Dream On Dreamers, A Blaze Of Glory Awaits

Arsenal 2 – 1 Manchester City

If Arsène didn’t use up all his luck in one afternoon, this season may yet end with a smile. An FA Cup final and a contract renewal? It seems vaguely familiar…

This morning, who cares? Arsenal occupied the unfamiliar ground as underdogs and dredged their footballing spirit to give the performance which we’ve craved for so long. Character, grit, determination and no little flair; absent friends welcomed back to the party. City supporters complained we kicked them. And?

The gameplan of being level at half-time worked, more by luck than judgement it seemed. On the back foot for most of the first half, Arsenal responded strongly in the second and ultimately, there can be few complaints about the result.

And in any case, I don’t care for the complaints. Much to BTs chagrin, Howard Webb refused to call Ox’s coming together with Aguero  as a penalty. How they howled. When he used their own logic against them, the pundits disavowed their previous stance and disagreed with him about Sane’s cross going out of play.

Television cameras suggested that the ball hadn’t but ‘angles’ is the operative word; none of them were flush on the line so in my view, they remain inconclusive. Leaning toward an officiating howler, but the element of doubt remains. By my reckoning that makes no difference either because the final score was 2 – 1, is 2 – 1 and shall be forever recorded as 2 – 1.

Man of the Match deservedly went to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain for tireless work on the right. He must have been run close by Granit Xhaka, Gabriel, Nacho Monreal and Rob Holding.

Setting Your Sights For The Sky

For the most part, the defence played well. Yes, they gave up chances but every team in the world does the same.  There were harum-scarum moments but this is Arsenal and frankly, it wouldn’t be Arsenal if we didn’t  live on the edge.

But we won and I still feel like pinching myself to see if it’s true.

Arsène used Middlesbrough as a dress rehearsal with three at the back and the players were more comfortable with the concept yesterday. Pushed deep in the first half, it seemed that Wenger was once again playing rope-a-dope with City, letting them have all the ball, before hitting them on the break.

The withdrawal of David Silva helped Arsenal get more control of the game. I dare say the gameplan was to get to half-time level, but either way it worked. Xhaka was putting in a shift in midfield, curbing the attacking instincts of his opposite numbers. However, City were far from dominant; it was a cagey affair, overall.

Which soon passed in the second half. Arsenal enjoyed a purple patch and typically conceded. Ramsey ceded possession cheaply, and a long ball to Aguero caught Monreal on his heels. There was a moment when he looked like catching the Argentinean but the City striker found another gear. Cech was slow off his line, with a heavy touch seemingly within his reach, only for a prodded finish to find the net.

While it was a succession of individual errors, the main issue has to be leaving just Monreal with Aguero. Basic defending, even in youth football, is never leave your last defender in a one v one situation. There should have been two back, marshalling Aguero and certainly making life harder for him that it initially was.

Crucially, we didn’t fold as we have in the past. Within ten minutes, Ox lifted in a great cross from the right and Monreal gave it the finish it deserved.

Learning How To Hit Back

The Spaniard has adapted to the wing back role well, particularly since Kieran Gibbs seems more naturally suited to that position. For him to level the tie with a fine volley on his ‘wrong’ foot, indicates a player full of confidence, or at least revived. Or one who didn’t have time to think, which seems more likely.

He might have doubled that tally later in the game when Welbeck snatched a header wide, with Monreal in full flight behind him better placed to score.

You can’t help but be happier that Nacho scored. He has been out of sorts this season but never stops giving his all. An unsung ‘hero’ of the team; in the mould of Winterburn and McNab, both of whom were criminally overlooked by their country.

City will point to Cech’s fingertip save onto the post or Fernandinho’s thumping header against the bar as turning points in the game. Holding went equally close with a header which rippled the top of the net. Welbeck had a couple of clear chances as well and I wonder if in the future, he will be the left-sided striker with Alexis through the middle instead of Giroud?

The Frenchman, starved of service, was largely ineffective against Kompany but he needs to adapt to the new formation as much as anyone. He was marginally less anonymous than at the Riverside. However, if we don’t carve the opportunities for him, it’s going to be a lot of frustration until the summer.

And the winner came inevitably from Alexis. He and Özil worked hard for the team throughout the ninety minutes. More lazy punditry castigated the German for his languid style but the only genuine criticism is the absence of his right foot. As City pressed for an equaliser, several breaks faded as he constantly turned inside.

Going Out In A Blaze Of Glory

Wenger’s redemption came from a player his acolytes routinely criticize for not running far enough. As if that’s some sort of telling metric of effort. The Chilean pounced when the England international fluffed his lines in the penalty area. Evading the hesitant challenges, he larruped the ball home from close range and break Pep’s heart.

Arsène’s release of joy was a pressure cooker lid flying off at the final whistle. Why not? He deserves praise this morning for making the change in formation work, even though I’m far from convinced over Aaron Ramsey in the central role. While the victory doesn’t change my view about his future, it’s churlish as far as I’m concerned not to give him credit when things go right.

And we’re in the cup final. Who will be our Ray Parlour this time?

’til Tomorrow.

72 thoughts on “Dream On Dreamers, A Blaze Of Glory Awaits

  1. Damon,

    Nice

    Did you ever trademark?

    Pretty happy to have excuse for 2am or whatever FA cup final again at the Wests Sydney club

    For some reason it is a Gunners club and it will be packed again

    I was pretty apprehensive so a great result as frankly unexpected yet…

    Would be nice if the team can parade the trophy down under in July!

  2. Thanks Yogi

    Got to be happy, as an Arsenal fan, after that.

    What is not to like about a win that none of the pundits gave us a hope of, in a game where we went behind, on such a big stage.

    As an aside, I thought that when Ramsay jumped for a header and was thrown to the floor (I think by Otamendi) that was dangerous and needed some punishment ?

    Onwards and upwards – lets see if these green shoots of recovery are sustained and give us the top four trophy and….and then when we stuff the Chavs at the end of next month we’ll have done the double….almost

  3. Many of us have advocated back 3 with our resources: good stock of CBs, attacking FBs and our lack of midfield sense of defending.

    I wonder whether pressure of fans, dreadful run of results or AW himself finally brought the change?

    Or as ever a combination of events. Either way you have to say it is a results business and Pep took one from all our supporters who would exchange him for AW in a blink of covetous eye.

    Good write-up YW and fair play it changes nothing philosophically if you want change but winning is so much better than losing especially when we are in a final again.

    A feeling we can all celebrate

  4. A fantastic afternoon out at Wembley. Our early nerves gave way to a very encouraging 2nd half and extra time performance.

    The back 3 is starting to work because we have 3 defenders rather than 2. Gabriel was the stand out player in the 3 nipping in the nick the ball many times.

    Welbeck caused havoc when he came on. His pace gives him the edge over Giroud, although his finishing is wayward.

    Cech’s save from Toure was world class. That is the difference a top keeper can make to a team.

  5. Listened to the game on the radio, prefer to have watched but it added to the tension. The highlights, highlight, that for all the possession, mc never caused as much trouble for us as they did in the second half and more so in extra time as the game evened. Possession really is unimportant. Our way of playing has been the philosophy of keep the ball no matter if it means going back, sideways etc, and tring to score the perfect goal.Maybe thats starting to change. Possession never won the league for Leicester last season. Heres hoping,

  6. Great review YW I though other than the misplaced pass Ramsey put in a shift and a half. I would be interested to know his distance covered stats for that game because he was everywhere, easily his best in Arsenal shirt for an age, the same must be said of gabriel I am admitedly one of his biggest critis but he showed what he is capable of yesterday with a real old school defensive display.
    Ox is just proving what we all though he had in his locker easily our most consistent player this side of 2017.
    Holding I always knew he had it in him glad he has been given his chance. Mustafi will have to go some to get back in.
    So happy right now, and to make things better we can now mathematically achieve 4th place without help from other teams due to Liverpool’s loss yesterday granted we will have to win our games in hand but that chance wasn’t there before.

  7. Arsetralian,

    If you’re getting paid 8 million clams a year, like Arsene, surely you are expected to make tactical switches like three at the back BEFORE the season disappears into a black hole. As usual though, Arsene only wakes up when there is an existential crisis.

  8. silvergunner,

    I just pray that Arsene has woken up to the fact that Ozil just is not a No 10. He’s too one-footed, too easily pushed off the ball, not a great dribbler and not much of a defender. Ramsay was much much better, particularly defensively (he really led the press – fantastic energy). Ozil is much better on the right-hand size playing as an inverted winger, stepping back onto his good foot (thus opening up space for the Ox) and making telling crosses.

  9. With you the quality of delivery is never in doubt but I do love the ‘small windows’ when the child fan boy is coaxed out –

    “But we won and I still feel like pinching myself to see if it’s true”.

    DAAAAWWWWWW. 😀 😀 <3

  10. Terry Cooper got all the caps. Poor old bob only got, what, one or two?

    I remember that he was in the ‘first’ squad for the 1970 WC and was dropped from the final squad. He ended up as a panelist on ITV with Brian Moore for the Cup itself. Was that the first time that we had a ‘panel of experts’?

    Esso, who issued World cup squad coins, chosen before the actual squad was known, included him in theirs. I still have the set with Bob in it.

    There endeth today’s item of ephemera.

  11. Good morning folks, A day in which to savour a hard fought FA Cup semi-final victory over one of the “big” Premiership clubs.

    Could it be that our illustrious manager has at last stumbled upon a coherent defensive combination and, what is more, a position that suit’s the energy and talent of Oxlade-Chamberlain.

    The new tactics worked against one of the worst teams in the Premiership, Middlesbrough, against one of the better teams, City and on Wednesday evening we should see if it works against a mid-table side Leicester City. All good practice for Sunday’s away game against those serial chokers Spurs.

    It seems ironic that one of the most talented attacking full-backs in the country, Hector Bellerin, has lost his place to a midfielder not previously particularly noted for his defensive attributes. Still that’s the Wenger way, hammer a round peg into a square hole and hope it fits.

    The dark clouds over Arsenal have lifted for the moment, a big freeze with sub-zero temperatures, snow and ice are forecast for Wednesday, let’s all hope that doesn’t presage a summer of discontent for the fans.

  12. Freddo,

    I think there is something to be said about Ozil, Moureen always used to play him on the right wing when he was Madrid coach, but to be fair I felt he played pretty centrally again.

    Also the more i think about it Welbecks best position is on the wing not number 9.

  13. The game was full of nervous excitement, for me at least, and utterly marvellous that against all expectations the lads seemed determined to play their guts out, win or lose.

    That is a top class Post, Yogi, right up there with your best, well done and thank you Sir. 🙂

    I have not always been Nacho’s biggest fan, he has always looked to me like a winger press-ganged into playing as a full back – and one who is not confident in the tackling role.
    Yesterday he was full of effort, fire and brimstone, and the determination not to lose oozed out of him, and no doubt imbued the others to greater effort. Sterling work!!

    All the team responded to the occasion as if it was the FA Cup Final itself, and Gabriel and my MoTM, the Ox, were simply outstanding, one taking no crap from Citeh in defence, and the other unsettling their defence with lung bursting attacks from our defence, finished off with some superb crossing – the key one being to his fellow fullback Nacho to ram home, right footed no less.

    The Ox was terrific, despite being a novice in the position, and for anyone to say he was a square peg in a round hole? Oh, please – give him a break!

    I am not interested in the ‘yes, buts’ or ‘no, buts’ – yesterday was a wonderful break in weeks of remorseless misery, and as well as those of us salivating over the win while watching on TV, the Arsenal supporters at Wembley were magnificently in full voice, and it sent a tingle down my spine to hear their lusty howls of delight at the end!!

  14. Great review of a great game YW.

    I think the term I’ll adopt for this defense (hardly my original thought) is a back 5, which is what it is- and I think they deserve all the credit yesterday.

    Oxlade- Chamberlain, Monreal, Koscielny, Holding and Gabriel all excelled. It was superb The Ox’s cross to Monreal got us back into the game.

    It’s the first game in some time where it felt the team was together and they seemed to relish being on the big stage. Not even going to comment on the final yet because….this is what it is about, being competitive, offering a real challenge. I have no issue if we go out with guns blazing.

    I think the change in tactics does raise serious questions about what has been going on the entire season…but let’s leave that for another day and bask in the glow.

    From City’s perspective I think they have a few legitimate grievances…but they also had a full game and extra-time to right the wrongs and personally, I felt they did not want it as much as we did.

    City have some wonderful players but I’ll refer to a City fan yesterday who said the following.
    Under Guardiola next season City are either going to take off spectacularly or fizzle spectacularly. I think he’s correct, something fundamental is missing there.

  15. And…

    What a boost to the FA Cup these two semi-finals (and the final) will be.

    This is just the type of excitement injection the Cup needs. I can imagine all the top tier sides/players watching were wishing they were in the semi’s this weekend and I sincerely hope this carries through to real commitment to the competition in future years.

    It obvious with some creativity and passion the FA Cup could regain a lot of the credibility it has ‘lost’ and I’d love to see it become a coveted prize once again.

  16. Afternoon,

    A great performance from the team and fantastic to see that they can still function as a team. Plenty of positives from the game, Gabriel and Holding being a couple of the most significant. Whether this is the blueprint for the Arsenal defence going forward is hard to say, but it certainly looked more solid than many of our efforts this season. I think it could work well again on Wednesday, but we have to remember that Vardy will be looking for similar opportunities to Aguero’s goal and not push all of our defenders forward at the same time.

    It doesn’t change my view on the manager, but it would be great if he signed off with a trophy under his belt.

  17. Hi Wavey,

    I think Holding and Gabriel looked very promising and may be the nucleus for the future.

    The best CB we have had in many a season has been Kozzer, and I do not know if he is carrying an injury, but whereas he had a great leap to win headers he is now being out jumped by some pretty average forwards.

    Hopefully it is just a temporary problem and he will come good again – but it is a concern as he has been a game saver as well as a game changer for us for a long time now.

  18. Great post Yogi.

    We got lucky but that does not matter because luck evens out over time and you have to play well to take advantage. Full credit to the whole team for a great performance. Ox was the standout individual attacking player but the real MOTM was our team defense.

    I am not sure it was by design or we just hit on it by happenstance but we played the perfect game to beat a team that likes to play the way we do and has a similar talent level. Stay organized defensively and then move the ball forward as fast as you can and counter attack before they can get back and organize their defense. For the most part we abandoned the slow controlled buildups thru central midfield that we prefer in favor of Ox and Sanchez bombing forward as fast as they can. I am not sure that is how Arsene drew it up on the tactical chalkboard but it worked. That means more misplaced passes and less ball possession then we like but who cares. I loved it and it was certainly a lot more exciting to watch and much more effective. It’s similar to the formula that Fergie and Mourinho have been using to beat us and win league titles for the last 13 years.

  19. 3 at the back is the tactical flavor of the month but its certainly not a magical bullet. The rest of the world has been defending very well with 4 at the back for this entire century and it still works. The critical thing for defense is not individual players or specific formations but staying organized and avoiding to many individual mistakes and to be alert so you can compensate when someone does make a mistake. The one thing that last 13 years has taught us is that we can reverse form in a heart beat and yesterday our defense decided to show up.

  20. HenryB,

    Hi Henry,

    I agree. I’m actually a little surprused that Koz got the nod over Mustafi. I would have thought he would have done a good job at the middle of the 3.

  21. It really felt like the team were coming together as the game progressed and had somehow turned a corner, well fought victory and not one i predicted, well played the team and manager. Nice to have a break from the constant negativity at Arsenal. Yesterday felt like a really positive step but the players, manger and club have got to build on it, no good reverting to type even if we get top four and the cup. We have to evolve, clearly things need to change at the club otherwise we wouldn’t have the same problems every single year. Anyway good to see the players look like they were playing for the manager, the fans and each other.

  22. Bill,

    Perhaps they were as focused and organised as they were because they hadn’t been playing in that formation before and therefore were concentrating on their jobs more. Familiarity breeds contempt and perhaps a few games played in that formation could start to see some of the old concentration lapses appearing again.

    Aren’t I a little ray of sunshine?

  23. Wavey,

    I agree.

    Initially it is the changes and focus it brings – where we fall off is with regular implementation. I am actually saving some thoughts on the matter for later…

    As far as I am concerned I simply want us to stick with this set up through the end of season. If nothing else it is a psychological plus for now, so lets not dick around and resort to type.

  24. Wavey,

    I think Mustafi has been crocked for a couple of weeks, and that is why he wasn’t even in the squad.

    [Or alternatively, if the rumours are to be believed, he is being sold in the summer and is being kept out of harm’s way —- no, I don’t believe it either — I think C told me that – you know what our man is like!!] 😀

  25. HenryB,

    You definitely didn’t hear that from me because personally I would actually be interested to see what I can get for Kos who has been quite poor, knock or not, in the summer and roll forward with Mustafi, Holding, Gabriel should Kos not regain any sort of form or remember how to defend by the end of the season.

    I agree with you and Wavey though, Mustafi is easily the best option for me if we continue on with this back 3 (which I am not in favor of by the way but kudos to Arsene for getting it to work against Citeh). He is not only good at organizing but also his distribution and ability to be comfortable on the ball along with his defensive abilities makes him ideally suited should the back 3 continue (I hope it doesn’t if I haven’t said it before).

  26. I know I’m getting a reputation for being a doomer, but does anyone else think that City had a touch of the “Arsenal” about them yesterday? Thought they could show up and they’d just roll us over?

  27. I also want to give credit to the Ox, I know everybody has been praising him but I have been (and still am) hesitant to say he has put it all together because we have seen this before but he has played well and has played in some good balls (please stop letting him take free kicks FFS!) but the problem he is facing is that the player whose supposed strength it is doesn’t seem to want to get on the end of said crosses which is kind of a problem.

    I would actually really be interested and hope against Leicester we go with a front 3 of Sanchez/Theo/Ozil and it has nothing to do with pace but those 3 seem to work really well together with Theo doing all of the running and movement while Sanchez and Ozil do all the ball carrying and playmaking.

  28. Damon,

    I’m not necessarily sure that they thought they would roll us but I don’t think that they thought we would be up for the fight. With that said, I am glad that our boys showed up and put in quite an effort.

    I will say this though, I wonder how different the game would have been if the penalty was called on Ox (we have seen that given quite a bit) or if Sane’s ball wasn’t called out and the goal stood.

  29. C,

    yeah c i think Wenger will be forced to make some changes likely theo, elneny, Mustafi (if fit) & iwobi will get some kind run out against last season champions.

    On Ox he has been our best player since since the turn of the year, visibly pissed off with the apathy shown on the pitch by the other players during these past few dark weeks has never hidden like others have done. I think that why other supporters are praising him. Its that kind of commitment that the whole team needs in order to be successful in any of the top level competitions.

    I thought Cech really saved his graces with that Yaya Toure save after his howler for the 1st, to me he isn’t the same keeper he was and i think his powers are definitely on the wane, Schezny might have to come back as number 1?

  30. silvergunner,

    I have not hidden the fact that I think Elneny should start more just because of what he offers (and I have grown increasingly frustrated with the notion of him being only some possession player). I do see Theo, Iwobi coming back into the line-up. Its strange that Giroud has started 2 straight matches and has been nothing short of non-existent but the team is playing to his strengths yet he still gets ran out while Theo has been scoring when fit remains on the bench.

    I wouldn’t go so far as to say he has been our best player but he has put forth more effort since the turn of the calendar year which bodes well and hopefully he can build on this and it just not be those couple of matches we see him every year look the part and then fall off.

    I COMPLETELY agree about Cech, he is no longer our #1. I do think that it was a great save on Yaya but he is at this point in his career a quality cup GK and I would bring back Sczcney in a heartbeat.

  31. Wavey @ 2:54

    Perhaps you are correct and switching formations helped us to turn on the concentration. Something was different yesterday. However, you have been watching the same team as I and you know that our form and defensive concentration switches on and off faster then you can say back 3. Hopefully this time is different but the number of false dawns during the Emirates era is reaching triple figures. The idea that we have hit on a new formation that is going to change the defensive culture that has developed in the last 13 years is probably overly optimistic. That is not pessimism, its realism based on watching the last 13 years of Arsenal football.

    On the bright side this newfound defensive solidarity may be the key to the solid run of results that pulls us back into the fight for 4th place. This is the time of year it always happens.

  32. I loved what we did yesterday on the attacking end. For years we have been trying to emulate what Pep did at Barcelona but he had Messi and the the most talented forwards in the world and in Bayern he had a huge talent advantage over the rest of the Bundeliga. As long as you play solid defense, any system works when you have an overwhelming firepower advantage. However, even the great Pep is not going to be able to dominate the PL with his preferred style because he does not have the same overwhelming talent advantage and that allowed him to impose his teams will on the rest of the league. Teams that have enough talent and can defend well and hit on the counter attack are always going to cause problems.

    For years we have preferred a style of play that emulates what Pep did. However, Arsenal has the same problem that Pep now has because we are never going to be able to build a team that has the talent advantage which would allow us to consistently impose our will and style of play on the rest of the PL. All of our truly memorable wins in the last 3 years have come in games where we had much less ball possession then our opponents but we defended will and hit them on the counter.

  33. Damon,

    You have no idea…they can look sublime at times, but often this season I have thought they remind me of Arsenal in certain modes.

  34. Wavey

    The concern is this season we may end up missing the top 4 because we have may have waited about a month to long to switch back on. 72-74 points may not be enough this season.

  35. We have not been able to collect 80 points for this entire decade but Leicester was able to collect 81 with a team that clearly had far less individual talent then any title winning team in this century. The key for them was playing the whole season the way we did in the second half yesterday. Solid defense and then move the ball forward as fast as possible and catch the defense before they can set up. As I mentioned earlier Fergie and Mourinho have been killing us with those tactics for the last 13 years.

    All the tactical minutiae about formations and deep playmakers, mid level playmakers, shallow playmakers, creative geniuses in the #10 and pacey interchanging front 3’s is overthinking. IMO. Yesterday Ox was our creator in chief but the way he created was nothing like what we have called “creativity” over the last 13 years but it was very effective and IMO it was really exciting and fun to watch.

  36. C,

    Szczesny has played 32 games for Roma so far this season, they are second in the league and look likely to make the Champions League next season. Unless Wenger guarantees him the number one shirt and makes him the first choice ‘keeper ahead of Cech, why would he want to return to Arsenal?

  37. Fergie and Mourniho always had enough talent that they could have tried to play football and impose their will on us. However they were always smart enough to know that if they played solid defense we would fall into their trap.

    Orson

    The concern about Wojo is the risk he represents. We have 5 years of evidence to suggest that he can fall apart at any moment. What if his new found maturity is just because of a change of scenery and a different team culture. Returning to his previous manager and team culture the scene of his previous struggles might the worst that could happen to him. Assuming that Arsene is still the manager why would you just accept that everything is now different when you have been burned several times in the past?

  38. Damon,

    Agreed.

    City could have the same parents as us & if anything their strengths & weaknesses are even more exaggerated than ours.

  39. Orson Kaert,

    O trust me, not just the reasons you laid out but the fact that Juve, Napoli and Roma by everything that I have read are battling for his signature makes it all the less likely BUT Cech is clearly on the decline and Ospina simply isn’t good enough IMHO. Its crazy to think that most that follow Serie A think he is top 3 GK in the league yet so many Gooners think he isn’t good enough to wear the #1 shirt based on what they saw of him the year after he won the Golden Gloves and what they saw of him when he was 18-20 when its hard to judge an outfield player let alone a GK; a position where most players don’t even begin to show how good they are until their mid to late 20’s. For me, next season Sczcney should be our number 1 plain and simple. I like Forster but why buy Forster at 29 years old when we already have Sczcney on the books who is younger (27) and is highly rated in a league (Serie A) that values defending and GK’ing like no other and by a club (Juve if reports are true) that has IMHO the best GK ever.

    That’s just me.

  40. C:
    Damon,

    I’m not necessarily sure that they thought they would roll us but I don’t think that they thought we would be up for the fight. With that said, I am glad that our boys showed up and put in quite an effort.

    I will say this though, I wonder how different the game would have been if the penalty was called on Ox (we have seen that given quite a bit) or ifSane’s ball wasn’t called out and the goal stood.

    That’s why football is so exciting/frustrating, C – all teams suffer/benefit from these sort of decisions, and it is not helped by the divers/cheats of this world.

    The Ox ‘penalty’ decision was cancelled out by the ‘penalty’ not given to Sanchez when wrestled to the ground by Navas.
    Altho, no one has yet explained how a Lino, without a TV replay, could tell within a few millimetres either way whether Sane’s cross had stayed on the goal line or not.
    Sane should cross better next time! 🙂

    Don’t forget Arsenal have suffered much worse decisions – Sol Campbell + CL Final?

  41. C,

    I do not think Chezzer has ever been seen as a ‘bad’ goalkeeper — but his attitude has stunk over the years – cigarettes in the shower after we had lost, springs to mind. I wonder what the baccy in the ciggy was?? Did it chill him out so much he did not notice it was raining in the shower? 😀

  42. Bill:
    Wavey

    The concern is this season we may end up missing the top 4 because we have may have waited about a month to long to switch back on. 72-74 points may not be enough this season.

    What ‘concern’ is that, Bill, I thought you did not have time for a ‘top 4 trophy’? 😉

  43. C,

    I was just kidding! 🙂

    —- “You definitely didn’t hear that from me because personally I would actually be interested to see what I can get for Kos who has been quite poor, knock or not, in the summer and roll forward with Mustafi, Holding, Gabriel should Kos not regain any sort of form or remember how to defend by the end of the season.”

  44. C

    Elneny is a nice squad player. He played with us for only a couple months last season but he still had the highest number of passes completed of any player in any single game and at least 1 other game in the top 10. Being a ball possession player is not necessarily bad but for better or worse there is no doubt that any player who completes 95% of his passes and is a constant threat to have triple digits in passes completed in every game is a ball possession player.

  45. I don’t think Nenny is simply a ball recycler. Afterall he came from Basel. From the little I know about Basel, they are not a strictly possession-obsessed team. I think he just had to integrate into a new team culture and setup. He has a ferocious shot on him and of course he is no slouch in actually defending. I think he would be a very good bet in midfield for a pressing strategy. If only AW knew that already. right?

  46. Drazy

    It’s not necessarily bad to have 1 ball possession player in the midfield. The best position to have a recycler is the deepest midfielder since you don’t want him getting forward and disrupting the defensive organization. The problem happens when you overload on ball possession players or you end up with 75% of sterile ball possession If you look at the numbers Xhaka is a ball recycler for the most part and so is Elneny. We could get by with having one or the other in central midfield but playing both risks our attack degenerating to tippy tappy.

    The problem with Xhaka as our deepest midfielder is his lack of mobility and overall suboptimal defensive nous. I would fully in favor of trying Elneny at the deepest midfield spot as long as we don’t pair him with another ball possession player.

  47. C

    If we are going to use Theo in this new formation the player we should drop is Ozil. For the vast majority of the game he was the single most invisible player. By the end of the game he gave up on being the #10 had completely given up on playing defense and was actually the furthest forward player in a false 9 role. The only time he was really involved in the game was near the end when Man City was pushing everyone forward to get a goal and Ozil was standing around midfield waiting for someone to pass the ball to him. I fully understand moving Ozil further forward because we can hide his lack of defensive nous up there but we really should have someone who is more of a threat to score playing furthest forward and Theo might be a better choice since he is also a better defender and more likely to score. If Ox and Sanchez are giving us the creativity from the wings then there is no need to have Ozil in the lineup since he does not score much or defend very well.

    If you want to drop Giroud then put Welbeck as CF but his role has to be to drop deeper then most CF to defend that critical territory in the center of the pitch. The problem for Welbeck is he does not score and we need to have at least 2 scorers on the pitch. With Welbeck in the line up for his defense and energy then Sanchez and Walcott can be the other forwards and main scorers.

  48. Bill,

    This century Bill…….is only 17 years in…..you make it sound as if its been 50 or 60 years or more…tsk

  49. Jonnygunner

    17 years is about 6-8 lifetimes in football years. It’s certainly enough to be called a large sample size.

    We only have 3 forwards on the pitch and I think at least 2 of them should be scorers. Anything can work for a short time but over the longer term if Sanchez is the only scorer on the pitch we are going to struggle.

    Welbeck is a great energy player but not much a scorer. If we are going to use him for his energy and defense at CF then we need the other 2 other forwards to be real threats to score and Theo and Sanchez are the only other options. I really think our most dangerous line up might be Sanchez, Giroud and Walcott upfront.

  50. Bill,

    I think the Ox should be playing with an inverted winger who will naturally drift into midfield and open up space for the Ox. That means Ozil or, even better, Lucas. Theo, on the other hand, always wants to make the same runs (down the sideline) as the Ox. I definitely don’t want Ozil at No 10. I thought Ramsay was excellent as the box-to-box midfielder. Always showing for the ball and getting into the box, constantly harrying defenders when out of possession.

  51. Ox is in the shop window at present. Sadly, this is the only reason he’s playing above the normal level of output for a current Arsenal squad member

    Contract or move. In short, money

  52. Freddo,

    Inverted winger? Hmm now let me see, an inverted winger ……must be a wing-back!

    The Ox is currently a wing-back. Sooo either we play with two wing-backs on the right, or, The Ox plays with himself.

    Are you sure you’ve thought this through? 😀

  53. Damon,

    I made mention of something related yesterday..can’t seem to find it on here now..maybe it didnt make it through customs eh? But in reality, this is arguably the one season that the Ox has remained fit on a cosistent basis. We’ve all had glimpses of what the man is capable of…alas fleetingly painful to be meaningful. So, this season he has remained free from the treatment table, so he’s rightly getting a relative run of matches. If you play like the Ox does, then you need a good dose of confidence. I believe he’s getting there now as a player, and we may yet hope he even gets better you know. Physically he’s in great shape. Now no leg breaks or anything ridiculous Ox boy, got it?

  54. And about our defence dept, I am so glad about what we have now. Holding looks like the real deal. Can we have another one please Bolton? Chambers is out on loan learning the trade. And by all accounts he isn’t doing shabbily either. Then that boy Bielik. He’s also one to watch out for. Came in as a DM, then got switched to CB and still wowing. Lalacious….I’m smacking my lips!!!

  55. I think I’m getting there Freddo, if the inverted winger is really a wing-back and moves in-field, to create space for the other wing-back, he converts to being a midfielder. Now if the space created, by the converted inverted winger, is used by the wing-back he reverts to being a winger…..so now we don’t have a wing-back or a full-back. If we diverted the converted inverted winger from midfielder to full-back, by overlapping the reverted wing- back who is now the winger, he reverts back to the inverted winger…….no hang on a minute, I need to think some more……

  56. Morning,

    Orse perhaps what is meant is that we need an upside down winger – runs on his hands and mirrors the Ox. Novel – and could be a winner? 🙂

    Don’t think Oxo needs to play with himself tho — he has a very nice girl friend.

  57. Wait a minute, Orse, your 8:16 comment is similar to the one that utterly confused me yesterday – and I had to go lie down until the afternoon tea and biscuits gong! 🙂

  58. HenryB,

    I’ve been thinking deeply about this folks…meditating actually, and I can finally say “eureka!!!”. Its very simple really. You see, if its an inverted winger, it means he’s going to be playing on the wings alright but instead of facing forwards, he’s going to be facing guess what? BACKWARDS!!! I’m a genius! and whoever came up with that tactical plan is even geniuser! So our solid inverted winger will start upfront, then as soon as the Ox gets on the ball to drive forward, our inverted winger will get on his own bike and start motoring down towards our own half. But for this to work well, he has to run on a line directly opposite the Ox….so you get what I mean….oooooh oh oh! We would be so amazing…..and someone mentioned patent…can we patent this tactics too?

  59. drazy,

    Is that Costas Eureka the right inverted, reversed winger who played one game for Panathanaikos last season. If so he was not a success. While performing the inverted reversal manoeuvre his legs became entangled behind his head and it took the physios half an hour to untangle them enough to fit him on a standard stretcher. His rehab is progressing well but as stated on his Twitter account he will in future no longer be a rehabilitated, inverted reversed winger but a false number 8. Whatever that is.

  60. In journalistic terms The Silly Season used to be in the dog days of summer, when headlines such as “man bites dog” and “phew wot a scorcher” graced the front pages of the tabloids but this year it has come early. “Arsenal take on Chelsea in race to sign £50m Van Duke”. It is understood that Arsenal are prepared to match any wages offered by Chelsea or any other rivals for his signature. There’s a shiny new £1 coin waiting on Dick Law’s desk. 😀

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