intimidating there surrounded by Cologne fans.

    A number of people had to leave at half time to get trains home due to the late kick off.

    All these things were totally preventable. Does Wenger manage the crowd control too? Wouldn’t surprise me looking at the total lack of planning that took place.

    🙁

  21. Limestone

    C can correct me if I am wrong but I thought Iwobe started as a central midfielder in our academy and somehow morphed into a wide forward. Long term he is not going to make it as a forward, IMO. I think his skill set clearly fits best as a midfielder and I was hoping he would look really good yesterday but I was disappointed. Iwobe is not going to get minutes at either position in high leverage situation unless we have an injury crisis and perhaps a loan spell starting in January. I think there is still some hope for him but we have to persist with giving him minutes in the central midfield in the league cup games and perhaps the early FA cup games against lower league opposition. Holding and Chambers also need minutes in low leverage games and we can cross fingers and hope that one or the other develops into a player who can help the first 11 over the long term. As you know I have always thought the best strategy would be to have players like Holding, Iwobe and Chambers go thru the youthful inconsistency stages while on loan rather then in our first team but that is just me.

  22. I wonder who will be more of a cult figure, Sead or Prince Poldi? Maybe Sead because he will feature more and in his natural position but will also play for more years.

  23. We need to talk about…Rob Holding. I feel like the boy in The Emperor’s New Clothes. He was terrible last night and in my opinion has never had a good game for Arsenal. People talk about the FA Cup final. Watch it properly. He lost Costa 3 times. On one occasion Ospina made a great save. On another Costa fluffed the chance and on the other occasion Costa scored. He was terrible against Liverpool in the opening game of last season. He lost Moses for Chelsea’s goal in the Community Shield. He was even awful in the Emirates Cup match. Chambers has his faults but is miles ahead of Holding. Last night as ever Holding was weak in the challenge, positionally suspect and regularly gave away possession. I really hope he makes it at Arsenal but at the moment he should not be anywhere near the first team.

  24. Limestonegunner,

    Yup, I think the article is spot on, this notion that they came and were this menace is kind of absurd, I think there is a massive difference between being passionate and being a hooligan and if you watch the Bundesliga you know the supporters, excluding the Ultras, are just extremely passionate. They will sing, jump up and down arms wrapped around each other and go hoarse but most aren’t wanting to fight or anything like that, they just live and breathe with their club.

    Its more likely that Gooners will fight each other than the Koln supporters last night were looking to fight Gooners.

    That strike, just went back and watched it again and then watched some of Prince Poldi’s strikes, Sead must have been watching Poldi for years!

  25. Bill,

    I believe he even played striker in our youth and has always been an AM or forward otherwise. I am not ruling out him becoming a CM. I just don’t think it was wise to drop him into that position last night. And I think I was proven correct as he looked lost there but improved somewhst when he moved forward to play AM. He should have started further forward.

  26. Pete the Thirst,

    The question is, were people intimidated because there were so many Koln supporters or was it that the Koln supporters were being that disruptive. Outside of the few supporters who attacked the barricade (who were then confronted by fellow Koln supporters NOT the cops), I heard and saw most of them just singing and supporting.

  27. Bill,

    I do agree with your suggestion about loans for a few of these guys. You’ve been consistent on that and we can’t make top 4 counting on a large number of young players in key positions anymore.

  28. Bill,

    In the youth set-up he was used as both a wide attacker and in midfield. The thing is, our youth teams play a different style and formation to our senior team, they play more of a 433 (well they did) and Iwobi played multiple positions. I agree though, his skill-set and the way he plays is well suited for the CM/ACM position but I think, as with most young players playing centrally, its something you have to play more to get better at. Centrally the game is quicker and its more about your futboling IQ than your actual skill-set.

  29. C,

    I think the mere presence of Koln fans shouldn’t be intimidating, but English football fans tend to react this way given the history and culture of the game. Maybe they assumed Koln supporters were like English football supporters!

  30. C

    I’m all for a lively atmosphere, but the family enclosure is called that for a reason.

    When you get a group of drunken men sitting in seats that are allocated for children then clearly the kids they are surrounding will be intimidated and scared.

    I don’t blame the Cologne fans. I have been in home terraces / seats myself in the past – White Hart Lane, Old Trafford, Barcelona. I am blaming the Arsenal stadium management, and they will be getting another email shortly. What about just simply moving all of the family enclosure ticket holders to another part of the ground and let the Germans sit together? Not that complex really. In fact I suggested that a group of Germans sitting near us go to the other end after they celebrated their goal rather than annoying the Arsenal fans sitting near them.

    Despite what the Press want to tell the world there were a number of skirmishes in the ground and the atmosphere was tense.

    C:
    Pete the Thirst,

    The question is, were people intimidated because there were so many Koln supporters or was it that the Koln supporters were being that disruptive.Outside of the few supporters who attacked the barricade (who were then confronted by fellowKoln supporters NOT the cops), I heard and saw most of them just singing and supporting.

  31. We all fit a stereotype LSG, not always accurate.

    Limestonegunner:
    C,

    I think the mere presence of Koln fans shouldn’t be intimidating, but English football fans tend to react this way given the history and culture of the game.Maybe they assumed Koln supporters were like English football supporters!

  32. Pete the Thirst,

    I agree with you, moving the supporters or the family section was most certainly a sensible and easily appropriate decision that should have been made. Make no mistake, I have a daughter and I understand people’s angst and feelings about their kids being around so no qualms there.

    For me, and I’m speaking as somebody that wasn’t there but have been to a number of hostile venues and here in the States we are known for large scale fights, deaths and some stadiums even have / had jails in them, the notion that Koln supporters are more disruptive and all and this is all down to them. Whats funny to me is how quickly its forgotten that quite regularly last season the Emirates was constantly being talked about because of the amount of infighting amongst supporters of Arsenal.

    The strange thing is, the one thing that I kept constantly reading not only from media reports but from checking social media through my mates twitter page, is that many of the Koln supporters were all trying to sit together but simply weren’t allowed. Is that true, if so then you can understand them being spread about the Emirates and singing and supporting.

  33. GAH – was not able to watch the match. I programed my machine to record the game but because of the time delay they broadcasted the dreadfully boring game with Athl Bilbao instead.

  34. Iwobe first caught our eye playing in the Ozil role in the 433 during the league cup and early round FA cup games 2 seasons ago. Obviously he was not going to play as an attacking central midfield when he was behind Ozil, Cazorla, Ramsey and Wilshere so he morphed into a forward. Arsene handed him the starting role wide left last season which I think was a mistake.

  35. C

    If we play at a high tempo and move the ball down the wings the way we did in the second half yesterday then its not as difficult to play the central midfield. The defense can’t set up an organized pressing system to close our central midfielders and the game become easier for them.

  36. I think even our experienced midfielders such as Ozil and Xhaka could potentially be more effective if we were transitioning more quickly on a more consistent basis. No?

    The ability to handle defensive pressure was the outstanding feature about Cazorla. Xhaka clearly struggles big time when he is closed down and even Ozil for all of his talent is not as good at handling pressure as Cazorla was. IMO.

  37. Bill,

    I agree, playing at a high tempo like we did in the 2nd half is the best way to play because we have players in positions that can play that way and their styles suit that way of playing. Sanchez, Ozil, Bellerin, Sead, Lacazette, Elneny hell even Mustafi and Kos are all players that are better suited to the high tempo style of play. I think the problem that we face is that while Xhaka can play that way, he doesn’t always play that which is kinda weird to me but also Ramsey doesn’t play that way and if your two midfield pivots don’t play that way then the team can’t really play that way. Yes we played down the flanks but its because Elneny and Maitland-NIles are players that while their style is passing, they do so quickly so the ball isn’t static, its moving and with the ball moving they dictate quickly the style and tempo of the match. Elneny was superb yesterday in the 2nd half dictating the tempo and at times slowing things down but springing a quick pass forward when the opportunity arose.

    I know he isn’t your cup of tea but I think we are a better team with him in the team because he doesn’t dilly dally on the ball, instead wants to move the ball, constantly looking to play a pass before he even receives the ball.

  38. I understand that there are significant financial implications regarding not selling Sanchez and losing him on the free next summer. However, yesterday demonstrated why he is still very valuable to us. Who cares if he loses the ball sometimes. He can make a play and change a game by himself when the opponent is able to shut our passing game and having someone like that in your line up can be a real difference maker. Unlike Ozil, I would be happy to see Sanchez sign a 4 year $250K per week new contract.

  39. Yea there were a couple of stray passes and also him moving the ball to simply keep possession and move players, but Elneny is much more a positive player than he gets credit for.

  40. Bill,

    Agree about handling pressure (what the hell is going on, either your talking my language today or I have finally converted you on playing at a high tempo and Elneny being the player that can and should have taken over when we lost Santi) and Elneny is the type of player you want. He might not do it with the dribble like Santi does quite a bit, but he does it with the pass and a high futboling IQ.

  41. Bill,

    My point was just that he isn’t and hasn’t ever been a deeper lying CM or DM. AM, forward, striker are what he has played in the past. Wherever he ends up, dumping him in CM without much preparation really doesn’t serve him or the club. If he had played there in preseason this year, it might have made sense.

  42. philmar,

    If you were watching in Canada, they eventually switched over. Luckily my cable provider allows you to go back and watch programs earlier that day on “replay” and the match was one of them since my recording only got the first half too. It will be on Arsenal Player and the second half was actually interesting: JW, Nelson, the goals etc…

  43. C

    Its a bit early to anoint Maitland-Niles as a potential starter and someone who might be difference maker after a good 1/2 game yesterday. We just talked about how how we like to over rate players like Iwobi or Holding after a couple of good matches was a mistake. With regard to Elneny, I would be happy to see him get a run as our deepest “defensive midfielder”. His style of play reminds me of Arteta in a lot of ways. His ball possession skills and his steady Eddy approach is much better suited for the defensive midfield role. IMO.

  44. Bill,

    I’m not nor have I said that Maitland-Niles is a potential starter (though I do think his future is bright as a midfield pivot) but I do think that we will know more about his potential because the one thing is clear, he will get and start in all our Europa group stage matches as well as the League Cup and FA Cup. I think he is a good player with potential because he isn’t a player that relies on his physical traits, more of a reader and thinker.

    I have been in Elneny’s camp since his arrival from Basel, he is a player and I do think that as our DM or even CM he would bring a lot of balance to the midfield and as he has consistently shown, he might not be the most physical of players but defensively he gets after it with interceptions, constant pressure and has an engine that never seems to wear down. I know it won’t happen but I think he should start against Chelsea and get a run of matches.

  45. Elneny does not make many mistakes and although I don’t think he is a great defensive player I think he is a better overall defender then Xhaka. Avoiding mistakes is critical as the deepest midfielder and solid defense is the other critical feature of a good defensive mid. Having a brilliant left boot and eye catching long diagonal passes is quite a ways down my list of the important qualities you need from your defensive mid. Its just me but I would like to see Elneny get a run of games and that position and have Xhaka dropped to the subs bench.

  46. C

    I think you over rate Elneny. You seem to think he is a combination of Makelele, Iniesta, Kante and Cazorla all wrapped in one player. That’s a bit of hyperbole but you get the point. I think Elneny is a nice squad player who is versatile but his best position is deepest central midfielder. Even in that position he would not be a regular starter on any of the world’s other “big teams”. That said, right now I think if given a run of games he might be our most effective defensive midfielder. Long term we need to buy someone better to be our regular starter at DM and Elneny needs to be someone who might make the subs bench in some games.

    I am glad we did not sell him because we need to depth and versatility but the best thing that could have happened for Elneny’s sake would have been the move to a mid or lower table team where he has a chance to be a regular.

  47. Bill,

    I don’t think he is that but I think he is a player that suits what we need and our style. Do I want an upgrade, ofcourse but we didn’t get one and aren’t getting one so we go with what we have. Elneny brings balance to our team, he might not get into the world’s best teams but we aren’t close to that and if I’m honest, there are players from every team that you could say that about: Moses of Chelsea, Herrera or Fellaini of Manure, Raktik of Barca, Rude of Bayern. The point is, you need players like Elneny in your squad that just go about their business and might not be the best player avilable at that position but you know match in and match out they are going to do their job and do it effectively.

    Its not about overrating a player but seeing the qualities that that player brings consistently and how it can help our squad. We ALL recognize that we need help defensively in midfield and we ALL recognize that we need a player that is capable of not only good at handling pressure but good at getting out of that pressure and passing to a teammate to exploit a team pressing us and I do think that Elneny is that player. You mentioned, to you that he is similar to Arteta, I think he can but he offers much more, see several of his passes against Koln in the 2nd half specifically that were long balls or balls over the top or switching play that helped us to raise the tempo of the match.

  48. C,

    Given that Wenger appears to actively avoid going into the market to buy the CDM we do need, Elneny is undoubtedly the best player we have in that position at the club. He would be my first pick in that spot and I’d happily see Xhaka dropped to the bench. I hoped Xhaka would work out at the club, but so far I’m not seeing enough of what he does well (passing and a great left peg) to make up for his failings.

  49. I don’t have any issue at all with the Koln fans getting into the ground on mass, If home fans didn’t want to go to the game it is inevitable that those willing to pay up for the tickets are going to get hold of them and there are stories of tickets being sold for 5 times face value by touts.

    I do have a couple of issues with events at the ground though, specifically:

    the Koln fans who tried to force their way in to the ground via the away fans entrance even though they had home tickets; and

    the Koln tickets who were in the home fans section at the Clock End and decided they would try to get into the away supporters end. There wasn’t enough room for them and the stewards didn’t deserve to have to deal with them.

    There’s no question that the police handled it poorly, as they should never have allowed that big a group of away fans get that close to the ground in the first place. They would clearly have known what away fan capacity was, so unless they had genuine away section tickets they shouldn’t have been allowed to get to the ground.

    Arsenal issued tickets to Koln under UEFA guidelines, but that really does need a rethink as clubs who have demand for a large number of tickets at big grounds should get a larger allocation. At FA Cup games the allowance is 10%, which still seems inadequate but at least provides the away fans the opportunity to go to some of those ‘once in a lifetime’ games.

    I’m not overly impressed with Koln’s response though:

    “the security concept and communication seemed inadequate and the police force too small”

    “proud that tens of thousands of Colognians wanted to experience the first European match in 25 years and made their way to London”

    “Despite the tremendous experience of both the London security forces and Arsenal as a permanent partaker in European football, the organisers were unfortunately not adequately prepared for the task”.

    The club should surely have been making it very clear to fans that ticket allocations would be severely limited and that they shouldn’t travel in the hope of getting a ticket if they didn’t already have one. It seems likely that a number of fans knew they were going to be able to get tickets in advance and if they did how was that possible?

  50. Limestonegunner:
    philmar,

    If you were watching in Canada, they eventually switched over.Luckily my cable provider allows you to go back and watch programs earlier that day on “replay” and the match was one of them since my recording only got the first half too.It will be on Arsenal Player and the second half was actually interesting: JW, Nelson, the goals etc…

    Yes I was. I still have the recording saved but the recording will end at the time the TSN program was scheduled to have ended. So it probably only has the first half of the game. Which will be the crap half of the game. THANKS!

  51. C:
    Bill,

    The point is, you need players like Elneny in your squad that just go about their business and might not be the best player avilable at that position but you know match in and match out they are going to do their job and do it effectively.

    So he’s the “The Romford Pelé” of this generation…a sort of ‘Egyptian Maradona’

  52. Wavey,

    I think Elneny at that position would really add balance and he would get the ball up the pitch quickly. I’m not saying he is Veratti or Xavi but he is a player that is quite effective at doing what he does which is pass and move, always be available, keep the ball moving, pressing players and reading the game.

  53. Stories now leaking that the Koln fans have been planning the trip for weeks. I doubt they were all winging it on the off chance that they would get enough tickets, which means the ticket supplies were sorted some time ago. The tout network has been very efficient on this and picked up tickets quickly. The club have been really poor at controlling where the tickets go to.

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