Arsenal Match Review: 6 key talking points post Bournemouth

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via @t0wey (instagram)

via @t0wey (instagram)

A nice quick one to ease you into a sweet Monday morning. Let’s play 5 things we loved about the Bournemouth game. Or maybe 5 things about the Bournemouth game.

Wenger followed through:

No, not in his pants, he followed through on his comments from the press conference on Xhaka. He realised that having a ball playing group of midfielders might be a good idea and it might free up our better players. He didn’t only elect to play Xhaka, who we suspected might land a game, he also played the quietly impressive Elneney.

The result? A much more free flowing style of football. A team that’s struggled to create chances managed 16 attempts on goal. Sure only three of them were on target, taking our shots on target to goals ratio to 100% over the last 4 games (I think), but whatever… we looked far more lively and Ozil and Sanchez certainly looked to have benefitted from the ability of both midfielders to distribute between the lines at pace.

Discipline was no better or worse

This idea that without Coquelin in the middle, the team somehow collapse into an explosion of party poppers and alcopops didn’t materialise. Sure, we didn’t look impressive at the back at times, but I’m not sure I’d put too much of that on the midfield. Debuchy going off after his 15minutes of game time felt discomforting because of it’s regularity, bringing on Gabriel didn’t fill me with joy (what about Rob Holding future king of England?)… but we dealt with it fairly well.

Point is, defensively, Xhaka is the business. He made 8 tackles out of 10 attempts, he made 3 interceptions as well as 14 ball recoveries. He also had a 90% pass completion rate. Hard to knock those numbers. Elneney was quieter on the defensive front, but he had 12 pass combinations with Xhaka, showing they have a good understanding, he sprayed the ball around well with a 91% pass completion rate and just to cap off how he clicked, he made the second most passes for Arsenal behind Xhaka.

When you have a base of midfield that can control the pace of the game, defend well and press like Elneney was well into the last 10minutes of the game, you know you have a very good options.

Xhaka and Ozil

The German took a bit longer to creep into the game than Sanchez, but when he did, he made some sublime contributions. He was involved in the Theo Walcott goal, shaking off two players, finding Monreal at the back post via a deflection allowing a volleyed cross onto the head of the Theo. A great combination of play there. Ozil and Sanchez carry our team with their stardust.

Sanchez is a never-ending bag of energy, I do worry about our over reliance on him, but more so, I worry that Wenger genuinely thinks he is invincible. Hopefully a week off now will be good for his December batteries. Ozil created 3 chances, not as many as Sanchez on 5, but at least he’s pushing those averages up. Keeping those guys fit is imperative to our season.

Chances

We’ve had 10 shots in November and scored 11 goals . That could read to you like super efficiency, or it could read like problem with our ability in front of goal. We’re not working keepers and there will come a point where that will be a major issue for us. Liverpool absolutely blitzed Sunderland at the weekend even though it took a while to break the keeper. We just haven’t been on fire like that this season. I don’t know how Wenger specifically addresses that, but we’re going to have to start getting more accurate in front of goal, because our conversion rate isn’t going to be the best in the league forever.

Performance

Hard to escape that Arsenal really aren’t peaking performance wise. Some will point to me being negative, but only the cry babies who can’t take a dose of reality with their cornflakes say that. Arsenal haven’t turned a great performance since Chelsea. We were pinned back by Bournemouth for chunks of the game and we’re not hitting the levels Liverpool or Chelsea are. It’s a marathon, not a race, but if you’re playing with a flat tire and a the hand brake on in November, can you win the marathon in May?

Could be great news, winning averagely is great, but only if we turn it up a notch and start bringing the style and panache Champions bring. My worry is that this cruddy play could easily turn into a dip. We’re scrapping through, it’ll either be vintage Mourinho, or it’s just a poor Arsenal that are getting lucky.

Crowd

Arsenal have a notoriously flat crowd… but so do most Premier League clubs as the authorities have successfully beaten the joy out of the stadium experience. That’s why it was refreshing to see Klopp tell off the Kop for tutting a Henderson misplaced pass (you know he’s made almost 1100 passes this year, nearly double Ozil and about 40% more than our busiest passer Mustafi). The crowd lifted and Liverpool broke the deadlock. Conte was the same in the Chelsea game, trying to lift the home crowd to make sure his team pushed the win over the line.

I like it. Some don’t. But fans need to be more involved in the game. We are lazy when it comes to that, but it’s nice to see that coaches coming through see the advantage of the noise and really interesting that Klopp will rollock the home fans if they don’t follow orders!

RIGHT ME DONE OVER AND OUT BIG LOVE x

131 Responses to “Arsenal Match Review: 6 key talking points post Bournemouth”

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  1. Du Vi

    My God you are really clutching at straws Pedro with both Xhaka and Ozil…You clearly didn’t watch the game as your summation is not an objective reflection of one who did.So its either you are being wilfully deceitful or just in cloud cukooo land.

  2. Mark S

    I might get slated for this, but the atmosphere thing bothers me. When Wenger gets asked about it, he says that the team needs to perform in order to get the crowd amped up. This to me is only a partial truth, the crowd needs to do their part as well. I know this isn’t a direct comparison…but when I go to Minnesota Vikings games, the crowd always stands and yells when the home defense is defending on 3rd down. We try to make it harder for the opposing quarterback to communicate the play call to his team. Does it always make a difference? No, but at least once a game it usually causes the opposing offense to have a penalty or use a valuable timeout to regroup. The Vikings could be down by 2 touchdowns ie 2 goals, but the crowd still rises to cheer them. It gives them a boost. Again…I know I’m comparing different sports, but it helps motivate the team. If you see the team struggling, get behind them.

    In regards to the performance, yes Arsenal have played better this year…but you’ll take 3 points. I’m worried about the shots on goal as well. We can’t convert like that for forever. I’m really surprised that it was only 3 on target, but after re-watching the match that seems fair. 3 points off the top going into December, you can live with that. Interesting to see how Chelsea and Liverpool do with a congested fixture list the next 2 months.

  3. Do one gambon

    I wasn’t overly impressed with the midfield, that’s not to say they were really poor but too many times Bournemouth broke past and were running direct at our defence. A good team would have punished it.

    That said I feel the biggest issue is this constant shuffling of our centre MIDs. No one gets to guild a real partnership with anyone. I may be old fashioned but I feel its important and I hope Wenger keeps the xhaka el neny partnership for a few games (league cup exception) to see if they grow.

    Another issue I feel needs discussing is ozil and Sanchez. They’re like best buds on a playground, always looking to pass to each other first sometimes to the detriment of of players in better positions. It makes it quite easy for the oppo to know what they’re going to do.

    2 of the biggest factors IMO of why we are making a meal out of games like yesterday

  4. kenyangunner

    The win just papered the cracks. I knew Pedro would bring the issue of Coquelin but the defence was seriously exposed yesterday.
    On another day,Bournemouth would have two more penalties for handball by Monreal and blatant push by Mustafi.
    Exciting yes,assured No!

  5. Joe

    How many more of our matches this season
    Has our performance been average than not.

    Perhaps that is our level and not one of Great performers like the one v chelsea.

    Hmmmmm

  6. Joe

    And average vs a 12th place team missing their best player Wilshere

    Who really had a few chances they are sure kicking themselves about today

    As red would say. ” flat track bullies “

  7. Christian

    just my view but I think as much as xhaka and elnenypatnership is good,winning the ball back was way poor and mostly we had to depend on interceptions thus the opposition had more possession until they made a bad pass.that exposed us to some serious attack through the middle something coq deals with at least

  8. Cesc Appeal

    Needs to be a supporters/singing section in the ground with safe standing, non-stop noise and presence, allows flags, scarf waving the works. Will not annoy any of the sit-and-watch fans because all the raucous lot will be confined to one area.

    The Emirates is far too much like a theatre as opposed to a football ground.

  9. kc

    Hey Mark S, how’s that crowd noise working for your vikes? What’s that, you guys have lost 5 out of your last 6? Enjoy that new stadium buddy cuz that’s as good as it gets for you guys this year. Oh and see you on Thursday night for your next beat down. We Dem Boyz!

  10. Joe

    Cesc

    Do you think it’s apathy because of what wenger has brought of expectations in the last 12.

    Or due to the make up of the crowd. Pricing. Tourist etc

  11. Cesc Appeal

    Joe

    Certainly there is an element of deflation amongst fans, and a feeling of going through the motions, but week after week you are hearing about fans being told to sit down, fans attempting to get chants going and people not being interested.

    I think the stewarding and set up of the ground lends to it being more a theatre where you silently observe what is happening on the pitch, group all the raucous fans together, let them stand (if safe-standing is successful) for the whole game making noise, waving banners, scarfs the works, no doubt that will translate into more energy on the field.

    Sort of symptomatic of the whole idea at Arsenal of being above petty football things such as money, success, chanting, performances etc, we need to focus more on the football again, the stadium and the club belong to the fans, let them create an atmosphere and support the team the way they want.

  12. Confidentgoner

    To get us challenging on all fronts, we need to get busy starting from this window:

    We still need 2 bodies in the midfield and we need to sell two or three players in that position.The midfielders we need must be strong, good with the ball, and have some pace. A younger Payete will suit us real fine. Perhaps even as he is now I would seriously consider him or Griesman.

    We need a winger, fast , who has trickery, able to beat people and can shoot/cross. Get that body, sell Chamberlain or Theo. The person to be sold will depend on goal contribution assessment, and other winger metrics.

    In CBs we are fine for now.

    LB, however buy a proper left back, sell with Gibbs or Monreal.
    RB , consider our options fairly OK.

    Get Auybaymeyang. Sell Wellbeck to sort out the CF position.

    CF: Auybaymeyabg, Sanchez, Giroud( to be replaced in two seasons)

  13. Joe

    Gons

    In other news. We were 3 points off the top after 14 matches last season too

    How did that turn out?

    Or did you forget about last season and the 11 before?

  14. Joe

    And capitulating Like we did last season to finish 10 points back of Leicester was most impressive.

    Don’t you think gons?

  15. BacaryisGod

    Great post.

    I would just like for one of those posters who constantly complain about ‘lazy’ Ozil to actually back it up with stats (number of sprints per match, distance covered etc). Nobody ever does.

  16. Wallace

    nice posts, Mark 8 and Do One Gambon.

    be interested to hear what one of the older matchday regulars thinks about the atmosphere down the years. whether it’s changed much.

  17. Cesc Appeal

    BiG

    All you need to do is use your eyes and realise his physical presence or stamp on the game is next to zero, he shies away from 50/50’s, turns his back on play, tumbles over when brushed up against, does next to no central midfield work.

    He’s an incredible talent in terms of technical ability and vision, but in Arsenal’s 4-2-3-1 he leaves an enormous hole in front of our middle two, a middle two that is frequently weak and unbalanced itself, so you start to see the problem.

    Unless we can accommodate Ozil going forward as a side, keeping his strengths but compensating for his lack of presence and effort, we’re not going to be a top rate side.

    A lot of Arsenal fans are afraid to criticise Ozil, I don’t buy into Pedro’s assertion he’s carrying the team, Caz and Sanchez have carried this team so far this year, Ozil for large parts has been carried.

  18. Alexanderhenry

    Pedro

    ‘It’s a marathon, not a race, but if you’re playing with a flat tire and a the hand brake on in November, can you win the marathon in May?’

    You’ve answered you’re own question.
    There are so many things that can happen between now and May. Playing indifferently but getting results at this stage of season most certainly means we have a chance.
    Yes, Liverpool and chelsea are playing better than, but as they haven’t had CL games to deal with, it’s not that surprising.

    Many will point to recent disappointing seasons when arsenal have flattered to deceive, but our current squad, although not the finished article, is much stronger. We’ve got options where we didn’t have any before, and although we have injuries, they’re nothing like as bad as in previous years when we ended up playing Song as a CB in Champions league games.

    Maybe it’s time for a little bit of cautious optimism from you Pedro.
    You can still be ‘wenger out’ and if he pulls it off this season, there are a number mitigating circumstances you can choose from.

  19. Alexanderhenry

    Cesc

    ‘Caz and Sanchez have carried this team so far this year’.

    That’s a bit of an exaggeration. Kos and Mustafi have been excellent and Walcott has played pretty well.

  20. Cyrus the virus

    “In other news. We were 3 points off the top after 14 matches last season too.”
    Joe,
    We are 3 points off the top after 13 this season init .

  21. Mark S

    KC-They’re 4-1 in the new stadium…so I don’t think that’s the problem. The main problem would be our starting quarterback and running back going down….along with have the worst offensive line in football. They actually are kind of where I thought they would be, maybe even a little bit better. It would be like if we lost Kos, Ozil, Cech, and Sanchez at the same time. The place will definitely be up for the visit of the Cowboys this Thursday. I have to give the Cowboys credit they have looked really good so far this year, but much like Arsenal you don’t get anything for being ahead at this time of year. 🙂 We will see how both the Gunners and Cowboys are doing in February.

  22. Cesc Appeal

    Alexanderhenry

    Kozz has been great, Mustafi started off well but has been a bit of a liability for a while now, Walcott has done well.

    In terms of massive, star quality impact though, Kozz, Caz and Sanchez, streets ahead. But I don’t think you can say a defender ‘carries’ a team, not usually anyway.

    Against Bournemouth Sanchez threw that time on his back and carried us.

  23. Joe

    You’ve answered you’re own question.
    There are so many things that can happen between now and May. Playing indifferently but getting results at this stage of season most certainly means we have a chance.

    Alex

    As I’ve pointed out. We are in the exact same position as last season. Exactly. 3 points back in 4th place

    Please don’t try to portray that this season is any different. It’s absolutely not.

    You can’t even say we are playing like champions and getting good
    Wins.

    We are playing average and getting lucky wins or draws.

  24. Pedro

    Joe, things are different. Sanchez is a central striker absolutely on fire. We have a very good suite of midfield options. We have players coming back from injury that could really help us over December.

    Last season Flamini had to carry the midfield, we’re much stronger squad wise.

    My concern is games like PSG. We just don’t seem to have much of a plan.

    Think we’re in a good place, not sure Wenger has it in him to make the right decisions. But things are different this year.

  25. Joe

    My concern is games like PSG. We just don’t seem to have much of a plan. Think we’re in a good place, not sure Wenger has it in him to make the right decisions. But things are different this year.

    But that’s the problem right there Pedro.

    You said it

    You can have all the pieces to the puzzle , but if the puzzle ‘master’ is a past it, has been buffoon. It won’t matter.

  26. Du Vi

    To those who are quick to cite his stats as some sort of justification for his creative impotence The fraud Mesut Ozil has yet to record an assist from open play in almost a season and half and the attempt to attach him him by default to the resounding success that is Alexis Sanchez would not work!!!!!

  27. WengerEagle

    ‘You can have all the pieces to the puzzle , but if the puzzle ‘master’ is a past it, has been buffoon. It won’t matter.’

    We don’t even have all the pieces to the puzzle is the thing.

    It’s already pretty clear that we’re going to struggle to beat the big sides this season, 1 win from 6 matches against Liverpool, Manchester United, Spurs, Chelsea and PSG with only 1 credible performance in there suggests that we’re not as good as many fans will have you believe.

    I can’t see thus far what’s ‘different’ about this season other than we’re not losing much matches, means fuck all if you’re drawing much more though doesn’t it?

  28. WengerEagle

    ION, I fancy Real Madrid to take full advantage of a desperate Barcelona side this weekend at the Nou Camp, already a 6 point gap so it’s a match that Barcelona have to win really which will play right into Real’s hands as there is no better counter-attacking side on the planet.

    Ronaldo is back in goal scoring form and their defence looks really good lately barring that freak UCL match where they drew 3-3. Also should concern Barcelona that Benzema has yet to really kick off this season after being out injured and he usually turns it on in the Clasico, same goes for Bale.

    Score draw is tempting but I reckon Real could push out the boat further and really assert themselves as title front runners edging out a high scoring affair, 3-2 my prediction.

    Watched Barcelona scramble a draw at Sociedad at the weekend, was literally the worst I’ve seen them play since before Pep took the reigns.

    Their CM is probably their weakest link now, Gomes is completely out of his depth and and Denis Suarez/Rafinha aren’t Barcelona quality either IMO.

    Even at the ripe old age of 32, Iniesta still makes that midfield tick.

  29. Pedro

    Du Vi, so the reverse pass that led to the penalty at PSG… and the creation of space for the cross that allowed Monreal to volley a cross and setting Giroud on his run for the cross that allowed for the Sanchez tap in count as fraudulent behavior?

    Not sure I can buy that.

  30. WengerEagle

    Ozil has been playing like shit the past few weeks but he’s not the only one tbf.

    But let’s not pretend that he was anything other than anonymous against PSG, the reverse pass wasn’t a difficult one to make and it was Giroud’s desire to win the ball back in their third that even led to the goal.

  31. Pedro

    I thought he had a good game. Opening up space and played a hand in 2 goals that weren’t caused by a mistake.

    Looked much more interesting in a team with a decent midfield pairing behind him.

  32. WengerEagle

    He goes missing way too much for my liking, Pedro.

    No doubt that the guy has bundles of ability, his goal at Ludogarets will go down as one of the great UCL individual goals and he is capable of instances like this.

    But for me he’s far too easily dispossessed and he’s not assertive or even brave enough on the ball, too often opts to move out wide rather than through the centre where a CAM should be at his most dangerous.

    He’s just not as dynamic as the likes of De Bruyne or even Coutinho IMO and that’s just from the BPL.

  33. Pedro

    … and kind of a ridiculous comment to say at the highest level of football a reverse pass ball against PSG in the CL that allows Sanchez to completely mug a defender was an easy ball.

    How did you get to that?

  34. Cesc Appeal

    WE

    Agreed.

    More and more as the weeks pass I’m liking Ozil less and less in the centre, I want to see if we can shift him out of the centre and for him to still bring his positive attributes from wider without his limpness punishing us in the centre.

    I know there’s a few people on here who say he can be devastating at RM cutting in onto his left foot and getting a good view of all the runners into the box and cross passes over to the left flank.

    People get defensive over Ozil the second you criticise him as if you’re calling him s**t or something, not at all, great footballer, but the EPL is the worst place for his weaknesses, against United Mata left him on the floor with a brush of a shoulder, against PSG he turned his back on an aerial 50/50 and the ball hit him on the back of neck, against Bournemouth he kept shying away from duals and actually adopted the Wilshere trait of losing possession in dangerous areas and then decking it looking for a foul.

    Great player with obvious weaknesses, either those get addressed by an amazing two player combo at CDM and CM, or Ozil moves out of CAM to RM/LM and makes it work.

  35. Pedro

    CA, I’d like to see the first option… doubt Wenger will move him out wide. Would be a slap in the face for a man they want to tie down to a mega deal.

  36. WengerEagle

    ‘and kind of a ridiculous comment to say at the highest level of football a reverse pass ball against PSG in the CL that allows Sanchez to completely mug a defender was an easy ball.’

    Is it? If it was any other player you wouldn’t have batted an eyelid methinks.

    The vision to track Sanchez’s run on the outside is what was impressive about it, the execution was a simple 5-10 yard ball.

  37. WengerEagle

    ‘But he’s a different player to KDB and Coutinho?’

    If you want to be really pedantic they are but they are all CAM’s that have also have had spells as widemen in their sides.

    KDB and Coutinho bring more to the table than Ozil IMO, especially in the more important matches.

  38. Cesc Appeal

    Pedro

    Yeah, I mean Conte is making a two man middle work with Matic and Kante, I like Xhaka a lot, I do think he’s going to need some time to fully adjust, but I like his presence and some of his balls were outrageous at the weekend.

    I’m just not sold on any of our other options to partner him, Xhaka, Caz, no thanks, Xhaka, Coq, not really, Xhaka, Elneny, probably the best option but Elneny for me is a squad level player, Xhaka, Ramsey, Ramsey is too self-interested and won’t get any discipline from Wenger, on paper looks good, but Ramsey has to control his ego and develop some maturity.

    I really think we missed a massive trick with Kante in the summer, £30 Million, could have sold Wilshere instead of loaning him or something, Xhaka and Kante as a middle pairing would have been something I think.

    I know what you are saying about the ‘slap in the face,’ but he is not making that CAM position his, I don’t mean anyone is challenging him, I just mean his limp showings, shying away from even brushing up against people, stropping etc is really starting to grate now, his whole disappearing act etc.

    In all honesty, I would not mind if Ozil refused to sign a new deal, I don’t think you’d have a line of clubs around the block looking for his signature.

    For Arsenal’s own good I would like to see Ozil wider attempted, maybe when Caz is back, but then also, Wenger just never seems able to get anyway to hold shape, I remember the 4-1-MESS-1 and the wide players who were CAM just drifted into CAM. I don’t know. I just don’t like the balance of the side, I don’t believe in it.

  39. Pedro

    CA, I reckon I’d have sold Ramsey this summer and kept Jack. Rambo would have gone for a fortune. If he doesn’t turn his form around this year, we’ve probably lost £20m in value.

    I do think if we kept him fit, beat some discipline into him, he’d be an excellent option with Xhaka.

    I think I’m with you on Elneney, it’s the most secure midfield, just not very spectacular. Kante was a massive miss… £100k pw as well. If we were going to opt for Coq, we might as well have bought Kante instead as a massive upgrade.

    Really hoping Wenger doesn’t sign a new deal, we desperately need a manager with some vision and a decent philosophy, PSG showed we’re still winging it… we get by because of good players, we’d win things if we had a Conte or a Klopp.

  40. WengerEagle

    CA

    Hope you’re well mate.

    Yeah, totally with you, irks me that people jump the gun re ANY criticism towards Ozil, not singling Pedro out here at all btw.

    Like I’ve said in some aspects of his game he’s top class, he’s clearly one of our best players if not our 2nd best after Sanchez, Cazorla is also in the argument.

    ‘People get defensive over Ozil the second you criticise him as if you’re calling him s**t or something, not at all, great footballer, but the EPL is the worst place for his weaknesses, against United Mata left him on the floor with a brush of a shoulder, against PSG he turned his back on an aerial 50/50 and the ball hit him on the back of neck, against Bournemouth he kept shying away from duals’

    This is it in a nutshell.

    He’s SO easily pushed off the ball it’s not even funny. I’ve seen frailer players such as Di Maria go toe to toe with defenders and come out on top plenty of times but with Ozil it’s pretty damn rare.

    I think that a RW role is where he is best suited for us, problem is who plays in the CAM role though? Santi’s brain is ever intact but his legs are gone and I wouldn’t exactly be thrilled to give Ramsey the role either even though I don’t think he deserves all the shit that comes his way.

  41. Cesc Appeal

    Pedro

    Agreed.

    Ramsey’s price was artificial inflated by the Euros, good point, likely could have got around £50 Million for him in that ridiculous market.

    Kante was an enormous miss, as you say, could potentially even have moved Coq on instead to reduce the net spend on him, he just reminds me of peak Matuidi but more defensively attuned.

    £100 000 a week for Kante is big value in this market as well.

    Completely with you on a new manager, Simeone would be a revelation on and off the pitch, in terms of the players and fans, I think. There’s a few interesting managers surfacing across Europe, what is crucial though is Wenger goes and he goes properly, not to DoF or another post on the board, who would want to be the new ‘Arsenal manager’ with Wenger as their boss?

  42. WengerEagle

    Anyone following Serie A?

    Who have thunk it after 2 mediocre-poor seasons at Man City/Roma that Dzeko would turn in his best season since his Wolfsburg days, 17 goals already.

  43. Pedro

    Totally agree CA.

    So many exciting managers around. Ralph Hasenhüttl doing great things again, Lucian Favre still top in Ligue 1, Sampiola adapting nicely in Spain, Tuchel one of my favourite managers… would love Simeone.

    We need someone with a philosophy, someone who is tactically flexible and someone to update how our training approach.

    Interesting that Jack Wilshere has been with Bournemouth since September and not had an injury… Wenger gets Rambo back after a clear Euros and breaks him on game one.

    There’s so much growth potential at Arsenal.

  44. Cesc Appeal

    WE

    It is difficult, I’m still not sold on our central midfield options, I mean, if Ramsey could only learn some discipline and maturity, play like a midfield captain basically a 4-3-3 with Xhaka deep, then Ramsey and then Caz would be interesting, but you can just that going totally tits up and Xhaka, who is not the fastest, being left alone to fight off an entire counter.

    It is difficult, still not convinced by this squad, it is December basically and I don’t think anyone knows fully what our best starting eleven is or what Arsenal are as a team, which is not great.

    The summer was a heck of a lot better than others before it, but I still don’t think there was a lot of thought behind any of the buys aside from Xhaka, which is translating now into our total lack of identity.

  45. WengerEagle

    Favre I have a lot of time for, did a phenomenal job at Borussia Monchengladbach in his 4 years there and despite last season starting off poorly for them, he molded them into a UCL side after years and years of obscurity. Has started off brilliantly at Nice too off the back of losing his best player in Ben Arfa. Anyone that can get Balotelli playing football once again is one remarkable individual.

    We should also be keeping tabs on Pal Dardai, has done a stunning job since taking the reigns at Hertha Berlin and he’s gotten them looking even better than last season, they play some really top drawer stuff at times. Great age too at only 40.

  46. WengerEagle

    CA

    Yeah I’ve been quite disappointed by Xhaka so far, very underwhelming performances but he’s looked better in the last couple of weeks. There’a a top shelf player in there I’m still convinced, hopefully he settles sooner rather than later.

    My boy Firmino struggled in his first few months at Liverpool but now he is bossing, looks one of the best players in the league and has been for the whole of 2016.

    Mustafi is the opposite to Xhaka, looked great up until around the Chelsea game which was a peak for him but since then he’s looked much more error prone and reckless, didn’t like how easily he lost Matuidi for the 1st goal at the Emirates at all and he looked a right tit throwing his hand up more in hope than expectation.

    Again, I’m confident that he’ll still come good. He was our best defender for the first couple of months lets not forget.

    Shame Perez has been injured, looked good before he got crocked.

  47. WengerEagle

    You know it, Cruyff definitely lives on through Guardiola.

    Without Cruyff there wouldn’t be a Pep, but there’s no doubt that the latter took his teacher’s work to even greater heights.

  48. Cesc Appeal

    Pedro

    ‘There’s so much growth potential at Arsenal.’

    Completely agree with this, obviously Wenger takes credit for getting us into a position where this is true. But he needs to know now he’s done all he can and that fresh ideas are needed, which requires him to completely leave, not just his post as manager, but the club entirely.

    I wouldn’t even necessarily expect, if for example Simeone came in, a £150 Million spend or something, massive chopping and changing, I think there would be a few cut and a few buys, but even some of the talent we have now I could see developing, people drastically undervalue the importance of a system, a player like Ramsey particularly, a system, with a role, and discipline, could easily be great.

    Wenger’s style is good in that players express themselves and have a sense of freedom, but they can also be totally lethargic and lack spine and shape because they receive limited instructions, sort of feels like primary school, no one makes me mistakes just ‘happy accidents.’ More than anything he’s a last generation manager who believes in players over everything, let them be and don’t restrain them with systems and tactics etc, likely why he’s never won a UCL.

  49. Cesc Appeal

    WE

    Agreed.

    Xhaka looks like he has the ingredients to be a great CDM/CM player, perhaps he does just need to get up to speed with the league and actually be played consistently in one role, that old Wenger trait of not knowing what he wants his CM’s to be rearing up again, seems only Coq has a nailed on role.

    Yeah Mustafi came in and just looked the answer to our defensive issues, but he’s so error prone, comes from his desire to be on the front foot consistently, gets caught by clever passes and gets turned easily because he’s looking to intercept and carry the ball forward. Again, maybe the pace and intensity of the league has caught him out a bit, fingers crossed he finds a balance between discipline and pressing.

  50. Bamford10

    Pedro

    One, Wenger played Ozil wide and Ramsey as the CAM for the final 20 minutes on Sunday.

    Two, KDB brings more to the game than does Ozil.

    And Ozil didn’t really play well until the last 20-30 minutes on Sunday, and even then he was only OK.

  51. Pierre

    Wengereagle
    “Sanchez’s run on the outside is what was impressive about it, the execution was a simple 5-10 yard ball.”

    Not sure you understand the game…….the pass was exquisite …..and the reason is because there was absolutely no margin for error ….the timing and the pace of the pass had to be spot on …Sanchez did not have to break stride , plus the fact that ozil never at any time had Sanchez in his eyeline which made it even more difficult…. “Simple “don’t make me laugh
    And by the way , I think ozil is bang out of form at the moment though I think he had a half decent 2nd half against Bournemouth

  52. Du Vi

    My God the standards at Arsenal football club are so bloody low .the fanbase does indeed mirror the club.The guy is completely anonymous game in game out but all the player who is meant to dictate and be at the fulcrum of our creative play has to do to have the sheepish fanbase screeching in delight is one nutmeg or reverse pass and the narrative irrespective of him having a shockingly bad game becomes “Ozil ruins player” Not sure you understand the game and how fantastic that pass was”.Only Arsenal would tolerate and reward such mediocrity.

  53. Joe

    That we beat b mouth doesn’t mean anything

    That we drew Man U tells us what we need to know about the mentality of this wenger led squad.

    We were out played by a man U team that has drawn stoke, Burnley and west ham and us in their last 4 (at home).

    That is two points dropped as were the ones vs spuddies.

    Those two games show more of where we are than squeaking by bmouth at home.

  54. Joe

    Another manager would have motivated his squad to take advantage if the wounded animal that is Man U.

    Not wenger. We came out weak and got compeletely outplayed.

    We are not different At all
    This season. Even with a worldly Sanchez.

  55. Joe

    Pretty shit if Hamilton gets any sort of reprimand for trying to tactically win the race and the F1 championship

    Roseberg should be ashamed of himself telling Mercedes to tell Hamilton to let him pass during the race.

    Like wenger and the akbs getting upset when teams “park the bus” against us. Should just let us score 5 and piss off.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/formulaone/article-3979748/If-Lewis-Hamilton-trouble-racing-sport-lost-soul.html

    Good article about it

  56. Emiratesstroller

    Pedro

    CHANCES/GOALS

    I do not understand your analysis about the team’s performance in this department of our game.

    We have scored this season sofar 48 goals in 20 games in all competitions, which compares more than favourably with most clubs in EPL and Europe.

    Yes it is true that chances/goals dried up in November, but that was to a
    large extent due to the team playing not particularly well during this period.

    The fact is that we have scored 28 goals in 13 EPL games and that is an average of more than 2 goals per game. Man City and Chelsea have scored
    1 goal more and Liverpool have scored 4 more.

    In Champions League we have scored 14 goals in 5 games, which would
    have been the best performance in that competition if you had excluded
    Borussia Dortmund’s recent goal fest.

    Personally I would be more concerned if I was Spurs who have been struggling to score goals all season and are ‘over dependant’ on penalties
    and free kicks.

    Arsenal do have shortcomings at the moment not least the lack of balance in midfield, but then we have been missing Cazorla since mid October and his craft makes a huge difference in this team.

    Liverpool may have been scoring more freely than us, but they have benefited from a fairly injury free season plus not playing in Champions League. Let us see how well they perform without Coutinho now that he is injured.

    Our record this season so far is
    EPL P13 W8 D4 L1 F28 A13
    CL P 5 W3 D2 L0 F14 A 5
    LC P2 W2 D0 L0 F 6 A0
    ———————————————————
    P20 W13 D6 L1 F48 A18

  57. Black Hei

    Kante? I doubt we would have beaten Chelsea in an auction anyway.

    He is a good player but I think it is more down to Conte’s new style and team dynamics. Let’s not forget he got spun by Ozil and landed on his butt.

    But funds were set aside for the wide creative mid instead after we secured Xhaka. No secret that we were after the likes of Mahrez, Draxler and Mik (lol). So a another CM is far down the line.

  58. tunnygriffboy

    Ems

    Interesting numbers re the amount of goals we’ve been scoring. It’s also good that the goals appear to be shared around. So far Alexis, Walcott, Giroud and Ozil have pretty good numbers. I’d like to see a few more from Ramsey once he settles back. Iwobi and the Ox could do with chipping in as well.

    Last year we bemoaned the fact that we were not converting our chances. So far this season our finishing has improved greatly but we’re bemoaning the fact we’re not creating enough chances. Funny old game 🙂 🙂

  59. Emiratesstroller

    Tunny

    Agreed

    Actually I looked at the overall stats of our midfield players on the Arsenal website and interestingly Xhaka comes out well. By contrast Ramsey’s stats are fairly mediocre and when it comes to shooting fairly poor.

    One area where Arsenal have serious weakness in their midfield is an ability to head a ball. I noticed in the two games against Man Utd and PSG
    how weak our players are in that department and it is actually born out in
    the general stats. We have no-one in that department who is good with his head and I do think that is a real weakness in the team particularly in
    games in EPL.

  60. tunnygriffboy

    Interesting what our Theo has had to say about young Alexis. He reckons he’s made the CF position his own, is enjoying it, is happy and smiling a lot. He said he even did an interview in English post match. Good news for us ?

  61. Emiratesstroller

    tunny

    Most players who are “happy” with life want to remain at their clubs BUT
    in the case of Sanchez I am not sure that is the case.

    He seems to be a “Rolling Stone” and not someone who is particularly conventional.

    Arsenal need to settle quickly their negotiations with Ozil and Sanchez
    and as I pointed out yesterday cover the hike in their wage bill by offloading some of the excess baggage in our squad and out on loan.

    We do not need a huge squad of players, but we do need to improve its quality. The advent of U23 teams affords you the opportunity of keeping
    on your books more mature players at affordable cost rather than elevate
    them to first team squad and hike their wages as would have been the case in past.

  62. tunnygriffboy

    Ems

    Agree with you re Alexis. I think where ever he plays he’d play with the same intensity even if it was in the park using jumpers for goalposts. He just loves playing football. He’s going to be livid that he’s not playing v Southampton.

    He is the main man for us and thrives on that responsibility. I’ve no doubt that when push comes to shove we can give him a favourable salary. The two things that are other factors are that are we showing enough ambition and what is happening manager wise next season ?

  63. Leedsgunner

    Hindsight is perfect. Sanchez should have been given the captaincy… he is the heartbeat of the team and such an inspirational figure. I love his hunger and drive…

  64. tunnygriffboy

    Against man u did anyone think Alexis was constantly dropping deep to get the ball ? Against Bournemouth he played much further forward. Was this because v man u we had a midfield pairing of Coquelin and Elneny who struggled with their forward delivery from deep ? Against Bournemouth Xhaka was in there and able to play the ball forward having a better passing range than Coquelin/Elneny ?

    For me if Santi isn’t playing Xhaka has to play with one other.

    Interesting that Wenger is rotating quite a lot atm to keep most players fresh. It maybe that is the reason we look a little bit disjointed because combinations are changing ? Hopefully this is the case and it will benefit us later in the season. We actually have the quality to do this now.

    The only players he hasn’t rotated are the cbs and Alexis and Ozil for obvious reasons. I’m hoping Lucas comes through the game midweek and becomes a viable option for December and the holiday period.

  65. Leedsgunner

    Eddie Nketiah scored a hat trick for the U23 yesterday.

    Still only 17… I would love to see him play in the FA Cup and see if he could make the step up. Still early days but it would be great if we could finally produce a striker from within our ranks…. can’t think of any that came from the academy that made a really impact on the first team under Wenger.

  66. The Godfather

    After reading Pedro’s comments about our center midfield combo and Ozil, I can only imagine how much alcohol is still left in his system lol. Clearly didn’t watch the game. But if he did and really reached that conclusion, welllllllllll

  67. Dan T

    A Marathon is a race. Also, even with a flat tire and the handbrake on it’s still frowned upon to drive while competing in a marathon… just saying.

  68. Emiratesstroller

    Leedsgunner

    Sanchez is a passionate and committed player, but I don’t think that he would make a great captain.

    Personally I would give the captaincy to Cech rather than Koscielny. I think that he is an intelligent and articulate player. He is more or less guaranteed a starting lineup place and goalkeepers have the benefit of seeing the big picture in the team as they are right at the back with a clear view of what is going on elsewhere.

    Buffon and Neuer have captained their respective teams.

  69. Confidentgoner

    Since Ramsey has little positional discipline for a CAM role, might we consider him for a role similar to Sanchez as a false 9? Looks like he has an eye for goal. Just thinking.

    We still need to buy that CAM player for midfield.

  70. Leedsgunner

    Ems

    I’m not of course saying Sanchez would make a better captain than the players you suggest — because I think Cech or Kos would have been great captains too. Unfortunately since Cesc’s departure for Barca, I feel that the value of our captaincy have been greatly devalued.

    However for me, a captain is the player that makes things happen in the face of overwhelming odds… combined with a never say die attitude.

  71. cmansf

    I was at the game and completely agree about crowd participation. Everytime the OX and Theo made a misplaced pass or lost the ball the crowd sighed and you could tell it really knocked their confidence. Don’t get me wrong, they were poor but its so self defeating putting unnecessary pressure on our players whilst on the pitch.

    I don’t agree with Pedros analysis of Xhaka and Elneny, I thought they were completely bypassed in the first half. Whilst Elnenys work rate is high he just shadowed their players and didn’t tackle. Our lack of control in midfield is why we are putting in so many pedestrian performances at the moment.

  72. Dream10

    Jim

    Pace is not a problem if we have proper structure. Xabi Alonso and Carrick never had great pace, but they have had great careers. Our loose structure exposes even the paciest of players.

  73. Red&White4ever

    “He seems to be a “Rolling Stone” and not someone who is particularly conventional.”
    And mostly, Sanchez is a real competitor, who wants garanties that Arsenal will be able to to win the PL and the CL.
    Clearly, we can’t gave him those garanties right now.

  74. Bamford10

    cmansf

    Good comment. Re the midfield pairing, I’d say part of the reason they didn’t control the center of midfield — defensively or in possession — is because Ozil plays more as a forward than as a midfielder, leaving the two of them to manage the midfield as a two rather than a three.

    This is why many here think we’d be better off with Ramsey as the CAM (and Ozil wide). This would give us three genuine CMs in the center of things, while still allowing Ozil to roam in advanced areas. This is actually how we played for the last 20 minutes on Sunday. Like below:

    _________Cech
    Bell__Must__Kosc__Monr
    _____Xhaka__Elneny
    ________Ramsey
    Ozil_____Giroud____Alexis

    Those who think Alexis MUST continue to play through the center might prefer something like this, though:

    _________Cech
    Bell__Must__Kosc__Monr
    _____Xhaka__Elneny
    ________Ramsey
    Ozil_____Alexis_____Iwobi

    Though many will continue to insist on Ozil as the CAM; however I personally now think this arrangement leaves our midfield too weakened and prefer some arrangement like the above.

  75. S.Asoa

    You are right but not for your reasons Pedro. We were better against Bournemouth particularly in the the last quarter of the second half.
    Could see Bouldy getting involved too for a change and shouting instructions
    A cry from Imbecile Trenchcoat walking up and back with zero effect and zilch instructions

  76. Rambo Ramsey

    Pedro, you couldn’t have been watching the same game as the rest of us. You make it sound as if we gave a much better performance when compared to previous weeks but that was hardly the case.

    In all honesty, we ought to have put in a better performance seeing as the quality of opposition at the weekend was far inferior than those we’ve faced over the last two-three weeks. But the improvement was marginal, that too only for a part of the second half.

    I know you’ve been banging the ‘Coquelin makes us poor, Xhaka or Elneny would be massive improvement’ sentiment for a few weeks now, but that doesn’t mean you should start making stuff up about our performance levels.

  77. Paulinho

    “Against man u did anyone think Alexis was constantly dropping deep to get the ball ?”

    This will always be the problem when it comes to the crunch or we play a decent side.

    He will likely do the same at Stamford Bridge and Anfield. You’ve got to be a cold-blooded disciplined natural striker to stay high in those games, and have the bottle to take a long speculative ball down and finish maybe your only chance of the game. That’s where the Sanchez forward experiment will fall down; he won’t strike the right balance in the big games between dropping deep and staying close to the centre backs.

  78. London gunner

    Paulinho

    If there is one thing Sanchez has its bottle, oh and the ability to take s long ball down with a neat touch.

    I get you aren’t a fan of his but he is our best player whether you like it or not.

  79. WengerEagle

    Paulinho has a point but tbf, Sanchez has been hands down our best player this season.

    He needs more help than he is getting, not his fault that our midfield is pretty average and thus it makes it hard for him to hang up top dependent on somebody else to step up.

  80. Red&White4ever

    “He will likely do the same at Stamford Bridge and Anfield. ”
    lol absolutely no chance for us to win out there anyway (both games)

  81. Uwot?

    If it’s true we’re after “David Alaba”Bayern Munich.get him fast.would be such an upgrade on Montreal who now looks a little past it.squad player no more.however if true.maureen is also sniffing about…

  82. Paulinho

    London – He’s been great this season but only last week against United we saw how he struggles in a big game – when everything is bit tougher mentally and physically – and I expect to see that sort of performance in the latter part of the season than the all-action ones we see against the scrubs of the league like Bournemouth.

    He’s the not of sort of striker to be on the periphery of a game – and disciplined number nines often are – and out of nowhere take a ball down and calmly slot it home. Wilshere played a great ball over the top for him at Stamford Bridge last season and he choked it because he wasn’t the right frame of mind. His first touch in the box isn’t good enough in those big games. Look at how he messed up the header at Old Trafford in the first ten minutes. He’s not a silent assassin like Costa or Aguero.

  83. cmansf

    Bamford10,

    Agree with your point. We looked far more threatening, creative and controlled when ramsey came on as number 10 and ozil pushed out to the right. It may have been because of Bournemouth tiring, but I say try Ramsey at 10 for a few games and see how it pans out. Would also hopefully stop the predictable tip-tap pases between Ozil and Sanchez

  84. Paulinho

    “thus it makes it hard for him to hang up top dependent on somebody else to step up”

    Makes it hard for him, yep, but then that’s what separates the elite number nine predatory types and the ones that haven’t got it. If Xhaka picks the ball up with ten minutes to go, looks for Sanchez, and the Chilean is right next to him in midfield, then you also feel for Xhaka not having that option.

  85. WengerEagle

    Paulinho

    That’s fair, the blame lies with both the midfield and Sanchez to an extent but I sympathize more with Sanchez as he’s the guy brave enough to mix it up and force the issue.

    Messi suffers from the same issue for the Argentina NT, he’s forced to pull a lot closer to the halfway line and as a result he doesn’t pop off nearly as many shots and scores less goals.

    Our CM have been way too passive, it’s why I’m more patient with Ramsey than most because I appreciate the way that he tries to get at the opposition and he drives forward making those late runs into the box and giving and going with Sanchez/Walcott/Iwobi.

    Xhaka, Elneny and Coquelin rarely show any desire to venture into the final third of the pitch, mind you Ramsey is too far at the other end of the spectrum because he neglects his defensive responsibilities.

    It’s why I’d like to see more of a double pivot behind Ramsey and Ozil out wide.

  86. Paulinho

    WE – Yeah, true with Messi, although I would argue he similar to Sanchez in always wanting to drop deep anyway. Have either Sanchez or Messi ever contributed in any positive way when they did drop deep in those situations? Can’t think of any. Usually they end up compounding things and making the situation worse. I don’t really see dropping deep as brave as others do; think it’s bit of a cop out for players, especially when they are not progressive with the ball when they do get it deep.

    Agree on Ramsey. To have a chance this year we need to find a way to incorporate him and his off the ball runs. Doesn’t get anywhere near enough credit for me for goals at Anfield last year and White Hart Lane. Cazorla wouldn’t score those goals.

  87. Red&White4ever

    “If it’s true we’re after “David Alaba”

    ze famous “I almost signed” list will soon be completed by this one.

  88. Brooklyn

    People saying play Ozil wide…I agree with them but on left side and Walcott on opposite wings….
    Cech
    Bellerin Mustafi Kos Monreal
    Xhaka/Caz…Elneny/Coq
    Walcott. Ramsey. Ozil
    Sanchez
    Is far more of a goal threat then one with Iowbi on left instead of Ozil….and personally I think Ozil scores more goals from left side then right….for that we may need better left back…

  89. Brooklyn

    Seg, I think Ozil is intelligent enough to make it work….he won’t be bombing behind Sanchez as Ramsey and Walcott will do that….also he regularly covers lots of ground just not at high intensity….also he is good at cutting out passing lane and positioning although is weak in terms of tackling or agressively winning the ball back….

  90. PaddyV91

    I think the loss of bellerin has been a major factor in our poor performances of late. He’s a world class rb similar to dani alves for Barca a few years ago is essentially our right winger as Walcott/Ramsey will always drift inside