Three Points We Needed, Three Points We Got

tfArsenal 2 – 0 Everton

1 – 0 Giroud (39)
2 – 0 Rosicky (89)

In the cold light of day, weekends don’t come much better than this. Second-placed Manchester City lost, Southampton dropped to sixth, trailing Arsenal by five points. Any gap that needs two matches as a minimum to catch up is, when you are in the lead, a good gap.

It was never going to be a vintage performance. Wednesday night hit the squad hard judging by the manager’s words and this was a typical response. Yes, they won but in no small part that was due to Everton’s lack of adventure beyond the first twenty minutes. Had they been intent on attacking they may have found more joy but they didn’t and in that respect, they were the perfect guests.

Speaking afterwards, Wenger reflected the laboured play,

On the fluency front we can do better but today our first worry was just to win the game.

We knew that confidence would be at a premium and looking at coming weeks, a clean sheet and comfortable scoreline will begin to restore that belief. Win at QPR in midweek and the complexion of the remaining eight weeks of the season changes. It won’t alter the inevitability of a Champions League exit in Monaco, the damage has already been done.

Arsène focussed on the positives, particularly his reshuffled back four,

Our defensive concentration was at a much higher level than on Wednesday night. It was vital for us for the rest of the season to win the game today. I believe that we wanted too much to make the difference in the first game and forgot our basics – to defend as a unit. And today we came back to our basics.

It was tentative to begin with and Everton looked to exploit the new-look right side of the defence, with Gabriel and Bellerin at times being too stretched in their positioning. David Ospina prevented Lukaku from breaking the deadlock as Gabriel hesitated but it was the Brazilian who would make the timeliest of interventions late in the first half. A perfect tackle with his ‘wrong’ foot to stop the Everton forward and begin a sequence of events which led to Olivier Giroud scoring the opening goal.

That moment, when Giroud wheeled away having scored from the ensuing corner, lifted the players. Visibly in the case of the French striker whose shooting boots still appeared to be missing. The positive was that prior to the goal, even though he still off-target, he did not shy away from opportunities although how long before such profligacy turns negative largely depends on the flow of a match.

Much fuss was made of Giroud’s performance against Monaco. I understand that, he was almost criminally wasteful and his substitution unsurprising. Was he the worst offender? It is a close-run thing between him and Mertesacker with the latter paying the price. With no genuine replacement for the French striker in the squad – Welbeck isn’t the most natural of central strikers – Wenger had little choice but to stick with Giroud.

Starting with the Ox on the right was no doubt meant to shore up the midfield with the youngster’s work-rate underlining the importance of Arsène’s words during the week. His tendency to drift infield irks but overall, he had a positive contribution. It raises questions about Theo Walcott’s future with his apparent relegation to third-choice on the right flank. Perhaps he isn’t as fit as he or the manager would like but it was a match that cried out for a stretching of someone’s legs down the right flank.

Whilst the result will have pleased Arsène, it has come at some cost with some suggestion that Francis Coquelin may need minor surgery to repair his broken nose. With Flamini, Wilshere and Ramsey missing, it means Calum Chambers is most likely to start at Loftus Road. He can expect a sterner test from genuinely relegation-threatened QPR than flirting-with-danger-and-already-beaten Everton.

There is a danger in over-analysing this one match. We needed a response from the players and to a certain extent, got it. As familiar as the tentative, over-elaborate play was at times, the win was more important. This squad, perhaps as a reflection of the manager, takes defeat badly and invariably wobbles for a couple of games. Get through that spell without losing and a bounce returns to their stride.

It’s crucial that they carry on with a win on Wednesday. They have three Premier League games to find their feet once more before Liverpool visit The Emirates. That is the test Arsenal are building toward, more so than United or Monaco. The latter is a face-saving exercise where any victory will be spun as a ‘what-if’ moment followed by a wistful glance to the past, almost a validation of what might have been, forgetting the recurring nature of Wednesday’s home defeat.

United is a tougher one to consider with much depending on how well the trip to West London goes. The tentative steps of recovery have been taken but they need to be followed by confident strides. If the squad is to improve year-on-year – and I’m not sure this season can be viewed in that light – they have to learn how to respond quickly to setbacks, to display the resilience Arsène was so fond of. I’m not sure it’s evident at the moment and that mental toughness is something they need to develop quickly.

’til Tomorrow.

157 thoughts on “Three Points We Needed, Three Points We Got

  1. Damon, Giroud had a mare vs Monaco and missed a couple yesterday, but is at four in four at the moment. He’s an interesting character, and I think a poor game is never too far away, but all things considered he looks a good footballer at the moment. I like how he uses his strength these days.

    Jonny, AOC’s had a good season. Not reflected by bald stats, beyond successful dribbles and take-ons per game (by those markers he’s up there with the best in Europe). There’s more of an end product to come, but he’s a visibly better footballer this season than last. To me at least. If I’m picking the team then I think he starts on our right.

    I can’t give you much beyond the casual observation that we look a better team, more fluid team when he plays. Wednesday was his first match back so it’s normal that he was rusty. But by whatever strange metric that the site Whoscored uses, he was man of the match yesterday.

    C, I don’t think that team would work. There’s no focal point. I don’t know why Liverpool are doing so well with their current formation. It seems to defy logic. I expect them to get found out eventually.

    If I were a coach the one thing I’d tell Theo to do is to try to react to the way a game changes. At the moment he plays on the right; not up front. So in that position he shouldn’t be assessed only according to the amount of goals he gets. The answer won’t always be to hang about on the shoulder of the last defender waiting for a miracle pass to pick him out.

    He’s reminded me a bit of early-season Aaron Ramsey when he’s played – like he knows exactly what he needs to do to get a goal each game, but only by sacrificing hard work and tactical sense.

  2. Damon, I made the link between OG’s production and the competition of Welbeck. Some thought it harsh on OG, but I think there is something to it.

  3. The problem now is that DW is just not prolific enough to challenge OG for starts as the CF. Something to address this summer, but that is probably a vain wish.

  4. I agree with Bk that one big difference over last year is him using his strength more and less flopping down and beseeching referees to give him a free kick. Look at the way he dispatched Jagielka and just threw him out of the way. More of that and he’ll finish the season strong.

  5. Theo’s all around game had improved before this year of knee injury. Perhaps he can get back to playing both sides of the ball. But, he has had a better final ball than he is often credited with. He made more assists for RvP those seasons than anyone else on the team while having a healthy scoring rate himself.

  6. Birdkamp

    I agree and was a strong voice against those canning him after Monaco – you have to be in the position in the first place to miss!!

    I just think he’s got back to being undroppable, as no one else can play alone up top. 442 is a different story, but gives a bigger problem making up the middle 4?

    I just think that that extra 5% concentration on his finishing isn’t there, as he isn’t under pressure for his starting berth

    I’ll whisper it, as I seem to have upset everyone today, but I thought he scuffed his goal quite a bit and wouldn’t like to say that he meant it the way it happened

  7. @LSG

    It isn’t quite perfect but I wouldn’t mind having Ramsey in there, especially if he is in form. A midfield of Ozil, an in form Ramsey and a DM would do really well. I’m not as sold on Giroud’s hold up as much as everybody else is to be honest. To many times I see Giroud on the ground with his hands raised or the ball coming immediately back down our throats to often.

  8. Can’t remember when DW was starting regularly how his linking and hold up play was, C. But I think OG has been playing pretty well, quite apart from his good scoring rate. Plus his defensive headers are rather important to us as well.

  9. Damon, yes, in fact I don’t think he should have been subbed off against Monaco. I would have taken off others before him to bring on Theo, Ox etc…

  10. @Big Al

    It would need some working out to be honest, but the thing with the way that Liverpool are playing is the fact that players like Sterling, Coutinho, Lallana and Markovic are working their socks off up top, while players like Henderson, Allen and Lucas(before he got injured, his insertion into the lineup saw the start of their recent run and then they won 11 straight and then he got hurt) are winning balls back and using their work rate and athleticism to crowd opponents and quickly win the ball back. Plus you can’t really press them or play a high line with Sterling, Lallana and Markovic’s “pace and quickness” and Countiho’s ability to pick them out.

  11. If Giroud’s problem is that he doesn’t have any competition and thus with no competition in the team, he loses focus, then personally and I know this may be really really harsh but he isn’t the striker that we should want for Arsenal going forward. I want a striker that is motivated to be a top striker and isn’t satisfied with being simply good enough until mention of a potential replacement and then he goes on a 4 goals in 4 games type run and then back to status quo. I want a striker that looks at other top quality strikers in the same league and is motivated to be better than him and isn’t satisfied until he is. I know those types of strikers are hard to find but I am warming to Bill’s desire for a new more clinical, motivated top striker.

  12. @LSG

    Welbeck was good and I think Giroud has been good too but I am also not as overly excited as many about his hold-up play. His headers are important but I also think that Welbeck did well in the same role.

    Maybe I am just wanting more, though I am really happy about the 3 points.

  13. I have no problem with Ozil in the starting line up but he should not be untouchable. The way we play seems to require someone who can control the game and direct the tempo and control the flow of the game thru midfield. If that is not the type of player that Ozil is then we need someone else in midfield who can do that and playing Ozil in the midfield with someone like Santi or Cesc or David silva will probably leave us physically and defensively weak in midfield. Especially in tougher games we need a box to box type and a stronger defensive presence in our central midfield which leaves no spot for Ozil and it means if he is going to play then he should probably be playing in a wide position. The reality is that his best games and our teams best games in this run happened with Ozil playing out wide. We often criticize Arsene but no one would criticize Joachim Loew’s tactical acumen and he decided that Ozil on the wing was the best thing for the team so there is plenty of very solid evidenced to support that idea.

    Ozil should not be undroppable because of his price tag and he still has to be more effective then the other options that we have to play in the wing positions and if he can do that then so be it.

  14. Jonny

    Crikey!

    What makes you think its him?

    The report says his mansion is set in woodland, but I bet he didn’t fathom on getting so close to Yew Tree with this one!

  15. And it sounds like it is true(though I don’t agree with what he did, I do believe in a fair trial for all).

  16. That news is really grim.

    Damon, I thought he kind of caught it on his ankle. It was close to being scuffed, that’s for sure, but I’d like to think he connected more or less the way he wanted to.

    With Giroud I get the feeling that he’s constantly learning. Is that a common trait among late bloomers? It’s good that he’s still improving at this age, but at the same time I can’t blame anyone for having doubts because I think he’s still working out how to prepare himself as a top level striker. There’s a lot missing that he should have gained ages ago, but probably didn’t because he was playing at a far lower level until he was in his mid-20s.

    So I put these little quirks, like perhaps getting too full of himself before the Monaco game, down to that.

    C, I haven’t seen any side ever keep up an attacking pressing game in the PL for more than a few months in the PL. If Liverpool do it for the rest of the season then they’ll break the mould, that’s for sure. When I see them play I do sense they’re quite vulnerable, but can’t put my finger on it. I just hope we’re firing properly when we face them.

    As for us, I think pace is vital ingredient in any side, but I don’t feel it’s essential in every position, even in attack. Maybe too many fast players means a lack of focal points, and too many players that want to do the same thing. Guardiola was recently questioned about the pace in his side and said something about the ball being the “quickest player on the planet”, which is faintly ridiculous, but obv he’s emphasising the team (pace being crucial within that), and its manipulation of the ball above all else.

  17. When your lead strikers hold up play and defensive headers are his strong points there is a serious problem.
    I don’t know when these suddenly became the required skill set for centre forwards but it smacks of excuse making for a pretty average player. I’d be curious how many top teams rely on hold up play to be successful ? Can’t think of many other than Bayern when they still had Gomez, but they offloaded him pretty sharpish even after winning the treble.
    Go watch a highlight reel of Ramsey or Ozil and see how many assists they would have if Giroud could aim properly.
    Striker and DM are the two positions holding us back.

  18. The problem with Giroud is that he is so wasteful – when he is presented a chance he very often is completely off target. One simple rule of football is if you don’t hit the target you won’t score.

    The Monaco game was an execrable performance for a top level goal scorer – 6 attempts and not once on target.

    Yesterday was a well taken goal but once again he missed the target altogether with 2 clear-cut relatively straightforward chances.

    At the sharp end, against good teams, those mistakes come back to bite you in the ass. If we are ever to have real hopes for winning the league or, heaven forfend, the CL I would wager we will require a striker who has a better conversion rate and a better accuracy (he gets less than 50% of his attempts on target).

    He’s a good player and his dedication to improvement is fairly apparent throughout his career but at the top level he’s a back-up striker, not the main man.

  19. @Big Al

    It does seem like it can work but must be managed. they are high pressing but you do see at times during a match they “back off” a bit to kind of reserve energy but the basis of what they do seems to be on pressing not necessarily in packs and at times 1-on-1 all over the pitch to force players to play a bit faster than they want. While there can be vulnerability in it, its also about the balance of the team and having player committed and then having a squad that you can rotate to keep fresh.

  20. I hope they do, there is no room for people like that in our society and really need to be thrown into a dark dark place to rot.

  21. Yuck is the perfect summary. Bravo

    If true areal pity, I always quite like the player he was.

    Career over if pursued, possibly even if there’s nothing in it

    Slightly off topic today, but now completely topical. A friend and I were discussing the Ched Evans situation this weekend just gone. I am somewhat baffled by his case. I’ll admit, without knowing the nitty gritty. I believe three men, including the man who took the young lady in question on a date that evening, we’re all up on rape charges. Two were innocent and the third is guilty? A basic premise I struggle with. Furthermore, he has always protested his innocence.

    But because it was a charge of rape he can no longer play professional football. Not welcome at a club here because of the uproar and can’t go abroad because of his bail conditions

    Whilst there are at least two pros in this country that have killed people, served jail time and are back playing

    Just me who finds that an interesting barometer of public opinion?

  22. I agree with the idea that Giroud is a good player but not the type of striker that we can build a “world class” team around.

  23. Well, the truth is that Arsenal has enjoyed some great strikers of a very different style than OG’s. Since OG has become our main striker, we have played in a very different way that is not typical of our style under AW, either in the first era or the Barca lite Emirates period. Wright, Anelka, Henry, RvP. RvP wasn’t the fastest runner but he was quick– hold up play wasn’t top of his best qualities–movement, skill/technique with the ball, intelligence, deadly finishing. So, while OG has been effective recently, he is completely different from the string of great strikers we’ve had in recent times at the club. He certainly can take his place among the second group of Smith, Kanu, Wiltord in terms of quality. He’s a very good player and might even improve further. But he needs competition and should really be a second option to complement a more lethal striker if we are to compete for the league and CL someday soon.

  24. C – I read that he missed 34 chances last season inside the box. That was not far off twice as many as any other player.

    Now doubt he has improved on last season but that is a truly bonkers stat.

    As for accuracy – genuinely woeful. Only Torres was worse in the premier league.

    Some stats are shaky but regardless that they do not tell the whole story of the player there is no hiding the truth behind those numbers.

  25. @Damon

    No its not just you. Here in the States, sadly enough, we have seen it too and it actually happens a lot more than I care for to be honest. I do think a lot of it is down to talent, if you are a talented player that is one of the best, you tend to get forgiven and if you aren’t then your not.

    Off the top of my head, I can come up with 4 players(1 is thought of as one of the best players of all time and regularly held in the highest of regards) that have or been apart of somebody dying here in the States(2 served jailed time) and then were allowed to continue their career while others have not for other charges.

  26. I have been campaigning for a new striker as long as anyone and I still that is a necessity it the team is going to take “the next step”. However for the rest of this season Giroud is certainly the best option that we have at CF.

  27. @Jonny

    Completely agree. For a player that’s strength is suppose to be his heading ability and his goals in the box, to miss as many chances as he does is really a worry.

    He has improved and I think he is a really good striker, but he is not the striker that we need. More to that we have to remember that he was bought to be a #2.

    For me, its not just the misses and how bad they are, but when they are and in what matches they are. They tend to be against the best sides when we really need him. I

    When ever you in the same conversation with last years version of Torres, its NEVER a good thing.

  28. @LSG

    I think you make a great point, he isn’t the type of striker that we have know and loved through the years. The type of striker that could hold up and link up play but wasn’t one of their top 3 qualities to be honest and yea we have changed our style of play, problem is, the rest of the team, especially the midfielders are the same style of the “Old” Arsenal teams. Silky play making midfielders that thrive off of the movement in-front and capable of picking a pass, problem is, Giroud doesn’t have the movement, skill/technique with the ball, intelligence, deadly finishing that is needed.

    Its almost as though we are stuck between 2 different styles, “old” Arsenal vs. “Giroud” style Arsenal, if that makes sense.

  29. Birdkamp

    All else being equal the more pace you have the better and you don’t see many top of the table teams that have very little pace their squad. However you don’t need to have exceptional pace at any specific position or in the team as a whole to be really successful. Exceptional pace is fun to watch but it’s ability to affect and control a game and make a team more likely to actually win games consistently is over rated. There are several qualities above pure pace in a specific player and a team that are higher on the priority list if the intent is build a team that can win consistently.

  30. People seem convinced of Ched’s guilt but I just don’t know enough to draw any conclusions. I’m certainly not naive enough to think conviction makes it cut and dried but on balance I think most convictions stand up.

    There is horrible hypocrisy in football for sure – if Evans was a better player I have little doubt he would currently be playing.

  31. C

    The Cesc era was built around “silky smooth midfielders” but I would suggest that was not a very successful era. I would also argue that our best teams where built around midfields build on grit and toughness at least in 2 of the positions rather then great technical players who can pick a pass. Even the invincibles were not built around DB10 since he only started slightly more then 1/2 of the games that season and he was clearly on the downward side of his glorious career by that time.

  32. @Bill

    Agree with you on that. I should have been more specific and said post Invincibles era. The Invincibles, as we all know are a different breed, though they did have some silky players in the team that could pick a pass and were BRILLIANT on the ball.

    You do get what I was saying though?

  33. Jonny

    It is an interesting one. Certainly when you consider the Plymouth keeper. McCormick(?) wiped out two kids dead when he was pissed and clear Of 100mph at the time of the crash. Not a special player at that level, but society has allowed him back

    One I’d like to pick up with you over a pint or three next time. It has too much mileage and nuance for anything less 🙂

  34. Football has changed in the last decade but not that much. I don’t think we will be consistently effective with Ozil and Santi both playing in central midfield. Maximizing our technical skill and passing ability at the expense of defensive solidarity and “team balance” will not maximize our ability to win games consistently. IMO.

  35. So then Bill for this season and going forward do you go with Santi who will be 31 in December next year or do you go with Ozil who turns 27 years old in October? Presently we will continue to see Santi and Ozil play together with presumably Chambers as the DM, but going forward into the summer what do you do?

  36. C

    When Ozil and Santi play together Ozil defers and it’s Santi that “runs the team”. In addition I have not really seen any evidence in his last 2 seasons with Arsenal or in the World Cup to suggest that Ozil is well suited to be a #10 the way we define it at Arsenal. He seems to be the sort of player that drifts around looking for space and is better playing off the dedicated playmaker. Part of the reason that the Cesc years were not really successful, IMO was because Cesc was not a mentally ready to have the role of team general for a top of the table team. However, I would suggest that mental strength is also not one of Ozil’s strong suits. That’s a long way to say that I am skeptical that giving him the keys to the car and asking Ozil to be the creator in chief and midfield main maestro/#10 will be successful over the course of a season.

    1) I would see how the rest of this season goes but I suspect that as soon as Wilshere or Ramsey returns then Ozil will move back to the flank.
    2) unless something changes next summer I would probably plan on Santi filling the #10 role and Ozil would probably spend most of his time on the wing or playing occasionally in central midfield with Santi in a few games and also probably be the first back up to Santi as the #10.

    So far this season Ozil has not really ever played as the creative hub of the team. Perhaps the right thing to do is to just put him there and see what happens . However the danger is that we can’t afford to mess up very many games the rest of this season and still end up in 4th so it limits the amount of eerie notation we can do

  37. Bill, that’s totally rewriting history! Ever see Edu, Petit and Vieira play? They were fantastic footballers. Edu was an elegant passer of the ball with amazing range, Petit had superb vision and one of the sweetest left foots I’ve seen at Arsenal, while Vieira was about as close as you can get to a complete footballer. Wengerball was defined while these footballers were playing for us. It wouldn’t have been possible if these midfields were based on grit and toughness. No way, they were fabulous players complemented (to varying degrees I must add) by good physical characteristics.

    Even Parlour in that time, while he was never the most subtle player, could dribble past defences on his day, hold onto the ball and pick passes. See his hat-trick vs Werder Bremen.

    Gilberto was tall, but hardly this powerhouse midfielder. His game was a bit like Arteta’s – all about clever defensive positioning and deft little passes.

    They were tall guys, and could compete physically, but that’s not how they should be defined. To do that would give them way too little credit.

    I saw you do this with Scholes recently too, who was probably the closest England have produced to a continental creative midfielder.

  38. @Bill

    I respect that, don’t agree with it but respect it.

    I think its more the #10 as you define it as opposed to how its defined at Arsenal. The #10 is a player that dictates and does everything in the final 3rd that you want from a creative player. Aren’t most of the best #10’s in the world playing infront of a “midfield general” well atleast some of the best. You look at Shitty, Silva has Yaya, Coutinho has Henderson, Madrid use Kroos behind Isco and I can go on and on. The thing is that, most #10’s have a player that does more of the dictating until you get into the final 3rd and that’s when the #10’s become special. Isn’t that what Ozil does?

    Also, this notion that we have to hand the keys primarily to Ozil is a bit crazy to me to be honest. Ozil may be a key cog but why do we have to hand the keys to one person and not have a system in place that maximizes the potential of 2 or 3. Isn’t that how you build a team, around a group of players that are all top quality. Why does is have to be simply down to Ozil, why can’t we build an attack around the talents of Sanchez, Ozil, Theo, Jack and Ramsey(if they can stay fit) and Ox?

    Anyways, I say lets see how this season plays out. Ozil tends to defer to Santi when we are linking up defending to attack but watch how many times, Santi will play a pass to Ozil in the attacking 3rd and we are off or on the counter then we are off.

    There is part of me that feels Ozil will remain in our #10 and see the likes of Theo and Sanchez on the wings. Well at least that is my hope, naturally with a top quality DM.

  39. The best anyone can say is that the players we had before the Emirates era were taller. But on a technical level there was very little difference.

    The hunt should be for completeness – that’s a unity between physical characteristics, mentality (including grit) and intelligence and technical ability. I’d love more footballers like Petit, Vieira and Edu, but they are rare. We were blessed back then.

    Favouring physical prowess and grit (players with these qualities are ten-a-penny btw) while neglecting stuff like passing range and technique is the best way to build a bog-standard PL outfit.

  40. Birdkamp.

    I was thinking more or the Petit/Viera combo. I don’t remember Edu as much but certainly Gilberto was not a shrinking violet. We probably do lose site of the fact that they were good passers of the ball but they were also very sturdy and were critical parts of the solid defense played in the first half of the Wenger era. Most people would not describe any of those players (other then possibly Edu) as great technical players but they were very effective.

    Scholes was a creative player at one time but that was not his main role in the post 2007 Fergie title teams. He had reinvented himself by then as more of a grafter. IMO.

  41. Birdkamp.

    I agree that the goal is completeleness but I would also suggest that Santi and Ozil in midfield is to short on grit to be effective consistently.

  42. Bill, I don’t know how good youtube is when it comes to footage of these players, but there might be footage around that sets the story straight.

    First, that’s simply not the case with Scholes. If anything, as he got older he became even more of a creator, sitting deeper in possession and picking passes. In all his playing days had a serious work-rate and was a chippy little bastard off the ball. A shit tackler too, that would have been punished more were he not English and not playing for ManU.

    And if people really do not characterise Vieira and Petit as great players on a technical level they need to talk those who know what they’re on about.

    Vieira was this incredible dribbler who could turn defence into attack with the ball at his feet. Without that quality he’d have been nothing like as effective – he could pass between the lines too. Petit’s through-balls and dead-ball delivery were a thing of beauty. I don’t know if we’ve had a better indirect fk or corner-taker since.

    As far as I’m concerned when we refer to them we should talk in terms of their completeness. Like I say, it’s hard to find players with combinations of all those elements coming together at the same time. There’s a few but if we want one it’s going to cost big money.

    Ramsey was there for over a year, which is why it was such a shame to see him fall back because of form and injuries,

  43. @Big Al

    Completely agree with everything you are saying.

    Isn’t part of the whole “thr next Viera” the fact that its a complete futboler who is technically really good to go along with his impressive physical gifts? Gilberto was such a joy and if you ask most people that really follow Brasilian futbol, his range of passing was such a joy to watch.

    I think this physicality thing tends to overshadow just how good technically that lot was..

    By the way, we really should be having a look at Kondogbia.

  44. Bill, it’s possible that it’s short on grit (though Cazorla has surprised me recently), but I think it depends who’s playing with them. Back in the day we had a different formation playing in a league with different requirements and a competition-wide style that would be barely recognisable now.

    I’d be looking at ways to get the best out of both of them. So that’s maybe upgrading on Coquelin (loads of grit, but perhaps not enough class) as Cazorla’s deep mf partner, or switching Ozil to the right, moving Cazorla forward and bringing in whichever of our current cms make the grade (or a new one for big money if they can’t cut the mustard).

    I said before too, that playing Ozil central doesn’t really make him a CM or even an AM. He’s very high up the pitch, and I feel a lot safer with him there. Remember when we saw Cazorla vs Man City – ostensibly he was in the role Ozil occupies now, but I don’t think we’ll ever see Ozil coming so deep, dictating play from the edge and starting counters from the edge of our area.

  45. C, I’d have said that Imbula was having a better season than Kondogbia up until the last few weeks. Think Kondogbia spent a few months out injured, but was superb against us. Saw Imbula a couple of weeks ago and he was struggling.

    Asked earlier if Kondogbia would be available. Monaco don’t seem to be the mess I expected. I’m thinking they won’t let him go easily.

  46. @Big Al

    I do think part of Kondogbia’s form early was down to injury more than anything. Agree about Imbulu as well. I don’t think either would be easy to get but worth a punt to be honest.

    I’m still a huge fan of Gonalons only problem is Lyon could realistically win Ligue 1.

  47. Like my grandaddy used to say “A good big guy will always beat a good little guy”

    Viera 6’4, Petit 6’1, Silva 6’1, Pires 6’1, Edu 6’1, Henry 6’2, Berkamp 6’2, Parlour 6’0, Kanu 6’5

    That’s just Forwards and Mids. Im sure none of our back line were under 6ft.

    Compare that to what we have now. Giroud and Welbeck aside no one in the current crop of mids of forwards is over 6ft.

    If the two teams were to meet it would be Hobbits vs Orcs.

  48. Agree with BK here.
    We didn’t have Petit for long enough, but he had a wonderful pass in him.
    And PV4 was just about as complete a footballer as you could find.
    I sometimes wonder whether we were so spoilt watching and supporting that era, that every other team pales by comparison.

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