On Bournemouth and Abou Diaby

Bournemouth arrive at the Emirates on a potentially pivotal night in the season. So long as we take three points, the pursuit of a top four finish will receive a boost in one form or another with Chelsea hosting Tottenham. If Palace could do us a favour as well by taking points off United…

Unai Emery received a boost with the timely return to fitness of Ainsley Maitland-Niles which allows the omission of Stephan Lichtsteiner from the side. The Swiss is “being assessed” which is the new way of saying “out for the three weeks”.

It’s inevitable that Emery will rotate the XI for tonight’s match but the question is how many? It’s a relatively quick turnaround to Tottenham at the weekend so those with knocks or just returning from injury will miss out.

The outcome is likely to see Mustafi partner Sokratis with Koscielny once again on the bench to ensure we have one half-decent centre-back fit for the weekend.

The bigger question is over Denis Suarez. Spanish media reports suggest Barcelona hope we pay €20m in the summer. To be honest, Emery raised questions about that. Asked yesterday about his compatriot, he said that Suarez “is improving” and that he has the “quality” to improve the side.

However, concerns must surely be raised when Emery noted that “it’s not okay today [for him] to play 90 minutes because he needs rhythm”.

“He is working every day, improving and knowing us. My philosophy is that adaptation needs time and after, little-by-little he will grow confidence and know his teammates in training and after playing matches.”

To Exude Isn’t Rude

He doesn’t exude confidence as a player; maybe that’s his nature and he will grow as a player. As yet, nobody can say it will be €20m well spent. I wonder if that depends on whether we reach the Champions League anyway? Midfield is the least of our issues if we have just a £50m budget. A couple of centre-backs and a goalkeeper are more important. That’s a decision for another day.

Tonight, Emery tantalised that he might start which given Iwobi’s knock at the weekend but is it the right choice? Should Mesut Ozil feature against a side deemed to physical for him earlier this season? The argument against the German’s inclusion is Aaron Ramsey. The Welshman was part of the XI which played very well during the first half against Southampton and as far as the midfield is concerned, keeping that quintet together as much as possible is surely the objective?

It means no place in the starting line-up for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang with Alexandre Lacazette impressing once again up front. The Frenchman doesn’t score as many as PEA but his overall play contributed to a more cohesive performance.

That the standard of opposition was poor did contribute to it, there’s no doubt. However, Arsenal still had to play effectively. Reproducing that against a better side is the test.

The line-up I expect Unai Emery to ignore in favour of a better one is:

Leno; Maitland-Niles, Mustafi, Sokratis, Kolasinac; Torreira, Xhaka; Mkhitaryan, Ramsey, Suarez; Lacazette

Emery was questioned on the Kepa incident at Wembley but kept his thoughts to himself. I should think Sarri is less than impressed with just a week’s wages being docked from the player but pragmatism means dropping your best goalkeeper is not feasible, especially when you need three points against a team above you in the table.

Boot Wrapped Round Your Head…

Elsewhere, it was sad to hear Abou Diaby retired at the age of 32; injuries won in the end. He recovered from Dan Smith’s assault but Michael Essien’s stamp proved to be the career killer. Unsurprisingly, Mike Dean was the referee on that occasion so Essien received no punishment.

https://twitter.com/hmafc/status/1100423278005571584

Diaby never realised his full potential through no fault of his own. How good he could have been is subjective. Some think Vieira Mark II but I’m not convinced. He was a decent player but world-class? It’s a term bandied around too easily these days and the truth is we’ll never know.

However, we’ll always have this moment:

Image result for abou diaby john terry

There’s no little irony that a player who suffered so horrendously with injuries is celebrated for causing an injury. But it’s only John Terry so it doesn’t really count, does it?

Disby proved karma is alive and kicking. Smith’s career effectively ended with his tackle on the Frenchman. Smith was quickly an ex-Sunderland player and he managed just a further dozen more games professionally as far as I can see. But Dean, however, still prances around the pitch seemingly impervious to criticism and thriving on his own incompetence so karma is imperfect.

Which is a word that sprang to mind when Mauricio Pochettino said that it could be a decade before Tottenham showed the bottle to win the title? That’s a magnificent condemnation of his own squad, the one the media raves about, as well as his own competence.

And on that cheery note, I’ll bid you farewell for the day.

Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it.

’til Tomorrow.

68 thoughts on “On Bournemouth and Abou Diaby

  1. Michael says:

    Eat your heart out JG 🙂

    Diaby “improved ” the longer he wasn’t playing, as often is said. I can only think of 1 match where he was very good after his injuries. Still a young man, and should never see a minimum wage packet

  2. Jonnygunner says:

    Michael,

    Some of us have to work to keep the economy going mate 😉

  3. YW says:

    Els

    I think you’ve misinterpreted the observation. Keeping Koscielny on the bench means we’ve got at least on centre-back for the weekend. Let’s face it, Mustafi isn’t a centre-back, is he? Sokratis will probably suffer an ankle knack this evening the way our season is going.

  4. Els says:

    YW,

    Oh right. I read that wrong.

    Yeah Mustafi is capable of a good performance but he’s twice as likely to give away a penalty.

  5. C says:

    Lets not act like Ozil didn’t play well and affect the match in the 2nd half when the team and game needed some lifting. Imagine also we would see Guendouzi for either of Xhaka or Torriera.

    Bournemouth would be a good side for Suarez to get 60-70 mins because they play open and don’t care much for defending.

    Not just the quick turnaround for Spuds but then Rennes and Manure.

  6. C says:

    Els,

    To be fair, the exact same thing can be said about Kos, not just now but since he arrived at Arsenal.

  7. Paulie Walnuts says:

    A bunch of banana skins await tonight. Bournemouth can play a bit.

    It’s the same 3 point’s we’ll be playing for on Saturday so no place for Suarez but I’d rather stick Mustafi at rb than Maitland Niles. Gwen Doozy to replace Toreirra.

    On Diaby….yes he has talent & yes injuries deprived him of the chance to develop fully….but he was never PV4 mark 2. He seemed to lack focus & concentration & the fact he stayed so long just underlines the ridiculous indulgence which marked the second part of Arsene’s tenure.

  8. LSG says:

    Paulie Walnuts,

    I think you are right that this is a trickier fixture than it looks. Complacent and a flat atmosphere as we look ahead to NLD could cost us points. Some rotation is in order but too much and it may sap intensity, so it will be interesting to see the lineup.

  9. Pete the Thirst says:

    ‘Spanish media reports suggest Barcelona hope we pay €20m in the summer.’

    What are they smoking down there? Seemed to be legal the last time I was there…or at least decriminalised…

  10. Paulie Walnuts says:

    Pete the Thirst,

    Denis S looks like the 2019 version of Kim Kallstrom.

    Unless something changes dramatically surely we’ll pass on any deal , let alone pay 20M.

  11. C says:

    Paulie Walnuts,

    I would most certainly play Mustafi at RB, not only now but ahead of the other options with Bellerin out, especially if it leads to Maitland-Niles developing in midfield.

  12. thrillbo says:

    Thanks for the chatter all, hoping for a good turn up tonight. We need to start off at pace like we did on the weekend, no sleepy starts please.

    RE: Spuds. Honestly guys i’d rather have the realism then wenger-esqe spins on everything. This is a manager calling his players out for shit performance. He is right, hate to say it but Spuds are hanging around and with a couple of those losses turned to W they are near the top.

    I would 100% rather have a manager calling the team out like this then putting some wengerian spin on it. “we played with the handbrake today”. Making excuses is all that is. It’s not like Poch was calling out players directly. He said the squad is inflicting this on themselves through lack of preparation and motivation.

    You guys actually think Poch is being a dooshbag? Sure he could have handled some of it better, but again i will always take this type of speak compared to wenger’s handbrake speech for the 100th time.

    Cant’ a manage punish his players for bad performance? Back in school when we had a crappy game against a team we should have beat, we show up at 6am the next day to run sprints for an hour and half before school starts. No time to shower either we show up all stinky to class.

  13. thrillbo says:

    Is Poch really wrong about needing a decade to change the mentality of players? How long has it been since the gunners have put in consistent level of performance across the entire season? I think it actually will take 5+ to rebuild a squad and rebuild the winning mentality. Not sure about 10 years, he was just making it a point.

    The thing i’m confused on is how we think this is funny. Current era spuds are exactly like late wenger arsenal. Top talent, not enough commitment to truly push across the line. Not turning up against the low tier sides and causing their own downfall. His words hit too close to home for me to laugh at it.

  14. YW says:

    thrillbo,

    Don’t forget this is Spurs *best-ever* Premier League squad. I think our best-ever squad probably achieved a smidgen more…Hellfire, even our squad after the Invincibles reached a Champions League final. Can’t see Spurs doing that.

  15. Pete the Thirst says:

    Yes (even though I’m not sure what it is exactly, can you explain?)

    thrillbo:

    You guys actually think Poch is being a dooshbag?

  16. Pete the Thirst says:

    Yes

    Straight out of Wenger’s ‘Guide to Escuses’ edition 6 (2014)

    Lolz

    thrillbo:

    Is Poch really wrong about needing a decade to change the mentality of players?

    The thing i’m confused on is how we think this is funny.

  17. Paulie Walnuts says:

    It appears that Poch may well have had his cataracts removed & can now see clearly just what he’s up against.

    If he does the wise thing & clears off in the summer it will lead the a fairly swift decline IMO, with the likes of Kane following him out the door within a year or so. Cue a half empty new stadium & more years of spineless mediocrity.

    Lovely

  18. Damon says:

    YES PLEASE!!

    Paulie Walnuts:
    It appears that Poch may well have had his cataracts removed & can now see clearly just what he’s up against.

    If he does the wise thing & clears off in the summer it will lead the a fairly swift decline IMO, with the likes of Kane following him out the door within a year or so. Cue a half empty new stadium & more years of spineless mediocrity.

    Lovely

  19. Blue Yonder says:

    Ice Cold in Alex – hopefully not a metaphor for tonight at Emirates.

  20. C says:

    Arsenal: Leno, Jenkinson, Sokratis, Koscielny, Monreal, Kolasinac, Guendouzi, Torreira, Mkhitaryan, Ozil, Aubameyang

  21. ferkov says:

    And. Sarri has dropped Zeppa. Good. On many counts.

  22. Colts says:

    Jenks does fancy himself further up the pitch and use to have a decent cross tbf.
    Interesting .

  23. consolsbob says:

    YW,

    You trying to make some kind if point, YW?

  24. C says:

    3-1 and boy we look in the mood!

    Aubameyang gets the goal after Kos hits the bar.

  25. C says:

    Aubameyang makes it 4!!!!!!!!

    I know we looked good against Southampton but we have looked miles better tonight and we certainly look like there are more goals in it.

  26. Paulie Walnuts says:

    We seem to be enjoying playing teams from the south coast.

    Moving westward can we please play Weymouth on Saturday.

  27. thrillbo says:

    looking forward to watching the replay tonight, sadly i had to actually work this afternoon!

  28. C says:

    Brilliant free kick from Lacazette!!!! He looked absolutely determined to get his goal tonight since he came on!

  29. C says:

    Ozil has been brilliant from the opening whistle!

  30. C says:

    O fuck!!!!!!!!!! Kos gets his knee stamped on, hopefully its just that.

  31. ferkov says:

    consolsbob,

    David Hillier made the point on commentary that at least The Spuds don’t even have that non trophy to aim for at the weekend.

    So Ozil and Micky best players on the pitch. Well, Fuck me backwards, as they say in Kernow.

  32. C says:

    I don’t think Jenks is of the quality we need but I will be the first to stand up and applaud because he played well especially given his current standing in the squad.

  33. thrillbo says:

    Want to clarify I am in no way a secret Spuds fan. Looking at the league table, would have been nice for Manure to lose, but Tots going down means they are within striking distance. Just 4 points ahead, and 4 goals ahead too.

    The next couple matches against Spuds and Manure are looking crucial. Win out and we are nipping at the champions league. Lose out and we are stuck in Europa.

  34. C says:

    When Ozil is up for it and plays like tonight, even Bill can sit back and enjoy the talent!😂

  35. Bill says:

    Great preview Yogi

    I was surprised to read that Diaby was still playing and he was only 32 years old.

    Great result today. Mkhitaryan with a goal and 2 assists and Ozil with a goal and an assist. Ozil increased his entires seasons production by 50% within the first 27 minutes of the game. If he had done anything like that even once in a while earlier this season he would have never lost his spot. I think its going to be a battle to the end of the season but 4th still a real possibility.

  36. nicky says:

    A2Gooner,

    Entirely agree about Diaby. I was a great fan. A cruel way to end a promising career so early.

  37. Bill says:

    Just like today when players like Ozil and Mkhitaryan who are constantly in forward positions are playing well and having positive influence they will usually create some objectively definable production such as goals or assists. That is their job. When your forward players are not creating any goals or assists its usually because they are not have the positive influencing they are being paid to provide.

  38. C says:

    I know Ozil’s goal looked easy, but that shit is harder than it looks to do.

  39. C says:

    Bill,

    Your correct but the other difference is that our midfielder of Torriera and Guendouzi supplied them a bit higher up the pitch. Inatead of the likea of Aubameyqng, Lacazette, Iwobi, Mhkitaryan, Ramsey and Ozil getting it deeper and allowing the defense to get back; we got it that bit higher. Its a team game.

  40. Blue Yonder says:

    consolsbob,

    consolsbob: Yes, but who is the Nazi spy, the MP’s and the straight man?

    Haven’t see the film for many years. Anthony Quayle is the spy but the two at the back I don’t recognize. (John Mills, of course.)

  41. Bill says:

    C

    I don’t think there is any tactical or definable explanation for we played better today. If there was then it could be replicated on a more consistent basis.
    I think games like this and runs of form happen and there isn’t really a good explanation. There isn’t really a good explanation when things go wrong either. For example, our best game of the season was the win over Spurs and if there was something different we were doing right you would expect to build in that success. However it was very soon after the Spurs the unbeaten run ended and things started go to downhill.

  42. C says:

    Bill,

    It can be rellicated….see Citeh, Liverpool, Barca, etc.; its easier said then done though my friend. Having your midfield not only winning the ball back, but doing so higher up the pitch and then playing a proper pass to your attackers is something the best clubs in the world do on a consistent basis. Its both tactical and on personnel, sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn’t. Getting better opportunities and playing higher up the pitch allows for better chances against a scrambling defense. Its literally the very definition of the tactical reason teams high press: high press when teams try to push out from defense to attack, you win the ball back as the opposition is pushing into their attacking 3rd means less defenders back and the opposition scrambling to recover.

    You hate tactics but at the highest levels, tactics are just as important as top quality player.

  43. Arsetralian says:

    Did anyone notice Sokratis push half the wall over so Laca had more to aim at for his free kick
    Nice

  44. C says:

    Wonder if the English FA will suspend Kane for that headbutt…

  45. Bill says:

    Emery’s man management came under some question this season but I think yesterday’s game goes some way towards vindicating what he did. There is only so much you can do with a 30 year highly experienced player with a world class reputation and world class weekly paycheck whose skills are fading and whose motivation is not where it needs to be. You can’t handle that player the way you would a petulant 19 year old. The idea that Emery had some strange agenda was grasping for straws and trying to shift to the wrong side of the disagreement. I think almost every manager in the world would have dropped a player who was making excuses and not showing up for training and was not producing anything when he was on the pitch. I am not sure what else could he have done?

  46. thrillbo says:

    Arsetralian,

    I definitely noticed this in the replays, not just Sokratis but a few players really moved the wall and gave Laca that alley to shoot. Boy did he look determined to score that kick. That man is fierce.

    Matteo had a rough patch there, we were playing keep away with him, Monreal, Kola in that corner. First he made the horrible square pass from left back area towards Kos. Then he got caught dawdling. Honestly someone should be yelling at either Leno or Guendo to just hoof it. You’ve got Auba, the fastest man alive, waiting to run in behind. The other team is pressing super high up the pitch so just launch it up there, hope for the best, and reset!

  47. Bill says:

    I think the story that came out about Raul ordering Emery to drop the player was clearly rubbish. It was a speculative attempt to shift the blame to someone that no one really really knows or cares about and away from where it really belonged.

  48. C says:

    Jonnygunner,

    Maybe, hopefully but then again: it is their golden boy, he plays for Spuds(who they seem to love because of their ‘English players) and if they won’t take actions over this failed stadium thing then why would they now! 😪

  49. C says:

    If the general talk was that based on Southampton, that XI should start the NLD….should Emery now roll out the same XI with the only change being Lacazette coming in for Nacho or Sead?

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