A Crystal Palace Preview & A Bit About Transfers: A Usual January Saturday

After a bleak football-less week, we resume the descent into Premier League mediocrity this afternoon as Crystal Palace visit the Emirates. The 3 – 2 win at Selhurst Park is going to be Alexis’ final ‘finest hour’ – there was nothing fine about an hour at the Hawthorns, or any minute of that game – for the club after things moved on the Mkhitaryan swap late last night.

Everything which is wrong with modern football became apparent in the last 36 hours when waddling superagent Mino Popeye demanded more than his fair share of the most expensive divorce bill since half the electorate took leave of their senses.

It leaves Arsène grateful for the return of Aaron Ramsey after his absence. Will he start? After last weekend’s shambles at Bournemouth, it’s going to take more than the Welshman to save us. The calvary of Laurent Koscielny’s dodgy Achilles and Nacho Monreal are charging over the hill to complete the job.

Inconsistency mars another season, to the point where you know that only a change in manager offers a genuine chance of that problem being solved. Even then, it will take new blood into the squad with the kind of winning attitude which is about to leave. The comfort zone needs shaking out of so many players that you wonder how many transfer windows it will take to resolve the problem.

I don’t know whether Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has that attitude but anyone who decides to spend the evening playing 5-a-side with his mates isn’t going to be dull. Mkhitaryan, Aubameyang; all we really need to Mario Götze and Robert Lewandowski for the circumstances to be right for Jurgen Klopp to take over from Wenger when he eventually leaves the club. Just a thought.

And it’s a thought and not one which won’t help us this afternoon, either.

Nil By Mouth, Head, Foot, Arm…Just Nil

With Sanchez out, Wenger’s options for rejigging the side are limited. It’s a different game at home but Palace will be inspired by Bournemouth’s win; Arsenal without Alexis are as near to invincible as Manchester City.

Much of the outcome will depend on Roy Hodgson’s approach. If Palace have a ‘go’, we might make hay even with our lacklustre attack. Alexandre Lacazette could do with a goal, if for no better reason than to shut people like me who witter on about his barren spell, up. And to restore confidence in himself which must have taken a knock.

The responsibility of scoring falls on his shoulders with the supporting cast its’ usual goal-shy self. It was good that Hector Bellerin has popped up with two goals recently. However, he’s not the solution to our problem if no-one else does. Danny Welbeck has never scored more than four league goals for us in a season so isn’t the answer either. Neither are Özil, Iwobi or Wilshere; we don’t have a second goalscorer in the squad. Or not one who will grab a dozen per season.

No wonder we’re looking at PEA. He may be causing Dortmund problems but still has 13 goals in 15 Bundesliga appearances this season. Never fear, we’ll turn him into a goal-shy wastrel within a month.

That’s for the future and doesn’t solve our problems this coming week.

Fitting Ramsey back into the team is Wenger’s biggest problem. It’s in place of Alexis or Xhaka because Jack Wilshere is arguably our one bright spot. Will we revert to a back four? We look increasingly vulnerable whenever we do but maybe that’s a personnel issue?

It would mean a five-man midfield if we did with Xhaka, Ramsey and Wilshere in the centre.


That might work with Ramsey and Özil plus one other supporting Lacazette, with Xhaka and Wilshere. The 4-2-3-1 is how Wenger built the squad and he hasn’t made any effort to move to a three-man back line when it comes to that. That suggests an element of planning goes into it all; silly me.

It leaves this afternoon’s line-up as:

Cech; Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Kolasinac; Xhaka, Wilshere; Ramsey, Özil, Welbeck; Lacazette

Or if he goes with a back-three:

Cech; Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal; Bellerin, Wilshere, Xhaka, Maitland-Niles; Özil, Lacazette, Ramsey

For my liking, there are too many square pegs in round holes with the latter so the former seems likeliest. We shall see.

Whatever he chooses, an Arsenal win is all that matters. It’s why we watch football, to see them win and to play well. A glimpse of the good old days to lift the grey skies.

Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it.

’til Tomorrow.

180 thoughts on “A Crystal Palace Preview & A Bit About Transfers: A Usual January Saturday

  1. Some of the quick passing around the area is too good for Iwobi and Xhaka. They try, but just don’t have the quality of the players around them.
    Iwobi should have looked for his CF on the break.
    Cech had to save us, as it was sloppy at the back.

  2. Jonny,

    Jack has been caught twice by stupid tackles.

    Reiss Nelson coming on for Mesut!!

    What a great try!!! Maitland == Sarries 49 : 14

    Both our teams winning well!! 😁😜

  3. We still need a quality BIG centre back — like me. Oh, OK, I’m not a quality CB, but I would have smacked him!! 😜

    Kolasinac on for Iwobi.

  4. Xhaka plays a ball he doesn’t need to when in possession and ends up asking too much of Nelson. Had plenty of space in front of him to carry the ball forward.

  5. We have got to stop letting these other bastards back into the game.

    4 : 0 in the 1st half —— then losing the 2nd half 0 : 1 —– Why for fox sake?

  6. The first half was immense, but the pressing from Palace in the second half has meant that our neat touches are not coming off.

  7. Sarries 56 : 0

    Don’t worry Bill/C I will explain another time!! 🙌

    Elneny has been very good in this game!!

  8. HenryB,

    Has worked well in taking the defensive responsibilities off of the other midfielders. Xhaka has looked more comfortable, but still isn’t good enough. Can’t believe we went for him instead of Kante.

  9. Hi Wavey, 🙂

    Just another weird decision re player choice. Kanté is small but brilliant — stupid choice by AW. 🙁

  10. I thought that Tomkins had hit to the ball first and caught Lacazette on the follow through. Whoever the commentator is decided it was a clear penalty though. I didn’t agree with him for the Zaha one in the first half either, as I thought it was a perfectly reasonable tackle.

    Comfortable win, but a bit sloppy in the second half. Need to stay focused.

  11. “We won because Alexis wasn’t there to give the ball away”
    “But he didn’t play last week at Bournemouth”
    “It doesn’t matter. We won today because he wasn’t there to give the ball away”

  12. Good to see the forward line working well together in the first half. Jack is really enjoying his football at the moment and it seems that Ozil appreciates having a midfielder player he can ping passes off.
    There are some players in the team who just don’t have the quality and without decent coaching they will continue to be the weak link. If Wenger remains in charge he will have to upgrade on those players if he has any hope of getting the team back into the CL, as it seems clear that he will not develop players on the training ground.

  13. Wavey @ 5 : 04


    Frankly – whether it is Wenger or another manager there needs to be a change in the quality of some of these players. [Changes = Better quality replacements.]

    If the latest transfer actually happen — it will be interesting to see who gets dumped for MkHit and Alabamalama. 🙂

  14. England in the cricket too 🙂
    But what of the NFL tomorrow night?
    I am probably indulging in wish fulfilment here but I think the Jags have a small chance.
    Depends which Bortles turns up but their defence is def something.
    Minnesota should win out against Philly, I fancy.

  15. HenryB,


    You mean upgrades like Mhkitarayan and Aubameyang which would then move Ozil back centrally and Iwobi would dop for Aubameyang.

    Even with that, have to say this is the best performance, well firsthalf I have seen from Iwobi in some time for Arsenal and Xhaka looked much more comfortable with Elneny sitting at the base playing the DM role.

    I know Elneny might not be the greatest player in the world but I think today he showed what he can do sitting at the base of the midfield as a DM.

  16. I think Elneney gets my vote, C, and as for the rest — I do not know what will happen.

    We need to keep Nelson and as he is being a touch difficult about his contract – he will want more mins on the pitch – and why not? That’s where experience comes from – and he needs that.

    Got to say, C baby, but in answer to Jonny’s question I think the Jags are in with a chance — but who knows? I have to admit that I am a life-long NY Giants fan — and a bit pissed off lately. 😀

  17. Jonny,

    I stayed up to watch the ODI and it was great to see England boss the series, so far, 2:0 after the dreadful Test series.

    Tomorrow (tonite) should be a terrific game as the Aussies will need to win to keep the series alive!!

  18. Gotta go. I’m buying tonight — and it isn’t going to be a Big Mac — bugger!

    Not that I am a cheapskate or anything!! 😀

  19. Wenger flip-flops again:

    Wenger also said “nothing is happening” with his side’s interest in Borussia Dortmund striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

    The 28-year-old Gabon striker was left out as his side drew 1-1 at Hertha Berlin on Friday, but Wenger said: “Aubameyang, no.

    “He can be left out of the Dortmund team for different reasons, certainly not for transfer reasons at the moment.”

  20. andy1886,

    Yep, and all the stories being planted in the news about how no one likes him, he’s a disruptive influence in the dressing room, etc etc

    The club has pulled this shit so often it’s amazing anyone still falls for it.

    We’re on track to get no one or perhaps some arbitrary one goal in every five appearances bench warmer and part time bicycle mechanic from some nth division club like The Beluvian Ballbags or something.

  21. C,

    Iwobi, Xhaka, Holding and Chambers are not good enough, but with some actual coaching they might have a chance to develop. They shouldn’t be anywhere near the first team at the moment and wouldn’t be at any of the clubs we are meant to be directly competing with. Welbeck has had numerous chances and clearly isn’t good enough for a top side, he would probably have a good career at a team like Palace. Bellerin has not really pushed on and even today there were times when you just wish he would have gone to the line instead of trying to cut inside. Relying on Per and Kos as cover in defence is a ridiculous risk.

  22. Agree with C . Eleny in front of back four and he frees the front men. But we could probably do with an upgrade? And Eleny is the backup

  23. Medicals to be completed on Sunday and Monday.

    If that’s it for this window we are fucked. We may have put on a show in the first half today, but we also showed how vulnerable to the press we are in the second. As we aren’t going to completely overhaul our game plan in the next couple of weeks, we need to add goals to this team. If PEA is coming, he needs to be signed up in the next few days but Wenger is saying that nothing is happening on that front at the moment. Dortmund have said that they have had an approach from Arsenal, but it isn’t clear if they have rejected it, or its still bring considered. If they have rejected it out of hand we end up in this ridiculous situation where Wenger’s misguided view of player prices ends up scupper in the deal

  24. Rumoured that we have bid £44m for PEA, but they want around £53m. If the gap is only £9m you would have thought it would be worth stumping up the cash for the Bundesliga’s top goal scorer last season. We are talking about Wenger though

  25. Wavey,

    If we paid the asking price our spend this season (summer & January combined) would be around £102m and sales would amount to about £95m. That’s a net spend for the season of around £7m (and a net reduction in the wage bill of more than that too). If a club like Arsenal cannot afford that sort of outlay then something is seriously wrong at the club. That doesn’t even take into account our huge cash reserves.

  26. Elneny is, from Wenger’s perspective, almost the perfect DM. He has the touch of a CM and is prepared to do a defensive shift. Oh, and he doesn’t make dumb mistakes on the ball. However, despite that, Wenger persisted with Xhaka until the season was dead and buried. Then he realised that, to save his arse, he had to give Elneny a run. But, because he still won’t give up on Xhaka, he moved Xhaka to the CM/box to box role, where he is a fish out of water. Good grief.

  27. Be interesting to see what shirt number Miki gets. If it’s n7 then does this mean PEA is not coming as he’d surely want a ‘first team’ number? Then again maybe neither give a shit what shirt number they have.

  28. You are wrong Fredo We went with a different formation with a back four and a mid three. C has always advocated for this formation. It allows Xhaka to be more of a attacking role, speeding up our play. Xhaka has scored 8 or above in most people’s ratings today

  29. Ornstein at the BBC saying it’s done, a straight swap. Crap deal for us IMO but we’ll see. As for PEA Wenger claimed recently that he was quite happy with his ‘character’ so no reason it should be an issue now. Unless it’s another excuse because we’re too tight to spend that extra couple of million on one of Europe’s top scorers. Maybe Wenger watched us stick four past Palace and decided that suddenly everything is dandy again, it’s the sort of thing that he’d do.

  30. why was Aaron Ramsey and Danny Welbeck not on the bench??? are they being sold too…. it is funny how a young player like Reiss Nelson who has not yet proved himself in the senior team is already rejecting contract

  31. So Sanchez looks like he is really on his way out. And Mhki on the way in. Doesn’t change the fact that Wenger needs removing and for Arsenal to learn how to manage player contracts. They just lost one of the few players in the PL who can change a game. Good business for United. Hmm.

  32. Adam Singh,

    In Germany they are making a big thing of PEA playing 5-a-side on Friday night with mates whilst his team drew 1-1 with Hertha Berlin. He apparently wore a Dembele Dortmund shirt. The story goes that he was sending a message that he wants to go by wearing an ex-Dortmund player’s shirt and that he is looking to wear the number 7 shirt (as it was Dembele’e number) at a new club. A bit convoluted and perhaps too smart for a footballer.

  33. Here’s a strange one. Word is that after Arsenal were told ‘no’ over Martial our next choice was Luke Shaw, which was also rejected by United. Given that Arsene seems to no longer trust Kolasinac, picking AMN as a LB regularly does this suggest that there is a problem between the two?

  34. Having watched the goals again from yesterday on MOTD, I was looking at the second goal in particular and thinking that we don’t get into the box enough. As the goal came from an attack which initially broke down, we were able to recycle the ball quickly and had three players in the box looking for the cut back. Usually when we push forward our players all hold back, looking to thread the ball through the middle. We need to use the width of the pitch much more to change things up in attack, as we have become much to predictable in our build up play. Going out wide doesn’t mean that we need a tall target man who can head well, as sensible runs by other players would give the wide man options to slip the ball in to the near post as well.The key would be to have two or three players making the runs to give the winger options, rather than one man standing on the penalty spot easily marked out of the game by the defence.

    I’m going to have what appears to be another dig at Iwobi – I know he looked dangerous in the first half, but I think he flattered to deceive again. His shots all went straight at the keeper apart from his tap-in goal and he still offers very little to our attack. If one or two decent passes per game and the odd crack straight at the goalie is the sum of his performances, he needs to be dropped.

  35. andy1886,

    I saw that. Wenger has been a fan of Luke Shaw for a while, I think we were chasing him at the same time as United. He needs to top up his quota of young Brits, having let Gibbs, Ox and Walcott go.

  36. I did not see the match yesterday. A good win.The inability to reproduce the first half performance in the 2nd half is worrying.

    The unsubstantiated idle chit chat that PEA is some kind of rebel withi the dressing room is false.

    I think in A Mangans latest Arseblog Cast there is an interview with an analyist ( name escapes me).

    PEA in the Borussia Dortmund changing is not a killjoy, a loner, a difficult person. He’s a very out going player who mixes and socialises. His differences ” troubles” have been soleywith the Club and not team mates.

  37. Wavey,

    Not sure that it’s a valid claim, this sort of thing happens all the time. They probably over performed at the start of the season and are now roughly where you would expect them to be. Makes me wonder who is available to take over, usually when this happens the board have a replacement waiting in the wings.

  38. Wavey,

    It certainly suggests that AW is thinking long term, beyond this current contract for certain. I get no impression that he has any plans to leave and if he can pull something out of the hat, a cup for example, an extension could well be on the cards.

  39. England take a three nil lead in five match series. Great to see, by why can’t they do it in proper cricket?

  40. Ras,

    It seems to be the game that clubs play nowadays, spread dirt on the player through the press to discredit them. We have had digs at players in the past and were happy for stories to appear in the press regarding Alexis. Interesting that Heynckes commented about PEA, but he says he felt the same about Dembele. Does that mean he was wrong about Dembele, or that he expects it all to blow up at some point? It is strange that the coach of another team would comment as well, but I think the press were trying to get him to say that he would want PEA at Bayern. I couldn’t see that happening, Bayern have become really good at picking up young players from other Bundesliga clubs when their contracts are up. Strange how they manage to do it so often and that the players are willing to take the risk that Bayern will come in for them. I’m sure Bayern wouldn’t do anything as underhand as to be in regular contact with the agent.

  41. andy1886,

    If his aim is to get Mkhitaryan and Aubameyang in to turn the season round, he will be hoping that their experience will mean that they will just go out and play their own game. It will need some tweaking of the formation, but Wenger seems to be more willing to change things a bit now. If it means playing players out of position to get everyone on the pitch, I’m sure we will see some interesting set ups. Its incredible that he is able to pull the wool over the Board’s eyes, as it is clear to anyone else that he does nothing to develop the players. The failure of players like Ox and Walcott to really develop is testament to that and it has been their natural ability which has seen them progress as far as they have. It will be interesting to see if they will develop further at their new clubs. It might be too late in his career for Walcott, but the Ox could turn into the player we hoped he would. Unfortunately not at Arsenal though.

  42. Wavey,

    Shame, if they stick to that it gives Wenger the perfect excuse to say “we tried” and try and claim that they were unreasonable. A window where we lose Sanchez, Walcott and Le Coq while gaining Mkhi and making a profit would be a disgrace IMO.

  43. andy1886,

    Mourinho must be laughing his head off, getting Sanchez in a straight swap for the vastly inferior Mkhitaryan.

    I’m pretty sure that under normal circumstances the Armenian would have been quite a long way from the top of Wenger’s wish list.

    But then Mourinho has always been able to run rings round our manager.

  44. andy1886:

    Shame, if they stick to that it gives Wenger the perfect excuse to say “we tried” and try and claim that they were unreasonable. A window where we lose Sanchez, Walcott and Le Coq while gaining Mkhi and making a profit would be a disgrace IMO.

    Yep…. just pay the few grand more!! I remember when we lost out on Alonso over something like £2mill and Flamini re-signing over a reported £4mill signing on fee. Nuts. And typical stubborn Wenger. Bad management when the club has the money and cash flow.

  45. A C Milan were quick to snap up the 2008 version of Flamini for £4mill (although did he really perform there?).

  46. YW,

    We’re all sitting with fingers poised over the keyboard, eagerly awaiting your next masterpiece.

    In the meantime there’s the snooker final to watch.

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