Özil is back | Big fitness tests ahead for Wenger

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Well a very good morning to you. I’ve returned, off the back of a victory to talk Aston Villa away.

The main thoughts before the game were as followed.

Arsenal: Better players, low confidence, fatigued

Villa: Worse players, high confidence, fresh

A better team and I’d have really been worried. The good news before the game was that Aston Villa had a virus rip through their camp. They lost their best centre back and an important midfielder before the game… as well as the impetus. From a psychological perspective, illness is a nice get out of jail card if you’re an average player.

The good news for us mostly sat around Ozil in the middle.

Well, the game started pretty strongly in Villa’s favour. They had the better chances in the opening half an hour. Chezzer shanked a kick down the middle, Delph (last year of his deal, energetic English midfielder anyone?) powered forward, played a one-two on the edge of the box and powered a low shot at the bottom corner, our boy doing a great job tipping round the post.

Welbeck opened our chances down the other end with a curling shot that went over. I like that he’s having a go at them, very Thierry like. Hopefully one will drop soon.

Villa had their best chance when Chambers clumsily challenged Agbonlohor for a freekick. The ball was whipped in at the back post, everyone missed in a red shirt, Clark connected but Chezzer spread well to make a super block at the back stick.

Then it clicked for us, 4 minutes of total madness.

The first goal came when WELBZ slotted Ozil through the middle, the German maintained composure to fire past Guzman.

The second goal was a reverse, Ozil outwide whipped a low dangerous ball into the box, WELBZ sniffed out the chance and guided that ball in for his first GOAL EVER FOR ARSENAL.


The third came courtesy of Villa, a speculative poor cross from Gibbs was turned in at the back stick Cissokho. A lovely finish that killed the  game.

The second half was played out in a very drab way. We stifled play, held possession well and kept Villa at bay. What did baffle me was the same old approach with substitutes. The game was totally dead. Villa couldn’t run. They had no interest in chasing the game. Yet Wenger waited until the 78th minute to make a change?

For me, this sums up problems to come and shows that the manager is still not grasping the psychological side of the game nor the fitness. He should have given players like Rosicky and Podolski a stretch of at least 25 minutes… and hell, why not get Abou out on the pitch? If he breaks down when we’re 3 up, no harm done.

Anyway, it is what it is with Arsene. The game finished with a clean sheet, a shot of confidence and a sexy three points on the board.

Concluding Points:

Jack Wilshere: At the moment, he should be starting in front of Aaron Ramsey (if we insist on Arteta). No doubt in my mind. He’s found his game, he works his bollocks off and he looks very much in control of his fitness. Outside his niggly attitude, which, let’s be honest, makes him the player we love…he’s been the better player this season. Aaron Ramsey just isn’t there for me. He’s playing like he’s a centre forward and he hasn’t looked anywhere near the destroyer he was last year. Is it the new found fame? Is it the modelling contracts? Who knows. He needs find himself again, because he’s been awful this season and he looks very much like that Aaron of two seasons ago.


‘Hold on, you played him through the middle and he looked way better?’

Yeah, that’s a shocker! He looked much more comfortable yesterday. He helped the game tick over. He was more involved. He made himself visible. He made me forget about Cesc… which is important. Every time someone says, ‘Pete, do you regret saying Cesc going to Chelsea was ok?’… I jar a little. You see, Cesc is one of my fave players of all time. I know he’s a champion. I know he could have been a champion for us. But, I also know Ozil could do the same if he pulled his head out of his backside. I also know the only way he’ll do that is if he’s played in that hole. Hopefully we’ll see more of the German now…

Chambers: Feel like he’s getting exposed a little bit at the moment. His game is going to be up and down. Yesterday, he was lucky not to pick up a red card. He seems a little off the pace at times. Which is to be expected considering his youth. I really think we need to look after him. A teenager taking a beasting in the first team isn’t on for me. But hey, what options do we have? Not many…

OXLADE: Finally he lands a start. I absolutely love this boy. He’s direct, he’s strong, he works hard and he brings ALL the energy to the starting 11. He has an infectious spirit on the pitch. If he can keep fit this season, I feel like he (along with Jack) can make Rambo like progress strides this season. When Theo returns, which realistically, to a level where he’s relevant will likely be early November, we have dangerous amounts of pace.

WELBZ: Again, really starting to enjoy him in the starting 11. When you see him in the flesh, you’re shocked at his frame. He’s a big lad, he’s packed with pace and he finds positions on the pitch that make you think he could be something a bit special. He misses the chances, but that’s a good thing (follow me here). Better to be in position to miss, because it shows you have instinct… than to not get the chances (Soldado).

Chezzer: I’m not his biggest fan, you know this, but that save at the near back post from the freekick early on was a bit special and a bit important. If we’d gone 1-0 at that stage, it would have been tough.

Moving forward: The next few weeks are going to be fascinating. Why? Because this is when we find out what the new fitness regime is all about. Or, whether there is a new regime at all. We have Southampton on Tuesday. It’s the Capital One Cup. It’s a game we should be using to blood sidelined players. It’s a game we should be using rest more senior players. Don’t even invite them to the game, let them have some time off. Let them catch up on X Factor.

Then it’s Spurs home on Saturday. A massive game. Spurs will be a different beast this year under Pochettino. They’ll have a better plan and they’ll cause us more problems. 3 points would be very, very good. Point is, 0ur form will be very much tested on Saturday. Then we take the Champions League on with Gala at home. Chelsea take on Sporting the day before away, which gives us a bit of an advantage because there’s no travel. Though we do have one less day recovery.

Then it’s up to Wenger how he plays it after. Will he beast the players before the game like it appeared he had last season when we were absolutely tanked at The Bridge? Or will he be smart about the preparation? If we go to Chelsea dead on our feet like we did at Leicester and Everton, it could be a very painful game. If we learn the lessons of last season, then hopefully we’ll arrive at all games more prepared physically. A fit and firing Arsenal will ask questions. A dead team won’t. Simple as that.

The major, major concern for me with the Chelsea game in particular is the preparation that goes into our tactical game. Who is going to stand up to Arsene and tell him we need a game plan? Who is going to sit with the players and tell them what is what? Who is going to insist that we bring an element of surprise to The Bridge?

Big moments are coming… buckle up.


618 Responses to “Özil is back | Big fitness tests ahead for Wenger”

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  1. Wallace


    true, although in any other world apart from the crazy world of football this would be seen as a positive, healthy thing. but yeah, no excuse for not getting either, or both, of a CB or DM this summer.

  2. qna

    @Wallace – we’ve got 40-50m to spend in Jan.

    Another way to look at is, we had 56-66m to spend up until the last day of the summer window. Instead of buying a world class striker, a CDM and a backup CB, we bought a 2nd rate United reject for 16m and left our defense exposed for the first half of the season at least.

  3. Dark Hei

    “Dont you think there is a direct relationship to the $$ not spent to the poor results on the pitch?”

    qna, the answer to your question is that we have no right to do so. Because the company isn’t exactly making $$ we can’t be asking it to spend more. But that is in principal (the follow up is as per below). In other words, we can’t exactly say that the club isn’t spending enough $$, when they are breaking even, barely.

    “Would you keep a rainy day fund for in case you have to pay for your credit cards and mortgage when your basement is leaking?”

    Answer is no. We needed a CB and under exceptional circumstances, it would have been prudent to take a hit on the P/L.


    I will go read that, thanks for the link guys.

  4. Radio Raheem

    What’s funny is that winning stuff correlates with spend on wages not transfers. So going by Swiss Ramble’s estimates if we utiltise our capacity on wage spend (he estimates £192m) we’ll be only behind the Manchester clubs and should, theoretically, stand a better chance of winning than Chelsea.

  5. Dark Hei


    That’s what I meant when I say that that what we should be looking at are results and not just spending. Wenger does have a big wage budget despite a transfer budget that is designed to keep Arsenal in the black. I won’t go so far to say that we should theoretically stand a better chance than Chelsea since they got into their position by breaking the bank into pieces and are clearly enjoying the benefits of their past actions, presently. But we shouldn’t be so big underdogs.

    We have big enough talents in our books to go toe to toe with the best. The rest is up to Wenger.

  6. Gregg

    Interesting comments re Welbeck; a second rate UTD reject. I guess we should have got Balotelli, a 3rd rate Citeh reject. Come May, I know who’ll be thinking they’ve got the better deal and it won’t be the scousers.

  7. Bergkamplegend

    Goooooooooooooood morning you Grovers.

    “we’ve got 40-50m to spend in Jan.”

    “Spend in january” ?? Always good to start the week with a good joke. 🙂

  8. Jim Lahey

    We really need to step up our secondary sponsors, like United with chevrolet.

    United really are a money making machine, you can see how they can go out and drop £250m in a year.

  9. Emiratesstroller

    There are quite a few lessons to be learned from this weekend and not just at

    1. Liverpool bought wholesale this summer just like Tottenham did the year
    before. It may have strengthened their squad, but not their first team which
    has already lost 3 games

    2.Man Utd may have bought a lot of so-called ‘galaticos’ and spent an absolute
    fortune this summer, but they don’t look better than a mid table team.
    The manager has completely neglected his defence which needs more
    attention than elsewhere in team.

    3. Chelsea and Man City were much more selective in their acquisitions. They
    brought in players that they needed.

    4. Arsenal have made some decent acquisitions, but in my view need to focus
    in next two transfer windows on strengthening the dm and defensive
    positions. This should be selective and not just buying for sake of it. I see
    that Khedira is once again on agenda. Personally I would now be reluctant
    to buy him, because he is once again injured.

    My personal view is that the club should concentrate on having a smaller but
    better quality squad. This should include perhaps 18 high grade outfield players who can interchange and then an additional two to three really outstanding youngsters who can cut their teeth in less demanding games.

    Next weekend’s game against Spuds should be interesting. I wonder whether
    Walcott might be added to squad for first time.

  10. Gregg


    By the start of next season we will need two additions in the central midfield area for Arteta and Flamini and a CB. I think Chambers’ size isn’t conducive to playing full-back. It’s also a very big year for Gibbs as he is not too far away from being in Diaby’s bracket when it comes to reliability. In the 3 years he’s been first choice, he’s missed 43 league games ! – That is staggering.