First example of what could derail Arsenal’s season

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Sometimes you look at a game like this and you curse the two points lost, but in this case, it’s hard to argue that it wasn’t a solid point earned. We’re going to have games like that this year and we’re going to have to learn how to puncture our way through blockades of bodies set up to stifle our movement through the middle.

My major concern about today outside not beating a team slated for relegation, was how average our movement off the ball was without Santi Cazorla in the side. Last season, it would be hard not to apportion a chunk of our failure down to the injury of the diminutive Spaniard… this year, it looks like we’ve staked a lot on his fitness again. We looked slow in possession without his deft touches and smart movement and ultimately, our whole game suffered as a result.

Elneney and Coquelin disappointed today. It was like the axis of dreary, which was partly surprising because I had Elneney down a pretty quick distributor of the ball. Cazorla tends to do the work of two midfielders when he plays next to Coquelin… when he’s not there, you see Coquelin’s work on the ball for what it is… ‘ok’

Boro’ created the best chances for most of the game. Traore was an absolute man monster. His pace, power and overall trickery was tough to deal with and it opened us up on the counter time and time again. Plenty of last ditch defending from the whole backline barely kept the scores level… at one point, Mustafi made an awful pass out of defence that was intercepted, he then lunged in on Ramirez wiping him out… how he didn’t receive a red card is beyond me. Especially after Xhaka’s last week.

Early chances mostly fell to Boro’, they rattled the bar from a free kick and forced three very good saves from Petr Cech.

The second half saw us come alive a little more. It turned into a bit of a slug fest of counter attacking football. Our best chance fell to Sanchez who failed to convert when released on the keeper for one of his only chances of the game. He did force one great save from Valdes, but outside that, he was quiet. Chamberlain looked like he’d helped us seal a win right at the death when his driving run and shot was turned in by Ozil… offside was the call. Walcott also didn’t play the line properly and spurned the final chance for victory.

What to think?

The Premier League is a tough place to play. Aitor Karanka hasn’t managed to get much right this season going forward, but he knew the only way to extract anything from our place was the defend like heroes and choke out our movement and it paid off. We’d won 7 on the bounce before this, and whilst it’s hugely disappointing to let 2 points slide away at home, we just have to accept that sometimes we won’t get the rub of the green.

A major concern for me, and one I’ve been moaning on about for 3 years is that we don’t have adequate cover for Santi Cazorla. It was a problem last season, and it looks like it’ll be a problem this season.

Sure, we’re dealing with an on-going Aaron Ramsey hamstring issue and that might be enough to prevent lost points like today… but let’s not forget how poor his pairing with Coquelin was last season when the same issue occurred. Heir apparent for me would have been Jack Wilshere. Great touches, driving runs and that bit of class we lacked today. But he’s not here, so we have to hope that firstly, Santi is back in the mix shortly, secondly, that Wenger has a very smart plan in place to make sure he’s well rotated this season… because he’s turning 32 in 2 months time, it’s going to be very tough to keep him in great shape this year.

The other concern I have about our frontline is that it’s very small. We have zero aerial threat, so when we’re suffering on the ground, we just have to make it work, there’s no aerial advantage we can jump on. This problem WILL be alleviated shortly when Giroud returns to the fold, then later down the line… the return of WELBZ.

Also worth noting that we’ve done pretty damn well considering we’ve not had Giroud and Ramsey in the starting line-up. Two mainstays last season (ok, get that Giroud was kinda toilet, but he’s still a 20 a season striker).

Looking forward, we need to hope this was a blip after a great run, rather than the culmination of a few warning signs we’ve been shot over the past few weeks. Swansea was closer than we’d have hoped and Burnley was a very late win. We have Reading in the League Cup to perk us up again, followed by Sunderland, then Ludogorets… then it’s the big one.



173 Responses to “First example of what could derail Arsenal’s season”

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  1. GuNZ

    I have been incredibly busy of late and much water has passed under the bridge. I felt, however, compelled to post and calm everybody’s nerves. Nougat Boy’s toe will soon be fixed and Arsenal will win the World Cup. It is written.

  2. GuNZ

    Actually it’s written on the Arsenal website but, as that’s a tissue of lies, I suppose it means that Giroud has a more serious malady, maybe something to do with a tribe of itinerant bush-pigmies mistaking his nose for a section of the Sydney Opera House and claiming squatters rights in it. Who fucking knows?

  3. GuNZ

    I’ve been in the enviable position, the last few weeks, of being so fucking busy that all I’ve seen of the Arsenal are the twenty second NZ TV news reports of the games. When that’s all you know, it’s really easy to become deluded into the assumption that the team is doing fantastically well. It is very therapeutic and I highly recommend it.

  4. Bamford10

    People who don’t see Xhaka’s signing as an attempt to improve upon Coquelin at CDM are perplexing to me. Are you saying we spent 35m on a CM — a position where we had/have some four other players (Cazorla, Ramsey, Wilshere, Elneny). That makes sense.

    If Xhaka was not signed as a CDM and improvement on Coquelin, his signing made little to no sense. Sorry.

  5. underrated Coq

    For all the criticism Giroud gets from Arsenal fans, don’t think anyone can deny the qualities he brings to the team are sorely missed on days like yesterday. Sanchez as false-nine is yet to do well against parked defenses.

  6. Moray

    Wenger has had a good season so far. It looks like he is playing for another three years. I hope the board wait until we have passed through our traditionally killing winter period before they make any decision on this.

    We are still fragile up front. I hope Wellbz is taking this time to work on his shooting or he may find himself being sold, especially if under a new manager.

    As you say, Pedders, it has been clear for some time how critical Cazorla is to the team. I don’t think Ramsay is the answer. Finding that ideal midfield combination and being able to adjust it according to the game will be critical this year.

  7. Bamford10


    I didn’t miss it. It’s another example of W’s cluelessness. He’s not a B2B; he likes to play deep. Plus we didn’t need another B2B. We needed a ball playing CDM — which is actually what Xhaka is.

  8. Leedsgunner

    Sometimes a draw feels like a win and other times it feels just as annoying as a loss. Yesterday was one of those. Sanchez played too deep and we played not 4231 but 4240at times with no one leading the attack. Why was he doing this? Answer? He was getting muscled off the ball and we needed a new focus of attack. The introduction of Lucas helped somewhat but it should have been done at half time.

    For a second game Monreal has been poor a la Swansea. Why wasn’t Gibbs put on at half time to shore up that left side? Is he carrying an injury? He was getting exposed like Allardyce in a nightclub.

    I think Iwobi would have done better had he had the confidence to surge forward if he knew his back was secure… yesterday the youngster was left in no man’s land because he couldn’t go forward but he couldn’t come back quick enough to help out defensively. This in turn has blunted our creativeness because he’s been one of our playmakers this season.

    At half time I would have subbed Monreal for Gibbs, Perez for Elneny and gone for 442 just to mix things up… and told our strikers to get in the box…

    Let’s hope Soton do us a favour today and pull off an unlikely win… if they do a points not too bad. 🙂

  9. Don

    This is the same Cazorla you wanted sold last year.The same Cazorla you said had lost his legs.Now he is our midfield general.Thats a massive U turn

    The scary thing about the last 3 games is how many chances Kos and Mustafi have given up to poor strikers who couldnt finish us off

    Well done Cech

  10. Emiratesstroller

    This was a disappointing result in a game we should have won particularly since we are moving into November when Arsenal has historically not played particularly well.

    Arsenal were short of three central midfield players with absence of Ramsey, Cazorla and Xhaka and that I su.spect had an impact on our performance.

    Personally I am not a fan of Elneny as many others are. He lacks pace and physicality. Coquelin is a ‘bread and butter’ player, but he needs to play alongside a more accomplished player.

    Wenger states that the team looked tired. If that is the case then perhaps he
    should have replaced some of the players in team.

  11. David Smith

    Moray, I would imagine the board,have already made their decision, just waiting for Wenger to sign it.
    If arsenal finish seventh, the board would keep him, though Wenger himself may be smart enough to leave in that event.
    But pretty sure at least two and a half more seasons of the same

  12. Leedsgunner

    As good as the result mid week was Cazorla shouldn’t have played then, been rested and played yesterday… but hindsight is always perfect.

  13. underrated Coq

    Problem with Elneny is he plays a cautious game. Arseblog did an analysis of all our midfielders’ strengths & weaknesses,this is what they made of Elneny

    ‘Risks falling into the jack of all trades and master of none category. While he rarely wastes the ball, he is possibly too conservative. The Egyptian can keep a midfield ticking over, but does not stamp his personality onto a game as his competitors for a central berth can.

    You would be happy to hand him your house keys, but you would not back him to pick a lock or break a door down. He is pretty much the ideal squad player, which is great for Arsenal, but maybe less so for Elneny personally.’

  14. Al

    Don’t mind the coq and elneny in away games but not if we are playing at home. It’s just way to conservative for me and toges the away team one less thing to worry about.

  15. Cesc Appeal

    I actually don’t think the 4-2-3-1 is going to serve us going forward, or rather, it isn’t going to maximise the talent we have.

    In terms of our central midfield options, I don’t think we have a pairing well rounded enough to play as a middle duo, further, I don’t think our options in attacking midfield can ameliorate for us playing one kind of way in deep centre, that’s why as soon as Caz goes missing the whole team looks off. You can talk about Caz’s talent, and obviously he’s a technical wonder, but that isn’t good, to look that off when you’ve lost one player and I think it speaks for the failings of players like Ozil, and the fact we didn’t get a technical, creative wide playmaker to share the creative burden.

    I don’t think we have a good enough ST for a 4-2-3-1 either where the ST is the focal point, best evidenced by the fact that our best play seems to come when we have a fully interchangeable front line, Iwobi, Sanchez and Walcott this season, Iwobi, Sanchez and Welbeck last season. Giroud is the most obvious ST in the squad for a 4-2-3-1, and whilst he can be a focal point, we all know that his severe lack of pace and terrible finishing are a big draw back.

    Then our wide options, I don’t think any of them are technically proficient enough to play that sort of closer, more intricate style, tempted to even say that Iwobi shows the most technical promise out of any of them, Sanchez is a superstar and I do think his ball usage has improved drastically this year, but he is certainly a more direct type of wide forward, Walcott I’m just never going to get on board with, his upsurge this year has been down to attitude and workrate which is highly commendable, but again, not really technically proficient, Oxlade obviously as well.

    I like the 4-2-3-1 set up, but I don’t think we have the right personnel for it.

  16. Gregg

    Cazorlas absence is huge, in terms of replacements in current squad, I’d consider dropping Iwobi deeper into Cazorlas position when required.

  17. Wallace

    when Xhaka’s better integrated Cazorla won’t be such a big miss. nice to see him getting some appreciation though, even if it is only when he’s out.

  18. mysticleaves

    I wouldnt go as far as saying Cazorla would have nade the difference today. He has played in many games where teams packed the bus and couldnt do jack!

    More than anything we needed 2 strikers up top early enough and to go more direct.

    Dropped points, hurts but its our reaction that matter.