STONE COLD FRIDAY: 3 Points For Arsenal Ushers IN The Silly Season

A good night at the office brought the 3 points in what are increasingly becoming ‘must win’ away games. With only two wins away at Burnley and Everton this season, the performance was less important than the result.

Selhurst Park was a crime scene last April, but despite predictions of Palace being the new bogey team, Arsenal were determined and professional. Palace have only beaten Arsenal four times and twice in the last 20 encounters; we quickly corrected last season’s anomaly and recorded their 120th London derby win in the Premier League era.

It’s fitting that a week of history played out against the background of the original Crystal Palace, home to the first international Industrial Expo of the Victorian era. On Sunday, Wenger officially becomes the longest-serving Premier League manager.

Arséne must also be proud of his protégé George Weah who also made history by beating all odds to become the first footballer to be the President of his country. (Editor’s note: Albert Gudmundsson, a former Arsenal player, was an Icelandic politician who lost the presidential race in 1980 (I think). Always the bridesmaid, etc.)

The fightback from Palace notwithstanding, history simply records last night as another 3 points in the Premier League slug-fest.

Li’l Jack Is Causing Wenger Headaches

Ramsey’s injury has been a blessing in disguise for our Jack. His fourth Premier League start showed what a run in the team can do, the grunt work having been done in cup competitions. Wilshere was assured and drove everything positive that happened in the midfield.

With Ramsey back in training – pencilled in for a mid-January return, this is the sort of good headache Wenger needs more often. At the moment, Li’l Jack gives the team more balance and it shows. With all the games coming up, the more sensible thing is for Ramsey to take the bench and wait his turn.

Arsenal’s first early chance fell to Wilshere, but the strike on his chocolate leg didn’t offer much threat to Speroni. The Gunners looked dangerous and applied relentless pressure to the Palace backline. You did wonder whether this was going to be another United nightmare as the chances went begging; the most dangerous came from Alexis’s slide through ball for Ozil.

The break came in the 26th minute following a determined drive by Lacazette. The Frenchman bought himself some space, floating the ball towards the far post. Speroni was kind enough to assist Shkodran Mustafi who deftly tucked the keeper’s largesse into the net. A smart goal from a defender whose instincts might have been to leather the ball in.

The half-time team talk must have been straightforward: “More of the same folks, we’ve got the game under control”. But Arsenal wouldn’t be Arsenal without inducing a good measure of anxiety.

The first half start was the best we’ve had this season; pacey, attacking and determined. We reverted to type at the beginning of the second half, minds still in the dressing room.

Here We Go, Here We Go (Again)

Wilfred Zaha, Palace’s brightest spark, worked his way past Bellerin and cut the ball back for Townsend to sweep home. Just five minutes after the restart; five!

The Palace crowd seemed to remember why they were at the stadium and rallied behind the team. Arsenal fans found that “here we go again feeling” surfacing. The equalizer put wind in the Palace sails and they attacked with more vigour, coming close on a couple of occasions.

But Arsenal were not to be thwarted. Lacazette was the provider again, holding the ball up well to tee Alexis up. The unexpected shot sailed through James Tomkin’s legs, past the flailing arms of Speroni at the near post.

Four minutes later, a route one move sprang from Mustafi’s interception. Li’l Jack deftly placed the ball neatly in front of Alexis to control with his thigh brought more Arsenal cheer. The Chilean poked the ball past an advancing Speroni to assure the 3 points.

Well, that’s what everyone thought. Le Coq and Maitland-Niles came on to pull down the shutters and close shop. But Arsenal just had to raise temperatures again with a gifted corner and a poorly defended goal.

With a minute to go, you’re thinking “No, surely, they can’t do it”. But ask that lot with cojones at Vicarage Road about Arsenal seeing out a game. A nervous final few minutes ensued as we avoided the embarrassment of conceding two goals in three minutes to Palace.

The Silly Season Is Back IN Full Swing

“Should they stay or should they go” will clearly be the January transfer window soundtrack. I doubt if any of the footballing media will write anything about Arsenal that doesn’t involve Alexis and Ozil leaving the club. Why write about football when you can create drama. It’s inconceivable that the two will leave in January, but that would only be relevant if anyone gave a damn. There’s advertising space to sell in papers.

The scrutiny has started. The analysis of any move the two make or don’t make on the pitch. Alexis scoring his first brace since May has already raised the speculation that he supposedly didn’t care before but now he’s in the shop window. Ozil has also been turning up performances that are being analysed more than the pros and cons of Brexit. No matter, the most important game is Sunday’s trip to the Hawthorns, 3 points imperative in the next ‘must win’ away game.

Li’l Jack and Wenger are confident though, that the young man will get a new contract. I hope he does, and with his growing confidence and stature in the team, the place is his to lose, coupled with an incentive for a ticket to Russia next summer.

Have a great day good people.

45 thoughts on “STONE COLD FRIDAY: 3 Points For Arsenal Ushers IN The Silly Season

  1. Any record that ends in “in premier league history” isn’t really a record – football did exist prior to 1992.

    Good to get the three points but little sign that anything is going to change in the near future, we’ll be there or there abouts when the battle for fourth concludes. But since only AW and his cronies actually believe that it is an achievement for a club of Arsenal’s stature this is likely to be another dull groundhog season at The Emirates.

  2. Here’s one for the conspiracy theorists, last night was the first away match ever that Arsenal has won with Mr Oliver as the referee….I guess we’ve got that hoodoo settled

  3. Thanks for another excellent post and a great review Darius. We really needed a win and to score a couple goals away from home. Its still only the 3rd away win it of 10 games but hopefully it signals the start of an upturn in the second half of the season. The defense is still a big concern but 3 points is the key. Spurs and Liverpool are going to be our main competition for 4th place and both were up and down and dropped a lot of points in the first 1/2 of the season but both look to be back on track. Unfortunately we were just as inconsistent and despite not having to use our first team in anything but league games while they all had to deal with the CL we could not take advantage of their struggles. We are going to need to play a much better second half of the season if we hope to stay in the hunt for 4th.

    Yesterday was both encouraging and concerning at the same time. It was awesome to see Alexis score twice. The concern is that Alexis most likely wants to move in January and if he doesn’t get his wish he might mentally shut down in the second half of the season. A switched off Alexis is probably worse then no Alexis at all. Unfortunately without goals from Alexis we are dreadfully short of firepower on this squad and there is no one we can realistically hope will step up and score more goals. Compensating for our shaky defense without that firepower is going to be difficult. We have put ourselves into a difficult position.

  4. Good stuff!

    3 points is all that matters from last night, everything else is stuff we already knew.

    Its funny that all the talk is Ozil and Sanchez but Jack doesn’t have a contract either and like Ozil, the contract talks keep getting pushed back for Jack too but his is by the club and we all know how ‘smooth’ contract talks go with Arsene and Arsenal.

    It was good to see Chambers and Sead get a full 90 mins and they were pretty decent.

  5. We talked about this briefly yesterday. A move to City would probably reignite the fire in his belly and a switched on Alexis would be a huge addition for man city especially if they go deep in the CL. I think he would probably leapfrog Sterling Sane and Gabriel Jesus in their pecking order and he would be a huge insurance policy if/when Aguero pulls a muscle. This has the potential to be an historic season for them I can certainly see them putting in an offer in January. Tough decision fir Arsène.

  6. Aguero is already unhappy with recent signings threatening his position Sanchez, plus cash in January, might get us a very good replacement.

  7. Bill,

    Why would Sanchez automatically leapfrog Sterling Sane and Jesus? I know you and most don’t follow anything but PL but Sane is one of the brightest and most highly rated German wingers right now and is thought of to become world class especially when you consider what he is currently doing and what people know he can do. Jesus is pure goal scorer and a relentless CF who runs and track all match long.

    I mean you do realize that Aguero was scoring goals both last season and this season and Jesus took his spot so this notion of when Aguero breaks down Sanchez would automatically till in for him is non-sense when you consider that Aguero isn’t even a nailed on starter.

    I get your a HUGE proponent of experience over youth but I’m sorry mate, in modern futbol it doesn’t always work like that let alone at Citeh under Pep when you consider they are now one of the youngest clubs.

  8. C

    With regard to Sanchez and Man City it’s not about potential or long term future but it’s about this year. Everything has gone right for city in terms of injuries and form so far this season but you can’t bank on that but the bottom line is City has a chance for a truly historic season. I don’t think Sterling is as good as he has looked and I expect him to come back to earth. Sane and Jesus are both great long term prospects and have played very well but both are risks for slowing down in the second half or letting the pressure over whelm them and Aguero is always an injury risk. Sanchez on the other hand has had a poor first half and would be coming in with a fire in his belly and we know he can carry a team for 1/2 a season if needed. Seasons like the one city is putting together don’t happen very often and spending a bit in January seems like it could be a great investment.

  9. No matter who we have upfront they are probably going to struggle unless we can find a way to play at a higher tempo on a consistent basis. The other concern about muscle injury

  10. 3 points are 3 points…..

    We have to take the 3 points and Jack as a positive, but the first 20 minutes were “Liverpoolish” and the last 20 minutes were “Foolish”.

    Maybe physically we can’t play 90 minutes with the same intensity, so we have to play 40 – 45 minutes of nothing to fill the gaps? Any other team with a stronger belief would make us pay for those 40 minutes of clown football.

    Not sure if everyone feels the same, but we were much worse defensively when Le Coq came on than we were when we started the game.

    In the current times, I guess we should be happy we escaped with the 3 points and hope for the same in the next game.


    ++ Good game from Jack, that direct “English” long ball was a peach and Alexis made the most of it.

    ++ Good Game from Ozil, should have scored but he was alive and that’s all what we ask for.

    ++ Alexis finally decided to take matters of scoring into his own hands. It’s like he is trying to show the team can survive without him, but obviously, we still can’t.

    — Bellerin, don’t know what happened? Maybe he hangs out with Walcott so much that he’s becoming a “speedster with no cause”. No final ball and lost at sea in defending.

    — Kolasinac seems to have lost his aggression going forward, perhaps Thanks to Wenger’s fatherly coaching and development skills. I think he reverted back to his old ways at the high time of the game and we looked better.


    Well, I’m taking the 3 points and celebrating being 6th on the league table…..Woohoo!

  11. In theory AWOL ( Alexis, Wilshere, Ozil and Lacazette) should be mouthwatering but they have been very much hit or miss and most of time its been underwhelming because no group of players is going to look good if we make them play against banks of organized defenders.

    I meant to say in the previous comment that the other problem with Aguero is his history of muscular injuries.

    Regarding Sanchez to City. If you asked me which players I would want if I was trying to build a team for the long term future then I would clearly want Sane and Jesus and possibly even Sterling rather then Alexis. However, if its a matter of winning the CL this season or going unbeaten in the PL this season I would certainly take a switched on Alexis any of those 3.

  12. Bill,

    That’s were we differ and I think your taking the Arsenal view of that situation. First off, Jesus is picking right where he left off in Brasil, then last season for Citeh and continuing taking steps. Sane is picking up right where he left off and taking the next step in his development. Sterling was ALWAYS a player with loads of potential and we saw it at Liverpool and in flashes last season for Citeh and now he has taken the step in his development. The biggest difference as with ANY player is do they get the right coaching to help them continue to develop into the player that their potential has them capable of being and at Citeh they are getting it from a manager and his staff who have developed not only some of the greatest teams but talents we have seen since they were originally constructed back at Barca. If we are talking about not long term production but this year’s production then Sanchez is back up to Sane and Sterling especially when you consider that Sterling is 3rd in the golden boot race behind Kane and Salah and even if he slows down he will stumble into 17-18 PL goals. Sane is arguably the most efficient and effective winger in the PL when you consider he is on 6 goals and 8 assists.

    I think don’t want to believe in players like Sane, Sterling and Jesus because of what has taken place at Arsenal but Pep has a history of working with, grooming and helping young players take that next step while playing key roles in big matches for him.

  13. A swop for Alexis with Aguero and cash could work out better for Arsenal rather than have an unproductive Alexis for the second half of the season. But why would Aguero want to switch clubs?

  14. It’ll be interesting to see which squad Arséne picks for the 1st round league cup final against Chelsea. Surely, for the chance to win the trophy, he can commit the big guns for 3 games. It’s very likely Man City are a shoe in for the league cup final – I still don’t understand how they got through past Wolves and Leicester with a penalty lottery. But a one off game at Wembley against City is something we can win if we apply ourselves. In the Europa league for sure, after the next round against the Swedish opponent, he must bring in the big guns. NO point in getting that far and then throwing the competition when we have an excellent chance of making it to the Europa league final and even winning it.

  15. Aguero to Arsenal would be the most stupid career move ever made in the history of Football.

    The guy is playing for a team on course to create history…..Why would he move to a team struggling to get into a Champions League position and 6th in the table?

    But good dreaming and happy new year.

  16. What is interesting for me about the Li’l Jack vs Ramsey/Iwobi option is the diffirent dynamic it gives the team. Jack seems to be more disciplined defensively in comparison to both Ramsey and Iwobi, and yet, he still has that Santi-esque playmaker effect that both Ramsey and Iwobi who are more direct don’t have. This is particularly of advantage when opposing teams police mark Ozil out of the game. A good example is Li’l Jack’s assist for Alexis’s second goal last night. I don’t believe Iwobi or Ramsey would have placed that ball on Alexis’s thigh the way Jack did. Having that option for another playmaker who also has a defensive mindset can also free up Ozil to roam better while Jack is on the ball and open up more pockets of space that Ozil, Lacazette and Sancheze can deftly operate within. I’ve always believed that if Jack settles, the role Santi played for the team would be absolutely ideal for him. He has an added advantage, he is desperate to make the England team for Russia and if his performances continue as they are, it’ll be a shock if Southgate doesn’t turn to him as England’s midfield anchor and playmaker.

  17. Surely given that we had to sell players to comply with wage restrictions we would struggle to fund Aguero’s wages even if that was an option? I’d bet he’s on more than Alexis and would likely encourage Ozil’s team to ask for more money for their man. Because money is the only reason that I can see that would make him consider a move to us.

  18. Aguero to Arsenal? Are people serious? Talking about career suicide.
    According to the Guardian, Alexis’ team-mates are pissed off about him waving his arms about and giving orders during games. Asking them to press is hurting their feelings.
    Of course, if the team was properly coached, that would not be necessary.
    If I was Alexis, I would be desperate to go. Arsene obviously fed him a lot of crap to sign him up and, since then, has shown he is not up to the job. I suspect that if Alexis doesn’t get a move in January, Arsene will need a bodyguard.

  19. the leagues shaping up as it was destined to

    theres now a top 6 divided into two tiers. weve found our place in the 2nd tier with spurs and liverpool and 4th place isnt a nailed on cert like it was a few seasons ago. weve fallen victim to our own lack of ambition.

    i expect more 5th or 6th place finishes as long as wengers reign is allowed to continue.

    i think its important moving into the silly season that we start to look at the future.

    with ozil and sanchez leaving in the summer, possibly before, we should be looking at locking down the likes of ramsey and wilshire to long term deals and making moves in this coming window with acquisitions of top players and bedding them in for the start of next season

    knowing how we operate however, we’ll do naff all, hoping a few domestic cups will convince players to sign new deals, only to lose half a squad in the summer and have a trolley dash for stop gap signings leaving the club in limbo with our top 6 status in jeopardy.

    hope everyone had a great christmas and best wishes to all for 2018.

  20. Apparently it was Kos and Sanchez who got into it and that is the source of all of this with naturally players choosing sides: co-Captain or top attacker. If I’m honest, all of this non-sense starts and stops with Arsene and I have never been and never will be for managers losing their jobs or the so called WengerOut crowd but I think its evident that Not putting together a side capable of challenging and then the whole non-sense with the manager’s contract bring and doing to the club and supporters what it did, everything is laid at Arsene.

    People will kill Ozil and Sanchez for not committing, but If reports are true that Sanchez did committ and then saw us get destroyed again by Bayern because overall as a club we don’t possess the quality, then that lays at the feet of Arsene. Maybe it waa Dixon but the point waa made that we have seen this story too many times for the players to be taking the brunt of this: Vieira, Henry, RvP, Cesc, Clichy, Sagna, hell even cunts like Nasri and Song all wanted out yes for money but to win shit because they saw it wasn’t going to happen. Maybe its the bourbon talking but I’m nit absolving the players but FFS I can’t blame Ozil, Jack or even Sanchez if they want to leave to win shit and get paid along the way because their talents deserve it.

    Goodnight off to start my new years celebrations, yup 2 nights before

  21. Andy

    Thanks for the article you linked. Its late and no one else will probably see it. Probably a relatively slow news day tomorrow so I may copy and paste it again. It provides very solid support to my long held contention that there is no objective evidence to suggest that playing in league cup teams has been helpful for our u21 players.

  22. Andy

    Its hard to imaging now but there are a significant number of players in that list who were considered really top quality prospects at one time. Several of them were considered a good bet to develop into impact players with our first team and a few were destined to be the next great thing. Anyone who has followed the club since 2007 has to be fooling themselves if they are not highly skeptical anytime we hear about another great player coming thru the ranks.

  23. Freddo,

    Incredible isn’t it? The idea that team mates are unhappy about a player who wants to show passion, who wants the players to fight as a team and hunt the ball down. Not being willing to congratulate a team mate when he scores for the team is shocking. Kos is apparently the player he is having most disagreements with. Its no surprise as clearly he is an Arsene yes man. This does nothing to tarnish Alexis’ reputation, but is very damaging to the other players who clearly accept the easy life and do not believe in fighting for the club. Life in Wenger’s Arsenal. So very sad.

  24. C,

    You are quite right in your observation C.

    Ramsey should be on the bench and afforded his chance accordingly. We shall have to wait and see what Mr Wenger decides. The absence of Ramsey has given JW a chance which he has taken. In my humble view the team is slightly better balanced.

    Ramsey and Xhakia is a non starter. This is not school boy football, although I feel that this is AW ideology. How many times have we seen Mr Wenger throw on ex amount of strikers etc when trying to salvage something from a match.

    He’s a chancer more than a pragmatist.

  25. Wavey,

    He’s (apparently)a very disruptive influence Wavey.Being passionate is thrown around all the time to describe him.Do you remember when Henry started doing the same thing in the last couple of seasons with us?He’d have a go(especially at the younger ones)when he didn’t get the ball exactly where he wanted it.He showed his frustration on camera for all to see and that’s undermining in a big way for the teammates.Can’t agree with you at all.I think he’s being a self righteous prick,and as good as he is,gives the ball away way too much.Its clear to see the divide he’s causing and that’s damaging to anything related to Arsenal.

  26. Jonnygunner,

    I agree that he gives the ball away a lot, but he’s done that since day one. He always tries to thread the ball through when the pass just isn’t there. That has nothing to do with whether or not he is disruptive though. The stories we are hearing from the club are typical of the club leaks when they want something out there, but don’t want it to come officially from the club. What is he being accused of? Wanting team mates to press up the field? Wanting others to close down opposing defenses? I don’t see how any of those things are bad for the club, or disruptive. Alexis doesn’t agree with the way Wenger does things and the stories circulate that the player is disruptive. Handy that? I have issues with how often he gives the ball away, but that’s nothing new. And I just cannot see how anyone can be pleased that players from their team wouldn’t celebrate a goal with them. It’s easy to see stories coloured a certain way to suit the situation. If Alexis were singing a new contract I’m sure the same stories would be spun a different way. He’s disruptive because the narrative that the club wants out there is that he is disruptive.

  27. Much was made of the fact that not all of his teammates celebrated a goal with Sanchez, at least by the Sky commentating Muppets. After putting the ball in the net he ran to the side of the pitch, some of his teammates were on the other side of the pitch, in their own half. Should they, near the end of a frantic game, scamper across to kiss him or conserve what energy that had left.

    Goal keepers must hate all their teammates, they hardly ever run the length of the pitch for a communal hug.

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