Southampton Preview: Nostalgia Ain’t What It Used To Be

It’s a nostalgia-fuelled post this morning; an ‘I remember a time’ sort of post. Mainly I remember a time when I didn’t go straight back to sleep after the alarm went off.

In years gone by, the velvet tones of Peter Jones described conditions today as a ‘thin blanket of snow’. His vocabulary was far wider meaning he didn’t stoop to my tawdry levels. Anyway, it’s probably not snowing in Southampton right now so it’s irrelevant in this context.

On a matchday, we’re at the ‘no way will this be off’ level of snow but edging towards ‘Bugger. Look at the state of the tracks. They’ll have a pitch inspection’, the moment when the amateur meteorologist in you emerged as you waited on “Platform 2 for the…10.46…to London Waterloo”.

It was one of the strange markers we used to decide if there was any risk of a postponement. That would seriously ruin your day. Not as much as getting to Birmingham and finding out that the match at Anfield was postponed, only to find that the return train to London delayed by 3½ hours.

You’re a prisoner in that instance; do you risk going into the city centre for a pint only to return and find your train suddenly made up the time but it was the last one to get through? No, you don’t. There are better – and less expensive – places to be stuck when you’re fed up because the football’s off and the trains are shagged.

I told you Peter Jones had a better vocabulary than I.

Today’s travelling supporters are enduring a less pleasant version of that: engineering work, and the stench of the replacement bus service, so I’m told. That’s a different story altogether.

Orange or Yellow Balls

Anyway, even if there is a thick blanket of snow, St Mary’s pitch will be immaculate. There’s a joke in there about conceptions and whatever but I’m too much in the groove to make it.

The turf on the banks of the Solent will be magnificent, as pitches always are these days. The leveller of a mud-bath or pseudo-concrete of a frost-bound pitch is long gone as television demands a product they can sell. It’s no bad thing, before you ask.

Arsène has to decide what to do with the defence in Shkodran Mustafi’s absence. He indicated that there will be flexibility in his team selection going forward, that the back three was no longer untouchable. Thursday night proved that but today I suspect we will go back to three central defenders.

It would be good if the third centre-back was actually a centre-back and not Sead Kolasinac shoved into the middle with Arsène shouting, “Shenanigans!” on the touchline. Rob Holding is the obvious choice although Per Mertesacker’s leadership and organisation are just what the doctor is ordering.

I don’t expect many changes. Indeed, the only player whose position ought to be under threat is Granit Xhaka. Injury solved the problem at the back but it seems the midfielder needs some sort of kick in the derrière. Concentration is an issue with him at times but it plagues the team as a whole. It’s a trait which should have been solved by now.

And Then There Were Four

While St Mary’s is the graveyard of our ambition, picking up where the Dell left off. Yes, we win handsomely or just win as much, if not more often, than we lose but defeats do tend to be humdingers, on or off the pitch. We’re either a shower on the pitch or a problem in the showers after.  Last season was good, the two seasons before, appalling.

Which Arsenal will turn up today? The one that wins is the ultimate choice.

I expect the line-up to be:

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

If he does go with a back four, I’d guess that Jack will come in and Holding drop out. To bring in Danny Welbeck would be too adventurous for an away game.

Finally, over a Dad’s Jukebox, there’s a humdinger of an underrated album for your delectation.

Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it.

’til Tomorrow.

152 thoughts on “Southampton Preview: Nostalgia Ain’t What It Used To Be

  1. C says:

    consolsbob,

    The more important question is how much of a mess are we set to be in?

    Kos should retire
    Mert is retiring
    JAck and Ramsey can’t be trusted to stay fit plus Jack is out of contract
    Ozil and Sanchez are more than likely leaving
    Lacazette will probably leave next summer
    Cech and Ospina are out of contract next summer and Arsene sold the best GK at the club to Juve so they could use him to replace their retiring GK
    Nacho isn’t getting younger
    Arsene and Arsenal tried to sell Mustafi and did sell Gabriel

  2. HenryB says:

    Totally deflated because it was all so predictable.

    Clueless!

  3. C says:

    So to sum up the game from what I’ve seen:

    Defensively we are still shit and that is from our defenders and midfielders both Xhaka and Ramsey.

    Attacking wise Southampton like Manure decided we are going to crowd Ozil and SAnchez with 2-3 players and make others create and beat us and the rest simply can’t get a supply to Lacazette.

  4. Wavey says:

    We probably should have lost that, so a point will have to do. Another game where the opposing coach out thought us and with better finishers would have taken the three points. We really are clueless at both ends of the pitch. We want to pass our opponents into submission which just makes us easy to defend against up front and easy to press at the back.

  5. Noon Gunner says:

    That was depressing. Like Dukey said, we live in a loop. No visible light at the end of the Wenger tunnel.

  6. SV says:

    Away form of a mid table team.

    We attack and face a wall, they attack and have a plenty of space. So predictable that it’s boring.

  7. HenryB says:

    I cannot understand why such highly paid players, many of whom cost a bomb, play worse than our youth team, who are not given the opportunity to show their paces.

    I am beginning to join the Dark Side — move over Andy — no one at Arsenal is listening to me — Wenger should have bowed out with respect and the love of the fans (well me, anyway) 5 years ago – and taking Theo Walcott, the non-playing £110,000 a week future star with him.

    This squad needs so many new players, as my buddy C said earlier.

    [You do realise that I have been up since 3:00 a.m. to finish an effing project so I have some money for Xmas?
    I will deny everything, tomorrow, including joining my mate Andy on the Dark side – but for the moment – bollix to that.]
    😀

  8. poodle says:

    oh god, this is why I have stopped watching Arsenal. Its so incredibly boring. its no shoots on goal, no charisma, no flair, no fun. We used to be so fun to watch, i used to look forward to watch a good game. It almost dint matter if we lost or won, because regardless of the result, we were always fun to watch. A team full of vitality that just wanted to go out and play good football..the highlight of the weekend after a long week a work. Dewinding and watching some good footy with some pints. what could be better yes?

    But this? Why sit and watch this when you can go out with friends and have a joyful evening doing things that are exciting and makes you happy? this doesn’t make for a good weekend at all!

    I know football is passion and love and all but Arsenal is not unconditional love. They can’t just keep being the most boring team to watch in the world and then expect us to continue paying to watch it!

    But as it is today – there are no smile, no fun, no creativity, no excitement, no joy, no playfulness on that pitch.

    Its like watching Stoke, and seriously, you really have to be born inside of those claypot workshops to a 5th generation claypot maker to love to love those guys.
    Arsenal are not winning anyones hearts by displays lik this…

    such a shame because we used to be the most fun team to watch in the PL… now we are the new stoke 🙁

  9. C says:

    The thing that bothered me most was the desperation shown by the manager and while it worked with Giroud scoring that late header, between 20-30 mins left in the match, ARsene seemed to panic by just throwing on subs without actually giving them time to make a impact.

    It was Welbeck then Jack and before you knew it , Giroud was coming on and it felt desperate.

    O well, we got the point and when it was clear we should have lost so we push on from that.

  10. Otto von B. says:

    Consolsbob,
    Spot on with Kos. Sad to see but the signs have been there for a few games. I am not sure that it’s fair to play him through his Achilles issue.
    I am surprised that we are as high as fifth though we were never contenders for the league and I am amazed we are top of our group in the europa league.
    We should be getting 2 or 3 in this window but I doubt we will. We need a massive window in summer. 6 or 7 minimum

  11. Moses says:

    The team’s performance today is just typical Arsenal; Side way pass, back pass, tippy tappy and holding majority of the possession with no end product.
    No contesting of 50-50 balls. In fact beaten to it most of the time.
    Plus when you know that passing ball from the back is not your strongest point, then why bordered trying it.
    And Bellerin performance today just sums up why Barca thought against signing him in the summer.

  12. Welsh corgi cardigan says:

    Watching the Ox play in the derbie. He’s a starter and in a central position. Didn’t think he’d get there (so soon that is).

  13. Jonnygunner says:

    Bellerin….out of his depth
    Sanchez…..how many times did he give the ball away?…he’s shite at the moment.
    Kos….past it….Nacho not far behind.
    Big Pete…..waaaaay past it.
    Shocker of a game.
    Ozil played well,Jack also…..Giroud too.
    C…. you’re wrong with all your stats mate…very wrong

  14. Orson Kaert says:

    Jonnygunner,

    You forgot to mention Cech, can you see him retaining top spot after this season?

  15. Orson Kaert says:

    Perhaps I should have said deserving top spot.

  16. C says:

    Jonnygunner,

    With what stats, I didn’t put any out?

    I’m confused mate? Are you talking about the players I spoke of to Bob?

    Please don’t say it had anything to do with Ozil because there hasn’t been anybody who has defended him more.

    Please explain…

  17. Welsh corgi cardigan says:

    C,

    Yes, big changes; Holding, Chambers and Mustafi as cb with Nacho and perhaps Bielik as back up?

    I wonder if Wenger believes that Jack, Ramsey, Özil and Sanchez will resign and that Giroud and Theo wants to stay?

    It could easily be 7-8 players leaving with Mert retiring and Ospina leaving. Is that a sign of coming changes?

  18. C says:

    Welsh corgi cardigan,

    I think it all starts with what is going to happen with our CB’s, Ozil, Sanchez and Jack. I know most will disagree BUT and its a big but, we can resign those 3 and get our CB’s sorted its a good start.

    We need a DM

  19. Welsh corgi cardigan says:

    C,

    Yepp, sell Xhaka, don’t care if we take a hit on 20 millions there. It’s the most one dimensional midfielder/playmaker I’ve seen. I’m curious to see if Jack can play there (mostly to do with fitness).

    Maybe that would make Jack sign (given fitness)?

  20. Bill says:

    Thanks for the preview Yogi. Another typical Arsenal away game. Other then our demolition of a really bad Everton team we have really struggled on the road. I think we can add the notion that the Sanchez, Ozil Lacazette axis would make us unplayable to the overflowing “hope springs eternal” bin. If we don’t keep a clean sheet on the road we will drop points. How many of us feel confident about our ability to keep clean sheets?

  21. C says:

    Welsh corgi cardigan,

    Personally and I know he has had moments, I would prefer Jack next to a DM and I know that means dropping Ramsey but I think Jack would give us the ability to quickly counter from midfield and a quicker ball to our attacking 3.

    I like Xhaka and the positives but I think the way we play doesn’t suit him

  22. Welsh corgi cardigan says:

    Orson Kaert,

    No, that’s true. But I’ve been quite impressed by his play in EL and think it’s somewhat about fitness. I can see us fiddling around until March with Jack playing better and better and being forced in late with a hefty offer.

  23. C says:

    Bill,

    That’s to simplistic a thinking mate, when our defenders are CONSTANTLY letting us down within the first 10 mins of the match, teams are sitting 9 players behind the ball and focusing on crowding out those 3 and making others create and quite simply, the rest are capable of doing it consistently.

  24. C says:

    Liverpool have dominated the match and yet a soft penalty and its tied 1-1

  25. Welsh corgi cardigan says:

    C,

    Hm, not sure what kind of player Xhaka is.

    Wow, Rooney equalizer from the spot. Very unfair and soft pen. But good, hope it stays this way.

  26. C says:

    Welsh corgi cardigan,

    I think at his best Xhaka is simply a deep-lying playmaker who has a wonderful range of passing with that left peg of his especially when he has a little time on the ball and defensively is good when he can just sit and read and intercept BUT he struggles when pressured and doesn’t play well defensively when he has to chase and close down loads of space.

    For Arsenal he simply doesn’t fit as the DM because we are so exposed on the counter with Ramsey playing in a role where unlike Santi, Ramsey wants to get forward and make those runs into the box so Xhaka is left by himself and he isn’t quick enough or good in space.

    Not just Xhaka but Ramsey and Jack are all players that IMHO NEED to play next to a DM or a player that is good defensively but playing them together is a 50/50 proposition, capable of putting in performances like Spuds where they were brilliant defensively and in the quick transition but they are equally as capable of putting in midfield performances like Manure and against Southampton today were defensively they leave us open to the counter and attacking wise they simply don’t do enough.

  27. C says:

    For me it all starts with how poor our CB’s and in particular Kos has been. I think its a shame that we don’t have another CB because Kos’ Achilles is clearly taking away what made him a top class CB: his pace and quickness; take that away and Kos looks bang average. I know Gabriel wasn’t everybody’s cup of tea but he was good enough and wasn’t a ball playing CB, he is a get rid of the ball by any means CB and that has really been the difference against Manure and Southampton. Chambers and Holding are the big unknowns, Chambers was magnificent on loan last season but can’t get a match through injury and Arsene simply not playing him and Holding’s confidence and positional play has been poor.

    Getting a CB anchor in and defensive partner for Mustafi should be the main focus along with getting in a DM.

  28. andy1886 says:

    Some excerpts from F365’s piece ‘early losers’ (no need to say who is the subject):

    Arsenal have now dropped 16 points away from home in the Premier League this season, and we’re only in mid-December. They have been beaten by Stoke, Liverpool, Watford and Manchester City, and only beaten Everton and Burnley. This week Arsene Wenger ruled his team out of a title race for which nobody had considered them as challengers in the first place. This is why.

    This ineptitude away from the Emirates is hardly anything new. Last season, Arsenal ranked third for their home record, but sixth on the road. In the last calendar year, Arsenal have lost 11 of their last 20 away league games. The only five teams who have lost more in the Premier League over that time are Stoke City, Swansea, Watford, West Brom and Crystal Palace.

    An attack that looks clumsy and is too easily held at arm’s length. A central midfield that is sluggish and lacks protection. A defence that is making far too many individual mistakes and is organised in a shape that fails to get the best out of the team. A manager that still refuses to react quickly enough to issues. Apart from that, everything is going swimmingly when Arsenal play away. Two points dropped rather than one point earned.

    http://www.football365.com/news/f365s-early-losers-arsenals-away-form-and-that-back-three

  29. Bill says:

    C:
    Bill,

    That’s to simplistic a thinking mate, when our defenders are CONSTANTLY letting us down within the first 10 mins of the match, teams are sitting 9 players behind the ball and focusing on crowding out those 3 and making others create and quite simply, the rest are capable of doing it consistently.

    Almost every team in the league puts 9 men behind the ball. Its been happening for the entire Emirates era. Every team in history of football is going to focus on trying to stop the oppositions best attacking players. That is a standard defensive ethos for the last 150 years. As excuses go that is a weak effort.

    The problem is when we allow our tempo to slow down and give the opposition time to set up it makes it very difficult to break down almost any PL defense. Our attack is built on the premise that our creative players will break down the defense with their passing. Ozil is certainly not the same player he was 5 years ago but even Ozil at his best would struggle to break down an organized PL defense on a consistent basis. Last season there was always some hope that Sanchez would make something happen on his own but that is not happening this season.

    Our defense is what it is and its actually better then it was in the early Emirates era but we can’t expect any Arsene Wenger team to consistently win matches for us by keeping clean sheets.

  30. Bill says:

    Our defense is always going to be mistake prone and its never going to win matches for us on a consistent basis for as long as Arsene Wenger is the manager. IMO.

    We have actually spent a lot of money on our defense if you count Xhaka as part of the defense in the last 5 years but nothing has changed. We can blame Kos or Mustafi or anyone we want but the same thing has been happening for the last 14 years no matter who the players are. If he was going to fix the defense he would have done it by now and I don’t think anything will change for as long as Arsene is the manager.

  31. C says:

    Bill,

    Yes I get that but when the opposition scores a goal within the first 10-15 mins of a match like we saw against Manure and Southampton, its easier for them to simply sit and not need to come out because they have already scored.

    Blaming Ozil is madness, I mean FFS De Gea made a PL record 14 saves some simply top class BUT there was not a need for Manure to come out because our defense gifted them 2 goals early on. More to the point is that even if Ozil does create chances and like last season Sanchez can create a goal, that’s not enough not in the present PL to challenge for titles and is barely good enough to challenge for the top 4. Look at Liverpool, Citeh, Manure, hell even Spuds, if their key creative men like Coutinho, De Bruyne, Pogba or Ericksen are being crowded and marked out of the game like we have seen teams do with Ozil and Sanchez, they have others who are able to produce something on a consistent basis whether its Sane, Sterling or Silva at Citeh or Rashford, Martial, Lindegard for Manure or Alli, Dembele and Son of Spuds or the Firmino, Wjindum, Can or Mane for Liverpool. We simply don’t have that, yes we have Ramsey who is capable of a moment here or there but not consistently.

    So with our defenders letting us down early in matches by gifting goals, and teams crowding out and daring other players not named Sanchez and Ozil to beat us especially away from home, we are what we are.

  32. Welsh corgi cardigan says:

    Bill,

    Amen to that and I’ll rest my case. ”Nothing more to say your honor”.

    I sort of like Tony Adams words ”he couldn’t coach he’s way out of a paper bag” when asked about Arsène as a coach.

  33. C says:

    De Gea beaten by a Silva as Manure’s defense forgets to mark Silva and unlike against Lacazette, De Gea doesn’t make the incredible save at point blank range.

  34. C says:

    So shit defending and unable to organize defense it is, sounds about right.

    I’m off mates, enjoy the rest of your day.

  35. Orson Kaert says:

    City defensive brain fart gifts Manure equaliser.

  36. HenryB says:

    Welsh corgi cardigan:
    Bill,

    Amen to that and I’ll rest my case. ”Nothing more to say your honor”.

    I sort of like Tony Adams words ”he couldn’t coach he’s way out of a paper bag” when asked about Arsène as a coach.

    With Tony’s management record he is not the best to quote.

  37. Orson Kaert says:

    HenryB,

    He may not be the best to quote, but as far as Wenger is concerned it is the best quote. 😁

  38. Bill says:

    C

    Almost every team in the league has been using the same defensive tactics for the last 14 years. In the last 2 games we have conceded an early goal but the same thing happens even when we don’t concede early such as the Burnley game where we got lucky with the stoppage time PK. I am not blaming Özil. However he wants to be the highest paid purely creative player in the history of world football and you expect more then just an occasional good game. He is what he is at this point in his career. He can have a great game or 2 but he struggles to have an impact in most games.

    Sanchez is my favorite player now that Ox has left but in reality he needs to produce an he has not been. Alexis gets an assist for his pass to Giroud but his impact this year are not good

    Those 2 are supposed to be our impact players and they are the ones who are supposed to make things happen when we are struggling. When we plsy well they get a lot of the credit so it’s only reasonable that they have to get more of the blame when we struggle. You can’t have it both ways and give them a lot of the credit after our games against spurs or Everton this year but then look for excuses and blame the other role players when we struggle.

  39. Welsh corgi cardigan says:

    HenryB,

    Ah, but is this comparing apples and pears (do you say that in English?) we’re not talking about management.

    Tony’s management record is poor. But does that make him a bad coach? Maybe, though I think he was part in coaching the back4 and more importantly he had a good coach in GG🙂.

  40. Bill says:

    17 points behind the league leaders after 16 games. That has to be close to being an Arsenal team record. The only question left this season is who finishes in the top 4 and will Man City best our record from 03/04 and finish unbeaten. The invincibles finished on 90 points in an era when the league was more top heavy then it is now. TV money has made a lot more PL teams a threat now compared with 2003 and Man City is currently on pace to get close to 110 points which would be historic in any league. Can’t see them keeping up this pace but they could go unbeaten.

    The good thing is we didn’t lose any ground on 4th place this weekend. We are currently on pace to collect less then 70 points and we will probably finish closer to 75 so we still have a good run of form coming at some point which bodes well for our chance to finish 4th. However, it will depend on how many points Liverpool and spurs collect.

  41. G4E says:

    I hope Manchester City wins the League Unbeaten with a better record so this club can stop reminding us of this fucking ancient achievement…..

    We are not even good for a 4th or even 5th position with our astute manager who is still after 14 years can’t figure out or defensive problems. I don’t care if the players make the errors on the field, he’s the manager that bought those error-prone players and still plays with them.

    And then he comes out talking about the Manchester United defeat affected us…..Are you fucking kidding me?

    I was sincerely LMAO of our comical defending ,,,,,At some point in the 2nd have I felt more like a neutral spectator rather than an Arsenal fan. We could have been 4-0 down by the end of the first half…..Again, with Southampton?

    We deserve every jibe the pundit hacks take at our expense, and why not? We prove them right every single year for at least the past decade. It’s a safe bet now to say Arsenal will fall apart by Christmas, in fact if you have any illusions about the Europa League…..Wake up and smell the coffee my friends, there are much more organized and well equipped teams there to beat us, actually all they need is a half decent manager to guide them through the wide ass hole of Mr. Wenger’s spread-eagled teams.

    A complete waste of time and space, a never ending joke it seems.

  42. Wailesy says:

    Again we spurn another opportunity to take advantage of other results going our way.
    There is no spine in this squad, I mean that in both senses. Little to no character, and lacking a 6 and 8 and as of this summer probably a 10.
    Wenger bangs on about mental strength one wk and then tells us we’re still suffering from the defeat the week previous. But it’s classic Wenger when he says post that it’s best not to speak or analyse player error with individual players as it could impact negatively on their form or confidence.
    How can you become a better football player in a better football team if you don’t address your failings. Best to just live with your head in the sand or your head in the clouds. Please tell me which Arsene?
    On a positive it was a fantastic point in the end!

  43. Wavey says:

    “I felt the Manchester United game played a bit of a part in the head of our defenders,” he said.
    “They were a bit apprehensive to start well again and that’s why it is sometimes not good to talk about the problem because you create a bigger one.”

    What a pile of old tosh. Why should they be apprehensive at the start of the match? If they have been well drilled on the training ground during the week shouldn’t they be focused on keeping everything tight? Is he saying that the team don’t discuss what went wrong in previous games in case it unsettles the players? No wonder they turn up for games nervous and unsure if they don’t work on what went wrong on the training ground. It sounds a lot like Keown saying that Wenger was against analysing video of mistakes with players for fear of blowing their confidence. If they don’t work to put things right on the training ground they are likely to be apprehensive in the next game. If they are drilled all week on keeping it tight they start the game on point.

  44. Bill says:

    Giroud is not my favorite player and there is always a bit of eye rolling and complaining when he comes on and I have the same reaction. However, he has scored a goal every 60 minutes of league playing time this season. From a statistical standpoint he is clearly an excellent impact sub. I am quite confident that he one of the most efficient players in the world in terms goal scored per minute if you count only the league games this season. He did the same thing last year.

  45. Bill says:

    I agree with Wavey because you never get better by patting yourself on the back for the things you do right. You get better by analyzing and spending the vast majority of your time working to fix the things you do poorly.

  46. Bill says:

    I am certainly not campaigning for more playing time or a starting role from Giroud because we have been there and done that and he has not been all that effective when he starts in the Europa League but he clearly has adapted very well to a roll as an impact sub in our league games.

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