City Preview: Smash and Grab Ahoy

Back in the 1970s when ITV was regional television was genuinely regional, the Sunday highlights package reflected your local teams. The Big Match in the Thames Valley, Star Soccer in the Midlands; each region had their own show and I can’t remember the others.

HTV, my local region in my teenage years, was a let-down. Having been reared on The Big Match, to find Sunday lunch involved watching Bristol bloody City for the most part or Oxford United, as they rose through the divisions, almost wrecked many a meal.

However, Bristol Rovers for a few years were some relief. They possessed a prolific strikeforce of Alan Warboys and Bruce Bannister which brought the presenters to life. When they animatedly hailed the pair by their nickname “Smash and Grab“, it was the only time we knew they weren’t dead.

Anyway, that’s the tenuous link to today’s match sorted: Smash and Grab. It’s how we’re going to get three points, maybe even a point. And it’s a nicer way of defining the fixture than ‘holding on for dear life’ to the point we possess at kick-off,

An injury scare surfaced yesterday when the pictures of the training session with Sead Kolasinac nowhere to be seen. The lack of fuss this morning suggests the patched-up Bosnian will be fit for this afternoon. His absence would prove a problem with Nacho Monreal the only other specialist left-back in the squad. Presumably Rob Holding would come into the defensive trio in his place.

Surely not Debuchy or Elneny, or worse still, throwing one of the youngsters under a bus to face the pace of Sane. There is form in doing so on the manager’s part but there is too much at stake this afternoon.

It’s simple maths for Arsenal: don’t lose. For the lunatics, a point or more keeps the title hopes alive; for the rest of us, it doesn’t kill the Premier League season early in November.

Crushed by the Wheels of Industry

Ah, November. The month when dreams habitually die and poor form undermines many a season. The international break saves us from a complete disaster but this fixture and a North London Derby either side? Defeat in the pair sends a shiver running down my spine and this in a house cold already thanks to a recalcitrant heating system.

A solid performance akin to the one produced at Stamford Bridge is the answer for today. Defensively diligent and accepting that the ball will be a stranger. Alexis Sanchez found himself questioned in sections of the media. Smiling and laughing at training yesterday, he wasn’t crushed by the potential damage he may do to future team-mates aspirations. How very dare he?

The point at Chelsea came through defensive discipline, a footballing concept not normally associated with Mesut Özil. Wenger is well aware of the benefits of including the German in his side,

“Özil is in very good shape physically. People speak now only about Sánchez but, for us, Özil’s performance on Sunday will be important as well. He will have to contribute a lot to the way we play. He can be an asset every time we attack because he creates chances.”

That’s not in question although as we saw last season in a dark five-day spell at Goodison Park and the Etihad, he is easily isolated. Therein is the conundrum. At Wembley in the FA Cup final, he cut an impressive figure as we deservedly beat Chelsea. That is the hard-working performance we need from him this afternoon. No, I never thought I’d use those words in a sentence about Özil either.

Syncopation for the Arsenal Nation

But he is the key, unless Wenger decides Iwobi’s diligence at Stamford Bridge is worth another try but I doubt it. Wenger’s words came after Thursday’s draw against Red Star, indicating Özil starts.

It’s a big test for the German. Routinely, he is dismissed after big away games, rarely mentioned in despatches in a positive sense.

Inevitably, the cameras, commentators, observers and probably the UN Peace-Keeping force will focus on Sanchez. Can he produce the goods to wreck City’s dreams? Nobody expects anything other than a lot of running around but we need maturity from him. A majestic performance where he doesn’t try to win the game on his own to impress his future boss.

That Alexis can make a world of difference, certainly with City’s defence genuinely no more solid than ours. A distinctly average Stoke City side scored twice against them. Guardiola probably cared more about that than the seven his side almost broke the scoreboard with.

The difference between City this season and last is in goal. Edersen is a lot better than Bravo and the defence seems more confident as a result. It’s time for someone to puncture that and why not us? It will happen at some point, you know that, and I’d rather we did it that waiting for the insufferable Mourinho to do so.

This afternoon’s team won’t show any changes from last week:

Cech; Koscielny, Mertesacker, Monreal; Bellerin, Ramsey, Xhaka, Kolasinac; Sanchez, Lacazette, Özil

But we do need an injection of concentration in a dose which lasts longer than the 90+ minutes on the pitch.

Kick-off is a few hours away so why not pop over to Dad’s Jukebox and while away the time with the Songs Jimi Hendrix covered?

Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it.

’til Tomorrow.

235 thoughts on “City Preview: Smash and Grab Ahoy

  1. Viceologist,

    Agree Vice he should have stopped it or at least parried it away.

    Cech with the ball at his feet does not encourage any confidence at all. His distribution is woeful.

    It’s absolute down right negligence on AW part that other than Santi and JW there is not another midfield player whom can run and dribble from mixfield – transition our play.

    If City get an early goal start of the 2nd half it could become embarrassing.

  2. Xhaka has not hurt us today but I would like to see le coq get a run as the DM and see if he can reinvent the player that was such a revelation in 2015. Le Coq is not the most technically skillful player but you only energy and focus to be a good defensive destroyer. You don’t need to be attractive and skillful to be effective in that sort of role.

  3. We need to put some pressure on their defence, Sanchez is trying but can’t do not on his own.


  4. Hi Bill, @2:59

    And it is not an either or thing — they have better players – and AW is a strange manager where tactics are concerned. What can go wrong??

  5. the difference between ozil and de bruyne is huge

    not even in the same class

    same can be said for the managers…

    time to pray for a miracle and hope we can make city pay for not being 4-0 up already.

  6. We should be so happy going in to the break one goal down. It could easily have been both 3 or 4 goals.

    Though will our revered leader make any changes? No, he’ll probably be thinking about changes in the 70th minute. The game might be out of hands but that’s no problem.

  7. JonJon,

    They are different players, De Bruyne is IMHO the best player in the PL bar none.

    Honestly, I think if Ozil played fir Pep he would be unplayable.

    Other difference is one manager plays his best players the other is Arsene.

  8. Just look at this team. How many players are actually playing in their best position. How many players on the pitch are actually capable of doing the job that they have been given?

    How many players do we need to put out a proper team?

  9. Come on fucking wake up Wenger! There’s no point trying to defend now bring on Lacazette and let’s have a go.

  10. C,

    No, I’m actually a fan of Ozil but four years of seeing him losing possession and being outmuscled in difficult away games where we have none or little possession has taken its toll.

    Ozil is very much like Walcott a passenger in these games and we don’t have the setup were we can carry passengers vs top teams.

    I don’t blame Ozil however I do blame Wenger for playing Ozil without a structure that can afford such a player.

  11. It’s an absolute shambles, a bloody disgrace.

    Had it upto here with this bollocks being served up again and again with that old man standing on the tough line moaning and waving his arms about while Bould sits there and plays at being a dummy.

  12. Özil was a great player at one point but not anymore. He is responsible for his own form. He is supposed to be our difference maker and he can’t do that anymore.

  13. Orson Kaert,

    Typical Wenger. It’s never his fault and he never makes any attempt to sort his players out on the pitch. Just moan at the fourth official instead because that’s bound to change things. Oh look, the fourth official has convinced the ref that the two goals should be disallowed. It’s 0-0. And in the real world……

  14. Crazy to go flat back four with Kos and Nacho. Doesn’t matter how much we attack now. Can’t play who can score the most when you are already 2 down.

  15. Özil is not hurting us and he is not “the problem” but he is supposed to be the solution and for whatever reason he does not do that anymore.

  16. Why did Ramsey hesitate to go after it, Lacazette played him through and thr GK waa always 2nd favorite for that.

  17. At the start of the game the emcee announced us as arsene’ arsenal. I knew what he was gettin at but it still offended me.

    Don’t think I’ve ever come across a good freestyle album.

  18. Wavey,

    And why wasn’t he on from the start?

    Since Lacazette came on we have been playing the press, as we did at the start of the game. When we conceded the first we backed off for some reason and gave Citeh too many chances. Luckily they didn’t really take advantage and we are getting at them again.

    They don’t like it.

  19. What do you know, lacazette scores. Who would have thought. Makes you think, is that what strikers do?

  20. Silva was clearly offside and that was some bullshit because we were actually growing into the game and looked like we could have equalized.

  21. I guess that evens things out for the goal the linesman wrongfully took away from City in the FA cup semifinal. Video review should be used on every goal.

  22. That was suck a bull shit call… we were finding our feet in the attacking third and then get sucker punched by the linesman.

  23. Welsh Corgi Cardigan,

    I think we have seen Ozil step-up in matches like this, but I think the problem is the structure and Arsene.

    Why wouldn’t you play Ozil, Lacazette and Sanchez especially if you want to play on the counter or are going with a philosophy of defending with 7? I think Ozil is still quality but he hasn’t been the problem and has done well, the problem is Ozil and Sanchez were so isolated up front and De Bruyne by himself bossed the midfield.

  24. That’s Arsenal for you….We’re back in the game……….Oh no, we’re not.

    It is a fantastic result if we get out 3/1….and I say if.

  25. The biggest question and one that honestly shaped this match before the whistle even blew was why didn’t Lacazette start?

    I don’t know for sure but I would put money on this being a different match if Lacazette starts upfront with Ozil and Sanchez to start this match because Citeh’s defense was there for the taking and if those chances in the first half fall to Lacazette instead of Iwobi we are at the very least level 1-1 at hafltime.

  26. We’re so poor, is unbelievably poor. Yet I can’t help but feel that with different management we wouldn’t be such a push overs.

    I’m sorry C, but Ozil has been no more than a ghost in this game, floating out of it.

  27. Ozil with a flick to Giroud who was through but instead he flicked it backwards.

    Ozil almost plays Lacazette but a bit too heavy.

  28. Even though we have played a lot better and looked a lot more dangerous going forward in the second half, Özil has just not been able to make anything positive happen and that is what has changed for him.

    Mesut will get credit for a few chances created on the corner kicks but not really anything else. The only thing that Özil did which actually caught the eye was he made one nice interception.

  29. Hahahaha…..Lacazette is frustrated already, probably thinks: What the hell was I thinking coming to this team?

  30. i think wenger is long passed his best..
    but when it comes to ozil – where do we draw the line and stop blaming the manager.

    good players can play anywhere

    debruyne can play anywhere in the attack and doesnt have the ‘im played out of position’ excuse.

    ozil – it seems – HAS to be deployed in one position in one part of the pitch for 90mins per game everygame..

    im sorry – thats bullshit…if ozil was that good he’d play where wenger told him to and look class.

  31. I’m sorry and I don’t like to do the whole manager out thing but FFS, if its not crystal clear after this match, Arsene simply isn’t good enough and his decisions are at the root of all problems Arsenal at the moment.

  32. JonJon,

    Agreed. Spot on. The PL is tough for a player like Ozil, but he would probably do better in a team with more quality around him. He just isn’t right for Arsenal in this set up.

  33. Alex,

    No one is saying he is the problem but, as Bill said earlier, he is meant to be part of the solution and he just doesn’t do that enough.

  34. Wenger doesn’t have the balls to retire, quit, or resign…..Someone get him the fuck off his and this misery.

  35. Alex,

    Exactly! Sanchez even though he was isolated has been a ghost.

    The other problem is that De bruyne ran the game in midfield, where was Ramsey and Xhaka to at the very least try to slow him down. He is already a class above everybody else especially with that Ctieh team, give him acres of space and we have no chance.

  36. I mean look at the first goal, Ramsey just lets De Bruyne do whatever the fuck he wants to do, a simple pass and Ramsey doens’t even try to get back and De Bruyne just strolls past him and scores. Cech AGAIN should have done better.

    We are now tied with Burnley, think about that…………

  37. I wonder if one of the hacks will ask Wenger why he didn’t start with Lacazette. I would certainly like to know.

  38. We have become a squad that seems content with moral victories. Just shows how far the gap really is… miles off from being challengers…

    Wenger needs to just hang it up… it’s time… move on. It’s so tiring to watch this over and over again.

  39. sanchez is just as bad.

    top players just dont turn up…

    can blame the rest of the players as much as we like, and the manager.

    but top players need to perform to win titles and these guys just arent performing when up against the top teams and the other top players


  40. I’m at a point where I would accept the chances of relegation with a new manager than remain in the status quo.

    This is plain stupid and will result in the opposite of success, eventually.

    Wenger and the Owner are holding up this club’s progress. Everyone around us is moving on and up, were not even close to The Spuds right now.

    How can Wenger and the Owner look at themselves in the mirror and say we are doing a great job for this Club?

  41. I think we are greatly missing the point if we talk about individual players. Those players are there because this Manager is there…..That is the bottom of the players argument.

  42. JonJon,

    Your right in that Sanchez didn’t turn up but our defending especially in midfield was poor.

    Look at the goals, Ramsey, Cech and Kos were horrible for their first, no pressure on the ball played over the top to STerling for their 2nd and the third, yea it was offsides but 3 of the back 4, Ramsey, Xhaka and Cech stopped playing for their third.

    I mean they should have offered more but FFS why spend a club record fee for one of the best natural goal scorers in the WHOLE of Europe and then not start him in order to start Iwobi or Ramsey. I mean its crazy to me and I know I haven’t been Jack’s biggest supporter because I simply don’t trust him to stay fit but I would rather have started Elneny and Jack in midfield than Xhaka and Ramsey and I was a massive supporter of Xhaka but he like a couple more simply don’t fit because Arsene and his tactics don’t fit.

  43. There is not doubt the linesman missed the offsides call but it was actually quite close. Its impossible for any linesman to get the majority of calls like that correct when he has to try and watch the position of the players body but also watch the exact time that the pass was made. Only God can watch 2 events that are happening at the exact same time when those events are separated by yards and yards of space. Its completely impossible to get those calls consistently correct.

    The penalty is another one that divides opinions. The commentator on TV at the match thought it was a pen after watching multiple different slow motion angles and the pundit in the TV studio said it was not enough contact. How can any ref possibly be consistent when the decision divides opinions even after having the benefit of time and multiple replays?

  44. Yet again a team performance very much less than the sum of it’s parts. Yes big players need to turn up for big games, but if there’s been no sign of that on previous occasions why keep picking them? Why not adapt the selection and tactics to cope with playing against a far better team? Oh, and why not play our most expensive player from the start? Still, nil desperandum, we’re going to be enjoying this, or worse, for the next few years.

  45. Its quite interesting that people wondered and doubted what Pep was doing at Citeh playing with pace, tempo, and ball possession and yet they are ripping the PL to shreds. De Bruyne struggled at Chelsea when he first came to the PL left and came back under a manager who suited his style and he is arguably a top 5 player in Europe since Pep arrived.

    They play possession futbol but with loads of movement and players who can not only finish but create and play at pace. I mean FFS, Pep has actually made Otamendi and Stones decent enough defenders to play his system and I know most will disagree but Fernandinho and Kante are 1.a and 1.b as DM in the PL.

  46. If Arsenal can get Mustafi back, keep Kos reasonably healthy, get Jack in to get the damn ball out, bring back Danny- everyone will see a strong run of games. Too many changes today, and the thought of Coq paired with Xhaka is enough to make anyone scream at a tv…

  47. If this was a manager with balls, he would have said to Ozil and Sanchez: You don’t want to sign, well then fuck off…Sold.

    What’s the point of holding Sanchez from moving to City? They don’t need him anyways?

    Why let 2 players disrespect the Club or stay in the club after what happened? Because we have a weak Manager and consequently a weak Club.

    Nothing will change, maybe the fans should have a break from the club for 2 years till Wenger is gone.

  48. Not entirely unexpected, and Arsene throws in another of his oddball team selections just to stir things up a bit. Could be worse though, imagine you’re a West Ham supporter and you read this headline on the BBC website:

    “West Ham: David Moyes ‘interested’ as club review Slaven Bilic future”

    That’s enough in itself to make them start buying lengths of rope and search for the nearest lamp post.

  49. Bill,

    I can’t agree with your point on the offside. If the gap between the passer and the ball receiver is 20 – 30 yards and the player is running forward waiting for the ball over the top it can be hard to watch both the pass and the run. When the gap is what it was everything is in the linesman’s view and his job is to be in line with the last man. They are specifically trained to watch the positioning of players and when it is right in front of them they have to be getting it right. It is a joke that human error can still be regarded as an acceptable excuse.

  50. Media lock down at Emirates now!

    Why AW started Coquelin and Iwobi over Lacazette and Wilshire we can only guess.

    Fabian Delph has his critics just in the same way V Moses has, both Pep and Conte are able to coach players of limited technique and get the best out of them. AW gas been unable to do that for years.

    The Arsenal squad is disjointed in its composition. The Team has no spine. There is no visible system philosophy of playing. Both City and The Spuds have managers whom have a philosophy on the way the Game should be played.

    Where we will finish is anybody’s guess this season. What is SURE is that the Squad needs to have a SERIOUS cleansing starting with TW.

    I would agree that Ozil has not been afforded the type of players around him that would help to bring out assets of Ozil. The same for Sanchez.

  51. Wavey

    If it was as easy as you say to get those offsides calls correct then why do we see the exact same mistakes made game after game, year after year and the same thing happens in club football in every league in Europe and even on the biggest stages in international football. There can only be 2 possible explanations. Either the entire worlds ref/linesman fraternity is incompetent or getting those calls correct consistently is very very difficult. My money is on the latter explanation because I see no logical reason to believe that almost every linesman in the world is incompetent.

  52. Interesting how all those that were laughing at City for buying DeBruyne for £50m are now nowhere to be found. City obviously have a plan and have bought players to build a team rather than buy good players and throw them together and hope that they manage to work it out for themselves.

    Would love to hear someone ask Wenger what his plan actually is because I can’t see any evidence that he has one. I guess that’s what you get when your chairman states that if the manager doesn’t have a plan they just keep quiet about it. Feeble.

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