Arsenal declare Hammer-time

by .

via @t0wey (instagram)

via @t0wey (instagram)

First game of December had me struck down with fear. November was tough in the head, December is tough on paper. West Ham have been pure banter this season, failing to adapt to rigors of having a big stadium and the manager failing to hit the heights of an above average season last term. But they did manage to draw against United, that said, they did also manage to make them look like a good football team.

I needn’t have worried, the pregame narrative of Arsenal lacking creative productivity were alleviated as we absolutely destroyed the east Londoners. Alexis Sanchez, Ozil, Coquelin and to be fair, Chamberlain… all had superb games that put Slaven Bilic’s head on the chopping board steaming into the holiday season.

Wenger opted for pace and power in the front three, choosing Chamberlain and Theo to flank Sanchez. Any concerns the Chilean had run out of energy were well and truly obliterated as he hustled and menaced West Hams back line. At times, he looked like he was trying to the do the job of the entire front three, switching in from right to left, dropping deep and making a nuisance. He’s banging in goals for fun, making a hattrick was impressive enough on its own, but to see him create 5 chances in the process shows you that he’s far more than the striker we didn’t expect him to be.

You have to give a shout out the Alex Chamberlain. Maligned by the fans as wasted talent, the young popstar dating sweetheart had a tough opener to the game. If he wasn’t falling over, he was putting too much on simple balls or shanking shots for throw-ins. He didn’t give up. He channeled his inner Adebayor, got his head down and made it happen. He contributed to the creation of 4 chances, he made 6 successful take-ons, he scored an absolute monster of a goal, cutting some space and rifling across goal and he landed an assist. A very good game. He needed that confidence boost and we needed him to have that, I sense that if we want to beat City, menacing their back three with a high press is our way in and he is going to be part of that.

Coquelin also proved his value in our midfield with a very positive, buzzy game. He made 12 ball recoveries, 5 tackles and a whopping 6 interceptions. He reminds me of one of those oxpeckers that buzz around elephants cleaning up. Non-stop doing the dirty work to free up the rest of the team to deal out carnage on a big tree or something similar that elephants do well.

Xhaka also had a good game, but I think there was so little to do for him because West Ham were so open to us doing what we liked, his role was slightly marginalised. He still clocked an impressive 90% pass completion rate and racked up the second most passes in the game (just behind Ozil). The range of passes on his pass map was impressive as well. Constantly trying to break the lines, always pushing the team forward.

Shout out to Gabriel at the back today. A quiet day for him, but he didn’t put a foot wrong, took a knock to the leg, then found himself wiped out again a bit later on. Good to see him getting a start. I also thought Nacho Monreal had a good game.

Bit of a shame we didn’t keep a clean sheet and a bit of a shame a keeper of Cech’s experience stopped for a whistle rather than defend the incoming shot. Shouldn’t he have been taking the ball hitting the bar a little more seriously?

What we learned today

The team clicked big time today. Our best performance since Chelsea. Very important considering it was a derby and very important considering the run we have coming up. I think it’s key to not run too far with the ‘we’ve turned a corner’ because West Ham look like a team in trouble and the manager looks like he’s lost the dressing room. Getting rolled by a number that large at home is not good and I think what’s worse for them is that sort of performance is par the course this season. However, you need to take a game like that, it was a beutiful thing and a perfect tonic to recent issues we’ve faced.

Teed up for Rotation

We have a mostly pointless game against Basel this week, it’s the perfect chances to send a League Cup team over there and not worry too much about PSG getting beaten by a pub team (even though Montpellier are beating them 3-0 as I type). I think Stoke will prove a tough game next weekend, but it’ll be far easier if we give our big names a week off and take advantage of early qualifying.

Dortmund rotated yesterday, putting in a beast of a performance. I think we saw with Chamberlain today that if you give players a bit of love, they’ll reward you. I think we should consider using the Stoke game to freshen players up for the big two games we have the following week against Everton, and then Manchester City. Both teams are beatable, and if we take three points off either, we’re in a good position if we keep the rest of the period respectable.

I really, really, really, hope Wenger doesn’t send a full team to Basel. Margins are fine in football, we need to give our first team the same advantage Conte and Klopp are getting at the moment, this is a great opportunity for us to do so.

Alexis Sanchez

The guy is on another level at the moment. He’s hitting Thierry in his pomp form. He scored one from range, one because he’s an opportunist and one where he dropped a step-over to chip… a move that was new to me. He’s playing with confidence, aggression and fight. Wenger and that fitness team need to keep him in good shape, don’t milk the cow dry before you need to and make sure he doesn’t flatline in the back half of the season like he did last year. He and Ozil are so, so, so important… but the great thing based on yesterday is other players are putting their hands up and want to be integral too.

Talking of fitness, we’ve seen Ozil fade in the back half of the last two seasons, I wonder if there’s a plan for his usual dip this season?

A superb win. We have 21 points that we’re playing for this festive period (Jan 3rd). I think 15 points would be very good and we’ve just landed out first 3 points. Onwards and upwards, DO NOT LET STOKE SPOIL THIS.

Have a great day.

250 Responses to “Arsenal declare Hammer-time”

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  1. Southernpeople

    United are improving. Everton is not a joke team and they were playing at home.

    Arsenal played fantastically well yesterday, and Arsene need to rest players when against basel and against weaker teams. I really don’t understand why Wenger played Cazorla in the day he was injured; to begin with, it was a pointless to play him in that game, and worse he left him in there while we were winning comfortably. Now look what happened to the team since caz injury; no one in the team is capable to replace caz.

  2. Marc

    I need to ask forgiveness from the football Gods.

    Once Liverpool went two nil up and turn over – didn’t even realise the result until they mentioned it at the end of the Everton ManU match – doh!

  3. Southernpeople

    Why people try to belittle Alex Sanchez saying he only scores against smaller team!? Alex scored against all big teams and is able to humiliate best defenders in this world. Ability is ability. If you got it you got it!!

    Alan Shearer’s statement [MOD] last night was ridiculous. He refused to call Sanchez a ‘world class’ ! If Sanchez isn’t world class then we have to question the meaning of the ‘world class’!

  4. Marc

    ManU have taken 12 points out of the last 30.

    A pundit made a comment earlier about how they’re getting on track, not with the last 10 results. If they don’t shape up CL football is a pipe dream, criminal after spending £150 odd million and can they afford to sack another manager?

  5. Marc

    Southern

    TV pundits can’t admit Arsenal have any good players unless they are on the brink of leaving us in which case they’re the best players on earth.

    Gary Neville (who I generally think is one of the better pundits out there) earlier was summing up ManU’s realistic ambitions for the rest of the season and going for top 4 – Chelsea, Liverpool, Man City and the Spud’s have better squads no mention of Arsenal at all. Our point tally over the last 10 matches is the same as Chelsea’s which includes the dreaded November.

  6. Vote leave

    Bystander

    Yeees
    I watched it in a pub in battersea full of Chelsea fans
    I was 22
    We outplayed them
    I was winding them up, they got a jammy offside equaliser.
    We continued to pass rings around them creating more chances
    They were restricted to long shots and long passes to drogba which failed for the most part until the last 15 mins

  7. Vote leave

    Did you watch it?
    Are you another johnny come lately, know nothing who digs out internets stats about games he knows nothing about but still has an opinion on.

  8. Emiratesstroller

    I listened to Alan Shearer’s opinion this morning. He had a valid point when he said that Alex Sanchez would be considered world class if Arsenal win the EPL Title.

    The point he was making is that Alex Sanchez needs to make consistently
    performances such as we saw on Saturday to be raised from being a top
    class player to world class level.

    Also Sanchez has yet to score 30 goals + in a season which is the starting
    point of a great striker.

    I think that Shearer on this occasion has made a fair point whether you like it or not.

  9. Cesc Appeal

    Marc

    Really was shocked Mourinho made so few defensive adjustments in the summer, he certainly is a build form the back manager, I would have thought a RB would have come in, felt sure Fonte would end up at United, maybe a LB as well and then a CDM.

    I do think Pogba has the potential to be a real world class talent, but I would not have spent £90 Million on one player when my side needed so much restructuring.

    I would have been looking at Aurier, Fonte, Van Dijk, Kante etc, players like that first of all, Mkhitaryan is a no brainer at the price, sure, but make sure my defensive unit is solid. Have to provide the platform for your team to play, I don’t think Mourinho has done that.

  10. Southernpeople

    Marc

    “Gary Neville (who I generally think is one of the better pundits out there) earlier was summing up ManU’s realistic ambitions for the rest of the season and going for top 4 – Chelsea, Liverpool, Man City and the Spud’s have better squads no mention of Arsenal at all”

    Did he really say that?! That’s clearly obvious bias! Spuds and Liverpool have better squads than Arsenal?!!! That’s novelty.

    But, then they all said the same thing last year and the table at the end of the season said totally different story.

  11. vicky

    I genuinely feel Le Grove posters make more pertinent and interesting points than English football pundits whose commentary is absolutely boring, cliched and reactionary to the extent of being knee-jerk. .

  12. Cesc Appeal

    It is far too early to call Sanchez a great ST, let alone a world class ST, I think he is a top level player, whether he can consistently be a top level ST is another matter.

    We will see, certainly has started off life as an ST well.

  13. Vote leave

    Emirates

    How many times did drogba reach 30? He was world class

    Rivaldo
    Bergkamp
    Inzaghi
    Del piero

    Heskey…..

  14. Bystander

    All of Sanchez’s goals have come in comfortable wins.

    Chelsea 3-0
    Hull 4-1
    Watford 3-1
    Sunderland 3-0
    Bournemouth 3-1
    West Ham 5-1
    Ludogorets 6-0

    Only against PSG has he found the net.

    Which begs the question can he pop up with a winner in tight games or only in games which are one sided affairs.

  15. Marc

    Southern

    He was comparing to the ManU squad but it’s convenient that we slipped his mind after all it’s not as if we’re second ahead of all but one of the teams he mentioned who we have an identical points tally to over the last 10 games.

  16. Emiratesstroller

    Vote Leave

    Sanchez is a tremendous talent, but he has yet to prove that he is in the same class as Messi, Ronaldo, Suarez or Ibrahimovic in their prime.

    I am not suggesting that he won’t do so, but you have judge him on current
    level of performance.

  17. Marc

    Cesc

    You’ve just spotted the elephant in the room! Sanchez has only been playing as an out and out striker for a short amount of time – you could even argue it’s not his natural position.

    Anything to put Arsenal down.

  18. Southernpeople

    vicky

    of course LeGrove commentators are more diverse, more conscious and more critical!!

    The pundits got there not because of their ability, but because of their playing history. No serious TV cable would hire someone like Owen for serious analysis of football.

  19. Vote leave

    Stroller

    He is world class
    He has proven it with chile in the copa America
    He’s proved it with Barcelona
    He’s proving it every year at arsenal
    He is above ibrahimovic

    Nobody compares to messi and ronaldo so it’s not fair to make that comparison.

    Only Suarez and bale are above him in world football at the minute
    (Messi * cr7 excluded)

  20. Vote leave

    I don’t think zlatan was better in his prime
    He couldn’t win games on his own like Sanchez can
    I rate Sanchez higher

  21. Southernpeople

    Emiratesstrol

    The criteria for “world class footballer” doesn’t include winning a title. That’s ridiculous because it makes “VARDY and Mehrez ” word class players while excluding Sanchez.

    Nor does it include scoring 30+ for any player; Sanchez is a winger so it is ridiculous to suggest that he should score that many goals.

    “World class” criteria should include all individual ability of a player and not the expectations related to his team.

    Sanchez has more talent than any other player in the PL excepting Hazard. And if he’s given the chance to stay upfront for the rest of the season he’ll score 30+.

    Then remember he won Copa America for small team Chile.

  22. mysticleaves

    If Sanchez is not world class, then no attacker in the PL is!

    Kos i would rate as world class though. the best defender in the PL bar none

  23. mysticleaves

    A winger doesnt score 30 goals a season. Sanchez has being posting world class digits as a winger for the last 3-4 years.

    hes moved up top and is tearing it also. early days but he has done really well as a striker so far

  24. naijagunner

    You can be rest assured that if Sanchez played for any other team but Arsenal his status as a world class player would be undisputed

    I don’t blame the media when they put us down, our fans deserve it. Some of us have let our hatred for Wenger totally cloud our judgement . Imagine bamford having the temerity to say Wenger was never a great manager , the same Bamford who declared Koeman the best thing since sliced bread after a half of football against Spurs in the first game of the season. This is why i can never take anything he says seriously

  25. Wallace

    Alexis is doing things as a striker that I didn’t think he was capable of. being more involved in the play has also made him far less selfish, and some of his passing is at Ozil’s level. as a winger he was very good, as a striker he has a chance to move a level or two beyond that.

  26. Arsenal not Arsene

    Naija Wenger WAS a great manager but now a past it who over stayed his welcome. I will always respect Wenger for his past glories but the past 11 years ruined his reputation and resulted in having fans like Bamford who choose not recognize that he was once great.

  27. vicky

    “The Premier league is not a world class league so making Kos the best defender in the Premier league does no make him world class.”

    What kind of an argument is this ? Are you trying to suggest CR7, Suarez, Bale, Aguero etc weren’t/aren’t world class players while they were/are playing their trade in EPL ?

  28. Pierre

    Bystander
    “I rate Chile higher than Barcelona so i wouldn’t call them a small team.”

    Congratulations bystander…You have just won the most ridiculous comment of the day trophy..

  29. Vote leave

    Who said we have the best striker
    Costa is arguably along with aguerro the two most lethal strikers in the league in my opinion. But as an all round player
    Sanchez for me is the best in the league
    He brings more all round to the arsenal team than any player does to any other team.

  30. vicky

    Bystander

    No, I am not comparing Koss to those 4. I am contesting your idea that the best players in EPL can’t be world class players because the league itself is not world class. I find the argument very strange.

  31. Vote leave

    Vicky

    That’s because bystander is a know nothing John by come lately who has most likely never kicked a ball

  32. Matgoke13

    I think Man utd will struggle to get a top four ticket this season considering dere flip flop form dis season. It will also be difficult for them to put away Mourinho. Dis could be our year by the time the injured players arrive

  33. mysticleaves

    “We have the best defender and best striker so logically we should win or come close to winning the league.”

    early days but this ia happening already

  34. Pierre

    Let’s just hope that Wenger continues to play Sanchez as striker with pace either side of him and ozil as playmaker…..2 holding midfielders and a couple of pacy full backs . Job done …. It’s obviously a system that works well ….keep giroud and Ramsey on the bench as they have both made excellent contributions when called upon….

  35. Emiratesstroller

    Southern people

    That was Shearer’s view and not mine, but the point he was trying to make is
    that it would be evidence of Sanchez making a “real difference” to team.

    Vardy was never remotely world class and is beginning to prove that he was a one year wonder. I for one was never remotely keen on him joining Arsenal. He falls into same category as Lucas who ranks probably as our
    fourth or fifth string striker.

  36. Carts

    Good result and promising performance vs a dire West Ham – who need to keep any eye on the relegation positions.

    I totally agree that Sanchez is on another level to his colleagues. His performances at times can be extremely frustrating but that’s probably testament to the inferiority of his team mates.

    Utd look Van Gaalish still. Another draw lol

    City’s lack of clinicalness and incessant urge to attack was essentially the reason behind their loss to Chelsea.

    Liverpool bent over and lubed themselves up for Bournemouth

    Chelsea look hot right now, and must be favourites for the title; although my money was on City and Liverpool as dark horse.

    No chance Arsenal win this league. Top 4 is again the ultimate target.

  37. Southernpeople

    Bystander

    “Does anyone else believe Kos is world class?”

    Why not?!!

    Emiratesstroller

    Sanchez is making “real difference” since he came here. Its not his fault if the team performs badly most of the time. Sanchez isn’t like Ozil who disappears in most difficult matches. He’s human and had definitely some ups and downs, but most of the time he committed his skills and effort to win us games.

  38. Carts

    Certain Kos’ performance over the last couple of seasons have been of a world class level.
    Definitely top 5 CB in the world

  39. BacaryisGod

    How do you define a world-class player? I would argue Alexis qualifies as world class:

    1. He’s excelled at the top level of the game for several years at Barcelona and Arsenal. He was offloaded by Barcelona for them to acquire Suarez and there’s no shame in that.

    2. He was a key star in Chile’s back-to-back Copa America victories.

    3. He’s generally ranked between 10-20 from pundits/experts/publications in the Top 50 players.

    4. Wining the Premier League has very little bearing on whether a player is world-class or not. Gerrard was world-class for several years but didn’t win the league. Giggs and Best were world class and didn’t even reach the group stage of the World Cup. For Shearer to say that just because he won a title with big-spending Blackburn when the league was generally weak is simply idiotic. I think for a few years Shearer was world-class too but it has nothing to do with him winning the league once in nineteen attempts. Messi is an all-time top 3 player and possibly the greatest of all-time and him winning the World Cup would only be the icing on the cake and nothing more. He’s destroyed the best defenders over the years at the highest level. It’s enough to make his case.

    4.

  40. Bystander

    Bacary

    You’re contradictiing yourself.
    You say on the one hand Sanchez was a key star in winning the Copa America for Chile and then go on to say Best and Giggs were stars despite not playing in the World Cup.

  41. Southernpeople

    Carts and Bacary

    I agree that Kos is one of the top six defenders in the world, he belongs in the cream of the crop category of footballers.

    He’s crazy and complacent sometimes, but he’s defensive qualities are there for all to see.

  42. Wallace

    since Kompany’s injury issues flared up Koscielny has been the best CB in the PL. and he plays in a team that asks a lot of its defenders. I’d also take him over Hummels & Boateng. some of the Italian guys look great, but then they tend to play in systems that afford them a lot more protection. Ramos is excellent, as is Thiago Silva….Kos is definitely up there.

  43. rollen

    lol Bamford

    Real and Barca sometime losing to some random Spanish crap teams they would draw and lose more games in Pl and Cups.
    real draw to Legia.

  44. Samir

    With Sanchez cementing his place at ST now we need some world class wingers.

    Perhaps we could nick Mahrez on the cheap with all the problems as Leicester?

  45. bacaryisgod

    Bystander,

    Contradicting myself? I’ll try to clarify and then will have to give up on you.

    My point is that no one factor should disqualify a player from being tagged World Class. That’s what Shearer did with Alexis (even though he’s only had 2 seasons to win the Premier League vs. Shearer’s 19). That’s what others have tried to do with Messi when discussing his legacy about not winning the World Cup.

    The only way to determine World-Class (for me) is to look at the totality of a player’s achievements. That includes, but is not limited to:

    -performance at the top levels against elite opponents
    -performance at important club and national competitions
    -his playing statistics
    -how he’s evaluated by his peers and well-regarded experts in the game
    -how long has he performed at a world-class level

    For example, Vardy performed at a World-Class level last year, but cannot be considered a World-Class player as he has simply not shown consistency over a number of seasons.

    Just because a player may slightly underperform in one category doesn’t rule him out of world-class consideration. Alexis just has too many credit points and has to be considered world-class, as does Kozzer.

  46. karim

    Nice, without Balotelli for the last 3 games, get their 12th win of the season ( 3/0 v Toulouse ) and now have 4 points more than psg, who they visit next week-end.

  47. London gunner

    Funny to see that “shit” lacazette has already scored 11 goals second top scorer in Ligue 1 after cavani.

  48. Goonereris

    Bystander & Vote leave, I think both of you are writing about two different games. Vote leave is referring to the League cup final and I recall we outplayed them till Drogba came on. The FA cup semi final, which Bystander refers to was a different game; we had possession but threats were even by both sides with Chelsea shading it.

    However, there have been quite a number of games in which we outplayed Chelsea and they still won.

  49. Goonereris

    My last comment was in reaction to the exchanges between Bystander and Vote leave, on the previous page of the comments section. Didn’t realize the comments had gone onto the next page 🙂

  50. Goonereris

    Pedro, your post got me thinking about 1st place in our CL group. PSG lost their weekend fixture by 3-0; with the prospects of facing Nice next weekend, who is to know if they put out a weakened squad which may prove beatable by Ludogorets? It will be just like Arsenal to put out a much changed side against Basel, lose the game, only to find that PSG lost and we could have had 1st spot.

  51. DivineSherlock

    Sanchez is unreal, many people on here were worried when we didnt sign a ST . Sanchez has definitely done a great job there. Not at a Suarez-Liverpool level yet but it will be very exciting to watch the golden boot race this season too. A comment for Bamford here ” the not so great past it Wenger ” is only 3points off the 1st place . Doing a very good job comparatively to our very own Maureen who has spent 150million and is looking desperately short of ideas. Also credit where its due converting Sanchez to ST is an awesome move from Wenger.

  52. DivineSherlock

    I like our chances now tbh . I think we should aim for max points in Dec. Conte’s tactics are great but its the same chelsea who dropped their intensity in second half of the season. With Conte not rotating his squad fatigue will creep up soon and the perfomance will drop . Liverpool are inconsistent and dont have Coutinho to rely on as well. City are always a threat with a manager like Pep.

  53. Black Hei

    “I think that Shearer on this occasion has made a fair point whether you like it or not.”

    Somebody should probably ask him if he was world class during his playing days. Just to troll the fella. Get one of the United guys do do it. Probably Neville just for the irony since Neville is “world class” by his definition.

  54. peanuts&monkeys

    Where is Mert? Haven’t seen the bloke for months now. is he injured, or simply out of contention?
    the fellow must be training his ass out to get up to the speed required.

    Not sure why Holding is not getting games. He appeared a super talent. In one year he looked to become better than Stones, can he?

  55. Batistuta

    No need declaring our chances are good or that others teams will fade or things are different this year,it’s still Arsenal with Wenger in charge,if ever there was a perfect combo for a bottle job.

    I’d love to be surprised though, but for now its one game at a time

  56. tunnygriffboy

    Interesting what Wenger has had to say how Santi absence affects the team. Said he was our deep lying playmaker and our defenders first choice was to Santi to set our attacks up. Says he’s had to do a little bit of work to tweak things with defenders and the midfielders available to ensure that the midfielders are always making themselves available to our defenders. He’s had to do it in the little time between games but feels it’s getting a lot better.

    Because of this it’s important that Xhaka plays every game. His passing range was excellent yesterday, he always looks to pass forward. Also in fairness to Coquelin he was looking forward on Saturday. It’s something they’ll have to work on and improve. It’s nice that we have Mustafi in there as a ball playing CB as well.

    Thought Ox much better as well. Agree with what Cesc has been saying in that when Ozil moved wide and Ox went into the middlish his powere and dribbling ability caused them havoc. How would the man city back four enjoy him and Alexis drving at them ?

    Was it coincidence that we scored a lot of goals when Ramsey came on ?

    My team for Tuesday

    Ospina

    Gabriel Holding Mustafi Gibbs

    AMN Elneny

    Iwobi Ramsey Lucas

    Giroud

  57. Wallace

    DivineSherlock

    “Mourinho’s gonna walk this league with pogba, mkhtaryan in his squad said a poster on here with his crystal ball now shoved firmly up his backside.”

    I don’t think it was just one. quite a few le grovers probably walking a bit strangely at the minute.

  58. Wallace

    Chelsea are going to be there or thereabouts come the end of the season. still think City under Pep are the team to beat, although. he probably needs to replace Bravo & Otamendi in January.

  59. tunnygriffboy

    Wallace

    What sort of team would you send on Tuesday ?

    I think we need to send a team capable of winning as something ridiculous happens in Paris however unlikely it may be.

    On the other hand I’d like to give certain players a rest and give a run out to some to get miles in their legs as they will be needed over the Christmas period.

    Alexis, Ozil and Kos need a break. Would like to give Xhaka/Coquelin a break as well. Also Theo and Ox could share a game.

    People who need a start. Gibbs, Holding, Elneny, Ramsey, Lucas and Iwobi with a bench with some senior players and youngsters.

  60. Vote leave

    Tunnygriff

    Actually…..
    It was me who initially pointed out that ox seemed better suited to the centre and then cesc took it away from there

  61. Wallace

    tunny

    “What sort of team would you send on Tuesday ?”

    mostly fringe first teamers. I think he’ll probably field a stronger side than we would like, but as long as Alexis, Koscielny & Ozil don’t make the trip I’ll be happy.

  62. Goonereris

    I’ll field the side that got beat in the EFL cup, with Ospina, Mustafi, Ox and Giroud on for Martinez, Jenks, Jeff and Perez, respectively. It is important to play for a win as you cannot rule out PSG dropping points.