Watford Review: There’s Nothing Cleverley About Losing Like That

Watford 2 – 1 Arsenal

I knew the game was lost fifteen minutes before kick-off when the bathroom light fell from the ceiling and caught me on head. Moments like that, when you’re feeling grumpy already, are generally a sign that the football’s not going to end well.

And it didn’t, which allowed Troy Deeney to claim that Arsenal don’t have an “aura” any more. That didn’t stop you being interested when we were linked with you a little more than twelve months ago. Hell hath no fury like a bitchy footballer scorned, it seems.

Watching it back later without knowing the score – hardly a Likely Lads task – sometimes makes the match easier to watch. The time lag dims some of the passion for the performance and it’s fair to say that Arsenal lacked passion in their performance.

It’s three points thrown away, in the space of fifteen minutes. Per Mertesacker said afterward that the penalty was a turning point. Disturbingly, he hinted that yet again the players lacked the mental strength to deal with a situation. “It was kind of a wake-up call,” the bleary-eyed German said before hurumphing that “it wasn’t lough enough.”

Which is the same problem as usual. Arsène made sure that attention focussed on that decision. He called it “scandalous”; bad, yes, but the scandal was in our wasteful finishing and the poorly thought-out substitutions.

So, the penalty. MotD’s replays – not BT’s – at slow speed and with telescopic camera lens picked up the slightest of touches. That means the referee could not have seen the touch from his position, nor could the assistant on that side of the pitch. Which means Swarbrick guessed; the question is whether a VAR would be able to give the kick given replays were inconclusive in the immediate aftermath.

Try Anything Hard

It was a penalty which should have had no bearing on the score. Once again our mental strength was less than the ‘super’ Wenger used to claim it was. Maybe that’s why he doesn’t use that phrase much anymore. This was a game where we should have been comfortably ahead by the stage we were pegged back.

Either that or learn to shut up shop. That used to be what we were known for doing but assumes we have a plan to do that; we don’t.  Wenger claimed Wilshere was coming on for the final five minutes. We needed a quicker response.

Between the penalty that never was and the full-time whistle, Arsenal didn’t register a shot on target. Not one; even though were obviously struggling, Wenger did not react positively. Five minutes for Wilshere to make a difference? What of the intervening thirteen minutes. No Walcott either? The two ‘attacking’ players left dawdling on the bench.

This wasn’t a masterplan to keep a substitution back in case of injury, that was ‘fortuitous’. When you need three points, an immediate response needed and quick reactions from the manager weren’t forthcoming.

The introduction of Özil for Welbeck changed the dynamic of the team while Giroud for Lacazette is Arsène’s refusal to countenance the pair playing on the pitch at the same time. They were the sign of a manager who presumed his side untouchable in the fixture even though we were just one-up at the time. Harsh lessons never learned.

As for the winner, I can’t begin to fathom what we were thinking about. Watford took impetus from the penalty as you would expect but once again the lie of having eleven captains on the pitch was exposed. It’s the same leadership Theresa May is showing; a frightening and dystopian future.

There’s More Than One Sign

What’s next for us? Welbeck is suffered hamstring twang so that’s weeks yet again while Koscielny has calf problems which may heal in seven days but it’s hard to see how. Everton on Sunday is vital for us. While results at Selhurst Park went our way, the gap between ourselves and the top three is very evident.

The gap between us and City has grown to light years. Did they fall flat on their faces after the last international break? Theirs was a performance to enjoy yesterday. I understand that some despise them and their wealth, distorting competition but if you can’t admire the philosophy behind it, that’s a perversity I can’t understand.

And there is no point railing against them or Chelsea. We took on Manchester United when they were dominant and won when the gap was comparably big. The will to do so is not there at Arsenal. We’re too concerned with being highly thought of as a responsible club, where supporters value the financial rectitude more greatly than performances on the pitch.

It’s not how life works and the way this is going, Wenger is not paving the way for a bright new future but making the Emirates a white elephant. Which begs the question where we go from here. The book the manager often threatens to is likely to be called “Arsène Wenger: My Part in his Downfall” and it’s going to make gruesome reading over the final years of his reign.

What Arsène must do is reignite passion in the squad and himself; restore footballing intelligence which has gone AWOL. How he does that, I have no idea and nor I suspect, does he.

’til Tomorrow.

68 thoughts on “Watford Review: There’s Nothing Cleverley About Losing Like That

  1. Good write up thanks – feels very like Stoke earlier this year – and many fixtures last year, huffing and puffing to no effect

  2. Good morning folks, yesterday’s nightmare is only relieved by such a warm sunny morning here in Norfolk.

    I’m off out to cut the grass.

  3. When a bang on average footballer like Deeney can take Arsenal and the manager to task, and rightly too, it’s no good pretending that we are a top team anymore or even a good one. I am just surprised that more sides haven’t learned not to fear us. Apres le deluge….

  4. A very good summary of the match but please lets leave your left wing political views out of a football blog. Very few people read Marxism Daily as you do so are not brainwashed by an ultra left newspaper. Football is football, there is no way that politics should enter this space, write to the New Statesman , which is where your political views belong.

  5. This morning’s League Table tells me that we are the fourth best London club. How’s that for a prestige investment, Uncle Stan?

  6. I see a lot has changed this season….ho hum. Delighted i decided to become less emotionally invested in Arsenal i never watch now and just occasionally look at the headlines and results, it’s absolutely pointless, just a barrel of lies. Shiny exterior, premium prices and an absolutely rotten carcass inside. Cheers Stan, cheers Arsene. Maybe they should be more honest with their fans admit their aspirations are mid table and charge accordingly.

  7. It’s like being stuck in a bloody lift.
    We ain’t going nowhere and it’s just a matter of sitting tight waiting for a rescue.

    Fodder bashers. That’s it. It all depends on the conditions on whether we can get a result. Wenger said we were a new team after the Liverpool pants pulling down and tickling of our balls game, No we just had a run of Fodder bashing. First sort of tough game against a side with a first class manager with a history of great home form and we’re shown up once again for the actual team we are….a flaky outfit.

  8. Good post, Yogi-san. Blatant Commie propaganda aside.

    (What is Steve seeing than I’m not. Maybe he sees dead people as well like).

    Anyhow. City were astonishing yesterday. Don’t even know how you would describe Arsenal these days. We’re just……nothing. Same old nonsense, different season. Our aspirations now amount to hoping other teams around us slip up so we can scrape back into the top Four. Whoop-de-fucking-do.

  9. Steve,

    Steve – you’ve rumbled us. I knew it couldn’t last. What looks to the passing, gullible football fan like an intelligent, dialogue-driven blog about the fortunes of Arsenal Football Club is in fact a cleverly coded (or so we thought all these years until you burst on the scene) meeting place for some of the more extreme left-wing radicals of our time.
    My fellow bloggers may think I’m saying too much and I know that puts me at risk of a knock on the door in the early hours, etc. But I feel the cat is now out of the bag thanks to super-sleuth Steve. The game is up and we might as well own up to our true goals (you see how helpful the football disguise has been?): the complete overthrow of the British Government, to be replaced by a people’s government under the guidance of our Great Leader-Philosopher Yogi Warrior. This to be followed by the breaking up of Walmart and then, if I’m not mistaken (I’m not on the Central Committee so rely on decoding blog postings on these pages after critical meetings have been held in secret locations), the returning of Qattar to its indigenous camels.
    Perhaps it’s time we all acknowledged that progress towards achieving these Revolutionary Goals has been pitifully slow (especially since the 2004-5 season) and hung up our collective Marxist boots. You may have just done us all a service, Steve.

  10. This season so far in away games: 4 played, 1 point gained. Kronke admits that he dreams of a Leicester achievement: a mid table team winning the title. The first part of his dream has been fulfilled.

  11. Hi mate

    Yep. Just a matter of whether or not you bought Wengers bullshit the other side of the international break or if you knew this result was simply a matter of time in the coming

    Dukey:
    It’s like being stuck in a bloody lift.
    We ain’t going nowhere and it’s just a matter of sitting tight waiting for a rescue.

    Fodder bashers. That’s it. It all depends on the conditions on whether we can get a result. Wenger said we were a new team after the Liverpool pants pulling down and tickling of our balls game, No we just had a run of Fodder bashing. First sort of tough game against a side with a first class manager with a history of great home form and we’re shown up once again for the actual team we are….a flaky outfit.

  12. Another lie exposed yesterday: that the team will thrive without big names in it. No, we just looked even more bereft of ideas in front of goal than we usually do.

  13. Damon,

    I tend to agree with most of your post mate.

    Ozil should have scored as should Iwobi but my point was Ozil is again getting hammered as the reason we lost but what about the others that were on the pitch for the time thay Ozil wasn’t on the pitch.

    I hated bringing Giroud on then and I still do now, if your going to take off Lacazette then bring on Theo or anybody but Giroud because I honestly can’t think the last time he actually held up a ball. I was fine with Ozil coming on especially with Iwobi and Lacazette staying on the pitch because it offered that quick counter as we saw with both Ozil and Iwobi’s chances, it was working. The problem was when Giroud came on we lost both the hold up play and the quick counter. This whole thing of subbing Lacazette and Sanchez (in previous matches) off for Giroud when we are chasing a match.

    Your preaching to the chior about Elneny, I think he again was good in midfield and his overally performance. All he does is go out and put in good performance after good performance. I wouldn’t mind seeing Jack and Elneny getting a run of matches. People will say they lack physicality but mentally both are physical and neither backs down from a challenge. I agree with you, they just might provide us with that something we have been missing to play in the quick counters.

  14. We may have gone from a 4th place to 7th place club in Stan’s tenure as owner, but the club has become much more profitable and that means he is printing cash.

    He doesn’t have to worry about paying big salaries any more either. Nobody wants to come.

  15. Noon Gunner,

    😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂

    Ironically the most likely suspects if Theresa May does get ‘done in’ wouldn’t be rabid commies but half the Tory party (and almost certainly the entire cabinet).

  16. In the past I would be furious about yesterday’s result, but I’m just not that bothered. Apathy has set in. And that’s the worst thing, I really don’t care that much. It was another of those performances that I was really not surprised to see. We were the architects of our own downfall.

    I agree that you can’t blame Ozil for everything that went on before he was on the pitch, but the clear chance he missed was almost comical. Clean through with the keeper to beat and he shoots it pretty much straight at him. From a world class player that is an absolute joke. And it almost as if he decided to be a neutral in the build up to both of their goals. No one expects him to be some fantastic defender, but watching it all going on around you is just not on.

    He wasn’t the reason we lost, but he is a big part of the reason that we didn’t win. If that makes sense.

  17. I’m not expecting much input today from yesterday’s sage Paul35mm, but isn’t it curious how every time we get these comments the side inevitably put in a poor performance and make a mockery of any claims to Wenger’s ‘genius’.

    Let’s not forget (and here’s the quote): “They’re the same people who refuse to accept the truth that Arsene Wenger is the only reason Arsenal have not been mired in midtable mediocrity since the age of the oligarch started. For some people, the truth is irrelevant; what really matters is their pig-headed but baseless opinions. ”

    Sadly the truth seems to be that “midtable mediocrity” is exactly where AW looks to be taking us.

  18. The seeds of yesterday’s defeat were sown by the team selection.

    During the week Wenger referred to Ozil as “one of the best players in the world”, I always believed that the best players in the squad should always be selected for the first team. But no, Wenger leaves him on the bench and instead picks a hardly fit, non scoring striker, Welbeck, and a rookie midfielder/striker, Iwobi, who seldom scores anyway.

    Having fielded a dodgy looking front three, Lacazette seems to have lost his initial spark, he compounded the situation by selecting a half fit Koscielny, always an injury waiting to happen, and so it proved with both him and Welbeck succumbing to second half injuries.

    I don’t know if Bellerin has been instructed to avoid getting too far forward, but he seems to have stopped trying to turn his fallback, get to the byeline and put in some decent crosses, instead he tends to turn inside and look for Ramsey style lateral or reverse passes and so slows down the attacking momentum. As a wingback he’s failing to fulfil either a winger or a fullback.

    Wenger’s substitutions were bizarre to say the least. Ozil for the injured Welbeck made no sense with Walcott waiting in the wings, while the ineffective Iwobi should have been the one replaced by Ozil rather than by Giroud.

    Beyond yesterday’s debacle, Wenger’s summer transfer window activity seems ever more peculiar. With both Mertesacker and Koscielny approaching the end of their Arsenal playing days, Merts through aging and Koscielny through chronic injuries, selling Gabriel, and attempting to sell both Mustafi and Chambers was just plain crazy. Made even more bananas by later giving Chambers a new contract WHILE INJURED. Has he learned nothing from Diaby, Wilshire, Cazorla et al?

    I don’t blame the players for the defeat, that lies squarely at the feet of the manager.

  19. Orson Kaert,

    We all have our favourites – I admit I’m the same, similarly we all have players we consider to be a waste of space. But, to describe Welbeck as a non-scoring striker when he is second only to Lacazette in the scoring charts (Lacazette has four goals and no assists, Welbeck has three goals and one assist, then it’s Theo on three goals no assists) is simply not true. I believe that Ozil so far has registered zero goals and zero assists…..

    In terms of minutes per goal Lacazette is on 140 and Welbeck is on 155. Not brilliant, but not as bad as that comment suggests.

    I admit I like Welbeck, he works hard and often looks like he’s on the cusp of finding his goal scoring form. Injuries have not helped. He’s one of those who you know will give 100% and that for me gives him a little more leeway than some of those who appear a little less dedicated.

  20. andy1886,

    The trouble with Welbeck is perhaps his failure to get off the cusp and start scoring regularly. He wasn’t much good at United, otherwise they wouldn’t have sold him to us, neither is he much good for England, add to that his injury record and you have a pretty ordinary player. You may have guessed, I don’t rate him at all.

  21. YW, shame on you for suggesting our glorious leaders May & Wenger will not lead us back to greatness! Surely all can see the “Great” being put back in to Britain just like that nice Mr Trump is doing with America and that the Arsenal are tied-on faves for the Champions League next season? Neither in any way resemble mid-table cup teams that won’t even be in Europe next season.😮

  22. Bufallo,

    Buffalo , the only people to blame for these demoralising years of pass-pass-pass football are the supporters themselves. If they don’t protest with their feet, instead of their mouths – in plainer language, boycott the home games – the money-makers in charge of the club are not going to move. They, together with Wenger, are eroding this once great and proud club. We definitely need a massive change in outlook, or we’ll keep sliding to midtable obscurity.

  23. Orson Kaert,

    Yup, appreciate that. I’d counter with that at 26 and having injury setbacks he still has room to improve, just about. Mesut is 29 and his trajectory seems to be heading only one way. One is a useful squad player and the other wants £300k+ a week to stay (provided no-one better comes along). On that basis I’d suggest that we’d be better investing that £300k a week elsewhere.

  24. Andy, 2:04

    This is becoming embarrassing — but I totally agree with you.

    Your final paragraph says it all. 😀

  25. Wavey,

    I have to say, Wavey, I can see nothing to disagree with there, sadly.

    As I said yesterday – I was gutted — sick — but I feel a resigned acceptance this morning, because I realise that this season is not for us – maybe not even a much derided fourth place — but I live in hope. 😀

  26. C,

    I realise you are trying to put the best face on this defeat — but even so, I agree that Giro’s substitution was a total mistake as all he did was fart about and appeal from the prone position.

    If he isn’t embarrassed about that — I am for him!!

  27. HenryB,

    I really am mate because there were some positives but Giroud is beyond frustrating at this point. I am he is supposed to be CF2 and the signing of Lacazette was supposed to light a fire in his bellie and yet it hasn’t. I went back and watched thr Europa League matches and thr Caribou Cup match and he looka as disinterested as ever, its embarrassinh. I mean at least with Theo he will give you a goal threat and attempt to work for the team, with Giroud he doesn’t and its either he is on his ass complaininh ot trying some fucking flick that comes off 1 out of 100 times or he is trying some audacious shot so he can be in the running for some fucking personal award.

    At this point I would rather Theo than Giroud even more than ever. Fuck it, play Nelson or anybody but Giroud.

  28. I’m sorry but Keown’s personal vendetta ot whatever thr fuck it is he haa against Ozil is just madness, how about you focus on the manager, or spineless BoD or Giroud or talk about how come Cech hasn’t even lucked into almost stopping one of thr 12 penalties he has faced since joining ot how fuck shit we are at defending a lead, but FFS to blame the match on Ozil and the basically the 2 goala scored is crazy. How about we discuss what the Holding and Xhaka were doinh instead of reacting to the rebound or how shambolic the ref’s decision waa.

  29. Cheer up everyone, another walk over for us next weekend, a team struggling in sixteenth place and needed a 90 th minute penalty from Fatboy Rooney to salvage a point against Brighton.

  30. Agree with both of those, C – I am no longer a great believer in Theo, but he has to be better than Giro — but to keep crucifying Özil is a mistake.

    Of course, Mesut could have put the game to bed of he had scored that one-on-one, but no one will cut him some slack, because of the last minute Cleverly goal — but in reality, the abject defending in the last 15 or 20 minutes was disgraceful and that cost us the point.

    Oh, well, what can you do?

  31. And I know most don’t care but one Isaac Hayden has turned himself into quite a player under Benetiz as both a CB and DM and was massive for them in their promotion last season and is again now they are in the PL.

  32. HenryB,

    Yea I know your not a believer in Theo and most aren’t but the one thing he still can do is be a goal threat and he takes his chances when they come (think about this, he was basically dropped the 2nd half of last season and still finished as our 2nd leading goal scorer), I’m just done with Giroud and I wish people would stop with he keeps getting called up for France too.

    I get it Ozil could have killed the game but Watford were on the front foot the whole of the 2nd. I think the Ozil criticism is getting even worst than Ramsey’s at this point because Ozil is being blamed for the goals we are conceding.

    Like you said, o well what can you do? 😉

  33. Orson Kaert,

    Hayden is fulfilling his potential that people that watched him at Arsenal saw. I want to say last season he was top 10 in tackles and interceptions and continued his stellar performances in the PL this season!

    Can we swap Benetiz for Arsene…….

  34. C,

    Can honestly say that I was pushing for Hayden to get a chance a couple of seasons back. He had been our best player when we fielded a number of first teamers in a home CC loss to Southampton and when we were looking short at CDM he wasn’t given an opportunity. Then he got an injury and that was that. He may not be an elite talent but he’d certainly be a viable alternative to Le Coq for example.

  35. Orson Kaert,

    The BBC text commentary says of Hayden that “he isn’t shy of a challenge”. That’s certainly something that we miss. Of course we don’t want red cards but to be fair people forget how many reds we used to pick up when we had the likes of PV4 playing but because we had the balls as well as the technical skill we’d still usually go on to win with ten men.

  36. andy1886,

    I’m with you, I thought he actually was a better option than than Le Coq because he wasn’t just a destroyer but a futboler. I remember watching that match you speak of and thinking, “He is exactly the type of player we need at DM”. I think he is one of the few players that showed well not only for the youth team but also when given the chances at the senior level but due to injury was never given his chance. I don’t think he is elite but he is a good player who does his job and does so really well. The other strange thing is that he is English so he could have helped not only on the pitch but homegrown. Its quite telling that the summer he was sold, Benetiz chased him as soon as the window opened and he has put in brilliant performance after performance from them since he arrived. I’m actually really happy for him that he not only found a manager but a club that adores him and values what he brings and he is flourishing for them both in the Championship last season and in the PL this season.

  37. Orson Kaert,

    It was a ‘bad’ tackle but like andy said, he doesn’t shy away from any challenge and is fully committed; I think a yellow was appropriate and I don’t think there is a single Newcastle supporter who would be mad given his performances in helping them back in the PL and the goal he scored today.

  38. andy1886,

    Funny how people forget just how many (if I’m not mistaken most in PL history) Vieira picked up, but back then it was he was fully committed and he also got a pass because of what he brought to the team.

  39. C,

    And a big part of what he brought to the team was that high energy win at all costs attitude that almost inevitably meant that he’d pick up the odd red. Without that attitude I doubt that he would have been half the player.

    Of course there are shades of grey, but given the choice between the character of post 2005 Wenger sides and pre 2005 Wenger sides I think that there can be no argument that the more aggressive approach was far, far better suited to PL football. And I think that those sort of players were smart enough to have toned it down just enough (and not one iota more than necessary) to suit the modern game.

  40. Great review Yogi

    Our away form has been poor for the last couple of years so there was certainly danger of a bad result. Its hard for me to imagine that any other “big team” manager in the world would gladly start a line up that had only one player who is a realistic threat to score double digits in league goals. Lacazette has been good but not great so far but he was the only player in our starting 11 that you could argue had a predictable chance to score a goal. Then when we need a sub instead of bringing on a solid defensive player to protect the lead or someone who might score a goal Arsene brings on a player who could only decrease our defensive solidarity and hardly ever scores and does not really create anything anymore. Our 2 best chances to score a second goal fell to Iwobe and Ozil and between both of them we will be fortunate if we get 10 total league goals this season. You can’t blame either for missing because neither is a goal scorer but its certainly no surprise that both of those chances to put away the game went begging. Perhaps even stranger is we had a world class ball possession lineup with Iwobe, Ozil, Elneny and Xhaka on the pitch at the same time but we could not string 2 passes together in the last 25-30 minutes.

    The penalty that we conceded was very weak but you could only tell it was a dive when you had the benefit of multi-angle ultra slow motion replays but overall it was a very poor performance that got the result it deserved.

  41. Andy

    Hayden is one of many defensive players and defensive mids over the years that have been heavily hyped and I can’t think of 1 other other then perhaps Bellerin who is currently fading quickly that has come close to living up to the hype. We can’t pat ourselves on the back and take credit for possibly getting it right with Hayden without acknowledging all the dozens and dozens of times we have been wrong in the past. Its early and perhaps Hayden will be the first to break the trend but the statistical odds are certainly against him.

  42. Steve,

    Actually, i would a argue that arsenals ongoing 10 year plight has very much to do with politics. I would propose that capitalism has totally persevered football and has allowed a business mogal/crook like kroenke to invade arsenal. And u as u know, as long as his investment (if u can call borrowing money to buy a club and eventually passing on that debt to the club when it becomes privately owned, that) keeps his family coffers happy he has no incentive to intervene in the mediocrity of the club.
    So, yes right wing politics tend to champion capitalism so maybe politics does have a platform on this forum.

  43. Well, I fucking hate capitalism, vote Tory and am ardent for Brexit, how does that fit your pigeon holes?

  44. No politics as far as I am concerned. Just can’t stand those who want to tell me their ‘opinions’. Unless it is about Arsenal, of course.

  45. Of course Bob. Hope you’re well. But there is no point having any opinions on afc at the moment. We can all see clearly that we’re stuck in a loop.

  46. Orson Kaert,

    Good evening All.as ever YW on point. Our favourite pastime came to the fore again yesterday CAPITULATION.

    Orson you are correct re AWs policy concerning the defence. If my old memory serves me correct was then not Merts 1st PL start for nearly 2yrs?

    There needs to be some serious work done defensive personell sorted. It’s a sham lets be honest. Midfield does not fare much better.

    Im so dejected and frustrated that nothing for the foreseeable future is going to change that I’m just numb to all what’s happening.

  47. Sorry mate, but that’s completely wrong. Matchday revenue is almost irrelevant these days. Anyone who wants to make a difference should stop paying the sports television subscriptions. That’s where the money is and that’s what will hurt them. When the new deals are much deflated from these bloated current ones

    That will include yourself and any one else that pays up overseas

    victor fenech:
    Bufallo,

    Buffalo , the only people to blame for these demoralising years of pass-pass-pass football are the supporters themselves.If they don’t protest with their feet, instead of their mouths – in plainer language, boycott the home games – the money-makers in charge of the club are not going to move. They, together with Wenger, are eroding this once great and proud club. We definitely need a massive change in outlook, or we’ll keep sliding to midtable obscurity.

  48. andy1886,

    I agree, his aggressive nature was part of what made him the player that he was. Take that away and you still have an extremely talented player but he and that team shared that attitude and it bossed the PL at that time.

    I think there is an aggressiveness to this team that is lacking and I’m not saying every player needs it or has to have it but you do need it and need it in your leaders. I think Sead, Mustafi and Mert have that aggressive nature to them and I do think that Mustafi has the makings but the problem that he has is that he thus far has found that fine-line that you need to walk. Xhaka has that aggressive nature but his is reckless at times and his inability to tackle in space really hurts him.

  49. Not saying I want him back or anything of that but for the player himself its good to see Campbell back and playing futbol again. He scored a goal and grabbed an assist in his first match since his injury.

  50. andy1886:
    Orson Kaert,

    We all have our favourites – I admit I’m the same, similarly we all have players we consider to be a waste of space. But, to describe Welbeck as a non-scoring striker when he is second only to Lacazette in the scoring charts (Lacazette has four goals and no assists, Welbeck has three goals and one assist, then it’s Theo on three goals no assists) is simply not true. I believe that Ozil so far has registered zero goals and zero assists…..

    In terms of minutes per goal Lacazette is on 140 and Welbeck is on 155. Not brilliant, but not as bad as that comment suggests.

    I admit I like Welbeck, he works hard and often looks like he’s on the cusp of finding his goal scoring form. Injuries have not helped. He’s one of those who you know will give 100% and that for me gives him a little more leeway than some of those who appear a little less dedicated.

    Totally agree about Welbeck. You had a whole team of Welbecks and you’d win a hell of a lot of games. The one who is really going to cook Arsene’s goose is Xhaka. He might be OK in a counter-attacking side, playing the Pirlo quarterbacking role, but in a side like Arsenal he is a slow and cumbersome liability in the most important part of the pitch. He basically has to be the DM because he is afraid to go too far up the pitch (because he’s so slow and such a poor dribbler). So Elneny has to play box to box.
    When Arsenal is only mid-table in the second half of the season, will Arsene survive? That, for me, is the most fascinating question this season!

  51. Freddo

    Welbeck is a nice player who would be a decent squad player on most teams but he is not an impact making player. He has been in the top flight for about a decade now and has been given thousands of minutes and lots of chances to mature into an impact player at Man U and now Arsenal but he has never scored more then 9 league goals. You can’t build a winning team around forwards who hardly ever score no matter how hard they work when they are on the pitch. Giving 100% and work rate and versatility are all helpful but players like that are on the squad to support the impact players and you can’t build a team that can challenge for the top of the table if your starting line up is filled with to many support players like Welbeck and Elneny.

    I agree with you about Xhaka. He was mistake and probably does not belong in the PL on a team whose ambition is supposedly to compete at the top of the table. Arsene probably watched some u-tube highlights of him making long diagonal passes and got excited about a deep lying playmaker. Xhaka’s defensive skill set is just not right to be the deepest central midfielder on a PL team. In Germany he played beside another DM who was a former CB and the other guy must have done all of the defensive work. Additionally Xhaka tends to decompensate when the opposition presses him and does not give him time and space on the ball. We tried to play Xhaka together with Le Coq but that did work because the opposition would close them down and we could not get the ball out of midfield. We saw how well Elneny and Xhaka worked together yesterday. I think we have to bite the bullet and sell Xhaka before the rest of the world figures out how useless he is.

  52. Freddo

    Arsene is not going anywhere. We can compete for 4th place by winning almost all of our games against the mid and lower table teams at home and throw in an occasional away win against the true bottom of the table teams. We finished with 75 points last season which was the second highest total since 2008 using that formula. I suspect we will find a way to piece together low-mid 70’s in points again this season and that would have been enough to finish in the top 4 in every season in this century before last year.

  53. Despite how badly we have played st times this season and our terrible away record we would have been in 4th place after yesterday’s game if we had been able to hold on to a 1-1. I think we certainly can hang around 4th place this season. Whether or not we can finish in 4th will depend on Liverpool and Spurs. I still think Chelsea will finish 3rd.

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