Arsenal. WINNING ALL THE GAMES but underlying issues still present

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Good morning kids – James here with a match report for your enjoyment and entertainment. As a diligent and conscientious person, I have of course agonised over this blog and spent hours perfecting it; however I could have easily cut and pasted my last two match reports from QPR and Crystal Palace. I know a win, is a win, is a win, etc. however I am longing for a thrill-free, comfortable win away from home. It would be remiss to whine when, really it’s the three points that matters, but we could make life far easier for ourselves (and our hearts/ lucky white y-fronts, which aren’t particularly white anymore).

In terms of team news, Ozil was missing through illness – he certainly has the willowy appearance of a man with a weak immune system. It was a shame he couldn’t play given his brilliant recent form, but a full week off will benefit him. At the back, Chambers came in for Hector at right back, who looked spent in midweek, whilst Gabriel came in for Per.

The first half was very enjoyable indeed, as we created chances aplenty, whilst pressing Newcastle high up the pitch. Gabriel’s pace was integral to this tactic, with his pace, combined with Koscielny’s, allowing us to take a few extra risks. Coq was doing a great job, plugging holes (geddit) all over the pitch. Alexis was taking their left back to the cleaners and playing well; whilst Giroud was doing what he’s done all season – holding the ball up, linking play and bullying defenders.

Both of our goals came in quick succession from set pieces – which we score from far more often than is perceived. The first was a Santi free kick which WELBZ flicked goalwards, with the hunkish Gaellic god diverting the ball into the net off his thigh/ massive manhood. It was an instinctive finish and one of a man in a great vein of form. The second followed several minutes later, with Giroud holding off Williamson to head Santi’s corner past Sloth of the Year 2012, Tim Krul.

The rest of the half was comfortable. Newcastle created very little, whilst Arsenal created – and missed – chances. As the players went in for their halftime oranges and bumps of chizz, I couldn’t help but feel fearful of a Newcastle backlash in the second half; with missed chances coming back to haunt us.

It made a strong, concentrated start to the half essential. If only. Within two minutes, the barcodes had pulled one back through Sissokho – who is a very good player indeed. The goal was poor from our point of view, particularly from Nacho who has been superb over the last three months. Cabella was closed down by Nacho and Coq and played a give-and-go. Clearly, Monreal should have followed the Frenchman, but he allowed him to run in behind unopposed. His cross found Sissokho unmarked and his first time finish left Ospina rooted to the spot. It was disappointing to see one of their midfielders in so much space, with the freedom of our box with no one within a metre of him.

Something of an onslaught then followed, with us completely pegged back and unable to hold onto the ball. Most concerning of all was how exhausted our players looked – Santi could barely run before he was hooked after 65 minutes. Alexis went off along with Santi and he has the look of a man who is desperate for a rest. This seemed like an opportune time to do it, given he will be away on international duty with Chile before the visit of Liverpool, which he is likely to start. Regardless of your views on him, Theo Walcott is a very viable option to start games and I don’t understand why Alexis played from the start yesterday. Perhaps Ozil’s omission forced Wenger’s hand and he felt we needed to retain a level of star quality in the side. Rotation is so important in top-level football and it isn’t an Arsenal-only problem – look at Chelsea whose form has dropped off a cliff recently. All and sundry had pointed out Mourinho was constantly playing his best eleven with minimal rotation and now those chickens have come home to roost.

At the back, I thought Gabriel was really excellent yesterday. He was composed under pressure and used the ball intelligently; whilst he is aggressive in his defending, often knicking ahead of the forward to win the ball. I was impressed and the signs are promising. I was less impressed by Calum Chambers however, who really isn’t a right back. Firstly, he isn’t quick enough and more importantly, he adopts a far too upright position when he’s jockeying the winger, which makes him easy to beat. I like Chambers a lot and think he’ll be a top player for Arsenal, but if he is to really make it, it will be at centre half. Debuchy’s return after the international break, along with Bellerin’s progress, should consign Chamber’s right back outings to the bare minimum.

Fortunately we managed to see out the rest of the game, despite some very pooey-panty moments. Ospina made a bizarre save from a Newcastle header, where he flapped like a seal in a circus, whilst Ayoze Perez was a constant threat. He looks a real talent and his movement was superb yesterday. We just couldn’t keep the ball in the closing periods, but we did create chances. Krul saved from Bellerin at the death, whilst an incredible surge of pace and power from WELBZ put him through on goal, only to hit the shot straight at the keeper. To much relief we saw it out and got the three points.

In spite of the gripes over the energy levels and second half performance, that was a massive win. Looking at our fixture list, this was the game I felt could be a potential banana skin and given Liverpool and Utd face off this afternoon, it was critical we retained some space between the chasing pack and ourselves. With regard to that game, clearly a draw would be the best result; but if pressed to choose, I would prefer a Liverpool win. Seeing United miss out on the top four would be utterly delicious, given their wild expenditure and hiring of the second coming to manage them.

We are one point behind City now, so second is feasible, but with a tough game at home to Liverpool next we should take nothing for granted. If we are to retain that pressure on City, you feel Giroud will be pivotal to that. He’s a man at the peak of his powers at the moment and has stepped it up massively since his injury. For the first time in his Arsenal career, he has started to bully defenders and use his physicality – the flicky wrists have been demoted to a thing of the past. His goals have been crucial too, which have been scored at an impressive rate. I know he isn’t a Suarez or Aguero, but I genuinely wouldn’t swap him for any other number nine in the league on present form (except Aguero, of course). He still has the odd stinker in him, ala Monaco at home, but he’s an excellent centre forward who crucially acts as a totem for the likes of Alexis and Ramsey to run off, which makes us a better side. Plus he’s a thing of beauty, chiselled from oak and hibiscus plants – delicious.

Someone who could also be pivotal in our run-in is David Ospina. He seems like a jolly nice fellow. He’s quite short and a bit chubby, which makes him seem genuinely cuddly. He’s from Columbia. He’s a got an extremely irritating chant. He’s an okay goalkeeper. But that’s it – he should not be the first choice goalkeeper at Arsenal. His distribution is terrible – he seems to struggle to kick the ball passed the halfway line on most occasions and his reluctance to play the short game is very odd. There has been a lot of debate on Twitter over the last 12 hours or so and several Twitterati made the point Ospina is a non-risk taking goalkeeper, in the mould of Shay Given who stays rooted to his line. This is a fair assessment in my view. Ospina is lily livered in some respects, whereas despite his faults, Szczęsny can never be accused of cowardice. His performance at West Ham away is a prime example, where he was brave and claimed almost every long ball in the box to negate Andy Carroll’s threat. Ospina doesn’t have a performance like that in his armoury and in my view, can’t do anything that Szczęsny can’t. From what I’ve heard, a new goalkeeper is at the top of our shopping list this summer and if it means Ospina doesn’t play, I’m all for it.

To finish, there have been rumours over the last week regarding the future of two of our ‘British core’. During his last contract saga, Theo was frequently linked with Liverpool and so it continues this time around. From his point of view, it would make sense. He grew up as a Liverpool supporter, they’d probably pay him more than we’ve offered and he’s more likely to get game time, particularly if Sterling leaves this summer. It would be a shame to lose Theo given his goal threat, but for me the biggest issue with him is his injury record. Every season he misses around a third of the games through injury and it’s wasting a space in the squad, with a high earner too, when we could potentially upgrade this summer. I think he’s a goner.

Finally, there have been rumours linking Jack Wilshere with a £30m move to Man City this summer. I have no idea if there’s any truth in this, but if there is, it’s something we’d have to give serious thought to. Like Theo, he is perennially injured and just cannot string a set of games together without busting his ankle. I love Jack and think he has so much quality, but again, if we could shift on a player in a crucial position on high wages for a big fee, it’s something worthy of consideration.

Anyway, that’s my lot. Enjoy a football filled Sunday. Until next time x

Give me a follow on Twitter @James_Willson2

651 Responses to “Arsenal. WINNING ALL THE GAMES but underlying issues still present”

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  1. Cesc Appeal

    Dybala stories gathering pace now, none of the reliable sources yet, but a lot of stories quoting £28 Million to be agreed next week.

  2. mysticleaves

    Damn! N5, shame it was broken. In football terms, that’s like a 3months lay off. Wish her quick recovery though.

  3. Romford Ozil Pele

    Mystic – it’s a ridiculous level they’re at. We’d have to spend tons of money to get there. And even then it’s not guaranteed. It’s the level of control they have over games, you need specific types of midfielders for that. And they’re pretty much all bred in the Barca academy.

  4. N5

    Cheers Mystic! I’ll have to make sure to load the hoover into her other hand. 😀

    If she read this I would get such a saucepan around the back of the head.

  5. mysticleaves

    ROP: true that. Sometimes I wonder what a certain Arteta would have been like had he played/succeeded in Barca.

    And Pep’s Barca was better than this current team. Damn!

  6. mysticleaves

    Goondawg I just wish I have seen Dybala play much. Sadly I can’t make any opinion of him.

    I just follow Napoli, Juve, AC Milan in Italy.

    Is he better than Icardi?

  7. Leedsgunner

    “If she read this I would get such a saucepan around the back of the head.”

    Lol… with a broken shoulder and a fractured wrist? What is she a SAS commando? 😉

    If she can give you a whooping using a saucepan with her feet, she belongs in a reality TV show, not your kitchen. 😉

  8. N5

    Ha ha Leeds, I feel like TYAG tonight saying horrible things about the woman I love. Now I know why he does it, its really fun!! 😀

  9. mysticleaves

    “Lol… with a broken shoulder and a fractured wrist?
    What is she a SAS commando?
    If she can give you a whooping using a saucepan with
    her feet, she belongs in a reality TV show, not your
    kitchen.”

    Hahaha. Or in the fictional world of Hollywood!

  10. Leedsgunner

    Bamford

    “Well, I think you think better of many here because you rarely say negative/critical things about Arsenal players or say positive things about our opposition.”

    You obviously haven’t read my thoughts on Szcz or Wilshere. ;).

    Sometimes it’s not what one says that alienates people but how you one chooses to say it. That’s not a veiled criticism of you Bamford just something learned from experience. Just have that for free.

  11. Bamford10

    I like you, Leeds. And you’re right: how you say something is just as important as what you say. I’ll try to keep that in mind in the future. 😉

  12. Dark Hei

    Saw United beat Liverpool well; but that is still at the same level where we beat them in the FA Cup. Liverpool’s ball chasing antics pulled their own team formation out of shape giving the lumbering Fellaini time and space. Not going to happen against us.

    Brendan Rodgers crazy 100mph chase the ball and just get his wingers to dribble past 3 defenders strategy is a recipe for disaster. Maybe he is just taking advantage of the interlull but there is no way his team can do that for the season.

    Credit to them though, the 9 men worked their socks off; Ballotelli obviously don’t count since he was just strolling around. Sturridge is a Welbeck with a cool finish. Beat De Gea on his near post, awesome.

  13. qna

    Hopefully, Dick Law can sign up Dybala during the international break. I dont believe yesterdays rumours are true, but one can only hope. The other thing this would do is put immense pressure on Walcott. I wouldnt be surprised if he raised the white flag to the fact that Dybala would be ahead of him in the pecking order. In which case, expect Walcott to refuse a new contract and Arsenal to look for suitors.

    Chuba Akpom going to Norwich is also a good move. Hopefully the boy can bang in a few goals and get some invaluable experience. Now is the cross roads for him. He is at the age where he needs to show he is worth a squad number.

  14. qna

    Big money moves in the summer ( £50m+).

    Pogba £70m to either City, Madrid or PSG
    Bale £60m to either City, United or Chelsea
    De Gea £50m to Madrid only
    Aguero £80m to Madrid only (if City needs to raise funds only)
    Di Maria £50m to PSG only

  15. Wallace

    so some real daylight between 4th and 5th but now a real battle on at the top. i think 3rd is still our most likely finishing position, but the games against Liverpool, Chelsea & Man Utd are going to be fascinating. strangely, the one i’m most optimistic about is Chelsea at home.

  16. mysticleaves

    Bamford hi. Did you see what I posted re my list of top 10 strikers? Take a read back but if you want I can repost it

  17. Waz

    agree in the main re ospina and ches but ches has one real negative vs ospina and that’s his reactions. On Saturday ospina got very close to a long range shot that just went wide of the post, he had it covered just I think, ches would have stood still

  18. mysticleaves

    mysticleaves March 22, 2015 19:57:03
    Bamford good on you..
    See mine, from your list…
    Aguero
    Suarez
    Ibra
    Rooney
    Benz
    Lewy
    Costa
    Higuian
    Huntelaar/dzeko
    Giroud.

    But the real thing is, out of that list, Ibra, hunter
    and dzeko are past it. Can’t be bought by Arsenal. moreover they won’t be upgrades either.
    Higuain is really not an upgrade on giroud. Though he could be said to be better.

    So I think realistically, Aguero, Suarez, Rooney, Benz and Lewy
    are the strikers I would replace giroud with!
    You see it happening?

  19. Vince

    True confession – this is the first link im posting ever. Trying my web link-posting acumen i guess.
    De Boer/Bergkamp/Overmars to Arsenal this summer

  20. Vince

    Failed i guess but the gist is this – Wenger is leaving at season’s end and will be replaced by Bergkamp, Over mars and De Boer. I pray to God this is the first scoop ASR gets right

  21. Vince

    Brendan Rodgers is a seer. Gerrard cost them the league last season, probably cost them a top four place yesterday, leave him one more year and he’ll cost them their top flight status.

  22. Nasri's Mouth

    @Vince

    You trying to do it from a phone or a laptop ?

    And unless something pretty dramatic happens between now and the end of the season, Wenger will be the manager next season.

  23. mysticleaves

    Lol Vince sorry about that.

    If you are using a mobile just copy the address of the site and paste on the comment section, BOOM!!

    Nasri, am not holding my breath on any transfer rumors for now. Too soon for esp Wenger to make a move

  24. Waylander

    Nasri’s Mouth, still only Metro stories with a few jumping on Bandwagon.

    Will Skrtel be band from Arsenal game does anybody think for stamp on De Gea?

  25. Vince

    And the only reason I gave the nothing article a thought is because of one of Wenger’s interview I read. He went on about how his successors has everything in place to have a glorious stint. Remember Wenger always trying to do the unexpected.

  26. Nasri's Mouth

    @Vince

    ANR isn’t very reliable, he’s a bit desperate these days.

    I’m curious to see how De Boer does if he takes over at Newcastle in the summer, esp. if he brings DB or MO with him.

    It’s pretty hard to know how good he actually is in the Dutch League.

  27. YoungMurphy

    Ospina is 6ft http://www.theguardian.com/football/2015/mar/20/david-ospina-arsenal-wojciech-szczesny-arsene-wenger that’s taller than me so to me he is a giant

    I also agree, no more Chambers at right back. When I think of Arsenal fullbacks, we want great athletes (effectively 100m sprint champions). Chambers is too tall and leggy and doesn’t really have that explosive burst. Jenkinson is also tall and leggy but he DOES have that explosive burst, plus can cross the ball. Chambers will be a better CB/CDM.

    Also, surely we should see if Liverpool want to do a swap deal = Walcott + £15m for Sterling? (or something like that)

  28. Nasri's Mouth

    @youngmurphy

    He might be a giant to you, but he’s bucking a trend for keepers in the PL (and possibly other leagues too) which is bigger is best

  29. Emiratesstroller

    Last weekend Southampton and Spurs became detached from to 4 places in EPL and are now 7 points behind us. In the case of Spurs who have a grossly inferior goal differential to us they would need to make up 8 points to overtake us.

    This weekend Liverpool fell 6 points behind us and again need effectively 7 points to overtake us in view of their goal differential.

    Liverpool are still dangerous. I am sure that they will not lie down that easily
    when they come to play at Emirates. It is vital that we do not lose to them at home and are playing a game to neutralise what will be their high tempo and
    pressing game. The last thing we should be doing is to go into defensive mode
    as we appear to do too often in some games.

    Man City got lucky this weekend with their opponent losing a player at the start of the game. I think that we can still overtake them.

    Chelsea appear to have gone off the boil. They look far more vulnerable in recent games. I wonder whether their defenders are beginning to feel the pace
    and perhaps Mourinho’s strategy of keeping a settled team is impacting on their performance level. Some of their players look quite stale.

    What will be good news is that most of our squad will be fit within the next two
    to three weeks. Let us hope none get injured at the forthcoming internationals.

  30. mysticleaves

    ES, can’t believe Spurs are that far back of us considering they went a point above us when we lost to them. We must have really hit form.

    NM and Vince,
    That’s like the whole Ajax set up? That would be something to purr over though. Do Boer has been quietly learning his trade, not making rushed decisions like, say, AVB, who I think moved too little too soon.

  31. Vince

    Thanks ya all for warning me about (Myles Palmer?) of ANR. I just never stop to get excited when someone tells me Wenger’s leaving.