Back in your box Spurs | Gnabry emerges as superstar | Rosicky, the golden oldie!

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There’s nothing more exciting than writing a match report so packed with smugness you can almost taste the stuff (like cinnamon). I probably won’t go into too much granular detail about the game as most of you saw it, I’ll just pick on key points in what was a very special afternoon.

The Line Up

Initial thoughts were that the line up wasn’t particularly balanced. That wasn’t a negative comment, because I was actually pleased that Arsene had clearly taken a lot of trust from the rotation at the Cardiff game… and not only that he’d taken key learnings. What I’m enjoying about this seasons Arsene is he’s taking intelligent real time decisions, rather than learned ones.

First major play was moving Theo into the middle. He saw that Podolski, a player who easily falls out of favour under Arsene, was hopeless through the middle in the last game, so rather than give him 7 cracks at the whip, he slipped Theo in who made a far bigger impact through the middle in the Cardiff match.

At the back, he played Sagna over Jenkinson because he recognised the wide threat of Spurs was too much for a player prone to switching off. He stuck with the impressive Monreal at left back. Through the middle, he made the big shout of Kos and Vermaelen. Two players who don’t quite fit together as a pairing.

The final positions were occupied by Cazorla, and Gnabry, What could the young German do in a massive game?

Midfield was Jack, Arteta and Rosicky.

I think Spurs made one change from their game at United. Bentalob? Anyway, that immediately got me excited because although we had a weaker side (compared to our strongest side, not Spurs) we’d have the fresher legs. Which as you’ll know, is usually the defining factor in game of two teams with similar quality.

The Game

I haven’t had the chance to see it back really, but my thoughts were that we pretty much controlled proceedings the whole way through the first half. I had a feeling it was going to a be a good day for us when Ade went through on goal early on. Koscielny followed him and nicked the ball away when he felt like it.

Theo actually worked really well in the central position. Now, I couldn’t work out whether we’d done some tactical work, or Theo is actually a far more intelligent footballer than we give him credit for, but he seemed to throw the Spurs back line
off key by playing quite deep. Instead of Arsenal going over the top looking for him, Theo would pick the ball up in-between the midfield and defence and run at them… looking for the long shot.

Was he trying to counter the ‘quick off the line’ Lloris?

Who knows, but he’d had a fair few shots by the time the first half had finished.

Gnabry was the star of the first half for me. I can’t remember the last time we had two pace demons in the team. But having both he and Theo in the front line made for a tough night for the Spurs backline. Gnabry is comfortable with the ball at his feet, he has excellent vision for the pass, he’s bold with his shooting and his touch is magical at times. He was at the heart of all our good play. He was running the show from wherever he picked the ball up. His link up play with Theo was superb.

… and he’s only 18.

Another man turning the wheels of business on the pitch was Thomas Rosicky. For the last three seasons he’s been one of our most important players. He’s our assister of the assist man. He drives the team forward and keeps the pace ticking over in the same way Flamini does. He seems to be really enjoying his game at the moment.

Thomas Vermaelen made a really terrible challenge on Dembele, his fellow countryman, that he didn’t apologise for… and he took a yellow. Immediately we could see Mertesacker warming up on the sidelines. We weren’t sure whether it was a tactical sub or he’d strained something… but the fear for us was he’d be targeted in the second half.

We went into half time a goal up courtesy of a great move from Gnabry who slipped Cazorla into space… the Spaniard kept his shot under the bar as he smashed across Lloris to put us one up. A tremendous goal. What a superstar Gnabry was looking!

The second half started with a change, Vermaelen went off for Mertesacker. The last thing the Spurs attack wanted to see.

Gnabry continued to impress, he dropped his shoulder, cut inside his man and threaded Theo in who could only shoot into the side netting.

Our next goal came unexpectedly. Thomas Rosicky chased down a lost cause, Danny Rose (the muppet who scored from about 30 yards against us a few seasons ago), he won it, found himself 30 yards ahead of the pack… he ran, Spurs players closing in on him, before deftly chipping Lloris.

We all lost our minds in the crowd, I nearly went over the row in front. The poor lady next to me was hugged into the melee… total carnage in the stands! If ever a man deserved a goal like that, it was Super Tom Rosicky!

Iconic Gesture

Iconic Gesture

Arsenal made some changes, we brought on Flamini (for Jack?) and Ozil entered for an injured The (he didn’t, I missed that he went off and we had ten men). As Theo went off, the Spurs fans threw coins at him (whilst on a stretcher), the England wideman gestured 2-0 at them… which incited hooligan type launches for pitch. Totally embarrassing. What’s even more pathetic is the press reaction. I think the Daily Mail ran with ‘Theo gesture sours result’… no it didn’t. If fans can collectively sing about a players mum being a slag, then they can man up and deal with friendly banter back (both ways). That goes for all fans. We piss and moan about the sterile atmosphere in grounds these days… ban players for making it lively, we might as well all go home.

Anyway, the second half was more about holding onto the result. Have you ever seen an Arsene team comfortable sitting back an absorbing pressure? The fans were comfortable too…

‘Sherwood is a Gooner’
‘He left cause you’re shiiiiittttttt’
‘We won the league, at White Hart Lane

The game played out, we took the win, and a level of reality has been restored to White Hart Lane. The emergence of a new star, the iconic gesture of Theo Walcott, an easy win and another hat tip to well thought out rotation.

Concluding Points

We’ll be seeing more of Gnabry in the second half of the season for sure. He hasn’t let us down since his first game against Schalke. He fits our style, he gives us additional pace. He’s already weighing in with decisive contributions and he’s fresh as a daisy.

Theo Through The Middle

He was brilliant yesterday, but I think we have to look at who we were playing. They allowed Theo to be that good. I don’t think many teams would give him that space normally. However, he showed great intelligence and proved he can play other styles bar hanging off the last man. I just think against Chelsea, if he was playing deep, he’d have a Ramires on him all game. If he was playing off the last man, he’d get bullied and he wouldn’t have the tools to bring other players into the game.

… but for certain games, he’s a very good option.

Rosicky

I pushed the case hard in the summer for him to have a new deal, and he’s delivering again. He’s not going to be able to play three games a week, but what he can do is pull in a performance when asked. Mourninho loves older players because they know their time is limited, so you get the most out of their work rate and the most out of their experience. We can’t keep binning experienced players. He’s been brilliant for the past three seasons. Again, yesterday, he was top notch.

Defensive Accountability

Something I’ve complained about for years is accountability as a team for defending. Though it isn’t always comfortable viewing, we’ve had plenty of games this year where we’ve been able to conserve energy by simply soaking up possession. That’s a massive step change in Arsene Wenger thinking. His approach to defence pre-Steve Bould was that the opposition can’t score without possession. That’s slowly changed to… the opposition can’t score if you’re a well oiled defensive unit as a team.

Rotation

A lot of people slammed the idea of rotation yesterday based on the 9 day break we now have coming up. This premise is caveman like in it’s logic. Spurs didn’t rest players yesterday, and you could see it. To most, it looked like they couldn’t be bothered, but if you think about their schedule, it was about being ruined. Adebayor was so far off the pace I barely recognised him. Arsenal on the other hand had players like Theo, Rosicky, Gnabry and Monreal who were all chomping at the bit.

Risking long term injury for one game because there’s a break is a stupid premise, especially if the last 3 games have seen the loss of Ramsey, Giroud and Gibbs as well as dips in form for Ozil (and injury, which I think was impact related), along with the dangerous fitness situations of key men like Per Mertesacker and Sagna.

If we’re going to win the league, or a cup, we’re going to have to do it with the full squad. Yesterday was a perfect example of fringe players coming in and slamming their stake in the ground for more playing time. In seasons past, the fringe didn’t have the attitude to beat a strong Spurs side.

Now we’re over the hurdle of Spurs. We have 9 days break. We’re then playing a woeful Villa side. A team you could argue we have beaten before we start.

For me, I’d be resting Per Mertesacker again. I’d be setting loose Gnabry and I’d probably look to rest Sagna. You don’t need your best side for every game as proven by yesterday.

Transfer Window

We need to fill some positions over the next month. I’m not sure how it’s going to pan out. People in the game think we have Morata on loan. Berbatov wasn’t in the Fulham side yesterday. There’s talk of taking Manzukic on loan. To be honest, I think this January is a pick and mix month. I’m unsure whether there’s a plan.

I think we need a centre midfielder and a striker. Ideally a right back if we know Sagna is going in the summer. We’ll see though. Wenger is always reluctant to take the leap of faith you often need to when it comes to winning trophies. The money is there, the players will be there… it’s up to us to make it happen.

Wenger’s Contract

I read somewhere he wouldn’t be getting a payrise and that his new deal would be heavily incentivised. If this is true, it’s a masterstroke from Ivan Gazidis. It’s a gentle way of reaffirming the roles of each person. Ivan takes care of the business, Arsene takes care of the trophies. Money has consistently been proven as weak motivator for success… but I think in Arsene’s case, it’s a great way of repositioning his role.

The Fans

Hopefully the Arsenal crowd are shifting opinion when it comes to the ‘library’ comment that follows us around. The Spurs fans were so quiet yesterday. Quite amazing considering there were 5k of them!

I’ve got to know the guys and girls around me this season and it feels like far more of a community than it has done in seasons past.

We sang all game, when the ball was out of play we sang at each other. Red Action had their banners our pregame. The place was buzzing compared to any ground. Fans react to what they see. What we’re seeing is the club match our ambition, we’re seeing a manager shift slowly out of his stubborn ways and we’re seeing players step up and say ‘I want my own song’… this season has been a pleasure.

Long may it continue!

See you in the comments!

375 Responses to “Back in your box Spurs | Gnabry emerges as superstar | Rosicky, the golden oldie!”

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  1. Gunnershabz

    Watching gervinho the African Ronaldo he is happy and loving serie a it’s not intense and fast like ours but he still has those errors in him like being offside when not needed but he can carry the ball long way

  2. MarbleHall

    Arsenal had to fight for a top 4 berth in the run in last season and only secured it on the final day of the season.

    They had immense pressure as proven by the euphoric celebrations given on the final day of the season.

  3. N5

    Toli I do mate yes, annoyingly yesterday was the first time we didn’t go up there in years. I’ll be up there at the next game mate if you fancy a pint! What did you make of it up there?

  4. WengerEagle

    The Premiership and ironically La Liga are now the only interesting major leagues to watch RE the title races, Juventus and Bayern both completely dominating Serie A and the Bundesliga respectively

  5. N5

    you sure do Toli, it’s a great pub though although the beer is orrible. The day of the next home game I’ll comment on here what time I’ll be there and it would be wicked to have a pint with you mate. I look forward to it, hopefully we can get Romford and KJ down there some day too.

  6. Jake

    Roma are their main rivals and down to nine, I don’t understand why Juve aren’t pressuring them like mad to try and knock a couple more in and take the momentum away from Roma entirely.

  7. Romford Pele

    I’d say napoli pose a bigger threat because of their attacking options. Still Juve will win it you’d imagine.

    Poor Milan 🙁

  8. Bacaryisgod

    MarbleHall,

    Don’t understand what point you trying to make.

    That the other top teams are weaker than lat season. Agreed-it certainly looks that way.

    But if you’re saying Arsenal are weaker than last season, not sure where you get that from. Looks like we’ve exchanged Gervinho for Ozil and Flamini and seen an improvement in Giroud and Ramsey.

    Between the above, it looks like we’re in pretty good shape moving forward into part 2 of the season.

  9. N5

    toli you went down on a Spud day too which is always a little more lively, they smashed it up a while back because that’s where the Herd drinks but they’re so gutless they did it when it was closed! but ever since it’s always packed silly on derby day ready for if it kicks off. I’ve never drunk down at Baileys before, I used to drink in Che’s a before I drunk at the George, I think its call El Comandante’s now though.

  10. Sam

    Give Sagna new contract n promote bellerin next year
    It will be silly to let him go as wengEr won’t buy a new right back.
    Plus. Sagna is the best 4th CB in the world

  11. Bacaryisgod

    By the way MarbleHall, only a troll would be so selective with their use of statistics.

    This time last season we had 34 points from 20 games. This season we have 45 points. Forget to mention that, right?

  12. Leedsgunner

    Come 12 February we better not lose to the jokers known as Man United… (Hereby to be called, “the Aston Villa of the North”.) How did we ever manage to lose to such a poor side?

    I used to SAY Man United was rubbish in part because I was part envious of their success. BUT now they really ARE rubbish. Absolutely fabulous!

    Do I feel sorry for Man United? NO. NO. NO…. and just in case you missed it, NOOOOOO!

    MOYES IN.

  13. El Tel

    And still Le Grove is infested with Manc lovers. Fuck em. Hope they rot. Had enough of the biggest Club in the world myth.

    They were buying titles for years. Clearly they were no better than what you see right now but with their Gangster Manager and MD being Chairman of the FA it was impossible to play them on a level playing field.

    That Guy who slagged the team off for losing to them forget to mention that we had a weakened team AGAIN and most of the Lads had Flu.

    Fuck em.

    Anyone still want Moaninhio? He is more deluded than Wenger ever has been. In fact He is an Has Been. Special One is more special needs.

    Like Lemmon for the Spuds divers need to be sent off.

    COYG

  14. Leedsgunner

    Sagna AND Rosicky on extended contracts would actually be like NEW SIGNINGS… ;). Come on Bacary and Tomàs… SIGN DA TING!

  15. Bacaryisgod

    Sam-Arsene wants to give them both contracts but the issue is length of contract. Rosicky might not be as big a problem, but Bacary wants three years and we want two years. I have a feeling it will get sorted. Remember how most people thought Theo was running his down. Slightly different situation but it’s clear both manager and player respect each other. If he does leave, the only thing that would really sting is if he went to City who would probably be wiling to piss away money on a third year even if they don’t use him so they can get good value for the first two years. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen as he epitomizes everything good about a professional footballer.

  16. Sam

    Our front players for the second part of the season:

    Walcott, Gnabry , podolski, giroud, chamberlain,

    Yes you are right we need one more
    Bendtner n sanogo don’t count, park chu young should leave wenger simply doesn’t like him hope he joins chamakh at palace or somewhere.
    We need one more striker n hope wenger doesn’t use bendtner to avoid spending this January

  17. Bacaryisgod

    I know some people wanted a Man U draw to keep them tired but I like them out of the cup. My next wish is for Chelsea vs Man City in the fifth round. Right now, there will be at least 7 Premier League teams out of the competition after the 3rd round and by the 5th round no more than 12 Premier League teams will be left out of the last 16.

    It’s almost 100% chance that a Premier League team will win it and really only 5 teams in total with a realistic chance (Arsenal, Chelsea, Man City, Liverpool, Everton).

  18. jasongms

    Great post there VP … absolutely agree !

    ‘’I read somewhere he wouldn’t be getting a payrise and that his new deal would be heavily incentivized. If this is true, it’s a masterstroke from Ivan Glazidis. It’s a gentle way of reaffirming the roles of each person’’

    “You seem like a smart man Pedro. Do you honestly think that Wenger won’t be stipulating his own terms -to the sentence? As I’m sure you know, a performance related contract is nothing new-every organization that aspires to be successful implements them.A mastertsroke it certainly isn’t. Just another political maneuver from the people up top to derive a perception that the company complies with codes of best practice. We all know who really calls the shots. It’s too late in the day to start reaffirming roles. We will always be an insider- dominated -organization which does its up most to limit transparency and accountability at strategic level. The recent appointment of our new Non-exec (Kroenke’s son) just confirms this. The club will always be run first and foremost for the benefit of its owners and the roles within our club will continue to remain unorthidox to prevent this from becoming apparent. “

  19. gnarleygeorge9

    Gnarley Loves Gnabry 🙂

    Pedro,

    I think The Arsenal can win The Premier League this season, just like in May I stated on social media that we would have OUR urn back by January, which we did 5-0(Imust admit i didn’t count on total capitulation 🙂 ).

    Now we all take things out of games, moments in time that we take as a sign. The thing that sticks out in my mind about the Spurs FA Cup fixture took place in the tunnel as the players were coming out. Santi was laughing & having a joke with an oposition player, & Jacky Wilshire put his hands firmly on both shoulders to what looked like a friendly reminder of what was at stake.

    That leadership & that English/homegrown knowledge that Jacky W has for the significance of each pending game will go a long way to making The Arsenal Champions. It could be the missing ingredient from the last 8 campaigns

  20. Jeff

    Salman,

    We’ve all been asking the same question. I think the general consensus is that we bottled it because of the long standing battering and bad luck experienced against Man U over the years. However, I expect they’d be at full strength with Rooney and Van Persie back when they face us at the Emirates. We should still beat them though. The same goes for Man City.

  21. Romford Pele

    Jan Aage Fjortoft, the guy who broke the Ozil story first, still believes we’re favourites to sign Draxler. He says that Wenger and Draxler talk all the time. Apparently he’s already visited Arsenal’s training ground and likes the German contingent here.

    The only real problem is that like Chambo, he’s playing wide when he wants to play in the middle. How Wenger would work it all is down to him of course. But attacking players like Ox, Ozil, Gnabry, Draxler with wilshere and Rambo behind is very exciting indeed.

  22. Nasri's Mouth

    Unless we make Draxler into a striker, which seems unlikely, he would come into a very crowded part of the squad.

    he’s a great player, but £40m on a striker would be a bigger upgrade than £40m on an attacking midfielder

  23. TheBayingMob

    To be fair we went up to old Trafford off a very big run of games and with illness taking the team out before hand too. We went to City after another big run, while there’s no excuse for shipping six it is very tough to go away in the PL a few days after being away in Europe, both times we’d been away in Europe. We’ve still got big aways to come (Liverpool, Chelsea, Scum, Everton) but we’ve done the Manc part which has to be an advantage??

  24. TheBayingMob

    Wally Wskvott out for a month early reports say, he can hold bendtner’s hand on the treatment table… Possible missed games:-

    Villa (A)
    Fulham (H)
    Coventry (H) – FAC
    Southampton (A)
    Crystal Palace (H)

    All doable IMO, Scouse cunts away after that though …

  25. Romford Pele

    NM, True but Draxler is an unreal talent. It’s one of those where you may regret passing him up later. I also have an inkling that one, maybe two from TR7, Poldi and Santi won’t be here next season.

  26. Charlie Boy

    Loving @MarbleHall’s constant delving into the past to slate The Arsenal.

    Sorry to tell you, but we’re in the present and things are looking pretty good so far!

    Now I’m all for genuine debate about the club we love, but to constantly look for negatives and put-downs – you’re either Bi Polar or you’re not a fan of this club.

    In the words of a 1950’s gentleman “Off is the direction I’d like you to fukk.”

  27. Nasri's Mouth

    @RP

    If Draxler came in then one of those would need to leave. Podolski maybe, he’d probably recoup the most cash.

    But if Draxler costs £40m, and we have to spend £10m+ on a Sagna replacement, then how much is left for a striker?

    And would it mean Arteta / Flamini covering that DM spot for another season?

  28. Romford Pele

    Charlie,

    Been a few murmurings that he’s homesick and that his wife isn’t particularly happy here, could be wrong though. Also, while I do like him, he struggles to impact the biggest games at times due to his lack of athleticism. I think he’s great obviously but at 29 he isn’t gonna improve much whereas Draxler has a very high ceiling. Not that I’m advocating a sale.

  29. Romford Pele

    NM,

    Haven’t really worked out the full ins and outs tbh.

    It’s Wenger so he could easily not sign a RB and just promote Bellerin. It’s a risk but he’s done something like that before. Like you, I’d like a replacement but who knows, Sagna may still sign on. Contract talks are progressing well according to Wenger.

    I guess it all depends how much you thin we can spend. With all our new commercial deals and the increase in season tickets, where is the money going? Has to be spent on transfers for me and I’d like a DM to come in as well and it believe the money is there for that. Of course I’m speaking hypothetically so nobody really knows.

  30. Nasri's Mouth

    Sherwood : “I didn’t see us playing 4-4-2, we just had 11 numbers on the field and tried to rotate and fill up every area of the field. I think it is very, very – I don’t know what you are saying about 4-4-2…”

    Christ, they’ve got this bloke in charge till the end of next season!

  31. Romford Pele

    Lol NM, Sherwood is a Gooner so leave him alone! If he wants to kill Spurs from the inside, that’s fine by me!

  32. Romford Pele

    Wenger confirming that he looked at Lewandowski but said the deal wit Bayern was done a year and a half ago!

  33. Nasri's Mouth

    @RP

    I guess I’m thinking of it from a economic view, after all, we’ve got a load of cash, but it’s not an endless supply.

    Still, we all know Wenger loves an attacking midfielder.

  34. Dissenter

    Morning y’all
    The prognosis on Theo’s knee has to be poor. No way he’ll be stretchered off 10 mins from time in a key game if it weren’t serious. Initially I thought Arsenal were playing mind games in case he got suspended, but after seeing the replays, hmmm.
    Now we have to buy.

  35. Dissenter

    We need a Henrik Larsen style character who will be comfortable as a loan player for 5 months. One that won’t mind staying on the bench for 80 mins.
    Rumor mills in Italy are reporting that Dinatale at Udinesse has been contacted.

  36. samsensible

    I share NM’s concern over the Draxler sum. Flippin’ Heck it’s a lot of money for a position we have good depth in.

    I get he’s a superb talent but unless we are planning on spending £100m + between now and August 31st it does seem a colossal portion of our money.

    If Santi or Pod is going then it would make more sense…

  37. peanuts&monkeys

    I have not read any comments to this post. I am straightaway heading to take a bow at Rosicky. He is such a super player. He plays his heart out most of the times. Wish him all the luck for rest of the season. Want him to scroe more goals, take more shots at goal, take more chances than passing to the tactless, skill-less strikers Wenger has in his Arsenal.

  38. goonerboy

    Walcott out for 6 months min- massive loss-just when he was showing glimpses of looking a player-just hope Wenger realises he does need to buy some forwards now.
    Will Walcott come back as fast?

  39. Bermy boy

    Wenger won’t purchase anyone because he has Gnarby ,Podolski and Cazorla to fling about out wide.Giroud will continue as our number one striker and we will play him off his feet as usual.What you all don’t get Is that Bendy IS our new striker although number two.

    Wenger code.