Butland Passes Arsenal Audition As Flops Return To Old Ways

Stoke City 1 – 0 Arsenal

I am not going to lose my sht about the second game of the season…I am not going to lose my sht over the second game of the season…

That’s the verbal equivalent of Michael Palin’s elastic bands, for those that recall the Alan Bleasdale-penned series G.B.H. Stoke away has traditionally caused Arsène Wenger problems but last season’s demolition gave hope that a new Arsenal were in town. Arsenal 2.0, if you like. Instead, we got Arsenal 2010 or 2011 or anything insipid Arsenal which has previously pitched up in the Potteries.

We flattered to deceive in typical Wenger fashion. Plenty of early opportunities and possession stats which were eye-watering but no end product. Another case of style over substance and a costly defeat. Others will devastate Stoke; they aren’t a good side and it won’t be any surprise if they flirt with relegation. But they beat us and that’s the tangible, the one thing which should have happened.

It was down most to our own failings. In attack, defence, midfield, and management, we were found wanting at key times. When we got our act together, Jack Butland was in the way and serving notice to Wenger that Petr Cech’s time is most likely up next season and we tend to do rather well with English goalkeepers.

The Future’s Not So Bright We’ve Got To Wear Shades

We can point to the wrongly disallowed Lacazette equaliser. The official drew praise for sharp-sightedness but it was a guess; he got it wrong. There was a documentary on BT Sport which drew attention for Mike Dean’s antics on the training ground but the telling point is that most offside decisions are guesses based on perception. There’s a mantra of something like ‘if you look offside with a one-metre gap, you’re onside’. It works a lot of the time but there’s always one…

We can also point to the penalty which Hector Bellerin won but wasn’t awarded. Crucial moments with wrong decisions by the officials. Games are won and lost in those moments; it’s wrong to dismiss them and as Arsène said post-match, “we were unlucky with some of the referee’s decisions.”

There was also some bad luck with the team selection. Who knew that playing two left backs in the centre and a right back on the left would leave us with an unsettled back line. Wenger had the brass balls to claim that he “was not convinced by our central defence today” when he spoke to hacks after the match. You selected it, have the guts to stand up and say you were the problem before you blame the players.

It’s a policy of appeasement which history tells us never ends well. This time, Wenger has to fit both Oxlade-Chamberlain and Bellerin into the XI lest they become upset and leave. Instead of picking Mertesacker and Holding, we got Nacho – who plays well at left central defence, don’t get me wrong – but Kolasinac is a left back. It’s nonsensical to play him in the middle and then criticise “the central defence”. Anything but hold your hands up over team selection.

Sloppy Defending + Missed Chances = Dropped Points

That doesn’t absolve the players on the goal. It was a sucker punch; poorly ceded possession left a hole in midfield while Ramsey was in attack. A counter-attack where those tracking back – Özil – didn’t continue defending Jese’s run and the defence  which didn’t close the run down either. A horrible goal to concede. A very Arsenal goal to concede.

But it shouldn’t have been more than a consolation for Stoke. We had the opportunities ourselves to score but poor finishing and good goalkeeping. Butland’s positioning was first-rate and when needed so were his saves.

It’s hard to draw positives from this performance. Too many were sub-par on the day; pretty passing but ineffective. Mesut Özil drew criticism for his performance and rightly so. As negotiating ploys go, it wasn’t worth £250k per week. And that’s an issue to be dealt with. In that XI, he is the big fish. He is the player whose wages demand he pulls the rest up to his level rather than slinking into anonymity. He isn’t that player though but he must become it to justify himself every week.

The wait for back-to-back wins at the start of a season goes on. Anyone who held aspirations for a title challenge needs to take note of the performance as much as the result. If there were genuine thoughts of lifting the Premier League trophy at the end of the season, this defeat would be the catalyst for change. But as we know, Arsène doesn’t know what that means.

A very poor performance and one which tells us that the new boss is very much the same as the old boss.

’til Tomorrow.

82 thoughts on “Butland Passes Arsenal Audition As Flops Return To Old Ways

  1. ‘morning all, nothing good about it as far as Arsenal are concerned.

    A suggestion for Dad’s jukebox. The Dead March from Saul?

  2. ..or how about The dead March by The Architects

    First Verse…
    I’ve watched you from a distance but never spoken a word
    I have seen every flaw your try to hide from the world
    I sit silent in shadows watching the paths you have made
    If only you knew my intentions
    I’ve watched you make the same mistakes over and over
    This is not healthy
    I need to some how stop this
    But your beauty intrigues me
    It seems to be pulling me in

  3. There’s no point in criticizing any player in particular, or claiming this or that player is “not Arsenal quality”, doesn’t fit into the team, is a “squad player”, or “average”.

    The truth is that there isn’t a single player anywhere who is suitable for Arsenal’s current setup under Wenger.

    Time and again we’ve seen good players arrive and then the fans decide after a while that they are “shit”.

    I said a while back that Wenger coaches any good attributes out of players, and he’ll do it to Lacazette too in time.

    There’s only one change needed to get us competing again, and that’s a change of manager.

    He’s an arrogant and foolish man who should have been bulleted 5 or 6 seasons back.

    We’ll be lucky to get top 10 this season with this arsehole trying to prove to the world that he’s some kind of maverick genius, but with more and more realizing he’s nothing but a deluded fraud.

  4. interesting you bring up the keeper
    thats 4 goals conceeded from 7 shots on target in the last two games.

    and ozils a waste of space. having a player in the squad whos sole attribute is to pass a football speaks volumes.. they should all be able to pass a football..

    different formation – different players – same issues.

  5. two issues…..average manager and a terrible owner….sorry three, lots of average players.
    sorry four, club ripping off fans.
    i hope we are even worse than last year might finally see us turn a corner but even then silky stan will keep harvesting the club and probably keep his well paid friend arsene turning over the coffers.
    pretty scabby game football these days….even our stadium is without soul, named after an airline, jesus.
    let’s all laugh at deluded wenger. game two of the season and he’s as usual not prepared, why would anyone think this season will see some sort of revolution ?

  6. Sooner or later someone is going to come on and tell us we should all get behind our great club, stop criticising the manager, it’s only the second game of the season, there’s still over a week to go in the transfer window. Etc. Etc.

    Well that’s that shit out of the way!

    So let’s get on with the moaning.

    Personally, it’s such a lovely sunny morning that I’m off out for a walk and some blackberry picking.

  7. Team set up didn’t make sense BUT MoTD pundits didn’t mention it, preferring to mention the 3 pelantys we should have had & they think that our goal was offside. Agree Stoke were a poor side – what does that say about us ?.

    a silly question but how can we be here again – season starts and we don’t know our best line up

  8. Those in the know have been saying for a long while now it’s going to get worse before it gets better. The two year renewal confirmed that

    This will not be the low point of the season

  9. Morning to all,

    A fair summary of events YW. Most of our problems come down to Wenger’s poor player selection and attempts to hammer all of the players he wanted on the pitch into the first 11.


    Just responding to your final point from yesterday. You are right, I have no way of proving that yesterday’s midfield pairing would have been more porous against Leicester, but you know with their players that they would have exploited the space afforded them.

    And its not about blaming Ramsey, its about working with what you have to put out the most effective team. You accept that playing LBs out of position is damaging to the performance of the team. My contention is that playing Ramsey in that formation is equally as damaging. I agree that Xhaka is not effective as a defensive midfielder, so if we are going to play him why pair him with a player who plays further up the the field and therefore leaves holes in midfield? Ozil was sub-standard, but if he is likely to be more effective further up the field why play a midfielder who pushes up into his space and causes him to drop deeper where he is at his least effective? Ramsey has a role, but it isn’t this one and playing him there, given the players around him, is foolish. If Ramsey plays don’t play Ozil, or play a better defensive midfielder than Xhaka and don’t play all three of them together. It’s about deploying the players available in a set up that gets the best out of them. If Wenger wants to play Ramsey play him with Coquelin, or in front of the midfield pairing instead of Ozil. If he wants to play Xhaka to use his passing abilities pair him with Elneny, or Coquelin. Playing Ramsey in yesterday’s formation exposes Xhaka’s weaknesses and compromises any qualities Ozil might bring.

  10. Anyway none of us are coaches, so what do we know? Except many fans have been watching football for years and can see when there are clear issues on the pitch that the manager does nothing to resolve.

  11. Wavey,

    Good afternoon All. Another excellent post comme d habitude.

    Wavey you have enunciated All that I had wanted to say yesterday about the choices options formations regarding the team.

    I agree you basically cannot play Ramsey and Ozil in the same team. Shit is going to continue to hit the fan.

    It’s blatantly obvious that nobody has had a mot in AWs ear.

  12. Yesterday on Sky they managed to find a shot of the offside decision which clearly showed that Lacazette’s heel was in fact in an offside position. Just a fraction of an inch maybe but enough to rule out the goal.

    That said, the linesman could not possibly have seen it and no doubt took a guess. Video review would have backed him up.

  13. The board & owner are to blame for being suckered by Arsene yet again.

    Gazidis claiming that there are no better managers out there is such a whopper that he should lose any remaining credibility.

    I totally agree that Wenger ruins players nowadays – there’s a long list of them so it’s pointless picking on individuals.

    Give it a couple of months & Lacazette will be struggling for form & goals & probably benched or stuck on the wing.

    The whole thing is entirely predictable & those at the top will deserve the shit storm heading their way this season.

  14. JonJon,

    Morning mate, said it all summer, the wrong GK waa shown the door but the narrative has been, ‘Cech is still a very solid and dependable GK who commands his box and so on and so on.’

    At least we still have Szczesny and Martinez, o shit we don’t.

  15. Always enjoy your blog. I agree with lots of what you say in this post but I think you’re being hard on Ozil. The movement ahead of him wasn’t good enough but he still made more passes than anyone else, more (in stats speak) key passes, literally never lost the ball all game and was (as I always find anyway) pretty joyous to watch- my main feeling after the first two games are that a) we need central defenders playing central (incl poss Nach on left centre as he normally does well there) and b) there is total confusion up front as no had got used to Lacazette yet and so everyone is everyone else’s way.
    Not having a go by the way, just think think Ozil gets bashed a lot but in my eyes frequently gets through tons of work on and off the ball (still rubbish at defending!) and when the players around him do the right things is utterly brilliant, watching him repeatedly ghost past stoke defenders was joyous but he is not a one man team like Sanchez- he is valuable because of what he does for others more than anything else.

    That’s my twopence worth anyhow. Happy Sunday all.

  16. It’s happened again…it’s happened again

    It didn’t take Wenger long to confirm my feeling that he lost the plot a long time ago. Two left backs in the centre, one right back at left back???

    Lacazette hardly got a pass all game. He can’t score without the ball.

    I thought Ozil & Xhaka were garbage. They clearly have been absolved of defensive duties by Wenger. Xhaka’s passing was poor, Ozil was hiding for most of the match.

  17. JackofAll,

    A lovely turd polishing exercise on Ozil. How long has he been at Arsenal? 4 seasons? I can’t recall an away game they he has stood out in the Premier league.

  18. One positive being that Lacazette’s wrongly offside goal showed everyone exactly what Welbeck is missing.

    The raw instinct of getting half a sniff and then getting the net bulging

  19. JackofAll,

    I tend to agree with you.

    Özil is without doubt the most skilled of all our players — the problem lies with his body language, which often gives the impression that he has given up or does not really care.[The latter of course is simply an assumption – which correct or not, is not provable].

    With all players of his ilk, he relies on other players running into the spaces or angles where he will find them. That does not always happen as some of our guys are frequently on the back foot waiting for a sideways pass.

    That said, the TV cameras did catch him not tracking Jesse all the way back and allowed him freedom to score. To be candid Mesut is not a defender and perhaps did not read that play.
    The one who should have had more sense was Xhaka who having made a mess of a pass went into the opponents half, got bypassed and left space for their counter attack.

    At the time, I did not really see anything more than the crap pass from Xhaka – but the pundits put the thumb on both Özil and Xhaka for not defending properly and I guess they were right with the benefits of multi-replays.

  20. Hi C,

    You are of course correct that our once solid goalkeeping situation dating back to Seaman and Mad Jens has gone to pot, and the Tech ‘experiment’ has not worked in my opinion.

    I can see why Maureenhio replaced him while he managed the Chavs. Cech is still OK-ish but no more than that — his best days are well behind him now.

    The selling of Chesney must have more to it than him being a naughty boy smoking in the shower room. Oh well. 🙁

  21. I can see Wenger now: we scored a goal so it is a draw, we can still go unbeaten this season.
    I repeat a prediction from early in summer ( with no satisfaction, I should add), out of everything that matters in terms of trophies by the end of October with possible relegation at the end of the season. Nothing has changed and my confidence isn’t high that we will suddenly develop some transfer savvy between now and August 31. AW will trot out the usual excuses, but if we are really out of the running early he should be replaced by Xmas to stop our franchise (sorry, club) disappearing up its own backside.

  22. Wavey,

    We may not be coaches, but those who are can see it and exploit it time and again. If I wasn’t an Arsenal fan, it would be funny

  23. C,

    I have always tried to see the best in my club – and when Gazidis said, after that dreadful game against Palace last season, that out of chaos there was now a catalyst for change, I believed him.

    Still plenty of chaos, which should have been a catalyst for change — so where is the change??

    If his demand for change was dismissed,Gazidis should have walked out – and he would have been a hero with many of the fans – it did not need to become personal, surely every member of the Arsenal hierarchy could have seen how much change, or a fresh start was needed, not just to be fair to the fans, but in the best interests of the club too.

  24. HenryB,

    Morning mate!

    Yup, I think people tend to forget that Mourinho sold us Cech, this is the same person who refused to loan us DembaBa when he was in form. Cech is still, as you say OK-ish, the problem we face is that his back up is more of the same.

    I think the selling of Szczesny and the season long loan for Martinez is in response to the deal for Ospina falling through and because clubs wanted those two they were shown the door even though IMHO they are the best 2 (though Huddart has all the makings).

    O well, we have what we have. 😉

  25. HenryB,

    Honestly, I wanted to believe in the whole catalyst for change thing to, it played out in the papers like a battle for the soul of the club, on one side Arsene and his way and the other Gazidis and the change he wanted.

    Ultimately it was Arsene who won and thus the chaos is still here. Change, guess we finally brought in a goal scoring CF but everything else still feels the same. From the players to the set-up, to how the club is run. Gazidis should have walked away especially since he did lose the war, but instead he stayed and now his words like those of so many at Arsenal ring hollow.

  26. JackofAll,

    Indeed, completely different wavelength along with laca. sometimes you can’t even lead a horse to water let alone make them drink. While those two would pass to feet, I’d notice a lot of the time they would make a pass into space in a ‘you should be here’ type of way. Is it a coincidence that in four years of being here his most notable contributions come when playing with Alexis? Wenger has surrounded him with dross and we expect him to continue to give 100% everytime, let alone sign a new deal?

    A collection of weapons and military equipment….😭😭😭😭😭

  27. I see both Xhaka and Ozil are copping the flak for not covering the acres of space left by the ever unpresent Ramsey.

    For much of the game Ozil was attempting to do just that, he was constantly having to drop deep while Ramsey made his kamikaze raids into the box.

  28. Headline in Arsenal.com:

    ‘You don’t get away with defending like that’

    Wenger on Hector on the left:

    ‘He can play there, I play him or Chamberlain there, and Chamberlin on the right looks good as well. Both of them are more right-sided players, I agree, and depending on the game I choose sometimes right and sometimes left.’

    Not just an experiment then. It appears that Wenger has settled on a solution for the (club’s financial) need to sell players by deciding to ditch centre backs and make do with full backs in the middle of defence instead. We get arguably one of the best LBs/LWBs we have had for some time and are going to play him as a centre back.

    I’m going to my first game for some time on Sept 9th when we host Bournemouth. By that point I think the title might already be beyond us, as we could be looking at 3 points out of a possible 9 and being 6 points behind the leaders. Yet another poor start to the season which ensures we are out of the running before the transfer window has even closed. There again, I wouldn’t put it past this team to put in a really sold performance out of nowhere and actually beat Liverpool. The one thing in our favour is that they are nearly as vulnerable at the back as we are. With Kos back next week, we could actually resolve that and put out a back three who are all actually centre backs which would give us a better chance against Liverpool’s attack.

  29. Great post Yogi

    I think Arsene is crazy to start Nacho and Kolasanic as 2/3 of our back 3 when he had Mert and Holding available.

  30. MikeSA,

    Wenger=The Emperor’s New Clothes!!
    It’s bizarre that more people don’t see it.How many commentators and journalists criticise the team yet cannot bring themselves to point out that Wemger is way past his “sell by date” and the problems are wholly of his making?!

  31. Joel,

    What is stranger is that I didn’t hear one commentator mention that we played 2 LBs in our 3 at the back. I assumed that a 3 at the back was usually 3 CBs with 2 FBs or wingers playing as the 2 WBs. Apparently Wenger has ripped that outdated concept up and replaced it with his own interpretation. So all those coaches using that outdated 3 at the back set up clearly don’t know what they are doing and Wenger has reinvented it to his own specific style. Perhaps he didn’t want to be seen to just be copying the other coaches. One thing is for sure, if Wenger really thinks that formation works he will beat it to death until the one game that actually does work. Sounds like he needs another intervention.

  32. With Kos back next week , someone will find themselves disappointed & left out.

    My money is on Kolasinac as Arsene will not want to be seen to admit he’s been wrong selection wise regarding his wing backs.

  33. It would be more inherently wrong id either the Spuds or the Chavs won, YW.

    I am not as outspoken against Wenger as some, usually, but what really gets my goat today is the “I will not buy anyone until I sell some players first” — Why? Isn’t that a bit like the girlfriend saying “I am out of milk, but I cannot buy any until I sell some of the eggs we have’?
    Buy the effing milk, if we need some — worry about buying too many bloody eggs afterwards.

    A more graphic comment ” We cannot have sex, darling, until I sell some of the condoms we have not used” — ‘f*ck that — literally’.

    Of course ALL the other managers say the same thing — “No, no I cannot possibly buy a player we desperately need until we have sold some of the f*ckers I wrongly bought” — yeah, like bollix they do!

  34. “Oh, and by the way, as your manager, I refuse to sell £200m worth of players in Sanchez, Mesut and the Ox so I can buy new players — why? I am just being spiteful — and the others I cannot offload, because no one wants the bast*rds!!”

    Signed: Arsene Wenger

  35. HenryB,

    Quite agree. If they want to leave just sell them and get in players that actually want to be at Arsenal. The idea that we would be strengthening rivals is nonsense. This side as it is will not challenge the likes of City or Chelsea anyway. And when we lose £100m+ of talent next season does anyone really believe that we will suddenly splurge that huge war chest? Of course not.

  36. Wavey

    I understand the theory behind all the stuff you say about Ramsey in your comment at 10:47 but we have seen plenty of games without Ramsey over the last few years and I don’t believe the actual results show that we are a better defensive team with him out of the line up. The actual results have to match the theory and in this case we have seen plenty of games without Ramsey and I don’t think that has happened.

  37. C

    To me the interesting things about the stats from the article you linked was the fact that the guy who wrote the article thought Ox was our best player and yet if you read the comments during the game yesterday you would think that Ox was terrible. The author has the same idea that I do which is that Ox’s ability to move the ball down the wing is the most dynamic part of our game and it makes us a more dangerous team.

    The other take home is the fact that Ozil did not lose the ball even once tells me that he is not trying to make anything positive happen. You are going to lose the ball occasionally if you are making passes in dangerous areas where there is defensive pressure. The guy who wrote the article said Ozil made all those passes and no one even noticed which is exactly the problem. We need him to be a difference maker and he has become content to be relatively invisible

  38. Bill,

    The same article did mention Ozil created more key passes than anyone else (which is stat language for making something happen I think)

  39. Ozil elegance and technical skill has never been questioned. It’s his inability to use that skill to be a consistent difference maker that is the problem

  40. JackofAll,

    But I get your point- for some of the game he was getting deeper and deeper, perhaps partly coz there was no space with their whole team camped in their half) so wasn’t able to make much difference but he was running the ball past people and through the lines in the first half before making his passes which was when he seemed to me to be most efffective

  41. Seriously, you could make a case for selling half of this squad, probablythat is being conservative.

    Wind of change? Laugh or cry, your choice for the next two years.

  42. Sad day-spuds lost!
    Arsenal have 20 million from the sale of Szcz and Gabriel.
    Arsene go buy a gd DM!

  43. Bill,

    I don’t think anybody disagrees about the fact when he drives forward he can be dynamic, the problem is which waa abundantly clear during the game to the point that Dixon waa losing hIs mind is that he doean’t defend or track back. Going forward he is fantastic, defensively he is meh at best and there were timea during the match qere he actually didn’t even attempt.

    Ozil led the team in key passes and honestly, most of the game he was actually playing in more the Santi role because Ramsey was playing as a striker.

  44. Bill,

    I think you are focusing on the wrong part of my point. It’s not about being less defensive with Ramsey in the game. So once more:

    Xhaka is our weakest defensive midfielder and Ramsey likes to get forward, so playing those together is a no-no because Xhaka isn’t good enough to cover for Ramsey pushing forward.

    Ozil is more effective further forward as he is starting things higher up the field, if Ramsey and he play in the same side they either get in each others way, or Ozil drops deeper and gets marginalised.

    If Wenger wants to play Ramsey he has to put a stronger defensive midfielder alongside him, as that player will have to be doing the defensive stuff in midfield on his own. If Wenger wants to play Xhaka to use his passing skills he needs to play a more defensive midfielder in alongside him, as he can’t do the defensive stuff.

    Ozil and Ramsey probably shouldn’t play in the same 11 as both are most effective in the same area of the pitch.

    If you play all 3 together the only one likely to look like he’s having a good game is Ramsey, as Xhaka struggles in the defensive role and Ozil drops back and appears to be completely out of the game. Exactly what we saw yesterday. This isn’t a one off, it was happening last season as well and is why I said before the season even started that it would be a mistake to pair Xhaka and Ramsey together when Wenger suggested they were his preferred pairing.

    None of that has anything at all to do with whether or not we have been better defensively with or without Ramsey over the last few years. Its about playing the players available to us right now in the most effective set up we can. Ramsey/Ozil and Xhaka/Ramsey do not work we can either play Ramsey in front of a different midfield pairing, or alongside a more defensive midfielder. I actually think the latter doesn’t work that well though, as he will still push forward into Ozil’s area of the pitch. Maybe Ozil would have to switch to the left wing to accommodate Ramsey in the middle.

  45. Pep seems to have ended the pursuit for Sanchez by saying:

    “I have enough good players up front,” he said, as reported by the Independent.
    “(They should) just relax and score goals – that’s all. I have two amazing strikers, two number nines, Gabriel (Jesus) and Sergio (Aguero), but I have others who can score a lot of goals.”

  46. Jackofall

    What the heck is a key pass? It’s one of those things that stat people have created togice them something to do. If you watch Ozil play now days it’s pretty hard to suggest that the things he does have been us more likely to score.

  47. Wavey,

    So the answer would be a proper DM, Xhaka making the passes and one of either Ozil or Ramsey? In which case we need that DM, say like Carvalho…


    FFS……. 😡

    Or we can just accept that Wenger hasn’t got a clue (cue chants of “you don’t know what you’re doing) and write off the next two years (barring a major supporter revolt and a Kroenke U-turn).

  48. Wavey,

    Quite frankly Wenger’s so fucked in the head I wouldn’t put it past him to be deliberately fucking it up with 3 at the back so he can say ” see, you thought you knew better and insisted that 3 at the back was the way to go but it didn’t work”.

    “You were all wrong and I was right so fuck off and leave me alone to do whatever I want”

  49. andy1886,

    I would gladly take Carvalho, him going to the Hammers is annoying because we were constantly linked with him with reports in Portugal saying we haggled over fee, I know…

    Well I figure it took us 4 years to get a proper CF, so maybe another 4 years for DM, one thing at a time.

  50. Wavey @ 6:14

    Excellent comment. I have to think about it some more but everything you say makes sense.

    To me the first player that we need to drop is Xhaka. It seems like a mistake to have your deepest defensive mid who is not a very good defender. The deepest midfielder should be the most critical link in the defensive solidarity of your midfield. Using a player in that position who is a suboptimal defensive player is a mistake and you can’t compensate adequately for that no matter who he is paired with. IMO Xhaka is the #1 problem with regard to our midfield defense and he is the one we really should be banging on about dropping rather then Ramsey.

  51. Wavey.

    We have seen Ozil without Ramsey such as the game against Leicester and he was no more effective playing with Elneny last week. He is still a very technically skilled player and he may have a few good games here and there but I think Mesut’s time as an impact difference making player has mostly passed.

  52. I am not a big fan of the idea that we need a world class technically brilliant midfielder in the #10 position to run the attack and creates the chances. Chelsea certainly thrived last season without a dominant #10. The reason you have creative players is to disrupt the defense and get the ball to your goal scorers in dangerous positions. If we played Kolasanic at LWB and Ox at RWB I think we could get the creativity we need from our wingbacks.

  53. Bill,

    I’m not saying that everything is right with Ozil if Ramsey isn’t on the pitch, it isn’t. I also agree that Xhaka is a weak link and we need to have a better CDM (Andy, I agree with you on Carvalho). My first option would to buy a better CDM, but that doesn’t appear likely to happen. So with the players we have, we have to make sure we apply them as effectively as we can. Playing Xhaka/Ramsey, or even playing Ozil and Ramsey in the same team is the least effective deployment of players. If we are going to get anything out of Ozil it needs to be further up the field, so playing him and Ramsey cannot work unless Ozil is playing on the left wing. If we want to play Xhaka for his passing we need to deploy a stronger DM alongside him, not Ramsey. If we want to play Ramsey it should really be in the furthermost point of a 3 man midfield. That way we could still play Xhaka alongside either Elneny, or Coquelin. We actually don’t have the right players to play in the formation Wenger wants and those we have aren’t good enough. Wenger is making no attempt to get the best he can out of the players available to him by adapting the formation to suit them.

  54. Reports say we have offered Ox a new 4 year deal. Personally, I think he is a player that does really well bombing down the flanks but the problem that we have with Ox is his decision making and end product leaves much to be desired.

    For instance, I know some think that Marcos Alonso is average but I rate him really highly both as a WB and as a LB because he not only has end product (see both of his goals today) but defensively he is as solid as they come on the left flank. I’m not saying now nor have I ever that Ox isn’t a good player but if he is going to really be a key part of this squad and with as many matches as he has played, we need more creativity and goals from him plain and simple.

  55. And that last point is the sign of a weak manager. A good manager gets the very best out of the players he has. He gets them working as a team and the whole ends up being better than the sum of the parts. I can’t decide if he has just lost it in going from the Invincibles to this, or if the quality players in the Invincibles squad were just lable to pull the squad players along with them. Was Wenger just very good at finding that specific group of players and bringing them together? Has he always just been trying to do that again? That might also explain his reluctance to bring in ready made players. All of his players back then were either unheard of, or hadn’t lived up to expectations elsewhere.

  56. I’d like to see us trying the following against Liverpool:


    Ox – Mustafi – Kos – Nacho – Kolasinac

    Elneny – Xhaka


    Lacazette – Welbeck

    I’m still not convinced Alexis will be available, but if he is I would swap him in for Welbeck.

  57. I know that many are concerned that Ox doesn’t have the defensive qualities of Bellerin, but isn’t that the point of three at the back? Allowing your wingbacks to push up. Ox can do some defensive work and playing him as RWB hasn’t been a disaster so far. I actually think that players like Bellerin and Ozil could do with being dropped every so often to let them know they aren’t indispensable.

  58. Wavey,

    Personally, I would like to see against Liverpool:


    The subs that would be made should we be chasing would be Ramsey for Elneny, Giroud for Sanchez and Ox for Bellerin.

    But preferably and I know that Arsene nor most of the posters on here would go with a back 4 but I would and would go with:


    Then the subs if we were chasing the game would be Giroud for Ox thus moving Lacazette to the RW and Ramsey for Elneny. If we were up and protecting the match I would go Le Coq for Xhaka, Ramsey for Ox.

  59. Great post sadly the same great post as last year around this time. Except with different pieces in play and yet the same arch media manipulator in charge. This team selection more than the performance shows where problems lie. Chambers in, Mertsacker in, Holding in (dropped after a few bad games when all he needs is to be part of a proper functioning back three). Kolasinac in for the Ox on the left Bellerin back where he belongs on the right.

    And for Gods sake, if you have too many bad players then pay some off and get rid!!! What is a final year’s contract salary of some dross worth if you can replace with serious first 11 options and get back in the top 4 (seems like a trophy all of a sudden). No one said you had to kept them just pay them off now and move on.

  60. Anyone with a ounce of common sense (with the exception of Wenger and the board) knows you’re right.

  61. HenryB,

    Ozil does not (generally) influence games and does not do enough work. He needs to go. We have the likes of Reis Nelson willing to run all day for the club and would create a few chances – sell the big boys and start blooding the youth.

  62. tony

    In a separate comment yesterday I was calling for Reiss Nelson to be brought into the team more often, at least from the bench, in place of Theo.

    He is not the same type of player as Özil.

    As regards Özil – what I actually said is that he is the most skilful player we have, but skill alone is not enough. He also got roasted after the Stoke game for not tracking back before they scored.
    The problem with that is, the defence were a shambles with players playing out of position and not defending properly — Mesut is not a defender – to blame him for the defence and the manager’s rather strange selections is totally ridiculous, in my opinion.

    You say Özil must go – and that is a fair enough opinion – but I think you will find Arsenal have no choice in that – he has refused to sign a contract extension and will go – this summer? but certainly next summer if no deal is reached.

  63. C,

    Interesting that when I saw your first formation I thought we would be weak in the middle of the park (assuming that with two wider attackers plus WB’s we’d have little strength CM) but then I saw your second formation and the same applies even though we have a third player centrally behind the forwards.

    What that tells me (as Wavey also suggested) is that we simply do not have the players to play the type of formation that Wenger prefers. In fact we’d have to play something along the lines of 4-5-1 to get any sort of control in midfield, and even then I wouldn’t be confident against the likes of (for example) ManU.

    Elneny is tidy and industrious but a tough tackler? Not really for me. Le Coq puts himself about but gives away too make fouls and contributes little else. It’s almost like AFC would need to play with 12 men to match other sides in midfield. And then when you factor in Wenger’s focus on attack and ‘entertaining’ football (in his view) it’s not hard to see that we will always struggle against physically strong teams. All style and little substance as YW said.

    All of which makes no sense when you realise that all of Wenger’s successful (title winning) sides where strong and powerful teams that often bullied other teams (and picked up plenty of cards doing so).

  64. Wavey:
    I know that many are concerned that Ox doesn’t have the defensive qualities of Bellerin, but isn’t that the point of three at the back? Allowing your wingbacks to push up. Ox can do some defensive work and playing him as RWB hasn’t been a disaster so far. I actually think that players like Bellerin and Ozil could do with being dropped every so often to let them know they aren’t indispensable.

    Agreed, Wavey,

    Your analysis is spot on, as is your suggestion to give Özil and Belli a short sharp shock by dropping them. Belli has regressed in the latter months of last season, and in the pre-season matches, and he wasn’t too clever at left back either.

  65. andy1886,

    Agreed with all that, Andy — the bloody midfield is where a lot of the problems start (and end) mainly because the players we have available are just not good enough – especially Xhaka – despite his excellent passing, he cannot tackle and has no pace at all and loses the ball far too easily.

  66. Bill,

    As a phrase it is, I agree, bollocks bit it means a pass which leads to decisive action. Best description I heard of what Ozil gives a team was that he was the guy who plays the pass before the pass that leads to the goal and I think that sums up what I like about him, he plays people into positions where they can make the cross/shot/final pass normally onto the correct foot of the player he is passing to. I can totally understand people’s issues with him because his play these days lacks directness sometime but I think when we get back on our passing game he will be valuable (I also think the thing that did most damage to Ozil was cazorlangetting injured because the way those two moved the ball between them was fantastic and since cazorlanwas injured our passing has very often been too laboured but that’s another conversation!).

    Appreciate your point of view though.

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