The Last Good Friday ….. Good Luck to Norfolk Gooner

February 28, 2014

Last Friday:

Gradually the furore over Olligate is dying down, only for criticism of Ozil over the penalty miss to be given more impetus. Surprisingly, at least to me, Wenger admitted that Ozil was not “over” the penalty miss, which seemed an odd way to restore the players confidence. The consensus among the pundits is that Le Boss will drop our record signing for the Sunderland game.

Saturday:

So for once the pundits were right, Mesut Ozil was left out of the squad with a thigh injury. Yes, Arsene, of course we all accept your explanation for his absence.

The chosen line-up showed a number of changes with Szczesny coming in for Fabianski, Monreal for the injured Gibbs, Arteta for Flamini, Podolski for Ozil, Giroud for Sanogo and, surprisingly, Rosicky for Oxlade-Chamberlain.

giroud scores againnst sunderland

Olly didn’t quite get the hat-trick that I had asked for but to score on two occasions was certainly acceptable, redemption? I think so! What a master stroke by Le Boss, Rosicky’s goal must be the best of the season so far, even outstripping Jack’s early season wonder strike. Koscielny wrapped up the scoring with a free header from a corner, before joining Monreal in the treatment room.

The missus wants him to stay

The missus wants him to stay

Sagna was my Man of the Match for the outstanding effort he put in, playing right-back, before swapping to left, when Monreal failed to come out for the second half, and then centre-back when Koscielny went off.

All this after running himself into the ground in the Bayern game.

Please Monsieur Wenger give him a new contract, give him three years and a pay rise if that’s what it takes to keep him at Arsenal.

We can’t afford to lose players of Bacary’s calibre.

Sunday:

The press just can’t let go can they? The Telegraph’s headline…. Giroud puts poor visitors to bed! Ho! Ho! Ho! It’s surely time to put that one to bed.

Monreal and Koscielny are expected to be fit for Stoke next Saturday, Wilshere may have a hamstring problem and Ozil should be back…shouldn’t he?

Monday:

No change at the top of the table, all four of the top four won at the weekend, The Chavs managed a home win over Everton with the only goal coming in injury time, City scraped a one nil home win against Stoke, Liverpool scrambled to a four three home win over struggling Swansea, while Arsenal took all three points with a handsome four one win over Sunderland.

The race for Europa League qualification hotted up as Manure won and the Spuds lost to brave little Norwich City.

Rosicky to stay for another year!

Le Boss confirmed that Tomas is ready to sign a one year extension to his current contract; “Tomas Rosicky will stay” said Wenger. “We have an agreement with him and it will come out soon. I am absolutely adamant that he has to stay at the club.” Well done Arsene, now get to work on Sagna and Vermaelen.

Tuesday:

Mesut Ozil was given special permission to return to Germany for an extended break after the Bayern game. He is due to return to training today and expects to be fit to face Stoke on Saturday.

Aaron Ramsey is hoping to be fit in time for the game against Spurs on 16th March.

Apparently, and this is tabloid news, 31 year old Bacary Sagna wants a three year contract and £100,000 per week. Go on Arsene, split the difference, £100k and two years. You know it makes sense!

Wednesday:

Johan Djourou, has hinted that he does not wish to return to Arsenal but would like to make his loan at Hamburg permanent in the summer.

Arsenal target Julian Draxler has refused to rule out a summer move to Bayern Munich.

‘I am ready to play for Arsenal’ – Olympiakos hero Joel Campbell desperate for chance at Gunners.

Fresh from scoring a brilliant goal for Olympiakos against Man U on Tuesday, our young Costa Rican striker said “I believe I am ready to play for Arsenal next season,” “I have the capacity to play there and I am only waiting for the opportunity. With hard work I can get there.” Only a couple of weeks ago his agent said…‘Going back to Arsenal? He would not be happy sitting on the bench – even in a top league.’

As a transfer fee of around £7 million had been mooted, the agent would be in danger of missing out on a sizeable chunk of that if Campbell returned to The Gunners. So some mixed messages there. The decision will be made in the summer, and it will be Wenger’s to make.

Thursday:

In spite of a trawl through all my usual sources I’ve been unable to come up with much that could be called news. One headline caught my eye, but the actual article was ambiguous to say the least.

Arsenal get transfer boost as Julian Draxler admits he’s ready to quit Schalke “Julian Draxler has cleared the way for a move to Arsenal at the end of the season after telling Schalke he is ready for a new challenge.

Draxler, who was subject of a failed bid from the Gunners in January, remains a top target for Arsene Wenger ahead of the summer transfer window.

And amid speculation that Arsenal are working on a new bid for the midfielder, Draxler has left the door open to a switch to the Emirates by revealing that he wants a new challenge.

‘I can make my own decision about my future and I want a new challenge,’ he told the German press.

‘It’s no secret that I have a buyout clause in my contract and so from year-to-year I think about what is best for my development.

‘It leaves room for a lot of speculation, but I am calm and it’s also good for all sides.’

The 20-year-old’s release clause is set at £37.5million but it’s thought that Schalke would consider doing business for less at the end of the season.

Arsenal’s offer in the January window was about £20million, but that is expected to be increased when the club make a new push for the player.

Now I may be a bit of a cynic, but where does it say that Draxler is interested in a move to Arsenal?

Ahead of Saturday’s clash Stoke-on-Trent newspaper The Sentinel carried an interview with City’s chairman headlined…

Ryan Shawcross treatment after Aaron Ramsey incident still rankles Potters, admits Peter Coates

The chairman admitted: “Yes, we have got this thing with Arsenal.

We were very disappointed with how the Shawcross incident was treated because we thought there was never any intent whatsoever on Ryan’s part.

angle devil

We thought he was very badly treated over that incident in various quarters and it was wholly unfair on him. “Players get bad injuries all the time in professional football and in the vast majority of cases there is no blame to be attached, but Ryan seemed to be unfairly singled out over this one, in my opinion.” Watch out Arsenal, The Orcs are stirring, and so is Mr. Coates.

Much of the “news” that I have summarised over recent months has inevitably been speculative in nature, written by journalists striving to keep their jobs in a very competitive market place. They come in for an awful lot of criticism and abuse, some of it deserved, some not so. Occasionally they do get something right as this headline about Olympiakos vs. Man U demonstrates.

Clueless, Aimless and Hopeless

I regret to say that this is my final round-up, at least for a while. I have cataracts developing in both eyes and as a consequence I must cut down on the time spent peering at a computer screen. I’ve both enjoyed writing the posts and reading your comments, which have been almost entirely complimentary. I’m sure I shall look in on Arsenal Arsenal from time to time.

Keep the Faith

Norfolk Gooner

A note from ed:

Many thanks to Norfolk Gooner for his wonderful Friday Newsrounds. They have transformed a traditionally dull day in football terms into a joy that we all looked forward to. We hope his problems improve and that we can enjoy his company in the comments section whenever he is able.


RIGHT BACK to the issue

February 26, 2014

As most of us are aware our long serving right back is out of contract this summer. Many rumours are circulating about how the situation currently stands between Sagna and the club and as with most football situations played out in the media some reports will be close to the mark and some will be pure fiction.

Sagna has been an excellent servant at this club and has been considered, during certain periods of his time with us, as the best right back in the premier league. His recent performance against Sunderland was amongst one of his best and as a result I noticed that there was a strong feeling of “get him signed up again” as a result of this performance. Memories in football can short though both on the good points and the not so good, and it was not so long ago that he was having a poor spell leading many to comment (hands up, myself included) that his legs had gone, that he had sustained one injury too many.

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Behind Sagna we have the rawer less experienced corporal Jenks and the even rawer and less experienced Hector Bellerin. Jenkinson we have all seen more of and have a better idea with. My view is that when he plays his inexperience shows through at times and mistakes can be made. Conversely I have seen some fine performances from him, not least in the away leg against Bayern last year where he managed to shackle Bayern’s dangerous wide players, which few are able to do. Does he just need to play more regularly? Bellerin I must confess to not having seen. I actually don’t believe I have seen any action or footage on him so the feed-back of any of you who have would be much appreciated.

Back to Sagna and one report that I believe to be true is that Arsene wants him to stay and that the club are trying to get him to re-sign. Reading between the lines I feel Arsene may perceive the two younger back up players as not being quite ready to assume that role permanently and wants Sagna for a bit longer while they mature more. Assuming the likelihood that the club have already made him an offer I would conclude that it does not meet his expectations at this stage, or else we would be hearing about how he has signed on with us again or is about to imminently. There have been a couple of media headlines insisting that Sagna’s camp would like Arsenal to “start getting real” with the type of contract they are offering. Can it be confirmed that anything like that has actually been said? I don’t know.

When an important player is in this situation the game is very often played out in a smoke and mirrors type way. You rarely hear the player say anything in a direct interview that is there for all to see. What tends to happen is that the agent drops little double edged remarks out into the public domain or we get this often reported but vague reference to “someone close to the player”. Everything is obviously designed to gain the player the upper hand and as a result the best deal they can get, and to alert other suitors who can then come in with their offers which often put the current club over a barrel. It is a game of poker and I believe we are currently in the middle of a high stake hand with our long serving right back’s representative’s.

There have been further reports in the last 48 hours where they state the mythical “someone close to the player” has revealed his new contract demands”. It is very difficult to know whether these reports are close to the mark but they seemed to range from him expecting a signing on fee in the region of £6m and a 3-4 year contract of between £100-£115kpw. If he is looking at anything close to this I would personally feel those demands are somewhat excessive for a player of his age. Do we really know if the Sunderland performance is something that will be repeated on a regular basis in the next 3 years, or will time take its toll and there are more lengthy lay-offs around the corner and more periods of poorer form?

There is a very real prospect that we may part ways with our erstwhile right back at the end of the season, whether we want it or not, so I would like to throw the subject out there for debate to get your feelings on it. As a pointer you could maybe base your views around some key questions :

1 Do you ideally want Sagna to stay?

2 Should we re-sign him at all costs or is there a line we should not cross?

3 If he does leave do we have the required replacement in either Jenkinson or Bellerin or do we need to bring someone in?

4 If we are bringing someone who is your preferred choice and why?

Written by GoonerB


Arsenal’s confidence restored as the Black Cats get blown away.

February 23, 2014

Playing less than seventy hours after the extraordinary game against Bayern there were many questions to be answered.

Would Ozil be rested, could Giroud regain his place, would Podolski get a rare start and what physical and mental effect would it have had on those playing two games in such a short space of time?

Would Sunderland have one eye on The Capital Cup Final next week?

As a bonus we had the unveiling of the statue of the iceman, who was greeted with a standing ovation at half time.

Six of the team that started on Wednesday played, Giroud and Podolski were reinstated and we eagerly waited to see how the combination of Rosicky,Wilshere and Cazorla in midfield would perform.

Well, we didn’t have long to wait as the fluidity and pace had returned and it was nice to see Giroud being so clinical with both the opening goals. The pass and move that led to Rosicky’s delightful chip finish was much appreciated. The game was virtually over by half time yet Sunderland gifted us a forth,courtesy of Koscielny and the job was done despite a fine late goal by Giaccherini.

There were many positives but for me Sagna was the man of the match with his tireless running and interventions and having to play in three different positions during the match. If he leaves it would be a great loss.

Rosicky is like a man reborn and his energy levels are amazing and it was nice to see him rewarded with his first league goal of the season.Great goal but would a better team have let us walk the ball through their defence.

Wilshere was back to his best and to an extent took the baton from Ozil who had been rested.

Overall just the result we needed and though as with most matches we picked up a few niggles,hopefully all will be fit as we enter what will most probably be the toughest test of the season.

Ratings :

  • Szczesny 7.5
  • Sagna 8.5
  • Monreal 6.5 (Jenkinson – 45′ )6
  • Wilshere 8
  • Mertesacker8
  • Koscielny  8 (Flamini – 67′ )8
  • Cazorla7.5
  • Arteta7.5
  • Giroud 8
  • Rosicky 8 (Gnabry – 73′ ) 7
  • Podolski 7

Written by kelsey


Character, Desire and Strategy: Symphony drowns Heavy Metal!

November 7, 2013

Notwithstanding the fantastic results that Arsenal have been producing most weeks and in midweek games since the beginning of the year, and the consistency with which the team have been turning whinging disbelievers and useless pundits into muppets, if there was ever a moment when the good guys proudly donning their red and whites on the field had to prove a point, this was it.

Playing away from home at the home of the formidable Ballspielverein Borussia 09 e.V. Dortmund, having succumbed to the ignominy of an embarrassing loss to the same club at The Home of Football, and knowing that their dreams of progressing from the Group of Death lay in their own hands (erm, feet and heads), this was the moment of destiny.

Would they remain a bunch of kids led by a handful of immature generals trying to play a game meant for men, or would they show the strength of character, desire and strategy that separates the sublime from the ordinary? On a rain-drenched evening in Dortmund, in front of formidable opposition and a vociferous crowd, they fought valiantly with heart and mind to achieve a memorable victory that dreams are made of.

The stage for the show was set up well. The set was immaculately chosen in advance, and the background music was perfect for the occasion – perhaps the tune of the Pomp and Circumstance Marches. At the disappointing loss at home to Dortmund a fortnight earlier, Arsène Wenger, a man known for his economy of words and measured temperament, rather uncharacteristically chose to criticise the team in public for their alleged ‘naivety’. Adding salt to injury, Jurgen Klopp, the respected Dortmund manager tried to take the art of mind games to the level of Symphony Fantastique.

“[Wenger] likes having the ball, playing football, passes” he said,”It’s like an orchestra, but it’s a silent song, yeah? And I like Heavy Metal more. I always want it loud! I want to have this: ‘BOOM!’ “.

It was time for the true mettle to shine through the din of Heavy Metal, and it did! The good guys of Arsenal fought their heart out, played with their minds sharp, and manufactured a fantastic away win!

It was a very tough test against the skill, aggression and hard work put in by a truly fantastic team, Borussia Dortmund, and in front of their home crowd as well. On the night, the entire team was fantastic. In the first half, both teams played a measured game, Arsenal sitting deep in defiant defence, and Dortmund piling on attacks without creating that many chances. Mkhitaryan squandered the best chance curling his shot wide of the post, but that apart, the central defence of Mertesacker and Koscielny nullified every chance that Dortmund created, with the able support of Sagna and Gibbs.

Arteta and Rosicky worked tirelessly to organise the midfield, and together with Ramsey, Santi and Özil maintained the threat of counter attacks. Giroud was left a bit isolated up front, but it was really that kind of a game. For me, our attacking threat in the first half was captured in the one occasion when Özil beautifully controlled a pass at the top of the Dortmund box, made the turn towards goal, but the moment the ball was pushed less than a foot forward, along came two defenders to snatch it away. Such was the tireless industry of the Dortmund defence, it was a treat to watch and admire! Anyway, the half ended a relatively event-less all-square.

There was all to play for in the second 45. But along came Dortmund with renewed vigour, and piled on attack upon attack. Most of these were repelled by the resolute Arsenal defence led by the fantastic Mert-Kos duo. For a nervous few minutes, the relentless pressure appeared to work. The nightmares of the Emirates appeared close. Once, Reus got through unmarked, and just a few minutes later Blaszczykowski had a low shot on goal. On both occasions, Szczęsny brought off fantastic saves. And that was it. No more serious attempts on the Arsenal goal followed.

Aaron Ramsey

Instead, it was a moment of magic at the other end. Rosicky, an ex-Dortmund player, latched on to a ball at the left flank and tried to move towards the centre, lost the ball, won it back and spread it wide to the right. Özil held on to it and sent a cross into the box, Giroud towered above his marker and used all his strength to nod the ball back towards the centre, and Ramsey lurked in with a great heart and headed the ball home almost right from the Subotic’s raised boot.

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The goal opened the floodgates somewhat, no not from Dortmund attacks, but Arsenal’s threats on goal. From a Giroud cross, Ramsey forced Weidenfeller into a smart save. From a Santi corner, Giroud saw a shot somehow cleared off the line. Per came along into attack with great vigour and came close to scoring twice, the second time sending a loopy header to the top of the net.

The mighty Dortmund, worthy finalists of last year’s Champions League, undefeated in the Bundesliga so far this season, did not know what hit them. Perhaps they were not used to losing. They were completely rattled and disheveled. Apart from a muffled attempt from Reus, they offered hardly any threat. The 11 brave men of Arsenal defended resolutely and saw the game through.

In the middle of all this, one man stood tall in midfield, led from the front, and for me captured like no other player the spirit that Arsenal stood for. It was Mikel Arteta. He manned the centre of the field like a fighter, defending and winning balls throughout the 90 minutes, earned a yellow card for his troubles, somewhat unfairly, for tugging Blaszczykowski’s shirt, and came disastrously close to a second as well. But he kept fighting. At the other end, Reus tugged back Rosicky but was not booked, and neither was there a penalty for bundling valiant Kos over. Injustices galore. But the brave and good guys stood tall amongst the ruins, and came out valiant winners. What a night of Champions League football! Lucky Micky and Raddy who represented AA in the ground!

How did we manage to win this game against all odds? Hard work, perhaps even more than skill, but what was most important was strategy. The strategy of sitting back and defending resolutely, the strategy of going all out in counter attack, but only when the opposition had got somewhat tired and demoralised, and most importantly the strategy of knowing how to get the best efforts out of the players. Going even to the extreme of publicly criticising the team for naivety. In a game characterised by character, desire and strategy, STRATEGY came out tops for me. In a game between symphony and Heavy Metal, the mettle displayed by the team was beautiful SYMPHONY. In a game of strategy between two great managers, Arsene Wenger came out on top! Arsène Wenger is my Man of the Match!
Arsene
Every player did his bit on the night. Here are some tentative scores.

Szczesny: 8 Had little to do on the night, except to make two fantastic saves. And they were crucial.

Sagna: 7 Measured performance in defence and attack. 

Mertesacker: Excelled at the heart of defence, went out in counter attack, almost scored as well. What a performance! 

Koscielny: Fantastic in defence, great combination with Mert, played with a big heart.

 Gibbs 7 Measured performance focusing on defence, cricial interventions when Mert and Kos had moved up and Dortmund attacked on the counter.

Arteta: 9 A true leader on the day, leading from the front. Valiently marshalled the midfield all evening. Outstanding.

Ramsey: 9 What can you say! The “Welsh Messi” Aaron Ramsey did what he does best – deliver the sucker punch.

Cazorla: 7 Good, solid, if somewhat underwhelming performance on the night.

Ozil: 8 Good performance, great cross that led to the goal.

Rosicky: 8 Fantastic performance. Together with Arteta, maintained the midfield, fighting for every ball, moving forward on every occasion possible.

Giroud: 7Assist for the goal, tireless performance as the lone striker, holding up, running tirelessly after the ball. Almost scored as well.

Arsene Wenger: 10 Le Manager, what fantastic strategy, what a man, what a team. This performance was surely for him.

Monreal: 7 Came on 75 mins for Santi, reliable as ever.

Vermaelen: No time to make an impact.

Bendtner: No time to make an impact, but ran after the ball continuously for the 5 mins he was on.

Written by arnie

Our on the spot photographers have provided these pics of a view from the away end:

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When is a test not a test? Arsenal 2 – Liverpool 0

November 3, 2013

I hate playing Liverpool, when it is a match that has a lot riding on it I hate it even more. The first two trophies I watched Arsenal win Liverpool were the side in our way, so with those in the memory bank I shouldn’t be as fearful. And even though our record against them has been good in the last few years there was the FA Cup Final and the Champions League Quarter Final, last minute penalties in the League and dodgy offside goals all weigh heavy on my mind when we come to play the red half of Scouseland.

After the last two midweek results some serious questions have been asked of the squad, the manager and our chances to challenge for titles.

The early kick off on Satutday saw Newcastle take three points off every pundits title favourites Chelsea. At that point I would have been more than happy to take a point from yesterday’s game to retain top spot.

How stupid was I? What did I have to worry about? The long and short of it is Liverpool have two good strikers, one is considered to be worth more than £40m+£1, the rest of their team is distinctly average. Rodgers thought his new tactic of 3-5-2 and hard pressing would nullify Arsenals strength and highlight our weaknesses…he was wrong.

The defence were disciplined, full backs tucking in to help the centre backs out and Arteta playing the anchor role to perfection picking up loose balls and being precise in possession.

Giroud occupied three centre backs by firstly trying to win every ball, and secondly holding up the ball to bring the midfield runners into the game.

And the midfield is where we won the game, the speed the football moved between Ramsey, Cazorla, Özil and Rosicky was electric, their runs off the ball even better. The only time Liverpool got close was when we gave them the ball, but we were ready to fight to win back possession as soon as we lost it.

This was probably as complete a performance as we have seen from Arsenal this season , and we got our reward for the way we played.

The first came from Santi Cazorla, I think we can safely say he is now over his injury, Arteta carried the ball through midfield to release Sagna who headed for the touch line and produced a cross into the area, it was behind Giroud but Santi arrived to head powerfully towards goal , the header cannoned back off the post to the little Spanish magician who volleyed into the empty net with ease.

Cazorla v liverpool

After that goal we were all out attack but unable to extend our lead through a mixture of missing the final pass or not connecting with the final shot.

Liverpool rearranged at half time bringing on Coutinho to attempt to adopt a more natural 4-4-2. In reality this just gave us more time in midfield and less bodies in the way through the middle when playing on the counter.

Giroud was unlucky not to add a second twice in quick succession, first nicking the ball ahead of Skrtel from a generous Toure backpass only to see his dinked effort slide wide of the post. Moments later a combination of Rosicky and Santi provided him with half a chance but he could not make a strong enough contact to get it past Mignolet.

Liverpool always had a chance, Suarez can, if given the room, score a goal from nowhere, we needed a second, and it eventually came from our player of the season so far, Özil found Ramsey arriving in space, he took a good touch and as the ball bounced in front of him and the defence backed off he decided he may as well add to his total for the season and dispatched a screamer past Mignolet into the roof of the net.

Rambo v Liverpool

During all his on the pitch troubles Ramsey never stopped working hard and showing for the ball, it’s why I always had time for him and asked others to get off his back, but I had no idea he had this kind of football in him. After the game the Sky pundits asked if he thought he could get 20 a season midfielder like Gerard or Lampard, if I was Aaron I would have said “only if I get given penalty taking duties”.

Wenger sent on reinforcements to close out the game, Monreal for Rosicky, Vermaelen for the injured Gibbs and later Jenkinson for Cazorla. Liverpool went close a couple of times in this period but the result wasn’t really in doubt.

To answer my own question in the title. It’s not a test when you play a team that are above their natural league position.

But guaranteed to be a win clear of the nearest competition come Sunday evening after ten games I am more than happy.

Ratings

Szczesny 8 – Apart from his little one two with Sturridge was assured and commanding, couple of good blocks too.

Sagna 8 – Solid performance lots of energy good passing helped the centre backs when necessary

Gibbs 8 – More defensive than Sagna as he was covering Sturridges wide runs, second half he continually nipped in front to take the ball off the intended receiver.

Mertesacker 8 -still for me Arsene’s best signing of the last three seasons, his leadership and distribution have made us so much better at the back.

Koscielny 9 – More apparently World Class centre forwards in his back pocket, he is everything you want in a defender.

Arteta 9 – Mopped up everything dropping in front of the back four, passed to a red and white shirt for 90 minutes.

Özil 7 – Slightly quiet game from the new arrival, but everything he does is wrapped in silk.

Ramsey 9 – Cracking goal capped a fine performance, goal scoring is his biggest improvement second is his ball retention and use, all this added to his work rate and energy levels equals a very special player. Shame on you who unjustly wrote him off.

Rosicky 7 – Worked hard without the ball and used it well when in possession.

Cazorla 8 – Some thought Özil’s arrival may have limited Santi’s pitch time, it’s pretty hard to see us start a game without him. The lad is class.

Giroud 8 – His hold up play makes the midfields job easier, unlucky not to get a goal that his work rate deserved. Bossed three centre backs around for 90 minutes.

Subs

Monreal 7 – I like using Nacho as a sub to give some protection in the latter stages, he is good enough with the ball that he doesn’t totally nullify our attacking threat.

Vermaelen 7 – did what was needed at left back.

Jenkinson 7 – not really enough time to give a rating but he was on the pitch so I don’t want to leave him out.

MotM? Maybe we should have a vote…

Gooner in Exile


January Transfer Targets Pt.1.

October 10, 2013

Transfer targets. This two part post is an attempt to inveigle some of you to give us your ideas of where the team needs strengthening and more importantly, why.

Goalkeeper: We have signed an experienced Italian GK whom no-one knows about nor has seen play as back-up to our two Poles. Can’t see the point in that at the moment. Fabianski is a very good deputy to Szczesny who has been on top form so far this season. Apart from a poor game at home to AV, TPIG has been very good – just what we want to see from such a young keeper developing his skills. His decision making in terms of coming for crosses is a bit conservative (IMO) but he has eradicated most of his “Hollywood” tendencies.

Szczesny’s failings remain distribution, though he is definitely improving. His kicking lacks accuracy and as such he is tending towards the safe option of throwing to the wings in order to create a counter-attack which is fine as we are not a route one team.

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Viviano in training for the Bench

My guess is that Viviano was signed in the knowledge that Fabianski will move on sooner rather than later. Without having seen him play it is impossible to judge but International caps for a country renowned for good keepers is a decent testimonial.

Transfer Target?  No need, though I do accept some people are less than 100% secure about our No.1.

Full Backs: Starting on the left we have Gibbs and Monreal. I would suggest that after Ramsey, Gibbs is our most improved player and fully deserves his call up to the England squad. Monreal must wonder why he signed as he would surely have expected to be first choice given his high transfer fee. But that fee is further proof of Mr Wenger and the BoD’s commitment to creating a high quality squad. Having a player of Monreal’s ability both as left sided MF and LB cover is insurance in case Gibbs suffers yet another injury. Vermaelen has shown he is a capable understudy should both get crocked.

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The New Lee Dixon?

Right Back: Bacary and The Corporal.  Sagna is back to his best and Arsenal must make him sign a contract extension – whatever it costs, because he has AFC experience and is a senior pro, plus he can teach Jenkinson how to become a world class RB. As of today, The Corporal has much to learn; his crossing is poor, his defensive awareness average and his tactical nous lacking, yet, he has huge potential. The man has considerable energy, is a Gooner and clearly wants to learn BUT …… would you be happy to see Jenks start over a long period of time if Sagna gets injured (which as an older gent he is prone to be)? I wouldn’t.  And this is where the genius of Mr Wenger raises it’s shiny pate – we have The Flamster, who is worth every penny of his, no doubt, huge salary.

Transfer Target:  Once again, no need.

Centre Backs: Mertesacker, Koscielny, Vermaelen (& Sagna in emergencies). I love The BFG – he has brought a level of a calmness to the defence not seen since …. ermm ….. the last CB who was calm! But the other two? Koscielny is prone to a rush of blood and too often has given away silly fouls in potentially dangerous areas – just look at his push in the penalty area last Sunday. A red card and a penalty already this season is not what we want from what is an exceptional defender. He has pace, superb awareness, hence his high interception count, and is strong both in the air and in the tackle.  Vermaelen is too good a player to sit on the bench and yet his career has been in reverse for almost 2 seasons. I love his rampaging style and his clenched fist attitude but he is so focussed upon winning that he can neglect his defensive duties. Sagna? A decent option and hasn’t let us down but we need a specialist CB. The decision to let both JD and Miquel go out on loan is baffling in the extreme

Transfer Target;  I think we need to buy and buy someone in BFG’s class. If we really are going to challenge for the title we have stop conceding silly goals. One clean sheet in the PL and that against the Hapless Hotspurs is simply not good enough especially considering how well our GK and FB’s are playing. I realise Kozzer is a crowd pleaser and that he gives his best every time he plays but quite frankly, we need better. I would sell TV (even if he is Club Captain) and spend big in January, hoping for the new CB to bed in by March – ready for the CL Final in Lisbon.

Player Suggestion;   Williams at Swansea has been mentioned but I don’t think he is good enough. I want top quality not decent PL. My choice would be  Neven Subotic of Borussia Dortmund. Yes, he would cost a lot but he is only 24 and already played 36 times for Serbia. He lived in the USA (representing them at youth level) and as such is fluent in Americanish. Or better still, how about his more mobile partner – Mats Hummels, also just 24, he is  fantastic player and already an automatic starter for Germany. If he won’t come mid-season, please Mr Gazidis make him ours in summer.

images-2

You heard it here first.

One would have to ask why they would leave BD but, as we know, money talks and the opportunity to join the German Invasion at AFC must be appealing. Buy, Buy Buy.

My next post will concentrate on the other areas of the pitch and who knows, with this excruciatingly long Interlull (©Arseblog) there could be a “Should Paul Lambert be the Next AFC Manager?” post to follow!

written by Big Raddy


“We blew Napoli away” …….

October 2, 2013

I have to apologise. In the build-up to our second Champions’ League group game, I said Napoli would “be our toughest opponent in the season so far”. I had expected a real challenge would be presented by a team that has dropped just two points in six Serie A games to date, plus had impressively beaten Borussia Dortmund in their first CL game. They were a settled team that had been thriving under a new and familiar manager, and with a high quality replacement for the striker they had lost to PSG. This would be a true test of our resurgent team. Wouldn’t it?

No, it wouldn’t. Napoli didn’t turn up. They were utterly woeful in defence, naïve and disorganised beyond belief. And in midfield they completely failed to impose themselves. I can’t really comment on how they did up front, so little did we see of Pandev. Napolistas might point to the absence of their Argentine new boy, Gonzalo Higuain, as justification for their lame performance, but important as Higuain must be to his new side, that doesn’t explain or excuse the frankly pathetic, gutless and brainless performance from the Italians. They have other players of quality, like Inler and Hamsik, but the only players in camouflage kit (yuck) who came close to earning their corn were Insigne and Reina. You might think I’m going over the top, but I honestly cannot recall any visiting opponent underperforming in a CL game against us, and we’ve played some decidedly ordinary teams down the years.

Ok, enough of slating our oppo.

Arsenal were excellent on the night, though the limitations of what faced them makes it harder to determine just how good we really were last night. However, as the cliché has it, you can only beat the team that is in front of you.

In truth, we blew Napoli away in the first half hour of the match, arguably in the first 15 minutes. We played with speed of passing and thought, fantastic movement, cohesion, calmness and confidence. Wenger brought the recovered Rosicky back in, playing in attacking midfield alongside Ramsey and Özil, in front of a solid pairing of Arteta and Flamini. Wilshere and Gnabry were left on the bench.

If that selection looked conservative and cautious, the truth quickly showed that the opposite was true. From the off, we saw the ball being pinged around with consummate ease. The intelligence and understanding between the players was a pleasure to take in.

And then in the seventh minute, the breakthrough. And not just any old breakthrough; this was the moment, after some majestic interplay on the right flank between Giroud and Ramsey, Özil received a perfect cut-back cross from Ramsey on the edge of the penalty area. Özil opened out his body and placed the ball with precision into the corner of the net, with Reina flailing to get to the ball. This was it, the moment our new diamond went one better than provide an assist, this was the talented German’s first goal in the red and white.

Ozil scores v napoli

After the goal, Arsenal continued to dominate Napoli, who just couldn’t get the ball. The Arsenal midfield ran rings around them.

Seven minutes after scoring this goal, Napoli’s left-back had a throw-in near his corner flag but stupidly didn’t launch the ball up the line, and instead threw it infield to his centre-back, despite the presence of several Arsenal markers. Flamini got in front of the man he was marking and nipped the ball away from him, nudging it to Giroud, who immediately laid it off to Özil, who quickly got to the byline and put in a short, low cross to Giroud, who typically had run towards the front post. The players tracking back were too slow to do anything about it, and big Olly did the easy bit and put the ball in the net. From the moment Napoli took that throw-in to the moment the ball hit the net was eight seconds. And to think, we used to be accused on lacking a cutting edge.

team v napoli

We could have scored more goals, but quite rightly, Arsenal played within themselves for the remainder of the game. Having scored two goals, the onus was on Napoli to force the pace, and show Arsenal that further effort was required. The Italians didn’t, and almost all their efforts on goal were high and/or wide shots from distance. Szczesny must have been disappointed not to be tested but outfield, Arsenal contented themselves with probing for further openings without busting a gut and without giving up their shape.

It was impressive to watch Arsenal play with discipline for the remainder of the game, denying Napoli any chance of reducing the deficit. Özil, Ramsey, Giroud and Rosicky continued to dominate the top third, with quick movements and passes, and further chances were created. Arteta and Flamini similarly dominated the middle third. Koscielny, Mertesacker, Sagna and Gibbs held their positions very well and afforded their opponents no gaps to exploit. Szczesny was denied the chance to play, so dominant was the Arsenal performance in front of him. When Napoli tried to press the ball when Arsenal defenders were in possession, a few passes sliced through their ranks and we emerged on the attack again.

Arsenal may not have scored any further goals, but they remained in control for the remainder of the game. Reina made a very good close save from Koscielny in the second half, but that was a detail. With Benitez failing to stir his players into life for the second half, the outcome of the match was clear from very early on.

Some might say Arsenal were so dominant that they should have scored more than two goals. There might be something in that, but it also feels a little churlish to criticise. With an epic first half performance, Arsenal took control of the match and challenged Napoli to show them why more effort was required. Napoli couldn’t rise to that challenge, and couldn’t undermine the shape and confidence of their opponents, so there was little need of urgency in the remainder of the game.

And, it was great to hear the positivity, the unity of the crowd was a pleasure to behold, as if the months of fractious division had never happened. And it was great to hear chants of “We’re the North Bank/Clock End/East Stand” – we are truly beginning to grow into this stadium.

So, six points in the bag already, we couldn’t have wanted it to go any better than this. One more win in the remaining four games and we will likely get through. It would be nice to get our business in the Group of Death done early though.

Were you watching Suàrez, Rooney, Higuain and van Persie?

Ratings:

Szczesny: 8. The Pole in goal did everything asked of him well, especially in dealing with high balls put into the box. The fact that he wasn’t asked to do much wasn’t his fault.

Sagna: 8. His link-up play was excellent, and much of our attacking play came on the right flank.

Mertesacker: 8. Not tested fully but his performance was nonetheless exemplary.

Koscielny: 8. It is great to see Kos rediscover his mojo – the panicky efforts of a few weeks ago have gone, to be replaced by unpretentious calm.

Gibbs: 7. Didn’t do much wrong, perhaps there were one or two misplaced passes, but Kieran had a good night.

Flamini: 7. Probably the only Arsenal player whose technical limitations were apparent, but his energy was valuable. And without his interception, Özil would not have had the ball to set up Giroud.

Arteta: 8. Marshalled the centre of the pitch well, and with the Flamster, completely dominated Napoli’s midfield trio.

Ramsey: 10 (but not MOTM). Simply magnificent. The energy and intelligence of an in-form Rambo is a beautiful thing to see. On another night, he’d have walked away with a hat-trick.

Özil: 10. Oh…. My….. God….. Just how good is this guy? Answer: really very good. Thank you, Florentino Perez, you are a gent and a scholar. And a fool. Silky skills, incision, vision, awareness, Özil has the lot. I particularly liked watching how he can sense a defender closing in behind him, and then shift the balance of his body so as to move effortlessly into the space the over-eager defender has just vacated. Nice. (And yes, that should be read in the voice of the jazz guy in The Fast Show.) Perhaps it’s no accident that Özil was able to impose himself most effectively in a game against an Italian side. I feel sure he will reach these standards in domestic games too, once he has the measure of our game.

Rosicky: 7.5. Tom misplaced a few passes but still slotted into the passing game brilliantly. Perhaps should have done better with a chance he had early in the second half.

Giroud: 8. Copy and paste from previous reports: great link-up play, great lay-offs, great movement to score his goal and great effort.

And the subs:

Wilshere: 7. Once again, Jack was played out of position, on the left, where he was efficient without being incisive.

Monreal: Had too little time to make a mark.

Written by 26may89


Match report …..Viva Ramsey!

September 23, 2013

I make no apologies for saying that I dislike Stoke City. Hardly an original view from an Arsenal fan, but about the only thing I can think that commends them is the time spent in the Potteries by the great Lee Dixon and Steve Bould, before they found their way to the home of football.

That is not nearly enough to outweigh my resentment for the wilfully reckless maiming of the then teenage Aaron Ramsey, and especially the way in which the Stoke fans revelled in that incident in the years since, even baiting the young victim. Stoke’s destructive fear of real football, shown up most effectively by Swansea’s success in combining financial caution with quality football, only underlines why Stoke are a club to wish bad things for. True, Mark Hughes has brought a reintroduction of football at Stoke, but I’m not one to forgive and forget.

Arsenal came to the game on an excellent run: one defeat and two draws in 18 competitive games, two defeats and three draws in 20 PL games, a defence that has got into the habit of almost never conceding more than one goal in a game etc etc. The game was always going to be significant for two things: the Ramsey factor, given the opposition and the Welshman’s form this year; and the home debut of the refined and expensive talent that is Mesut Özil. And on both counts, things went well.

Ramsey v stoke

In the fifth minute, Jack Wilshere’s run at the Stoke defence drew a foul from the busted flush that is Charlie Adam in a perfect area. Adam’s incompetence put Özil in a position to line up a good shot on goal, one that Begovic didn’t handle well, pushing it out in front of goal and into the path of the boy wonder, Aaron Ramsey. Watching him able to lord it over the Stoke fans in his celebrations was exquisite. And that was reflected in the chants of the Arsenal fans, who loved ramming it down the Stoke fans’ throats.

We continued to control the game pretty much throughout the first half, but against the run of play Stoke produced their one moment of quality when Gibbs ceded possession on the flank and the ball broke to Steven N’Zonzi. His floated diagonal ball was perfectly weighted and was despatched early enough to deny the defence a chance to set themselves properly. When Arnautović met the ball first time, he was unlucky to hit the post, but it ricocheted into the path of one of those hardworking American players, Geoff Cameron, whose shot was carefully placed beyond Szczesny’s reach.

Sanity was restored before halftime, once again from a dead ball. The Stoke centre backs, Robert Huth and lovely Ryan Shawcross, players unable to do their jobs without cheating, were so intent on manhandling Giroud and Koscielny in the build-up that Stoke neglected to cover Mertesacker. The BFG was easily able to evade the cover assigned to him, and looped Özil’s perfect corner to the back post. With Koscielny running interference to confuse Begovic, the ball dropped into the net. Hey presto, 2-1 up.

Mert celebrates with Rambo and Ozil

The tempo dropped in the second half, which was perhaps unsurprising after the team’s wonderful efforts in Marseille. But fortunately for us, we weren’t facing a side that had the ability to exploit that. Jones was largely isolated and when Hughes subbed him, for some reason he passed over Peter Crouch, and preferred to put Mark Walters up front, which was an odd decision. But, without another goal, we remained vulnerable. That goal arrived from yet another dead ball, a free kick that was once again won by Wilshere driving at the Stoke defence, who were only able to terminate Jack’s run by taking him out. This wasn’t shooting territory for Özil but he floated a ball across the penalty area, where the goal machine that is Bacary Sagna was able to outjump his two opponents and loop a header over Begovic and into the far corner.

Sagna celebrates

And so it was that we were returned to the top of the early season league table. With Man United’s embarrassing capitulation to City, we are already five points clear of van Persie’s team, but the other good sides are clustered together. It was a shame to see Spurs win in injury time, but I do enjoy seeing the two North London clubs at the top, with the good guys in poll position.

We will see much, much better performances from Mesut Özil than yesterday’s, but, even while he’s adapting to a new team and a new league, he was able to provide three assists. It was a quiet, efficient win yesterday, but, even beyond winning three points in a game against a disliked opponent, there were numerous positive aspects for us: Arteta’s return to the fray, Gnabry’s energetic and fearless performance (which meant we were able to cope without Walcott), the solidity of the defence (after the frayed edges shown against Sunderland), selfless hard-work from Giroud and Flamini and a good performance from Wilshere. But the greatest satisfaction came from seeing Ramsey score and play well against our bêtes noires. Viva Ramsey!

Written by 26may

Player ratings by LB

Szezcney: I have never played goalkeeper and because of that I have never professed to know too much about that position but every part of me shouts that this keeper is the real deal; another good game. 8

Sagna: definitely one of his better games, back to where he plays best with the BFG next to him. Patrolled the line well and scored a goal to boot. 8

Mertasacker: Captain on the day, steered the ship from the back with calmness and authority. 8

Koscielny: these two CBs remind me of Adams and Bould, the BFG being the former. On the rare occasions that Adams didn’t play you got to see the actual ability of Bould and realised then just how good Adams made Bould look. Laurent had a perfectly good game but a BFG he is not. (yet) 7

Gibbs: Ramsey may rightfully be the player who has received all the accolades for being the most improved player this season but there is no doubt that the second most improved is Kieran Gibbs; that said, yesterday was not one of his better days. In the first half he was a bit too slack at times. 6

Ramsey: how is it possible to praise him anymore, he was by some distance the best player on the pitch for the first 45 minutes, scoring yet another goal, and celebrating in front of the Stoke fans. He faded a tad in the second half which is the reason I have not given him the MOTM but still another great day at the office. 8

Flamini: after watching him three times on TV I was close to concluding that our second most important signing was no more than a 2013 version of Giles Grimandi: a jobbing utility player; well, yesterday I saw him in the flesh for the first time and realised I was wrong. His passing, his positioning, his tackling were superb; none of them world class; but, a bit like his career path; he really knows how to make the most out of the limited ability that he has. A very impressive game and a worthy MOTM. 9

Wilshere: one step forward, two steps back; he was not at his best yesterday, I got the feeling that he was filling in because others were injured, had Rosicky or Cazorla been fit, Jack would have certainly been on the bench; still, what he lacked in fitness he made up for in a determination. 7

Gnabry: I was going to tear into the young German but having read a few comments from some of the more esteemed regulars on here, arguing that he is not a winger, maybe I should hold fire. Nevertheless, he was poor in the first half, he slowed the play down almost every time he got the ball, when a simple pass was possible he tried to show off. It is, of course, early days, but this is a match report on yesterday’s game and yesterday, in my opinion, he was not very good. 5

Giroud: his passing is improving, his control is improving and his positioning is improving, he always works like a Trojan and yesterday was no exception. 8

Ozil: Three assists on his home debut. Purrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. I went with my Mrs who asked when he ran close to us to take a corner: why are they all standing and clapping before he has even taken the kick, to which I replied — for just being. 8


Blimey — We look really good.

August 11, 2013

When you think about it, playing City one week before the start of the season was a very smart move, some very clever scheduling must have gone on behind the scenes, clearly designed to give us a stern test before the real football starts next week against Villa.

If this was indeed the intention and indeed meant as a test then Arsene Wenger’s men passed it with flying colours.

But I must admit I didn’t expect it. City started as positively as you would expect. A collection of players brought for around five hundred million seemed to be effortlessly moving the ball around us. I feared the worst and started wondering how I would write a report, if required, and found myself thinking that if we lose I might have to trot out the chestnut that you can’t hide the difference in quality that five hundred million buys you.

But I was wrong, there was no need, this was one of those precious moments when the hearts of Wengerites, of which I am one, soar.

We stuffed City.

Arsene’s team, put together with a fraction of the opposition’s budget, showed a far greater level of skill and clinical finishing. In short, we were treated to some pre-season Wengerball of the highest calibre.

Ramsey was for me our Man of the Match a cross between S Gerrard’s ability to move powerfully throughout the midfield, R Keane’s determination and C Fabregas’s finesse.

Because – that pass — to set up Walcott for the first goal was class; with slide rule precision it carved the City defence open, finished off with some aplomb by the man who had a hand in every goal today. Well, done Theo, you really have been giving doubters like me a good kicking recently.

I was a bit surprised to see Podolski starting at number 9; the first thought that ran through my head was this is in response to John Henry’s blunder bus of a statement that Liverpool would not be selling Suarez; it seemed like Arsene Wenger’s more subtle way of saying, we have options and our negotiating position is better than you think.

Excluding Podolski, I got the impression that both teams started with their strongest possible line up, but, where City were struggling to find a new format, Arsenal simply picked up from where they effectively left off last season.

There weren’t too many other chances for the good guys in the first half that I can recall but I do want you to share the pleasure in remembering Bacary Sagna’s left foot pile driver that hit the post – damn, did that man play well.

Second half started, changes were made and I thought here we go; we are all well aware how Arsenal are capable of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory but once again – none of it.

We got stronger and stronger, scoring a second goal and then a third. The second was a deftly weighted pass from Theo who I think Cazorla stepped over allowing the ball to roll to Ramsey who, in turn, rounded the goal keeper before slotting home. The ease with which Ramsey rounded England’s number one was Messiesque and made all the better by the look of embarrassment on Joe Hart’s face.

When there is goal scoring going on Oliie does not seem to be the kind of striker who likes to be left out. A pass from Walcott some thirty yards made fools of the City defence allowing Giroud to control and lob over the oncoming and even more foolish looking Joe Hart.

The game as a competition was over, Arsene had the luxury of bringing on more young hopefuls and Carl Jenkinson’s family and army of friends had a chance to shout his name.

City, of course, did score; Koscielny got bundled off the ball a bit too easily but I am not convinced that would have happened in any circumstance other than being three up.

So, a great warm up, a great result, a great boost for the collective confidence and all is looking well for next week.

Have a great Sunday.

Written by LB


Emirates Cup – Arsenal 2 – Napoli 2

August 3, 2013

Yesterday saw the return of the Emirates Cup after a years absence to accommodate the Olympics, due to the pessimism amongst fans this was seen as a cop out, because:

A) they know no one will turn up
B) we can’t even win our own pre season tournament anymore
C) some other conspiracy theory

star man kozzer

Anyway the club has re introduced the tournament this season and it was our first chance to look at the progress of the team and more importantly for me the progress of the youth team against slightly more robust opposition than the Indonesian Dream Team.

The Emirates Cup has introduced us to many of our youngsters in the past, having watched Jack conduct the FA Youth Cup final the following season he was electrifying those watching at the Emirates Cup, capping it with a wrong foot (hit with his left peg on the right side of the goal and the ball coming from his left) half volleyed goal.

Yesterday we got to see more of Serge Gnabry while the highly rated Gedion Zelalem sat waiting on the bench alongside Chuba Akpom.

Joining Gnabry on the right flank was the eager Jenkinson, playing alongside the more experienced Mertesacker, Koscielny and Gibbs in front of Fabianski. In midfield the untested combination of Wilshere and Ramsey as the two deeper players with Rosicky in front. Podolski and Giroud completed the line up.

To be honest we started very slowly, either heavy legged from our trips to Asia or had it too easy whilst in Asia and therefore not ready for the sterner test provided by Napoli.

It has been known for some time that we are susceptible to counter attacks as we commit too many men forward, Napoli are probably the best European exponents of counterattacking football, they defend in numbers as all good Italian teams do, but they are very quick on the break, and know how to use the ball in those situations.

Having said that the first goal went to Napoli but not from a counter attack, we were pretty well set Jenkinson showed his inexperience by following his runner beyond the defensive line this gave the Napoli defender with the ball the opportunity to lift the ball over the rest of the defence and create a 50:50 between Jenkinson and the winger, Jenkinson won the header but the contact was unconvincing, Fabianski realised the danger too late and was not out quickly enough to collect whilst airborne leaving the young Napoli winger the relatively simple task of tapping home for the goal. Most goals are a result of a series of errors, the first one is most crucial, and the first error was not pressuring the defender with the ball, which was then compounded by the following errors and misjudgements.

The second goal conceded was more like what we are used to, too many men committed forward, Mertesacker’s man appeared to have him beat for pace but that said he was heading wide of goal and we had enough numbers tracking back, however Fabianski made it so much easier for Napoli by coming off his line which then forced other defenders to back away. I hope in a PL game we would have seen a little more commitment to blocking the shot but in a pre season friendly unnecessary risks such as throwing yourself full length at a shot should not be taken for fear of injury.

Arsenal struggled to find a shape that worked and Wilshere and Ramsey struggled to find a way to control the midfield they are both still too young to do it together. Although in time with guidance they showed enough understanding and ball movement to feel that they could become quite a force together….however they are both still learning the ropes when it comes to experienced opponents.

Gnabry failed to offer the required width on the right and most of our good work came from Gibbs and Podolski linking on the left, unfortunately their crosses did not result in meaningful shooting opportunities.

Gibbs did win a very soft penalty only for Podolski to use his left foot hammer as a feather duster and tickle the ball harmlessly at Reina.

We created other opportunities but a combination of the linesman, errant shooting and altruism (Podolski) we went in 2-0 down to unfortunately a few boos from the Emirates crowd.

One of those missed opportunities was perhaps indicative of why we were two goals down, Jack lifting a ball from the edge of the area to Ramsey in an offside position. Whilst the bit of play between the two was good, one has to question who they were expecting to be providing cover if the attack broke down.

The other problem in our attacks as well as a lack of width was the fact that all our attacking players appeared to be bunched on their eighteen yard box when attacking, so there was only one passing option and it was very congested, we had no depth to our attack.

From the start of the second half we appeared to have a better shape. Soon the substitutions were made, Jenkinson and Gnabry off, Sagna and Theo on. Later came the more telling substitution, Ramsey and Wilshere replaced by Oxlade-Chamberlain and Arteta. Immediately our shape seemed better, we retained possession in their half better and were not as susceptible to counter attacks. With a more solid presence in midfield in Arteta, Mertesacker and Koscielny began to make lighter work of dealing with Napoli attacks.

Rosicky was still the man providing most inspiration going forward, helped by Oxlade-Chamberlain, and the outlet Sagna and Theo provided.

giroud over-head

The start of the comeback came from a corner, Theo floated the ball onto the penalty spot, Giroud held off his marker and performed a bicycle kick which was heading wide, but clipped Bacary Sagna and went in the bottom corner.

We were pretty much camped in their half for the remainder of the game, but without providing the finishing touch to equalise.

It eventually came from a free kick in the final third, Arteta put a great delivery into the box which Mertesacker rose to meet, Reina could only party the ball upwards and Koscielny was first to react and raced to bundle the ball in at the far post.

As pre season friendlies go I think it was a very helpful game, some harsh lessons learned for the younger players in the squad, and a step up in quality opposition with only two weeks to go to the season opener.

For me the standout performer was Koscielny, the way he dealt with Higuain you would think that he had a personal vendetta against him. It’s almost like he couldn’t let the Emirates crowd see what they might be missing out on so he wouldn’t give them a sniff.

Arteta showed once again why he is so crucial to our chances of competing, the knowledge and calmness his presence brings to the side are invaluable. Rosicky continued from where he left off at the end of last season, as did Ramsey, although the latter was hampered by being partnered with Wilshere.

Jack will prevent a real problem this season, the English media will be happy to see him rested, the Arsenal crowd will want him to play, Jack himself will be desperate to make up for lost time. For me he is about moving with the ball from somewhere in the opponents half and attacking from there, but with Santi and Rosicky in the squad is that where he can be used?

All in all more questions than answers yesterday, lets hope for a few more answers today.

Written by Gooner in Exile


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