Coquelin is the weak link. Why hasn’t Wenger dealt with this?

by & filed under News Review.

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Morning – I’m ill, grumpy and have been in the office since 6.30am.

If you’re hoping that this match review will brighten your mood, then either stop reading; or continue in preparedness for disappointment. Without any context, a point at home to Liverpool is fine, but football does not operate in a vacuum – each game and how it’s retrospectively assessed falls into the wider landscape of the league, the form of the team and recent results.

Had we beaten West Ham on the opening day, our points tally would be a relatively healthy 7, but as it is, we are already lagging behind. Going into the game, this felt very much like a must-win, which seems ridiculous at this stage of the campaign, but as we saw last year – a slow start can negate from a superb second half to the season. (more…)


Arsenal lacking substance and bite of Champions

by & filed under Match report.

Hello darkness my old friend

Hello darkness my old friend

Match report coming up in a bit, but just my take on another drab night at the Emirates.

Petr Cech

After two fairly wobbly games, our man from Chelsea proved that he’s not over the hill with a pretty stunning performance. He owned his area, he demonstrated calmness and he pulled off at least 3 world class saves the others simply would not have.

What must he think coming over to Arsenal? What a mess. His body language says it all. Imagine going from militant organisation to the Arsene Wenger’s ‘guys, just have a bloody good time’ approach.

Gabriel

Dropped into the mixer very late on and next to a very green player. I thought he was kind of dominated in the air, but as soon as the ball hit the deck he monstered it. He’s a rough version of Laurent / more polished Kolo Toure.

He’ll no doubt develop his aerial prowess, a good start regardless. He did well to cover some pretty basic mistakes all around the park. He’s very fast and he reads the game well. I’d imagine we’ll see quite a bit of him this year.

Chambers

Kind of feel for the lad. He wasn’t great. He looked nervous on the ball and as soon as one mistake dropped, more followed. He then started trying to play his way out of trouble. One particularly nightmarish moment came when he tried to run the ball through midfield, in a juvenile bid to make amends, it went badly and he nearly cost us a goal. Boy is gonna have to grow up quickly if we’re to avoid a problem this season.

Ozil

A pretty drab first half but I thought he pulled his weight in the second with a very accomplished performance. What I liked about him was the forceful nature of his play. It’s hard when you have Olivier to aim for and you have to be so accurate. I thought showcased a fighting side in the second half I’ve not seen before.

Pace

Wenger seems to get stuck in a first team routine. It was quite clear Ramsey out wide wasn’t going to work again because he plays anywhere but the wing which narrows us and leaves us with a wodge of players all trying to play Steven Gerrard switch balls. We looked toothless and without edge. Giroud was painfully average and pretty much marked out of the game. Sanchez was all over the place. That gave us zero outlet.

The subs didn’t come until late despite it being totally obvious from kick off what we needed. Chamberlain gave us more shape and purpose. We actually looked a threat when he came on. Theo also added to that equation. When the manager said winning was about pace, I’m not sure whey he elected to leave two of his fastest benched?

He likes what he likes and he’s not flexible enough to budge. He’ll make the line up work even if it costs us too many points to compete.

Flat

You can’t help but think Liverpool owned the best chances and probably stole the best of the play. We just gave up two points to a substandard side. My biggest worry is that we don’t look like Champions elect. There’s no aura around the team. We look toothless. There’s no nastiness. We look a little too middle class. We’ll do ok this season, we’ll win some games, but when it matters, we’ll disappear like we always do.

Well, that’s how it feels right now.

Wenger has the chance to bring a bit of bite to the side this summer to push us over the edge, but so far, pending a miracle, he’s ignored the opportunity. I sympathise with the striker issue, but we must have known Benzema was a long shot when we asked in June. Where’s the reaction? It can’t be Benzema or bust? What about midfield? I thought Coquelin performed very well last night, but why did we elect not to give him competition this season? Vidal and Schneiderlin have both been available. Where is the move? As someone said last night, where is our 27 year old Arteta?

Protecting Coquelin? If that’s the case, that’s the exact attitude to winning we lack that will cost us. When the manager has no competitive streak, the players take the lead.

The arrogance in not signing any outfield players is staggering. But not surprising. You don’t make yourself better by ignoring the obvious. It’s clear early on we’re suffering the same issues we always suffer.

There’s still time to make a move for some players. There’s still time to build a system that’s balanced. There’s still time to get the season back on track.

Let’s hope Wenger is feeling the heat. We all know he loves a panic buy. Fingers crossed it’s an Ozil like panic purchase, not a Santos one.

Have a good one, match report up later.


Arsene claims pace key to success. Giroud on the bench?

by & filed under News Review.

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The rains are back. So much promise after a stunning weekend of sun. But here is the segue question you were waiting for… who will the rain pour on this evening?

*Takes bow

It’s the first real test of the season. Liverpool had a bad season last year, in part due to injury, in part to losing Luis Suarez and in part to signing a rabble of pretty average players with £100m at their disposal.

(more…)

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