West Ham Preview: The Long Goodbye Begins

Some time ago, a former work colleague wrote his own screensaver. Every day, a countdown clock ticked one day closer to a point a couple of years in the future. That was the day when his share options matured; he intended to cash them in and retire. I left well before that day so don’t know if he ‘lived the dream’.

I hope he did; the firm went belly up three or four years after floating on the stock exchange.

Arsène’s countdown clock is ticking. Would he measure it by days or games left? The latter is tricking; it might need resetting after the Europa League semi-final, extending the deadline by one. Or if his superconfidence is misplaced, reduced it by the same amount. A tough call.

To this afternoon then, and if you can get past the emotional outpouring which continues from Friday’s announcement, there’s a football match to be played. And quite an important one. While we face West Ham, Burnley play at Stoke; dropping points will give us a sharp reminder of why we find ourselves at this moment in time.

Arsenal must win; forget the Wenger circus going on, this is about the future. While Arsène begins his walk away, quite a few of this squad are playing for their futures and involved in what is effectively an eight-game audition in front of the new manager. You can bet your bottom dollar that the contenders for Arsène’s hot seat will be watching very closely. The best contender will have seen all our matches this season and be working on an outline of a plan to take us forward.

A goalkeeper, centre backs, and defensive midfielder; the players, coaching, tactics. We see this so a professional will also. That’s our hope, anyway.

Spinning, Turning: It’s All Rotating

With Atletico visiting on Thursday, the XI will be rotated. Laurent Koscielny’s Achilles isn’t up to two games a week so we’re left without a handbrake on Mustafi’s harum-scarum defending. However, after last weekend, we need a good performance so I’d expect Bellerin to be restored to the XI. Which begs the question, Holding or Chambers alongside the German.

To be honest, I’m not sure. Chambers seems to be higher in the pecking order but Holding may get the nod today. He is less rash in the centre than his compadre and let’s be honest, both are less rash than Mustafi. I doubt we will see the younger pairing this afternoon, however.

It seems too risky and while Arsène accepts the top four is gone, I’m sure he won’t want to see us finish lower than sixth. It’s a balancing act, winning the Europa League or finishing sixth. The former is a tangible, something shiny. We need to ask ourselves, does the latter matter with Friday’s turn of events? To some, it will.

The biggest question is whether Lacazette and Aubameyang start together? Last weekend was a mitigated success. Even though there was a goal, it was very much a square peg in round hole territory. We’re not built for a double-pronged attack so everything fits into the 4-3-3. Not very well at times.

And do we risk Lacazette? Diego Costa’s absence from the Atletico side for the first leg the warning we must heed. We won’t.

It’s another opportunity for the kids if Arsène is so inclined. Maitland-Niles, Willock, Nketiah? Seems unlikely given the latter pair played at West Ham in the Under-23’s title win on Friday night. Iwobi, Elneny, Welbeck, with Kolasinac. We’re low on options for rotating the side.

How much cotton wool do you have?

Plaudits and Brickbats

All of which leaves a line-up of something like:

Cech; Bellerin, Mustafi, Holding, Kolasinac; Elneny, Maitland-Niles; Iwobi, Özil, Aubameyang; Lacazette

Today’s biggest enemy as far as the players are concerned is the emotion of the occasion. But that is also their biggest strength: the desire to do well for Arsène. Surely they want to give him a big send-off and if even a tenth of what we’re told is true, that extra motivation exists. Can they harness it?

If you’re going this afternoon, enjoy yourself. Pay homage to Arsène if that’s what you want to do; it’s his time and I find there’s a churlishness surfacing in those wishing to ‘spoil the party’. As far as I’m concerned, he deserves the plaudits for what he achieved as much as the brickbats which dominated the north London skyline in recent seasons. If you’re inspired to show appreciation, go right ahead.

Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it.

’til Tomorrow

73 thoughts on “West Ham Preview: The Long Goodbye Begins

  1. The day is bright. Brighter than for some time. Looking forward to the game today, and that has become an unusual feeling.

  2. Anyone for potchetino??

    Apparently he isn’t sure that spurs can go from sort of challengers to winners! Come to Arsenal potch, we like winning!

  3. Agreed with your expected team YW, pretty surprised by:

    Ospina, Bellerin, Kos, Mustafi, Monreal, Elneny, Xhaka, Ramsey, Iwobi, Welbeck, Lacazette

    Seems injuries played some part with Petr (hip), Sead & Jack (ankle), Mesut (ill)

  4. Bit of an odd selection today. Not only a risk to play Kos but also Ramsey. And why Welbeck and not Auba? Defensively it doesn’t really matter if we place the first choice players as we’re still poor at the back anyway. I guess AW has free reign to do what he wants, fortunately there are only a few games left so no point in getting irritated about it.

  5. I can see the argument for having a side that has played together recently on Thursday but Kos cannot play two in a week and is our best chance of having a competent (or at least not humiliating) defence. Ramsey should not play 90 and Laca should not be risked as Auba is cup-tied.

  6. Have to say, with Welbeck, Iwobi and Ramsey we have some bang average passers. All of them need a quality passer to that way they don’t have to do it.

  7. Great preview Yogi.

    Strange line up. I understand the idea of using the game to prep for the game on Thursday but players who are on a big team have to be able to play 2 games in a week. If there is a game to sacrifice it should be ManU away. We are unlikely to win that game anyway. Our $350k/week superstar has not been on the bench much less on the pitch for about 2 weeks. I had not heard anything about an injury.

  8. C:
    Have to say, with Welbeck, Iwobi and Ramsey we have some bang average passers.All of them need a quality passer to that way they don’t have to do it.

    Xhaka and Elneny are supposed to be quality passers.

  9. Almost think he hasn’t used PEA because he wasn’t his purchase otherwise like a lot of his selections it makes no sense at all given what’s coming……i have to say i hoped for a slightly better reaction to the news from the players…..if this is the best they can muster for him then a madrid can relax now…

  10. I think we actually rehearsed a set piece. Arsene has still got some surprises in him. 😀

  11. Firat well done by Lacazette and a decent cross from Ramsey but Rice bottled that because he just ducked.

  12. We’ve now got two functioning CF’s and when they’re supplied by in-form Xhaka and Ramsey (never mind Ozil and Mkhi) we can expect goals. It’s all about finding that collective top gear earlier on in the game…and away from the Emirates. I do hope Arsene takes his treasured handbrake with him when he clears out his stuff.

  13. theres so much positivity around the club its actually seems quite unreal.

    what speaks volumes is that wenger had to announce his departure to achieve such positivity.

    great result today – performance was abit meh, but thats the norm – the squads not great and neither are the tactics but performances arent whats important at the business end of the season – results are….

  14. A good result fir maintaining some kind of momentum going into the against Atletico.

    Currently in Tel Aviv working and found out the news of the departure whilst at the Dead Sea.

    I think the next incumbent does not require a ” name “. Appoint Ancelotti, Allegri the appointment then becomes about them . I’d prefer we go the route of how Pocehetino was brought in at The Saints.

    He hardly spoke English. He was left to to concentrate on Football . Appoint a name and if results start to go in the negative the Media Circus is going to be obviously enormous. Can you imsgine, ” Arsenal in Crisis”.

    The New Team, The Mighty Three are new and as A Group really need to get the appointment right as whomever is decided upon is a reflection of the ” Connections Contacts”.

    The Person to be appointed will be ” known” to Sven and Raul. They are the ones now given the task to make Footballing decisions upon possible candidates.

    His age goes against him. Julian Nagelson of Hoffenheim although only 30 years old would be my bet.

    An Ancelotti Simeone Allegri bring will bring to much attention. Arsenal need to get back to basics. Appoint a Coach. We need an exceptional Coach. The other stuff that AW dealt with is no longer a concern for the next Manager

    New days new times ahead.

  15. Great result and a wonderful last 15 minutes. Amazing dichotomy between our results at home and on the road. Same tactics same manager same everything except we just don’t execute on the road. I wish I understood why. Hopefully the new manager can fix the problem.

  16. Since his return from an injury he was clearly carryin before he actually got some rest, Lacazette is scoring goals, 6 in his last 5 appearances. Pretty good huh Bill 🤔

  17. C,

    I’ve always been a fan of Lacazette, when we bought him i was shocked as i was sure he’d end up at Spurs tbh. He’s a striker who will give 100% all the time and his finishing in close quarters is amazing. With the right manager, breakaway attacks with Ozil, Auba and Lacazette could be lethal. All those players need pace in play to be effective and as i’ve always said with Ozil if you want the best from him pair him with someone who’ll do the defensive work because he’s a pure out and out flair player, luxury player 100% but if you account for it you’ll get the best of him.

    The amount of times when we break and you see Auba or Lacazette breaking into space in the wing and we opt to pass sideways or backwards really frustrates me because a LOT of teams play a high line against us which we used to take full advantage of but now it’s so slow they have time to break and get back before we’ve completed our 10th sideways pass.

    One of the priorities for a new manager is keeping Ramsey fit, i think if he played a full season with no injuries he’d get 15-20 goals. But it’s all if and buts.

    Of all the players we’ve got, the most frustrating is Iwobi, he’s taken a page from the Walcott and Ox book and got himself into the first team and stopped developing. Runs to nowhere, bad passing/crossing and poor decisions in the final third. The damage we’d do to teams with a proper winger like Malcom from Bordeaux or a Hleb type. i really think we missed out not getting Payet from West Ham when he wanted out, pace, precision passing and crosses and you’re 50/50 for freekicks with that lad. Cant’ remember the last time we scored from a freekick…..

    Realistically, we need: Winger, CDM, CB (starter and a back up with Per retiring), LB/RB cover and first choice GK and with transfer costs these days i think we’re 2/3 years from getting everything we need.

  18. Bill,

    interestingly, if we’d won the same % of away games as we have home games we’d be top of the league. Teams know how to set up against us away from the emirates now, 11 players behind the ball and make sure you’ve got at least two pacey attackers for the counter down the left.

  19. I think this squad needs a total rebuild.
    out of the current lot im struggling to think of 5 who I’d keep.

  20. JonJon,

    I don’t think so, i think it’s the tactics. We show, in glimpses what we can do when we up the gears. Attack wise, Auba, Laca, Mkhitaryan and Ozil….that’s enough creativity problem is we play so slowly it leaves their game mute. Then behind that lot is where it gets tricky, Ramsey, when fit is a constant source of problems for teams with his late runs into box and finishing.

    Issue is have is we don’t have any proper wingers, we break and pass backwards because there is no outlets outwide and the standard of delivery is shocking when it does end up out wide.

  21. dont get me wrong
    i think with a proper game plan we could do better than being 4 points ahead of burnley with 3 games left.

    we could possibly be a top 4 side again

    but a title winning side?

    new gk, a whole new back 4 apart from nacho, a whole new midfield

    strikers are about the only area we are good to go.

  22. I agree with Jon Jon. If the problem was tactical then we would not be able to play as well as we have at home. The bottom line is we are not as bad as we play on the road but we are not as good as we have played at home.

  23. So elneny…the problem…he slows us down, simple..we always struggle to apply our game when he plays. Again today we were slow and intrepid with him on, once he went off we were freed up.

  24. its funny you mention the home/away record bill
    the away fans are the hardcore support – the guys who travel up and down the country, braving the snow and hail and pissing down rain to stand and sing (even when we are losing) to support the side….
    and we cant win a goldfish at a funfair in front of them

    yet at home – we’ve been really good…..weve scored lots of goals and beat lots of teams……
    all this in front of the shit fans who are just shit and a whole pile of shit.

    go figure…

  25. elnenys not good enough.
    although hes better than xhaka…
    which is bad considering we spent 35mil on xhaka

    the whole midfield is slow and intrepid…and they cant press for shit….everyones a specialist at one thing but none of them can do everything.
    elnenys good at staying in one place
    xhakas good at hitting a ball hard
    ramseys good at driving in the box
    jacks good at finding space.

    they are bollox at everything else and when they play together its bollox as well.

    complete rebuild….control the midfield and control the game. but it cant be done with these players – they are all too wengerised.

    defence can be taught i suppose although bellerin has to be replaced, hes a specialist at being fast and not much else

  26. Jon Jon.

    No team plays as well away from home but the difference between our home and away results has been historical and our performances away have been miserable. We have only won 2 of 16 away games. In the 2 games we won against Everton and palace we scored 8 goals and conceded 4. In the 14 away games that we didn’t win we have scored 8 goals and conceded 22. At home we have played much much better in terms of results. The home results flatter us but why the players just shut down and can’t execute away from home is a mystery.

  27. JJ,

    Disagree regarding bellerin, a bit of defensive coaching and he can be the best right back in the league, he was nearly on course for that a while back.

    Elneny is not suited to the prem though and is worse than Denilson who was terrible for us in the end. Xhaka still has maybe a sniff though, I’d give him another shot under a new manager. Last chance saloon though. He would need to pull his socks right up.

  28. defencing coaching could work wonders on some players dukes, but bellerins too far gone, going back to the wengerised point..
    he just wants to attack…ive never seen a right back, nor a wing back make runs infront of the forwards when theres not even a ball on…thats just being thick..
    he always gets skinned, he leaves gaps you can drive a bus through.
    theres just too many things to fix on that kid…
    its easier to convince barca hes worth 30mil and flog him.

  29. Dukey:
    So elneny…the problem…he slows us down,simple..we always struggle to apply our game when he plays. Again today we were slow and intrepid with him on, once he went off we were freed up.

    Dukey

    It’s the same as someone who came on in minute 75 and we suddenly started to play better and giving him all the credit. Both are over reactions. Elneny is a decent squad player but not someone who should be starting. The idea that he makes the team better or gives us balance are not realistic.

  30. JJ

    As of now these players would be worth keeping, Rambo, ozil, koz, lacazette, the cat. Henrikh, monreal, kolasniac.bellerin.

  31. I am sure there is someone on a blog somewhere who is convinced that the reason we played better was bringing on Maitland Niles.

    Dukey

    I don’t think Xhaka has the skill set to be the deepest holding midfielder for a PL team. He does not have the defensive chops

  32. There is a quite a simple pattern, when elneny plays we invariably play intrepid slow tedious football and struggle. He should learn Italian.

  33. Dukey:
    There is a quite a simple pattern, when elneny plays we invariably play intrepid slow tedious football and struggle.He should learn Italian.

    I agree with you to a point. Elneny is certainly a ball possession player. However where I differ is I think we have played slow tedious football for a majority of the time over the last 2 years and Elneny is usually not in the line up. We play slow tedious football very well with or without him so blaming today on him is wide of the mark. IMO.

  34. Dukey.

    We are in 6th place because we have played poorly and Elneny has been on the bench for a majority of those games we have lost.

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