Tottenham Review: We Got Away With That One

Tottenham Hotspur 1 – 0 Arsenal

The moment summed the afternoon. Alexandre Lacazette found himself clear but scuffed his shot under Lloris and the ball bobbled wide.

And then it got worse. A contract making him the highest-paid player in the club’s history demands Mesut Özil assert himself on matches or when the big moments arrive, he delivers. The German did neither today when his free-kick in the final seconds hit the wall to sum up our afternoon.

But they are incidents in a match. We should be talking about our heaviest north London derby defeat in thirty-odd years. Tottenham had the chances and were it not for Petr Cech rolling back the years, the scoreline wouldn’t have flattered Spurs. As it is, it flattered us; we were lucky to get nil.

Kane’s winner carried a hint of controversy for the Premier League Generation. Kane impeded Koscielny, they claimed. Anyone who watched football when it was a contact sport knows the incident was just good centre-forward play. Even Arsène admitted afterwards, there was nothing in it. Certainly no defending.

It was capped off a mad minute of poor defending. Cech produced the tricks to foil Kane but slipped as he cleared the ball. Tottenham recovered possession, Arsenal played out of defence; Özil lost the ball with poor control off his chest and the resulting cross saw Kane score.

Within ten minutes, Petr Cech justified his inclusion with three saves – two from Kane, and Eriksen’s free-kick – which kept an air of barely deserved respectability on the scoreline.

It took just fifteen second-half minutes to undo the work of the opening forty-five. Not that the first half but it was effective. The object was to go into the interval level and that was achieved.

Weaknesses Exposed

While we kept the scores level, a hard-working opening spell quickly descended into a morass of overhit passes and underhit crosses. The lack of penetration in attack as we became one-dimensional in looking to play on the counter but failing to provide the ammunition for Aubaemyang. As the half wore on, he became an increasingly peripheral figure.

Typical of our performance were Wilshere’s mishit shot and a two-minute spell where Özil declined the opportunity to shoot from the edge of the area and Bellerin subsequently did. The latter’s went over the ball while the former’s pass to Monreal saw the move peter out.

What was apparent to most of us beforehand and is now obvious to all, is the false dawn effect of the signings of Mkhitaryan and Aubameyang. It isn’t their signing, that was good business by the club. However, the notion that they would immediately improve our fortunes was preposterous.

The inherent weaknesses within the XI remain; we don’t have a strong defensive ethos nor a leader on the pitch; Tottenham exposed both of those this afternoon.

After the defeats at Bournemouth and Swansea, I understand the cautious approach to the game but it would be nice if that came off some work in training to shore up the defence. Too often we saw defenders caught out of position or possession sloppily conceded.

A team with genuine aspirations for a top-four finish works hard on those weaknesses and most definitely signs a centre back in a transfer window. Instead, we try to cajole a club into doing a last-minute deal at half the value they want to sell for.

We don’t. We flit between a back three and four, never convincing with either formation nor looking like the players believe either will improve matters.

Down and Out in Paradise

And here we are. The top four is almost out of reach and a Burnley win today sees them just five points behind us. We’re looking over our shoulders as well as into the heavens but producing lacklustre performances. We face Manchester City in a fortnight; we’ll need to be significantly better if we’re not to leave Wembley battered and egos bruised.

I’m not singling one player out for criticism; they all deserve it. Even the substitutes got in on the act with Lacazette’s confidence shattered and Iwobi being…well. They all looked toward the bottom of the barrel of mediocrity, lifted the wood and dug further into the earth below.

Losing to Tottenham is never a good thing but seeing a performance where the team don’t care is something else. The only passion came at the final whistle with Wilshere and Lamela squaring up for handbags at two paces. Where was the fight in the ninety minutes?

It’s not good enough and you would be brave or foolhardy to claim that it was.

’til Tomorrow.

91 thoughts on “Tottenham Review: We Got Away With That One

  1. Hi Yogi,

    C, I wrote my response just as YW appeared from stage left – so in case you thought I was ignoring you – here is the copy / paste. 😀

    C,

    Jack was always at the centre of what we were doing – and had the only decent shot I can remember, and Elneny was his usual quiet sensible self, but in such a poor team performance no one played well — and why AW does some things, or makes certain selections / substitutions is anyone’s guess, as it was obvious that Xhaka is just not the guy !!

  2. Who could gainsay that Yogi?

    My only slight variance is not with the need – the necessity in fact — to sign at least one commanding CB, and a mobile, dangerous CM (like Doucoure the lanky, skilful Watford midfielder) but I am glad we did not get Evans, another cast-off Manure CB who is not worth £3m let alone £20m (fell about holding my sides at that) — if we need a player, why can the powers that be at Arsenal understand it should be a top player, and pay the price for a top player??

    No more bloody discount store cheap, make-do cast offs for any position. Even Man City took leave of their sense and thought about buying Evans, before recovering their wits and going out and buying a top player for whatever it took.

    Just sayin’

  3. Hard to blame Laca considering he was dropped and lacks confidence. If he plays he will get chances to score, don’t forget Kane missed a good chance too.

    Jack played well and Cech kept us in it til the end. I would play a 4 3 3 with Elneny, Jack and Ozil in midfield and Laca central and Micki and Bang bang on the wings. The defence is anyone’s guess, who cares really they are so poor at the moment.

  4. Although the Watford lad looks good it would not make any difference if we played him under a Wenger coached team. Elneny has enough to be as good in that DMF roll but he is not instructed to sit.

  5. Yogi, I didn’t notice Ustinov in the picture, even if I had I wouldn’t have got to the Concordia link. Too good, just too good. 😀

  6. Yup, changing personnel will continue to be the equivalent of shuffling the deck chairs on the Titanic until we actually start to work drilling our defence, and even the entire squad in the art of actually defending. YW is right, we were lucky not to suffer a heavy defeat today. It’s unlikely that Burnley will catch us of course so the reality is that we are the new Everton, hovering around fifth or sixth (more likely) hoping for one of the better sides to crash and burn. That simply isn’t good enough for a side like Arsenal, a side that has infinitely more resources than the one that Bruce Rioch led to a similar league position.

  7. Okay that’s the preliminaries over and done with, now to move onto the big game of the day England and Wales at Twickers. Real men with funny shaped balls. No fancy Dan divers just blood and thunder.

    Time to get the beer and nuts.

  8. Great review Yogi

    Certainly no surprise to see us struggle away from home.

    Today is the perfect example of why it was foolish to give Ozil that sort of mega contract. He is still a talented player and looks great when we play against a forgiving defense like Everton. However, there is not much doubt that in the past 2 years we have seen as many or more games like today as opposed to the last game against Everton. The worlds highest paid creative player needs to be able to do more then have a few good games when the opponent is giving him time and space.

  9. Like it or not the addition of Mkhitaryan means it would be bad judgement to give Jack a big contract. 12 years of Wengerball has proven beyond any reasonable doubt that you can’t overwhelm solid PL defenses by overloading the lineup with pure creativity. Our 2 highest wage players are #10’s and adding another a third high priced #10 when we have plenty of other places that need upgrading does not change who we are and it won’t make us better at breaking down solid defenses.

  10. The England T20 lads were blitzed in both games bt the Aussies, and today’s game was particularly poor. They lost.

    The Arsenal were crap for half the game today. They lost.

    The England 6 Nations Rugby team are taking on Wales shortly – if they blow it — I will name today as Bad Ass Saturday!!

  11. What’s more galling is that they put in a performance like that against Tottenham.

    We’ll probably go back to 3 CBs next week, as Wenger will try to claim it gives us more solidity at the back.

  12. Probably reading too much in to it, but it felt a bit like Wenger was offering up a scapegoat in his post match interview. He didn’t specifically name Lacazette, but he might as well have. He was making it fairly clear that we should have scored in the last 10 minutes and as both those chances came to Lacazette, he seems to blaming him. He thought we missed chances on the counter in the first half, but didn’t make it clear where. I thought it was very clear, the supply lines were poor and the forwards were starved of the ball.
    The midfield area is weaker at Arsenal than at any of the other teams in the top six. We can’t work the ball through midfield effectively and we can’t defend in the middle of the park. In the first half we defended as a unit and the midfield played their part, but when we try to open the game up the players in midfield (no matter who they are) are not strong enough to do the job. So the answer seems to be to defend as a team in every game, sacrificing creativity, and hope we can catch them on the break. A great set up for a team in the top six, but anything else we try is doomed to failure without coaching.

  13. Let’s hope that the alleged ‘deal’ for Wenger to leave at the end of the season and take a year’s money with him has some truth in it. Please… not another season of motivation-less football.

  14. Wavey @ 5:27

    Our midfield has always been weak defensively. It’s not just the midfield but overall team defense has been the biggest single downfall of Wengerball. We load up the team with attacking players who are wonderful technical talents and make lovely passes and we tell them to express themselves but they have never been great at team defense. I understand that part.

    What is harder to understand is how a team with all of that talent and 3 world class midfielders have a tough time moving the ball thru midfield and how can those players watch our forwards being starved of the ball and not do something about it. We look really great in some games but at half the time and perhaps more we play the way we did today.

  15. City just scored and showed us how to attack. They work their tales off to win the ball back in dangerous areas and then they attack at light speed before the defense has a chance to set up. Pep’s team have tons of talent and technical skill but what makes them so successful is the high energy and high tempo

  16. City looking good for another three points that will put them 27pts ahead of us after 27 games. Not my idea of ‘challenging’ Ivan.

  17. We have skillful players but the thing that makes ours so much less effective is because our tempo is so slower. Pep would also never run out a line up that had 4 creative midfield types and only 1 player who is goal scorer. All of his teams have scorers at the 3 forward positions and 2 players in the midfield whose primary job is creating . We go way overboard with the creative players. IMO.

    Probably the most important difference between Arsene’s and Pep’s team is that Pep’s best teams don’t concede many goals. Their reputation is for attacking elegance and effectiveness but people forget they also defend well. If you look at the tables all of Pep’s best teams have been at or very near the top of the table in terms of how many goals they concede.

  18. Bill,

    Part of that would be that there is someone working with them in training to make sure they know what is expected of them. When you leave a group of talented players to their own devices they can look great when things are going well, but haven’t a clue what to do if things don’t go to plan. Pep’s boys play like a team, ours play like a group of individuals and that becomes obvious when something goes wrong. As soon as the goal went in today the defence started to panic. They didn’t know what to do and were suddenly acting like a group of individuals rather than a team. Some decent coaching would ensure they know what their jobs on the pitch are and how to regroup after a set back.

  19. Bill,

    We don’t have three goal scorers any more. I would play Aubameyang and Lacazette in 2 of the 3 forward positions though. From current options I’d probably play Mkhitrayan in the third spot as he can provide service from the wing. That would leave Jack and Ozil in the middle with Elneny (or maybe Maitland-Niles) behind them. Ramsey, Welbeck and Iwobi are subs at best. Not even sure I’d let Xhaka near the pitch.

  20. Wavey

    Ultimately Arsene is the captain of the ship and he is the one who deserves most of the blame. However, our players are experienced internationals who have to recognize what’s happening on the pitch. Arsene is not out there with a giant stop sign telling them to slow down and play at a snails pace and he would not stop them if they did something that worked. Arsene gives these experienced players a lot of responsibility and the players also have to take some of the blame also.

  21. Anyone who watched the Super Bowl knows that American football is a game where the attacking team has the advantage. Even the absolute best defensive team has a tough time stopping Tom Brady. On the other hand European football is a game where the defense has the advantage especially when the defending team has time to set up and organize. In European football the only time the attack has the advantage is when they can get the ball into the attacking area while the defense is disorganized and desperately running back to find someone to mark. That is why playing at tempo makes a team so much more effective. Its much easier to find space and have the time to pick your spot and finish when the defense is scrambling to get back into position.

  22. Wavey.

    I would play Auba and Lacazette also but Lacazette has not been much of a goal threat for the last 3 months which defeats the purpose of using hm. The other problem is do you honestly think that a midfield of Ozil and jack is going to be sturdy defensively? I think one of the big reasons Arsene moved Ozil out of the central midfield and went to 3 at the back was because it took away Ozil’s defensive responsibility and allowed him to roam. When Ozil was part of a midfield 3 and then he wandered off it left the over 2 midfielders at a numerical disadvantage on defense and they struggled to move the ball forward because they were being over run when we had the ball

  23. Bill,

    Of course they are experienced players, but there is only a certain amount players can do on their own initiative. If there is no one giving them a plan of action they just do their own thing. Players also develop partnerships where they implicitly appear to know where the other player is on the pitch. When things are going well the players seem to play off each other instinctively – the game against Everton last week demonstrates that. Everton were poor, but not everyone is sticking 5 past them every week. Its when things don’t work out, either when the opponents put up a wall in defence, or when our defence concede, that it all unravels. That’s when it becomes clear that no one is organising the team. It doesn’t matter how experienced the players are, when there is no organisation the team is likely to implode when things go wrong on the pitch. It seems most obvious when we concede a goal. How often does the whole team get twitchy when we concede? They suddenly lose confidence in what they are doing and in their team mates. If they were actually organised in training they would know what everyone else is doing and what their role is. Sometimes team just completely lose it on the pitch, but when it happens all the time there is a more fundamental problem. Experience can only the get the players so far.

  24. Bill,

    The issue wasn’t necessarily with Ozil not doing his defensive job, it was down to us not having anyone doing a defensive job. When your midfield three is Xhaka/Ramsey/Ozil who is your holding midfielder? It’s certainly not Xhaka. With Elneny having the sitting role in midfield Ozil has the freedom to develop play. Jack also likes to go and get the ball in midfield himself, so is happy to tackle. With a genuine holding midfielder you are able to give the creative talent a bit more license. The concern for me is actually that Wenger seems to expect everyone to be in the opponent’s half. I’d prefer our CBs to not go much further than the half way line in open play, whilst our holding midfielder should have a normal playing area which covers the edge of our box to the edge of the centre circle in their half.

  25. Bill,

    And we would use Lacazette because the other options are Welbeck, or Iwobi. I’d rather give Lacazette the chance to play out of his funk alongside Aubameyang than waste that spot on either of the other two.

  26. Wavey.

    No doubt I would stick with Lacazette rather then Welbeck or Iwobe but he needs to start scoring.

    Pep always plays his 2 purely creative players in central midfield so he can save all 3 forward positions for scorers. We don’t have room on the pitch for Ozil mithitaryan and Wilshere unless one of them plays as a forward. The other problem is Pep’s central midfielders have to work hard and play with high energy when they don’t have the ball and I don’t think a 30 year old Ozil will be able to do that for more then short bursts in a few games. Unfortunately that means Mesut has to be one of our forwards and we don’t have room for 3 goal scoring forwards.

  27. that rugby match. Proper sport. Proper players and proper referees.
    well said consolsbob…..frankly i’d fancy eddie jones to do a better job than arsene with arsenal !
    he knows where it’s mostly at….between the ears…..wenger simply doenst have the ability to get
    the players to play for him, to be organised, to fight….to work…please let this be the last season of
    this absolute mediocrity, but i doubt it

  28. HenryB,

    Jack was at the center but the problem came with him losing possession ot playing a stray pass and it wasn’t just him, it was the whole lot of them. As far as substitutions go, well they have alwaya been headscratching and the fact that Elneny, who was covering for Xhaka and really jack at times and was doing what we need from that position and then he came off and it all kinda went to shit in midfield.

  29. I think we should play 2 central midfielders who are good with the ball but they also strong defenders and then put our best #10 in the most forward central midfield position and start 3 scorers upfront. However we have 3 “world class” creative players and that would mean leaving 2 on the bench. 12 years has proved beyond much doubt that shoehorning as much creativity as possible into your line ups has been a defensive nightmare and playing that way has never made us an effective high scoring attacking team.

  30. Honestly, at this point if Arsene isn’t going to play Elneny then he needs to really just play our best attacking players who funnily enough wouldn’t be square pegs in round holes give Mhkitaryan is a winger similar to Pedro, Sane and even Sterling in that they can score and create and are actually better on the flanks and Lacazette or Aubameyang on the flanks but with an interchangeble front 3.

    Fuck defending and lets just attack, take the Pep theory and copy Pep: attack is the best defense. Lets be hones Citeh aren’t that great defensuvely but teams know that they will attack and attack so teams can’t go and attack…..we should take that approach because we are as likely to put in a defensive performance like we did against Chelsea as we are to put in on like today but we have the attacking talent in Mhkitaryan, Ozil, Lacazette and Aubameyang to terrify defenses and force other teams midfields and wide players to have to track back to help.

    O yea, and Ramsey, Iwobi and Welbeck well lets let them be the squad players they are. Xhaka, I’lll admit, he is worrying because he is aggresive but not mobile enough. Just fucking play Elneny and be done with it.

  31. I think we all would love to see arsenal play like and be as effective as this years man city but we have been trying to do that for 12 years. There are other ways to play. The last 2 PL title winners had very worknan like midfields. The job of their midfield was to stay organized and defend and win the ball and then send it forward as quickly as possible.

  32. Bill,

    Honestly mate, all 3 of the so called #10’s actually fit perfectly. Jack is a CM /box-to-box who might sit and do the passing and linking between defense and attack but he does the defensive work. Mhkitaryan is a winger and has always played and perferred to play there because he will score goals and create them. Ozil is the creative #10 who links all the attack together and chips in with the same amount if gials most #10’s do. Play them with a DM, Aubameyang and Lacazette and you have something special….play them with Xhaka and he doesn’t have the legs.

    You talk about Citeh but them play with Fernandinho, De Bruyne and Silva in midfield and then with Sane who is more Mhkitaryan and Sterling who just started scoring more goals this season and then a CF. The difference is Fernandinho can do the DM job because he has tremendous work rate and a durcell battery for an engine, Elneny can play that role.

  33. I will stand carrying the flag by myself if I have to, but I think Lacazette can and will score goals and be an influential player for us he is just lacking confidence and I don’t care if who you are, when your short of confidence you react and play differently. I mean at the beginning of the season Barca and La Liga were talking about Suarez’s struggles but Valverde and Barca kept the faith and sure Lacazette isn’t Suarez but the lad is a brilliant player who is a brilliant finisher.

  34. C

    “Fuck defending and lets just attack, take the Pep theory and copy Pep: attack is the best defense”

    Which team have you been watching for the last 12 years. We have been using the attack is the best defense theory for the entire Emirates era and it does not work. That is a very large sample size.

    The idea that pep’s teams are weak defensively is utter nonsense. Man city is currently second in the table in defensive effectiveness this season and has been first for most of this season. If you look back at Pep’s teams in this decade they have always been excellent at preventing the other team from scoring.

  35. Bill,

    Honestly mate, the notion of we are an attacking team is bollocks, we say that but we haven’t really been and today showed that.

    Sure Pep’s teams have been good defensively but its partly because they have been so attacking that teams are partly scared to commit players forward and then when they do, his teams punish them on the counter and pressing high up the pitch, its how we should play but don’t. Sure he has always had a dominant CB whether its Pique, Boateng or in this case Otamendi showing his true quality but they attack and defend high, we attack and try to defend deep. Loom at his Barca teams, you would hardly say Xavi and Inestia were quality midfield defenders but they would press and thrn attack and we hold possession but lack the Busquets, Vidal/Xabi who sits and defends and while I know you don’t rate Elneny, he can do that job but doesn’t get the match time and then when he does he gets subbed when others should and we lose thr midfield.

    Look at today, we were solid defensively and then he got subbed off for Iwobi and we lost the midfield defensively and Spuds created at will. Dixon said as much and he is rather spot on with his assessements but it was also clear as day. I’m not saying he is world class but you need consistency and effectiveness as a DM and that is what Elneny brings that literally nobody else in our DM or CM bring.

  36. I think Wenger will only play Elneny when he chooses to go with a back four, if necessary Elneny can fit into a back three should it be deemed right to change the formation during the game. At other times he will always go for Ramsey or Iwobi. For the life of me I can’t think why he chooses either or both of them.

  37. C

    We have been an attack first and attack is the best form of defense team for 12 years and our defense has always been suboptimal and despite all of our attacking intent we have never scored that many goals.

    We had more creative talent on the pitch today then any team in the world and we were never dangerous going forward and the that has been true for well more then 1/2 of our games over the last 2 seasons. In our away games this season against teams not named Everton we are averaging around 1/4 goal per game.

  38. Do we really think that Arsene is telling the players to slow things down and play with the yellow caution flag out? Unless he has completely changed his whole mindset, he is telling them the same thing he always has. Play your game and attack and this is what we are getting.

  39. 15 minutes before kick off on the pitch the spuds had a team circ;le hug in and a word with each other, I looked over at our front four on the half way line and they were showing each other fucking dance moves. Desire won that game

  40. Bill,

    I don’t think so, watch the players and how they play away from Arsenal: Ozil leads a dynamic German side, Mhkitaryan is an attacker who runs and gets at the defense, Bellerin for Spain runs up and down the flanks, Sead was a dyanmic and rated the best LB in Germany last season, Lacazette was a player who ran and had brilliant movement and was clinical both domestically and in Europe, Theo has shown he prefers to run and make runs, etc……outside of say Ramsey and Giroud when he was here, play a more dynamic game

  41. C

    We have talked about this many times in the past. International performances often don’t translate to club performances and vice versa. Its a lot easier for Ozil and Sead to look good playing for a German side that dominates the majority of its opponents the way we kicked around Everton. Same with Bellerin and Spain. Lacazette is a victim of our slow paced attack. Its hard to finish when you are trying to find time and space in a crowded penalty box.

    I have complained about Arsene more then anyone for as long as I have been on the blog but its a mistake to suggest that Arsene as an all pervasive excuse for the players underperforming and giving the players a free pass. Most of the players you mentioned are highly experienced and very well paid internationals and they shouldn’t need a manager to tell them to pick up the tempo. I am 100% certain that Arsene is telling them to take off the handbrake and play faster but Arsene can’t kick the ball during the game and the players need to take some responsibility for what happens.

  42. C,

    Totally right. Being a possession-based team without a solid high-press is absolutely nuts. They are two sides of the same coin. Possession allows you to march most of your team deep into your opponent’s half, with the ball. That means that, when you lose the ball, your players are in a position to jump forward and smother attacks. If a possession-based team doesn’t do that it loses the main tactical advantage it has built up (and exposes itself to the counter-attack). But Wenger just doesn’t care. It’s unbelievable. It’s also one of the reasons why getting rid of Coquelin was a big mistake. He was, at least, a one-man pressing machine.

  43. The Players change but the manger is the same…..

    It’s not about just the players, it’s about what you make of them. Our away record is almost criminal, we only won 3, draw 4 out of 14. This is 21 points lost plus 8 lost from draws and yet still no solution from Mr. Wenger.

    How is it that a big Manger like Wenger can’t find a solution to stop these losses away from home?

    Do not expect any revivals, we are finishing 6th if we are serious, if not, it could be 7th.

    Maybe we will not play CL or Europa league next season…..I don’t know what the FREAK is going on, but it’s sure as hell…..Not Funny.

  44. I only saw the second half and we were murdered – One thing that strikes me over and over again about this team (apart from the comedy defending, lack of plan or leadership) is how physically lightweight we are.
    Spurs seemed both to be physically stronger than us and fitter than us – We seem to have very little physical presence, but also our physical conditioning seems to have down hill

  45. thebigM,

    I have been saying that for many a year, but you are correct — yesterday our players were powder puffs pushed off the ball whenever it mattered, and Dembele easily knocked Elneny off the ball, then Jack, and other Spuds players like Sanchez and Dier, and not to mention Kane simply dribbled thru the defence as if they did not exist.

    The era of diddy men seems to have been with us since the break up of the Invincibles, and our defence is made up of guys of approximately 5′ 11″ and less who could never challenge tall athletic guys like Kane in the air. We rely on them missing the target — that’s not a professional way to set up a team.

    At least Auba is over 6′.

  46. Bill,

    I’m not talking about international performances per say, I’m just talking about the same players in different environments. Sead DOESN’T play for Germany because he’s not German; I was talking about his performances for Schalke last season who were bang average but he was still rated as the best LB in Germany and he came to us and early on was dynamic and bombed forward and defended superbly and yet that all went away. Bellerin was always looking to get forward and evem when he struggled last season he was still looking to get beyond but his crossing waa hit or miss. Lacazette was a dynamic player and Ozil has always played with pace but it all seems to be coached out of them and you always talk about logic, well the players have changed bit the manager hasn’t so is it thr players or the manager?

    I mean take a look at players who have left: RvP, Cesc, Nasri, Gibbs, Clichy, Sagna, etc….all left and all played more dynamic consistently then when they were here. So sure Arsene might tell them to go out and play but they have to play his possession based style.

  47. Hi C,

    This may be slightly left field, and I genuinely do not want to offend anyone, but in general everyone accepts that as they get older they change, bot physically and mentally.

    Physically people are not able to do what they had done when they were younger. The brain also slows down and sadly that awful disease dementia is on the increase.

    So what has that to do with the price of eggs? Well not that I am suggesting that Arsene is at all unusual in that respect, but more and more I question what is happening to certain players after they join Arsenal, and I think that might be happening because of ????????

    Take Chambers — after he joined us Wenger often said how pleased he was with his abilities at CB. Then suddenly he switched him to left back and expressed dissatisfaction with him, and shipped him out on loan – and last summer there were rumours that Chambers was a gonner not a Gooner.

    Similarly, Rob Holding quickly showed he was a young player with potential, and Wenger was pleased with him —– suddenly Holding had a couple of games when he – along with the rest of the defence did not play too well — and out went Holding — now he is following the path of Chambers and looks likely to go out on loan – and then ?????

    Last summer we were exasperated with the lengthy chase to arrange the transfer of Lacazette, and we had high hope s for him. Then he was started from the subs bench – then when he started a game he was subbed time after time. He has now, understandably lost his confidence, and the drums are sounding that he will be sold next summer.

    Elneny was on his way out last summer until the deal fell thru – now Elneny can be pretty good when he gets into the team — but he always gets subbed off regardless of how well he plays.

    Then just to balance this – Wenger keeps playing Iwobi even when he really needs to be rested – why?

    Before he left Arsenal, Theo was often played by Wenger – but hardly played a game – or had to come off the bench for a few minutes near the end of a game. Suddenly he was sold.

    OK that’s enough — my point is that this does sound a bit irrational – and frankly the way it has gone for Lacaz is beyond understanding both financially and for the team appearances.
    Was he bought over Wenger’s head? Did he not want him? Is it reasonable to spend £52m on a player and then treat him so badly?

    It looked like all the buying/swapping of players this January was conducted by other Arsenal staff, with Wenger not directly in the loop. Does this mean a similar fate awaits Miki and Auba, if AW did not really want them?

    Is this whole business symptomatic of someone who should have retired some time ago? – is age a factor? – is there a problem at the club as to who is in charge? Is there no one at the club who can see this is possibly a serious issue?

    Hopefully I am talking bollix — but there is something odd about what has been going on.

  48. Dukey:
    C

    Ozil has never been the problem.

    Dukey

    No one said that he is “the problem”. However he has not been “the answer” for at least 2 years now and being the answer is supposed to be his role. The worlds highest paid purely creative player needs to be a consistent difference maker and not someone who looks great when we play well be struggles to have any impact in so many games. Like it or not he has to be judged differently then the rest of the players and the best we can say about him in more then 1/2 of our games is that he is “not the problem”. That is not adequate.

  49. Dukey

    When we play well Ozil gets credit for being the maestro who runs the show and makes everyone around him better but when we play poorly its someone else’s fault. If Mesut can really make us so much better against some teams then why doesn’t it happen more often? We complain about the AKB’s giving Arsene credit for everything good that happens but always make excuses for him when things go wrong and yet we try to do the same thing. We can’t have it both way. If a player gets credit for being highly influential and driving us forward when we play well then he should get the blame when he is not influential when we play poorly. No?

  50. Bill,

    Have you never considered the concept of teamwork?

    Messi could play in that team and have limited success. C was trying to point out to you it is teams that win or lose, not an individual.

    You seem to believe that Özil should creatively pass to himself and take on the opportunity defence and score a goal — or when he is not doing that, he should be back in midfield holding off attacks and making break aways to pass to himself (as above) and ……, of course he should also be minding the defence and stopping the likes of Kane and Aguerro from scoring, and of course he should also be a great goalkeeper, just in case — and if he fails at any of that — he is rubbish.

    You are effectively saying that Özil has, by himself, to take on and beat the opposition team of 11, to gain any credit from you. Are you serious!! Surely not.

  51. HenryB,

    Morning mate,

    As much as I want it all to be bollix, your spot on. I mean not just with the players named but look at Sead who was rated the best LB is Germany playing in both a 3 and 4 man backline last season but Arsene says he is struggling with learning a 4 man backline.

    I honestly believe that he should have retired and yes I will cheer him on because he is still Arsenal manager but not blindly.

    I mean take a look at say the Mhkitaryan situation and maybe its still early days but Arsene banged on how he saw him as somebody who plays all over midfield and can be akin to Santi yet in NLD when we were on the backfoot instead of moving he or Ozil centrally, he subned Mhkitaryan off brought on Iwobi and off wenT Elneny and we were poorer for it.

    I do think with Arsene that if your not ‘one of his’ you often get treated lile shit. I mean the fact that players like Iwobi, Welbeck, Xhaka, Ramsey constantly get thrown out and forced into the side then you look at players like Chambers, Holding, Sead, Elneny and now Lacazette and wonder why they can’t is baffling.

    I mean even Chambers who Arsene himself said looked a future DM, why not play him there similar to Dier or Matic or thr pleathora of other CB’s turned DM’s.

    You talk about not being in charge, I do think that Arsene might have wanted Lacazette but on his terms and then when we got Aubameyang he simply seemed to disregard Lacazette but why not play him back into confidence on the flanks with Ozil, Mhkitaryan and Aubameyang.

  52. Bill,

    This tells the story of the best and worst teams.

    Man City: Played 27 — For 79 — against 20 — points 72
    Great forward line — great defence — great team

    Arsenal: Played 27 — For 51 — against 36 — points 45
    Not enough goals — poor defence — mid table team

    Wet Brom: Played 26 — for 21 —against 37 — points 20
    Relegation team ? — few goals scored — goals against poor like Arsenal’s. Mesut does not play for them.

    these are teams not individuals — — you need to stop looking at the micro and consider the macro — (not that I think you will) !! 😀

  53. Whats even more frustrating is that the ‘defensive’ Mourinho has found a way to get combinations of atleast 5 of Rashford, Martial, Sanchez, Lukuka, Lindegardand Pogba into the same team yet the ‘attacking’ Arsene can’t figure out how to get Mhkitaryan, Ozil, Aubameyang and Lacazette on the pitch together…..

  54. C,

    We are in agreement about the baffling selection process, and we discussed bolstering the midfield with bigger players such as Chambers, Holding and Bielik against certain teams from time to time.

    Now we have Miki to go along with Mesut this becomes even more possible.

    A more secure defence will enable the attack to do their job with a secure base, rather than trying to help out the shifting sands of defence we have now. And it will surprise the opposition teams too giving us an advantage.

    It will not happen with AW but a new manager might very well see this as a solution to our appallingly weak-kneed defence that lets in as many goals as relegation doomed teams like West Brom.

  55. HenryB,

    Completely agree!

    The fact that we can literally attack with 4 and defend with 6 and a GK is remarkable and you would think that an attacking manager would do that espwcially one who has been rather vocal this season about the failings of the team.

    Maybe another manager will do this and we will be better for it, until then, we wait.

  56. Hi, it’s mehstg, your friendly Spurs supporter offering words of comfort to soothe brows and rub lemon juice into the wound.

    In the past, I’ve said that I felt that post-NLD’s, Cech was the player who kept you in the game and that AW was not far off a decent game. After yesterday, fair to say that the former is still true and the latter…well.

    Let’s deal with your positives first.

    Wilshere. Still gets it after all these years, probably the only one that does. We don’t like him, never will, but he was Ozil’s mentor yesterday – if Ozil is on 000,000’s per week, what should he be on? You could do worse than make him captain.

    Cech – Stopped it being a humiliation.

    Elneny – There’s a smart player in there being coached badly.

    The dark stuff:

    Subbing Mikiwossname. Eh? Why do that?

    Lacazette – goal scorers are salesmen. You either make the sale or you don’t, the midfield and defence are the shop-floor. They eat on the back of the defenders literally meet their sales targets. He’s not a salesman’s arsehole. Don’t believe in confidence when it comes to strikers – it’s all about the greed and the glory. Lacazette looks like he’s not hungry.

    Ozil – last seen on a milk carton.

    Tactics – anyone who watched us this season knows that if you put width up the right to have a pop at Ben Davies and go up against the useless Sanchez on the left, you have a chance. I’m sorry, but does AW have a Betamax that has a broken motor and he can’t find a replacement on EBay? You lot moan (rightly) about Xhaka, but it could be worse – you could have Sanchez. Wenger learnt nothing, everything was too narrow, made it easy for Spurs to crowd out and cut out.

    HT – what happened? A team that was very much in it at HT got utterly motored over in the 2nd half. The goal was a just atypical of the 2nd stanza – lots of time on the ball to cross onto the head of the carnivore that is Kane. After that…it took Aubeyagang (whatever) to move to the left after 75 minutes to realise that Sanchez was / is a dud.

    I don’t know what to make of you lot, but it’s probably going to take a severely bad annual financial report along with a profits warning from KPMG to dynamite Wenger out. Or so it seems.
    Anyway, nothing personal, but long may it continue.

  57. The derby was either going to favour a Wenger-out theme or confuse any predictions like the first one at Emirates did – killing any thoughts of a power shift; the former was the case here.

    In the end it’s just one game, though the defence has been nothing short of pathetic in some of their performances, another game provides an opportunity for a better day.

    I imagined early last season when the team went 21 games undefeated with Mustafi in it. So, the defence can definitely be better, they only need to figure out what’s wrong as a matter of urgency before it becomes a real crisis.

    Wenger persevered through the years of building the stadium and low-budget spendings, now the money is here and I think he should enjoy it on the playing side as well by buying and managing ‘big name players’.

    The team needs to go on a run to end the season well – winning the Europa should be the priority, League cup for me will be a bonus while finishing top four will be more than satisfying.

    Let’s support the team – the bashing theme helps no one – even Chelsea and Man U must be wondering what’s up.

  58. Bill,

    As I said, we don’t have 3 goal scoring forwards. I would suggest that Mkhitaryan be the third forward (with Aubameyang and Lacazette), as he can also play as a winger. With Ozil taking up one of the forward spots we lose width, as he prefers to play inside. If he takes one of the creative roles in midfield we should be better balanced.

  59. C:
    Bill,

    Honestly mate, all 3 of the so called #10’s actually fit perfectly. Jack is a CM /box-to-box who might sit and do the passing and linking between defense and attack but he does the defensive work.Mhkitaryan is a winger and has always played and perferred to play there because he will score goals and create them.Ozil is the creative #10 who links all the attack together and chips in with the same amount if gials most #10’s do.Play them with a DM, Aubameyang and Lacazette and you have something special….play them with Xhaka and he doesn’t have the legs.

    You talk about Citeh but them play with Fernandinho, De Bruyne and Silva in midfield and then with Sane who is more Mhkitaryan and Sterling who just started scoring more goals this season and then a CF.The difference is Fernandinho can do the DM job because he has tremendous work rate and a durcell battery for an engine, Elneny can play that role.

    That’s what I’ve been trying to say. Thought it was just me.

  60. Bill:
    Do we really think that Arsene is telling the players to slow things down and play with the yellow caution flag out? Unless he has completely changed his whole mindset, he is telling them the same thing he always has. Play your game and attack and this is what we are getting.

    And that’s the problem. Play your game and attack, but no direction on how to do it. We may have some talented and experienced players, but that only gets you so far. That doesn’t mean they know how to play as a team. Without actual coaching they are just a group of talented individuals and that becomes clear when something goes wrong in a match. Everyone panics, because no one knows what they are meant to be doing collectively.

  61. C,

    Cheers C. And that video yesterday was a useful watch, as it flagged what has been said on here for some time. Clearly the midfield players do not know what they are meant to be doing and take it on themselves to do things that they think make sense. If Mkhitaryan isn’t doing his job by helping Monreal why isn’t anyone bawling him out? If Xhaka is constantly moving out of position why isn’t that being addressed at London Colney? I forgot, Wenger doesn’t like to pick on a player’s faults in training in case it affects their confidence. Isn’t it going to affect their confidence more if they keep losing?

  62. Oludotun,

    It’s not about bashing the team, it’s about the genuine concern that no one is addressing the mistakes that are made time after time. I’m happy to get behind the team when they are on the pitch, but that doesn’t stop Xhaka from being out of position half the time.

  63. Individually our defenders are the equal of any in the Premiership. Therefore it must be teamwork, or lack thereof which is the problem.

    It could also be the mindset of the players. When we lose possession we immediately go into defensive mode. That is we drop off and fall back into our defensive zones, thus giving the opposition time and space to build an attack.

    When watching Guardiola’s City, and before them his Barcelona sides it is apparent that when they lose possession the don’t look to defend, but continue to attack in order to regain the lost possession. They do this by swarming around the player on the ball and around those looking to receive it. The higher up the pitch they are the better, as the swarming allows the actual defenders to regain their position and shape.

    The other more basic problem is our lack of tackling ability. Even when we do press, it is more by occupying space rather than trying physically to retrieve the ball.

    When Xhaka first arrived he was more than willing to try a tackle, unfortunately he wasn’t very good at it and, consequently, received more than his fair share of cautions and dismissals. I would guess that he is under instructions not to tackle in any circumstances.

    I think what it all comes down to is coaching….or lack of it.

  64. Elneny would make a good neighbour, But no, he isn’t good enough. Neither is xkaka. We Could do with a midfield injury crisis and maybe be forced to fill it with defenders.

  65. Wavey,

    Yup, its funny how perception and reality are so different in supporters eyes. Ozil, often called lazy and pitch forks come out because people think he isn’t doing the defensive work but the reality is that he is and our midfield players specifically Xhaka and even Jack aren’t. Mhkitaryan not tracking back was something I didn’t think I would see but there he it is clear as day. Shame Arsene won’t fix it but will call out players in the press.

  66. I agree with Orson. I think our defensive players with the exception of Xhaka are good enough. Defense is about mindset, team work, organization and commitment. Individual defensive players no matter how good can make up for a lack of proper team defensive ethos. I think if we had the better defensive ethos we could have an adequate defensive team. I am 100% on board with blaming Arsene for our defensive problems. Nothing I have seen in the 10 years that I have been following the blog and nothing has changed my mind about that.

  67. Where I don’t agree is blaming Arsene for individual players form and performances and I think the players have to take at least some responsibility for Jekyll and Hyde performances on the attacking end. Arsene does not seem to care about the defense and its always been an afterthought. However, he definitely cares about how we attack and I am 100% certain he is as frustrated as we are when we look unstoppable and dynamic against Crystal Palace and Everton but for some reason the players slam on the hand brake and everything we do slows to a crawl against Spurs, Swansea, Bournemouth, West Ham etc etc etc etc

  68. I’m with you there JG, c’mon you lot. You know Yogi won’t get out of bed until he sees his previous post hit 💯 comments.

  69. https://wp.me/p3nJ9V-6XV

    Morning.

    The last photo was An Inspector Calls, with everyone contributing to the death of the victim. Arsenal’s demise isn’t just down to Arsene. The players and everyone else connected to the playing side plays their part in our downfall.

    And don’t blame the fans. It’s bollocks to blame us when the manager isn’t up to the job anymore. Oooh, turn up, support the club; be positive otherwise the negative vibes influence the players. That’s bullshit. Complete and utter bullshit.

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