STONE COLD FRIDAY: Europa Spoils Enough To See Arsenal Through

Nobody said it had to be pretty. A tepid performance, palatable thanks to Köln’s 5-2 insurance policy against BATE Borisov guaranteeing Arsenal a place in the last 32. If you can’t win it, then you mustn’t lose it seemed to be the mantra to take the point that was offered. Arsenal need at least a win, or a draw from the remaining two games depending on other results to guarantee top spot.

If we’ve learnt anything from the tedious ground hog days of Champions League second round qualification, it’s that making it top of the group sometimes doesn’t guarantee an easy ride.

Many would still argue that for this second string, topping the group will give them a world of confidence to extend to the other cup competitions. The way the Champions League first rounds are going, there are likely to be at least 4 notable European clubs falling through the cracks into the Europa League.

With Arsenal current favourites to win the Europa League, our metal will soon be tested for real. At this point, it is likely that we’ll start seeing more of the first team regulars, Per Mertesacker being the most likely to get more pitch time for this competition.

Coherence wasn’t a word you could shout out confidently last night, the team for most part, playing more like 11 strangers put together to do a job. Except for young Matt Macey, you couldn’t really write home to point a finger at any outfield player who was outstanding.

This was to be expected. The reverse fixture a fortnight ago giving us a glimpse of the doggedness of Red Star. They are flying high in their league and before stepping onto the Emirates turf, had only lost 1 out of 16 matches.

If I Told You That, We Have Our Centurions…

Lady Luck was surely with Arsenal last night, Richmond Boakye forgetting to bring his shooting boots to the party. The Red Star Striker had two clear chances to see the whites of Matt Macy’s eyes, but fluffed his lines. Other seasoned strikers would have ruthlessly punished Arsenal.

Slavoljub Srnic’s powerful drive tested Macy’s quality and the young Arsenal keeper showed us a glimpse of his ability. The visitor’s most promising chance fell to Nemanja Radonjic. His shot deflected into Vujadin Savic’s way and Macey clawed his looping header onto the cross bar.

As the final minutes ticked away last night, the George Michael and Whitney Houston duet “If I told you that” came to mind. You’d be hard pressed to believe we had two centurions in Giroud and Walcott on the pitch; 200 plus goals between them. Yet there it was, the resigned feeling that if Arsenal continued playing until the cows came home, none of them would hit their arses with a banjo.

This wasn’t the first match that the two elder statesmen of the second string have gone missing. With performances like these, I don’t see how Giroud and Walcott get a start in the Premier League squad.

Perhaps a focus on becoming super-subs a better proposition for them. Eddie ‘Super Sub’ Nketiah stole the limelight, but is unlikely to usurp Giroud or Walcott in the first team.

Strangers in the Night

The Frenchman had a great opportunity to open the scoring following an intricate move between Willock and Wilshere. The pair combined, opening space for Maitland-Niles. He deftly beat his man and cut the ball back for Giroud, ready for the Frenchman to swipe home.

Red Star’s Canadian keeper Milan Borjan wasn’t having none of that. Clearly, he learned his lesson from Ludogorets when Mesut Özil scored the goal of the season; that was exactly one year ago this week.

Theo on the other hand couldn’t buy a chance for goal if you gave him a blank cheque. Another disappointing show from him, despite being captain on the night. His performance was summed up by a spin and air shot in the 79th minute.

Arsenal’s best chance came from Wilshere asserted his authority or to be more accurate, picked Maitland-Niles pocket. As Jack beautifully guided the ball past the Red Star keeper, the crowd behind the goal sucked the ball toward them. As the stadium waited for the net to bulge, Le Tallec leapt into a volley to clear from in front of the goal line.

The less said about the rest of the match, the better. It will be put down to experience for the youngsters, and necessary mileage for the first team fringe players. None from last night will feature at the Etihad on Sunday for our inevitable clash with the league favourites.

In recent years, we have done well against Man City with a sprinkle of draws and wins. Arsenal are the underdogs against a free-scoring City side who are playing with panache.

It’s an opportunity to give them a good test to their title credentials. We need the defensive template against Chelsea combined with the positive performances against Everton and Swansea to succeed.

Sunday, Bloody Sunday

We can get at their defence but there’s a “we’ll score more goals than you” feeling about Sunday’s match. The players must believe that they can do it, but more importantly, must turn up and apply themselves professionally.

It’s certainly a game that we could do with a one forgotten Santiago Cazorla. Spare a thought for the Arsenal star as he talks today about the gangrene that infected his ankle and caused doctors to consider amputating his leg.

Marca will be carrying the story today with a close-up picture of his ankle. He has lost 8 cm from his tendon from multiple-operations, while a skin graft from his arm bears a tattoo of his daughter’s name.

Wenger is looking forward to welcoming the Spaniard back after Christmas. Even he admits Santi needs to take his time, not having played for 18 months.

At 32, it’s unlikely that he’ll feature extensively. However, his experience will be invaluable as we navigate the business end of the season.

Finally, just to tell you there’s a new post on Dad’s Jukebox, “JUKEBOX CLASSICS: #8 HEY JIMI – THE SONGS HENDRIX COVERED“. Enjoy.

Have a great day good people.

62 thoughts on “STONE COLD FRIDAY: Europa Spoils Enough To See Arsenal Through

  1. Good morning folks, well done Darius to find things to say about last night’s damp squib must have taken quite an effort.

    Macey showed great promise and pulled off a couple of good saves after a nervous opening few minutes.

    Debuchy surprised me by showing what a good defender is hiding under the bandages and sticking plaster, although I don’t think he has quite figured out the difference between right back and right sided centre back.

    Nelson and Maitland-Niles both tended to turn inside when getting behind their opposing fullback was the better option.

    I’m totally unable to discover what Coquelin brings to the table.

    Despite, or perhaps because of, the ballyhoo surrounding him Nketiah was a disappointment.

    I’ve long been a fan of Walcott, but that is over now, it’s time to move him on along with Giroud, what a hopeless pair they are.

    Good to see Wilshire get another ninety minutes and build his confidence up a bit.

    A report this morning says surgeons considered the amputation of Cazorla’s leg after developing gangrene. Not a nice thought.

  2. So apparently supporters were booing the players after the match after that performance and Le Coq apparently confronted and got into it with some of the supporters.

  3. I’m sorry but nobody is convincing me the Europa League is anything other than awful particularly this group stage. How they justify making it part of our season ticket is beyond me.

  4. Mike,

    It will get better in the knockout stages once the other clubs join from CL and some of the lesser clubs in the group stages get knocked out.

  5. Good stuff Darius and thanks for spitting out 1000 words or whatever.

    My observations of last night went like this:

    Our senior players were poor for the most part. Debuchy showed flashes of a good B team defender but he is no CB, Belgrade exploited the space he left when he went bombing forward when he constantly forgot that he was a RCB and not a RB. Elneny looked more comfortable at CB then he did before and had several interceptions but also looked the most likely to create from the pass out of the whole XI until Jack decided to join the party sometime in the 2nd half.

    Macey, Maitland-Niles, Willock and Nelson looked the most lively. Nelson ran at defenders and while he will learn to get his head up faster, it was more experienced gained. Maitland-Niles created our best two chances, the one for Giroud and he won the ball back and ‘set-up’ (okay I know Jack picked his pocket but still) Jack but also defensively he was solid. Macey came up with one good save and one brilliant save (Ospina doesn’t make that save and we lose 1-0 😉 ). I give credit to Willock for his work in midfield both defensively and helping in the err umm attack and actually set up Giroud who hit it right at the GK.

    The less said about Giroud, Theo (who worked hard but decision making was worst than the U12’s I watch on Saturday’s and Sunday’s) and Le Coq the better. Holding needs to be benched, Belgrade time and time again attacked him and time and time again they either created a dangerous chance or their striker was clear through on goal.

  6. You really do have to feel for Santi, when fit he is a brilliant little player who is as two-footed as they come and is a pure joy to watch on the pitch. I say let him play a match or two to let the supporters give him a proper thank you but Arsene please please let him go back to Spain and play in a less physical league and continue his career.

  7. Moving forward, I think the one thing that will change in the Europa League is the return of Welbeck to the fold which means Giroud is off to the bench more than likely. He will at least give us movement and work-rate something that Giroud doesn’t give.

  8. Good stuff, my friend.

    I really can’t see why anyone will continue to pay actual cash to watch performances like that.

    That might shift a few minds.

  9. Great review Darius. You are an excellent writer and we have missed your Friday posts. Its quite a feat to be able to figure out how to say something interesting about a very uninteresting game. Its great that yogi gets one day off per week. I have always been amazed that he finds the time and energy to give us a great post every day.

    Regarding the game yesterday the best description is meh. Its a bit disappointing but not very surprising that the team has gone into these early round Europa League with the same mentality as the league cup games. I think we played well in the second half of the first game but other then that we have done just enough to get by. The culture of this club is all about Arsene and he shows his level of interest by starting the same B Squad that uses in the league cup games. All of that said we have already qualified for the round of 32 so it seems a bit churlish to complain. We are probably the early betting favorites to win the tournament and get ourselves back into the champions league which I suspect is Arsene’s only real goal for this season.

  10. The game against Man City is a must not lose if we want to hold out any hope of a title challenge. If we lose its 12 points behind the and possibly dropping to 6th place. Falling double digits in points behind the leader is the official point point of no return when it comes to any league title hopes so I guess we can be happy that we have held out until November. The good thing about dropping out of the title race is that it allows us to focus on what is really important which is finding a way to get back to the champions league. It looks like all 5 English teams will be in the final 16 in the champions league which means we don’t have to worry about any of them dropping down into the Europa League which gives us an easier path to the top of the Europa League. I doubt anyone would be interested in paying a transfer for Ozil in January so we won’t have any option other then keeping him. However, I think we need to keep Sanchez until the end of this season because losing him could potentially hurt our chances to win the Europa League and that is probably our best chance to get back into the champions league. The financial gain from being back in the champions league probably outweighs any transfer fee we could get for Sanchez in January.

  11. Bill,

    “The good thing about dropping out of the title race is that it allows us to focus on what is really important which is finding a way to get back to the champions league. ”

    Tsk, tsk, wash out your mouth sir! That’s the most Arsene’s Arsenal thinking I have ever heard. The day this great club abandons chasing the title and settles for qualification for a tournament that it has little chance and little ambition to win is the day it dies.

    Personally I couldn’t give a toss for the CL and don’t miss it in the slightest.

  12. Bill,

    Re Ozil we certainly do not have to keep him, he’ll be out of contract and we’re not obliged to offer him a new one. If we did agree to pay him £250k+ a week whoever sanctions that deal would need shooting. If he does stay it should be on our terms, and I wouldn’t value his contribution at any more than £150k/wk and that’s being generous even in these times of inflated wages.

  13. andy1886,

    Spot on! Give me the PL over the CL any day of the week. We don’t have a chance of winning the CL so lets focus on winning the PL, Carabou Cup, FA Cup and Europa League. I actually think we have a legitimate shot regardless of the teams that drop out of the CL to win the Europa and I think there is still an outside shot at the PL no matter how small.

  14. Good morning from a campsite in Key Largo.
    It’s sunny and rather warm here – such that I think coming back to London might be something of a systemic shock.
    I’m off to a wedding today and a full moon party tomorrow. Poor me. 😀
    I actually missed the game yesterday – but it sounds as though I really didn’t miss much at all.
    What do people think our chances are against free-scoring City this weekend?
    I am not exactly optimistic…

  15. Reiss Nelson reminds you of the younger but less physically powerful version of Ox with the way he plays. He is eye catching when he makes runs with the ball at his feet but so far there has been no evidence of any end product. Maitland-Niles on the other hand has looked more impressive. He is playing out of position at wing back but he adapted well and has looked comfortable. He has come closer to making a couple of nice plays in the attacking and he looks reasonably confident when he has to defend. Long term perhaps he can stick with the squad and might eventually be an upgrade over Le Coq if we Arsene does not buy someone else in the next couple years.

    Macey also looked solid but there is no legitimate way to answer the question of whether he might be our long term answer when Cech retires. You can’t judge a GK based on performances against academy level teams or a couple of cameo appearances against league cup level opponents which is the level of competition we have faced so far in the Europa League. Hopefully we can send Macey on loan to a PL level team in England or possibly Spain or Germany and his performances when he plays every day against top competition will give him the experience he needs and most important give us a much better idea of how good he actually is.

  16. Agree with all the posts.

    Would pick out Giroud for particular criticism as his lack of movement seemed to me to mean that if and when our players had the ball wide, there was no one to cross for. ….Having said that they also didn’t seem to be looking to make that cross anyway, which probably comes back to Darius’ point about them appearing to be a group of strangers

  17. Andy

    Clearly it would be a huge mistake to give Ozil a new high dollar long term contract. We have talked about that in the past and its a no brainer. However, what I meant was we will probably have to keep he until the end of this season. I doubt anyone will be interested in paying a transfer fee for Ozil in January.

    On the other hand i can see someone paying a smallish transfer fee for Sanchez in January but I think we should keep him until the end of the year to help improve our chances of winning the Europa League or may be even nicking 4th place in the PL.

  18. I said this yesterday but the way Chelsea handled Courtois is the perfect model for developing a young GK that you hope might have a chance be first choice for the long term. There is absolutely no downside and its a win/win for both the player and the team.

  19. Jonny,

    You ask about this weekend against Citeh, I think we can score goals, the problem is I don’t have confidence in our defense especially because with Ramsey bombing forward it will leave only Xhaka to man the middle against De Bruyne and Fernandinho.

    I do think though that we can get at their defense and score goals. For the neutral it will be entertaining but for Gooners, well…..

  20. Bill,

    The problem that most clubs will face with the Chelsea model with Courtious is that you fail to talk about the fact that Cech was still rated as one of the best in Europe; how many clubs actually have that luxury: Bayern, Juve, Barca are the only that come to mind. Even this version of Cech is still a good GK but still highly rated as one of the best, nope never.

    I think more often than not around Europe you have to go with the kind of route that Manure took with De Gea, understanding that he is a quality young GK but have to go through the growing pains and hope he works through them. People forget that those first 2-2 1/2 season, people questioned if De Gea was PL quality even though in a less physical league like La Liga or the Bundesliga he would flourish, then he figured out the physical part and took off. The thing with Macey is that he is a big physical, athletic GK so the future is bright for him. Yea he will have those moments as he is ONLY 23 years old and GK’s get better with age and their peak years are somewhere between 28-34 years old.

  21. DALM,

    I think part of the problem with players crossing is that they simply don’t know what the often static Giroud will do so why whip in a cross when your CF is either not there or just standing still. Its easy for a player of Ozil, Sanchez and Lacazette’s quality to put it right on the static Giroud’s head, but the rest, they whip them in thinking and hoping he moves and well he doesn’t and then Giroud throws his hands up.

  22. Yeah, we can certainly score – they aren’t really set up with defence in mind – they just outpass and score their opponents with what has become a quite bewildering array of attacking options.
    Mostly, I am just hoping we don’t have of those scarring thumpings of yesteryears.
    I think overall, Aaron has gotten the balance a little better and I have enjoyed his play in recent outings. We managed to turn a result and decent defensive performance against Chelsea with those two in midfield but this is, admittedly, a much, much taller order.

  23. The worst possible scenario for the club and for any young GK like Macey is the way we handled Wojo by giving him the job before he was ready. The biggest problem is that if he does not work then its an incredibly difficult to decide when its finally time to give up. We struggled thru 5 years of GK inconsistency while we continued to believe that Wojo was on the cusp of greatness and hope that it was just a matter of time before he came good. A big team can’t afford to lose that much time and opportunity cost at any position but especially GK.

  24. Bill,

    Had we a decent goal keeping coach I expect that Szczesny might well have developed into a top class keeper much sooner. I wonder how de Gea and Courtois would have turned out with the same quality of coaching that Wojo had? Talented players under performing seems to be a common theme under this administration.

  25. I agree with Jonny and the game away at City has blowout potential and it will get really ugly if we go in with mindset that we can score with them. The mindset we had going into the Chelsea game is our best chance to get a result or at least not be embarrassed. If we can somehow keep the game low scoring there is always a chance and stranger things have happened.

  26. Jonny,

    I think that’s the thing, this is the type of match that our players are ideal for especially those front 3 of Ozil/Lacazette/Sanchez but the thing is whether or not Ramsey and Xhaka can at the very least slow down De Bruyne who along with Silva is the key to Citeh. They do have an embarrassment of acting talent that will be really interesting especially watching Sane v Bellerin and Sterling or Jesus v Sead.

    Ramsey has gotten it a little better but the thing is, he HAS to stay in midfield when we don’t have the ball and when we do win it back he still HAS to stay until we are actually in the attacking third. I know it won’t happen but I would rather have the more mobile Elneny as opposed to Xhaka or Ramsey so that he can match the work rate and mobility of Fernandinho and De Bruyne.

    To my mind, there is a MASSIVE gulf between Chelsea’s attack and Citeh’s attack because even though Kante is a really high quality player, he doesn’t offer nearly as much as De Bruyne does when it comes to those quick transitions. Kante will win it back and is a good passer but generally passes it to Hazard or Cesc where as De Bruyne wins it back and is the driving force. The other thing is Jesus and Aguero are better than say Pedro and Morata. With that, I still think that I would take Sanchez and Ozil against their defenders and Lacazette will / should have a field day against Otamendi and Stone.

  27. Andy.

    Good point about our GK coach and perhaps things would have turned out differently for Wojo if we had a better one. All the more reason to send any young GK with potential on loan. No?

    As an aside it must be hard to make a decision and finally “give up” on someone like Wojo or nick bendtner or Ox that you have such a strong emotional and time investment in.

  28. C,

    I’m on holiday in Spain so watched in bar here! But my mate said out of the 6 of us who have the season tickets only two came! Think it was a bit flat apart from the Red Star fans!

  29. andy1886,

    I agree, with you, I think the thing with Szczesny is that not only did he not get the proper coaching but he was also like 20 when he was handed the #1 GK position and there is a world’s difference between a 20 year old GK and a 23-24 year old GK like Macey is. People forget that De Gea struggled his first couple of seasons in the PL and was widely criticized for his performances. I think the thing that helped Courtious was that he was in an Ahtletico Madrid side that focused on defense.

  30. Perhaps time and events has brought a bit of realism to Arsène but at one point he really believed he could build his own superstars. I suspect its a bit of a blow to his ego when a player that he really believes in like Wojo or Ox or bendtner never really fulfills his promise. I suspect that is part of the reason he sticks with them for so long

  31. Good afternoon,

    a fine write up and a great effort given the poor material to work with.

    The senior players were very poor last night. Whilst Giroud did his usual job of being static whenever we attacked, I actually thought Walcott did put the effort in. Walcott’s issue was that his performance was abject throughout. His decision-making was questionable, his touch was atrocious and his shooting was appalling.

  32. After the ways things worked out with the invincible I can understand why Arsène would believe that he could build his own superstars. My own belief is that was more about good scouting and getting players who really were on the cusp of greasiness before anyone else knew much about them and then intelligent squad building to put them into a situation where they could thrive. I think it’s very difficult to turn a good but not great player into a superstar.

  33. Jonny

    Welcome to South Florida, you enjoying our winter weather are ya!
    Im about 45 min North of you. But unfortunately tied up wth the boat show, otherwise would say lets find somewhere to catch the game.
    Non the less Im sure you will have a blast in the Keys, just be prepared for the bugs. And don’t try wrestle the alligators.

  34. I have to be completely honest, on two things.
    Firstly, I enjoyed watching Spurs thump Real Madrid more than Ive enjoyed any Arsenal match in a very long time. They have taken our place as everyones second favorite team.
    Secondly, I know we have seen many bright young things come through our youth ranks only to fade away. Non the less I have usually found them to be exiting and enjoyed watching them.
    The current crop give me non of that at all. I don’t see anything special in any of them thus far. All look silky on the ball but provide nothing in end product.
    Ive been thoroughly underwhelmed by the new crop and cant see any of them being difference makers.
    But thats just me and I could be wrong.

  35. C

    I don’t have the energy to look in the archives but I suspect you were leading the charge to give the #1 GK spot to wojo in 2010. Credit to you for sticking with your ideas and philosophy for all of these years.

  36. Bill,

    Henrt, Bergkamp, Vieira, Pires, Gilberto were already quality players thr problem was they struggled at their previous stop prior to Arsenal.

  37. Bill,

    Actually mate I wasn’t funnily enough, I knew he had thr quality but I was more lets develop him slowly and hand him the shirt when he was around 2-3 years older after featuring in the Cups. I think the problem with Szczesny during that time was our defending was so poor that he would get killed because of the sheer volume of shots we were giving up.

  38. Thank you, Isaac, for constructing an interesting an intellectually meaningful Post out of a rather mundane and exasperating Europa game last night. Rather you than me! 😀

    We have qualified for the round of 32, and I hope we manage to keep the top place in our group which means we will avoid the CL cast offs like Borussia Dortmund and Atletico Madrid — and that has to be all to the good. Every year in the CL we seemed to draw teams like Bayern, or Barça because we did not retain the top position in that competition.

    You were oh so right about Theo and Giro who were both pretty abysmal, and it explains how Theo has only had 45mins all season in the Premier League going off the bench — and yet Mr Wenger says he wants Theo to sign a contract extension. Whaaaat?

    The Man City game on Sunday is probably going to be a nightmare -and yet obstinately I am still hoping for a miracle in which we manage to carve out a draw — well, frankly the lack of pace in the centre of our defence with the persistently injured and now much slower Kozzer, and the pre-retirement sluggish-legged Per.

  39. bonjour meine compadres.

    first things third – i didnt see the game so i cant really comment on the shiteness of the performance – but football can be like that, one minute your enjoying a 5-2 exhibition and the next youre subjected to something that could bore a glass eye to sleep.
    one would have thought that some of the senior players would use these games to state their case for a place in the first team but nevermind.

    secondly im looking forward to santis return.. this formation is set up perfectly for him to be applied in a deeper role without the defensive duties nor the workrate to get box to box – in theory the 3 CBs and the shuttle running wingbacks give us all this already and he can sit and control the tempo of the game – keeping possession and starting the attacks. two footed and intelligent with excellent passing techniqe and ball retention skills, hes somewhat of a missing piece to our jigsaw. we need a midfield enforcer and he doesnt have to be 6ft 7 and 15 stone, kicking people in the air. he just needs to control the game. santi can do this.
    xhaka isnt exactley proving his pricetag and has a tendency to lose the ball and put us in the shit more often that not..we dont need to spend 50mil to sort it we just need to get santi back on the pitch in a pirlo type role and he can fix a few problems.

    lastly im proud to announce theres been a new addition to the JJ family. both mother and baby girl are doing well after a difficult week and i might be able to bring them both home tonight.

  40. C:
    Bill,

    Henrt, Bergkamp, Vieira, Pires, Gilberto were already quality players thr problem was they struggled at their previous stop prior to Arsenal.

    I think they were good players who were actually on the cusp of greatness but Arsene and David Dein recognized that before anyone else did. They also had a vision of how to build a squad that could take advantage of the those players. Unfortunately, things changed around the start of this century when the rest of the world upgraded their scouting systems and it no became much harder to find those diamonds in the rough before the rest of the world. The other change was the loss of David Dein and I assume he was helping Arsene so Arsene could spend more time concentrating on squad building and being a better field manager. At one point in his career I think Arsene was a truly great field manager but he consolidated his power position when Dein was sacked which meant Arsene had to divide his attention among so many other things that he lost the ability to be really good at any of them. I hope that makes sense.

  41. Afternoon, C, 🙂

    I was surprised that you were turning up your nose at the CL, and plumping for winning the Premier League — you do know that if we win that competition, or the Europa League, then we get the CL qualifying thrown in for free. 😀

    OK, there is as much chance of us winning the Premier League or even finishing in the top 4 as Bill ever agreeing with you on anything — but we should always aspire to do so, as apart from a rather insular belief that the PL is god’s gift to football, and it is not in my opinion, the vast majority of fans of whatever stripe will tell you that the CL is the pinnacle of footballing glory — greater even than the World Cup.

    Others, like yourself, will disagree with me, as is their and your, right — but I am content with my view — there is a mountain, let’s go climb it. 🙂

  42. I have always thought that Arsene’s self confidence was at an all time high at the start of the Emirates era and with loss of David Dein there was no one in the organization who had the cojones or the football knowledge to question any of Arsene’s decisions. I think Arsene honestly believed he could build his own superstars but instead of buying players who were on the cusp of greatness he decided he would start building superstars from the ground up. Unfortunately building superstars from the ground up is a completely hit or miss and 99% big the time its a miss and no one has been able to do it consistently at least in this century. Arsene believed he was different and he put so much emotional capital into his ideas that he could not just throw in the cards. Same thing with his vision of winning with attacking football and technical skill and hoping defense would take care of itself. He could not just abandon an idea that he his ego and so much mental energy into which is why he stuck with it for so long.

  43. Wavey:
    Good afternoon,

    The senior players were very poor last night. Whilst Giroud did his usual job of being static whenever we attacked, I actually thought Walcott did put the effort in. Walcott’s issue was that his performance was abject throughout. His decision-making was questionable, his touch was atrocious and his shooting was appalling.

    Apart from that, Wavey, you thought Theo did OK? 😀

  44. QC:
    Bill,

    Actually mate I wasn’t funnily enough, I knew he had thr quality but I was more lets develop him slowly and hand him the shirt when he was around 2-3 years older after featuring in the Cups.I think the problem with Szczesny during that time was our defending was so poor that he would get killed because of the sheer volume of shots we were giving up.

    I agree that our defense in 2010/11 was so shite that almost any GK would have struggled. Howevever, I am quite sure that if we look back in the archives you were probably one of the most vocal supporters of annointing Wojo as our first choice GK in 2010. We had to dump Almunia and Fabianski did not look like the answer. That is why I was so big on Schwarzer who could hold the fort for a couple of seasons while we sent wojo on loan so he could be ready when he did come back in 2-3 years. If we had done that we would have done that our results would have been better and who knows but everything might have been different for Wojo.

  45. HenryB,

    Hello my friend,

    Its not that I am completely turning my nose up to the CL given that I want us to win both the PL and Europa. Thing for me is that we have a legitimate shot at winning one of those competitions, care to gueas which one 😉 .

    For me it comes down to this notion that qualifying is the end all be all of futbol in which I disagree with but when is simply qualifying knowing you have no shot at winning good enough? Fuck it, we are in the Europa League lets go win it and if we do well next year in the CL then so be it but can we compete with Bayern, Juve, Barca and Madrid for thr CL title, not sure and doubt it but whatever.

    Lets climb the mountain, I’m all with you but presently lets win everything we can now.

  46. Arsene was never going to spend big money on a GK when he believed Wojo was his man for the next decade and buying a top GK might kill Wojo. Unfortunately Almunia’s troubles made it imperative that Arsene did something soon. Schwarzer was highly under rated and inexpensive and old enough that no one would care when we moved him out in 3 years. He would have been the perfect place holder to bring the gap and give Wojo a few more years to mature.

  47. C,

    Understanding what makes any fan tick, including you and I, as regards what they want their team to do is pretty much impossible.

    Take last night. Before the Europa game, I think most if not all fans wanted us to win. Much the same view is expressed about the CL games. The reason is that at heart we all want the team to be winners, whatever game they are playing in, but winning a game at the group stage, especially in the CL, is deemed to be paramount — win at all costs — get top spot, and an easier draw in the knock out stages, because we want to get through to the round after that, and so on.

    When we don’t win and don’t get top, and instead we get one of the big beasts, as we have done in the CL over the years, we get a bit antsi and say ‘sod the CL, we aren’t capable of winning it anyway, and I don’t care if we are not in it.’ — similar to what my brother used to say when I beat him at something or other.

    [Still with me?] 😀 The other side of the coin is where we DO win or draw and go top of the group, but play badly doing so — suddenly the important win, or the draw is not important — it is a case of “I cannot bear to watch that crap game!”

    So which is it? Want the team to win the Europa League, or the Champions League, or the Premier League by all means available and, if necessary, bore the pants off everyone doing it — or want the team to be entertaining and get wiped out?

    The stock response is usually “I want both the team winning and to be entertained” which is what we all would want (including me) — but that is totally unrealistic — so colour me in as someone who wants the team to win, and play crap, if necessary, and win a sodding major competition, at last, so I can go brag about it. 😀

  48. The 2010-12 era were arguably our worst defensive teams of the Emirates era. They compare very favorably on the shambolic scale to the William Gallas/Tommy Vermaelen teams. The last thing you want behind a disorganized defense is an inexperienced GK no matter how talented he might be. Our current defensive is inconsistent but definitely improved from those dark days. Nonetheless IMO you still don’t want an inexperienced GK even now because we still have a tendency to lose shape and have mental letdowns.

  49. Why, thank you, Bill, that was an unexpected agreement, it seems my ‘stage left’ views are not quite so peripheral as I tend to think they are!

    With regards to our defence roster, I would have to leave that to the more knowledgeable blogger colleagues on here, but I cannot easily think of any defenders, since the Invincibles, that I fondly remember as ace players, top of the tree, the dogs bolliox.

    I am sure there are sterling defensive candidates out there to whet the palate — but I am stumped coming up with anyone.

    Solution: We need C to put us right, Bill, or to agree with us, of course. What’s the betting? 😀

  50. HenryB,

    I completely agree with you and we are on the same page.

    I’m not saying ‘fuck the CL’ completely because who doesn’t enjoy being top of the mountain, the thing I was saying is that at present we are in the Europa so lets go and win it and worry about CL and all that at a later date, say when we are actually in that competition.

    Ofcourse you like I and most supporters want to win any and everything but at some point no matter if we top thr group or not we will have to face the big beast and that is were our current problem lays, can we beat the big beast? My personal view is we can IF thr players show up but past performances say otherwise.

    I say all that to say, we aren’t in the CL so fuck it, we are in the Europa, Carabou and FA so lets win all 3 and if possible lets go win the PL while we are at it.

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