Great performances from unexpected positions

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What a lovely day out that was!

Well, by day out, I mean sat on my couch.

Arsene Wenger went big on rotation. He brought in the usual suspects; Gabriel, Chambo, Chambers… he tellingly left Debuchy (more like Douchy, *chortle*) on the bench and he gave a debut to Iwobi.

The game didn’t have much flow in the first half, which was expected. Sunderland rested heavily and disrespected the FA cup and shockingly, their second string isn’t much cop.

That said, it didn’t stop them taking the lead. Kieran Gibbs dropped a 3ft pass to Laurent, the Frenchman dithered, their man was on hand to capitalise and rifle them in front.

We did draw level when the impressive Joel Campbell side footed a Bellerin low cross into the bottom corner. Really well taken considering the angle and the slight bobble in the pass.

The second half was more purposeful. Iwobi grew with the game, seeking out chinks in the Sunderland armour and daring to take a few duff shots. He slinked one extremely impressive pass right through the Sunderland team and created a chance for Campbell (I think). He looked very confident for one so young.

It was fairly even until Wenger made the big change and brought on Aaron Ramsey. He brought the tempo up a  notch with his surging runs and direct approach. He took us into the lead after a Bellerin and Campbell played a perfect one two, Bellerin hit a low cross with Ramsey there to knock it home.

Bellerin turned provider again when he threaded a ball through 4 Sunderland defenders, with Giroud on hand to bury it for the game.

Things that we liked…

Iwobi: I didn’t think Wenger would play someone so green in at number 10, but he went all out in ‘showing the faith’ and let the tricky young play maker have a crack. He did well, his movement reminded me of Alex Hleb in his prime. The ball sticks to his feet, he’s always feeling out space… but he’s a bit more direct than the Belarusian. I think he has a lot of talent and he certainly has a great mentor in Ozil.

Strikers: Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud really do need to crank it up a gear. A real lack lustre game from both of them. You can excuse the Frenchman because he hasn’t had a rest in an age, but Theo? He really needs to start playing like the £100k a week player he is. His finishing has been off and I don’t think he’s really offering the team that much in way of anything at the moment.

Chambo: Another game where you spend most of your time facepalming. He’s trying to hard to force form. He’s making bad decisions. He just doesn’t look like he knows what he’s doing out there. A real shame, because his strike of the post in the second half shows you what’s awaiting when it clicks. But right now, it doesn’t matter where he’s played, he doesn’t seem to be able to make it work.

Joel Campbell: I can’t help but smile when I see him on the pitch. He works harder than anyone. He knows what it means to be playing for Arsenal and you sense the last place he wants to go back to is Greece. Working hard isn’t all he has in his game. He defends really well for a forward player, he keeps the tempo of the game going at a good pace and he’s starting to find some lovely touches around the goal. I really like him, a great asset to the squad this season.

JEFF: Yeah, it happened. Joel on for Jeff. The enigma. The legend. The hero. He looked quite tidy. Bit upset there weren’t 4 goals and an assist, but such is life.

Rolling: We’re hitting a nice stride now. What I’m really excited about is that we’re rotating and it’s working now. I still think Wenger needs to go further. It amazes me that he’s still flogging Giroud and Bellerin, but there you go. Point is, we’re using our squad quite well this season, Wenger is growing in confidence and as I’ve said many times, the key to a great season is keeping your best players fit. If we can manage that until the end of the season, who knows?

Some big tests coming up…

Liverpool, Stoke, Chelsea, Leicester, Bournemouth and Southampton… followed by Barcelona.

YIKES. Make it through those games in one piece and we’ll be laughing.

See you tomorrow x

336 Responses to “Great performances from unexpected positions”

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  1. Jamie

    Don’t West Brom want around 25m for Berahino? He has a questionable attitude to. Publicly agitating for a move doesn’t sit well with me.

  2. Louis Almeida

    I think that Ings will feature when he’s back from injury. He scored a few before then. I’m not sure Klopp likes Benteke and Sturridge is one of the most injury-prone players about. Balottelli has an awful work rate so I can’t see him and Klopp getting on so will be interesting to see who Klopp pursues. Maybe Origi might develop well.

  3. Bamford10

    Each “attitude problem” must be looked at individually, as the details of the player and circumstances matter. For example, anyone remember when Ozil was so frustrated that he refused to acknowledge the away fans? Even after Mertesacker instructed him to do so? Anyone remember how angry Mertesacker was with Ozil for his refusal?

    I do. Ozil showed a serious “attitude problem” there, and that was not the only instance of “bad attitude” that season.

    And yet today he is one of our most reliable players.

    A “bad attitude” is not always evidence of a “bad apple”; sometimes it simply reflects a bad situation or even ambition, etc.

  4. Carts

    Cesc

    Klopp strikes me as someone who is very hands on – so if that means ushering out players he doesn’t fancy then so be it. Top of that list will be Sturridge. I read last week they’ll be looking to get £25m…L-O-Ma’fukin-L. If they get anything close to £18m they better count themselves fortunate!

    When you look at someone like Lucas – he was being offered about like a piece of ass now he’s back doing DM duties. Funny game this football is.

    But yeah, I can envisage a lot of changes.

  5. Bamford10

    Balotelli is a world-class talent. No question. The problem is he is also a world-class headcase, which renders his talent meaningless. This is why we were right to avoid him.

  6. Marko

    More now from Arsene Wenger’s news conference and the Arsenal boss has predicted a busy January for clubs at the top of the Premier League, including his own.

    This is this guy can’t be taken seriously talking transfers. One minute we’re pissed off he says he’ll bring in one the next he comes out with this shit. Can’t we just skip forward.

  7. Bamford10

    Benteke is not working out at Liverpool — note that many of us predicted that he wouldn’t work there — but an Olivier Giroud would do no better in their set-up. Indeed he’d be even worse, as he is even more plodding than Benteke.

  8. Cesc Appeal

    Carts

    Agree.

    If Spurs don’t get Berahino, if they can find some decent, cheap youngster to act as a bit of back up, Sturridge would not be the worst gamble in the world for them I don’t think.

    Had to laugh at Liverpool being linked with Lewandowski though.

  9. Ughelligunner

    bamford, if he plays for Arsenal, would you agree he is a worldclass player?
    He scores occasional worldy goals and penalties.
    Other than that, movement is zero, assist is zero, defending is zero, team work zero.

    How do one defines a worldclass player these days.
    Same as benteke, people said he would flourish better in Liverpool because continho and Liverpool’s attacking players are better than villa’s, and of cause people also said liverpool’s midfielders were better than ours at a point.
    So i ask my amiable Bamford, what is happening tour man?

  10. Carts

    Cesc

    Lewandoski…JUST LOL

    Berahino – he’s got a bit about him and I can’t see WBA holding on to him this month. Beats me as to why they didn’t just let him go in August as they would’ve got a few bob more.

    With Sturridge’s current wage, he’ll have to take a solid pay cut too. But I can see that possibly happening; but his injury record is dire!

    I read that it’s quite harmonic in the skids dressing room and this is the reason why they cautious in going for Berahino this Jan.

  11. Jamie

    Bamford –

    I don’t remember Ozil releasing controversial statements concerning his current club, owners, transfer status, or playing time.

    It’s interesting that you bring up that moment in Ozil’s career. In my opinion, that game (we lost 6-1 or something) was a defining moment for him. It seemed like his Arsenal fairy tale start had just come to an abrupt halt.

    I don’t think he was too thrilled with being jettisoned from Real Madrid, so when we started at Arsenal with a bang, his soundbites were always “I love this team” and “what a game” etc. Almost over-compensating. I think the result of that game made him realise quite suddenly that we were far from the real deal. His performances were inconsistent, and he didn’t seem to be enjoying himself much on the pitch.

    At no point, though, did he start questioning the club, the manager, his team mates, or refuse to play. Berahino has done all of these things over the last 12 months.

    Sulking because you (and your team) are losing form and publicly berating your club are incomparable issues.

  12. Marko

    Sturridge isn’t going anywhere. He’s still arguably their best player and more importantly much like us with Wilshere it seems the club haven’t quite given up on him yet.

  13. Cesc Appeal

    Carts

    The media like sticking Liverpool in on every big transfer, no matter how unrealistic, Liverpool so far have been linked to Subotic, Gotze, Aubameyang and Lewnadowski.

    Lazy media pattern emerging there, expect them to be linked to Hummels in the summer, and then players like Weigl and any other up and coming BvB talent.

    Funny thing is, I actually think Klopp is so fond of BvB he wouldn’t do anything to destabilise them or undermine them.

    Gotze is a maybe, but he will have no shortage of potential suitors, including us, one of those players I can actually see Wenger pulling his finger out and stopping his endless dithering over.

  14. Carts

    “Sturridge isn’t going anywhere. He’s still arguably their best player and more importantly much like us with Wilshere it seems the club haven’t quite given up on him yet.”

    I see why you’d say this but I think Sturridge’s position, under Klopp is another issue, entirely.

    Liverpool seem to pull queen-heads out of their ass, but to continuously pay a severely injury prone player £150k pw, irrespective of his talent, isn’t something they’d happily continue doing. Sturridge needs to get it right.

  15. underrated Coq

    ” Benteke is not working out at Liverpool — note that many of us predicted that he wouldn’t work there — but an Olivier Giroud would do no better in their set-up. Indeed he’d be even worse, as he is even more plodding than Benteke”

    See, this is what I pointed yesterday. The discussion had nothing to do with Giroud and yet you can’t help yourself, have to bring in and berate an Arsenal player. On a strange illogical basis I might add.

    If you actually listen to what Liverpool fans say, they complain about Benteke’s tendency to remain static, his poor workrate and incapability to get involved in team-play. All things which you cannot accuse Giroud of.

  16. Red&White4life

    Pep wants Keylor Navas at Man City…
    Wait… What ???? I though that Pep’s next destination was Arsenal ?? lol

  17. Red&White4life

    Wenger : “‘It could be one of the most active transfer windows in January that you have seen,”
    Excepted for Arsenal of course…

  18. Sam

    Jamie,

    My post was not intended to criticise immigrants or anyone
    just highlighting the inconsistency in their policies

  19. Marky G.

    Amazing that a proffessional footballer who has played over 50 times for his country and a job lined up has trouble getting into England but a random guy can jump on the back of a truck in Calais…

  20. Dissenter

    gambon,
    You’ve lost credibility around here for insisting you’ll keep Chamberlain ahead of Campbell.
    That’s comical giving that both players have now had an opportunity to be assessed side by side.
    I wont accuse you of pro-English bias because you’re an equal opportunity B-shitter 🙂

  21. Samesong

    “Since I was about six I’ve always dreamed about playing in the Premier League,” said Afobe. “The manager here has given me the opportunity so I’m looking forward to repaying them by doing well for the team, and scoring as many goals as I can.

    “This team play the way I like to play, I play the way this team like to play, so hopefully I can join my new teammates as soon as possible and work hard, keep improving as a player. I’d like to think I can score a few goals and help this team stay up.”

    Still love this guy Benik Afobe