Southampton Preview: Forward Thinking & From The Vaults: 1980

svsA morning to be joyful if you own shares in any over-the-counter painkiller manufacturers. A bumper time of year for business.

Arsène is doing his bit for your dividend as well, reaching for the paracetamol to solve his selection headache for the visit to Southampton. Not because he is spoiled for choice by any stretch of the imagination but this was always the trickier of the two festive away fixtures. Southampton are a better team than West Ham and improving, as their league position shows.

For once, it isn’t defence that is the major issue. Olivier Giroud’s suspension continues to wreak havoc with the front line. Yaya Sanogo is injured – hardly surprising news in itself – as is Lukas Podolski, which means Wenger is left hoping Welbeck’s thigh injury is sufficiently repairable for him to be picked.

If not, Alexis leads the line and that hasn’t been a resounding success previously. Maybe Southampton’s footballing pedigree rather than a physical approach offers the sense that it might work this time around. Is it any more of a risky decision that putting Akpom into the starting line-up?

Podolski is the subject of a ridiculed bid from Internazionale. An unusual negotiating technique from Arsène to proclaim the Italians as paupers in attempt to drag what the club considers an acceptable bid for a player who can at best be described as bit-part.

The only player it would be less surprising to see leave the club this winter is Joel Campbell who is fast becoming the forgotten man of the club. I’d forgotten about him until now and might he be the solution to Arsène’s problem today? I doubt it; Wenger made it quite clear previously that he doesn’t see the Costa Rican as a centre forward.

Yes, Welbeck will be passed fit for today and then be given a ten day rest until the visit of Stoke City to The Emirates.

Were this problem surfacing next month, another hat may be thrown into the ring with Theo Walcott physically fit according to Arsène. Mentally? That’s a different issue. Wenger spoke of the first challenge and getting past that contact is the biggest hurdle the England international faces. It’s similar to Eduardo in some respects.

The Croat was injured in a challenge far more sinister than Walcott but it is only natural with the types of injury and length of recovery period, that they should wonder how their bones and joints will fare under the physical aspect of the game. The psychological impact can be far harder to overcome than anything else.

Walcott’s return may be as a substitute today having sat on the bench in the two previous fixtures, unused as the manager pondered his defensive options. I don’t see much change in that respect today, perhaps chasing a goal might induce some adventure in his substitutions although it is far more preferable to have him think about defending a lead.

Whenever he chooses to bring back Walcott is a risk. Arsène noted the groin strain he suffered with England could have happened anywhere but definitely laid the blame firmly at the door of the national association’s management of his training routines. The inference was quite clearly that they did not monitor the player or rein him in. Fair or not, a useful exercise proved a costly lesson.

Returning to his former club makes today about as friendly a reception for Walcott as he could get outside of The Emirates. He won’t start though, that is most likely in Sunday’s cup-tie with Hull City. Indeed, of the former Southampton contingent, I would only expect Oxlade-Chamberlain to start. Chambers most likely, will be on the bench as Arsène seeks to manage Laurent Koscielny back to fitness.

The only other change, to stop the destabilising effect as Arsène put it, will be Tomas Rosicky’s return in place of Coquelin. It’s the least surprising change given the Czech’s performance during the win over QPR and offers another attacking prospect. We might need that in a match Arsenal can ill-afford to lose.

That shows Southampton’s progress and the positive impact of their point against Chelsea. Wenger praised Koeman for his work on the South Coast, for building on the work of his predecessor and capitalising on the mediocrity offered by the big clubs this season. The test will be whether he can maintain The Saints in a European place and secure himself a place in the list of potential replacements for Arsène.

I expect the starting line-up – subject to Welbeck’s fitness being proven –  to be:

A point is the minimum requirement for this afternoon. Taking three points is no easy task as others have found out although both Mancunian teams have won at St Mary’s this season. Both previous meetings with Southampton have ended with tight scorelines; I wouldn’t expect anything different today.

Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it.

From The Vaults

Today’s trip down Memory Lane is from 1980, a New Year’s Day trip to The Dell.

Despite only losing two of their previous fifteen, Arsenal started the day in fourth place on goals scored, 27 to third placed Southampton’s 36. Both sides had 26 points, although had three points for a win been in place, Arsenal would have trailed their hosts by three points due to ten – yes, ten – of their twenty-three games being drawn.

Come the season’s end, there was some familiarity with Arsenal finishing fourth. However, that wasn’t good enough to get into Europe the following season which puts some perspective on that position now. The consistency is not to be knocked but in previous years, it just wasn’t good enough.

’til Tomorrow.

20 Southampton 01011980

259 thoughts on “Southampton Preview: Forward Thinking & From The Vaults: 1980

  1. Wavey says:

    Any team that picks its moments to turn up is doomed to failure. Giving away three points to a good team away from home is one thing, but making them look good when they really didn’t have to try is another. At some point the gamble goes wrong and that extra effort in Feb/March makes no difference because we lose by a fluky goal or a dodgy ref call. Is that the point at which Wenger starts to whinge about luck or dodgy calls when the reality is that his players can’t be arsed to play club earlier in the season?
    If the manager has that little impact on his players that they mentally can’t be bothered to switch on until the latter stages of the season something should have changed ages ago. Just because it has worked for us in the past, doesn’t mean we will continue to get away with it every season. If just one of the chasing pack gets its act together, or if Southampton keeps it going we aren’t getting fourth spot.

  2. Bill says:

    The pattern of our play over the last 8 years is undeniable. We can lose to anyone when we are not switched on and we don’t really feel the urgency to switch on if we don’t feel 4th place is at risk.

  3. Wavey says:

    Spuds beating Chelsea 3-1 at half time. That’ll be one of that chasing pack I was talking about.

  4. consolsbob says:

    That’s correct Bill.

    Not good enough and not bloody acceptable.

  5. SV says:

    If Arsene had been able to fix the defence, he would have done it by now.

  6. jjgsol says:

    I am not saying that the injuries are an excuse, but simply part of the reason.

    So what will we tell those people who have been blaming iour indifferent start to the season on the fact that AW did not get a replacement 3rd CB, when our first 2, so it appears could not prevent this defeat.

    Perhaps WS telling the world how much an improved goallie he was went to his head, so he then gave away 2 goals today.

    When I last looked, a football team had 11 players in it, not just 5.

    Looking at this team, I am sure that i am not alone in thinking that it did not have much chance of winning.

    Once again, we were beaten by a better team on the day.

    Not the end of the world.

  7. SV says:

    On the postive side, Steve Bold has a seriously freightening look on the bench which makes him ready to become a manager.

  8. SV says:

    I would suggest to leave Ches with Steve Bold in a locked room for 2 hours for a talk. If this one does not help, get rid.

  9. Paulie Walnuts says:

    Bob,

    They don’t seem to care very much as they know they’ll all be playing next week.

    That fourth place finish might not be so assured this season.

    Especially with a team with such a ‘generous attitude’.

    Arsene’s gag writer should take a day off. His excuses just take the piss out of the fans.

  10. Wavey says:

    There it is that “oh well, we were beaten by a better team” cop out. Total nonsense and just another excuse from the apologists who believe the bloke in charge shits golden eggs. We made them look good today, they didn’t really look likely they were to trying that hard. If they had the scoreline could have been a lot worse. Is that what we measure ourselves against now? Such a lack of ambition if Southampton is the challenge and we aren’t that bothered if we aren’t up to it.
    By the way, the Spuds are 4-1 up against Chelsea. It seems that they don’t know their place, how dare they believe they can beat Chelsea. Who do they think they are? Looks like they’ve got a lot more balls than us at the moment.

  11. JD Gooner says:

    I’ve said it before on this site that I hope we don’t get 4th this year and that’ll force AW to walk. Any team that “chooses” when to turn up and when not is purely a managers problem, he clearly doesn’t have the control over the team he claims to have.

  12. Wavey says:

    The last time Spurs lost it was against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on 3rd Dec when they lost 3-0.
    Chelsea just made it 4-2 and there’s half an hour to go.

  13. Wavey says:

    And just a reminder, the reason we were short of options up front today was down to the clown who got himself a three match ban for headbutting an opponent. The thigh strain Welbeck picked up would not have been a major issue if Giroud hadn’t been such a prize arsehole. So if injury wasn’t an issue at the back today and it wasn’t an issue up top where exactly was it a problem? In midfield we could have gone with Rosicky alongside LeCoq rather than Chambers, but instead of that we went completely experimental.

  14. andy1886 says:

    We laughed at LVG and United – how did that go again? Then we laughed at the Spuds – and Mauricio Pochettino, not looking so funny now. That’s the same Pochettino who it seems CAN beat Maureen, with something like half the wage bill Wenger has to work with. But of course, it’s all down to injuries and bent refs isn’t it?

  15. Wavey says:

    Andy

    Reminds me of that joke, “they laughed at me when I said I wanted to be a comedian. Well they’re not laughing now.”

  16. consolsbob says:

    5-2 now.

    Bloody rubbish, Spurs.

    Wait until we get a go at Chelsea.

    Oh.

  17. andy1886 says:

    F*ck me, 5-2 now. Is Maureen going to be on the end of a good old Wengering away from home?

  18. consolsbob says:

    Always liked that joke. That’s two good jokes on here today.

    Not counting our performance, of course.

  19. spy says:

    Looks like Spuds have the bragging rights for now ha

  20. Moe says:

    Notice how we make every team look world class?

    I’ll give you a clue, it’s not a coincidence.

    Every game we play is “really tough game against a great team”.

    Then the team we struggled against plays their next game and plays shit.

  21. andy1886 says:

    I see a supporter confronted Wenger in front of the dugout today, looks like bit by the empire is crumbling around him. Could be an interesting year…

  22. Jerry says:

    It was a Saints supporter who has been arrested,I shouldn’t get to worked up about it…!!

  23. Ras says:

    Happy New to you YW et all fellow ACLF acolytes. Just back in the World of sanity and I see we lost. I see defensive issues have reappeared once more.

    It’s a new year and the same inconsistencies continue to manifest unabated. Its obvious the players are not in the slight least paying any attention to the Managers instructions. If they were such an insipid performance could not have come about.

    Just like the Great Wall of China, Berlin Wall, Hardrians wall a 400 mile hick North of the Emirates. AW’s wall is slowly but surely starting to crumble.

    Bob n YW you’ll both be familiar with one of those many old UK folk / nursery rhymes..? Mirror mirror on the wall whose the fairest of them all?…. Its not our AW any more.

  24. andy1886 says:

    Not according to the BBC Jerry:

    “Southampton say the man is an Arsenal fan who was sat with home supporters.”

  25. andy1886 says:

    BBC reporting that: “Lukas Podolski: Arsenal consider improved Inter Milan offer”

    With a quote from AW:

    Gunners boss Arsene Wenger said: “The first proposal was farcical; after they came back a bit more serious.

    “We will see what happens. Inevitable? Not in the transfer market. It’s very difficult to say, but we’ll see.”

    Doesn’t sound to me that he’s desperate to keep him.

  26. Alex Ice Cream says:

    I was going to watch the game but I was tired after last night and went to sleep instead. I thought we would lose so I was not surprised at the result – far from it.

    There are only 2 words that anyone who cares about Arsenal need to know.

    Wenger Out!

  27. consolsbob says:

    Then there are always fairy tales, Ras.

    An emperor who had no clothes comes to mind.

  28. santori says:

    Here comes the WOB again.

    Poor performance and a pity since we had a chance to close the gap.

    Baffling decision to play Coquelin and Chambers in midfield but given circumstance to Flamini being inexplicably injured now, we are a bit thin in central midfield.

    Would have preferred Rosicky next to Coquelin to add experience and distribution. This was not the occasion to blood young Chambers in a new position. Simply perplexing decision.

    Would have also preferred to play Walcott opposite Alexis. Thought Alexis up top as the sole CF is limiting both for us and the Chilean. Our formation may have necessitated a diamond of sorts in midfield :

    …………………Alexis……………….Walcott………………………..
    ……………………………….Santi……………………………………..
    ………………Rosicky……………………..Ox……………………….
    ………………………………..Coq…………………………………….
    ……………………………Back 4…………………………………….

    I think Flamini’s absence is felt.

    Granted the mistakes were errors at the back (largely Szsc) and could have been cut out, Flamini’s presence would have add a bit of assurance.

    Also recent criticism of Metersecker should bear witness to the fact that Koscielny is himself not without fault. We are still in grave danger if we lose Per to any length of time and Cback is still a priority.

    To complicate things though, if Arteta’s return is not imminent, we also have to consider our depth in midfield.

    Likely best case solution is someone who can cover both positions. I prefer a Cback first and foremost who can cover at DM given more assets available in midfield when fit.

    The player coming in should be quality enough to rotate through Meterscielny, thereby needs attributes of both (some pace and some height 6’3 and over preferable). Also should be age 23-25 with sufficient big game experience under belt (See Calum)

    Hummels is more a single role player at the back and may cost us more (given other potential suitors)plus cup tied. But he is the finished article and one who can replace Per over next season or two.

    Carvalho is more a DM which makes sense if we are to see prolong Flamini absence but will entail conversion to Cback which carries a bit of risk (albeit Wenger has experience converting DMs to Cback to good effect in past). That said, he is 6’1 where a bit more height could be useful.

    Van Djik at Celtic seems to have the height 6’4 and sufficient pace through the middle to play as a DM if need be (ala Fellaini at Everton) but should also be able to add the attributes we need to rotate through Meterscielny. He cost 2m+ to Celtic so maybe 12m is not a bad price to part with. Crucially is also not cup tied.

    We need someone in soon. It is turn of the year and our stuttering performance is still evident. At current rate, we are in it to secure the minimum finish or as high as possible. We must not take that for granted.

    There is of course also Cl and FA cup to consider where anything can happen if we pass through the next stage or two. Plenty to play for.

    but first a bit of stability at the back necessary. Disappointing from the back 4 today and Szsc. Forget Wenger out. Ospina in IMO.;)

  29. santori says:

    I think there is no surprise with Podolski leaving.

    Writing is on the wall for some time.

    To be honest, it is best for both parties since

    a) He is 29 and near end of contract.
    b) We have plenty of options ahead of him and coming back
    c) He gets to play where he is being wasted on the bench at the moment.

    Likely sale.

    But we must use money plus some to add this Jan.

    Cback first and foremost. If this player can hold as DM too preferable. Otherwise Arteta situation needs bear watching.

    Also not the worse thing if we add another AM. I think Campbell will get a chance with the Podolski slot (Good luck to him considering Poldy hardly started) BUt we also have to consider Rosicky who despite good performance recently isn’t getting younger.

    Possibility Wenger may bring someone who can operate in the link role ala Ramsey and Jack in their absence. Maybe someone young for the future (21-23yrs). It may also hedge against an Alexis injury. Tell you what though I would not half mind someone like Marek Hamsik.

  30. dismayed dukey says:

    Oh, happy new year to all.

  31. santori says:

    Spurs did us service by culling back Chelsea but we could not take advantage of it. They are now above us. We will have to pull ourselves back up…again. Frustrating to say the least.

    But third should still be the target for the moment. United still in sights. We need to refocus and maybe a good defeat in scheme of things to get Wenger to start spending and fill the obvious gaps in the squad. Had we won, he may have been lulled back into complacency of status quo..;)

  32. santori says:

    Now I’m sounding like WOB LOL.:D

    Happy New Year!

  33. Moe says:

    There’s just no point in even taking notice anymore.

  34. andy1886 says:

    “Now I’m sounding like WOB ”

    You’re getting there Santori, just follow the path of those logic breadcrumbs and you’ll find your way home 😉

  35. Colts says:

    Yh was just about to point that out sant lol.

    And that’s the whole point isn’t it. Why and how its come to this given that at the end of last season all the stars aligned, money?, new deals, star players, a cup, continuity etc…the type of position saints fans were green eyed at whilst having to witness the shambles, they thought, happening at home.

    Jans gonna be a cracking episode. Cant bloody wait to see how this unfolds. The potential for a very good season is still there surely. Wont make the pl but two finals are still for the taking.

  36. SV says:

    Wenger had better look for the magic signing that will save him.

    Otherwise he’ll try himself in the Europa League.

  37. Ras says:

    Yes Bob the Emperors New Clothes is another that comes to mind. Just watched the AW interview on the official website. A broken Man if ever I saw one. Its is just a matter of time……..

  38. buckagh says:

    Santori@8:28
    “Spurs did us a favour by pulling Chelsea back ” everyone is entitled to an opinion but yours have no evidence to back them up

  39. Wavey says:

    If we were anywhere near Chelsea in the table a Spurs win would be great news for our title chances. We aren’t even close to challenging for the title, so a Spurs does us no favours at all. They are now ahead of us in the table, how can that be good?

  40. Pistol Fish says:

    Well! I’m supporting Man City for the rest of the season. I can’t stand Chelsea and watching this Arsenal side is more depressing than a Tom Waits album. I don’t like Man City but I’ll
    Sooner see them lift it than Chelsea.
    What the fuck has happened at our club?

  41. Damon says:

    Ho ho ho! What japes!

    Beaten by mediocrity and hammered by anyone decent. Nearly got hammered by mediocrity yesterday.

    I would’ve started Akpom yesterday. Sanogo got his first start away to Munich (or was it Dortmunc?) so no reason Southampton wasn’t an option. I don’t know about individuals fitness in midfield but would’ve thought our experiment of Chambers/Le Coq might have better suited Sunday’s game?

    Bob – you called me out in the comments yesterday. I hadn’t commented. I hope you didn’t think that was me fronting up AW in the dug out!?!

    Santori – sorry old bean but saying Spurs did us a favour shows your level of delusion with fact. Chelsea have been over the hill and far away for some time now

    Pochetino has got Spuds playing well. I thought he’d do it earlier this season but I was wrong. Kane is his final piece to the puzzle. Spuds will finish higher than us this season. Personally think that our most likely way to qualify for CL next year is to win it. I haven’t looked but imagine the bookies have us as quite far from favourites for that feat?

  42. The Arse in The Gamb says:

    I can’t wait for Ozil and Jack to return. They are just the kind of wide players we need at the moment who don’t get caught up on the wing and will guarantee even more possession and all the glory that a down the middle approach brings. Their continual work rate and tireless defending too will assist our full backs, whilst it enables.us to get rid.of.players.like Podolski who only know how.to run down the wing and shoot.
    On a positive note, Fabregas had a mediocre game.

  43. consolsbob says:

    No chance, Damon,

    No overcoat. Couldn’t have been you.

  44. Wavey says:

    That was my comment yesterday about being beaten by a team that had to do nothing better than be professional.

  45. Damon says:

    Quite right Bob. Not at this time of year anyway. Whilst adding a dash of dashing, it also provides practically when sitting outside for a couple of hours for our beloved game. A tried and tested staple for me

  46. Damon says:

    Arse in the Gamb

    I don’t think Mesut or Jack are wide players? The reason they don’t get tied up in the wing is that they drift central and tie up the area around the D of our opponents

    Cesc might have been quiet, but his assist was sublime. Haven’t seen a pass like that from our lot for months

  47. Damon says:

    In other news….

    Those planned and thought out transfers that Ivan and the wonderful Dick Laws were beavering away at securing through November and December have been announced with great fanfare now the new year window is open….

    Oh….. Hang on a minute… Arsenes getting the trolley patched up by the medical team for the end of the month again

    I know I’ll be accused of being cynical but part of me reckons the Chambers to DM project has started its four week campaign to be trotted out as excuse number one on Feb first. No other reason and certainly not a footballing one behind it

  48. The Arse in The Gamb says:

    Damon 8.18

    I agree with everything that you say except your obsession with CL football. I know YW writes that it is just a bench mark for persistent mediocrity and failure, but post doping fines we have to accept that 4th is the new 1st and that means we can’t actually win the CL so the best way to get a trophy is to finish 4th at the group stage too and take over Spursday night football which is a bit more within our new found league.
    I am sure Ozil and Wilshere will agree and I look forward to them helping with that, or whoever AW decides to bring in as cover in central midfield while they are out. Oh and replacement for Podolski, because as we all know; why buy a can opener when a Swiss Army knife will do that and much, much more.

  49. Damon says:

    EH?

    Sorry. Don’t get it?

    60k all seater, some of the highest ticket prices in football, ticket price hikes, a wage bill bigger than Chelsea’s and we have to accept we can’t go higher than 4th? Is that what you mean?

  50. Damon says:

    I personally do t want to see Podolski replaced. He does t get used so use his 100k a week on something useful

    What do you mean about can openers and Swiss army knives. I missed that “and we all know” memo, sorry

  51. The Arse in The Gamb says:

    Damon

    I apologise I was being ironic….no sarcastic. We play them wide because we have 9 CMs in our squad and when everyone is fit those 2 are not good enough to play centrally.
    They are actually completely surplus to requirements at Arsenal, are never fit, can’t play for toffee on the wing and nobody wants.to admit it. I would sell them both for a single Ribbery, Ronaldo, Bale, Robben Navas etc who score goals bomb past defenders and are hardly ever injured.
    It would allow us to get our money on the pitch and be a much better team.

  52. Damon says:

    Ah ha!

    Squad imbalance, too much mediocrity and not enough stardust

    Seems we’re beating the same drum, just with different sticks 🙂

    I’m getting to that place with Jack. I’d swap him for Cesc in a heart beat. Mesut I’m not sure about. Part of me would like to see him in a midfield three with Rambo and a proper CDM where he doesn’t have to defend for a period of time. Put theo, Sanchez and Welbeck/Giroud around and you might be onto something

    That then means that Santi is surplus though… Who said something about imbalance?

  53. The Arse in The Gamb says:

    I would personally sell Arteta, Flamini, Wilshere and Ozil and pay off Diaby. This would bring in about 70 million and release 5 spots in the squad. I would then buy a top class winger like Robben. Backing him up are Podolski and Welbeck.
    I would then buy a DM and backing him up would be Chambers. We then have 3 Spare positions, so we get Jenks back and buy a new CD.
    We still have Cazorla, Ramsey, Rosicky and the Ox for two positions in the middle with the Ox seconding also for the right wing until Theo returns.
    We have a workshop of Swiss Army knives. They are lovely items to have and can do lots of differnt jobs. The problem is nobody who is a serious professional uses them for anything; they are expensive, don’t do the job as well as something that was made for the job and are always breaking.
    We have a warehouse full of broken Swiss Army knives and won’t buy a bloody proper screwdriver or bottle opener because our boss is obsessed with them. Even though they make us less fit for purpose and less able.

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