💬 Match Report: 3 points won in performance shocker + What’s missing?

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Nothing like getting back into the Arsenal saddle. Pissing down with rain, shite public transport a pub so thick-set with man mist you could taste it.

Still, there’s not much that compares. It was great to be back, even if our seats did leave us totally sodden.

As for the game?

Wenger lined up with his favourites out of the players that aren’t injured. He dropped out Gabriel for Per + Flamini found his way back into the side at the expense of Callum.

This game had dull written all over it. If there are three things in life you can guarantee, one is that Wenger will have trouble with his zipper (anyone spot the moment he cast away his jacket like a rain loving bad ass?), the other two are that Boxing Day games and the first after the new year are usually really flat affairs.

This one was no different. We didn’t click out of the New Years eve coma. The rain didn’t help, but to be honest, the rain might have made passing the ball different, but it shouldn’t be dampening our attitude when there’s a title race on.

Newcastle had the better of the play, they were trying to get in behind our full backs and seemed to think high balls into our box were the way in (I wonder if they thought Gabriel was starting?). They had the best of the chances in the first half, Arsenal needing to call on the excellence of Petr Cech a few times.

The second half was supposed to be when the Arsene Wenger ‘once a year hairdryer treatment’ kicked in. Well, after about 6 minutes, Newcastle had totally blitzed our goal… Petr Cech on hand again with some incredible keeping to make sure Newcastle’s number stayed at zero.

We eventually found our way into the game from an unusual place, a looped clearance was won by the sleepy Giroud, the loose ball was poked in ‘fox in the box’ style by Laurent Jeffers. The goal wasn’t deserved, but it perked the team up for a very solid final twenty minutes of the game.

Ozil came alive and started to dictate play. Wenger made some 70minute changes that impacted the side for the good. He brought on JC who really looked up for it. He ran at players, he fought and he caused a bit of a nuisance of himself. One notable moment was when Aaron Ramsey jinked through the Newcastle and blazed his shot just wide instead of squaring it to Joel… the Costa Rican kicked the post so hard I think he broke the post and his foot. He cares. I like that.

We managed to ride out the game and take the three points. No one likes a cold, wet January game… but to take three points tells you something. The sort of game United used to win back in the day. It keeps us ahead in the league and keeps the belief strong in the players.

Things we learnt…

Petr Cech: Make no mistake here, Petr Cech won us those three points. My Gooner pal on the way in made the point that if he was good for 15 points at Chelsea, he’s probably worth more like 20 for us considering the state of our keepers previously. He has incredible technique meshed in with 10 years of game time experience. The way he commands his area, the way he makes the hardest of tasks look run of the mill… it just never gets old.

I’m so glad Arsene has always recognised having a WC keeper is important to a title winning team.

Wingers: Theo and Chambo didn’t really do much of a job helping out at the back.  Both winning 36% of their duels. When you have those two in the side you lose your defensive balance. When Joel Campbell came on, I felt we looked more stable. There was one point when we were attacking with Mesut and JC just stayed back making sure he was offering maximum defensive cover (or he was nursing that busted foot). This was either a tactical instruction from the bench, or just a reminder that JC is pretty good at that part of the game.

Not a good day at the office for Theo. He needs to start making his chances count.

As for Chambo? I know he’ll be a great player, but he needs to start finding some of the magic dust, because it’s becoming a grating experience watching him make sloppy mistakes and bad decisions whenever he comes on.

Forwards: It’s difficult to pinpoint what’s going to kill us this season. Is it going to be Flamini getting found out? That moment where he threw a kamikaze slide tackle whilst on a yellow card really was the height of dimness for a man of experience. Or is it creativity and end product? Chambo, WELBZ and Theo really don’t cut it for me. I feel like our forward line is going to need an injection of something if we’re going to kick on. We’re certainly suffering creatively without the jiggery pokery of a Cazorla in the side, that baked in with a lack of potency up front really is a worry.

There’s talk that we’re in for Pierre-Erick of Dortmund, but one can’t help but think that’s The Sun’s way of reminding people they dropped their disastrous paywall. Then there’s also rumblings that we’re in for Insigne of Napoli, a tiny tricky inside forward.

This is the thing for me. It’s very difficult to be negative when we’re racking up points. But what I’m also finding from Arsenal fans is that it’s also really hard to be super positive. You know there’s something missing from the team at the moment and you know it’s not just missing players.

I just don’t have that confidence that we can push on and take that trophy at the moment… maybe I’m scarred from the past, maybe it’s because I know City have the gear we’ve never shown… but I guess this is the first year that I’ve never not ‘known.’

I don’t mean I’m a sage… but most of the last ten years, it’s been pretty clear we’re way off. Not this time. We do have warrior players. We do have sprinkles of world-class running through the core. I mean, you can’t tell me Cech, Koscielny, Sanchez and Ozil aren’t up there with the best on the planet.

… question is, are those players enough?

Well, we’ll find out in due course. It’s exciting whatever the hell is going on. I love knowing we’ll be there at the end, and that’s all we ask for, am I right?

Yeah, I’m right.

Ok, my last day in the UK. It’s been beautiful.

x

P.S. Great to see so many people yesterday at the Arsenal!

334 Responses to “💬 Match Report: 3 points won in performance shocker + What’s missing?”

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  1. Brooklyn

    People,
    What is difference between Milner playing in wings and Campbell playing?? Cambell shows a silky move every 2-3 games and Milner is better crosser of ball. Other then that??
    Ox has been poor doesn’t means Campbell has been good.
    And to think people were complaining when Ramsey played on wings.

  2. Brooklyn

    People,
    What is difference between Milner playing in wings and Campbell playing?? Cambell shows a silky move every 2-3 games and Milner is better crosser of ball. Other then that?? Does that means you were in favour of getting Milner last season??
    Ox has been poor doesn’t means Campbell has been good.
    And to think people were complaining when Ramsey played on wings.

  3. WengerEagle

    NM

    Yeah I’m still unclear on what match he was injured in, was it an impact injury or more of a wear and tear injury aggravated over time to the point that it impacted his ability to play?

    His goal vs United at OT in the Cup is the last match I can distinctly remember him playing in for us.

  4. Nasri's Mouth

    @WengerEagle

    He did it when he came on against Chelsea in April (?), but I remember Wenger saying he was hoping to have him back 2 or 3 times in the remainder of the season.

    Hopefully the surgery will clear up whatever the issue was

  5. Joe

    DannyJanuary 3, 2016 18:08:23
    They draw too many games
    ———————————–
    THIS. 9 draws out of 20 is actually pathetic.

    Arsenal drew 12 during undefeated season

  6. Sukky

    Seems am not the only one criticising the English players. The truth is they are average. Someone here said they all have talent. That’s funny if you say Walcott and Gibbs are talented. The one thing they both have is pace, no brain, can’t dribble, one dimensional, switch off often in games, tactically poor(can’t blame them for that, all English players tend to share that problem) and poor attitude. Ox and Welbeck is another story, they both have everything physically – pace, can get pass opponents even if it’s not magical, physical, stamina, body balance, shot but they have no footballing brain. Wilshere is obviously the most talented but he’s hunted and when he plays, he hardly improve us. The big question is if there’s no home grown rule, how many of our English players will be with us?

  7. Black Hei

    Sukky

    Walcott is good tactically. He isn’t just fast, he makes great runs. Otherwise he wouldn’t get to miss so many good chances.

    As for Ox, I think he is better in the middle than out wide. But Wenger is going to stick him out wide to “Ramsey” him into a better mid-player.

    Welbeck, yes, I think you are right to an extent. He does not understand how to lead the line; a striker should be more patient instead of dropping deep all the time. He also does not understand how to make forward runs. Perhaps that is due to him being played on the wings at United.

  8. tunnygriffboy

    Like it or lump it we are stuck with having to have a homegrown quota. All things considered I think we have a pretty good bunch

    How many would you swap for other quota players ? Stones, yes, Sterling, yes, Kane yes.

    Thing is how much would these players cost ? You’d have to pay premium rate. Is it not better to stick with what we have (all still young and lower mid twenties) and spend money on WC players we’ll get better value for money ?

  9. peanuts&monkeys

    Chamberlain IS shit.

    Theo is mostly shit and at best a bench sub and shd be brought in when actual CF is injured. Theo hnas lost his speed too. He is not that dangerous with his speed anymore. Truly, he doesn’t have a specialzed zone nowadays. He should be there. What is absolutely necessary now is a replacement to Giroud. Someone who can read the moves of Ozil/Ramsey/Sanchez and be in the best position. And, then bang it in without faltering at all.

  10. qna

    Sukky – I agree with you to a certain extent. The British boys are definitely over-rated most fans. Are they talented – yes. Most definitely, you cant deny this. But ultimately at what level are they is the more important question. Are they talented enough to be in the best 11 of a squad that wins major honours like the Premier League title and the Champions League. The answer has to be overwhelmingly no.

    We do need British players as we can only have 17 non-british players over the age of 21. So with a squad that needs 20 to 22 players, plus 3 or 4 under 21’s, it is a must that Arsenal has 3 to 5 good British squad players. The issue is the better that squad player, the higher the premium you pay on his salary. For example, Walcott on 140k/wk, but his output is of a player that gets paid much much less. In fact, you would have to say that all the British players (as well as many of Arsenal’s non-british players) produce football that is much lower than the massive wages we pay them.

    I have heard many people say – its ok, we can afford it. I fucking hate this stupid way of thinking. Arsenal are – and have been for sometime, the 8th wealthiest club in the world, paying the 8th highest team wages. Yet the performances and results have belied this for many years. We have been punching below our weight for many many years – it hasnt been just because of the stadium move – because even in this time our wage bill has been 8th highest in the world and 4th highest in England.

    So what is the reason? Waste. Wasting money on players that dont perform according to their relative pay-packet. If we want to compete with the three teams that have a higher wage bill than us – then it is even more important that we spend our money even wiser than they do. Walcott on 140k/wk. Giroud on 140k/wk. Arteta, Flamini and Rosicky – the grandpa brigade on quarter of a million a week.

    We are now thinking of giving Wilshere a pay rise – for what exactly? How has he possibly earnt a pay rise based on his performances since his last contract. Same goes for Walcott. Do you think Oxlaide is going to get lower pay on his next contract? We reward mediocrity and celebrate false achievements like being top of the league in January. Its a bad culture and I blame it on Wenger. He is a great manager in my opinion – but the baggage that comes with him in terms of his wage policies and his transfer policies are not in keeping with a club that wants to compete with the elite.

  11. tunnygriffboy

    Qna

    We have to have homegrown players due to qota. The result is we have to pay a premium for them either in buying them for ridiculous fees or having them young and eventually having to pay them those ridiculous wages. They will get paid those wages elsewhere because they are home grown

    What do you suggest we do ?

    Personally i don’t think we’ve a bad bunch. Major concern is their injury record. They are all more than capable of performing well in the team. I wouldn’t start them all but being important members of the squad and contributing to the team when played they are all able to fit in well

    Do we spend £50 million on Stones, Sterling or Kane ? Or do we keep what we have and buy players who represent greater value ? ( i believe Stones is an amazing prospect though )

    What is your solution ?

  12. TheBlaster

    Wow. We just won using a scrappy plan B with two of our key creatives in midfield and attack crocked and the whole team leggy and knackered after the annual stupid Christmas schedule. Haven’t picked up any new significant injuries and gained almost maximum points from the dense lump of matches which usually screw us up on an annual basis. Yes we got through just now by the skin of our teeth, but we are two points clear at the top going into 2016 which is a result any way you slice it. Some of the squad players returning from injury like Ox haven’t rediscovered their mojo yet, but they’ve put in the effort and we have the results. We miss coquelin and cazorla in the centre of the park as they functioned better as a high pressing unit. Flamini, also back from injury, is not up to speed. Chambers is using his match time to improve but not as much as Campbell who has become a useful squad player. Hopefully we sign some younger fitter cover in midfield because Flam is no Coquelin. Ozil is playing the best ball of his career and Cech is the safest keeper we’ve had since Seaman.

    Hard matches to come. This constant bitching is getting on my tits, when we are grinding out results in the way winning teams do, in the way Chelsea did last year and Fergusons United did constantly….in the way LG regulars have been calling for for years…. and yet the only enthusiasm I see (apart from Pedro, who is this season pretty upbeat) is the Spurs love-in. Is this an Arsenal fan site? Who are you people?

  13. tunnygriffboy

    Qna

    Out of interest who is celebrating being top at Christmas apart from the media who always mention it at this time of year as it’s the half way point.

    Wenger isn’t celebrating it. The players aren’t Posters on here aren’t as we’ve been stung too many times

    Is it better top be top in December rather than 12 points behind the leaders ? Absolutely. It means we are in a good position going forward. That is not celebrating but merely an observation of where we are atm.

  14. tunnygriffboy

    Concerns for second half of season

    Fatigue. Too many players having to have played too many games due to amount of injuries

    The inside left channel between Mert and Bellern

    Flamini. Lack of positioning, speed and stamina when game is open

    Ramsey/Flamini partnership. Don’t compliment one an other and not good enough when teams press us. Can’t play their way out.

    Positives

    Great togetherness in the squad

    Transfer window open and we may buy a DM better and more athletic than Flamini who can compliment Ramsey

    Quality players coming back from injury. Will give the squad a boost. They will be fresh and raring to go and will want to prove a point. We will have a chance to rotate.

    We have shown we can defend well, keep our shape and counter well. This maybe needed in away games

    If we can be within 3/4 points of leaders come beginning of March we should have most of our players back and ifeel we could have a good run in come the end of the season

    Coping with the tough fixtures in January/February with so many players out will be key to our title chances.

  15. Sukky

    I know many people will slate me on this. Bellerin just doesn’t cut it for me. His poor delivery is a major downfall. He’s not comfortable with the ball, he lack Composure and his positioning is wrong most times (his monster speed helps him out on that.). Am not saying he can’t improve, am just saying he’s the same player since his debut.

  16. gonsterous

    Sukky

    The Same player since he debuted.. wow thats the worst statement anyone could come up with.. since he debuted, he’s improved so much, he’s nailed down the rb spot and done a better Job covering for debuchy than jenkinson would have.. I get that you don’t like him or think he’s not good enough but why not say that than the rubbish thick headed line that he’s been the same since he debuted..

  17. London gunner

    Tunny

    Our English players are a good bunch?

    Ox who has scored 2 goals in 39 matches and never scored away.

    Jack wilshere who is basically redundant because he is a perma crock

    Welbeck who is a crock and when isn’t crock is bang average and a complete donkey in front of goal

    Gibbs whose basically pure shite a nothing player

    And mr inconsistent Walcott another perma crock.

    Far far far from a good bunch.

    My issue isn’t having English players in the squad we need them for home grown quota reasons.

    My issue is that are guaranteed starters who stop us from buying true talent.

    The English players in our squad should be fringe players not regular starters they just don’t have the talent and are holding back our team

  18. I am arsene

    London gunner

    Walcott is a striker not a winger
    Play him up front and watch his game transform.
    Welbeck is a good player
    His link up and movement are exquisite at times. If he can polish his finishing as many many arsenal players before him have done then he can become a top level forward.

    Wiltshire- maybe injured but what a player

  19. Samesong

    The English players in our squad should be fringe players not regular starters they just don’t have the talent and are holding back our team

    This!!!!

    How many times does one need to understand this.

    A crock is not a talent but just a crock.

  20. freddylekgunner

    Lol Sukky, Bellerin is one of the best right back in the league right now. He lacks composure and not comfortable with the ball? Lol am not sure the Bellerin you’ve been watching.

  21. somerandomperson

    @freddy last 3 games Bellerin is among the worst player in our team. He is almost reaching Ox level in terms performance. Ox has been hands down worst player in the squad for over a year.

  22. Howard

    Thought Wenger will player Chambers but chose the non performing Flamini who doesn’t deserve to be in the team anyway.

    After Chambers did so well in the previous game he needed more game time against Newcastle but Arsene went for his favourite Frenchie. Arsene behave like a tribal head.

    Two players that will deny us the title this year is BFG and Flamini