Psyche & Ramsey In A Key Week Ahead

It’s famine or feast this week. Tomorrow’s match in Bulgaria is followed by the north London derby and then it’s the tumbleweed of the international break. Although this time England have two interesting games at Wembley: Scotland and Spain.

The Champions League, dare I say it, has gone well results-wise and for once, we go into the home straight in a good position. And good form. We’re all aware that this week is the demarcation line between the good and the bad. Post-international break, we can expect our form to fall apart if we believe history is any indicator.

With the current squad, I’m not sure. They responded well to the opening weekend defeat to Liverpool; unbeaten in thirteen and I don’t think anyone can complain about that. Crucially, they are responding to ‘setbacks’ in a positive fashion. The three draws in that run have all been followed by resounding victories in the following game.

The real test comes after the next defeat. We know from the past that Arsenal aren’t always the best at handling them after long unbeaten runs. Some time ago – and I’m talking a few years back – I read a piece on baseball teams which suggested a sports teams collective reaction to losing was a reflection of their head coach’s psyche. If they handled defeat badly, the players responded similarly.

Psycho-babble claptrap? I know not and am loath to attribute that to Arsenal, even if Arsène is a self-confessed bad loser. It’s an interesting perspective though, possibly with a grain of truth. Sometimes you wonder who picks Le Boss up after a poor result. Maybe we won’t find out until the fabled book is published.

Tomorrow’s team selection will be interesting. More updates later today but we seem to have a few options for team selection. The manager was positively purring about Olivier Giroud after Sunderland but like Aaron Ramsey, is it too soon for a return to the starting line-up? In Ramsey’s case, there must surely be an element of caution given the nature of his injury, as well as the length of his absence.

Arsène hinted at that:

“I don’t know. I will have to analyse all that now, with Xhaka back. We play now in the Champions League and then we play Tottenham.

“So I have to see who I rest and who I play without diminishing the chance of the team to win the game.”

There are always those who ‘dislike’ a player, sometimes for no rational reason. However, Ramsey’s performances for Wales at Euro 2016 finally seemed to see a few who didn’t rate him, accept that he is a good player. Such changes of heart are often fragile at best and Ramsey certainly wasn’t helped with a spell on the right. Even for Arsène’s favoured ‘false winger’, he did have the turn of pace of say Ljungberg whose role he was emulating.

The manager admitted it wasn’t a role Ramsey enjoyed, noting that “he can play if needed on the flanks as well. That’s where he is not happy but he can play there as well.”

In the central role, he’s better in pushing forward rather the “holding” role Arsène suggested following the win at Sunderland:

“He is a player who is box-to-box so overall he pushes the team forward. That is what we want in our side. He has a tremendous drive, he’s a bit Lampard-ish you know, where he likes to get in the box, likes to shoot from distance and has similar quality.”

If two games in three days is demanding on a ‘fit’ player, it’s surely too much for one whose hamstring gave out before the final whistle in the opening game of the season.

Personally, I’m happy to see Ramsey back but I’m not sure in a full squad, with the favoured 4-2-3-1 formation, he is a player who automatically starts. I’d go as far as to say that he doesn’t with Xhaka, Coquelin and Cazorla ahead of him in the queue. With one or more of them missing, Ramsey offers an alternative to the smooth passing of Elneny; a more direct role, ‘box to box’ in footballing parlance.

Sometimes we’ll need that type of endeavour over the passing game. That’s not to say Ramsey can’t pass, far from it simply that he doesn’t pass and then loiter. The ball goes and so does he; against Tottenham and United for example, if Cazorla isn’t fit, I’d certainly put Ramsey in the middle alongside Coquelin or Xhaka.

Those are thoughts for later this week. I can’t see Ramsey featuring tomorrow as anything more than a late substitute, if at all. Kid gloves on his return, particularly since there is no pressing need to rush him back. Wales will no doubt try to knacker him up during the international break or will Chris Coleman heed his own words and use caution in Ramsey’s comeback? Expediency will overrule common sense, I’m sure; it always does in football.

’til Tomorrow.

78 thoughts on “Psyche & Ramsey In A Key Week Ahead

  1. Jonnygunner says:

    Now I’ll read the post Gov …..

  2. Jonnygunner says:

    Agreed with Rambo YW-it’s good to have him back but we’re not dependent on him as much anymore-the squad is much stronger now.
    Coleman is a grade one tosser-I really dislike him.He should also keep out of Arsenal’s affairs,as in when we decide to play a player who works for us(in real terms).Too many national managers/coaches have too much to say with regard to players Clubs.

  3. Damon says:

    The best scenario is that Santi makes the Derby game and we declare Rambo lame again for the internationals 😉

    I’d like to add, we need to have a professional performance tomorrow. I imagine they’ll be just as forward thinking at home as they were in London. They’ll run and fight until the game is beyond them. A three goal cushion, imo. Don’t rest too many from the start tomorrow

  4. Duke says:

    Pass and loiter…. You sure do encapsulate our players skills better than I Yogi. Exactly my point on Elneny. I’d like to see Elneny alongside Rambo, one going one loitering.

  5. nicky says:

    “There are always those who dislike a player, sometimes for no rational reason”.
    An indictment of some Arsenal fans (particularly at the Emirates) it would be difficult to deny.
    Frustration at the lack of performance is no excuse and should never lead to the disgusting abuse of ANY player wearing an Arsenal shirt. At ANY time.
    If we are to prosper this season, as many forecast, this attitude has to stop.
    The reputation of providing fickle support attributed to Arsenal fans as a whole, should be clearly refuted by the unqualified backing of whoever Arsene Wenger selects to be on the field. 😉

  6. Orson Kaert says:

    Good morning, pass and loiter? The fact that all our players are happy to pass but none loiter was the prime reason that we conceded the penalty on Saturday. Don’t condemn Elneny for passing and loitering, it’s part of his job to defend occasionally.

  7. YW says:

    nicky

    > The reputation of providing fickle support attributed to Arsenal fans as a whole,

    It’s football fans as a whole, not just Arsenal fans. Talk to any supporter of any club and they’ll tell you of the same mentality which pervades their support.

  8. YW says:

    OK

    I accused Elneny of being a “smooth passer”; I didn’t single him out in the ‘pass and loiter’ comment.

    However, given we got hit on the counter for Sunderland’s penalty, there’s a strong case to say the midfield were loitering instead of defending 🙂

  9. nicky says:

    @YW,
    With respect, I feel that the fans of Chelsea and Man United, to name but two, could teach us quite a lot in fervent; unqualified devotion for their respective teams at home matches. 😉

  10. silvergunner says:

    Morning YW a good read followed by a good weekend the spurs game is the definitive litmus test I hope Carzola is ready for that game. Leicester city showed that they can be caught on the counterattack and we must look to do similarly. Which is why santi is vital as he helps with that quick transition best in our squad.
    I also want to give Ox and Gibbs a massive pat on the back as they both played very well and proved to be that at the moment we have a squad to cope with the rigours of European and domestic football.

  11. YW says:

    Not if you’ve heard Old Trafford this season – the Manchester Morgue would be an appropriate nickname these days whilst Chelsea do literally only sing when they’re winning or else try to kick ten bells of whatever out of people.

  12. AK says:

    nicky,

    I support your point that we should restrain from abuse of players. I think Barca are a good model, they sing for any player who is on the pitch as if he is the best.No wonder Rafinha is on a scoring spree.

  13. YW says:

    Well, AK, they tend to sing for:

    (1) The stars, then,
    (2) The Catalan-born players who have come through the ranks.

    If you’re neither, they blow hot and cold on the players, more likely to shout/criticise/abuse them than be supportive.

  14. HenryB says:

    YW/Nicky Nacky,

    You seem to be cross matching the occasional abuse of certain individual players with the general lack of support of the team from time to time.

    Support for any player wearing an Arsenal shirt should be a given – it”s not — unconditional support for the team (always evident in away matches) should also be a given – it’s not.

    After games it must be the right of any fan to discuss with others the perceived weakness of certain players, or the team and/or the manager, as is the belief, in equal measure, that the players, the team and the manage deserve credit for ‘a job well done’.

    Unanimity of opinion from the fans is never going to happen Nicky. 🙂

  15. HenryB says:

    OK, OK, we have agreement.

    I happen to disagree with some fans’ lukewarm assessment of Elneny, because from my own observations, he is perfectly capable of doing the box to box stuff, but he has never to my knowledge ever entered the penalty box.

    He plays with cool, unflappable [tautology] skill and anticipation, and covers every blade of grass — right side, left side, up with the attack [shoooot] and then back helping out the defence, particularly the backs, and yet follows instructions not to go dolly-lapping upfield leaving the back door open.

    How to describe him? A defensive, attacking, calm passer of the ball and he can, occasionally, shooooot. Well so the crowd seem to believe. 😀

  16. Wailesy says:

    Good one Yogi.

    It’s one of the ugly truths of football globally unfortunately. No teams fan base is above it. I despise it. Players are still people after all. All except Icardi it seems.

    It’s a tricky week selection wise. I’d be inclined to play Gibbs and Ox again tomorrow if fit, leave Santi out regardless and maybe have Sanchez on the bench. Bellerin needs a early shower tomorrow before we break him. Between Elneny Lecoq and Xhaka I’m not too fussed.
    We need to start putting so called weaker sides to bed by the hour mark.

  17. HenryB says:

    Deloite’s have produced a table showing match day revenue in 2014/15 – interesting.
    Now all we need is to do better with the other sponsorship deals. 🙂

    Arsenal -Emirates Stadium – Premier League – €132 million
    Real Madrid – Santiago Bernabeu – La Liga – €129.8 million
    Barcelona – Camp Nou – La Liga – € 116.9 million
    Manchester United – Old Trafford – Premier League – €114 million
    Chelsea – Stamford Bridge -Premier League €93.1 million
    Bayern Munich – Allianz Arena – Bundesliga – €89.8 million
    Paris Saint-Germain – Parc des Princes – Ligue 1 – €78 million
    Liverpool – Anfield – Premier League – €75 million
    Manchester City – Etihad Stadium – Premier League – € 57 million
    Borussia Dortmund – Signal Iduna Park – Bundesliga – € 54.2 million

    I find it a little surprising??

  18. C says:

    I don’t think there was ever a debate about Ramsey being a good player, more, where does he fit. I think the difference is now, we have players in midfield and he doesn’t get the chance to walk back into the team or play his way fit and in form.

    Elneny, I leave for two days and he is still the topic of discussion.

  19. C says:

    Maybe instead of pushing Ramsey back in it, work him back slowly since we all know he hamstrings pull at the drop of a hat. Xhaka is back along with Le Coq, Elneny and potentially Santi in midfield so Ramsey doesn’t need to be rushed or pushed back.

  20. Wailesy says:

    I know C.

    Having watched the tennis match between you and Bill over who knows how long I thought I’d express a quick observation at half time which didn’t go down to well.
    Anyway good to have you back!

  21. C says:

    Is it just me or does the Mkhitaryan situation remind us all of when Mourinho did the same thing to Mata when he was at Chelsea. manure have been dreadful in attack yet Mourinho never uses him.

  22. Wailesy says:

    C,

    It’s great hey C!
    That team is crying out for Carrick and he won’t play him either.
    I love it!

  23. C says:

    Wailesy,

    I had a read and thought your observation was spot on. I think part of the problem is that thE PL focuses so much on power and pace that passers tend to get thought of as just passers and “anybody can do that”.

    The thing that he doesn’t get credit for is how much he actually looks and moves the team forward and joins in the attack himself.

  24. C says:

    Wailesy,

    Yup, instead choosing Fellaini who might be ome of the most overrated players in the PL.

  25. Wailesy says:

    C,

    Yep. You always hear pundits saying he’s not a Man U player. I’m glad he is.

    It’s kinda how I feel about Gabriel. Maybe that’s harsh considering some of the CB’s we’ve had over the last say 8 years.

  26. Pete the Thirst says:

    The abuse that Ramsey received from Arsenal ‘fans’ around me at the Liverpool game was amazing. It seemed he was being blamed for the poor team performance that day. When he got injured one ‘fan’ shouted: “Fuck off and die Ramsey”.

    He’s always devided opinion, but seems to have adopted the heel role at Arsenal recently. Could it be after he was seen celebrating England’s demise at the Euros? I don’t understand it. He’s a decent player.

  27. C says:

    Well done to Ox, Giroud and Gibbs this weekend though, I thought they showed value and quality as option B’s.

  28. Wailesy says:

    It’s a plan B C
    Couldn’t resist

  29. C says:

    Wailesy,

    I’m glad he’s a Manure player and Mourinho is their manager.

    Gabriel reminds me of Kos when he first arrived the difference though is that we have better CB’s now then then so Gabriel has to sit and wait while not being able to perfect his craft.

    Have to tip my hat off to Arsene thus far, he has managed the team well and also has built some depth.

  30. C says:

    Congrats to Asano who opened his goal scoring account.

    Also Crowley put in a MOTM perforance even though his side lost.

  31. Duke says:

    It’s not a plan B, it’s alternative 2.

  32. Bill says:

    Great post Yogi

    I got a bit of a chuckle out of your description of pass and loiter. Myself I think that works ok for our deepest midfielder. Pass and loiter was exactly what Arteta did and he was reasonably effective as the DM. I like someone who is a bit more dynamic in the other 2 midfielders. I don’t think pass and loiter or even worse pass and pass and pass and pass works well when you 2 midfielders doing it. When things are going really bad, Ozil even gets sucked into passing for its own sake.

    Ramsey is clearly a player who can be effective when he is in form and is put into the right situation. I think he needs more of a free role. His greatest asset is his engine and his ability to be “effectively disorganized” and turn up in the box when you don’t expect him there. We don’t really have a spot in our line up for someone not named Ozil who can play in that role.

    Ramsey had that incredible season in 13/14 and everyone expected him to continue to play that way but that was the season of his life and not something anyone not named Lampard could replicate. 2 years ago we complained about him being wide right and we argued endlessly about this but most people thought he just needed to move back to central midfield to regain his Lampard like form. Unfortunately he but he did not play any better last season when moved back to the central midfield. Aaron certainly does divide opinions but the reason is because he has not played well on a consistent basis since 13/14. Someone who plays well and lives up to expectations on a reasonably consistent basis does not divide opinions.

  33. Bill says:

    None of us, myself including is thrilled about the idea of having to count on Giroud to score goals regularly. However, the reality is that we need him because we don’t the goal scoring firepower without him being in a hot streak. We don’t have enough players who are a threat to score. Theo and Sanchez have carried us so far this season but neither has a history of season long consistency and Theo’s injury history certainly is a concern. If we lose scoring from either Theo or Alexis for any reason we would be back to the same struggles from last season. I know everyone was excited about the new pacey, interchanging line up. However, no matter how fast they can run or interchange or how many brilliant passes we make, you still need someone to actually score a goal and we are going to struggle against most teams if we have to start Iwobe and Ox as our wide forwards spots. The idea that Giroud’s lack of pace puts us at a tactical disadvantage is rubbish. The team has always played great when OG is scoring goals irregardless of how slowly he runs. The problem has always been that we have built a squad that does not have much firepower and we absolutely need scoring from him which means we crash and burn whenever he goes through his annual 15 game dry spell. It will be interesting to see how Arsene handles his line up decisions going forward.

  34. Bill says:

    I think Elneny’s elegant passing game would be at its best if he was playing in a role similar to the one Arteta had when he was playing DM. Our deepest central midfielders job description involves passing the ball a lot and he has to loiter in the center of the pitch so he can cover provide the needed defensive cover. If the DM passed and wandered the way Alex Song did then we will be in trouble. For a while we had just Flamini and a broken down Arteta and now our cup runneth over with capable DM’s with Le Coq, Xhaka, and Elneny. Xhaka is a nice player but I think we had that position reasonably well covered and I wish that money would have been spent on someone who could score goals but it never hurts to have more depth at any position.

  35. jonnygunner says:

    On Gibbs-and I know I’m up for being shot down here……he did have a good game(and rattled the post)-but,I do think he was up front almost too much throughout the match and got caught a few times not being able to get back in time.
    Pickford clocked it and lumped the ball into that area on more than one occasion.
    For everything he offers going forward,he must remember to defend.

  36. C says:

    Bill,

    But aren’t you suppose to build your team around the strengths of the lead striker, so if Giroud was our main striker than him scoring goals is part of his job and when he failed he needed to take the blame. No point in saying the secondary scoring wqs at fault especially when you consider that secondary scoring has NEVER been a problem. Ramsey, Theo and Sanchez off the top of my head have either led or was a couple goals off leading the team in goal scoring.

  37. Bill says:

    C

    I agree. Scoring goals, scoring goals, scoring goals, scoring goals, scoring goals are the 5 most important jobs for your central striker. When he stops doing that for 15 games then he becomes a liability. That is exactly why we have all been banging on about getting an upgrade for Giroud for the last 3 years. However, we have not bought an upgrade and he is still one of the only 3 players on the squad who are a threat to score. Realistically you don’t leave Giroud on the bench when he is in the middle of one of his hot streaks because he has proven he can carry the club for 10-12 games at time.

    For me the bottom line is that if Theo and Alexis could carry us for the rest of the season then we would not need to count on anyone else but based on past history I think its unlikely that both will stay healthy and continue to score regularly and if/when either or both slow down for any reason we are going to need Giroud to step up. He did that last Saturday but its a very slippery slope if we build our hopes based on the idea that OG will avoid his annual dry streak.

  38. philmar says:

    Thoroughly enjoyed the Sunderland game. As I said a few times the past few weeks when the board was full of posts suggesting we don’t have a place on the team for Giroud: we struggle against packed teams that do nothing but defend and play for a draw. Giroud is the focal point we need in the box. He will be the ever important Plan B. When he starts EVERY game and isn’t subbed off, afrter a month he lacks the energy to make the many selfless unrewarded runs that eventually lead to a goal. He doesn’t hound and harass opposite defenders with the ball like Sanchez does in that role. The less he plays, the better he plays. He gives us an aerial threat on set pieces. Without him the opposition doesn’t fear giving up corners. I just hope his ego can accept being a super sub.
    Gibbs was massive as well. I’d felt that Monreal had been very poor at stopping crosses in to the box and we were lucky not to have lost a few games because of that. We need to rotate or FBs a bit more so that they are fresh. Even Bellerin needs to be played a bit less because we risk an injury to him.

  39. philmar says:

    I doubt Wenger will start Giroud just because he scored a couple of goals (unless his goal is to rest Sanchez).. Sanchez does a lot in that role that Giroud does not.. He harries defenders and causes them to make hurried sloppy passes. This helps us maintain whatever control we have on the game. Giroud allows the opposition to relax more when they have the ball. I think Wenger likes Sanchez having more of the ball centrally. Giroud’s lack of pace and stamina isn’t an issue when he comes in as a sub against tired defenders.

  40. Bill says:

    An “in-form” Giroud can carry the team on his back. We have seen that several times before so he does have some up-side that is in short supply in the squad. If either Alexis or Theo are not scoring for any reason, then even in one of his cold streaks Giroud is probably a bigger threat to score then Ox or Iwobe or Ramsey or Joel Campbell who we are the other players we have used in the forward spots. Welbeck is not prolific and he can not carry a team but at least he is a threat to score and when healthy he is probably a better option when Giroud is in one of his barren spells. We have not seen enough of Perez to know where he fits into the mix.

  41. philmar says:

    Giroud carries nothing on his back except fashion models.
    When he scores goals it still is dependent upon the good service of others. He doesn’t create many of his own chances. His dry spells occur when he hasn’t had a minutes rest in a month.

  42. Bill says:

    Philmar

    First I don’t think the evidence suggests that “the less he plays the better he plays” Giroud’s hot streaks always happen when he is playing regularly. I also don’t think there are many players in history who are consistently good at the super sub role. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was pretty good near the end of his career but I don’t think there are a lot of examples. The super sub role worked for Giroud on Saturday because he came on full of fire. However, that adrenaline rush will quickly fade if he has to be a super sub for a prolonged period of time. The only time you need a super sub is when you are struggling and need to score so its very hard for a player to round into any sort of form when his minutes are very inconsistent.

  43. Bill says:

    Philmar,

    I agree that is part of Giroud’s problem is his lack of ability to create his own goals and he is dependent on a very specific type of service and he is going to struggle when our passing game bogs down. However, even in the worst of times we still do create some chances. Giroud’s other big problem is that his finishing runs extremely hot and cold. When he is hot he has a reasonable chance to score some of the 1/2 chances. When he is cold he can’t score anything other then a wide open 2 yard tap in.

  44. silvergunner says:

    I would like to see Alexis rested against Ludagorets, Giroud should be more than capable of doing the job up there and bring alexis back for the NLD a must win game imo.
    On the subject of Ramsey he will have to work hard to get back into his favoured midfield spot but I think if everyone is fit then Santi and Coquelin are the preferred pair. However the season is long and players loose form and get injured so he just has to keep his head down.

  45. C says:

    Bill,

    I tend to agree with you on Giroud and his scoring streak and the up and downs of that. The thing is, we have gotten contributions from Ozil (who can score but we know he likes to assist but nobody is doubting he has goals in them). I don’t think that anybody is saying that Giroud won’t be needed but the narrative, at least for me, is that he is best in the position he played against Sunderland; strictly as a impact sub that will get the odd start, like against Ludogorets.

    The biggest thing for Giroud is that, you simply never know when he is going on one of those runs of form. We have seen it where he grabs a brace and the thought is, “Here comes one of those hot streaks” and then nothing. The biggest difference to me is that Sanchez at CF impacts the overall match even in the event that he doesn’t score a goal because of the relationship that he has with Ozil, he is equally capable of creating a goal for Ozil as Ozil is for him. Not comparing them to Henry and Bergkamp but I think they have a similar type of relationship with Giroud acting as the Plan B.

  46. Bill says:

    Philmar @ 2:11

    I think most of us like Sanchez at CF because of Giroud’s past history and so far this season its been fun to watch and we have been effective without OG. However, the team always plays very well no matter who is at CF as long as that player is scoring goals. We should use whichever line up is most likely to score the most goals irregardless of how fast they run or any of the other tactical considerations that we often debate. So far this year things have worked quite well. However, history suggests that it will grind to a halt at some point if/when either Theo or Alexis stop scoring for any reason. I hope that makes sense.

  47. Bill says:

    C @ 3:09

    Its seems like being “captain obvious” to say this but its pretty clear from watching the team in this decade that the thing that impacts the game is when the CF is scoring goals. Its also important to have at least one secondary scorer such as Ramsey in 13/14 who is in form. The other stuff is much much much lower on the impact scale. Everything we do seems to work when we have an in form CF. You know that as well as I .

  48. AK says:

    the concept of Giroud as plan B has been cemented on everyones mind including pundits and so called media experts.
    While that is true, the dynamics of a whole season and a single match nay mean Plan A can be B or vice versa.
    This may be during a match or right from the start.
    What i like about this debate is that it is clear goal scorers have increased.
    Much as Giroud is lampooned for his 15 game drought the rest of the team was not any better.
    Walcott was so poor he came from starting as strirker to the wing and finally on the bench.
    Lets hope the goals keep coming so that we can have more plans

  49. AK says:

    Yogi,
    At least Barca cheer their homegrown and a few other select.
    I personally feel that Arsenal fans moods are dictated by the pundits.
    For example Ox is classified as “promising and talented” is never booed despite long disappointing spells.
    Ramsey who at least for me has shown a bit of his potential is classified negatively and the fans feed on that.
    Not that the pundits are wrong, its just how they say things that comes out the final verdict.

  50. philmar says:

    The big question becomes will Wenger rest a few of his players for the NLD match?
    Probably not since it is a Sunday match and we’ll have an extra day rest compared to the Spuds.
    I hope he doesn’t risk Santi. I’d prefer he rest Ozil and start Ramsay (provided Ramsay promises to stretch his hammies properly). If he starts Sanchez then I hope he subs him off early if we have a lead.

  51. C says:

    Since Giroud arrived in 12/13:

    12/13:
    Giroud – 17 goals
    Theo – 21 goals
    Podolski – 16 goals
    Santi – 12 goals

    13/14:
    Giroud – 22 goals
    Ramsey- 13 goals
    Podolski – 15 goals
    Santi – 9 goals

    14/15:
    Giroud – 19 goals
    Ramsey – 10 goals
    Sanchez – 24 goals
    Welbeck – 8 goals
    Santi – 8 goals

    15/16:
    Giroud – 25
    Theo – 10
    Sanchez – 17
    Ozil – 9

  52. AK says:

    Part of the reason Giroud and Ramsey divide opinion is because they were deemed important players at a time when most of the squad was under performing.
    This made their poor perfomances or glaring misses to be highlighted more.
    Ozil’s wastefullness against Sunderland would have been the main talking were it not for the emphatic score line due to generally good perfomance from the entire squad.

  53. Bill says:

    C

    Interesting data. Fair or not I tend to focus on league goals since the goals in the league cup games and the ones in some of the group stage CL games where we had already qualified and even goals in some of the early round FA cup games were not really high leverage goals. Every goal in a league game is a high leverage goal.

    I think we all accept the idea that the squad has played really well when the CF is scoring goals and Giroud has been the CF for most of the last 4 years. Easily our best 2 runs of form during that time were the first 1/2 of 13/14 when Giroud and Ramsey were both scoring and the first few months after Giroud came back from injury in the 14/15 season. This current run of form has been exciting and from an attacking standpoint its been mostly about alexis and to a slightly lesser extent Theo scoring. The problem occur when the results inevitably nose dive when the CF stops scoring for whatever reason.

    AK @ 4:12

    Fair enough. Ramsey has not been anywhere close to the impact player that he was in 13/14 irregardless of which position he played. Part of his problem is that he raised expectations to an unrealistic limit during that season.

  54. C says:

    Bill,

    Please don’t discount the work that Ozil and how important he has been as well!

    I wasn’t necessarily putting the data out to show one way or another Giroud’s influence, I was putting it out there because so often you hear people talking about secondary scoring and it actually shows that contrary to popular belief, we have had secondary scoring in some form or fashion over the past couple of seasons.

    Its about consistency more than anything.

  55. Bill says:

    I love iwobe’s potential as a central midfielder of the future but I hope his run as a forward is winding down. We saw last year that he played well as a forward for several games but then he hit the wall and his effectiveness started to decrease in the last 4 -5 games. I think his effectiveness has been fading in the last few game. Part of that is the fact that this often happens to U21 players but his inability to score also makes him a bit of a square peg and his upside as a forward is really limited. We should be grooming Iwobe as a potential Cazorla replacement which is a much better fit for his skill set. His passing ability is certainly more then adequate and I also think he might offer a more direct/dynamic player in that position.

    At least for now if Theo is healthy I would rather see Theo Alexis Ox and if Theo does not start then Alexis Giroud and Ox. If Alexis is not playing then Ox Giroud Theo. At some point it would be interesting to see how it worked with Alexis, Giroud Theo.

  56. Bill says:

    C

    Fair enough. Before this season, its been strange but if you look at our form chart and Girouds form chart the correlation is almost 100%. Alexis’ best run of form before this year was his first 1/2 season in 14/15 when Giroud was injured and we played very poorly despite Alexis scoring all of those goals. We regained form when Giroud can back from injury and started scoring but our form nose dived again when Giroud suddenly stopped scoring for no reason after game 31 of that season and we needed Theo’s goals to help us win the FA cup that year.

  57. C says:

    Bill,

    Well so far this season we haven’t needed Giroud outside of the Sunderland match as a Plan B, so lets see how things go moving forward.

  58. C says:

    For all those that think futbol is only about money. Think about this, Balotelli is currently leading the line and scoring goals as he is the spearhead of the Nice attack that sees them 6 points clear of 2nd place teams Monaco and PSG.

  59. Bill says:

    C

    I agree. I don’t think Giroud himself was a critical factor in our good runs of form. We played well in very short runs with Theo at CF when he was scoring. IMO positive contribution and scoring from the CF are absolutely critical. I am not sure what other conclusion you could draw after watching us since we rebuilt it in the post RVP era.

    As a couple of related points. I think we could decrease our dependence on good CF form if we had more firepower in the rest of the squad. We haven’t gotten much goal contribution other then penalties from our midfield in the last couple years continueing to to play non-scorers like Iwobe, Ramsey, Campbell and even Ox on one wing means that we don’t have much fluff in our system so the CF remains critical.

    I doubt Alexis and I am certain that Walcott can’t carry the team without both staying healthy and scoring a lot which means if we lose either one of them then Giroud becomes critical again.

  60. C says:

    Arsene said no Theo, Santi, Nacho or Bellerin. Well sounds like all are being rested for the NLD.

  61. C says:

    Bill,

    Have faith in Theo and Sanchez my friend, hell even RvP made it through 3 or 4 full seasons fit.

  62. Colts says:

    Aaron James Rambo Ramsey. I think it was telling when Wenger brought El Nino in January. I certainly won’t forget how ‘Stevie ME’ Aaron had become, a liability that had pushed Arsene’ patience to its limit.
    Not only did that buy show Aaron his grace was up, but for 5mil it showed how easily replaceable he was.
    I for one hope he sorts his head out, we don’t need him (thank God) but a focused Ramsey is a level up to Moe. He should be lookin at replacing Santi as Jack seems to be gone for good.

    Oliver I believe is quite sensitive, this leads me to think that if he feels he is the undisputed alternative 2, he’ll get petulant again.
    I’d start him often, Not only for his mental state but he’s good enough.

  63. C says:

    Sigurdson really does have some quality in him with both feet.

  64. C says:

    Colts,

    The thing is with Ramsey is that he has to keep playing it quick. He is at his best when he gets to touch the ball and take 2-3 touches but all season we have been at our best moving and playing quickly. If he can keep it simple, then he will be valuable. The other thing is, its not just Elneny(who is much more heir apparent to Santi especially next to Xhaka) but also Xhaka who he must beat out as we have seen Arsene likes to play him next to Le Coq.

    Jack is in an interesting position becausw he is getting match fit but as he showed Middlesbrough for their first goal, he doesn’t do the defensive work(think it was Damon who pointed it out how quickly he stopped running and the attacker cut right were he would of been if he kept running) and has yet to really boss the match like most think he should. Big year for Jack because our midfield is packed and the likes of Adelaide and potentially Iwobi(again defensivw duties he needs to work on) are coming through.

    Giroud is sensitive but do we start him over Sanchez who has been brilliant at CF, for me no but Giroud can spell him at times. Thing with Giroud is that he needs the motivation it seems but like you said ia sensitive when he doesn’t start.

  65. C says:

    Colts,

    The other thing I found interesting was Jack talked about Elneny being bought and Xhaka, was he not up for the fight or was it well and truly down to not getting match time……or somewhere in the middle. Guess we will find out by the end of the season.

  66. -DFS says:

    Oh Ramsey, Ramsey, Ramsey.

    I dislike fans being criticized (lectured to) concerning their disproval. More often than not, the ire does reflect something amiss. In the case of Ramsey, no fan woke deciding to simply get their hate on -he has bugged over an extended period.

    I have similar feelings about Ramsey and Wilshere. Undoubtedly talented, neither has progressed in years and both suffer from being pampered by Wenger. Every time they are on the ball I have the same visceral reaction.

    It is about them, not the team.

    They indulge themselves on the ball and surge forward. They dimwittedly do the opposition’s job – they close themselves down. Wilshere has perfected the art of running into a gaggle of players. I often sense they have no thought as to what they are doing next, such is the haze of self-revelry. They waste time, valuable seconds, over and over. Both regularly then dink off silly lateral passes to marked players placing them under pressure.

    I’m enamored of Elneny because he is the polar opposite, he is the Anti-Ramsey – efficiency and elegance (nicely stated above) personified.

    As for Ramsey, a cause of further irritation is his roving role. I would never encourage/allow even a brilliant player to do what as he pleased on the pitch. Allowing the not really brilliant Ramsey to run around mad-hatter-esque on the off-chance he might pull something out of his rear, is something I find vaguely insulting.

  67. Bill says:

    C

    We have 3 players on the squad that can be a threat to score and we need at least 2 of them in any high leverage game. We are putting ourselves at risk for a struggle to score if we start a game against almost any PL team with Iwobe and Ox as 2/3 of of front line.

    We will probably be OK with Sanchez and Theo starting and it won’t matter to much who plays on the other wing as long as both are healthy and in the sort of goal scoring form they have shown so far. However, if either of them struggle or get hurt then we need to use Giroud at CF. IMO.

  68. Bill says:

    I think Jack is over rated in a similar way to Diaby. Both moved well with the ball at their feet and both had a few games where they look unstoppable but the positive impact is incosistent and we over rate their effectiveness because the way they move with the ball at his feet is eye catching but unfortunately it did not often lead to something good happening. Perhaps things would have been different for either or both players if they could have stayed healthy.

  69. Colts says:

    C,

    Agree, hopefully Aaron doesn’t shirk away from the competition cos we’ll need as many bodies as possible. If he humbles himself perhaps he’ll get back to playing it simple. Not that I’m holding my breath but the competition in the squad this season will bring out the best in all hopefully.

    What struck me about Jack was Francis. Le policeman appears to have lost weight/improved his fitness. Whereas Jack, well…needs some fitness, fast.

  70. C says:

    Bill,

    Tend to disagree, look at the other clubs in the PL and those that have won the title, they all have a player like Pedro, Willian, Nasri(when Citeh won the title) that can score goals but tend to be more the worker or another creative player on the flanks. You can’t have goal scorers everywhere, its just not balanced futbol. Yes Barca do it, but that is the exception rather than the norm.

  71. C says:

    Colts,

    I wonder if all the clippings got to Ramsey and he wouldn’t be the first but comments like the ones he made about playing centrally and playing in a free role would have been fine in previous Arsenal teams but, and this is no knock on Ramsey, we have Ozil, Santi and in an emergency Sanchez who are all better in that position. Hopefully some humbling and him realizing the battle ahead for match time, will see him play it simple and fast and give us another quality option off the bench and in the squad.

    Jack, well I feel when fit and on form would be perfect next to Xhaka behind Ozil but that Jack needs to reappear fast. The other parts that were interesting and maybe show a more ruthless Arsene, is Jack talking about how Arsene spoke with him about coming off the subs bench. We all have seen, when Jack was fit, he started and that seems to have disappeared.

  72. C says:

    Bill,

    I prefer my midfielders to be top passers not ball carriers. Ball ALWAYS move faster than man!

  73. Colts says:

    C,

    I’m not so sure about either behind the wiz, both have excellent skill going forward but tend to switch off defensively. Jack more so than Aaron and their reluctance to track back or press especially in this new team will I think be a deciding factor in whether they stay or not. Even the wiz has put his status aside and presses well, tracks back within reason etc…

  74. Henryb says:

    Good morning — Hello — anyone there?

    I don’t know – Yogi must be away with the goblins overseeing their Xmas present making.

    Tut Tut

  75. Henryb says:

    I think there is a case for Bill and C to set up there own blog site as they really do not need the rest of us. 😀

  76. Henryb says:

    Bloody auto-correct I keep telling it that ‘there, their, they’re’ are all similar sounding but quite separate words with their own meanings – as is quite and quiet – but does it listen to me? Well, I guess it is quite quiet. 😀

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