Arsenal destroy Liverpool and the ‘top team bottle jobs’ tag

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Yesterday was huge. Huge for many reasons. This seasons momentum. Next seasons Champions League. Skipping the qualifying stage. Setting the stake in the ground as Premiership contenders next year.

The team line ups slipped in our favour. Liverpool started with Kolo and Sakho at the back. They went with the lone striking option of the disgraced Sterling. Arsenal had the dream team out. The only player who did confuse a touch was Per Mertesacker, odd when you had the pace of Gabriel in his absence.

You felt the intent of Arsenal from the off. We looked calm and reassured. There was an intensity about our possession I’ve not seen for large chunks of this season, even when we’ve been winning. There looked to be a vision, there looked to be a plan and the boys were up for it.

Early doors it was quite end to end. Sanchez dragged a speculative shot wide, minutes later Santi Cazorla struck a shot across goal that Mignolet did well to hold onto, we nearly landed our breakthrough when Ramsey capitalised on a Kolo error but failed to convert when through on goal. At that point, fans started to get jittery around the missed chances, especially as Liverpool started to find their stride.

Raheem Sterling was clearly affected by all of the press in the week. He was trying play like Roy of the Rovers. He was causing problems, going out of his way to hang off the shoulder of Per Mertesacker, he didn’t get much luck though. The most scary moment came when Can played Markovic in through the middle, all he had to do was strike the ball wide, but instead he opted to slip in the offside Sterling… and the wee man couldn’t stretch his Happy Meal legs far enough to slip into the empty net.

Shame.

Ozil was having a very good game at this point, he started the move for the opening goal carving out a beautiful cross field ball to Ramsey who was out wide on the right, the Welshman picked out Bellerin, he jinked, dropped a couple of stepovers that pushed him into the box then he unleashed an expertly curled left footed shot into the bottom corner. Sublime. I love that boy in ways I shouldn’t.

In the midfield, we really were bossing things. Coquelin looked like a world class monster. He was faster to the ball than anyone, he was reading the game like a defensive version of Ozil and he was making the difference, he was an absolute joy to behold. Our second goal came after Ozil controlled the ball in the middle of the park, he was chopped down. The resultant freekick, that the German took found the back of the net with relative ease. The strike was good, but somehow, Mignolet had blocked himself so he couldn’t see the ball, and as a result he let a rather tame effort slip past him.

Shame.

Our final goal of the half came after Ramsey played a cute ball into Sanchez, the Chilean adjusted his feet, dodged the freight train of Kolo whizzing past him and unleashed a beastly shot from the edge of the box into that rasped over Mignolet. Again, a spectacular strike, but you do have to ask questions of a keeper who lets in shots that are straight at him. Liverpool have real issues in goal.

The second half was interesting because the temptation was to go for more goals and to destroy a Liverpool side in disarray. Thankfully, we dialled it down and conserved some energy. There were a couple of slightly irritating moments. The first being that Koscielny walked off the pitch with an injury that was reported in the ground as a broken bone in his foot. Hopefully that’s not true. Secondly was the soft penalty we gave away to take away a much deserved clean sheet. Bellerin, who was having an excellent game kicked over Sterling. Henderson drilled the penalty home, a penalty so bad you could fairly critique Ospina for making such a poor effort.

That goal didn’t shake us, primarily because it didn’t arrive with any momentum.

Liverpool didn’t make it any easier for themselves, Emre Can, arguably their best player on the day picked up a booking for two pretty clumsy challenges, the last being a scissor tackle on WELBZ. He saw red and it was game over. Well, not quite. Olivier Giroud, a man who worked tirelessly all afternoon latched onto a through ball, took his time, picked out his spot and he rifled his shot into the top corner like a total boss!

One slightly disappointing point was seeing how many people left the ground early to go home, before kick off. It’s an early kick off, the boys have just put in an amazing performance and you’re not staying back to give them high fives from your seat? Sad. But whatever. It was a great day. The best performance of the year by a mile and a sign of things to come.

Thoughts:

Coquelin.

They should call him the difference, because he was for me. He’s a powerhouse, my pal just told me he hates him (Villa fan) because he’s a thug. Think about that, we have a thug in our team. I think he’s way more than that. He’s lightning over 10m, he reads the game well, he loves the physical side of things and he loves the fact he has a place in the team. They say you don’t appreciate things in life until you face a trauma. His career trauma was nearly being sold to Tours and being shunted out the play at Charlton. He’s come back, he’s spotted the weakness in our side and he’s owning that space. You’ll never take it from him. He plays like his life depends on it… and what an impression he’s made. He was my MoTM yesterday, absolutely brilliant.

Ozil:

You can’t argue with him when he plays like that. The issue with my seat is it’s quite low down, so when he’s pulling the strings, you don’t get much of a view of how great his vision he is. Some of the passes he made yesterday were outrageous. He was key to everything. His movement off the ball, his freekick strike, his assist of the assister (hi Alex Hleb). He had it all. He makes us unplayable going forward.

Giroud:

Bit of an unsung hero yesterday, but he looked tired. He never stopped though. He kept going until the end. I love the way he bullies forwards now. Even if he’s not in the game, he’ll be in it physically. I was glad he was rewarded in the end. He’s one of the most selfless players in the team. I thought he was great yesterday.

Set up:

I think one of the things I really enjoyed about yesterday was the set up. We didn’t go gung-ho. We played with discipline and we defended as a unit. I still find it amusing watching Ozil pottering back but not really putting in a challenge, but he was back, and that was positive. The rest of the team fought for everything. We concentrated. We seemed to have a very good idea of how they’d play and we largely nullified them. It looked like a seriously focused team that were prepared properly. That’s a massive positive. There was to be no repeat of the Monaco fiasco. I guess the other offshoot of the game was we’ve got the upper hand should Liverpool qualify for the FA Cup final (and us). It’d be nice to avenge the lost one of a few years back.

Fitness:

We had everyone fit for the first time since 2005. I mean, staggering really. But what a great story to finish the year. I still don’t know how sharp it is behind the scenes, but there’s progress there. Players are coming back stronger, Giroud and Ozil are notably fitter than they were and we’re not picking up the same soft tissue injuries. Happy days.

Calendar year:

The transition we now need to make is from a calendar year team, to a full season team. We can all pat the club on its back about the resurgence, but this is all too predictable. The fact is, we’re in a situation we’ve been in many times over the last 5 years. Finishing strong, with the hope of better next year. At some point, we’re going to need to understand why we can’t do this for a whole season. The signs are positive, but can we action the progress to kick of next year and maintain it…

 

362 Responses to “Arsenal destroy Liverpool and the ‘top team bottle jobs’ tag”

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  1. nasri's mouth

    @Hugie

    So Owen is sure that Sterling is better than Ozil, but Owen only THINKS Sterling is better than Welbeck.

    That suggests that Owen thinks Welbeck is better than Ozil

    Bloke needs to go back to horses

  2. gazzap

    If you take Coq out of the equation Arsenal are a top 5/7 team, with him we are top 1/2. This is far too precarious in my view and why it’s still absolutely vital that we strengthen this position in the summer. It is a key position and having only one player at the club, who is really good at it, is not enough.

  3. Leedsgunner

    Here is a hypothetical situation : Olivier Giroud is in fine form but he is also 28. If someone offered us £20m for L’Oreal would you take it? Or would you keep him on?

  4. Samir

    Leedsgunner

    Keep him.
    We don’t need the money.
    Giroud is finally coming along nicely…And top teams don’t sell their best players 😉

  5. GuNZ

    Good Easter Monday Afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen of Le Grove

    I had a sweet and sour message to send to my favourite pub in Lincolnshire where the bar lord is a Burnley man and his son, the sociopath chef, a Liverpool supporter. Apparently the latter turned the radio off halfway through cooking for the Saturday lunchtime session in disgust. That is how far we’ve come!

    Beautiful, calm, sunny, early Autumn afternoon here in the Waikato, my last for a while as I have to base myself in Auckland for the next 2-3 months which at least means I get to watch early morning games with Arsenal fans in pubs rather than crying (tears of joy more than bitterness lately) into my lonely 3 am trough of red wine.

    And as for my boy Giroud. I can reveal, now that he has come good, that he is my natural son, born of a drunken night which involved smoking a dried pernod-chateau lafite residue mixed with ground snail entrails and mind-destroying double-fresh purple-Oms and wallowing naked in the wine vats of Montmartre whilst coated in Montpellier nougat and performing an obscene act on the nose-cone of a decommissioned French Concord. You must understand that I was distraught whilst he was not living up to his pedigree, hence the incessant tirade of abuse. I am only human.

    If he doesn’t keep it up, of course, I shall shove a lighted Gauloise up his pert little botty.

  6. GuNZ

    His mother, Michelle Pfeiffer, has not wanted anything to do with either of us since that night (and the day, 9 months later when she went behind a pot-plant during shooting to deliver) and always, in the few e-mails she deigns to send me, talks of ‘the wonders of plastic surgery and how his nose might be stream-lined so that the aero-dynamics are not so hard to overcome as he turns windward for those oh-so-important headers.’ I tell her that it is that very nose which serves to sweep challenging defenders from his path, it is his nose that is his very ‘physical bullying presence’ so lauded by the British press of this moment.

    Oh my poor, tortured, son, Olivier. It is for your own good that I push you so . . .

  7. GuNZ

    Once, when he was a very little boy, I took him over the Arsenal and he asked me: ‘Oo eez ma muzzer?’ I let the French accent go for the time being but I just pointed out to the pitch. The old Highbury pitch. ‘This,’ I said to my son, ‘this is your mother. This club will suckle you and nurse you should we ever become separated. This is the greatest soccer club in the entire world. Others will try to tell you that some Spanish chaps from the Camp Nou, or Bavarian gentlemen from the home of the Oktoberfest are the best but, believe me, Olivier, my son, this club, this wonderful club, is the greatest the world will ever see. If you ever get a chance to play for them, even if the manager is a complete dick, you must come.’

    Shortly after that I was abducted by aliens and young Olivier, who had always favoured the French accent, was adopted by a couple from Chambrey. The rest is history. Now you all know.

  8. Arseology

    GuNZ in the sky with diamonds…..
    Purple ohms… good stuff. Last time I indulged, a Possum called Bourne took me for a frightful spin in his scoobie.
    Make sure u lick a toad in the land of Oz.

  9. qna

    Leeds: Here is a hypothetical situation : Olivier Giroud is in fine form but he is also 28. If someone offered us £20m for L’Oreal would you take it? Or would you keep him on?

    Keep him. The thing about Giroud is that there are very few strikers in the world that I would expect to come in and do better than Giroud next season. He is not a top striker that will guarantee you over 20 PL goals and an overall haul in the mid 30s. The value of such a striker is immense, and would cost you £50m to £60m in todays market. So, if we could sell Giroud and buy say Lewendowski, then yes I would definitely do it. I doubt that Cavani would guarantee us any more goals than Giroud the way Giroud is integrated into the team at the moment. I think Benzema would add a little more than Giroud and his quality would definitely improve us. But other than that, I dont see any names that I would like to see here. I can tell you names that I would not want to see here at Girouds expense. Jackson Martinez, Benteke, Sakho or any other PL striker at any of the bottom 16 teams in the league.

    At the moment we are sharing goals between a top wide player, Sanchez – who is in his first year at the club, and a very good CF. Between them they are giving us a guarantee of at least 25 PL goals next season, and the promise of up to 40. This is a pretty good scenario. On the other hand, we have a significant weakness in our other wide forward – be it Welbeck or Walcott. I really hope we can entice a ready made goal scorer, Reus, for this wide attacking position who could also guarantee 10 goals, and potentially score 20. If that’s the case, we would have an extremely potent goal scoring force that would reliably share the striker duties.

    I don’t think we should be looking to replace Giroud in the first team next season – at least not at the start. We could bring in someone like Dybala who could be integrated in the team over the course of the season and possibly by this time next season, he might even have naturally replaced Giroud as the 1st choice CF.

  10. Wallace

    sell Giroud for 20m? to get someone in playing at his current level would cost us 40-50m so selling him for 20m would be pretty daft.

  11. Wallace

    “Liverpool is a phenomenal club players want to play for, but players want to play at the top level, If you are not in the Champions League it makes it difficult for you. Our run last year nearly brought us the title. We lost a world-class player and lots of other developments happened within the club.

    “But it is frustrating that we got ourselves in a position over the last three months, very close, to then come up short in the past two games.

    “However, I look at Arsenal and their bench, the world-class players on the field with big talent and it shows the continual work we have to do.”

    – Brendan Rodgers

  12. qna

    I really hope the Cabaye rumours are bullshit. The upside is that he is 29, so we would only be stuck with him for a few seasons. Another upside is that it shouldn’t hinder Coquelin’s progress since

    Coquelin >>>> Cabaye > Schneiderlin

  13. Emiratesstroller

    qna

    I agree 100% that we should not be investing £10 million in a 29 year old midfielder who will turn 30 next season.

    We have already 4 other such midfielders on our books in Cazorla,Arteta,Flamini and Rosicky. My view is that we should be cutting down on such players rather than increasing the number even if we are likely to release two
    of them this summer.

    I had hoped that Arsenal would bring in Schneiderlein who at 25 is exactly the
    sort of player we should be looking at. We need to be looking at players reaching their peak and an upgrade on what we have got and not someone who sits
    on bench at Paris St Germain.

  14. qna

    ES. Agree about your age policy. Although keepers at that age are ok.

    But I dont understand why we would be still interested in Schneiderlein. There is no way that Schneiderlein is better than Coquelin, Also Coquelin has performed at a higher level. Arsenal are a better team than Southamton and Coquelin shields by himself, whereas Schneiderlein usually works as a pair. So if people agree that Coquelin is better than Schneiderlein, then it makes absolutely no sense that we would buy Schneiderlein to sit on the bench. We either need to buy somebody better than Coquelin (which is my hope), or buy a young player that can cover Coquelin.

    How depressing that we would spend £20m on a player that will sit on the bench and actually weaken our current side if he has to play.

  15. Emiratesstroller

    Wallace

    I think that Liverpool are going to struggle in next few seasons.

    1. They built their reputation on success more than 25 years ago.
    2. Their owners are not super billionaires.
    3.At the moment they are struggling to hold onto their best players.
    4.They need to build a new stadium.

    For all the rhetoric I think that Liverpool will lose Sterling in Summer, and might also lose Henderson as well. If that happens they will look more like a
    midfield team rather than one competing for Champions League Football.

  16. Emiratesstroller

    qna

    Schneiderlein is probably an upgrade on Coquelin in what he can offer the team/squad. He can play dmf as well as cmf and he is also an excellent free kick taker.

    Also he is a ‘leader of the pack’ and has extensive experience in EPL.

    As I said we need to start offloading some of our 30 year old + players as well
    as Diaby. If we are going to replace it should not be like with like.

    My instinct is that Arsenal may well go for Sterling this summer and he will
    cost £50 million [or £30 million + Walcott]. If that happens Arsenal will reduce
    budget for player in midfield, which may explain why we could be conceivably
    looking at a lower budget there.

  17. qna

    ES. If you look at the Delloite Football Money league/Swiss Ramble. Liverpool are still in a very strong position. They have higher commercial revenue than Arsenal and they are also still arguably the most popular team in the UK given that they get slightly more live broadcasts. In fact, they are probably level with United in that sense. The difference in revenue between Arsenal and Liverpool is roughly the amount of money we earn from Champions league. That is to say, if Liverpool were to make CL football at our expense, we would very soon switch places in the money leagues.

    Liverpool are probably the second most supported British club worldwide, after United. City and Chelsea have got a lot of “new” supporters in the last few years and in the same way that loyal Liverpool supporters from 25 years ago still support liverpool, as do many of their children, City and Chelsea will have some good will that will pay off in long term support in the future.

    Arsenal have a very good platform to build on. A long way from United, but still at the moment ahead of Liverpool. But if Arsenal stretch their 10 year drought to 25 years then we would be in a worse relative position today than Liverpool. Its really important to win trophies, because that translates into income coming back into the club.

    I would not write Liverpool off in the next couple of years. They have spent money poorly in recent years, but they still have lots of money to spend. And unlike Arsenal who keep 200m in the bank, Liverpool have shown they are prepared to spend.

  18. Wallace

    i just don’t see Wenger messing with Coquelin’s role in the side. we’re looking such an improved, balanced side these days. why fiddle with something that’s working so well?

  19. qna

    ES: Schneiderlein is probably an upgrade on Coquelin in what he can offer the team/squad.

    As you know I do not agree with this at all. If Coqeulin performs at the same level as he has this year (and its a big IF), then we could challenge the current squads of Chelsea, City and United next season. But I expect all of them to make significant investments in players, so we would need to match that and also make up the ground that they may currently have on us. If we play the next season with Schneiderlin as our DM, then I think we would drop off from our current level significantly.

    ES: My instinct is that Arsenal may well go for Sterling this summer.

    Well, it could be the case. He wouldn’t be bad either. We are severely lacking on the wing and the boy can play both left and right wing. But he doesnt give us goals. It worries me that we would rely on only 2 genuine goal scorers, plus goals every now and then from midfield. I can see us going back in for Draxler and I would prefer him over Sterling. If we can’t get Reus, then Draxler would be my first choice really. He would always have resale value too.

  20. Leedsgunner

    Cabaye should have been captured when he was at Newcastle — at 29 and at £10m we would be repeating the mistake we made with Arteta… if he was available on a free it might be worth a think, but at £10m? Monies that can be and should be spent elsewhere.

  21. karim

    Agree Leeds
    Cabaye was in a great momentum up north but he s not that player anymore.
    Should go back to England though, even Newcastle.

    Can’t wait for GuNZ’s adventures in Auckland, wanna know more about Giroud, ha ha !

  22. qna

    Cavani’s reaction to being subbed off:

    https://twitter.com/philousports/status/584814276025647104/photo/1

    Not sure if I want a player who reacts like this. Can be bad for the entire team. Anyway, with Giroud’s performance this season, it will be completely Un-Wenger like to bring in somebody like Cavani now. Hopefully, we still buy a world class goal scorer to play along side Giroud and Sanchez though.

    I think they can start making the Edison Cavani Welcome to Manchester banners already. Not sure in which colour though.

  23. Leedsgunner

    qna

    If there was a chance of signing Cavani for a decent price I would take it… although like many here the first priority has to be a class DM to play alongside Coquelin… (or in his place in case of injury.)

    With Flamini, Miyachi, and Podolski definitely headed out the door — we have moire than enough money in wages budget to acquire a top DM player.

    As for Cavani’s response I wouldn’t hold it against him… all the top players react similarly when they are being subbed after an indifferent performance. Even TH14 was prone to a bout of annoyance if he was ever taken off… not that it occurred very often!

    I personally think Cavani is off to Liverpool. I can imagine Suarez whispering sweet nothings about Liverpool — although if he is tempted, I would tell him to watch the game against Arsenal yesterday. Does he really want to part of that sad lot?

  24. tunnygriffboy

    Is Cabaye the replacement for Flamini and/or Arteta ? It would mean he’s trusting Coquelin.

    Personally I would like Schneiderlin as he could play with Coquelin in certain games away from home or instead when they rotate. We need another top class option should Coquelin get injured.

  25. Emiratesstroller

    qna

    Coquelin may be a decent DMF but Schneiderlein adds versatility. That may also be reason why Wenger is looking at low budget acquisition in Cabaye.

    I think that Sterling may well be on agenda particularly if Walcott is to be shifted out of club. Wenger may prefer to bring in probably the only other Home Grown option available.

    Liverpool are not actually on the same financial planet as ourselves. Yes they
    did have superior commercial sponsorship, but that is certainly not the case from this season onwards when you look at new Puma and Emirates deals. Also there seem to be a lot of smaller deals coming through and from last summer Wenger was forced to organise summer tours which were commercial orientated rather than go to Austria.

    However, the real difference is the cash reserves. As Swiss Ramble pointed out
    Arsenal are at the top of the ladder by a country mile. Man Utd have the second largest reserve and that is less than a third of ours. Liverpool are near the
    bottom of the ladder for EPL. They have very little fat to play with.

    Over next few years Liverpool will be investing in a new stadium so that I doubt that they will have a lot of fresh money to invest in new players. The
    Management will not be able to play hardball with demands of both Henderson and Sterling. One or both will be leaving the club unless they convince them to stay.

    My view is that if the story about Cabaye is true then Arsenal are holding onto
    to enough money for a major signing which is probably Sterling.

  26. tunnygriffboy

    ES

    Yes you’re right about one big signing coming in. Sterling 50 million though ? Alexis was 35 mill, that’s a big difference

    Schneiderlin would be fantastic. It allows quality rotation something we have in other positions though GK would be great. We go to Madrid, Bayern, PSG in CL wouldn’t it be great to go with the Coquelin/Schneiderlin axis. Schneiderlin with his passing ability and defensive instincts alongside the terminator

  27. Emiratesstroller

    tunnygriffboy

    The point is that Liverpool will ‘inflate’ price for Sterling if any EPL club wants to buy him. He has still got 2 years on his contract so that they are still technically in driving seat.

    The main difference between Suarez and Sterling is that the former was a proven striker and there are quite a few clubs on Continent who will pay £50
    million + for a player of Suarez Quality.

    On the other hand I don’t believe that any European Team would pay £50 million for Sterling. They would value him at perhaps £30-35 million at the optimum.

  28. Hughie

    I would love to see Sterling walk for nothing on a bosman in two years time and see Liverpool get nothing. Mind you the scousers would probably firebomb his house first hahaha