Charity Begins At Home & Mesut Özil Scores With A Header

Arsenal 3 – 1 Stoke City

It was far from a vintage performance but that doesn’t matter. Three points sends us to the top of the Premier League albeit briefly. Indeed, the way this morning is shaping up, Chelsea will be back there by the time this post goes live. Oh, and Mesut Özil scored with a header.

Charity begins at home they say and Lee Mason, in Arsène’s view, was charitable in his decision to give the visitors a penalty. It’s fair to say that Wenger is the only one who doesn’t think it was a penalty;

“It was not a penalty, I was surprised”

Xhaka’s bodycheck was a foul; the only surprise came when he didn’t get his second red card for the forearm smash across Allen’s face.

The ‘Welsh Pirlo’ later bodychecked Hector Bellerin before skewing his shot wide; similar foul, different reaction from the referee. All we ask – just as our fathers and grandfathers before us – is that the referees apply their judgement consistently. If they do that, most of our complaints are specious but Mason is one of the worst offenders in that sense. Every time he officiates, it’s the same routine.

If his donation was the penalty, my There, that’s my donation to charity: magnanimity in the face of victory.

One Ton Theo From Totteridge

The weight lifted from the young man’s shoulders with his one hundredth goal in club matches, his 95th for Arsenal. Walcott was a key contributor to the victory, lively and inventive and putting in the performance levels in recent games which we’ve missed.

When the equaliser came, it was beautifully simple. Alexis’ perfectly weighted pass found Hector Bellerin whose cross was met by Theo with a perfectly timed run. Simple and catching the goalkeeper out with a well-executed near-post flick. Simple is often best.

He and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are in a groove at the moment and long may it continue. The issue in most people’s minds is that we’ve been here before and suspect that the form of one or both will dip at some point. That’s something the manager and players have to address.

What’s been impressive is the way they link together with the headline acts of Alexis and Mesut Özil. Barring an injury crisis or tiredness, it’s hard to see any of them not starting the next few games. Which is harsh on Lucas Perez, who I thought ought to retain his place in the side following his Basel hat-trick but unquestionably, Arsène got his team selection right yesterday.

Country Music Isn’t The Only Thing With A Twang

However, the victory came at a price. Shkodran Mustafi looks like he will be out for three weeks. The manager confirmed that in his post-match press conference,

It’s a bad one. He had nothing in midweek. I would not have played him today (if he had). I had Hector Bellerin on the bench and I could have played Holding or Gabriel. He wanted to play in Basel, because he said ‘no it’s nothing’, and it was completely clear. I checked three times and there was no problem for. I don’t know why it happened, but it looks a ‘good’ hamstring strain.

on the timeframe for Mustafi’s return…
Look, the minimum when you go out like that is 21 days. After that, today is December 10, so you are 21 days, that means he’ll have a nice Christmas!

It’s a concern only because he has been a lynchpin at the back this season. The trips to Everton and Manchester City are intriguing from a team selection perspective. Both are incredibly vulnerable at the back but for different reasons. The Toffees have been undone by stereotypical forward play in the last couple of games while City were ruthlessly punished on the counter yesterday and by Chelsea. Does Arsène play Giroud on Tuesday and then Alexis on Sunday?

At the back, he has a similar problem. Gabriel is definitely going to partner Koscielny next weekend so does he ‘protect’ the Brazilian and play Holding on Tuesday or is Per Mertesacker the answer for one of the games?

Mesut Özil & Jack Douglas – Never Seen In The Same Room Together

Years ago, I think it was Kenny Sansom who did a good Norman Wisdom impression. Maybe Ken still does; keep well.

Mesut certainly does a great ‘Jack Douglas with a pint’ routine. While Alexis goes home, the maestro practices his juggling skills with any small object before watching Carry On Abroad over and over. It paid off; the looping header finish really makes the impression his own.

That gave us the lead, apparently the sixth time we’ve turned a deficit into victory. As Wenger said, that’s more than a coincidence. It’s a worrying trend as well. While Arsène is right to accentuate the positive of turning games around, there will come a time when that doesn’t happen. By then, it’s too late to address the problem as it has cost you points already. There’s a balance to be found and our hesitancy is a little disturbing.

The winner came from Alex Iwobi, who like Theo and Ox has been on the receiving end of criticism recently. It was well-taken and I suspect, welcomed by a young man who ought to score more often. Maybe this goal lifted the millstone he has worn?

We shall see. I was wrong about the Chelsea bit. Just about beat their kick-off against West Brom! I’ll be surprised if I’m wrong about them returning to the top of the table though!

’til Tomorrow.

88 thoughts on “Charity Begins At Home & Mesut Özil Scores With A Header

  1. dukey says:

    The bionic man would get injured playing for us. what the hell do we do to our players. lets send Cazorla and Mustafi to Bournemouth to get fit again.

  2. Ras says:

    Morning YW. Correct it was not a Vintage performance but 3 points none the less.

    Jack Douglas now there is a name from the past.

  3. dukey says:

    I was going to say that Bournemouth making Jack player of the month is them on a windup but Jack being completely fit now is the real windup.

  4. Ras says:

    Ohhhhh Booooooooooommmmmmmmm got the filed All to myself.

    I like it when I can read your blog at leisure and then post at will. Reminds me of being a kid and having a school match. The ball has been well seasoned with dubbin and your the 1st to kick it with any purpose as the rest of the school team mill out onto the pitch.

    To coin Mary Hopkis” those were the days my friend”.

  5. Orson Kaert says:

    A fair enough write up Yogi, but like almost everyone else you fail to mention the nasty stamp on the Sanchez leg by that little charmer Charlie Adams.

    As Sanchez lay on the ground after being fouled intentions up to Iwobi”s goal, Adams clearly stamped on his leg, it was no accident, he can be seen quite clearly on replays, he looks down on Sanchez, adjusts his stride pattern and stamps on him. Mason had waved play on correctly, for advantage, but entirely ignored Adam’s s disgraceful actions.

    Surely this must be a case for the review panel.

  6. Wailesy says:

    Morning Yogi,

    Nice review thank you. I really liked the look of the squad yesterday. I was looking at it and thinking you would probably drop Elneny for Santi when fit but I couldn’t get Welbeck in there no matter how hard I tried.

    I can’t stand Pulis but let’s hope he can park the bus and snatch one on the break for us.

  7. Orson Kaert says:

    Intentions? That should read “in the build up to Iwobi’s goal”

  8. YW says:

    OK

    Ref waved play on so saw incident and didn’t act. Nothing FA can do in those circumstances unless they ask Mason and he says he didn’t see stamp.

    Adam is an odious little fuckwit and is the subject of a post on Thursday if nothing emerges in the meantime.

  9. Wavey says:

    Orson Kaert,

    Nothing new from Charlie Adams, he’s always been a thug.

    Great to see us stretching the pitch against Stoke when they tried to pack the defence. It proves the crosses don’t just have to be pitched up in the air for a bit CF if your forwards give you movement. Theo got his goal at the near post and Ox should have at least got a shot on target from the middle of the area in the same half. The switching from one side to the other and willingness to go down the channels helped pull Stoke apart and we created our own gaps rather than trying to get intricate one-two’s going in tight spaces on the edge of the box.
    Are Theo and Ox settling down into their roles, or is this just another purple patch for one or both of them? With good decision making and some nice passing we had Stoke on the back foot and looked a threat. Much better than the sterile camping out on the edge of the box, allowing the defence to soak up the pressure. Ox’s ball over the top was a great spot and a lovely delivery. Hopefully he’s settling down now that he is getting a bit of a run in the side (not sure what Wrighty is on about).

  10. Wavey says:

    “bit CF” make that “big CF”.

  11. Steve Palmer1 says:

    Morning all, Nice write up YW, I thought the penalty was a gift, our man had his back turned and matey ran into his elbow, it didn’t help that a team mate was signaling franticly to the bench for an ambulance and splints. right in front of the Buffoon clown officiator pillock.

    Wenger added my sentiments to the incident, so enough said. Theo that little bugger who i try and knock on every occasion, made me eat my words with a sublime finish off of a miraculous run of silky smooth passing, i feel a right plank.

    Ozil the man i said hides from headers, heads a beauty that left me gob smacked, Steve you are a plank again. We played very well after i said we would struggle , had a dig at the days post which turned out to be nearer the mark than i was so really i should have stood in front of Joshua and took the one on the chin, But and there is always a but, i am here to take the brunt, and to praise the Arsenal for a splendid result.

    I saw a headline last night that said that Mark \hughes who i cant abide has said he tips us for the League, boy i wish he hadn’t said that. coz i hate the little shit.

  12. Gunnerjoe says:

    Howard Webb and the pundits on bt didn’t think it was a penalty so Wenger was not the only one who taught it was wrong to give the penalty.

  13. Gunnerjoe says:

    The playing of advantage was for the foul on Sanchez by another Stoke player not for the stamp by Adam on Sanchez.
    But I am still not expecting any action to be taken against Adam by the fa.

  14. Wailesy says:

    I didn’t think it was a Penalty. What some of these footballers go down from is embarrassing.
    Sorry, is very professional.

  15. YW says:

    Wailsey, he barged into him. He might not have meant it as foul play but that doesn’t stop it being a penalty.

    Embarrassing? Robert Snodgrass.

  16. YW says:

    Quick Poll

    If the roles had been reversed and Alexis had been felled by Joe Allen in similar fashion, would you believe it was a penalty?

  17. Wailesy says:

    Yes Yogi,

    Snodgrass even said as much apparently.

    Allen shouldn’t have had his peanut head there. For the ref not to give a yellow says to me he doesn’t know what the fuck he is doing out there.

    Gunnerjoe is right about the Adam foul. The ref didn’t see it as he’d already played the advantage. Hopefully it’s reviewed.

  18. Welsh corgi cardigan says:

    Good thing Adams slowed down there to kick Sanchez as he then allowed Iwobi to sneak in ahead of him and score. The vile oger thereby making sure a win for the good guys?.

  19. MrBure says:

    I knew there was a reason I stopped visiting this blog, so I would like to thank you for reminding me.

    The snarkiness is just as stark as the last time I was here, so too the inability to enjoy a fine victory in the face of yet more officiating incompetence.

    As to your assertion that only Wenger didn’t think it was a penalty, one Howard Webb, late of the ranks of Premier League referees, vehemently agrees with Wenger that it was absolutely not a penalty. So, the manager is not plowing as lonely a furrow as you would like.

    My thanks again. I won’t be coming back. No loss to you, of course.

  20. Orson Kaert says:

    YW,

    It’s not what we think, but what referee Mason thinks, and he would not have awarded a penalty for a similar foul on an Arsenal player.

    Gunnerjoe got it right, he played advantage for the previous foul on Sanchez not for the Adam’s stamp.

  21. Orson Kaert says:

    MrBure,

    Don’t be a stranger, come and share your opinions with us.

  22. Wailesy says:

    YW,

    Good idea.

    In that scenario I would say Sanchez goes down far to easily. ??

  23. Jonnygunner says:

    YW-at the risk of sounding petulant……..Iwobi didn’t score the winner……..Mesut did…..coz the bully boys only scored once ?

  24. Wailesy says:

    Though it’s not the best hypothetical Yogi as Allen and Sanchez are roughly the same height. Xhaka’s elbow was below his shoulder. If he had raised it above his shoulder to make contact, different story. Xhaka’s 6 foot + and Allen’s, well, short.
    Decision. Accidental contact. Stop play for head injury. play on. 3-0

  25. Bill says:

    Great review Yogi

    I thought yesterday was one of the better wins of the season. Stoke had been on a good run of defensive form recently and this was certainly a trap game especially when we went down 0-1. The fact that we were able to make a comeback and win comfortably is to me highly impressive. We had our usual poor start to the season and dropped 5 points in the first 2 games because of Arsene’s stubborn refusal to have the squad ready for the start of the season and we had a blip in November but overall we have played quite well and its been enjoyable to watch.

  26. Bill says:

    There is some degree of controversy and an argument can be made on either side of almost every penalty especially when you are able to watch it in ultra slow motion from 10 different angles. Even with the benefit of those replays I still think it was a penalty and Xhaka needs to be mindful of where he is on the pitch when he has his elbows at face level. However, the referee does not have the luxury of watching replays and he only has a split second to make a decision and in real time it looked like xhaka threw an elbow. Anyone would have called it a penalty and we would have been absolutely furious if the same thing had happened to us and it was not called.

    If you saw the Snodgrass dive from the angle the ref had it looked like he was tripped. It was obvious that it was a clear cut dive when you saw it on the replay from a certain angle but again the ref does not have the option to stop the game and watch the replays.

  27. Bill says:

    The current run of form is brilliant and its been fun to watch but I think the real key to how well we have played is our finishing which has been so much better so far this season. The goals were well worked and the final pass especially in the first 2 was spot on. However, we have seen over the years that we can make dozens of nice passing moves and we have a whole squad full of players who can make final passes like the ones Bellerin and Ox made to record their assists but if our scorers are off the mark it all comes to nothing. The first 2 goals both required very good finishes and last years Theo or Ozil probably would not have scored either of those goals. Right now we have 3 players who are all hitting a great run of form in front of goal and all 3 are in their late 20’s and all are on pace to have career seasons. There is certainly a high statistical likelyhood of some regression to the norm and good runs of form like this tend to over correct. However, stranger things have happened and may be this will finally be the season all of our critical players stay healthy and everything goes right for us.

  28. Colts says:

    Looked a blatant elbow to me too, was more surprised he managed to convince everyone he didn’t mean it and didn’t even get booked.
    He’s not the smartest but I love the cut of his jib. I expect and hope he targets Adams for the return.

    Hang your head in shame Lee Grant, lobbed by a header? Exquisite hilarity.

  29. YW says:

    I love all this quoting Howard Webb as some sort of infallible pundit.

    As I recall, we all thought he was the third biggest wanker going when he was a ref. Only Dean and Riley were hated more!

  30. Welsh corgi cardigan says:

    Still all square at Stamford bridge (68th minute). West brom containing Chelsea quite effectively. Crowd starting to boo?.

  31. Mason Bison says:

    Does anybody know which film the still is from today? Thanks.

  32. HenryB says:

    Well, who ca complain about that game – nice control, reaction to going behind was to keep playing skilful football and not panic – nice result. Yaay! 😀

    Football is full of subjective opinions, although that does not include Refs who need to get everything right (as if) – the penalty – in my opinion – was ‘controversial’ as it was clear that Xhaka stood his ground and Allen ran into him from behind in the hope of getting a penalty, and managed to impale his ugly mug on our lad’s elbow. He ‘took one’ for Stoke and the ref bought it.

    Would I shout ‘PENALTY’ if that had happened to an Arsenal player who did the same thing as allen? Of course I would – surprised anyone would ask. 😀

  33. knobby says:

    Chelsea West Brom still in Mike Deans hands , he has 4 WBA players on a yellow in case he needs to reduce them down to 10 men with a quarter of an hour left.

  34. Orson Kaert says:

    One nil to the Chavs, Costa with a lovely finish.

  35. Welsh corgi cardigan says:

    Darn, that evil genius Costa. Have to say, grudgingly, that he’s a monster of a striker. Pace, strength, technique and vision, add to that a never say die attitude and you have the complete package.

    I’d love to have him in our team.

  36. Orson Kaert says:

    Can’t believe I put lovely and Costa in the same sentence.

  37. knobby says:

    Shame Chelsea have got a run of four winnable games and won’t be tested untin 4th jan when they have the Spuds.
    We need to keep it close.

  38. knobby says:

    It’s a bit of a Squeeze. I never thought it would happen.

  39. C says:

    YW,

    To answer your quick poll….

    No I wouldn’t have, its two players going for the ball and then both go to brace themselves. The biggest difference is Xhaka is a big lad and Allen is a midget.

  40. C says:

    The other thing of note yesterday is the influence of Bellerin. Gabriel was nothing short of really good at RB, but you saw immediately the difference Bellerin made to Theo. They have such a partnership, similar to when he had the marauding Sagna.

    O yea, and always a good day when Theo, Ozil and Iwobi score!

  41. C says:

    For all those complaining about any sort of physicality from Xhaka, I find it funny because more than likely your the same ones that have been crying out for a physical presence like Viera gave us. Remember this, Viera was known to pick up quite a few yellows and reds in his time, bur his class outweighed it all; Xhaka is the same.

  42. C says:

    Today, it looks like Mikhitaryn has been the missing piece to help like Ibra and Pogba. No surprise there for a player that was votes best in the Bundeliga last season.

  43. Bill says:

    No one complaining about Xhaka being physical but you have to be aware of where you are on the pitch and you can’t whirl around with your elbows at face level in the penalty box no matter how big the other player is.

  44. YW says:

    No, Welsh cardy, it isn’t. And it’s not a recent photo from Stoke-on-Trent’s vibrant cafe culture.

    Hangman time: _ _ / _ _ _ / _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

    Hints:

    1. The title is shared with a number one song.
    2. It was a BBC Play For Today (or whatever it was called at that point in time – (I can’t remember).
    3. No, it isn’t called “The Birdy Song” or “Shaddupa Your Face”

  45. C says:

    dukey,

    Lets send Mustafi and Santi to Deportiva to get fit, you see how quickly they got Perez fit!

  46. C says:

    Ramsey has a slight hamstring according to Arsene.

  47. C says:

    Bill,

    Its been a running narrative since his arrival, this notion that red cards mean to physical. If you watch the replay, yes he does turn but his elbows, IMHO are high in the face of Allen because Xhaka taller so even if he goes to protect the ball, Allen will always be elbow high.

  48. Welsh corgi cardigan says:

    Thanks YW, thought it was Paul Newman and a helmet.

    Unfortunately not bright enough to understand the hints?.

  49. Steve Palmer1 says:

    Bill,

    You have your view bill, but that is why we have 4 officials, no referee is on his own nowadays, and with touchline tech something else he doesn’t do, contact was made whether it was an elbow or a forearm i dont know, but our man had his back turned waiting for contact and matey duly obliged. Had it been us of course it would have been a penalty but the ref wouldnt have seen anything in it.

  50. Dalm says:

    Plus as Allen is Welsh he’s foreign and prone to diving.

  51. Ras says:

    Watching the Man U v Spuds.

    Mikitariyan is a player. Were we not linked with him..just got injured none the less if he had ended up at Arsenal I’d say we would be in with a good chance of the PL.

  52. knobby says:

    Injured by the Tottenham hitman. Serial ankle damager.

  53. Dukey says:

    Is the ref conspiracy thingy back on again? Its been a while.

  54. Bill says:

    Steve

    The fact that we all have our own view is the whole point. There is almost always some differences of opinion with just about every penalty. I am confident that your opinion is biased by the team you support and I am 100% confident that nearly all Stoke supporters firmly believe it should have been a penalty.

    The ref has to be judged on how something looked at the split second it happens in real time and even you would have to admit that in real time it looked like Xhaka threw out his elbow and caught the other player in the face. The fact that we don’t want to believe its a penalty and we use 15 different replay angles to find a way to confirm our bias is not a realistic way to judge any call the ref makes. No way any ref could judge whether or not it was intentional in that split second and it does not even matter if was unintentional or not.

    C

    If Giroud or Ramsey had committed that penalty you would have thought it was poor judgement to swing his arm around at face level.

  55. mesutsleftfoot says:

    C,

    This is what i don’t get about the analysis of the challenge last night…”he turned and his elbows were out at the side”Sorry, but do they know nothing of dynamics? Try and turn 180 degrees with your arms glued to your sides….It’s ridiculous, there was nowhere else he could have his elbows and as you said they never once alluded to the fact he’s so much taller than Allen.

    Spurs falling further behind us now, 7 points! Chelsea still winning though….

  56. C says:

    mesutsleftfoot,

    Thats exactly my point, players shield the ball all the time. Not just that but if you look at Allen, he is bracing himself and actually wraps his arms around Xhaka. Xhaka turns to go retreive the ball and his arms are out.

  57. C says:

    Bill,

    No I wouldn’t, actually I would be defending them too. Actually, Giroud turns and if you watch, his arms are out all the time. Its part of shielding; I haven’t seen a single player that doesn’t shield the ball or brace themselves with their arms at their side.

  58. Mean Lean says:

    Liverpool’s defending is entertainment in itself. I suppose the same goes for Manchester City so far this season. Long may it continue.

  59. mesutsleftfoot says:

    It’s not just shielding, it’s basic body mechanics…You turn quickly with your arms at your side and you’re going to find yourself on the ground very quickly.

    Shows how stupid football is getting. A tiny touch and their on the ground getting 5+ minutes of treatment. Football won’t eradicate diving and play acting until they adopt having fourth official watching challenges at the side on a TV so they see what we see and allows them to pull players up on diving so if it’s ruled as a dive, you get a yellow. Adopting the rule were if a player is down for 5 minutes, he’s taken off the pitch and has to spend the same time off before he can return to the game. Stops them acting and allows the game to continue.

  60. C says:

    Watching West Ham v Liverpool and the goal keeping is absolutely terrible. As a Gooner, I thank god we have Cech, Ospina, Martinez and even Sczny who is on loan.

  61. C says:

    mesutsleftfoot,

    More to your point, its funny how people use to kill South Americans and non-UK players for doing it but all too often its the UK players doing so and doing so very dramatically.

  62. Bill says:

    The other player had gotten the touch on the ball and he was trying to go after the ball and xhaka’s elbow caught him in the face and it looked in really time that Xhaka had thrown an elbow. Most times the player who raises his arms in the penalty box to shield the ball does not catch the opposition player in the face with his elbow. Most refs would call that a penalty irregardless of whether or not what you are saying about shielding is true or whether Xhaka did it on purpose or not. I guarantee that every Stoke fan is just as certain it was a penalty as you are confident that it was not.

  63. Mason Bison says:

    Thanks Guys.

    Girls from Clapham eh.

  64. Bill says:

    MLF

    If 2 players are going for the ball and one smacks the other player in the face with his elbow its going to be called a foul irregardless what you think about dynamics or how or why it happens or whether or not it was intentional. The ref has a split second to make the judgement and he only has one angle In real time and he can not be expected to read minds and know a players intent or stop to calculate height differences between players

  65. knobby says:

    Seb Coe United take a couple of points off the Dippers, not a bad weekend.

  66. Bill says:

    If one of the Stoke players had smacked Alexis in the face on a similar play we would have called it another bit of Stoke thuggery and we would have believed that the offending player would have known exactly what he was doing. Never in a million years would we have stopped to think about dynamics of how players turn to shield the ball. The reality is that we have no idea whether or not Xhaka did know what he was doing and neither did the ref. If we somehow rationalize that was not a foul then you have to say that everytime someone gets elbowed in the face in the penalty box it might be an unintentional part of how the player was shielding the ball. There are not very many cases where intent will ever be clear cut and easy to determine even when multiple replays are available so to expect a ref to try and determine how and why it might have happened or whether there was intent in that split second is completely unrealistic.

  67. Jonnygunner says:

    Xhaka fouled him -absolutely no question (in my opinion).
    He knew exactly what he was doing-it’s the Paddy Vieira part of his game-look at his form(even since he’s been with us).To say ‘no foul’ is deluded.

  68. Jonnygunner says:

    Dalm,

    He’s only foreign if you’re not Welsh.More than half our fucking team are foreigners-ya bellend

  69. -DFS says:

    Another game with a great mind set – an injury set back, a penalty setback both taken in stride.

    I would have preferred to have started with Perez and Giroud as YW had suggested but we were energized from the off. Both Walcott and Oxlade Chamberlain showed a lot of hustle and Theo looked as focused mentally and physically as earlier in the season.

    The spell at right back has done Gabriel a power of good, and when Mustafi went off he slipped easily into the CB position and Bellerin bought us the extra pace.

    Xhaka (penalty excepted) and Coquelin had excellent games and I believe Coquelin deserves serious credit for his ability to partner up. When happenstance bought Cazorla and Coquelin together, everyone was surprised how well they combined and dominated. When injuries forced Elneny into the side in the spring Ian Wright described the partnership as one of the best things to emerge that season. Now we have Xhaka looking imperious playing next to Coquelin – Coquelin really is the midfield glue.

    The absence of Cazorla has been taken in stride. That is pretty remarkable and shows the depth of talent we now possess.

    We have rotated 9 players with ease through the back four and 5 through the midfield without issue. This has bought not just confidence to the team, but a lightness which is reflected in attack. Yesterday (as with other recent games) there’s no hanging heads or drooping shoulders under pressure.

    A beautifully constructed goal by Walcott, sheer bloody genius yet again from Ozil (curtesy of The Ox) and Iwobi began and finished a great one two with Sanchez to go from fuzzy to focused.
    There’s confidence and joy with our play at present and that’s a heady mix.

    By chance we play another game earlier than our rivals, bag the points and increase our GD, in turn placing a margin of pressure on rivals – Leicester promptly do a number on City.
    Close to a perfect week.

  70. -DFS says:

    The Xhaka chickens came home to roost yesterday. This baloney about Xhaka, the midfield enforcer we have missed, someone explain the nuance. Decently thuggish?

    All I get is ‘Our Dirty Midfielder’ who will somehow have license to Charlie Adams it large. It’s an absurd notion. He won’t.

    We have a midfield enforcer in Coquelin – I would argue the best enforcer in European football the past two years. And before anyone lamely pipes up Coquelin receives yellows and reds, he does. But the ratio of cards to the totality of his tackles, interceptions and stripped balls is negligible – referees respect his play and afford him latitude. He is not regarded as malicious.

    Xhaka came to the EPL with a sackful of reds and a bad reputation – refs were aware.

    He got a stupid red for a petulant foul against Swansea (taking one for the team- yeah right) – and underscored a red card waiting to happen.

    He got red carded for Switzerland in qualifiers – ditto ( 8 reds since April 2014).

    So we have the dick that is Lee Mason, trigger finger itching, watch Xhaka clatter with Allen. It doesn’t matter soft or not, the outcome was predictable.

    This will keep happening unless Xhaka produces a run of measured performances. Managers and players will target him and refs will likely make other poor decisions in 50/50 situations.

    And it was 50/50 – Xhaka is a beast , Allen a shrimp. There was no reason for Xhaka to raise his elbows and sweep them back with the ball on the ground. It was inner Albanian farmer and agricultural, and if Pieters had bloodied Theo in a similar manner we would have gone ballistic if not awarded a penalty.

    Xhaka has a sublime set of skills but a dubious side to his game. He lessens the negative aspect and he’s a legend in the making.

  71. nicky says:

    Arsenal tamed Vieira into becoming a legend and there is no reason to suppose that Xhaka cannot receive the same wise counsel. 😉

  72. Steve Palmer1 says:

    The only real Arsenal legend
    Arsene Wenger
    There will never be another better.

    All this talk of Xhaka, what for we won got the 3 points and still remain in second, Spuds lost City lost we Pool drew and the gap is getting bigger, and who master minded it Arsene Wenger.

    Roll on Tuesday.

  73. C says:

    Jonnygunner,

    Glad you commented on it, I was resisting it all day. He also failed to mention that ALL of the Spuds do it and the majority of them make of the England national team and let me not even start om Sterling, Lallana, Rooney, Henderson, etc.

  74. C says:

    -DFS,

    I agree about Le Coq being the glue in midfield. I think Elneny, though in a different way is a similar sort of glue. Le Coq does it with his willingness to sit and tackle whole Elneny does it with pressing and his passing style. The fact that we have Xhaka, Le Coq and Elneny is something that can’t be understated and has been a huge part of our success.

  75. Aaron says:

    DFS-
    Question: do you really watch EPl futbol.
    Cause if you do you would know that both of his fouls were tame, seriously.

    Watch the showcross tackle on Ramsey again in slow mow, no card and no retro FA action.

    The Invincible side had many harder men!

    Xhaka took one for the team on his first, it was not a red in any way ever!
    The second jumped up, and everyone moves their arms up for balance and extra momentum, and happen to hit the short guy in the face. He is not malicious in any shape or form, seen Sunday bush league guys go in harder with intent.
    Glad he is on our side.

  76. -DFS says:

    Nicky –

    I agree.

    I am tired of the Xhaka ‘bad boy’ debate already as it does not advance anything – especially his career. He arrived with a reputation officials are well aware of and he and Wenger have to mitigate this as rapidly as possible. That should be the extent of the discussion.

    Parsing whether the red was a red, the penalty was a penalty is redundant.

    Xhaka is an excellent player and has been a key factor in the side coping without Cazorla. As I said, remove the negative and he is a legend in the making.

  77. -DFS says:

    C-

    You have no idea (or maybe a little)…

    …obviously I rate Coquelin highly. In fact I would argue he could step into any top European side and boss their midfield also (Bayern, PSG, RM etc).

    However, I am truly excited about Elneny. I think he is a gem of scouting. He has a beautiful ability to create time in that he seldom if ever gets threatened or stripped of the ball. Simultaneously he has great vision and invariably lays off the ball to in a safe manner – his passing stats are always sky high. Some see him in a negative light and completely misread him as he is not constantly trying to force the play forward – but he retains possession and brings others into play without them being under pressure. Its an instinct.

    Couple that with his engine and his pace once he does surge forward and you have one very tidy, very competent player.

    So nothing but agreement, I am thrilled we have Coquelin, Elneny and Xhaka…Cazorla to come back. They all bring unique skill sets to the field that compliment each other.

    By the by, I have harbored a pet theory about Elneny, the potential to play in another position that I think would suit him really well…I lay it out when not so pressed for time!

  78. Gunnerjoe says:

    YW,

    Which is true so if thinks it’s not a penalty against Arsenal makes one think.

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