Gooner smugness coupled with subplot of ‘we’ve seen this before’

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wenger-bday

Oh my, can you feel it? Yeah, it’s the feeling of #BigGameJoy. We don’t get it often, and it feels wild. The stench of smugness meant it was an elevator for one this morning. I really am enjoying the joy.

Undertone of the celebrations are muted though, after all, we’re Gooners. I watched the game in a nice pub in Willamsburg and my English Gooner Fam were still not sure we’d kill the game with 4 minutes to go.

I think what’s important here is to take the game for what it was. A great win and the end of a hoodoo. My concern, because I’m an Arsenal fan, is how far do we read into this?

Chelsea were a garbage side last year and it’s looking very much like they might be a garbage side this year. But look, we can’t call these big games a test then renege on that after. It was impressive for many reasons. Really impressive.

Reason One: Depth

Ok, tell me how many times over the last 10 years we could have dealt with an injury to a first team midfielder on fire (not my fire, but you get what I’m saying)? Coquelin dropping out of the side would have meant an aging star (Rosicky / Arteta / Kallstrom) or a child replacement (Denilson). We lose the Frenchman and replace him with Xhaka. We had enough depth to deal with losing Xhaka as well. We have three players who can play striker. We have 4 centre backs. We have cover. Good cover. Who’d have thunk it, fitting out your squad with enough players has benefits?

Reason 2: Commitment

Now look, I think the ‘Theo is a beast’, is a tired story that normally lasts until the weather turns cold. Stats for Prem starts and productivity indicate he’s the most productive midfielder  / winger in the league over the last 3 years. He’s banged in 20+ goals for us before. But if there was ever a stat that proved context is needed with numbers, it’s that one. Anyway, his commitment is striking because he’s owning stats in areas he’s been critiqued for. Making more tackles in our opening 5 games than he did in the preceding 3 seasons? Pretty good if he can keep it up… and remember, Theo was the guy who said last season, ‘I saw that Sanchez works hard and thought, why can’t I?’, then tanked so hard we all wanted him gone.

Also, look at the players Wenger has brought in. Perez, a hard-working industrious Spanish Jamie Vardy. Xhaka, a hardworking class ball playing midfielder. Elneny, a powerhouse engine room of a midfielder. All players you need to keep the energy going. All workers. I mean, if Wenger had signed Mikki, we’d be the hardest working team in the league.

Challenge here is motivation. Can Wenger keep them working like they are now in February? Or after a shock defeat? Or when they get tired?

Reason 3: Tactics

We out-muscled and out-thought Chelsea. Conte, a master tactician said so after the game. We had smart pressing, we were first to every ball, thoughtful throughout, and strong. Really strong. That’s a evolution of our thinking. We’ve been here before though. We try something for a bit, it works, then Wenger reverts to type. If these moves are purposeful and not a reaction to a bad start, let’s see it all season. Let’s see it get smarter. Let’s see us elevate the way we strategise against massive teams.

So all in all, a lot to be positive about. Remember though, there was a lot to be positive about last season and we blew it. So don’t get too smug.

Champions League next. Basel. More on that tomorrow. Have a rip roaring day you joyful bastards.

P.S. Arsenal fans, you are weird and amazing.

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202 Responses to “Gooner smugness coupled with subplot of ‘we’ve seen this before’”

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  1. tunnygriffboy

    Bamf

    I think Iwobi is quite a good player now. If he improves in the areas you say I think he’ll become a very good player 🙂 🙂

    Whoever mentioned the fact Iwobi chose Nigeria not England makes a very good point. Imagine the hype if he was English ? Every move he made would be scrutinised and seriously hyped up. It would have started already the way he is playing

    Much better for him to move under the radar and quietly learn off Mesut, Santi and Alexis

    One other thing. I’ve been very critical of Walcott. But I take my hat off to him, he’s started the season really well. 14 duels on the weekend, more than anyone else. He’s made more tackles this season than he did the whole of last season.

  2. Bruce

    You still with us Pedro ? Boy, some of the earlier posting was low low quality. Glad to see the some of the adults like Emerates, Tunny, Louise and Bamford are now in the building. As for you Joe, if you could just find somewhere else to go that would be appreciated.

  3. tunnygriffboy

    Louis

    I’m not really championing Giroud. My posts explained why I think we are a better side without him. I just feel he is a good sub and can be used in certain games

    Having seen Burnley play against Liverpool, at home, they put 10 men behind the ball and stayed deep. They then tried to hit them on the break and relied on set pieces. Burnley are a big physical side.

    I just think if you are to play Giroud this is the sort of game to play him in. He works defending corners and free kicks as well.

    Our squad needs to be rotated and squad players do need to play in order to keep them sharp and to keep them motivated. I think Giroud now knows he has to play out of his skin to get a game. It’s great we’ve got this competition.

  4. Louis Almeida

    Jim Lahey, it’s very annoying. They nearly have everything. They own the rights to French, Italian and German football, in addition to a host of other sports too. If Sky aren’t careful BT will take more PL games from them too. I hate Owen!

    tunnygriffboy, I think most teams defend deep against Arsenal though, don’t they? Even Chelsea did at the weekend. For me you need quick incisive moments in and around the box to open up teams who sit deep. Just trying to cross the ball to Giroud would be a lazy option for me. For me I pack the team with creativity and have off the ball runners. Against Chelsea we had Ozil, Santi, Iwobi and Ozil who all pass well and we had Alexis and Theo finishing it off. I think it’s the blueprint the manager is trying to go for.

  5. Rambo Ramsey

    Walcott always turns it up a notch in derby matches, especially against Spurs and Chelsea. Lets just say he knows how to get the fans on his side.

    Anyhow, its great to see him go back to basics and replicate the sort of attitude and performances that made him one of the best wingers in the PL.

    Now if Ramsey follows suit and reaches the high standards he set in 2013/2014, we’ll have a pretty formidable team on our hands.

  6. Bamford10

    Tunny

    Yeah, I have never been kind to Theo, but hats off to him for his recent performances. He’s working hard, looking for others and not only himself, playing simply and making good runs and simple passes. More of the same needed.

  7. tunnygriffboy

    Bamf

    So are we saying Wenger tried to improve our strike force last Christmas to have a go at the title ?

    Pity he didn’t bring Elneny in in the summer so we weren’t left with bloody Flameta

    Bamf, what do you make of our signings ?

    For me with Iwobi and Elneny established and Mustafi, Xhaka, Lucas and Holding brought in that is one hell of a face lift to our team and squad. We’re much stronger.

  8. Steveyg87

    “Now if Ramsey follows suit and reaches the high standards he set in 2013/2014, we’ll have a pretty formidable team on our hands.”

    At the expense of who? a defensive liability for a team who already has to carry the defensive burden of iwobi and ozil, now you wana throw Rambo in the mix, not for me mate

  9. tunnygriffboy

    Liverpool and spurs are feted for their pressing game. None of the pundits have made anything of the fact that we are doing it and doing it well. First half on Saturday chelsea had no answer to it

    Second half we sat deeper and picked them off on the counter. In all honesty we should have scored another couple of goals. We were a bit sloppy

    Having Kos and Mustafi in defence means the defence is now aggressive, on the front foot looking to intercept the ball. Because of the pace we can play a really high line and squeeze opponents into their own half.

    I just hope we are so hungry to do really well this season that this intensity continues. Use the squad, think that Santi can’t play 90 minutes three times a week and pick the times he is to be rested. It can be done.

  10. Jaroda

    The BT commentary is appalling. I had to listen to Steve Mcmanamanamanaman spend 95% of the time talking about Chelsea with no reference to how well Arsenal were doing.

    Having said that Michael Owen is even worse.

  11. tunnygriffboy

    Rambo/Stevey

    Beauty of things as they are Ramsey has to perform in all areas. Otherwise he won’t play

    I’d like to see him play alongside Xhaka. With Alexis dropping deep or pulling wide dragging his CBs with him then Ramsey is superb at making those runs into the gaps that Alexis has made. If we are going to press then Ramsey is great to do this with his insane stamina level.

    Again we’re hypothetically picking combinations. No way have we been able to do that for years and years.

  12. Steveyg87

    ” mate Ramsey was no defensive liability in 2013/2014; he was one of the most complete midfielders in the PL.”

    Before I sound like I’m badgering him. I really enjoyed Ramsey during his purple patch, lets not forget, before hitting form, there were big question marks regarding his overall ability, mostly due to him wanting to be spectacular, Wenger publicly stated that Ramsey needed to get back to basics to rediscover his form. Once he was on that high, he rated himself again and slowly but surely the Hollywood passes reared its ugly head and along with that his form went

  13. Bamford10

    Tunny

    I agree that our signings have improved us. The question is how much.

    Mustafi has been excellent so far, and while it would be nice to have someone with a bit more height and presence in the air, I think our back four is pretty darn solid.

    I like Xhaka and Elneny as well, but the question remains for me how they will do against top, top teams. I think they will both excel against 85% of the teams we play, but I don’t think we know yet just how good they will be in the biggest games, against the best teams.

    Thus I think our central midfield is better than it was, but it’s unclear how much better — and whether it will be enough.

    As for the front line, the jury is out. In truth we are better here at moment not because of any signings but because of the (improved) play of Alexis, Walcott and Iwobi — and the fact that Giroud has been sidelined. That is the reason for improvement: the lamppost is on the bench and we have movement, pace and dynamism up front.

    Not to toot my own horn, but I have been saying the above is what was needed for ages.

    Whether Lucas improves us is an open question, but he looks like a potential better second option (after Alexis and before Giroud).

  14. Bamford10

    I would love to see Ramsey simplify his game, return to basics and return to top form, but I’m not sure I see this happening. You never know, though; perhaps he’ll see Theo’s example and follow suit.

    I still like the idea of a genuine central three — three genuine CMs (i.e., no Ozil) — which would pair an in-form Ramsey with Xhaka and Elneny and would push Ozil into a wide attacking role, but this is highly unlikely, I think.

    If you have to have two CMs playing in behind Ozil, though, we can go with either Xhaka and Elneny or Xhaka and Ramsey. Opinion is divided here re this question: some prefer Elneny’s efficiency, simplicity and tidiness; others prefer Ramsey’s upside, flair, dynamism.

    I’m probably partial to Elneny — unless Ramsey really tidies up his game, in which case I’d go with him.

  15. grooveydaddy

    agree with a lot of what’s being said above.

    the biggest improvement in our team is the fact that Giroud, Ramsey, and Mert are no longer guaranteed starters (well, in Ramsey’s case, it still remains to be seen)

    while each of them are good players in their own right, their limitations ultimately held us back, I reckon…

  16. Sam

    Mertesacker should stay even if he doesn’t start
    his leadership is needed n looks like a potential coach

    We just lost Arteta I am sure its because Wenger promised him nothing

  17. BigCheese

    I think Giroud now knows he has to play out of his skin to get a game. It’s great we’ve got this competition.

    Bang on. I’d also add that it’d be nice to not seem beasted by Xmas because we have no other alternative.

  18. Sam

    Our style of play is too fast for Giroud
    I am surprised we didn’t sell him in the summer
    I also think we should bring someone in January
    try Draxler again?
    James Rodriguez finally had enough benching in Madrid

    or Donyell Malen grow beard by Kwismas ( his agent Mina Raiola certainly think he should play this season, greedy cunt! )

  19. Steveyg87

    “the biggest improvement in our team is the fact that Giroud, Ramsey, and Mert are no longer guaranteed starters (well, in Ramsey’s case, it still remains to be seen)

    while each of them are good players in their own right, their limitations ultimately held us back, I reckon…”

    This..

  20. Sam

    Coz he knows if his client get few good games at Arsenal he’ll start screaming for new contract.
    Although his comments about Malen’s talent are true

  21. Joe

    Hi Bruce. Yawn.

    Anyway

    I think Giroud, unfortunately, will play a part this season. Sanchez will get burnt out if he keeps playing as much as he does. He is also an all out player. Fatigue or injury will happen

    But giroud won’t be tired and should be motivated for two reasons. For his spot with us and now that Benz is back in the reckoning for the NT , giroud has a lot to fight for

    That said. He does not have work with Ozil and sanchez. Or the pressing game

  22. STV

    Avoiding Barca Real Bayern Juve thus improving the chances for last 8 should be our first priority, not stumbling in to last 16 on match day 6.

  23. tunnygriffboy

    Stv

    Yes b.gger the tiny totts. Dortmund v Madrid for me.

    Bamf

    Yes it will be interesting how we do against the big sides. We can’t 100% be sure how the new signings will fare but at least it’s a bit exciting compared to last season whe once Santi, Coquelin and Alexis got injured we knew we were up against it even against middle of the road sides

    Ideally tomorrow we get a lead and some of Mesut/Alexis/Santi/Iwobi can get a breather and Elneny/Lucas/Ox could get a bit of a gallop

    I shouldn’t be so positive and count my chickens as we’ll probably have a nightmare again 🙂 🙂

  24. Redtruth

    Emirates has picked his top 4 but is not sure in what order they will finish.

    He’s just happy to finish in the top 4 AGAIN! like every season.

    Nothing has changed…pathetic
    .

  25. Redtruth

    Lets get real and stop supporting Arsenal until Wenger is removed because i am 100% ITK Arsenal will win nothing this season and Wenger will sign a new deal…So Fans Wake Up And Act!!!… You Peasants…

  26. Bob N16

    I’ m convinced Redruth can’t be an Arsenal fan and that he’s giggling away to himself, loving his private joke.

    He reminds of that shock jock on Talkshite who is on an Arsenal wind up whenever I can suffer to listen to him.

    Does his spouting add to the debate?Would it be better if he were to find an alternative blog to indulge himself?

    Or should we embrace him as an eccentric who adds to the mix?

    I know I shouldn’t give him the attention that apparently he desperately needs…..but I just have. Giggle away Redruth…….

  27. The Iceman

    Banford0

    ‘Not to toot my own horn, but I have been saying the above is what was needed for ages.’

    But you also are of the belief that the players you have can’t improve and get better by playing and growing together.

    Your solution is always to get rid of x,y and z. rather than trying to find the right balance buying top quality acquisitions to supplement the good players we already have.

    Not every player has to be WC they just need to have enough quality and the right balance in the team.

  28. somerandomperson

    I would be happy if every one stop mentioning Ox . If we play Gibbs on wings then we would have far far better game/results than playing Ox.

    It is better to write off Ox and give some time to Akpom or even Adelaide.