Aston Villa Preview & From The Vaults: 1952 – The Dying Art Of Sporting Behaviour

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Morning all, blizzards and ice safely negotiated on the return to dear old Blighty; it’s safe to say that unlike last week, sitting outside a bar at 11pm in a polo shirt will now only happen if there it is covered by a jumper, coat and accompanied by gloves and suitable head attire. So, Stan, got a spare syrup?

It’s always a bit disorientating writing the first blog once jet lag has been unceremoniously dumped from the system, almost like a tribute act has taken over. Which by coincidence ties in with this morning’s playlist, Joe Strummer’s Eyes, The Clash through the ears of other bands. You can find it here or in the right sidebar on Dad’s Jukebox. Its’ older siblings are on the page of the same name.

So to today’s game, which is after all the reason we are here. It’s as you were in the Premier League; no surprises in yesterday’s results with the teams above and around us achieving the expected results. Only Southampton remain to take the field and I expect their home encounter to go with form. Arsenal need to do the same; only three points will do against a struggling Aston Villa side.

Despite the Premier League’s best intentions by appointing Antony Taylor to officiate, it will be major shock if there is a repeat of last season’s match. Villa are struggling in front of goal and have only scored in the FA Cup since the weekend before Christmas. It’s a long run and one that Arsenal seem well-placed to continue.

The win at Brighton was a useful match for Arsène. Walcott and Özil made scoring returns to the side and they are the two who I think will retain their places, the latter due more to Alexis’ hamstring twang than anything else. It’s the moment Wenger must have thought may never happen; injuries are not irrelevant but are no longer dictating his choices. It’s down to form, pure and simple.

Some players, and Alexis is a prime example, will drop out of the side occasionally and return straightaway when fit, but others – and I think this applies to pretty much the rest of the squad – are dependent upon others losing form. It might be a long wait and something which those who have been around the club for a long time will be unfamiliar with.

For the likes of Gibbs and Szczesny, it’s not about how well they played when given the opportunity but whether Monreal or Ospina have done anything to warrant losing their places in the side. The answer, in my view, is no, they haven’t.

Indeed, I would suggest that Monreal has made a case for being considered the first-choice left back whilst Ospina can point to consecutive clean sheets as his positive contribution to the side. Wojciech has time to sit on the bench to contemplate his misdemeanours, accompanied by a port and mild cigar, the aroma of which might be more palatable for the manager.

Further forward, we are on the cusp of a tantalising spell. Put Alexis into the equation and we certainly have the creativity to provide the chances and with Giroud and Walcott accompanying the Chilean – the emphasis remains on Sanchez as the star turn – the finishing ability to turn chances into goals.

I expect the line-up will be:

 

With upcoming fixtures across two competitions, Arsenal need the forwards to deliver. Arsène spoke last week of the opportunities and of the fight for the top four places. Southampton continue to defy expectations and remain in the Champions League spots; everyone sits and waits for the fall but it has yet to arrive. Perhaps that is the wrong place to be looking for the team to fall away.

Manchester United have, to me, the trickiest run-in of the challengers – it’s daft to think anyone other than Chelsea or City will finish in the top two – for the remaining Champions League places but it requires Arsenal to take maximum points or as many as possible and hope that total is more than those around them.

The first half has put them on the back foot but a run of one Premier League defeat in seven – four consecutive wins in all competitions – has shifted the momentum. Making it five in a row ahead of the North London Derby next weekend is crucial.

And Arsenal’s biggest enemy is complacency; if the players could leave that to us, everyone will probably be well-satisfied. Three points Gentlemen, as ever, remains this afternoon’s mantra.

From The Vaults

A far from routine win for an off-key Arsenal in their January 1952 win over today’s opponents, most notable for a consideration that has long disappeared from the professional game. Arsenal went into the match on the back of a 1 – 4 reverse at Roker Park which had cost them top spot. Villa meanwhile had lost just one of the last nine; a shame from their point of view that five had been drawn, dropped points explaining their mid-table position at kick-0ff.

I’m not sure how his manager reacted to Stan Lynn’s admission that he put his opponents welfare first but I should imagine that were Villa’s right back to repeat those actions today, he would at best, be on the wrong end of a rocket.

And the opprobrium of today’s massed ranks of pundits with few picking up on his ethos without a condescending smirk and joke about how he won’t be doing that again.

’til Tomorrow.

AV520 AV521 AV522

179 thoughts on “Aston Villa Preview & From The Vaults: 1952 – The Dying Art Of Sporting Behaviour

  1. Phil says:

    Caps a pretty good 24 hours of sport.
    Aussies win the Asia Cup.
    Touched up England in the one day.
    Djokovic wins a compelling Aussie Open.
    Arsenal spank Villa with pace.

  2. G4E says:

    Moe, I think Bellerin is the future. Debuchy is a stop gap, so Jenks can still be there next year. I believe Bellerin will need to a long rest at some point next season, he’s only 19 or so.

  3. earflow says:

    With due respect to Flamini’s mum, who is the backup for Coquelin?

  4. Phil says:

    Not sure if the commentator was right or not, but he said Alexis has a hamstring tear, not a strain.

  5. C says:

    @Big Al

    I was think Ozil, but what about dropping Ramsey and with Santi’s work rate and wanting to play deep anyways, then having Ozil in the #10 and the a front 3 of Theo/Giroud/Sanchez.

    O well, pl3nty of time for that, going to enjoying the win and brilliant way we played and Ozil and Santi seemingly playing together with Santi playing and spraying from a bit deeper and Ozil flaoting around showing his quality.

  6. JonJon says:

    key word is discipline..
    le coq and ospina have totally changed the way the team play
    thats about it..

  7. Jerry says:

    Mmn an excellent performance…it was always going to happen once we got players back and we still have Welbeck,Sanchez,Wilshire, Debuchy etc to return? The ” Wenger out” brigade seem to have gone awfully quiet….meanwhile in Germany Dortmund managed by the genius Klopp are,er,still bottom of the league! COYG.

  8. consolsbob says:

    Stoke was a tough intro suction for the lad but he could have played earlier. Chambers is no right back, well, he doesn’t look to be.

  9. consolsbob says:

    WTF!

    Why would Apple think that when I typed ‘introduction’ that I meant ‘intro suction’?

  10. Phil says:

    Yep,
    Ospina hasn’t put a foot wrong, controlling the box.
    Great save at the death when the concentration might have dropped as the final whistle was imminent.

  11. Birdkamp says:

    C, it’s an idea, but Ramsey is good for winning the ball and getting up and down – I think has the best engine of any player bar Alexis, which is especially important away from home.

    I think that’s more of a formation for home matches when we can afford to lose a bit of graft in the middle. We’ll probably see it if Ramsey needs a rest.

  12. C says:

    I think its also unfair to criticize him for Stoke as the whole of the defense was, wellm shit and thats being nice.

  13. earflow says:

    I wonder what the rotation policy will be now that all the attacking players are nearing fitness?

    Anyone have any ideas?

  14. consolsbob says:

    I think you’ll find,Jerry, that we all said that we wanted Arsene to succeed and that it’s a competitive side that we want.

    As it happens though a couple of losses or a reversion to our earlier form would soon see the knives being sharpened. Many of us have made up our minds one way or the other and I don’t think a run like we are having has erased the memories of the flaws in the squad and in the managers approach.

    I agree about Ospina, JJ. A man between the sticks at last.

  15. JonJon says:

    nobody knows what chambers is yet..hes had good games wherever hes been used but hes a project and hes played too many games..he had a couple of bad ones and his confidence took a knock and he never recovered…he should have been pulled at that point but kept getting used for obvious reasons not his fault and its back to square one..
    he’ll come good he just needs time..and now hes 4th choice CB, 3rd choice RB and 4th choice DM he’ll have the room to develop properly..
    couple of years and we can start looking at life without debuchy, bfg, arteta in the team and and by then we’ll have more than just an idea of what callum can do and who he replaces..

  16. C says:

    @Big Al

    It was another option I was thinking and you may well be right. I do think though with Sanchez, Santi and Ozil starting to really work we could play that formation. I think its an interesting prospect given how we want to play away from home honestly.

  17. Mean Lean says:

    Considering how inconsistent we were early on this season, it’s crazy to think that we are only 6 points off City. Does anyone think we’d be closer to Chelsea if we hadn’t lost almost a player a game early in the season through injury.

  18. JonJon says:

    id urge the same caution with bellerin as well..
    young players have the advantage of hunger and fire and desire to show what they can do..careers start off with a bang but on the flip side confidence is easily knocked through injuries or one bad game and they start to look out of their depth..

    we need to bubble wrap these boys…bring them through slowly and they will be the future..

  19. Phil says:

    Giroud is also playing with more discipline. Not going to ground as much.
    Lovely ball for Ozil.

  20. Mean Lean says:

    Szczesny
    Debuchy Gabriel Chambers Gibbs
    Arteta Diaby Wilshere
    Alexis Welbeck Oxlade-Chamberlain

    All not involved today. I’d say we have pretty decent depth. No? (as Bill would say)

  21. Phil says:

    JJ,
    Agree re Bellerin, but with Debuchy out for a while, he is going to first choice. Probably play Chambers in the FA cup though

  22. JonJon says:

    if we’d have sign the players we needed in summer we’d probably be top of the table now…

    CB and midfielder was all we needed…

    they didnt come until january when we were fighting for 4th..

    very dissapointing yet very predictable from wenger…

  23. consolsbob says:

    I agree with that, ML. Although your midfield looks a little underpowered, and , in the likely continued absence of Diaby, a man short!

  24. JonJon says:

    plenty if depth up front.
    yet firepower was never the problem
    id stil argue we need another dm because flaminis shite but im glad le coq is establishing himself..
    always liked that boy, always rated him..

  25. JonJon says:

    and it looks like hes been eating 200 wursts a day while in germany..
    bulked up nicely..
    strength check
    pace check
    aggression check

    hes just saved the club 25mil but i wont hold my breath or get my hopes up he’ll be here next year..

    wenger being proved wrong? he’d rather let him leave….i hope not…we’ll see..

  26. viceologist says:

    I always liked Coquelin as well. The one game that made me take notice was when we got spanked 8-2 by the Mancs. Coquelin was the one and only bright spot that game.

    I hope he can continue to grow in that role. It makes for a great story and a solid midfield with Ramsey alongside him.

  27. Yogi's Warrior says:

    ML

    No, I don’t think we would challenge. If you look at the performances, some of the worst inconsistency came with a strong team.

    look at where the improvement has come. Arteta & Flamini injured and a more disciplined defensive midfielder comes in. Unintentionally as well since Coquelin was pretty much out of the door in most people’s books.

    Equally, Koscielny’s injury exposed the weakness in the back four with the failure of the summer underlining the need for a quartet of experienced defenders. Then the likes of Chambers can learn the game at a slower pace.

    Let’s see where we are at the end of this month before we get carried away. It is, after all, just a month since we were dismal at Southampton.

  28. C says:

    I do think the talent is there and the issue is that some of the players are being proven to not be able to stay fit.

    Both FB’s continue to impress, if I was Sczny I would be really nervous if Ospina keeps coming up with saves when needed. I do think Le Coq is a good DM but. Top notch DM makes all the diffrrence, ask Chavs, Barca, Bayern, Shitty and other top clubs throughout history.

    Our attack is looking more and more delicious and the return of Welbeck will only help.

  29. JonJon says:

    i do rate chezzer..but i find him too confident..
    eccentric is more a better word and i dont think eccentric keepers fit the mould..i call it the barthez effect..
    quality keepers but too mentality unstable and a defence can read that and have a knock on effect..

    i prefer the seaman kind of keeper..
    confident but quiet..dont take no shit but focussed on the job in hand..

    aint there for selfies or whatever….they not there to be the centre of attention they are there to keep clean sheets and i see that in ospina…

    chez is now number two…

  30. JonJon says:

    give le coq 150 games and he’ll be chased by everyone..
    hes going to be top class..
    id love us to sign a scheiderlain to play with him as a two

    of course it would be harsh on rambo and jack but its about discipline…
    its about the shape of the team…let the attackers attack…not everyone needs to get forward and score…
    we’ve seen it so many times they all get in eachothers way and we make shit sides look good defensively and it makes us look schoolboy in our third becuase theres nobody back..
    we shoot ourselves in the bollox at both ends..

    the blue prints there now..well its always been there but now we are seeing it…build from the back defend from the front, get the basics cock on and your quality players will win you the game..

    lets continue to see it for the next 5 months..

  31. Mean Lean says:

    Yogi,

    Personally I don’t think we gelled very well at at early in the season. And it was harder to do so as we had to keep chopping and changing. In my opinion we failed offensively more than defensively early in the season. We could not get our game together so every goal conceded cost us. We’ve seen the same players for the most part gelling much better last season. If we were playing as we are now I think we would have won many of our early games (Spurs at home for example) with Monreal at centre back and Arteta in midfield. In fact just before Arteta got injured he was playing very well and was a vital cog in our team.

    I’d love to have a look at the stats because my eyes tell me that since Manchester United at home we have played much much better as a team going forward and that has been the biggest change. City away was really the only game this season where we have relied so much on our defence to win a game.

    Oh and Bob, fair point on Diaby. You could replace him with Gnabry and rejig or something. Either way I think we are stronger than many think.

  32. Mean Lean says:

    JonJon,

    Ramsey is very capable of being a very good screening player, just depends on his mindset I reckon. A few years ago when he sat with Arteta he was very important defensively for us.

  33. JonJon says:

    thats before he scored 20 goals and thought he was a goalscorer
    his games changed hes not got the mindset anymore he thinks hes a 10 and thats where id play him…
    but not ahead of sanchez who does score goals and who does get back..

  34. Birdkamp says:

    I think PM finding form has been the biggest boost to the defence. Monreal is not a specialist CB by a long shot, but I can’t remember watching him and thinking he was the weak link in our back line up to November. Mertesacker by his own admission was struggling – was this to be anticipated? I don’t know. But at any rate we should have signed a CB in the summer.

    To me the problem was a combination of injuries, lack of personnel and WC hangover that exacerbated a serious lack of cohesion in the team.

    Oddly our worst performance was one of our wins – Sunderland away only Alexis and Monreal looked like they knew what they were doing.

    Whenever Flamini doesn’t play DM we look like a better team. It wasn’t always the case last season, but there’s been a slump that started about a year ago and continued into this season. At the start of the season I think AW was probably hoping for one more year from Arteta and Flamini as backup, but when that didn’t happen we got to see Flamini at his worst and AW finally lost patience.

  35. Birdkamp says:

    Ramsey’s been less of a Hollywood player for a while now. At the start of the season I thought his attitude was another of the big problems with the team, but he had toned it down a few games before the injury.

  36. Birdkamp says:

    ML, yes for me ManU at home was the game we clicked going forward. When that happens it’s a sign that the defence is improving. Maybe there’s a kind of unconscious sense of safety that feeds from one part of the team to the other. I dunno.

    Forgot too – Giroud is now at 7 in 8!

    Course, he’s no BalotellI!

    (Going to keep using that one btw!)

  37. Wavey says:

    On my way home, didn’t we do well today? Awful first half saved by a good goal, but the second half was fantastic. At 2-0 we seemed to want to play end to end football, but they were always snuffed out or broke down outside the area.
    Some shaky performances out there at first, but they all settled into their tasks well. Rambo still looks a bit rusty and Walcott was tentative in the first half, but something has to be going right if you win 5-0.
    3 in a row in the league for the first time this season and all clean sheets, not bad at all. Time to give the Spuds a shoeing.

  38. Birdkamp says:

    Oh, and Podolski has flopped big time in Inter so far. He’s been subbed off at 60 minutes in the last two games (where have we seen that before?) and is being slaughtered in the Italian press. Mancini even made the mistake of playing him upfront by himself today.

    Hopefully Cologne will take him back because there’s no way Inter are going to buy him.

  39. Wavey says:

    Strength in depth including Diaby, lol. I agree he counts in terms of numbers, but he will never be fit let alone play again for Arsenal.

  40. JonJon says:

    the important thing in all this before we start comparing players is that essentially we have the depth up front now to challenge..

    we need more defensive players..

    its about balnce, if good players have to drop they have to drop..
    bergkamps the best player ive seen in a red and white shirt but i wouldnt play with 6 of him

    he needed vieira he needed petit he needed gilberto he needed parlour…

    weve got flamini and le coq..ffs
    id say to challenge properly and consistently we need a few more..

    and for me they would start..ahead of rambo ahead of jack ahead of whoever it takes to get the balance right..

    weve not had it all season…forget injuries we didnt have it to begin with…and now we suddenly do and we stumbled across it…which makes me not hold my breath and think everythings falled into place just yet.. because as soon as all his favorites are back we could well be the inconsistent team we were last month..

    depends..

  41. MesutsLeftFoot says:

    Could only watch second half today and still somehow managed to miss Ozil and Theo’s goals getting made to make cups of tea. I’ve been saying for months we need a romping victory and 4/5 goals and today we got it, unlike Arsenal we saw the handbrake removed after 50minutes but stayed defensively sharp and on the counter to great effect. I think we’re meeting spurs at a good time, but they’re also in a little bit of form, got to keep nacho and Bellerin, one think we’ve got down the right is a tremendous amount of pace and Spurs tend to hit us on counters

    Bellerin and ozil were great again today, i didn’t think any of the players played badly and Le coq was quiet but solid, need’s to keep that up

  42. MesutsLeftFoot says:

    Great that the one game featuring our current player of the season and we still score 5….I hope they carry this forward and thrash spurs at WHL

  43. Yogi's Warrior says:

    Dunno ML. We were winning games but performances weren’t convincing. And you’ve had Stoke, Anfield & Southampton to temper pre-Christmas. If you genuinely want a base for when improved performances began, it’s Hull City in the FA Cup. Since then, they’ve been consistently good.

  44. Wavey says:

    Always cracks me up when someone uses a performance to argue their case that everyone else is wrong about Wenger. I’d be happy if AW had us battling until the rest of the season, but that doesn’t mean I’m suddenly wanting him to stay for another 5 years. Really glad today that someone gave the players a slap round the face at half time, as we were guilty of dropping to the opponents level (again) in the first half.

  45. dukey says:

    Fukin el JJ is back, just in time for transfer deadline day tomorrow with Natalie what’s her name.

    this is on Ospina’s ipod on repeat….

  46. Mean Lean says:

    “Always cracks me up when someone uses a performance to argue their case that everyone else is wrong about Wenger”

    Who did that Wavey?

  47. Mean Lean says:

    AFCPressWatch™ ‏@AFCPressWatch 2h2 hours ago

    Arsenal on-loan forward Podolski started for Inter but the 29-year-old was subbed off in the 56th minute by Roberto Mancini. #SerieA #AFC

  48. Birdkamp says:

    I know I’ve indulged in a bit of premature points scoring, ML.

    But Wavey, I thought we were good enough in the first half. We got the goal and settled back, picking them apart when they came onto us. Cazorla hit the post, we forced Guzan into a couple of saves and we had a goal ruled out that could have gone either way. It wasn’t a great performance at any point, but in a 10-minute period either side of half time we maybe let them get closer to our goal than we’d have wanted, but every time they upped their game we responded.

    In the early-noughties this would have been a typical AFC game. Doing enough to win, and not a lot more (despite clearly having the capacity to do a lot more).

  49. Birdkamp says:

    ML, I watched him last week to see if he’d changed, but it was the same old LP. Truth is with Icardi and Shaqiri they’ve got players just like him – one-trick ponies who need a team supporting them. It’s the worst possible set up for him. It’s a bit like Fulham when they had Berbatov and Taarabt.

  50. Columbus Arsenal (MA) says:

    I like it when we can all enjoy a fine performance. We should all be delighted, I hope the up swing in results continue and I would of course love it if we stuffed the Spuds by a similar score line. It was interesting to note that today was the first assist for Giroud this season in the EPL. 7 goals and 1 assist in 8 starts and 4 sub appearances. His finishing appears to be on the up and we can seldom question his work rate for the team.

    This loaning of Podolski, Sanogo and Campbell starts to make more sense when you realize that Akpom is obviously being considered more able to help the squad. His two cameo’s have been pleasing to watch, a goal today would have been perfect, but it wasn’t today despite some intelligent runs. As a fan of some of the youth I am of course delighted for Bellerin, his goal capping off a wonder display for the most part. His one glaring error received appropriate censure from Mertesacker.

    If I am honest I would have liked to have seen Gabriel come on for a brief period at the end as opposed to Flamini. I am not questioning Arsene’s decision, rather acknowledging as a fan it would have been nice to see the lad in an atmosphere where the game was already won.

    Ospina has been impressive without having to do to much, that said his concentration was important in those dying seconds when Westwood could have scored. His stop of Weimann wasn’t to shabby either.

    Wonderful day, oh, and Southampton lost.

  51. Columbus Arsenal (MA) says:

    @C

    I know you are a fan of Welbeck, surprisingly I have come to admire his play as well. That said, I don’t see how he gets in to the starting XI unless we are rotating. Giroud has cemented the central role and with Theo and Sanchez probably as out best two outside forwards it leaves him competing with Ox. Injury can of course change all of that. Still, great problems to have in the grand scheme of things.

    Not sure whether you have been keeping an eye on the u18’s, up they have been struggling terribly. Whilst many of the lads eligible are being instead asked to front up for the U21’s instead it seems some real work needs to be done at the 1st year scholar level. Hammer 5-0 by Wolves recently we used only a single 2nd year scholar which to my mind is quite remarkable. A lot of work still be to done at academy level.

  52. Bill says:

    Great performance from the whole squad today. Fantastic to see us take advantage of a reeling opponent. We are certainly in a top spot mentally at this point. I have been a critic of Giroud for a long time mainly because of his inconsistent finishing but full credit to him for coming back from injury and scoring goals. This run is similar to the one he had at the start of last season. If only he had been able to do something like this in the last half of last season we might have had a chance to raise the PL trophy. Scoring from the CF is a big plus for any team. Great to see Walcott and Ozil score and Cazorla has really come on strong.

    Great to see our defense keep another clean sheet. I don’t think our defensive rebirth is due to individual players as much as it is related to the whole team recognizing that it was time that we had to switch on.

  53. C says:

    @CA

    The thing with Welbeck isnt that I see him necessarily this year, but next year (Giroud turns 30 I think) and goimg forward. Naturally form and injury could see Welbeck back in the side but rotation as well, it will be interesting.

    Yea i have been following the youth and the U18’s is a bit of a worry and it will be entertaining to see how they get on building it back up. I guess seeing us chasing top youth is making more and more sense with the U21’s getting knocked out recently. I do think what has really hurt the U18s is the fact players like Toral, Olsson and that lot went out on loan and then Gnabry got hurt and Akpom and Bellerin have joined the senior side so the players that would naturally be playing in the U18’s have now been called upon for the U21’s.

  54. Bill says:

    This sort of run of form was inevitable and has been part of every season for the last decade. Last season it was the first 12 -13 games after the loss to Villa. The 2 years before that it was the last 1/3 of the season when we were able to ignore the injuries and tired legs to put together the unbeaten run that was needed to save our CL spot. Right now, our movement, passing, finishing, our defensive concentration and solidarity are all at their apex. If BFG, Ramsey, Ozil, Wilshere, Cazorla, Ox Welbeck etc had been able to play like this from game 1 instead of waiting to game 15 then we would probably still be in contention. Hopefully we can avoid the temptation to take our foot off the gas once we have cemented a top 4 finish. These 10 -12 game runs of great form are awesome and hopefully we can continue to do this every season. However, the real challenge is going to be figuring out how to avoid the 12 – 15 game runs of poor form that have been just as much a part of every season as these good runs.

  55. Limestonegunner says:

    I agree with Bird. If Ozil plays like this, drop Walcott to the bench. His pace isn’t the unique weapon for us, since Sanchez has real pace as well.

    In fact, Bob is correct to have raised the issue, IMO. A knee injury and out for a year is no joke. In fact he was out for several months before the knee injury and jad just one bakc and started a good run of form, so he really hasn’t played much football got 20 months, basically. Let him keep developing his fitness. Two goals is great but he is a great weapon to have on the bench and we should set up a bit more solidly for a big derby away match.

  56. Limestonegunner says:

    Yogi backs up my point position exactly against Bird’s claim that we had just one blip since MU at home in his comment above to MeanLean. It really dates from Hull. The defense has been better with Ospina in, Coquelin shielding. And the attack has been better since Giroud returned from injury.

  57. Limestonegunner says:

    Perfect preparation for the Derby. Must go on and grab a win.

  58. Birdkamp says:

    Yo LSG, I didn’t say we had just one blip after ManU. I’m saying there was a marked difference in performance post from ManU onwards, generally speaking, which has been borne out by results, points per game and (subjectively) what I’ve seen in matches.

    I think I pointed to the SFC game as a tight one against a form team when we were let down by one player, I said Flamini was at the heart of the LFC performance (which in retrospect seems to have been the last straw in AW’s eyes). Even Stoke is an exceptional match because it’s one where the home team plays it like a derby. It doesn’t excuse the result, because we were dreadful until it was too late that day.

    As I said at the time; it’s a trend. There will always be anomalies.

  59. Birdkamp says:

    There’s also a correlation between recovering players and the team’s consistency, but personally speaking (since this is proving to be a subjective thing) I noticed a cohesion arrive in November that hadn’t been there before. It’s not like I’m pulling this out of my backside; I said so at the time. I’m not revising my opinion as I go along or anything. Well not in this case at least.

    If you don’t agree that’s fine.

  60. Birdkamp says:

    Tired, but trying to think of a way of putting this…

    In my eyes ManU was a sudden step up, while since then there’s been a steady curve as we’ve gained assuredness and brought key players back into the fold. So it’s natural that I should point to that game or its aftermath as a marker.

    But I do agree on Theo. It’s normal that he’ll need time. And I’d be a hypocrite to slate Podolski and say that goals along aren’t enough and then praise Walcott, who also hasn’t offered much of an all-round contribution since his return.

    Unlike LP, Walcott plays on the shoulder, which on its own offers a tactical advantage for the team. And of course he has extreme pace. Next week, given his schedule and skill-set I think he’ll be ideal as a second half substitute.

  61. SV says:

    Chris Christie was at the today’s game. Quite funny, this one.

    http://townhall.com/news/politics-elections/2015/02/01/christie-begins-trip-to-london-with-soccer-not-politics-n1951351

    Obviosly, as a knowledgeble football (sorry, soccer) fan, he judged the quality of the game by the amount of the goals and was satisfied.

    He promissed to “reimberse the team for the provided places”. What would we ask for from him? Any idea?

    How about a feeder team somewhere in New Jersey?

  62. dukey says:

    I agree Al, even the Swansea game I was impressed with the first half, a sign of us playing as a solid unit, until we got the goal, then we fell apart and completely lost control. truth is we have been building for this, it has taken a bit longer to come due to injuries. yes you could say we should have got this Paulista dude in the summer and I agree wenger gambled on the defence, but we were ripped with injuries early on. we have too many good players for it not to come together.

    I have always maintained if we play our first team we will piss over every one. the problem for us these last few years has always been our inability to deal with injuries to our first team players, when we have them we are the best team in the division. and when we lose them in always coincides with our bad runs.

  63. dukey says:

    Disagree about Theo though Al, he is one of our made men.

    last year when he was playing we were beating everyone and were top.

  64. consolsbob says:

    No duke, we can’t piss on everyone with out best team, not consistently.

    Maybe we will get there. Not at the moment though.

  65. Phil says:

    A big win by Swansea was good for us.
    Would still like Southampton to finish top 4, just as long as its, 4th, just behind us!

  66. dukey says:

    bloody el bob, I knew you’d disagree with me! what am I , a Grockle?!

    anyway we did last year.

  67. dukey says:

    I know one thing we can agree on bob, its bloody tiring watching English batsmen getting rattled and skittled by the excellent and down right bloody irritatingly ruthless mongrel Mitchell Johnson!. (although its absolutely riveting watching him bowl).

  68. Two Owls says:

    All that I can say at the moment is that it will be Tom Brady and the Patriots. Tom is the very best with an under or over inflated ball.

  69. dukey says:

    interesting Liverpool are the form team. us 2nd spuds 4th, chavs and shitty wobbling in 7th and 8th.. its a harder league now for sure, so if we get 4th infront of all these improved teams does that mean we have also improved?

  70. Yogi's Warrior says:

    Al

    With all due respect, it’s stretching the point to breaking point to suggest we really stepped up performance levels post-United.

    Results got better but the reality is that we were still relatively poor. The exceptions were Newcastle and West Ham. Parts of games were good but not enough to win matches.

    Take Liverpool for example, we submitted possession for half the game and were punished in the end. Stoke, we were abysmal for the first half. We weren’t good against QPR and dismal once more at St Mary’s.

    The crucial difference was that we got results; we won ugly but at Southampton, it all came apart again.

    This has the hallmarks of the spell following the defeat at Spurs a couple of years back, a match which effectively ended Vermaelen’s career and saw Szczesny dumped out of the side. Only Fabianski’s injury against Norwich got him back into the XI.

    It was against a supine Hull that the confidence showed, reinforced by the win at Eastlands and momentum is now being gained. For the first time this season, confident play, good performances have combined and results have come.

    We were winning ugly, now the results of that are being seen.

  71. Phil says:

    Shame it’s not the Packers,
    But it should be great game Two Owls.

  72. Wavey says:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/31079429

    Thought this was a good article from Keown, although I don’t think LeCoq is the first choice in the long term.

    ML wasn’t having a dig at you. I think it was Jerry who went straight in with a comment about the ‘Wenger out” brigade being awfully quiet. It’s not always a Wenger out/Wenger in battle.

    All

    We were dangerous in the first half, but too many final passes weren’t coming off and when we did get through it just wasn’t coming off. Santo’s run which ended with a shot against the postbwas shblime and Walcott should have done a lot better when clean through. After the game even Wenger had a little dig at Walcott by asking how fast the defender must have been to get back at him (Walcott was through and checked back for some reason). At half time I felt we had let it slip away from us as we hadn’t killed them off. Villa were awful today, but we’ve seen too many teams turn it on in the second half when we’ve let them off the hook. We destroyed them in the second half today and we were clinical on the break. As I said earlier though, the start of the second half was end to end, even at 2-0.

  73. Wavey says:

    Hate this autocorrect. All should be Al, Santo should be Santi. And the list goes on.

  74. C says:

    Lets go Seahawks!

    Wish it was the Steelers but maybe next season.

  75. santori says:

    We were missing Alexis.

    Clearly we are a one man team.

  76. santori says:

    Fantastic competition for spaces now. We have two good options in every position.

    Giroud’s always been an underrated player. Fantastic hold up play and distribution. Welbeck returning from injury this week to provide options against Spurs.

    Santi is in brilliant form. The stuff we were stringing together (admitedly media will have their say its against Villa negating the win against City conveniently), is coming close to what we use to do with Titi and Pires.

    Again all those doubters who called time on Santi recently before he found the scoring boots should take heed (but likely they won’t). Similar negativity were directed at Walcott and Ozil (as they are against Jack, Per, Arteta or Flamini).

    Players improve. Walcott and Ozil puts to rest the rubbish spewed by the press that we are Alexis dependent. Another goal each on the trot and a sumptuous flick from Ozil which deserves more credit.

    I particularly like Walcott’s goal with him cutting in. If he continues to improve, he will start to rack up the goals.

    Coquelin had another great game and he is fast confirming that his ability has a permanence to it.

    He adds a bit of pace and technical ability. Where he needs to be careful is his challenges but that can be a fine line.

    Still, the reason we are more secure at the back though is really the fact that the Back 4 is stable across the line.

    Both Per and Metersecker together work seemlessly and there is a different feel to it, less panic more assurance. We are also picking up crosses better with improved positioning particularly from the fullbacks who have made massive strides in improvement.

    Bellerin in particular has been excellent. Not sure why people still harp on about Jenkinson because the difference is night and day. Bellerin is technical and quick and both fullbacks have critically added width going forward which has helped our playmakers in the middle.

    Debuchy and Bellerin will pretty much shut out the technically limited Jenkinson who is frankly more suited to West Ham. That is even before we mention Chambers who I feel is also better than jenkinson.

    Again, the criticism against Flamini (for all the Coq strokers out there) is a bit unwarranted. He is not the best DM (coming from his mom) but he is not as poor as the short term memories of people would have you believe.

    He is more experience on the ball than Coquelin and uses it well. When he came on for the brief duration to cover the industrious Ramsey, he almost provided an excellent assist (as he did with City). This of course will largely go unmentioned. Nor is the work he does covering frankly that much less than Coquelin.

    As mentioned the critical difference is in the Cback pairing which was evident again at Brighton where the much lauded Koscielny struggled without his often criticised ‘slow’ partner’ Per.

    Finally the keeping today was outstanding. Ospina IMO is a better reaction save keeper than Szsc. He is also doing a bloody good job coming out for the ball without over committing.

    A shout to the efferverscent Rosicky. He carries on like this he should earn him another season or so! What an option to have and playing some superb footy.

    Also good showing by young Akpom. He is going to give Sanogo a run for his money auditioning for the Giroud Succession. It is of course important to understand that both players are still very young and it would be foolish to put judgement on Sanogo at this point of time. But Akpom looks more than a genuine contender with pace and technical nous. An exciting young talent grabbing his opportunity, lets hope he signs the extension.

    And Rambo. All we need now is for the Welsh wizard to find his scoring boots again. He can start at Spurs.

    We are playing with confidence and this drubbing of an opponent is a long time in making. I think if we carry on as is, we will be putting away a number more teams with this sort of lopsided scoreline.

    Early still but worth noting City are only 6 points ahead with 15 more games to go.

  77. santori says:

    I don’t know who has time for Super Bowl. Boring.

    Arsenal plundering 5 past Villa is the game to watch.:D

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