Happy anniversary Mr Wenger | Tantalising contract negotiations | Midfield car crash unfolding

by & filed under News Review.

Too early for Jaeger?

Too early for Jaeger?

Hull City are next up, but firstly, we must congratulate Arsene Wenger on his 20th Arsenal anniversary. I don’t want to labour on it for too long, but it’s quite an achievement. He’s seen off many great names, Owen Coyle, Jose Mourinho twice as well as Sir Alex Ferguson.

You can’t argue with that longevity. When he started I was 12 experimenting with hair gel and copper dial up internet porn. Remember that? Spending many hours working out how to clear those history folders… then finding the old mans computer stash. Bad times. I digress.

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PSG 1-1 Arsenal. By the skin of our teeth

by & filed under News Review.

wenger-bday

Morning all, Alex here with a post after a WTAF night in Paris.

Arsenal’s performance last night was reminiscent of a scene from the movie Spinal Tap. Down on their luck and missing one of their frontmen, their new manager (the pushy wife of the other frontman) secures the once famous rock band a daytime gig at Themeland Amusement Park California, in the slot before the puppet show. Realising they can’t perform their repertoire without both frontmen, the bassist pushes for them to perform a free-form jazz odyssey set. Not all the band are keen. As one remarks this type of performance is “just a series of mistakes without the ‘oops'”.

For 70 minutes last night Arsenal were an unwatchable jazz odyssey, only saved by a 20 minute reprieve where the band broke out the classics and reminded people they knew how to rock.

I got coated off quite badly last time I was on here for suggesting Coquelin is not a good footballer and his continued selection over the far superior Xhaka and Elneny is hurting the team.

And perhaps I was a little unfair on France’s answer to Scott Parker. It’s not entirely his fault, he’s just the sum total of Arsene Wenger’s continuing failure to build either attacking or defensive structure into his most complete team in a decade.

It’s been retweeted to death, but the article Pete shared yesterday exploring the issue really is worth a read. It makes the point that Arsene’s commitment to giving players freedom on the pitch is a hindrance when so many other team’s are profiting from prioritising structure and position. The difference between flying a Boeing 747 with the latest flight control system, and flying it on instinct.

Still you have to admire Arsene’s commitment to playing “free-form jazz exploration in front of a festival crowd”. Despite what the experts, the data and the results say, he’s going to do it his way.

This was borne out by his team selection where, inexplicably Coquelin was preferred again over our £34m summer signing and Alexis was started through the middle, where he has had zero impact thus far. Many, including myself, were critical of the decision to start Ospina over our number one Cech (nb Goalkeepers don’t need to be rested three weeks into the season). However the Columbian put in a man of the match performance. Nevertheless, while this may have vindicated his selection in hindsight, Ospina’s struggles in previous Champions League games meant it was a huge gamble by the manager.

I won’t cover the game in detail except to say the first half was dismal. We were destroyed by PSG and if it wasn’t for Cavani channelling his inner Chamakh it could have been 5 or 6. Aurier was superb for them, selling Monreal dreams all night. Note how no tactical changes were made to help Monreal who was clearly struggling.

Opsina, as mentioned, was our man of the match but that’s more a testament to how little cover we gave him. It wasn’t until Wenger brought on Giroud and Xhaka on the UEFA-mandated 70 minute mark that the team started to perform in any meaningful way.

And it was a good reaction. Iwobi who had been one of our better players, Ozil, Sanchez and Cazorla, suddenly found some fluidity. Alexis’s goal followed a great team move – something that has been noticeably lacking this season.

It gives you some hope for the future, because with that XI, our best XI we could be a match for most teams. What depresses me is thinking what the score might have been, had we started with that team. What worries me is that Wenger will revert to his cherished “Coqzorla” midfield, despite its head-bangingly obvious limitations.

Wenger reminded us again before the game that he had turned down an offer from PSG in order to stay at Arsenal, as if that’s something we should be thankful for. I expect he will point to this result and say a point away at the French champions is a good result. Unfortunately, the scoreline does not tell the whole story where, due to his stubborn team selection and tactical limitations, we survived by the skin of our teeth.

Sorry again for all the misery. You can follow me on twitter @aldo_doel for more of it.

Have a good day!