WBA Review: Arsenal Win, Pulis Whining – A Good Night’s Work

Arsenal 2 – 0 West Bromwich Albion

A comfortable win last night at the Emirates, with a decent performance. The margin of victory should have been more and with some harum-scarum defending in the first half, a lot tighter. As it was, an Alexandre Lacazette double gave us three points which took us to within touching distance of the top four.

The French international played well, causing Albion plenty of nervous moments with his movement and going forward, as a unit, we were fairly cohesive and not too inclined to pass sideways all the time. Generally, when we got to the flanks, there was an intent about the play which meant the next ball was invariably into the area.

His first, a true striker’s goal, nodded home after Foster tipped Alexis’ free-kick onto the bar. The visitors defence went AWOL and Lacazette pounced. The second, a well-struck penalty, into the corner leaving the Albion ‘keeper with no chance of stopping it, even if he moved before the kick was taken. Which he did, as if to prove the point.

Wenger praised his compatriot afterwards,

He’s not only a goalscorer, his link up play is good. He fights as well, he’s not fazed by the physical challenges that West Brom gave us today and overall he looks to adapt very quickly and very well.

Mo Elneny dropped into the centre of midfield and Ramsey given licence to roam. Which he did to good effect, I thought. At times, it left us a little under-manned on the right going forward but overall, the Welsh international, released from his defensive burden, did well to get forward in support of the attack. And probably deserved a goal.

Do The Sand Dance

Introducing Mesut Özil as a late substitute probably ends that experiment for the time being but if the German continues to flirt with other clubs, we may it happen more frequently particularly in the Europa League, particularly if we get out of the group stage.

Elneny also gave Granit Xhaka good support and a steadying hand on the tiller. The absence of rash challenges from the Swiss suggests confidence that he wasn’t he was aware that he wasn’t the last line of defence. It worked well with the Egyptian popping up in support of the attack without a feeling that the defence was left exposed.

Mind you, Nacho Monreal was there so we didn’t have to worry. It was a toss-up between the Spaniard and Elneny as to who was Man of the Match. Monreal even pitched in as an attacking threat; a goal would have capped off a fine night’s work. Particularly as he hooked one off the line when it seemed impossible for Albion to miss.

Two players who deserved a goal? 4 – 0 wouldn’t have flattered us at the final whistle. At half-time, there was a sense that 1 – 0 was flattering as Albion caused mayhem before the interval. I still can’t work out how Rodriguez didn’t score when Bellerin couldn’t clear properly and missed the ball.

That’s the way we roll in home games. Comfortable wins with uncomfortable moments.

They Spin Around and They Cross the Floor

Tony Pulis whined after Albion were denied a nailed on penalty when Mustafi tagged Rodriguez with an unnecessary slide into the challenge. There’s a Koscielny-esque willingness to lurch into situations without thinking about the German which is unnerving. It’s nothing a good defensive coach wouldn’t eradicate from his game; if only we had a solid centre back on the coaching staff.

Rodriguez picked himself up and duly shot, bringing an excellent save from Cech with Livermore skewing the rebound high and wide with an empty net beckoning. That’s the real source of Pulis’ frustration but the referee’s a convenient target.

Wenger had sympathy with his opponent over the incident,

The referee left the advantage and they nearly scored from that, they hit the post and I think the decision is defendable on both sides had he given a penalty or not. He left the advantage, if he gives a penalty and doesn’t give the advantage and they miss the penalty then you say why did he not leave the advantage, it’s this kind of situation.

Some you win, some you lose. Pulis reminded us that Albion hadn’t been awarded a penalty in over a year. There’s a joke in there somewhere about needing to be in the opposition penalty area to win one…

And Alexis. The sort of person the President of the United States probably calls an ‘SOB’ behind closed doors. ‘Off with his head!’, Tone told anyone who wasn’t bleeding from the ears after his whining pierced their ear drums. ‘Book ‘im for diving and then he’s off for yellow card he got for dissent!’ is the last resort of a man who knew his team needed to face ten-man Arsenal to win.

They like the Punk and the Metal Band

Three points is three points with all donations gratefully received.

Finally today, a new post at Dad Jukebox. Records of the Week which deserved their own pieces but I just ran out of time so I’ve summarised them in around 140 characters.

’til Tomorrow.

90 thoughts on “WBA Review: Arsenal Win, Pulis Whining – A Good Night’s Work

  1. Had me doubts about money at cb but another good display, for me Ramsey is better inthe middle, even though no game good to see jw on bench, well done to all

  2. Interesting match an the write up is just right !

    I liked Elneny very much – lots of useful industry and ball retention and spreading the play – Monreal was brill….

    We could have been 2 or 3 behind at half time though !

  3. Sorry not convinced by that first half and the Rodriguez non-penalty decision was a game changer. Rodriguez got up because he couldn’t believe the referee hadn’t blown the whistle and the ref didn’t play advantage because he never signaled with his arms to play on. Which suggests that he didn’t think it was a penalty. In which case he should have booked Rodriguez for diving. Pi$$ poor referee!

    Asides from that Elneny and Monreal kept us in the game and allowed Ramsey to be Ramsey. Would prefer to see Maitland-Niles and Elneny partnered in the holding midfield roles as that would give us more dynamism and industry, as Xhaka is always one challenge away from a red card, lacks pace and is too pedestrian when getting back into position when he goes forward.

    If anyone thinks we are making top four off the back of that performance than they’re clearly deluded. As for Mr Wenger’s aspirations of a title challenge…pathetic.

  4. Colts – Yes, praise to Wenger for bringing in Elneny – but it looks like he was also trying to ship him out during the transfer window. What does that say?
    I actually don’t think it was a penalty. I mean, it LOOKED like a penalty because Mustafi went off his feet. But I thought the real reason Rodriguez went down was that he lost traction. So the ref made the wrong decision and got it right. You know it makes sense.
    I wonder if playing Le Coq and Elneny together might have a good effect on Le Coq. He’ll learn out to keep it simple and keep rotating the ball.

  5. HNDS

    > If anyone thinks we are making top four off the back of that performance than they’re clearly deluded

    Let’s put it this way, beyond City and United, no-one is impressing at the moment. LFC / CFC / Tiny Tots / Us; we’re winning games we’re supposed to, losing elsewhere with slip-ups occasionally thrown in. And for us, a slip-up inevitably leads to a twatting. I wouldn’t rule a top four finish out quite so soon (even though I think we’ll finish 5th/6th) but yes, I’d agree Wenger’s aspiration of a title challenge ended years ago.

  6. I imagine that Ramsey could do with some competition, in form of Jack Wilshere contending for the same box to box midfield role, that would do the team a lot of good, as it would mean better performances, instead of having a spot nailed down on the team sheet, irrespective of form.

    With Cazorla coming back by December or January, if all things click, then we will not be light in the midfield area. This would be helpful when the annual slump period arrives. So with Iwobi, Maitland Niles, El neny and Coquelin in the picture, rotation with an eye on form needs to be routine.

  7. YW


    > If anyone thinks we are making top four off the back of that performance than they’re clearly deluded

    Let’s put it this way, beyond City and United, no-one is impressing at the moment.

    I would suggest goal difference and form tells another story! We are not better than Chelsea or Tottenham. And even Liverpool will finish above us.

    We’ve finally become that mid table side we were always destined to become under Wenger and Kroenke’s stewardship. Challenging with the likes of Everton, Southampton, Stoke, Leicester and WBA for that Europa league spot.

    And the beauty of it is, we aren’t even good enough to win the Europa league!

    I’d rather see English teams in the Champions League who have designs on winning the competition instead of just looking to get out of the group stage like we have done for so many seasons (and failed to do so in most of those!).

    Gentlemen’s bet on whether or not we’ll finish inside the top four!?

  8. Thanks Yogi.

    If we can put in away displays like against Chelsea against the big boys this term we may just sneak 4th. Spurs will struggle at, umm home but I can see Chelsea and Liverpool improving. I thought we might finish mid table but now i think top 6 is realistic.
    I was also happy to sell Jack to West Ham in the summer but I’m feeling very positive about what he can bring to the team this season. I hope that hasn’t put the mocker on him!

  9. I don’t think we were that much better than WBA. We got the breaks, they didn’t.
    Top 4, on that showing? Nope. The fact remains that managers like Pulis have worked out how to play against Arsenal. It’s not pretty, but if a team sticks to the game plan, it works. Monreal had a good game. That said, sorry to see Gibbs playing for someone else.

  10. Afternoon,

    I’m not sure I saw the ref actually signal advantage which would mean that he didn’t see the incident clearly enough to give a penalty. If he did signal advantage, why does it have to result in a goal not to be called back? JR got up and was through on goal with Cech having to put in a great save to stop the shot. With Livermore missing the rebound they missed two chances to take the lead, so wouldn’t it have been harsh on Arsenal to still call it back for a penalty?

    We still need to be a lot sharper in getting the ball to our forwards. For all of our possession in their half in the second half, we had very few chances and the final ball was woeful on occasions.

  11. HDNS

    It’s not much of a bet when I’ve already said “even though I think we’ll finish 5th/6th” 🙂

    We’ve all had our wobbles. Spurs drew two at home with Burnley and Swansea. Their one impressive performance was Everton. Five as average as any we’ve thrown out there. They have scored one more than us but have a better defence.

    Liverpool? One gubbing at a top side, as unconvincing against Watford, Palace and Leicester, as we’ve been in our games. Scored three more, conceded three more than us. It’s not as absolute as you might paint it currently.

    Chelsea. Recent games saw them score a lot but 2 were in cups; not relevant to PL necessarily. In the league, they’ve had two good wins and are the only form side out of those who can finish 3 – 6.

    I don’t think we’ll finish 3rd under any circumstances. But like us, all three sides have shown an ability to collapse over the past couple of seasons and none are guaranteed a top four spot. Nor are we and nor are we guaranteed to take advantage of any slips.

    At this moment, as I said at the top: it’s likely we’ll finish 5th or 6th but you can’t (yet) rule out a top four finish.

  12. I wouldn’t be surprised if we sneaked into 4th place this year – Spurs are going to struggle at their new Wembley home and Liverpool are very up and down.
    I can’t see us finishing above Man City, Man Utd or Chelsea
    Wenger is the master of 4th place finish, but any talk of a title challenge is frankly delusional.

  13. Good stuff Yogi.

    I thought we were lucky in the first half not to be a goal down if I’m honest, if not for Nacho’s clearance and the ref not giving the penalty we are 2-1 and the match is completely different. Thought Elneny and Nacho were close for MOTM but Elneny for me just because he caused so many problems for their midfield with his movement and quick passing.

    I thought Kos and Mustafi were shaky throughout the first half but sorted it out in the 2nd. Our attack though was very much hit or miss, some lovely balls over the top by Elneny, a couple of really well driven balls across the box from Sead and Bellerin but other than that we struggled, luckily it waa West Brom.

  14. On the positive note, Lacazette is a goal scorer but he really is a striker that does it all. It was a joy watching him bundle over Evans I think it was at one point going shoulder to shoulder, well umm shoulder to hip.

  15. I liked the game management in the second half.

    So often we’d have left ourselves exposed chasing a third & ended up hanging on grimly but we killed the game without taking unnecessary risks.

  16. Dear me. We are only in the second month of the season, lying 7th in the EPL and some of you already certain we will not finish above mid-table.
    How can you possibly justify such a forecast this early?
    Is it all part of the anti- Arsene Wenger campaign?
    We could lose Sanchez and Ozil in the January Window, sign a couple of replacements, followed by an unbeaten run to the close.
    Better by far to take that possible scenario than write off our chances of success so early in the season.
    It’s easier to contemplate on a half-filled glass than a half empty one.
    Have faith in Arsenal FC and its history, rather than in doom and gloom. 😉

  17. nicky,

    To be fair and usually I am on your side Nicky the views are balanced based on what we have seen. One good solid away draw against a competitor and not much else!

    I think YW 5/6 with 4th a possibility seems fair at the moment

  18. I concur, it was sad to see Gibbs in a WBA shirt.

    Nicky, sorry for the negativity but it’s what’s been served up year after year. How can you remain so optimistic when we are served up disappointment season after season. I don’t mind being out of the top four. In all honesty I’m ecstatic we are competing in the best league in the world. I still remember our days pre-Wenger/Graham and so this is a marked improvement. But unfortunately, our success has given us expectation, that we might one day do it again. Or go even further and win that elusive European cup (becoming only the second London side to win it in it’s current format). But realisation, has brought us all back down to earth with a bump and we’re all fed up with the same old rigmarole, which now culminates in us not even qualifying for the top table in Europe. If at some point in the future those top European clubs ever do decide to break away and form their own league, I can’t envisage an invitation being extended to AFC.

    I apologise for the pessimism but I’d rather be a pessimist than delusional.

  19. I’m not ruling out a top four finish YW, I’m just being realistic. We’ll talk at the end of the season and I really hope I’m not saying “I told you so”.

  20. “Is it all part of the anti Wenger campaign?” Of course it is!

    “We could lose Sanchez and Ozil in the January transfer window” Make that “We will most propably lose…”.

    ….and the reason for that? Wenger’s failure to address their contract issues, just as he failed to address those of Oxlade-Chamberlain.

    Finding “direct” replacements for Sanchez and Ozil would be almost impossible at anytime and even harder in the January transfer window.

    It would take a couple of exceptional players to come in and make an instant impact at that stage of the season and most top class players are reluctant to move during the winter.

    With a little more attention to detail Wenger could have settled the contract problems anytime in the past year, we would then not be contemplating either a glass half full or half empty, but one filled to the brim.

  21. @Arsetralian,
    You may well be right. All I am saying is to write us off so early in the season on the basis of the past alone, isn’t fair. 😉

  22. Arsenal’s history has no relevance to the present situation, whereas Arsene’s history over the last decade most surely has.

  23. I thought it wouldn’t be long before the chief doom and gloom merchant would enter the scene.
    There are far too many so-called Arsenal supporters whose priority is anti-Wenger rather than pro- Arsenal.
    Any success we achieved would no doubt be “in spite of ” Wenger, giving him little credit.
    I have said this many times and it bears repetition.
    Arsene Wenger will be Arsenal manager for this season and the next, according to his current contract.
    It should therefore be incumbent on all who claim to follow Arsenal to support both Club and the named Manager, along with whoever wears the shirt, at all times.
    It achieves nothing, except to boost your supply of bile, to continually proffer snide remarks about the Manager whether we win, lose or draw.
    Stop it and substitute some loyal support. 😉

  24. Hi Nicky,

    Methinks thou art exaggerating the negative, and supressing the positive, which is a neat reversal of your usual disposition. 😀

    — “We are only in the second month of the season, lying 7th in the EPL and some of you already certain we will not finish above mid-table.”

    For what it is worth, I do not believe we will find it next to impossible to displace the two Manc clubs and Chelsea in the battle for the title, so ipso fact that rules out the top 3. There is going to be a hell of a battle for fourth between us and the Spuds, despite the Wembley jinx, and a resurgent ‘Pool, and I suspect we might well struggle for that 4th place, so that leaves 5th or 6th – which with our team’s inconsistency might be a bit of a reach – but as a forecast is well North of a below mid-table berth.

    So what do you think of them apples? 😀

  25. Goods afternoon All. As a mnumber of posters have noted we were pretty dismal in the 1st half.

    Bigger issue for me is that Mustafi has got to learn to stay on his feet. He’s one lucky player today.

  26. Sorry, Nicky,

    Interruptions and non-checking have caused an unintentionally confused message.

    The sentence; – “I do not believe we will find it next to impossible to displace the two Manc clubs and Chelsea in the battle for the title” is bollix and should read;

    — “I do not believe we will find it next to impossible to displace the two Manc clubs and Chelsea in the battle for the title”

    I got my written ‘not’ in a linguistic knot. 😀

  27. There he goes again, completely unable to take a criticism without throwing in the usual insults, “doom and gloom merchant” “so called supporter”. He really needs to find some way of expressing himself without the tedious repetition of his tired old arguments.

  28. Lets be honest, no rose tinted glasses, we were a lucky lot because another day, another ref gives that penalty, Nacho doesn’t make a sublime goal line save and the West Brom player or Bellerin bundles that into the net. Take away the quick reaction first by Elneny to win the free kick then by Lacazette on thr rebound and a penalty that is 50/50 at best on the Ramsey call and things would look really different.

    With that said, we grabbed the 3 points but in no way shape or form is there not loads tox improve on and there is nothing wrong with saying that nor ia there in saying we got a scruffy 3 points.

  29. C,

    …and we still haven’t seen (y)our favoured front three combination, Sanchez, Ozil and Lacazette.

    As the Sky referee consultant put it, the foul on Ramsey was a quite definite penalty and if the player clattered by Mustafi hadn’t got straight up and hit a very good shot, he most likely would have got a penalty.

    Having said that, yes we were given a get out of jail card.

  30. I agree totally with your balanced assessment, C, @ 3:16 pm

    The problem with the spat above, is that it has more to do with the differing views on the manager.

    The rest of us know what those views are having heard them repeated countless times — enough is enough, guys? 🙂

  31. Orson Kaert,

    We still haven’t seen my preferred front 3 and have to say there were a couple times were the difference in quality between Ramsey and Ozil showed in in the ability to make ‘that’ pass. I figure we will see it at some poiny, probably first match after the international break.

    We did use our get out of jail free card, shame we had to use it so early.

  32. HenryB,

    Its always the manager and not the club with Arsenal and that is the problem.

    I’ll let them bicker like school girls or complain like Giroud after falling on his ass.

    Back to the game and have to say, Elneny just brings so much balance to our midfield.

  33. Great review Yogi

    3 clean sheets in a row is quite a change from our early season form. I think we have the players to be a decent and consistent defensive team with the exception of Xhaka as our deepest midfielder. I like the addition of Elneny in place of Ozil. Both of them are ball possession players but Elneny adds other things to the squad including defense that Ozil does not. I am not suggesting that Ozil is the reason we defend poorly but Elneny does add energy.

    Yogi I agree with your predictions regarding our most likely end of the season table position. We have a realistic chance at 4th place. To me it will depend on how well Sanchez plays for the rest of the season and how consistently we defend and perhaps the biggest thing will depend on how well Liverpool and Spurs play. IMO we won’t score enough goals if Lacazette is our only reliable goal scorer and who knows how the defense will play. I am confident we will end up with low to mid 70’s in points and that might be enough and it might not.

  34. And to add to OK’s comment at 3:25, the matter of Sanchez having his shirt pulled in the penalty area, without a penalty, has not been mentioned — and I think it was Monreal (?) about to shoot when he was pulled off the ball so that he missed his kick altogether – and that should have been a penalty.

    I was a little worried about the – “he missed his kick altogether” – why? – well fortunately I re-read it before submitting the comment, and deleted the words ‘in the’ before ‘altogether’, I would not like you to think I was some sort of perv!! 😀

  35. Alright then Nicky, do you want to place a bet that we will finish in the top 4?
    I think you’ll find plenty of takers…

  36. C,

    I think Elneny was close to being MoTM – and apart from a couple of missed passes he would have been my choice too.

    In an odd sort of way, he was close to the athleticism of Rambo – altho they are different types of player – as he seemed to cover every blade of grass. Left wing – right wing – in defence – in midfield – well you get my drift – he is getting to be the ‘go to guy’ — and yet I have read pretty critical views about his performance from some.


  37. I felt we were extremely lucky to be ahead after the first half. Rodriguez should have been given a PK. That might have changed the game.
    Sanchez still seems off kilter…Ozil offers little. Sell’em both. Really wish we had and spent the money on young hungry talent.
    Man of the match: Nacho saved a goal for us. That changed the game completely. Elneny continues to impress – something about his gait that makes him appear to be lightweight but on the contrary, he is extremely effective.
    Ramsay seems to enjoy playing the role – we really do need 2 MDF when he is on the pitch.
    Even with our best 3 CBs playing tin the back 3 we still seem fragile. Our season could be in trouble once one of them goes down. We’ll be wondering why we sold Gabriel and Gibbs when that happens.

  38. Powerful Patrick, no not Viera but the Irish bookie, has Arsenal at 7/4 finishing in the top 4. Liverpool are Evens, Spuds are 8/11.

    Bookies generally don’t lose.

  39. HenryB,

    it is odd some of the reviews. I thought he not only worked hard for the team and lile you said covered every blade of grass, pressured, moved, kept the team moving forward and also not only got into the box(he put one on a platter inside the box for Lacazette but Gibbs made thr block) but also playes some balls over the top.

    Its strange but I think he price tag still hurts him because he is one of those that literally knows what all his options are before he receives the ball and its not extra touches needed. A couple of stray passes but outside of that, he barely put a foot wrong. The other thing is that his movement literally waa giving West Brom all sorts of fits.

  40. C,

    Have seen a number of fans questioning Elneny’s worth to the team, I think that last night’s performance demonstrates what he can do in the middle of the park. I’m hoping that Wenger’s recent comments mean Elneny becomes the main choice in the middle. Unfortunately I think Wenger is still going to use Xhaka and Ramsey as his main two midfielders when Ozil is regarded as fully fit.
    I also saw comments recently regarding Maitland-Niles suggesting Wenger should let him go (not on here). These were particularly loud after the Doncaster game. Given that he was played out of position and still managed to cope fairly well with whatever was thrown him, I thought the comments were harsh. He would likely have struggled more against a better team, but I suspect that is more down to being played out of position than the abilities of the player.

  41. C:
    “Nacho now leads Arsenal in clearances(23), interceptions (15) and tackles won(14).”

    He’s our best defender the last 2 (and counting) seasons. Consider consistency, the number of positions he’s had to play in various formations, versatility of his game in addition to defensive duties, and availability as someone who has played game after game.

    Hands down the MOTM last night as well. Saved a goal, nearly scored one and defended terrifically while being the ball forward to combine in attack on the left. Had a 9 level performance, I think.

  42. Wavey,

    I would give starts in CM in Europa to AMN. I thought Elneny was good but he’s not physical enough. He’d be superb if he was because he has started showing more ambition and invention with his passing. He’s mobile, always available and careful with the ball.

  43. Good performance from the team yesterday….at least for the 3 points….the momentum is what matters.

    The Rodriguez penalty would have been given on another day and until we have VAR for such situations, we have to cope. Only that Arsenal has been mostly on the receiving end of these wrong calls. At least we had genuine penalty shouts too….same thing at Stoke.
    Its a long season and I hope the defence becomes more compact to deal with such dicey situations.

    What a performance from Monreal. He has excelled at LB, LWB and now LCB…. easily my MOTM. I can only compare him with the old but dependable CBs of Juve. He must be some hardworker – never depending on just talent.

    Lacazette arrives at Arsenal while entering his peak, so we expect to see more of him. Waiting a couple of years before going in for him looks an astute decision. That said, he still needs more work. Needs to decide on taking shots early and volleys too – min 39 & 69 would have given him an hat-trick. We are going to see him develop into his best when at Arsenal.

    Thursday offers a second 11 and a chance of recovery for the guys who played yesterday.

  44. HenryB,

    We legitimately had two penalty shouts but neither was quite as glaring and the one we were awarded on Ramsey was probably fair but somewhat soft or unusually given. We got away with it a bit! By far the better side but they probably had the best chances.

  45. C…I think at one level, a “scruffy win”, is one way to view this match. Yet, at other levels of viewing this match, Albion was lucky not to have a few more goals popped into their goal. As mentioned earlier in the blog, the score flattered them. Our possession was virtually astronomic over this team and the reality of football is you do not win matches without possession of the ball!

    The matter of Wenger’s management of the team, I am a bit in the corner of respecting this man. There are very few Managers in any professional sport who have consistently performed as well for so many years.

  46. Oludotun,

    Can’t disagree with the Monreal praise of course. That hard working approach is combined with real intelligence and proper technical quality. Not an incredible talent, he’s worked on his game and learned to play 3-4 different positions for us: LB, LWB, LCB in 3 and LCB in back 4.

    But I do think we needed Lacazette quality finisher and mobile threat (he was good enough to help us) two seasons ago. A better goal scoring record that season to go with our strong defensive performance that year would have seen us win the league instead of Leicester. Our history and standing as a club right now would be completely different. We needed Lacazette that summer and cold have had him or another top striker but AW only brought in Cech and gambled on “cohesion” as a catch phrase slogan to avoid a better gamble on improving the team where it really needed.

  47. Wavey,

    Completely agree about Elneny, his work rate and defensive abilities are exactly what we need regardless who partners him in midfield. The other thing that he brings is that he might be a ball possession sort of player because he is pass and move but its not just pass for pass sake, he is moving players and the ball quickly leading to quick transitions. The other thing that I like is that, he showed last night that he can produce ‘that’ ball for instance the ball he played to create Ramsey’s header chance was a ball over the top that Bellerin simply had to guide into Ramsey’s path or his quick 1 touch passing gets him and the team out of trouble. I hope he plays more even when Ozil is fit because I think he offers the closest thing to Santi that we have (he sprayed a couple of balls with his left foot that made me smile). I’m not saying he is some dynamic player (though his close control in the box then layoff to Lacazette shows he can be) that is going to boss a match but he brings balance and you know what your going to get match in and match out and players like him help you win.

    Yea the Maitland-Niles leaving stuff always makes me laugh because even against Doncaster in teh first half he played well and the 2nd half when we went to a back 4 and he and Elneny were pivots the youngster was still doing the defensive stuff but pushing forward a bit more. Given the fact that he literally just turned 20 and has already shown well bodes well. The other good thing is that with us being in the Caribou Cup, FA Cup and Europa he will get plenty of match time and should start.

  48. Limestonegunner,

    Agree about Nacho being our best and most consistent defender. I know Kos has been nothing short of quality for us but Nacho is actually getting better and better with age not to mention he is durable and not afraid to battle.

    The other thing I really like about our left side is that should he go on a surging run, Sead simply slots into that left CB position effortlessly and is just as capable of pushing forward from his left WB role. Hats off to Arsene for getting that right.

  49. Limestonegunner,

    The one thing I do disagree with is the notion that Elneny is a lightweight because I think he is more physical than he gets credit for. He is sort of that wiry strong type of player but also is aggressive enough to make up for it. Yea he isn’t the physical beast of say Toure or Matic or that lot but he is very much the wiry physical player similar to Kante and Gueye.

  50. @Jonny,
    I wouldn’t want to bet because I don’t know how we will finish in the League…..unlike many of the crystal ball gazers on this site who (surprise, surprise) enjoy forecasting that we will finish mid-table.
    The main doom and gloom merchant spends far too much time continually spewing bile about the Manager, instead of displaying loyalty towards the team and their efforts.
    After the Lord Mayor’s Show….. 😉

  51. Hi Freddo,

    For a definitive answer you may have to converse with Mr no horses, I only have assumptions.
    First off I think we all agree this past window has been quite bizarre. If selling Moe enabled us to buy an upgrade in midf then yes, sell. Does that mean he’s not good enough to praise Wenger for buying a solid midf for pennies?
    Felt like he added a bit of grit to his game yesterday which was nice to see, he’s the best in that position atm. I’d actually like to see Francis partner him instead of granite to add a bite to the centre.

    Dam, fun bus had a spare… 😉

  52. Heh, nice cop-out.
    Also, I could be wrong (I can;t be arsed to check) but I think only one voice mentioned competing with mid-table teams for the Europa spot we currently occupy. I am not sure any said we would finish mid-table.
    Most seem to think we will finish outside the top 4 in 5th or 6th. Some have said we are still in with a decent shout of top 4.
    Deriding people as ‘crystal ball gazers’ is just bizarre – are we not allowed a reasoned opinion on where we think we will finish? I did not bet on us finishing in the top 4 last season, for the first time in 6 years (when I started online betting). And I have made a little money speculating every single season.
    This season, if you think predicting places of 4-7 is unreasonable then bully for you and your blind optimism but deep down, you know the odds don’t lie.
    Your problem is you want this site to be occupied by people who think like you – by all means keep banging that drum but fuck me, what a stupid waste of time.

  53. Imagine that though for a club of our stature our best mid field could be:

    Moe neny: 5 mil from Basel.
    Francis 5’0: lost on loan. Or xhaka (sigh).

    The Mayans were right…😉

  54. C,

    I just think he needs to be more physically robust to be effective for us as a regular and because Xhaka isn’t such a great defender. But I really like how he has been developing more ambitious and incisive passing–it is a good step forward. It is short of what I would want in a regular AFC CM but it is improvement. The rest of his game is top notch–I’m with you there. He still gets pushed off the ball, loses challenges I think he could win with more aggression, doesn’t win much in the air despite decent height, etc… these are the limitations I’ve noticed and I don’t think it is beyond him physically to strengthen or be more aggressive. That’s why I mention it. He could work on this and be really good.

  55. Nicky

    The reason people are pessimistic is that we have been stagnant for almost a whole decade. There has been no improvement over the last 8-9 years. With the exception of 13/14 we have collected in the low to mid 70″s in points every season since 2008. I think we will have another year just like the last 9 and collect around the same number of points. Unfortunately unlike us, the top of the league table is getting better and for the first time in this century 75 points was not enough to finish 4th. If that trend continues then our usual low 70’s in points will see us dropping closer to mid table.

  56. Philmar

    We are not going to get much money for either Sanchez or Ozil at this point so why sell now? Sanchez has been off so far this season and he might sleep walk thru the whole season. However, we have to hope that he shifts his brain into gear because we know he is still capable of delivering big time production and we will need those goals and assists in order to be legitimate challengers for 4th place.

  57. Elneny is a nice player who does a good job of ball possession and adds mental and physical energy on the defensive end and he does not make a lot of mistakes. He would probably be a decent squad player on most of the worlds other “big teams. However in our case, unless Ozil somehow regains much better form you could make an argument that Elneny belongs in our first 11 which tells you something about the overall strength of our midfield.

  58. Limestonegunner,

    I can understand what your getting at, I do wonder if with more match time he will continue to show all of his game. You see at times his aggression but then other times its as though he sort of pulls back some but still goes in for the challenge. I think a lot of what you mention as limitations are more things that come with him being more comfortable such as aggression. The one thing that I do like about him defensively though is that its not just work rate but his ability to read the game, make interceptions and while he isn’t always the most aggressive, he doesn’t shy away from any player on any team. I think when it comes to physicality of what you want in a CM, I think its one of those, ‘to each their own’ sort of things.

    I will say, the notion that Elneny is just a good little player comes largely because of his price tag more than the actual player. I do wonder what a run of matches will do for Elneny (though I don’t see it happening as Arsene clearly is building the team around Xhaka and Ramsey) because I do think there is much more to him than the running narratives from most gooners of: nice little player, only a possession player, doesn’t get forward, if he is so good than why did he come so cheap (people forget we got Sead for free, Kante was only 5.6m from Caen, and there are plenty of other examples).

  59. Limestonegunner:

    We legitimately had two penalty shouts but neither was quite as glaring and the one we were awarded on Ramsey was probably fair but somewhat soft or unusually given.We got away with it a bit!By far the better side but they probably had the best chances.

    I cannot dispute that LSG.

    Things could have gone very differently if that pen had been given to Rodriguez in the first half.

  60. Nicky

    If last season is any indication then the other top of the table teams and midtable teams in England such as Everton have been successful in using the increasing revenue coming from TV money and other sources to improve their teams. However, we seem to be bucking the trend and by remaining stagnant and if we lose Ozil and Sanchez and don’t spend some really big money then we will almost certainly be going backwards.

  61. On another note, I will be interested to see some of the CL matches today most notably Dortmund v Madrid.

    Liverpool v Spartak will be a really high tempo match. Ox finds himself on the bench again and Coutinho is straight back into the team.

  62. Dortmund’s high line has been exposed twice already and one forced a good save from Burke(Dortmund GK) and the other Ronaldo was too unselfish (I know go figure that shit) slid a ball to Bale but a really good recovery slide tackle saved them.

  63. Dortmund break and almost scores but Ramos with a CLEAR handball clearance but the ref bottles it. Ramos is a lucky lucky boy because he clear bats the ball and should have seen at least a yellow.

  64. This is a really open match with both teams looking likely to score a couple of goals. No way this match ends without both teams scoring a goal.

    Bale just scored a sublime first strike over the top. Went for placement, far top corner.

    Zidane has managed Madrid for not even 100 matches and he already has 7 trophies, remember when they said there aren’t any managers better……..

  65. This years ManU, Man City and Chelsea are the strongest top 3 since the 05-09 seasons when ManU, Chelsea and the Steven Gerrard, Fernando Torres Liverpool teams. However, back then there were no legitimate challengers for 4th other then us. now is there are 3 teams competing for 4th

  66. C,

    I love a bargain. I just want the quality needed to be good and compete for the league and not just good value.

  67. C, I’m watching a sursprudingly food Besiktas team leading RB Leipzig in a raucous Istanbul home atmosphere.

  68. Limestonegunner,

    I am with you, quality comes at all price, I just think part of the narrative with Gooners especially those that only watch or pay attention to the PL is the price tag determines the quality which is a real shame.

  69. Limestonegunner,

    A former Gunner youth product is the star man for Besiktas.

    Dortmund are giving Madrid all they want and should have had 2 penalties and Ramos should have seen a straight red for his. Aubameyang’s first touch let him down twice or he would have at least been in on goal twice. Its a real shame we didn’t buy Yarmolenko when we were linked with him because he is quality and Madrid are clearly trying to stop the pipeline to him.

  70. A real shame that Reus is out injured and really, injuries have been the ONLY thing stopping him from being mentioned as one of the world’s best.

  71. Madrid are picking up yellows for arguing with the ref and good on the ref though he did bottle 2 penalties and a straight red for Ramos.

  72. The faction of the fan base who want to believe the refs have an anti Arsenal bias will very quickly forget that we should have given away a penalty yesterday which could have changed the game. They have already forgotten that we would never have won the FA cup without a ref mistake that cost Man City a goal. They will remember forever any possible ref mistake that did not go our way. The selective memory is what drives the whole narrative that Arsenal get more bad calls going against us then other teams and the all the rubbish about ref and media bias.

  73. @Bill,
    Your 7.14 contains a sobering thought.
    Way back when Kroenke senior became the outright owner of Arsenal FC, a trend was set whereby his investment would take pride of place. This investment has prospered using excessive prudence and there appears no real incentive for him to change things.
    Short of some financial disaster I simply cannot see the governance of our great Club changing for the better while the Kroenkes are in charge. 😉

  74. Bill,

    Bill, Xavi was a “squad player” (to use your term) and so is “Busquets” and so was “Alonso”. None of them did anything spectacular. All had significant limitations. But they kept/keep their teams ticking over and made everyone else look good. Even great teams need players like that.

  75. Nicky

    The owner has not really held back funds because we have spent more then enough money in this decade. The problem has been with the person who decides where to spend that money.


    Comparing Elneny to Xavi or Alonso is quite a bit over the top. Next you will be telling me that he is some combination of Claude Makelele and Iniesta. You love to over rate your favorite players.

  76. Freddo

    Just between you and me I always thought Xavi was a bit over rated. Any creative midfielder can’t help but look great if he is passing the ball to Messi, Villa, Ibrahimovic etc etc etc. Same with any creative player who plays for Real Madrid when you can pass the ball to Ronaldo and Benzema and Higuian etc etc etc.

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