Arsenal killing themselves with inefficient final 3rd play – Match review and Ratings

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Arteta blazing over... via the 'Le Grove' Instagram

The weather clouded over as the morning wore on, for some reason, it felt like a sign, like this was going to be a troubled day of football.

The defence lined up with Jenkinson and Gibbs as opposing full backs, Mertesacker and Koscielny lined up in the middle. The only other surprise was that Rambo had a slight hamstring strain (young player with a fatigue injury shouldn’t be a surprise).

The first opening of the game started from a duffed Jenko pass, Rosicky picked up the ball and chipped to Gervinho, Robin readjusted his run, picked up the Ivorian’s simple pass and placed his shot clinically under the body of the Sunderland keeper. All within a minute!

Robin was on fire, his next bit of outrageous skill came when he dragged a pass wide of his full back, looked up and chipped the keeper only to be denied by inside of the far post. That little beaut drew a standing ovation!

The first bit of worrying defending came when the ball bounced loose in front of the back 4 and no one made a challenge on the midfielder who let off the type of shot that more often than not finds its way into the top corner.

Koscielny took creative matters into his own hands hoofing the ball outwide to Gervinho, his first touch cut inside the fall back, he followed in but lacked the composure to hit the target. The Adebayor of the wing…

Sessegnon took advantage of a wandering Jenko down the right, Chezzer came out from his box to challenge, the player and ball passed him, luckily the cut back found a red shirt!

Sunderland found their way back into the game when a high loose ball found Arteta’s arm just outside the box. A Stupid handball when you know who is taking the deadball. Larsson easily looped it over the wall to level things up… quite superb.

Arsenal lost all shape after that. Panic stations as always. Jenko summed this up when he was easily bullied off the ball out wide, Sessegnon powered into our box, chipped to Cattermole whose 4 yard header was parried away by the cat like reflexes of Chezzer. Lucky us but torrid defending by Jenkinson.

We had a problem, no attacking penetration from midfield and no real threat from anyone outside Robin. Our efficiency in the final third has been like this all season.

A miserable first half was capped for Jenkinson when he was beaten to a header by all 3ft2 of Larsson, the cut back was nearly turned in.

The 2nd half started with a sub, Santos was brought on as Gibbs was injured, again, obviously. He announced himself on the scene by spooning the worst freekick of the afternoon over the bar.

Bookings for Vaughan, Song and Larsson in short succession intimated the game was dirty… It wasn’t, Howard Webb was losing control though.

As we chased the game frustration grew with Theo Walcott and his poor decision-making, our inability to beat the front post from corners also began to grate.

Sunderland were fighting for their lives… niggly fouls all over the park were breaking up our play.

Robin went close with a near post strike, Alex Songs unmasterful attacking display was summed up when he played a through ball to no one. The very fact he had to take responsibility as the creative hub showed how desperately short of creative spark we are.

Yossi and Andrey came on to save the day, they both added some excitement, especially Andrey, but you do have to ask the point of having a striker on the bench you can’t all upon to chase a game. I mean, they are the supposed to be the goal scorers, right?

We won a freekick from a Wes Brown edge of the box foul, Robin elected to take the strike and he was duly rewarded as we all watched it sail into the top corner! The first in a millennium!

The match restarted, we started to panic, but Robin calmed the side down, we played out the win and took a vital 3 points.

What’s that? Top half of the table? You better believe it!

Conclusion…

I love winning, I do. I eventually enjoyed the result yesterday, but don’t kid yourself, that team is not going anywhere fast if it continues to play like that. The first few games it seemed like the lack of creativity was down to confidence, but the longer flat performances like that continue, the more reality sets in that actually, the days of creating 26 chances a game are long behind us. We don’t appear to have the speed of thought or the know how to carve out quick through balls. Up top, we’re dying on our arse if Robin Van Persie picks up and inevitable 2 monther.

I thought Jenkinson looked very weak in the first half, his game brightened up in the 2nd, mainly due to the fact he didn’t need to defend too much. His crossing was pretty good and he looked far more comfortable. I like him, as does everyone else in the ground, he’s a tryer… I just can’t help but think he needs a months loan somewhere to sharpen up and get the mistakes out of his system. Apprenticeships shouldn’t be served in our first team.

Song was pretty solid in the holding role, however, he shouldn’t be bounding forward as our most advanced midfielder. That type of nonsense works for Barcelona because they’re all exceptional players, it doesn’t work for an Arsenal side that needs players to play their roles.

Arteta slipped into the background again, his weak handball didn’t do himself any favours, but generally speaking, his play was very average. I can’t see what he brings to the side at the moment. He’s ok at defending, he’s ok at passing, but where is the exceptional in his game? I can’t see any hint of Cesc replacement in his football? At the moment we need our experienced players to stand up and be counted, I don’t feel we’ve had that from the Spaniard yet.

Theo Walcott reverted back to infuriating yesterday, the lack of natural instinct for the game was on show for all to see yesterday, poor crossing, badly timed runs and just shoddy all round play really gave us final third efficiency problems. The same has to be said of Gervinho, he’s as good at going round players as he is at running into them and falling over. Though he bagged an assist early on, his contribution greatly faded as the game wore on. I shouldn’t be calling for Oxlade Chamberlain, but he seems like our most efficient forward player outside Robin at the moment.

I’m obviously overjoyed that we took the win, but I’m not willing to ignore the fact we made one of the worst teams in the league look pretty good at times. We needed to deliver a trouncing yesterday because Stoke, sadly will be far more clinical and far more nasty than the Mackems.

A win is a win though, we’re 10th in the league and for me, the only way is up, unless it’s down, but we don’t want to consider that!

P.S. I just wanted to say that the general moaning and griping is far, far worse in cattle class than it is in club level. I’ve never sat near someone who comes in 23 minutes late, bitches and moans, then leaves 12 minutes early. I mean honestly, what is the point in having a ticket if that’s your attitude? Still… at least he turned up. A terrible amount of empty seats considering a Sunday 1330 kick off is one of the easiest to turn up for.

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Ratings – 

Chezzer – Solid performance from the keeper. Not much he can do from class like that. My Gooner pal suggested he’s no good from long-range. He has the ‘David Seaman’ problem… debatable. 7.5

Jenko – A very weak first half where his mistakes could have cost us 2 goals against decent oppo. Grew with the second half from a defensive point of view. 6

Mertesacker – Assured performance from the big man. Confidence has grown, he was chasing down loose balls in front of the defence and he dominated in the air. 7.5

Koscielny – I really like him as a player but he is gaff prone. A good game today, covered right back well at times. 7

Gibbs/Santos – Didn’t really see too much from Gibbs bar a few sloppy passes. 6 Santos looked a yard faster than he did last time, he was very busy and he looked pretty solid to me. 7

Song – Stick to sitting in front of that back four. I liked  the fact he was trying to force the game, I didn’t like the fact he needed to. 6.5

Arteta – Has to bring more to the game than he is at the moment. That handball was dim… 5

Rosicky – Played solidly, he was sparky and he worked hard without ever delivering anything devastating going forward. 6.5

Robin – His genius keeps us away from completed averageness at the moment. I hope he’s sleeping in a cotton wool chamber being fed some sort of £2000 a litre life elixer to keep his body from disintegrating. 8.5

Walcott – A very poor game from the man who wants to be central. Everything was off for him today, the crowd are over the age thing with this contract dispute brewing and he has to start delivering consistently. 5

Gervinho – As I said earlier, the Adebayor of the wing.  Must sharpen up in the final 3rd. 6

 

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Finally, Arsenal vs Sunderland! | Wenger to buy players in Jan… yeah right!

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Good morning everyone! A very quick post today as I feel like I’ve written this preview about 168 times due to the total bore that is the International two weeks.

Yesterday saw one result go in our favour, United and Liverpool drew 1-1 in a game that I thought was pretty tame and lacking in quality. Steven Gerrard put the scousers ahead when he fired a low freekick through the United wall, shortly after, Chicarito headed a poachers chance past Reina. I appreciate that competing with United this year might be a little way off but catching Liverpool is well within our reach.

Luis Suarez has been accused of being a racist by world class muppet Patrice Evra. I’m not sure why you’d need to resort to racist comments to get under the skin of that idiot, but it’s a pretty massive thing to come out and say, it’ll be interesting to see if anything can be proved in that case, my guess is that it won’t. Nice mud-slinging Evra…

Arsene Wenger has been talking to the media outlets trying to build some confidence in his players. He reckons Mertesacker can become the new Tony Adams because he’s an intelligent player and he’s working on his aggression.

‘He said it was relentless (The Premiership). It is quicker than the football he is used to playing.’

‘But you can trust the Germans! He is adapting well. He is getting more aggressive. He is a very intelligent player and he will be a big asset to us. He is a little bit like Tony Adams. He is not one of the quickest but he uses his brain.’

I hope Wenger has that right, I think people are far too quick to write off players these days and I certainly think people have been too quick to write off the big German. He’s a great reader of the game and he’s come into a total shambles of a defence, it was always going to be a nightmare.

Wenger also thinks the rest of his signings are good, making the insightful comment that if your players lose games, people think they’re bad players. No sh*t Sherlock?

“People judge your buys quickly but I am happy with the buys we made. I’ve heard that Song is a bad buy, that [Thierry] Henry is a bad buy and over time they were not so bad. I’m not happy with the results but that is completely different.”

I’m not quite sure who the people were who said Thierry Henry was a bad player when he joined, regardless of his dodgy finishing, he came to Arsenal with pedigree and even when he was missing, he was doing it in electric style. Alex Song… well, Geoff still thinks he’s a bad player!

The coach did his usual just before Christmas statement of saying that if the two moons of Jupiter are correlated to the Star of Bergkamp, there’s a chance he could sign players in January. It’s standard that he has to say this even though we all know it’s not true… it takes the pressure off him and it allows people to say, ‘Look, I think he knows where he’s gone wrong this time and I’m pretty certain he’ll rectify it in January.’ I hold out zero hope of that happening.

I have no idea how we’re going to line up today, but it would be great if we could surprise Sunderland by starting the in form Park Chu-Young and dropping Robin Van Persie just deep of him. I doubt that will happen, so I’d imagine we’ll see a front three of Gervinho, Theo and Robin. In midfield, I’d be very tempted to give Benayoun a start. He’s a very good player and he’d certainly bring a little more spark to centre. Again though, if they’re fit, I’d say he’ll go for Song, Arteta and Rambo. At the back is the really tough decision, but I think Koscielny, Mertesacker, JD and Gibbs. In goal, the usual.

If Arsenal want to kick start our 5 game run with a bang, this is the chance. The team need to get the crowd on side, they need to show some fight out there and show they can be clinical in front of goal. A solid victory is what’s needed, not bumbling our way to a 1-0 win. Belief comes from dishing out a thumping, if we can’t do that to Sunderland today then we really should be asking questions of ourselves. Steve Bruce is getting very close to P45 time, it’d be a nicer Sunday if we knew we’d helped towards that, especially considering it’s Nik B’s club.

I’ll be heading up to the game today, hopefully we’ll have a great atmosphere today. This season, due to the total lack of expectation, I’ve found the ground a lot noisier and people in far better spirits. A continuation of that’d be marvellous!

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P.S. I have a spare for the game, if you want to make an offer, call the number in the first comment on the site, he just wants to shift it.

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Sunderland Preview | Wenger says no to England | Theo stays out wide

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Good morning everyone , I’m probably going to keep this one short, as I have next to no news to report on due to weak Internet access.

Wenger shattered the central dreams of many people who held on to the hope that Theo is a 40 goal a season striker waiting to break out. The boss defended his stance by saying Chamakh and Park played there (ouch). If Wenger is good at anything it’s getting the most out of strikers, if he doesn’t rate him there I’d imagine it’s because he’s not the best.

Keep him out on the wing I say, I don’t think he’s dynamic enough to play centrally. I’d imagine he’d end up changing our style to long ball… The last thing we need! I had a conversation with a colleague yesterday who thought the problem with Theo wasn’t so much about what he contributes, it’s more about the issue that he could clearly contribute far more…

“I think he can make a decisive impact in every single game,” he said. “Even in that game, you can say ‘OK he had not a great game’, maybe, but he was efficient. And that’s the problem.

“When you look at Theo, he’s a player who you think sometimes ‘he could have contributed more then’, but then you think ‘who scored the goal?’ Him. Or ‘who made the pass?’ It’s him. He’s a player who is efficient.”

Kind of summed up by Wenger in that last comment. Sure he can offer more, but if he’s setting up winners and scoring goals, you can’t be too harsh on him.

The boss was whoring out the right back position again, admitting Jenkinson has had some less than impressive games playing there.

“We have a young boy in the reserve team [Nico Yennaris], we have Andre Santos, who could eventually play there. Koscielny could play there, Djourou could play there. Certainly in the next three months some other players will have to play right-back because Jenkinson cannot play all the games.”

I think I’d be less concerned about sharing out the role and more concerned about getting some stability in there. I think we should go for Koscielny, he’s a defender first and foremost and we need that right now. I fear that if we play Jenkinson there, he’ll be targeted as a weak link, that’s not a pressure the unit can deal with at the moment. Mind you, the thought of JD in the side worried me, I can’t remember the last solid performance he had? My oh my, some tough decisions!

Oxo was mentioned again, Wenger is already talking him up for England. I do wish he wouldn’t fuel the hype machine, surely he should focus on maybe playing 10 games for Arsenal before we start selling him into the England set up.

Talking of England, the boss doesn’t want the job… Looks like it’s Harry’s failing a miracle! I’m still not sure Wenger will be with us next summer… Paris could look pretty alluring if this season continues to bomb.

Sunderland are the early kick off for us tomorrow, lucky for us Nik B and Gyan won’t be about, outside those two Sunderland are pretty toothless. Larsson is dangerous from set plays and because he’s still miffed we binned him off. Steve Bruce reckons they’re coming to attack, hopefully that’s not s vicious lie because our attack ain’t what it used to be when it comes to breaking down lower league 8 man defensive walls.

Midfield have got to work hard at feeding our front man and at the same time the front three have got to make sure they’re carving out runs for people like Arteta to aim for. We haven’t looked much like a team this year, tomorrow is a good chance to change that and start showing we can make top 4. We’ve only won one of our last 6 against this lot, so complacency and assumption have no place at the ground tomorrow. Which is why I’m predicting a 5-0 win to us.

Chezzer

Koz Mertesacker JD Gibbs

Arteta Song Ramsey

Theo Robin Gervinho

Hopefully the boys will give the crowd something to cheer about, just like I’m hoping the Welsh do when they take out the French this morning!

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