Arsenal In Familiar Territory

Arsenal 2 – 2 Paris St Germain

So, Arsène, about this ‘big statement’ we had to make last night. Remind me, what was it again? Something about beating ‘big’ clubs? Well, we certainly did something big last night; a big balls-up of the whole situation.

A draw? We got away with it again. History books will show we played PSG twice, drew twice. Not a bad pair of results but there was something achingly familiar about last night’s match; it was not quite a re-run of the first meeting in Paris although not far short.

We didn’t concede an early goal but we did concede first. Another Cavani show and if the guy could finish consistently, he would be the first £100m footballer. I lost count of how many chances he missed; shot wide or at Ospina, or just headed wide.

He made it count on one occasion. When Matuidi turned Mustafi, his cross was expertly finished by Cavani who eluded Koscielny and Gibbs at the far post. The defending wasn’t good but PSG had served notice of their intent previously when Gibbs had cleared one off the line, although it looked as if it was going wide.

PSG were giving Arsenal a defensive masterclass. Every attack was snuffed out by numbers and well-time tackles or interceptions. When Iwobi threatened to unleash a piledriver, he was continually forced inside until he ran into two or three defenders. Forced into playing on the counter, we were then seduced into cul-de-sacs.

Until close to half-time when Alexis kissed the turf after falling theatrically. The referee didn’t give the decision initially so either the lino or fifth official did. PSG felt aggrieved and Cavani was in the thick of it, flicking a hand into Aaron Ramsey’s chest. The Welsh international needs to work on his theatrics. Holding his face, he looked like a schoolboy who had bitten too hard on some toffee than a genuinely hurt adult. La Liga expects more.

The time-wasting shenanigans didn’t have the desired effect as Giroud swept the ball home confidently. All level at the interval with another French striker getting to grips with the men in blue. This time it wasn’t a lorry driver outside of Calais burning tyres but Giroud putting his hands around Cavani’s neck, dealing with the Uruguayan as a team-mate should.

The second half was much better from Arsenal’s perspective; there was more purpose, more aim about their play. Despite that, it was PSG who almost took the lead when Lucas’ free kick rattled the woodwork. It was a tremendous shot and Ospina could do little but watch and pray.

And then Arsenal’s fortunes seemed to turn. Jenkinson’s cross was cleared against Veratti’s shin, hitting him mid-stride and the ball flew into the net. Comedy gold and more importantly, Arsenal finishing top of the group. Sunnier times were threatened as the game edged nervously toward its conclusion.

But just when you thought it was safe to stop covering your eyes, the football gods gave Arsenal the middle finger as Alex Iwobi, guarding the near post, didn’t get anywhere near enough power on a header and glanced it past Ospina. The Colombian was diving to his right and had a comfortable save to make before the Nigerian international’s intervention.

Arsène and the players tried to put a positive spin on it all but claims that we were dominant for large parts of the game may be true statistically but we didn’t threaten PSG’s goal. Wenger was right in pointing out we were too deep, too reluctant to press. It left PSG time on the ball and space to play in but even on the rare occasions we did press, they were confident and comfortable in playing their way out of trouble.

It’s another lesson we’ve learned the hard way. Another ‘big’ European team we haven’t beaten. A good opportunity spurned but we’re still unbeaten in 18. Three draws on the spin – four in the last five – is something of a concern. Confidence,  you sense, is vital for this squad to thrive and a return to winning ways is desperately needed.

So we finish second in the group. Yes, I know Ludogorets could spring a surprise but they haven’t so far in terms of results, so why expect one now. Or even hope for one. That assumes we win in Basle. Second place seems most likely and the only sides who we would really fancy our chances against are in Group B – Napoli, Besiktas or Benfica – whilst familiar names lie in wait elsewhere.

Still, if we’re going to think positively about the mess we’ve made, at least Bayern Munich can’t knock us out in the Round of Sixteen. Every cloud, etc.

’til Tomorrow.

 

79 thoughts on “Arsenal In Familiar Territory

  1. silvergunner says:

    Morning YW I honestly felt we should have won this game having taken the lead. I felt so sorry for Iwobi who looked so dejected.
    In the cold light of day we had rotated both full backs missed Walcott still playing a possibly not fully fit Alexis.
    I think ox looks good at right back past couple of times he has come on for jenks.

  2. Pete the Thirst says:

    I look forward to welcoming Barcelona to north London in February.

    The reserve team needs a run out at Basle (Bazil?).

    Lucas for PSG was the best player on the pitch. Cavani has great pace and times his runs well, but his finishing is distinctly Kaba Diawara.

  3. gunnerlife says:

    Must Arsene Wenger play Ramsey?

  4. silvergunner says:

    gunnerlife,

    Good point Ramsey is a conundrum he all know he is a good player but at the moment where does he fit into the arsenal team?

  5. gunnerlife says:

    silvergunner,

    That is the point silvergunner, for now Ramsey does not fit into anywhere in the arsenal team. Ramsey ahead of Xhaka? I laugh.

  6. Orson Kaert says:

    Thanks for the post Yogi, a true and honest assessment.

    I’ve closed the door on last nights match, I only wish we could close the door behind Ramsey as he leaves for……well anywhere.

  7. nicky says:

    The Lucas free-kick that rattled our crossbar should be the subject of a video lesson to all football defences. He aimed the kick directly at a team-mate adjacent to the wall, who, with excellent synchronisation, ducked, thereby allowing uninterrupted passage of a shot saved only by timber. 😉

  8. Arsetralian says:

    Orson Kaert,

    Did he play that badly?

    I only watched 2nd half and it just seemed a poor team performance

    Yes I would have started Xhaka but seems a bit harsh to single him out. Was Ozil or Sanchez better?

  9. silvergunner says:

    nicky,

    It was a fantastic free kick we were very lucky.

  10. Wailesy says:

    thanks Yogi,

    Ramsey may be a problem but he is not THE problem. A dead fish rots from the head.

  11. -DFS says:

    I chalked Saturday’s poor showing (which deflated all and sundry) down to classic Arsenal – Old Trafford, all the history with an added layer of Mourinho in the mix.

    But, as I watched the ‘first half o’ crap’ last night I reflected back on the Spurs and Manchester United games and I found myself asking an obvious question. How the hell could Arsenal face three huge rivals and play in such a thoroughly uninspired manner?

    There was not the slightest indication they were lifted or focused pre-game – they did not look enthused playing at home in front of 60,000 – they do not even look happy playing with each other.

    It occurred to me – is something really amiss at the club?

    Occasionally I pose ‘think of it from the player’s perspective’ – surely several question aspects of management. Before PSG scored I sensed I was watching a distinctly unhappy, low morale team. We know Wenger wants organic football…but at what point does that feel like an abdication of responsibility, that players grow weary of shouldering pressure to conjure fluid play without guidance?

    I even speculated players were not happy with the team selection or positions last night ( I can drill down specifically why later but do not have the time/inclination now) and then asked what if this has all been brewing for a while? Is this the manifestation the club is increasingly rudderless with the new players doing little but underlining the lack of ideas?

    I often think they look lost.

    We appear on an aimless downward trajectory compared to the upward one we thought we had embarked on this season. Does anyone else think, unless we hit a purple patch, we could be heading for a crunch time here?

    I am sorry to say but nothing looks right on any level.

  12. jonny says:

    Same ol’ same ol’.

    Thought Ramsey did okay tbf.

    Second half was, at least, exciting.

  13. Damon says:

    You can’t even suggest it’s interesting anymore. It’s soooo predictable, it’s boring

  14. Colts says:

    Nooners gooners.

    “We know Wenger wants organic football…but at what point does that feel like an abdication of responsibility, that players grow weary of shouldering pressure to conjure fluid play without guidance?” – DFS 11.53

    This.

    Is something I’ve pondered for some time and I agree they do look very lost more often than not. Especially against a bus or a well drilled press or when we decide to peg a hole.
    I also agree that players aren’t stupid and not only would this hippie freestyle football frustrate but they know who and who they don’t really want to play with.

    Still time to turn it around but the signs are looking depressingly familiar.

  15. jjgsol says:

    By way of reason and not excuse, I wonder whether our general lacklustre and uninspired performances during November have anything to do with the fact that we have have already had 2 international breaks, which must disrupt the training flow of the players.

    Different managers have different training styles and I’ve no doubt at all that the 10 or so players who go away to join 6 or 7 international teams for a two-week period have to learn or get used to a new style of playing and training and then have to revert when they come back.

    This could be why, historically, we’ve always played badly after an international break.

    All teams have bad patches so let us hope that this is ours for the whole season and that they will pick up their Mojo soon and begin to play like we know they can.

  16. Buckagh says:

    jjgsol,

    come jjsol, thats the lamest excuse yet, we were lucky to get a draw last night, we are making much out of an unbeaten run since opening day, Chelsea apart we havent been impressive, i sense there is worst to come

  17. jerry says:

    Got away with it but this year Bayern and possibly Real Madrid will be second.I never get to worked up about how far we go…you either win it or you don’t.One thing,an awful lot of empty seats last night I thought?

  18. Highbury says:

    So, what do you “Einsteins” propose? Dismantle the team? Fire the manager? Let’s hear it from you.

  19. Colts says:

    Highbury,

    Firing him would be disrespectful for me, still like the dude. I’ll be livid if he signs on for another three though, hell, even one. If he can’t turn it around count me in any protest that comes about. No need to dismantle anything, a few tweaks perhaps. Like no Ramsey on the left wing for instance.

    Einstein was a fraud ?

  20. Orson Kaert says:

    I thinking Jonny has put his finger on the problem, same ol’ same ol’.

    Everything at Arsenal is a dull, repetitious routine. The playing style doesn’t change it slowly evolves, and then not so much by choice as by force of circumstance. GIroud not available? Wenger is forced to play Alexis in the role. Does it work? Initially yes, but other clubs learn to defend against the ploy and Alexis exhausts himself.

    Wenger’s response is to revert to type, Alexis on one wing Giroud in the middle and Ramsey on the other wing.

    There appears to be no intensity in our players game. They are just going through the motions. They get no response from the manager whether they are good, bad or indifferent. Indeed the only animation we see from the manager is a fist pump if we score, a fumble with the infamous zip and a moan a the fourth official.

    Everything is predictable and boring for the players as well as the paying customers. (There are no longer any fans).

  21. YW says:

    Jerry

    Doubt Real will. Their last game is Dortmund at home and they will fancy their chances.

  22. C says:

    The one thing that was probablg most evident to me and bothered me the most was the difference in pressing or wanting the ball back. Early in the season we hunted in packs and even when teams figured out how to defend Sanchez we were still creating chances because of tempo and wanting the ball. Against PSG, there was none of that, Motta and Veratti literally walked around midfield with no pressure. For the first goal, sure Mustafi shouldn’t have been turned, but there was literally no pressure from either Le Coq or Ramsey on the ball.

    Then we we finally did get the ball, PSG hunted and won it back quickly.

    We need to go back to playing like we did early in the season and allow for the plan B to be Giroud and Ramsey’s style.

  23. jerry says:

    Yogi….didn’t realise that…onwards and upwards!

  24. HenryB says:

    I thunk you are on to something there, Orse.

    “Wenger’s response is to revert to type, Alexis on one wing Giroud in the middle and Ramsey on the other wing.”

    What we need, for heaven’s sake is Alexis flying on two wings, Giro in goal and Ramsey on top of him. That’ll be different and sort things out – or of course we could say stuff it to the 25 man squad and go get another 25 players to add to the first 25 lazy sods.

    Think I’ll put your name forward as the new coach and Orse. 😀

  25. HenryB says:

    C,

    I have been meaning to ask you something.
    Apparently Theo came on in the 80th minute – I saw the subs board being held up — but did he actually come on? Can’t say I actually saw him on the pitch – let alone have a shot.

    Can you confirm? 😀

  26. jonny says:

    From F365 –

    Granit Xhaka
    I know we live in a footballing age where transfer fees hardly matter, but that doesn’t make them immune to questioning. When Arsenal made Granit Xhaka one of the most expensive central midfielders of all time, supporters hoped that they finally had the answer to a question plenty were getting fed up of asking.

    Xhaka’s legacy at Arsenal will not be decided by his first four months in England, but it’s certainly true that he’s already playing catch-up. Of Arsenal’s 19 matches this season, Xhaka has started only eight. That’s five fewer than Francis Coquelin. Upgrade has become understudy.

    It’s hard to know quite what Xhaka has done wrong. Before the north London derby earlier this month, Arsene Wenger spoke of his concern that his midfielder’s aggression might boil over in such a heightened atmosphere.

    “I’m a bit concerned yes because the discipline is important,” Wenger said. “He’s quite normally a composed and calm guy – sometimes he has a reaction that is a bit impulsive. He has to work on that and keep control of his reactions in the game.”

    Xhaka’s response was to produce a man-of-the-match display during which he not only kept his temper in check but failed to even concede a foul – 14 other players in that game did. Wenger’s reaction to that performance was to leave Xhaka on the bench for both Arsenal’s next two games. Arsenal fans have not taken kindly to that, and you can see their point. Arsenal’s record when he starts is six victories and two draws. They have conceded six goals across those fixtures.

    Xhaka’s place on the fringes of the first team is particularly odd given Wenger’s usual treatment of his expensive purchases. The other members of the top four (Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil and Shkodran Mustafi) have each been in the starting line-up from day one and never lost their places.

    Whatever the reason, Xhaka is unlikely to be content with being the third option in central midfield. If the injury to Santi Cazorla created an unexpected gap, Xhaka has not been the beneficiary of another’s misfortune. You suspect that he did not envisage being Coquelin’s back-up.

    Arsenal
    Some of the reports on Arsenal’s draw with Paris St Germain on Wednesday praised Arsene Wenger’s team for their resilience in holding on for a 2-2 draw despite being outplayed for large periods at the Emirates Stadium. That’s all very well, but counts for sod all when that result was a virtual defeat. Having beaten Ludogorets 6-0 in October, Arsenal are left hoping that the Bulgarians get an unlikely point in Paris. Don’t waste your time worrying on that one.

    This was Arsenal’s big chance, and they blew it again. Having been gifted several second chances by Edinson Cavani’s profligacy in the return fixture, victory would have been enough for Arsenal to top their Champions League group for the first time since 2011/12. As the final whistle blew, you could pencil in PSG’s name on the end of a list that includes Schalke, Borussia Dortmund (twice) and Bayern Munich. At least it’s not another German team pushing Arsenal into second place.

    The most galling thing for Arsenal supporters is that their team did respond to adversity, rebuilding after Cavani’s early goal to take command of the match and thus the group. Rather than close out the game, Arsenal were guilty of leaving a marker free in the box. A lack of communication between Alex Iwobi and David Ospina did the rest. Their defending across both games against PSG has been poor.

    The mitigation to the disappointment is that finishing top of the group may be just as likely to end in tough last-16 assignment as ending in second. Yet that should not absolve Arsenal of the questions that Wenger himself pondered post-game (and Matt Stead did too).

    “We have not lost, but we have lost a winning momentum a little bit but we played against a good team,” Wenger said. “Sometimes you go through spells when you win a bit less. But we have to continue without losing and transform draws into wins. There’s no reason to panic.”

    Wenger is right on avoiding panic, but let’s not pretend this was anything other than bitterly disappointing end. “I think we are ready to compete,” he said on Tuesday. “I feel that the English clubs are closer again. We saw Man City winning against Barcelona. We have an opportunity to show it against Paris Saint Germain.”

    And that opportunity was spurned. Having been given the chance to prove themselves against the best Ligue Un has to offer, Arsenal fell short. Even the most optimistic of supporters could not pretend that they merited victory in either game. Cue Barcelona in the last 16?

  27. -DFS says:

    Jonny –

    (I had a follow up written some time ago to my intiial post but left it. Came back and saw you had cut the essay from 365 re Xhaka…so thought I would add this after all)

    We bought new players, have a stronger squad, possibly the strongest on paper, yet appear clueless rather than seriously challenging – whilst the progress at Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City is palpable.

    If I was in the squad, I would be wondering why Campbell is sitting on a bench in Portugal, when, with Perez out and yet tested, we have no one on the left?

    I would asking what was the point of Xhaka?

    If I was Giroud I would be pretty hacked off I wasn’t trusted to start against PSG without Sanchez on the field after he bailed us out at O.T.

    If I was Ozil I’d be asking if Sanchez is now playing No 10?

    If I was any squad member I would be asking why Ramsey has been so favored.

    I’d likely have questioned training, injuries, team selection and tactics for an awfully long time… I would dwell on the lack of clarity surrounding Wenger’s tenure (an ongoing saga for some years for them).

    If the board had a backbone, this should have been called as Wenger’s last season before moving to a club ambassador role. It would be on Wenger to make the best of his final season. The squad and fan base would energize on two levels – to support Wenger through a fitting exit and to impress an incoming manager. It would be a win win if anyone had balls.

    From one perspective, we hardly plumbed new depths against Spurs, Man U and PSG. But from another, when you compare vitality and enthusiasm between the managers, players and the fans at City, Liverpool and Chelsea the difference is unnerving (regardless – all those teams have faced some difficult days this season).

    Forgive the pessimism, but a feeling washed over me during the PSG game, something very fundamental was wrong. I believe the first positive move would be to decide, then declare it Wenger’s last season as soon as feasible.

  28. consolsbob says:

    Before the game Arsene was quizzed on the importance of winning the group. He, as always, made it clear that it wasn’t of definite importance. He is, of course, correct.

    However, that was one more example of failing to give a clear message of winning intent to the team and fans. In other words, second in the group was probably good enough.

    On every recent occasion when we have had it in our power to take charge if a situation, in the CL group or PL, we have failed to do so.

    A failure of confidence? Determination? And where do we think that might stem from?

  29. nicky says:

    True to form, the doom and gloom merchants have quickly emerged following our home encounter with PSG last night. Conveniently forgetting our fighting draw with the best team in France in Paris earlier this season.
    They need reminding that we didn’t lose last night and we are more or less guaranteed first or second place in our Group.
    No team produces 100% performance every game and due respect should be awarded to our opponents on the night.
    We missed Cazorla and without Iwobi’s unfortunate mistake towards the end, PSG would have departed without a point.
    But there is much still to play for and to write off Arsenal FC at this stage would be foolish in the extreme. 😉

  30. C says:

    HenryB,

    I can confirm he came on. Ofcourse he would be judged by you. 😉

    Next thing you know people will be blaming how slow we played on Elneny, wait…..

  31. C says:

    Funny, passing from our pivots was utter shit and yet, werw are those that banged on about how we played slowly because Elneny was constantly passing it backwards and sideways?!?!? Funny how that works huh?

  32. C says:

    nicky,

    You could also say without Veratti’s misfortune we wouldn’t have scored 2, lets not forget that Cavani for the 2nd time decided that he was going to give Kos a battle and of not for some poor finishing coupled with Ospina making some really good saves, he could have hat trick.

  33. -DFS says:

    Nicky –
    “True to form, the doom and gloom merchants have quickly emerged…”

    Easy to characterize things thus, that you are magnanimous with the draw, however my exact opening pre-game comment for fuller context…

    ‘We need to stop PSG scoring to state the obvious – I hate to be conservative but a dull draw would suffice’

    I knew what was at stake and simply wanted to top the group. I posted a side which could defend the flanks and close the midfield. We did neither. I ended…

    ‘That said, I want to see an effing Arsenal team take the field with conviction and belief (whoever is playing)’.

    I have no issue with a hard fought draw and believe some defeats are glorious.

    However framed, neither of those are what is being discussed. It’s with the spirit the current Arsenal game is being played I take issue.

  34. Wavey says:

    C,

    And Sanchez seems to thrive in that set up. He needs the players around him pressing as well and he also seems to work well with movement around him. In a slow build up it is too easy for defenders to mark Sanchez out of the game as the lone man, so he drops deeper and deeper in search of the ball. We then end up without a striker as Sanchez becomes another number 10.

  35. HenryB says:

    Nicky @ 10:56

    Quite right sir, but why do you worry about what others think or say, they have a right to do so – as do you. In addition you have a right to ignore them – and me, come to that! 😀

  36. Orson Kaert says:

    YW,

    Excellent Yogi, I planned to be by lunchtime too, now I shall stay abed a little longer in order to read your post in comfort. ‘Til then zzzzzzz.

  37. C says:

    Wavey,

    Completely agree but he Sanchez doesn’t become a #10, even though Ozil is still pulling the strings. Its interesting because people wanted a different striker and even when we weren’t scoring, we were creating chances but in the more slow back off tempo, we don’t. Its not just Sanchez but Ozil and anybody who thinks it can’t work should look at Leceister, Liverpool, Citeh, Spuds(to some degree).

  38. andy1886 says:

    Nicky, we were set to come first or second in the group anyway ?

    Personally I’m not going to gripe about it because things panned out pretty much the way I expected, which doesn’t give me great foresight because I suspect that are large number of fellow Gooners (including YW and others) did exactly the same.

    Would it be remiss of me to predict a poor performance in the first leg of the next round followed by a rousing yet ultimately futile rally in the second?

  39. Dukey says:

    I’m eating my avocado, salmon and brie with a sprinkling of parsley on ciabatta lunch Yogi!

  40. C says:

    Perez is back in training and looks to be in contention for the EFL on Wednesday, thats good news. He is a left footes player that can play on the LW.

  41. Orson Kaert says:

    Mmmmm. Hunger is forcing me to get out of bed, although a mixture of salmon and brie is no incentive to do so, but the smell of baking bread wafting from the kitchen is lure enough. Hey ho, off with the duvet.

  42. YW says:

    Andy – Yup.

    Anyway, apologies I’m beaten by time today so I’ll be back in the morning.

  43. C says:

    So Arsene has confirmed that Arsenal will offer Jack a new deal, that might mean the end of Santi which for me isn’t smart at all but whatever.

  44. Bill says:

    Yogi. I think taking you should take a day off now and then even if you are not tired.

    C.

    Only a true football romantic would have watched this team for the last 10 years and still believed that style is more important then substance and thought that a team whose only firepower was Alexis and Theo could carry us thru the entire season.

  45. Bill says:

    Anyone who has watched the team for any length of time has to accept that an Arsene Wenger managed team has no chance to maintain the sort of adrenaline fueled energy and pressing that we had for that run of a few games in September and early October.

  46. Bill says:

    No amount of rest and rotation is going to change the fact that Arsene’squads just don’t have that mentality irregardless of who plays.

  47. Bill says:

    Sanchez probably still has a touch of Barca mentality but I don’t think there is any evidence to suggest that players like Theo, Ozil, cazorla, Ox, iwobe have the same level of drive needed to maintain that energy level for more then a few games.

  48. Bill says:

    Once the adrenaline wears off you are left to rely on defensive solidarity and firepower. Time will tell but I think we have the personnel to maintain the former if we makecthat a priority but we fall short on the latter especially if we make the decision that Giroud is not a starter.

  49. C says:

    Bill,

    Style and substance aren’t mutually exclusive and thats the problem. Actually when you look at the recent winners, hell even back to Fergie; its a collection of both style and substance, hell even Mourinho’s Chavs had style and then just grinded at the end of the season.

    I don’t understand why Xhaka doesn’t start but to say playing a quick high pressing tempo style doesn’t work, there is nothing to say it can’t. Well even though Leciester played on thr counter, they constantly pressed you.

  50. Bill says:

    You have to build your teams year long strategy based on realistic expectations. The idea that we can play a high energy pressing style for a full year or that we have enough firepower with Theo and Alexis as our only legitimate scorers are not realistic expectations.

  51. Orson Kaert says:

    Bill,

    Have you discounted Giroud entirely?

    To be fair Wenger wasn’t planning on Lucas Perez being injured for the first half of the season, and Giroud’s late return after the summer tournament hasn’t helped. But just think how well off we are going to be once Welbeck and Perez are fully fit and Giroud gains an unprecedented level of regular goal scoring for the second half of the season.

  52. G4E says:

    My Seasonal Pipe Dream……

    So we finish 1nd in the group stage, we meet Barca or Bayern Munich, we knock them out and we go on to win the Champions League……..What a great achievement for Club, Manager, and players!

    Then the reality hits:

    Small teams like the Spuds, Basel, etc…Go out of the group stage.
    Middle class teams like Arsenal (the neither here or there) go out in the knockout stage.
    And then the Big Teams compete for the Trophy.

    ***

    That’s what we’ve become, a middle class team, and judging by what’s going in the world, we are more likely to go poor than go rich.

    Our only chance is for a Billionaire who doesn’t care about the money and cares more about winning, someone who loves football not money. Someone like Abramovich or the Ethad people who don’t really give a fuck about the money. Until then, I doubt we are going to win anything more than an FA Cup every once in a while.

    Now back to smoking the Pipe Dream…..

  53. Bill says:

    C @ 3:31

    You have watched the team for as loony as I have. Do you really think it’s possible for an Arsene Wenger managed team to play with the intensity of last years Leicester for more then a few games on the trot? It won’t happen.

    You can play whichever style you like if you have the right players. On the other hand there is no style which will work for a full season if you don’t have enough firepower.

    We don’t talk about it as much as we should but we also need to play solid defense for the whole season. I think we have adequate personnel but based on past history the mental fortitude to do that is still a question mark at best.

  54. Bill says:

    Orson.
    Mi am not discounting Giroud but a lot of people have. We have proven that an in form Giroud does give us adequate firepower for 10-12 games before he runs into his annual barren patch. We need to use him when his tail is up.

    Counting on welbeck and Perez are pipe dreams. Welbeck is 26-27 years old and has been around for a long time and never scored in double figures in his career and who knows how well he comes back from this long injury layoff. Perez is 28 and has had one decent season in his career. We should bought a couple of new forwards last summer instead of handing the full time starting LW position to iwobe.

  55. Aaron says:

    We have guys coming back: Perez, Santi, Wellbeck and Per and a rested Giroud and Ox.
    New guys wanting to play: Elneny and Xhaka.
    Drew against 3 tough teams and will continue to march onward and upward.
    Just think, $h*ty lost Kompany for another few weeks-they will be dropping points and going nowhere.
    Optimistic going forward.

  56. Bill says:

    Orson

    It’s about realistic expectations. If everyone like welbeck and Perez were healthy and in good form and if Giroud and Walcott were more consistent and stayed healthy and we had a lot of good luck with injuries and none of the rest of the usual top of the table teams went off then everything would be good. How much chance is there if all off those things happening?

    IMO Arsene has always built his squads based on being sure we have enough to hold on to the top 4 and then hoping for good luck and unrealistic expectations to take us over the top.

  57. C says:

    Bill,

    I understand that but its not just about playing the high pressing and high tempo every min of every match, the key is being able to do it for more oftwn than not and having a defined style of play and sticking to it.

    I actually agree about defense and while no one player can impact that more than any other, the fact that Xhaka has started 8 matches I think and when he starts we give up less shots on target and have only conceded 5 goals is where we need to start in midfield.

    The firepower is there; Sanchez, Theo, Ozil can all get double digits in the PL and for the past decade or morw the team that wins the PL generally only has 2 is a plus especially when you consider we will get goals from others or at least just enough.

    We had a defined style early in the season and were not just scoring goals but creating chances, a couple of matches we abandoned that, why is the question and its not about teams figuring it out because if that was the case then Liverpool, Citeh and Chavs wouldn’t be scoring as many goals as they do; its the unwillingness to find a style that combines both style and substance and sticking to it and then should the match dictate, make subs to adjust, ita why we have a bench.

    Everybody talks about a strong backbone to a team and when played together we have one of the best, so when fit especially against big clubs or rivals the first names on the team sheet should be: Sanchez at CF, Ozil #10, Xhaka, Mustafi/Kos, Cech. Then we fill in around them with Theo at RW, Bellerin and Nacho at FB. The biggest positions that have decisions are LW and next to Xhaka. Give me that and we can win the PL, constantly changing for Giroud and Ramsey is madness. Yes Giroud scored against PSG, but through the years I have seen people disregard the goals from penaltt spots; actually a couplr of us thought that Cavani would be a brilliant signing prior to him moving from Napoli to PSG and the one thing that kept popping up was that he took penalties so minus those goals.

  58. Bill says:

    During the entire Emirates era I think Arsene has built his squads and tactics based on unrealistic expectstions. The idea from the early Emirates era that we could win with attacking football with defense as nothing more then an afterthought was never realistic.

  59. Bill says:

    Aaron

    I bet that every top of the table team can probably point to a few players who are out of form or injured and how much better they will be when everyone gets healthy and finds their best form.

  60. Bill says:

    ManU has unlimited potential if all their players were healthy and hit their stride. Spurs have had a very injury plagued start. If Sturridge couid stay healthy then Liverpool would be even better. Chelsea might be unbeatable if Costa could stay healthy and in form. Same with ManCity and Aguero.

  61. Bill says:

    C

    It’s a pipe dream to suggest that we have the energy of mental strength to play the way we did in Sept and Oct for an entire season. We have seen a run of form for part every season of the Emirates era where we are the best team in the league and everyone gets excited. However, For arguments sake the best any team can expect is spending 1/4 season in top form, 1/2 season in average form and 1/4 season in bad form. We have often been the best in the league when we are in top form but the same is true of most top of the table teams. We have not had the firepower to score enough or the mental strength to defend at our best during the part of the season where our form is average or below. I think your ideal scenario where everything works just the way we want for a full season has never been realistic.

  62. Bill says:

    It’s amazingly frustrating that the football gods gave the opportunity of this century last year when all of the other top of the table teams crapped the bed and yet we could not take advantage and we let Leicester beat us by 10 points. The other top of the table teams could say the same thing but they went out and made some major changes and got new managers. We kept the same manager and did not fix the biggest single problem which was shortage of firepower.

  63. Bill says:

    I think Mustafi was a big addition but Xhaka just reinforced a midfield which was already strong and hoping he is a major difference maker and will our attack is not realistic

  64. Bill says:

    Anyone who watched the team last year had to conclude we needed some major upgrades upfront. You can’t change that with tactical tweaks.

  65. C says:

    Bill,

    I think your missing the point, its not about form, its about being able find a couple moments of quality or class that can win you a match but a style has to be established. You talk a lot about Fergie, he had a defined style of play and instead of adapting to the players and playing favorites, he had players that either bought in or were gone. Arsene had that for quite a long time and it produced but we lacked the defensive quality, now with better players we saw that style return at the start of the season and then Arsene went back to his favorites. For instance, why against Manure and PSG did Arsrne talk about players with fight and experience yet leave Xhaka on thr bench on the back of his MOTM performance in the NLD, because he preferred Le Coq and Ramsey, both neither have the fight or experience that Xhaka brings.

    Arsene has to figure it out now!

  66. Bill says:

    C

    Fergie changed tactics depending on the opponent and the current form of his club and which players he had available. He certainly played differently against Arsenes teams compared to lower table teams. Maintaining a specific style just because that is the way you like to play irregardless of your form and which players are healthy and in form is shooting your self in the foot. It’s Style over substance. Arsene has always been stubborn and is much more of a style over substance guy then fergie ever was.

    Do you really think Arsene has told the players to stop pressing and stop playing the way we were? He would love nothing better then to have us play the way we did in sept and oct but no team can maintain absolute top form for long periods of time. that is not possible.

  67. C says:

    Bill,

    Rubbish my friend, Leicester won the PL with PL tweaks and having only 2 goals scorer in Mahrez and Vardy. They went from bottom of the PL, changed their style both with the madman and continued with Ranieri, Chelsea did it under Mourinho with on Hazard and Costa likely to score goals. I

  68. Aaron says:

    Bill,
    Just pointing out we are getting healthy at the right time.
    $h*ty is a tough, tough team, but without Kompany they are average.
    Look at the historical with him in the squad and without- that guy is it for them, same goes for aguerro and his snappy hammies.
    Pool will never get Sturridge healthy, and Costa was tamed by our D last time they played and Arsenal got that problem nicked.
    Looking forward to dismantling Bournemouth.

  69. Bill says:

    C

    The way we played earlier this year was another run of good form just like we have seen every year for the entire Emirates era. It was not the dawn of a new tactical era.

  70. Bill says:

    If we want something really different I think we need a new manager.

  71. Bill says:

    C

    We could probably have a good chance to win if Walcott and Alexis Couid both stay healthy and play the way they were earlier in the season but what is the chance of that? That is the whole point we are counting on something happening that has not happened in 10 years.

  72. Bill says:

    Theo has been with us more then 10 years and H as never stayed healthy or in form for more then 1/3 of a season. Perhaps 1 year out if 10 he has had 1/2 season. Sanchez has also been up and down. Expecting a whole season from either is just not realistic.

  73. Bill says:

    Anything is possible and may be this will finally be the year that everything goes right and the football gods gift us with nothing but good luck.

  74. Bill says:

    The stronger the squad the less you have to depend on better then average luck to maintain title challenges and we didn’t strengthen the weak area of our squad last summer.

  75. Bill says:

    The stronger the squad the more likely you are to be able to withstand bad luck such as injuries or a loss of form by one player.

  76. Kevon Robinson says:

    It’s been one of the best historic articles with many facts to know about Arsenal!!!

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