Middlesbrough Review: Not A Pointless Exercise But Almost…

Arsenal 0 – 0 Middlesbrough

As Jurgen Klopp said after last week’s dire Anfield outing against Manchester United, “It’s a clean sheet – yippee!”

Honestly, that’s the only positive I can immediately think of. That’s not to say that the performance was awful but consider this: today’s picture was going to be better than the one published if we had won.

A draw, ultimately, turned out to be a fair result considering the fact that ‘Boro had some good opportunities. Cech made some good saves; if that’s Petr Cech being ‘bang average’, I’ll take it. And the woodwork being our best defender as well. It’s easy though to get mired in the goals we might have conceded and forget the chances we created. As I said, the woodwork was our best defender.

Arsenal endured 75%. The legacy of modern football is possession becoming over-rated, combined with an obsession over who had the ball most and used it better. Middlesbrough, 11 shots; Arsenal 5 on target to their 4. Don’t ask me to remember them all although with a total that low, I should. Arsène drew a parallel with Manchester City’s recent game against Everton. They didn’t win he observed which is true. But at least they scored.

Will the era which spawned stats be the one which kills them off? For the sanity of supporters, I hope so. We never used to need numbers to tell us who had more of the ball; you could see that with your own eyes. Shots on target? Well, I’d rather be talking positively in an attacking sense about the ‘Boro four than our five. I think they worked Cech harder than we did Valdes.

Both the goalkeepers came away with their current reputations enhanced in the eyes of supporters, a point Wenger was quick to make afterwards about the Arsenal duo:

This week, I must say our two goalkeepers had two great performances. You know, Ospina on Wednesday night and Petr Cech today and that shows you how important it is to have two top-class goalkeepers.

When you make Valdes look a commanding ‘keeper, something is terribly wrong with your forward play.

We missed Santi, there’s no doubt about that but his absence wasn’t the reason we failed to score. We missed guile; great passers one and all but lacking inspiration and their creative spark.

There was no Plan B either; he might be back on Tuesday. That was a contributing factor as well but mentally, we weren’t at the races. Sanchez and Walcott moved but not as well as they can. We struggled to overcome the banks of defenders and midfielders; we always do if they get a foothold in the game, no matter the opposition.

The game started well enough. For ten minutes or so, it looked like we were a team with a mission to kill the game early. But nothing of note happened. Should Özil have been awarded a penalty? Of course but then again I’m biased. No doubt we’d have missed had been given; it was that kind of afternoon.

Gaston rattled the bar, Valdes pawed away; the pattern for the afternoon was set. Good effort from both sides but little to write home about. Chances were traded until the final whistle and I think some credit is due to ‘Boro for maintaining their shape. Traore, one of the few bright spots at Villa Park in their abject efforts last season, was a thorn in Arsenal’s side all afternoon.

And when we needed that little bit of luck to win, it wasn’t there to be found as the lino spotted Özil was offside. What’s the betting he misses one next weekend?

Arsène’s view at the end of it all? “When you cannot win, you must not lose.” Yippee.

‘Til Tomorrow.

76 thoughts on “Middlesbrough Review: Not A Pointless Exercise But Almost…

  1. SV says:

    Morning.

    It must have been difficult to try to find positives today.

  2. SV says:

    Singing “we are top of the league” after a home draw with Middlesbrough should go into the Oxford dictionary as the new definition of the word “deluded”.

    Wenger out.

  3. SV says:

    @Dukey

    I did not react to your comments, it’s a coinsidence that we are thinking about the same: being top of the league. You think it’s a positive. I think it papers over a lost opportunity.

  4. Dukey says:

    Sv,

    We will not know yet whether this result was of the good or bad variety.

  5. YW says:

    Dukey

    Whilst you are correct, unless City lose at home today, it’s a bad one.

  6. SV says:

    Interesting how a 6:0, instead of being an expected confidence booster, becomes an arrogance multiplier.

    Not dissimilar to the muuch selebratetd late season late win against Leicester, after which we dropped 8 points out of 9.

    Wenger should have a better feel of his team and do something. Who else if not him?

  7. SV says:

    It’s not just City. Liverpool have had a much tougher schedule and are level with us. Tottenham are not far behind. All in all, the result creates an unnesessary pressure before November. We’ll see what happens.

    Wenger has to rotate more, that’s for sure. Maintaining freshness, focus and hunger has not been Wenger’s strength for many seasons.

  8. Arsetralian says:

    SV,

    So we are going to cry about a bad result and immediately call to sack the manager?

    Santi is heartbeat of this team – we saw that last season and Giroud is plan B

    Poor game but much we have seen so far has been encouraging no?

  9. Wavey says:

    Morning,

    For many clubs the trouncing of a club in a mid week game is followed by a confident performance at the weekend. For us it means tired legs and apathy in the attacking third. Keeping a winning line up together should see the players boldly heading out onto the pitch to repeat the performance, instead we turn up with good intentions which then all disappear if things don’t work out after the first 10 minutes.

  10. Wavey says:

    Arsetralian,

    I don’t think SV is immediately calling for the manager’s head after the performance, that’s been his view for a while.

    And I agree, but accept that he is at least there until the end of the season.

  11. SV says:

    Wavey:
    Arsetralian,

    I don’t think SV is immediately calling for the manager’s head after the performance, that’s been his view for a while.

    I could not put it better myself.

    Anybody knows what is going on with Ramsey and Giroud?

    Also, if you buy a striker who you do not trust to start a home league game against a promoted side, what is the point?

  12. Wailesy says:

    Thanks Yogi.

    lucky to get a point in the end. We have had a lucky start to the league to be fair.
    I thought Ozil was lucky not to get booked for diving.
    Again last season we’d be losing games like yesterday’s so not a bad point thanks to Cech being immense!

  13. Dukey says:

    It’s our memories that shape us….

  14. Masterstroke says:

    Wailsey

    You’re the only other person (so far) that I’ve read on the blogs who thinks Ozil dived.
    It was so blatant and amature and a yellow should have been mandatory.
    Dean was a bit soft on us for a change yesterday I thought.

  15. Arsetralian says:

    SV,

    Ok I accept you want a new manager. I just fear when you start the merry-go-round of Moyes, LvG, Jose, next bright star who shines and then fails for half a season the whole business of supporting your team will become more like demanding and expecting success along with Piers Morgan.

    I expect some indifferent performances but if you have an agenda to wait for the season lows to press for Simione or whoever it seems endlessly self-defeating to me.

    You will be ever critical and will never be supportive in essence

  16. SV says:

    Arsetralian,

    I think the changes should be deeper than just a new manager. We need more people in the Board who know their football and take responsibility. The sooner, the better. The times of a manager working for 20 years and taking care of everything from the club kitchen menu to the fitness regime are over.

  17. Bill says:

    Great review Yogi

    Today we get to view Marilyn Monroe’s back side. I liked the profile better yesterday but that’s just me. To each his own.

    I agree that ball possession and passes completed and passing percentages are perhaps the most over rated stats in modern football. In our case I would suggest that dominance in those areas is actually counterproductive. You can almost predict with a high degree of certainty that if we dominate the ball possession the way we did yesterday then we will struggle to score. We had about 45% of the possession in our midweek 6-0 win. We had been playing much better before yesterday and our ball possession and passes completed had all been way down compared to last year when our attack was so slow paced and ineffective. When we allow the opposition defense time to organize the parked bus in the penalty area everything we try to do on the attacking end becomes much harder. We have the perhaps the most technically skilled and best passing midfield in the world but Its very difficult even for Ozil and company to break down an organized defense.

  18. SV says:

    My personal opinion is that there are managers who would do better with the current squad than Wenger. But just replacing the manager is not enough.

  19. Bill says:

    We talked about this yesterday but I don’t think our struggles yesterday were anyone’s fault and I doubt having Santi would have changed the way the game played out. Every season when we have our 1/2 season of good form we all hope that we have finally figured out some sort of tactical change that will end tippy tappy forever. However, we have seen 1/2 season of slow paced football every season for the last 10 years so I its a stretch to think that we have finally kicked our habit. We have certainly seen more then enough slow paced football with Santi in the line up in the last 4+ years to know that he is not the antidote. That said I think we miss him when he is not in the line up. I think Santi is a bit more “forward thinking” then the other players on the squad who we use in that position when Santi is not available.

  20. Dukey says:

    I’m starting to loath having superior possession. It now seems to be a barometer to the chances of a good or a bad result, ie-when it goes above 60%we’re doomed.

  21. Dukey says:

    How about a 5-4-1 formation in these games and then play some mind games, start passing them the ball. Try and coax the opposition team to come at us, smoke em out.

  22. Wailesy says:

    I’m not a stats man like others here though I will say the more possession a team has the less space seemingly they have to exploit in the final third. Stronger teams play out from the back encouraging a high press to create more space further up the pitch to counter that.
    With us though most teams are happy to sit back and take us on the break.
    As Yogi said we were very narrow up front yesterday for whatever reason. Theo probably changed his mind again and told AW he’s a CF.

  23. Bill says:

    It’s always more difficult to finish than in a game like yesterday where the penalty box is filled with defenders and space in dangerous positions is at a real premium. Finishing skill and scoring “instinct” become critical in games like that and history suggests we will have a lot more of those games this season.

    Iwobe has done really well but we have plenty a players who can pick a pass and we don’t need another player whose major contribution is facilitating especially when he takes up one of our forward positions. Iwobe is not a scorer and IMO we would have a better chance of nicking a goal if we had another player who is a threat to score on the wing opposite of Theo. I don’t have the same concern about square pegs as most of us do but Iwobe is a midfielder and I think that is where he should be playing.

  24. AK says:

    The day is no longer sunnier for Arsenal fans. I wager the player who starts up front against Reading will have a handsome return infront of goal.

  25. nicky says:

    “You can only play as well as your opponents permit” as my great uncle Eli was heard to remark on the North Bank all those years ago.
    Middlesboro’ adopted the old French tactic “ils ne passeront pas” and it worked….for them. On the day.
    Sometimes the need for a point, especially an away one (e.g, PSG v Arsenal)
    over-rides the possibility of playing an entertaining open game to the delight of all present.
    It’s no disgrace therefore, not being able to always overcome the “parked ‘bus syndrome”. It won’t happen that often. 😉

  26. C says:

    Here is the thing with possession stats that I think tend to escape some, we will naturally have less possession as the match goes on if we kill the game off in the first half, or am I missing something? Like against Ludogorets, they attacked us, we attacked and attacked them and dominated them and then as the 2nd half wore on we ceded possession because we didn’t need to attack them. Middlesbrough we should have have scored and things would have been different, plain an simple.

    Every match we can’t dominate but so be it, matches like this in teh previous seasons we would have lost so I’ll consider it a poor point but a point nonetheless.

  27. Ras says:

    Good afternoon all. Middlesbrough have set the template on how to play against Arsenal at the Emirates for the rest of the season.

    I think Bill has a point in that as much a I personally like Iwobi we do not need another ‘ feeder or facilitator’ in the forward position.

    Ozil and Theo are on a tepid to hot streak but be honest can we rely on that (them) ?

    I have no idea what is Ozils best goal tally in a season. I think TW has only ever hit the 20 goal mark once in 10 seasons at Arsenal due to injuries and other issues.

    I would like to see Perez feature more.If the Manager fails to rotate and fails to engender a’ Collective Team Spirit’ we are not going to compete. Yes it was a point but let us be frank and honest We should haven taken all 3 points yesterday.

  28. Ras says:

    Dukey,

    Stones is a top player Dukey. The Saints Dutch centre half his name slips me now is a good player.I would sign next season. He has good PL experience and Kos cannot go on forever. Let the BFG go Gabriel is then our 4th CD.

    We would then have defensive CBs of Mustafi Kos Van ?Holding and Gabriel.

  29. Bill says:

    I think the idea that we create space with movement is probabaly over thinking. I believe that when we attack before the defense sets up there will be space open in the dangerous areas for our players to exploite. However, once the defense is organized they can cover thoses spaces and they can react to movement and track runners and there is no reason for them to be pulled out of position. You have to rely on the defenders making a mistake and a well organized defense will make far fewer mistakes. That’s why is so much harder to score when we are dominating possession rather then attacking at pace.

  30. Bill says:

    If there is not space to exploite then it becomes much more difficult to finish and you need players who are really good at finishing which is why I think we need more players who have scorers instincts on the pitch .

  31. C says:

    Bill,

    I was trying to let it go but how is movement creating space, over thinking it? The same way keeping your wide players wide creating space, the same with quick passing and movement, its actually quite simple. Its actually a huge part of the 442 that so many want to see; the first player attacks the ball and then feeds it to the movement that is taking place around him.

  32. C says:

    Ras,

    Van Dijk is the player for the Saints and I was hoping (and went on several rants 2 summers before the Saints signed him) we signed him. He is quality and if not for Mustafi, I would have signed him.

  33. C says:

    Ras,

    I agree on Perez though, I want to see him feature with Sanchez and Theo up front because I think along with Ozil they can be devastating. I also think that either Perez or Sanchez on the left flank will also give more defensive help to Nacho who I think, while not at his standard, is being left alone and exposed as Iwobi is still learning the defensive part of futbol(part of the reason I don’t think he is ready for the pivot spot given the defensive duties that are required there).

  34. Bill says:

    C

    I assume Arsene and our coaches and players have studied the films and thought about the idea of how to move to create space for many years. Even when you are out of form there is no reason for a whole team full of player to stop moving. If it is so simple to create space with movement then why do we have games like yesterday so often and why have we gone thru 1/2 season of poor form every year for the last 10 years?

  35. Bill says:

    I assume that if it’s simple to create space then Arsene would have figured out how to do it and he would have had the players working on the right movement on the training pitch. Do you think the problem is that Arsene has not figured it out and he is given the wrong instructions or is it the players who are not doing what they are supposed to do?

  36. C says:

    Holy shit, Chelsea score within 30 seconds. Absolutely shambolic defending

  37. C says:

    Bill,

    The thing is, movement is based on what is going on during the match, its not just move there move there and boom space, its a reading thing, always has been always will be. Think about how strikers get open, they move and see the space, I can’t explain bad form but its not just down to lack of movement, there are so many things. I actually can’t think of a manager or futboler in the HISTORY of futbol that hasn’t spoken about lack of movement when teams park the bus. Honestly, we lacked both movement and creativity yesterday plain and simple.

  38. AK says:

    Wenger tends to react to packed defenses and lines by introducing an extra striker. He did it with Sanogo at the FA finals and Welbeck against Leicester. This tends to work as it distabilises the center back as more players who tend to attack the center get involved. It works even better when a late runner from midfield is invovled e,g Ramsey. Yesterday he threw in Perez but it did not spark anything, not to judge Perez but he did not raffle boro’s backline

  39. C says:

    Players and strikers are taught from grade school about making runs, I know you will say, Barca score goals because of the players they have, but look at their movement, Suarez is a MASTER at making runs and running off of players and doing that drags the defenders:

    Suarez makes a run, the CB’s have to react and follow thus creating space behind him for Messi, Neymar and Inestia to run into that space.

    During Ramsey’s best season, he took advantage of the space created by Giroud and Ozil. Same with Theo.

    LEts just agree to disagree, because part of the poor form is down to players being so static.

  40. Dukey says:

    Sv.

    Its a tougher league now. Hence a draw at home isn’t a disaster, it’s the defeats v the big teams that could fuck us.

  41. AK says:

    BBC reporting city are still in the dressing room 45mins later…crisis meeting

  42. AK says:

    Chelsea learnt from the Emirates beating

  43. C says:

    AK,

    Also changed Kante and Matic’s position not to mention Moses’ hard work has been a key.

  44. Wavey says:

    nicky,

    I think we’ve seen it happen too often in the past and nothing yesterday suggested we have learnt our lessons. The only difference is that we seem less likely to come out with no points now.

    I agree with C that we seem too static when we play park the bus teams. I can’t believe that Wenger coaches them to play in that way, but we keep doing it.
    Maureen is at his best when he goes away to the big teams and frustrates them. Losing goals early on is a nightmare for him and I’m not sure if he knows how to adjust when he has to chase the game away from home against big opposition.
    Luiz should have been off, so Manure don’t get the lifeline back into the game that they should have had.

  45. Bill says:

    C

    If players are taught to move from day 1 then that is not something they would forget how to do when they lose form. Moving and making runs should not depend on form. However, its very hard to actually finish the move and score a goal and finishing skill is highly dependent on form and the less skilled finishers need to have more time and space. IMO.

    Football always has and will be a game where a team that plays good defense for 90 minutes has a very good chance to shut down the opponent no matter good the attacking team. We have seen that for the entire emirates era. Once we allow a team to organize then it becomes much much easier for them to defend well and all our movement and brilliant technical skill and brilliant passing becomes ineffective. We don’t have enough skilled finishers who can create their own goal or score a goal from nothing and we end up reverting to pinging the ball around midfield because nothing else is working. The other team is happy to watch us do it and hope that we will lose concentration and allow them to nick a goal or at least get a draw.

  46. Bill says:

    Wavey

    I think the idea that we are static against a parked bus is most illusion. If a team is struggling to create space then it makes sense that the attacking players would work harder and try to make more and different runs so I don’t think the players stop moving. However, we always get the sense that players are moving more when the game is open and the ball is moving quickly and the pitch is more open and the defenses are disorganized and the game is moving up and down the pitch faster. The other issue is that when we have the ball for 75% of the time then the ball is almost always within 35 yards of their goal and there are 16-18 outfield players crowded into that 35 yards so there are not a lot of distance to run and there is not room to try and make those runs.

    Does that make sense?

  47. Jonnygunner says:

    SV,

    But clearly they aren’t……..?

  48. SV says:

    Dukey:
    Sv.

    Its a tougher league now.Hence a draw at home isn’t a disaster,it’s the defeats v the big teams that could fuck us.

    Looking at our tough run in, I can only think we’ll regret every single dropped point.

    So far, only two out of 9 games we’ve played were of note, and both at home. For that reason, our league position is misleading.

  49. Wavey says:

    Bill,

    I agree that we don’t stop moving, but the pace at which we move the ball around seems to be slower. Quick passes back and forwards in a small triangle between three players actually doesn’t move the ball anywhere. Three or four players in a line on the edge of the box sliding the ball backwards and forwards seems to be a fairly static approach.
    I agree that the play being squeezed up into the final third of the pitch doesn’t allow for much movement, but that’s also down to the speed at which we move the ball from defence to attack. Our play appears static because most of the ball movement happens too far down the pitch, so when we get to the edge of the box our opposition has been able to set themselves. As I said, it seems that we struggle more than others because we don’t appear to try to change up our game enough. Maybe it doesn’t make much difference against a determined defence, but repeating the same thing time after time when it hasn’t worked for the first hour is unlikely to change the outcome. And we don’t do much to actually wear down a defence when they set up in that way, so it seems unlikely that they will tire as the game progresses.
    I agree that having more goal scoring options on the pitch must be the right way to go because it is impossible for so many providers to do the job in a confined space. I’d also like to see a few more snap shots instead of looking for other players. I thought there were a couple of times in the first half that Walcott could have put his laces through the ball instead of looking for Alexis.

  50. Ras says:

    SV,

    SV I agree that our current position is misleading. It’s why the 3 points yesterday were imperative.

    Yes the integration of Perez cannot come sooner.

    I personally think we need to sign an out and out winger(left footed) Preferably someone who can play on either wing. A player who can take on players and can cross the ball on a consistent basis from the dead ball line.

    Our crossing the majority of times is pretty awful. We rarely beat the 1st Man.

    We currently possesses nobody of that ilk.

  51. C says:

    Bill,

    I’m not disagreeing with you about needing finishers to finish or needing better finishers but I am COMPLETELY disagreeing with you about movement and how vital it is for creating space even with the most packed defenses, a darting run or unselfish run can create just that yard of space that is needed. Isn’t that why you have one striker making a near post run, another making a back post run and the late runners centrally? Part of the problem is also, not making those runs and everybody trying to come to the ball.

    Passing around the midfield when a packed defense is going to happen, but its hwo quickly you move the ball around, move it slowly with no movement (see yesterday and quite often when we struggle) and nothing happens, move the ball quickly and players not being static, you create even a bit of space to receive the ball and then you create that yard of space. Tell me how somebody creates a solo goal against a packed defense, they don’t they need not only to keep moving but also a player capable of seeing the space and movement and executing the pass (see yesterday and when we have struggled). You can’t say that its always happened because lets be honest, most clubs park the bus and play solid defense so we have to know how to break it down otherwise we would never take points, the problem is when we lose form we seem to struggle to do EVERYTHING.

    One match isn’t going to crush us, lets see how the team reacts against Sunderland before we put this down to “same old Arsenal”.

  52. Bill says:

    Wavey

    I agree that the critical thing is transitioning from back to front quickly and getting the ball into dangerous positions before the defense sets up. However you don’t get many chances to do that when the ball spends 75% of the game within 35 yards from the oppositions goal.

    I think we seem to struggle more then most big teams against parked busses because our philosiphy is built around our creative players and our passing game breaking down the opponent. My belief is that is a flawed idea since we have easily had the best creative players in the league for more then a decade and we have always been poor against organized defenses. We have put less tactical emphasis and we have a lot less money on players who can create their own shiots and players who are just plain good at finishing

  53. Bill says:

    Wavey.

    I like iwobe but not many big teams would have a teenage player with a central midfielder skill set who was not even much of a scorer in the the academy leagues as one of their regular starting forwards

  54. Jonny says:

    Ras:
    SV,

    SV I agree that our current position is misleading. It’s why the 3 points yesterday were imperative.

    Yes the integration of Perez cannot come sooner.

    I personally think we need to sign an out and out winger(left footed) Preferably someone who can play on either wing. A player whocan take on players and can cross the ball on a consistent basis from the dead ball line.

    Our crossing the majority of times is pretty awful. We rarely beat the 1st Man.

    We currently possesses nobody of that ilk.

    I would rather say that we are something of an unknown quantity until we have played against more of our peers. Results like yesterday do little to assuage fears that we are carrying the usual frailties but it is notable that some of our competition for the top berth are also capable of dropping points against all-comers.

    We can only beat what’s in front of us and a draw is another contribution towards a lengthy run, back into last season, which contains very few losses.

    It may yet prove flattering come the reckoning but we have largely looked a better team and squad this season and no one else has been entirely convincing either.

    It may yet prove to be another season marked by collective inconsistency at the top and slightly greater parity generally.

  55. Bill says:

    I am certainly not blaming iwobe and he has done as well as could be expected ted. I like his long term potential as a central midfielder but his upside is limited as a forward.

    In reality, It does not matter who plays on the left wing when Theo and Alexis are scoring regularly but we don’t need another player with a central midfielder skill set in our regular line up. We have that call Verde. The problem is that I am not sure we really have anyone on the squad right now who would be much of a threat to score from the wing opposite of Walcott.

  56. Gunner Stl says:

    Not sure what the difference in Pogbas tackle was compared to xhaka tackle. One get yellow and the other red

  57. YW says:

    Dukey

    I think we have every reason to regret yesterday. We’d be 2 points clear with the same goal difference as City. The saving grace this weekend is that we didn’t lose ground. Whatever way you cut it, 0 – 0 against Middlesbrough is a bad result.

  58. Dukey says:

    C,

    Your 6.26.

    Thus is exactly why I’m not keen on elneny. Whilst he is good at what he does he offers little in the way of the quick pass and movement you are talking about. Now if he is used as our sole dm I’m happy with that, but along side another slower mover like Le coq then it will inevitably slow our build up play like it did yesterday.

    Against top teams I could understand it but middle of the borough at home… I thought the Ox in midfield along side either one of elneny or Le coq would have been far better against a team who was going to ptb.

  59. Bill says:

    Yesterday was a bad result but it was certainly unpredictable and at least we used our best players and did what we could to avoid that sort of result.

    However the points we dropped in the first 2 games were completely predictable based on what has happened in this decade. I understand the philosophy of not wanting to rush your players back but no one else does what we do and by not having our top players ready to start the season we consistently drop points that other teams don’t and there is no evidence to suggest that it helps us avoid injuries or keep our players fresher.

  60. Dukey says:

    Yogs,

    If it’s a result that is in the middle of an unbeaten run it won’t be regrettable more forgettable.

  61. -DFS says:

    SV,

    This.

    I am trying to back Wenger this season and want to believe we have genuine ambition. If one honestly believes this then dropping two points to a very poor Middlesborough side should be unacceptable, inexcusable.

    As so aften, we made a dire side look good….and it was predictable.

    Wenger had made notes in the program regarding the team scoring goals at will…and I would bet my neighbors first born after Ludogorets, we had a really soft, smug week’s preparation…sent out a tired, under-motivated, under-rotated team with little in terms of tactics and not a hint of plan B.

    Heres a quote that underlines the isuue (and some points I made yesterday post-game).

    “…It doesn’t help that so many players had poor individual performances, but when bad displays are that widespread, there is probably a deeper problem than the players”.

    Its a journo writing on Chesea beating Man U for the sake of (similar) perpective, even if they received a lashing and we drew, the point is valid.

    I have almost a visceral reaction to these games against unquestionably inferior opposition when (almost) to a man the team underperforms as I believe it does give genuine insight to the core mentality.

    I am coming at this with the perspective we are, after the summer’s spending and strengthening, genuinely challenging for the title. If this is the case, then yesterdays performance needs to be seen for the poor outing it was so we do not repeat it…

  62. -DFS says:

    Bill –

    I agree regarding Iwobi- he is a talent and a bright prospect for the future. Yet, I think relying on him at this point in his development, casting him as the finished article is a step too far.

    I noted yesterday, I wish Perez had started and this was regards Sanchez. He coud have certainly rotated in for Iwobi.

  63. bright says:

    Good evening, YW. I thinks teams for a while now know that they can cause us problems if they park the bus and it appears Arsene does not have a solution for it yet. But the way I see it, if a team decides to park the bus, the solution is to overburden their six yard box and press them till they give in and take the rare chances u get. We didn’t do that or we’ll enough maybe because the guys were tired.

  64. C says:

    Dukey,

    I disagree, I don’t think it was down to Elneny, when you take a look (if you do) at his passing chart, you will see he passed forward , constantly looking to move the ball ahead and forward to Theo, Ozil and Sanchez. I think the thing at DM, is something we all saw last year and is one of the few limitations that Le Coq has, he tends to play it safe so he passes it backwards and sideways.

    Personally, I will NEVER like Ox in midfield, his possession and ability to not make a mistake in possession simply isn’t good enough. On the wing we are able to recover but in midfield, he simply doesn’t do it because of that. When Ox came on, nothing really changed, outside of the one run Ox made, he didn’t do anything. Elneny was close to connecting with Sanchez on a run Sanchez made in the box to the far post but he also made the quick pass to Sanchez that led to Valdes making a really good save. I get not putting Le Coq and Elneny together but lets not act like the front 4 for the most part weren’t poor yesterday as well and that played just as big a part.

  65. -DFS says:

    Bright –

    Well, it is attack with conviction isn’t it (or our lack thereof)?

    I do not quite agree with the idea this is down to slow distribution from midfield. We do pass and move the ball forward.

    The blame generally rests with the forward players who receive the ball, then overthink, overplay and overpass. That is not midfield endlesslessly passing it around outside the box,
    its the forwards.

    Why do we not have players running at full pace into the penalty area, taking on defenders one on one when we have some of the paciest players in the PL? Its not our style. The Ox pulls one off once in a blue moon and then he never attempts it again for the next several games.

    Another way to break down such a defense? Long range shots. This very week, Theo strikes a beautiful curling shot from outside the box against Ludogorets. How many times did any player attempt such an obvious strike against Middlesborough?

  66. silvergunner says:

    We will miss santi pure and simple the team loos more balanced in there with both him and coquelin in there.
    Still a point isn’t the worst result in the world in seasons past we would have conspired to loose that game.

  67. Wavey says:

    An interesting article on the Sky Sports website highlighting passing combinations between Arsenal players. It flags the importance of the combination between Cazorla and Ozil. By contrast, the three most successful passing combinations on Saturday were Mustafi to Elneny, Elneny to Coquelin and Coquelin to Elneny.
    I’m hoping Xhaka can link up as efficiently when he returns from his ban, otherwise we are very reliant on the little Spaniard yet again and any serious injury will be a disaster.

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