A guest post by Kelly Woods @kmwoods02
Aaron Ramsey had his worst game in 12 months against Everton. He tried too hard. He forced things. Yes, he scored a goal, but don’t miss the fact that his performance was poor. And speaking of goals, I’m worried that he’s publicly admitted that he set himself a target of 20 goals this season. Whoa, there, son. Remember, it’s not about you. I know you want to start taking games by the scruff of the neck, but remember to just play your game.
These are all things that have come across my Twitter timeline since Saturday’s game. And I follow positive, considered people, who really do support our players. I know they do. And I respect and value all of them and their opinions – at least I do since I cleaned up who I follow. I cannot imagine what the rest of Twitter is saying, and I really don’t want to try. But if you will, let me articulate how I disagree with almost everything in that first paragraph. And to ask that we consider what it is that we really want from players.
First let me get this out of the way – Aaron was not at his effervescent best against Everton. I support, but I’m not blind. The whole team was out of sorts, and most of what he tried didn’t come off. Also true of other players as well. But let me point out a few things, courtesy of the stats-tastic 7amKickoff and his By the Numbers column for Arseblog:
Out of 69 passes attempted (the most for the team), 12 were misplaced. All but 2 of those misplaced were attacking passes, trying to create a chance. 5 of them were in prime areas, where goal conversion rates are high. One of the aforementioned 2 was just horrible – it went straight to an Everton player and almost gave me a heart attack. Only 4 tackles attempted, 2 of which were successful, and no dribbles. And no chances created. Also, there was that goal.
Ok, so what do stats show? Not the whole story, I’m well aware of that. Aaron’s defensive game was a bit weak and his attacking game was ineffectual on the whole. I think that had a lot to do with not having Arteta next to him, and trying to compete with Jack and Alex for space in the middle. But the question remains – what was he supposed to be doing in this game, and did he do it?
I think we should all come to grips with this fact: Aaron is a flair player. He will always try the Hollywood pass. Some seem to think that he’s changed somehow, that he doesn’t do that anymore. And they see yesterday’s performance as a reversion to a previous flawed way of playing. Nonsense. He has always been this player. By all accounts it’s been so since he was 8 years old. Stories of him demanding the ball from older teammates abound. “Let me do it” has always been his way. His off-pitch personality belies this fact, perhaps, as some don’t expect shy, quiet, introverts to behave this way. But it’s been said of him forever that he “expresses himself on the pitch”.
But, Kelly, I hear you say. Arsene said he told him to simplify his game. To go back to basics. True. But Aaron said this in an interview when asked about that:
“It was a difficult period for me where things weren’t happening the way I would like them to, and he called me in and just told me to simplify my game and get my confidence back that way…I did that for a few games, and then obviously you get more confident as every game goes on, and, yeah, I’m thankful for that.” (emphasis added)
That says to me that simplifying his game was not intended to be a permanent change. At least he didn’t interpret it that way. And Arsene had this to say Saturday:
“He has the engine and he gambles on getting in the box a lot and he has that timing to get where you need to be. He got rewarded like these kind of players do.”
“Gambles.” He gambles. He takes risks. He gets rewarded. He has a “can’t win if you don’t enter” mentality. He has said that he wants to improve his ability to take big games by the scruff of the neck and change them. He has goal targets that he has set for himself. But somehow, all that is now being seen as a potential liability, some sort of indication that he is putting himself above the team. Don’t we want a player that is ambitious? That tries to change games? That wants to score? What do we want, if not that? One of the biggest complaints I hear in games like yesterday is “Somebody DO something! Move, or something!” Yet Aaron tries to do just that, and he has a “poor” game, because it doesn’t come off.
I know I am really preaching to the choir here. This is a supporting group of people, many of whom told me yesterday not to worry, that he just had an off day. But here’s the thing. I’m not worried about him. I’m worried about us. This is exactly what I was afraid would happen. His miraculous exploits last season were a joy to watch. But they won’t continue – at least not like that. He is a marked man now. Teams have found out he is good, he will be given much less room to operate. And he is, by his own admission, still trying to improve his game. I’m confident he will continue scoring us goals. But all this means mistakes will happen. Do we really want to start down the road about how badly he’s played, how he’s struggling for form? Why do we do this? “Uh oh, the old Ramsey is rearing his head. Hope this doesn’t mean last season was a fluke.” It’s like we are always waiting for the other shoe to drop, for the bad thing to happen to us. Optimism reigns, until it doesn’t.
Here’s my fear. Suppose it doesn’t change? Suppose the next game is the same as Everton – he does a few things brilliantly, but at the same time lots of things don’t come off? What will we say then? Because the haters and naysayers will start in – they’ve already started I would imagine. Despair that we thought we had a “world-class” player, but of course we can’t have nice things, so look, he’s being shit again. I’m steeling myself for that, and I’m ready to defend him. I hope you are, too.
I have left it a day before musing on the Everton game for the same reason I don’t tweet during matches, I find immediate appraisals tend to be knee jerk reaction and leave you looking like a right miserable Charlie.
The general consensus is that we were poor, but how poor were we really?
People say we were dire in the first half, but were we really ?
For the first 20 minutes there was zero danger that I could see. Ok, we didn’t create much ourselves, but we were away from home and playing ourselves into the game. We did look brighter than them and got into some dangerous forward positions.
Then the goal, against the run of play, had an effect on both Arsenal and Everton.
The goal itself could have been avoided, but what goal cant be? If we are going to blame Ozil for not defending like Tony Adams ,then thats harsh.
We were put on the back foot and Everton buoyed by being ahead when if anything they had been second best. For the next 10 minutes it was all Everton. Understandable? I think so !
The second Everton goal was a catalog of officiating errors. So to go in at half time 2 goals to the bad must have been a bitter pill to swallow.
The fans that had been screaming for Alexis to play in the middle were now screaming for a change.
Arsene made the change at half time (odd for a man who people say never makes tactical changes and always waits until 70 minutes) Giroud’s impact was immediate .He hit a volley that ended up in row Z but was only inches over the bar.
We know what happened, 2 late goals and a really good point was salvaged.
Everton we were told were great and we were lucky.
We had 55% possession and the same territorial advantage.
They had 2 shots on target(one of which was a clear offside) we had 3.
We also had more than twice the shots off target.
The reality is we were not that bad. We deserved at least a point.
Giroud once again showed how important to the team he is.
Monreal was good . He provided the assist for the winner and looked solid. Another good player proving detractors wrong.
Carzola, another scapegoat, came on and assisted for the first goal.
We had players coming back into the team and others clearly not fully fit.
We had played an extremely physical European game mid week.
We were playing a very good team away from home.
I’m not sure what people expected, but an easy win should not have been it.
Thanks for reading, pedantic george @Blackburngeorge.
Right, now some in house matters.
As you all know we have a very tight door policy in the comments section. Its supportive opinions only.
We set this blog up for like minded people to have a safe haven , away from the misery of other places you might visit. Once in you are free to use any language that pleases you. However, at the risk of being accused of “poacher turned gamekeeper” I will not tolerate aggressive posting towards others on the blog. Its not on and anyone doing it will be history. No matter who they are or how much I like them.
Elan. I like things to be done with it. I enjoy it when a certain flair, a superfluous decoration lifts an otherwise mundane event. Only this morning as I stumbled, eyes half closed with all too recent sleep, to buy my morning loaf (not, I’m sorry to report, from a ancient rustic baker up at four thirty am grinding the grains and proving the dough in his age old way, but rather from L & F Jones Convenience Store. It is that at least. Convenient, I mean) I passed a woman, disheveled of aspect looking as if she may have spent a cold and uncomfortable night on a park bench or indeed in the doorway of L & F Jones’ small and conveniently situated retail outlet. This is a sartorial effect affected by many of the good folk of Radstock and the surrounded motley of desirable hamlets and disreputable villages so I wasn’t in any way put out by her frankly startling appearance. Instead I threw back the gate through which I had recently passed and, with exaggerated politeness, a beaming smile and – was that the merest hint of a bow? – gestured her through in a manner more commonly associated with those Italian policemen one sees on travel programmes performing an elaborately serene white gloved ballet while precariously positioned at the centre of an apparently terrifying twenty four lane traffic intersection.
It was only as I made my way back clutching my wholemeal sliced that it occurred to me just how delighted the lady had seemed at either the minor kindness I had done her or the extravagant nature with which I had carried it off. I prefer to dwell upon the latter. Sometimes in life my silliness, my exaggeration, my deliberate unnecessary show-boating has brought me nothing but frowning incomprehension, and sadly has occasioned more than a furrowed brow, indeed I have even experienced naked aggression from those creatures (and we have all met them) for whom evolution has remained nothing more than a theory. These people seem to pass through life leaving knuckle trails of discontent as they glower and snarl at perceived threats and challenges to their dreary status quo. They rhyme arty with farty, believe what they read, judge books by their covers and mistake honesty for rudeness. I have little time for these folks for whom leaving the oceans was mistake, never mind coming down from the trees. I prefer the spontaneous passing pleasure exhibited by the discomposed and very possibly still inebriated lady as she lurched through a gate held open for her by a mildly insane and extravagantly overweight balding middle aged buffoon in a Yosemite Sam T-shirt. In these brief moments can we sprinkle the glitter of human happiness.
Which is of course why I am such a huge fan of Olivier Giroud. I know there is a whole heap of chatter about which player people would rather see leading the line today from the diminutive and untried Joel Campbell to the non existent striker who we haven’t even bought yet with honourable mentions for just about everyone else in between. However, once Olivier, or Larry if you prefer, has regained his match fitness there is only one man for me. Even in his current out of condition condition he has still managed to prove his worth. Look at the towering, muscular header in the dying moments of the opening fixture, special not only because he won the ball by the application of brutal athletic determination by out jumping some huge defenders but then to have the wit and ability to ensure the ball dropped perfectly to Mathieu Debuchy (who was extremely unlucky not to grab the winner and his first goal for Arsenal) displayed great calm, perfect footballistic instincts.
My love for Larry has nothing to do with injury time knock downs against a tiring team no matter how much I can appreciate their worth. My love for Larry comes into full fruit in moments like that in the game against West Ham on January the twenty third of last year. He stands in the D on the edge of the West Ham area facing away from the goal, receives a square pass from Podolski who lopes into the box. Larry, takes no controlling touch, doesn’t think about making room for a shot, instead, with a deft chopping action of his left foot lifts an instant and perfectly measured pass over three defenders and into the path of the on-rushing Podolski who, despite possessing a shot that could pass through a Soviet T34 Model 1942 medium battle tank and being clean through on goal elects to pass to Santi who is in a position to pull off a much more difficult but wonderfully improvised finish, this is after all the Arsenal way.
Then there was the game against the same opponents in April of this year. Fifty four minutes gone and the scores are level. West Ham have cleared a corner. Vermaelen picks up the ball near the half way line and lofts a huge high one diagonally into the area to where our man Larry is lurking near the apex of the six yard box. Does he control it on his chest – by far the safest, most reliable technique – or does he stick his head on it as you’d expect any centre forward to do? Not a bit of it. In an audacious piece of skill that made me laugh out loud when first I saw it he elects to catch the ball on his left foot as it descends at about a hundred and fifty five mph from the edges of deep space and then crash it into the net with his right. It was quite simply as good as anything you’d expect from Dennis Bergkamp and that tells you everything you need to know. I was going to mention his part in the best team goal ever scored in competitive football on this and any other planet – yes that one against Norwich – but I assumed that particular feast of one touch skill and audacity ought really to go without saying.
These are the things I like about footballers and they are the options instinctively taken by Olivier and other players like him. To do the thing with élan, with flair, grace, deftness and invention. Not to settle for the prosaic, the ordinary. In a world sometimes blighted by the mundane we turn to our showmen to ignite the powder of creative genius so that in those brief explosive moments of joy we are lifted up, we experience the transcendent vicarious thrill that is the holy grail of all football fans. This is why I hope we see our number twelve take his rightful place in the starting line up against Everton this afternoon. Not because we have no other options or I don’t think others can do the job but because if Arsène starts him it means he is ready, he has gained the fitness he lost during the long hot summer and will once again become that vital cog in our free flowing beautifully polished machine.
We have apparently been grinding out results of late, winning and drawing ugly is the mantra du jour and if there is some truth in this (and even I must reluctantly admit this is somewhat the case in the last two matches) then part of the reason for it is our fulcrum, the man who’s one touch passes and flicks and lays off provide the vital fluidity which sets us apart as a footballing side, has lacked his usual sharpness. He huffs and puffs where we need him to glide. Play him I say. Play Larry until he gets back to his imperious best and then you’ll really see something. I’m not a betting man but I’d happily wager that Sanchez and Ramsey will both start scoring freely once the main man is back on his game.
Of course I’m well aware that writing a piece about one particular player on the morning of match day is as good a way as any of guaranteeing that Arsène doesn’t even name him on the substitutes’ bench, but you see the difference between me and all the other bloggers out there is I don’t pretend to know the future. But I do know this, it’ll be brighter with Larry in the team than without him.
[ED] Thanks for that Stew, It was a real treat.
Away games a Everton have been good fun for us football fans in recent years. I’m sure you all remember the details. As the manager said, a good measure for the Arsenal squad.
Before Moysie went to OT in order to pick up his pension he would set his teams up to be less boring than usual at home. They had some decent players like some chap called Arteta. Even though these were tough games the Arsenal fan could approach the fixture with confidence because until last season Arsenal had been unbeaten in all these entertaining encounters for a while.
Then to the relief of the Evertonian faithful they were gifted a proper football manager in Martinez and last season a stretched Arsenal squad (only through hacking and the resultant injuries) suffered a rare defeat at Goodison Park. As always in such games, as last year, the first goal could be the key. Still, with a stronger bench I’ll be less concerned this year if Arsenal concede first.
We should see what variations the Arsenal can make in their line up . With a crucial Champions League tie in the balance there could be some rotation. It would be nice to hear the away fans serenade Diaby again.
Key concerns for Arsenal fans will be how the partnership in midfield between Ramsey and Wilshere develops. It must be a long term programme, because that’s the only justification for not playing Rosicky I can think of !
On a mainstream podcast this week a disingenuous lying uncredible idiot hack tried to compare the two Arsenal players saying one was in decline whilst the other was improving, completely editing out the injury trials that Jack Wilshere has had to endure. Yet Wilshere was out of the game not playing football for almost as long as Ramsey, the crucial difference being he is a year behind in this cycle. You’d hope that a professional football journalist who’d spent their lives following football would be aware of such things, but i guess they were either making a horrible attack on the Arsenal player which some fans will lap up, or this professional football hack knows sweet FA about football. One or the other. The choice, dear reader, is yours.
There are historical precedents, current ones too when thinking of Arteta, so we can reasonably conclude that as an Arsenal player Wilshere will be the target of such idiotic commentary. No Football brain etc. The Andy Townsend treatment: “Get In!”. Proper stinking bullshit droppings that will be sniffed up by the bitter malcontents and propagated through social media and back into the ground.
It might be just like with the insane and inexplicable abuse we saw directed towards England’s best young wide forward.Least we forget Walcott’s stats in the PL two years ago were as impressive as Alexis’ last year in la Liga, and he was on course for better last year.
Jack Wilshere needs to play five to ten games in quick succession for us fans to have some idea of where he is at. Even that benchmark would be temporary, because he’ll improve over the year as his constitution improves with more minutes and less injuries, hopefully. I’m no expert but after a quiet start I thought he grew into the game a little on Tuesday.
I would like to see some rotation for this game, simply because I’d like to see some Rosicky! And to keep some players fresh for Wednesday.
This’ll be a big game for the Flamster. Without Barkley and possibly Lukaku his less subtle tackling technique might not be as exposed against the runners. (Please refer to Flamini’s missed challenge on Barkley in the build up to an Everton goal last year).
The new signing for Everton, Besic, looked quite good in the WC, so even without Barkley who is still very green in my eyes and not worthy of the excessive hype (he’s no Chambers!), the midfield will be fascinating to watch tomorrow.
My favourite midfield from last season when Ozil was not available was the combination of Ramsey, Rosicky and Cazorla. But it is a little risky, and if I wasn’t playing FM I’d probably have to think again.
Chamberlain and Campbell were a little behind in their pre-seasons, but they could also be inked in for more minutes this week.
Finally, I would say that Vincent Tan is no hero of mine, but, it has to be said: well played Cardiff City. The LMA have dug themselves into a nasty little hole. I’m happy to back up the likes of Sol Campbell, even though he doesn’t always do things in the simplest way. Who can argue against given the evidence before us ?
But fortunately we can ignore all that gunk. Hope you all enjoy the Football.
A guest post from Finsbury.
This blog is about the demise of the weekly show on Arsenal Player , hosted by Adrian Clarke.
Last year Adrian and his The Clockend show replaced Tom Watt and The Fans Forum.
Some years ago when we had Arsenal TV the Fans Forum was two hours long. It was reduced to one hour when it reappeared on Arsenal Player. If my memory serves me well it went to a 90 minute show until it was replaced by The Clockend, which was back to only one hour per week.
I now learn that the show is to become monthly. Personally, I find this very disappointing. And I’m sure I’m not alone. Here are some words written by fellow blogger @Alternativearse.
“The Clock End running out of time.
With the start of a new season, the Arsenal machine is back in full effect; all the usual news media and opinions being wafted around the various channels with the usual gusto.
Except this time round, there is a slight gap in the proceedings.
Like a school kid who has just lost one of their first gnashers. You see the same face, it’s just not quite like it was before. Something is different, and only unveiled when you start asking questions.
For the first time on Monday, the Monday after the Charity shield victory, Adrian Clarke hosted the first edition of this seasons Clock End chat show. If you are a regular to Arsenal Player, then you have probably caught the live broadcasts or the highlight show at some point in the past.
It was a Monday night staple for some fans; the perfect way of connecting with the club, being part of the analysis of the team performances and a bonfide method of passing on your opinion to the club without the anonymity of the internet.
Twitter, Facespace and the rest of them are all very good methods of connecting, but they are fairly impersonal. You just can’t beat a good old fashioned phone in to chat live with the shows host and the emotion that is conveyed.
The BBC’s 606 is a perfect example of this interaction working a royal treat.
And it’s that interaction is an important aspect of being a fan of any sport. The ability to connect and feel apart of the big show is critical, and the Clock End show provided that link for many supporters.
Sporting the Arsenal colours and that sense of pride it gives you is important.
Feeling like a part of the club you shout for each weekend is important, and being given opportunity to be involved in some way shape or form is also very important, especially in this global age of instant communication that we now live in.
Take members day for instance; 100% in your face connectivity.
Unfortunately for the Clock End Show, Arsenal Media have deemed it necessary to shorten the availability of the weekly show, turning it into a monthly installation instead, citing poor viewing figures as the reason.
The podcast recording of the same show does do well. It received thousands of listens per episode, but the live performance has unfortunately received the hatchet. (not the full axe in case you are wondering)
But the podcast is a recording.
It may be cost effective, but it is history, and offers little in the way of connectivity for fans. You can’t phone into a podcast, nor can you react to another opinion apart from sounding a bit mad and talking back to your computer, or, if you listen to it on the train, the stranger sitting next to you.
This is not the best way of connecting with your club.
But it is only when motions like this curtail something that is loved, that people start to take notice, and often it is then too late.
Football clubs are marvellous things in the way they attract attention, but this support goes far beyond podcasts and favourite tweets.
There are supporters out there who really will support a clubs ambitions Arsenal Media with it’s productions, especially those created in house , have clearly tried different formats and presenters and time slots to boost the viewing figures. They have done their bit and now its up to us to do ours by watching .
Match footage, is of course off limits – that has to be tightly controlled, due to licensing and fees, – but in house media, such as the Clock End, could be streamed, advertised, shared and promoted by individuals across the globe, potentially increasing audience and involvement.
In this day and age, you can watch live TV inside a pair of glasses as you walk along a hill top…so why can’t Arsenal take advantage of it’s colossal fan base and benefit from its outreach and connectivity?
I for one would be very keen to promote my teams activities, I am a supporter, and can offer a lot more than just buying the shirts and watching games.
If it’s for the benefit of our football club, then there should be no issue whatsoever.”
Now then, to get to the point.
Although I feel the club could perhaps have done more to promote the show, there wouldn’t be a problem if more of us had tuned in. Its a great show and we can only blame ourselves that its not to be aired weekly.
If the club are to invest in its production then the least we can do is invest our time and watch it live. If there is a demand the club will cater for it.
So, lets all tune in every month, that way the viewing figures will justify a return to a weekly show.
Arsenal Media will , like the rest of us , be working on a budget. They do ,in my opinion, produce some fantastic shows. If I were them, my budget would be used towards the shows that attract the most views. So its up to us to ensure that The Clockend is one of them.
If you have never tuned in I promise you that you will not be disappointed, its an excellent hour for all keen Arsenal fans.
Please support it and promote it !
I’m pedantic george @Blackburngeorge , thank you for reading and I hope you will all help with this matter.