Incredible Arsenal victory clouded by the puzzling missing link

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WOOOOOAAAAHHHHHHHH.

Yeah, that about sums up the mood.

A pragmatic Arsenal saw what was coming their way… a freight train. They had a think about what to do about it, and for once, they didn’t run straight at it in a valiant attempt to derail something way stronger than the sum of its parts. They fought smart, played a compact game and broke at pace when they could.

The game was a delight to watch. Sure, sometimes we were chasing shadows, but look, that was clearly the plan. Sometimes we had to rely on our world class keeper. But overall, I think I’d be quite comfortable saying we totally deserved the 3 points.

I don’t think we just beat Bayern, I think we competed with them and showed that we were more than a match for talent and hunger.

Though I don’t want to bag on anyone after that game, you have to say, if we had a bit more quality up front, we’d have potentially won by a larger number. Theo Walcott found himself in great positions, but his touch, instinct and finishing just weren’t there with a world class badge affixed. Put a Thierry in that game and we’d have been laughing much earlier in the game.

Bayern didn’t play badly, they created chances (10m passes too). They challenged us. But they couldn’t break the back line. Partially due to the formidable Petr Cech, but partly due to towering performance from our defence and our midfield. I thought Coquelin and Santi were absolutely on point all game. Zero space between the lines for Bayern to roam.

I thought that the energy we expended in the first half would cause us to break in the second half. It didn’t, if anything, we came to life in the second half. The intensity increased as we tasted blood.

Bellerin a prime example of this, utilising his blistering pace towards the end to intercept then race on to clip a pass to Ozil who was on hand on the back post to fire just over the line. Big shout out to the 5th ref or whatever you call him for that shout. I thought we’d been awarded that because of technology, not because of the sharp eyes of a spare man (who in fairness is paid to do exactly that).

The first goal was also pretty messy. A teasing cross into the box, a mess from Neuer (not a happy bunny in London for the second time) and an accidental hand of Giroud moment to savour. We joked that if he’d had his eyes open watching the ball he’d have missed!

Arsenal maturely played the game out. Nothing rash. Nothing stupid. Just a calm close out. An exceptional win.

The only disappointing part of the evening was Aaron Ramsey pinging a hamstring. Another issue just as he’s finding a flow. Very disappointing. He’ll never be a great player if he can’t string more than ten games together.

But how about Arsenal? We’re always capable of doing something incredible when it’s either a response to something terrible (losing our first two games) or a response when it doesn’t matter (second leg against Bayern a few seasons back).

It begs the question, where was this focus when we were playing two very average teams? As one friend said… ‘Zagreb players smoke man. They actually smoke’… and we fucked it.

It all comes down to hunger. Wenger teams can do it when it’s exciting. They can do it when the pressure is kind of off. They can do it when they’re dead and buried. But they’re not doing it when it’s expected.

That’s what’s upsetting.

Full credit to the full backs. Hector Bellerin is fast becoming one of my favourite players. He’s electric, good at defending and an absolute terrier. He’s so incredibly fit. Monreal also had a beast of a game despite being targeted as a weak link early on. He was composed, calm and a fighter the whole way through. We gain so much stability and depth with those two. Arguably the most balanced pair full backs in about ten years.

The Petr Cech omission of the first two games will go down as one of the most baffling decisions of Wenger’s last 5 years, and there’s been many. He showed today why we bought him. Exceptional. Even more exceptional when you consider Roma conceded 4 goals. Typical Chezzer type goals. That shrug we’ve seen so many times before.

We did learn once again that Arsene has become more pragmatic. He’s paying close attention to the opposition, he’s scoping out a plan that matches our talent and he’s getting the players to deliver. The big game wins continue because we’re smart and realistic about who we’re up against. Long may that continue.

Our biggest issue seems to be complacency.

Why wasn’t the urgency there in the first two games? What is it that’s missing? Is it just millionaires who aren’t frightened of their kind boss? Is it a complacent environment? Is it too friendly? Not enough bastards in the dressing room?

Who knows. But today should have been about announcing to Europe we have an intention to win the European Cup. Instead, in a perverse way, all it’s done is show that Wenger doesn’t have it right. That his system is still lacking something. Something that’s been lacking for a while.

But hey, a win against Bayern is one to savour. That was mega today. I preferred that to the Barcelona take down because we were more deserving today. Brilliant work from Wenger and the boys.

Onwards and upwards. Everton at the weekend. Another big game, one that you could easily lose if you’re not focused and hungry. Finger crossed.

621 Responses to “Incredible Arsenal victory clouded by the puzzling missing link”

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  1. Wallace

    Alfie

    “How anonymous has Pedro been so far?”

    he’s been an impact sub virtually his entire career. fine if he was 22/23, but at 28 the idea that he’d move to England and ‘do an Alexis’ was pretty unlikely for me.

    Chelsea flogging de Bruyne, Schurrle & Salah for Cuadrado, Pedro & Falcao…not their greatest 18mths in the transfer mkt.

  2. Alfie

    Wallace –

    I heard that Real are looking at Falcao now as a back up striker – the guy offers virtually nothing.

    I bet someones been sacked for the De Bruyne sale…….

  3. Wallace

    it’s interesting that while some were applauding Chelsea for adding players to a league winning squad this summer, the fact is they’ve done what Wenger was wary of doing: signed players that haven’t been good enough to impact on/improve the first eleven. not young players either(the LB excepted).

  4. Alfie

    Yo Bamford –

    It would be interesting to know who you think are better then us right now in the EPL?

    Not digging you out, just inquisitive…….

  5. Bamford10

    Alfie

    City are clearly better than us. Other than that, maybe no one. Though I still have doubts about us over the long haul.

    At moment, though, we look like the second best team.

  6. Bamford10

    Wallace

    That’s a red herring. Plenty of other teams have added players who HAVE helped them improve, and we definitely needed to improve and strengthen.

    Wenger has no excuses for not being more active in the market. None.

  7. Dark Hei

    Enough about Chelsea.

    City is the team that I want to see us challenging. They might spend a disgusting amount of $$ (kind of like us, but we are disgusting in reverse), but they sure are entertaining (hey we are entertaining too).

  8. Bamford10

    Further, Chelsea’s struggles — why are we even talking about them, though? — are down to two things primarily:
    – NOT replacing Terry and Ivanovic with younger, quality players
    – Mourinho’s problematic approach to/handling of team and players
    – the poor form of Cesc Fabregas

  9. Alfie

    Bamford –

    Agree.

    It will be interesting to see how they step up without Augero/Silva in the next few weeks.

    (I know they just spanked Bournemouth but, well its Bournemouth)

  10. Alfie

    Bamford

    Chelsea issues – may aswell do it whilst we can…..

    Agree with all of that tbh. I would add that Costa, whilst I admit is a good player, seems to have a current loss of form coupled with the fact that he is on a crazy one at the moment.

    I think previously, their midfield has supplied a good amount of goals but at the moment, it aint working and they haven’t sufficient forwards to make up the difference………….

  11. Wallace

    Bamford

    “Plenty of other teams have added players who HAVE helped them improve, and we definitely needed to improve and strengthen.”

    but I’m talking the top teams, the big 4 and maybe Liverpool & Spurs. i agree we should have added at least a midfielder, but when you look at the players our rivals bought in the summer, currently you’ve got Bruyne(54m), Sterling(49m) & Martial(45-50m) settling well and adding something to the first team. while the likes of Pedro, Falcao, Rahman, Depay, Benteke, Firmino, (Schweinsteiger & Schneiderlin to a lesser extent) have all been pretty underwhelming thus far.

  12. Leedsgunner

    Our good form at the moment hides how thin our squad depth really is. I think we are all agreed that our strongest XI is capable of competing with anyone.

    However the season is really long and the pedigree of a title winning team is tested when, the first team goes off the boil, who in the squad is capable of coming up to the mark and pulling the team through until the first XI come back on form?

    Based on that criteria our supposed second XI is lacking in quality and basically match fit players.

  13. Bamford10

    Wallace

    Fair enough, but that doesn’t mean that those players — or other reasonably-priced players — couldn’t have been incorporated into our squad effectively. It just means that those clubs/managers aren’t doing a great job of it, or that other factors, e..g, injuries, timing, are also involved.

  14. Louis Almeida

    Leeds – I don’t think depth is an issue. The squad players are just not fit right now. Hopefully they return soon. Look at Debuchy, Chambers, Gibbs. All fit and unable to play. When Welbeck, Wilshere and Rosicky return, our attacking options will look healthy again and we’ll be able to rotate better.

  15. AC Gooner

    how apt that it was Neuer fӤk ups which cost them the game

    remember him laughing when Bayern drew Arsenal last year?

    Serves you right you cocky bastard!

  16. Leedsgunner

    As I see it I would play our second XI/youth players for the League Cup. It is clear despite the win on Tuesday Sanchez needs a breather but can we risk not playing him on the weekend? I think he should have no place at all for the match against Sheffield Wednesday. Frankly our second XI

    Ospina*
    Debuchy—Chambers—Gabs—-Gibbs
    ———- Bielik ——– Arteta ————
    Jeff Reine-Adelaide (right wing) —————- Joel Campbell (left wing)
    ———— The Ox —————
    ——— Alex Iwobi ————–

    Bench
    Macey
    Flamini
    Bennacer
    Mert
    Cazorla
    Kamara
    Wilcock

    *If fit

    I’ve brought in some academy players but two things prevented me from putting in some recognised faces.

    1. Injuries – a game like this would have been perfect for players like Wilshere, Rosicky and Welbeck but alas, they are all injured.

    2. Loans – I would have included people like Toral, Jenkinson, Wellington Silva, Zelalem, Maitland-Niles, Gnabry and Crowley but they are all out on loan.

    Do you see what I mean when I say our second XI is severely depleted of experience and fit players?

    As for the youngsters, they all have to start somewhere!

  17. Leedsgunner

    Louis A

    I get your point about Wilshere, Welbeck and Rosicky but they are down to be back in the new year. Can we rely even when they do come back after being out for so long? I would fear that they would injured themselves again if they were thrown back in…

    They can’t help us this side of Christmas can they… and our fixture list is quite unforgiving as it is.

    We face Sheffield Wednesday I believe on Tuesday the 27 October (five days time!)

  18. vicky

    Bamford

    Sorry for the late reply. Went offline after making that comment.

    Well we did not park the bus in the sense that we had a striker and at least two other attacking players playing further up than the rest of the players all through out the game and those players always looked to attack when we got the ball. It was not that we stopped playing our football altogether. Just that we accepted Bayern will have the lion share of possession. But we were set out to attack as soon as we got the ball back, not necessarily in a counter attack mode. We attacked even when Bayern players were in their respective defensive positions like a normal football setup.

    In park the bus mode, you have at least two lines of 4 players defending. Sometimes a line of 5 players ahead of the back 4. Besides in that set up, the team attacks only when all the opposition players are in your box and you can catch them off guard. Remember we attacked whenever we had the ball. A park the bus team tries to just keep the possession and not attack when the opposition has lost the ball but has maintained their shape nevertheless.

    It’s a bit subtle and probably there is no standard theory either but that’s my take on it.

  19. Emiratesstroller

    Leedsgunner

    We are extremely short of first team squad players at the moment with both Ospina and Ramsey now out for a month in addition to the three who are expected to return next year at earliest.

    This means that Arsenal are down to 5th string goalkeeper [Macey] to sit on
    bench and/or play in League Cup. Wenger made the decision to keep only
    two established goalkeepers in First Team Squad offloading both Szczesny and
    Martinez on loan.

    We are also now very short of midfielders with just Arteta and Flamini who
    are unlikely to be in starting lineup on Saturday. Reine-Adelaide is not available because he is playing alongside several other U21 players in FIFA U19
    World Cup.

    This is once again the problem at Arsenal. Wenger’s decision not to bring in
    outfield players last summer particularly when he knew that Wilshire and
    Welbeck were out long term is becoming an issue.