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Defining Arsenal Greatness: Alexis Or Mesut?

I made the mistake of tweeting:

BTW, our best player is out injured.”

I meant Ozil and was immediately inundated with tweets telling me how stupid I was and how Sanchez is easily our best player .

Well? Is that a fact?

No it’s not a fact, it’s an opinion and not one I concur with.  Not yet anyway.

Before we go any farther let me say I think our shiny new toy is an exceptional player, truly world class.  And a good argument can be made to say he is indeed our best player.

I suppose it comes down to what you like in a player. What qualities you admire the most and to which you personally give most weight .

Alexis has some outstanding qualities. Pace, fight, determination, bravery, composure, and work rate to name just some. But is he a complete player?  He isn’t far off, but it’s far enough for me to still see Ozil as a better player.

I suppose it’s the same as when people tell me Henry is Arsenal’s greatest ever player. Because for me that would be Dennis Bergkamp,  by a country mile, and then some.

Football is a team game. It’s played by individuals, but if they don’t play for each other the whole will always be less than the sum of the parts.

Bergkamp and Ozil are first and foremost team players.  Individual glory does not come into their thinking or play. The right pass is played at the right time with the team in mind. It’s no good having a 30 goal striker if 30 goals is all the team gets. It’s not about how far they run or how quickly they run there, it’s about what contribution the runs make to the team.

People bang on about Sanchez work rate without really understanding that there is more than one way to work on the field. If the runs a player is making are always in the direction of the ball, it stands out. If (like Mesut) the runs are made into space, less so.

We notice people making runs off the ball if they are attempting to get in behind, but do we really see a player just gliding into space?

Alexis is mostly running towards the ball, whether to ask to be given it, or to retrieve it because he has just lost it. We see that.

Ozil is running into space and often away from the ball, plus he hardly ever loses it , so doesn’t have to chase to get it back.

The reality is that Ozil will normally cover more ground in a game than Alexis. That is usually ignored.

The most effective teams are balanced teams.  That’s what Mesut brings to the table. He has vision for others while generally Alexis has his own vision in mind.  What he is going to do himself.

But as I say, balance in a team is the key.  A team of Ozils would be no good, nor would a team of Alexis. Lucky for us we have both.

So, if you think Sanchez, Aaron, Jack or anyone else is our best player, fine. That’s up to you. But for now I will stick with Mesut, a man I see as the perfect team player.

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149 comments on “Defining Arsenal Greatness: Alexis Or Mesut?

  1. arteta is 33 and yet is the most important? then something urgent is needed in the team. i’m surprised ox was sub instead of cazorla. santi is REALLY struggling.
    monreal was unfortunate with the penalty. it seems szcz has a phobia for penalty.

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  2. Well, that was Christmas come early for Anderlecht – two great gifts from the officials.
    Doesn’t matter – we only need a point from two games and maybe Kos could be back after the interlull. Plus Anderlecht have to beat Dortmund away.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I am not feeling reasonable
    I am feeling aggressive
    Bring me the head of Paul Merson
    And be quick about it

    Liked by 1 person

  4. if we beat dortmund can we still top the group? the chance is very slim. honestly i prefare a goaless draw to this scoreline.

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  5. I want the head of Niall Quinn, anicoll.
    The latest in the long line of former Arsenal players who just love it when things go wrong. You see them gloating. Even when the replay evidence shows he talking bollocks, he carries on spouting.

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  6. The panic set in again

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  7. Now watch the malcontents crawl out of their rocks!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. how did the officials manage to miss the offside on their first goal? its too easy to spot for anyone. but we gave the match away.

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  9. We can top the group if we beat Dortmund and Gala and Dortmund lose at home to Anderlecht. I’ll leave it to you to decide how likely that is.
    Looks like Bayern again.
    Ah well, we’ll hopefully have a full squad back by February.
    Hope springs eternal.

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  10. Quinn was cooing and gurgling as we dominated the game
    Then giving it the usual ‘ I told you so’ when AND got back into it

    Typical dickhead pundit – no wonder he was such a huge success at Sunlun

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  11. Santi Claws – they’re already crawling – just go over to aclf – if you can stand the stench.

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  12. I don’t know, I think we need to learn to park the bus at times.

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  13. I do not follow the terror that we might have to play a good team in the round of x16

    If you want to win the trophy you have to play good teams

    We have won in the Bernabeu, in the San Siro, the Allianz, Turin, Rome – on the day we can hammer the opposition

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  14. So there was an offside and a wrong pen called?

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  15. its not about parking the bus paul, its about doing the little things needed. like someone to stay close to our fullbacks. you cant expect them to mark two players at the same time. those crosses from the wing were as a result of two of their players combining to beat out chambers or gibbs. ox was doing that superbly untill he was subed.

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  16. Yes, I saw that, layksite!

    Their wingers were allowed to attack the wings at will.

    Still, I think we need to sit the heck back and catch teams on the counter.

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  17. Oh and while I sob disconsolately into my pillow well done to Anderlecht – 0-3 you bastards and you should have understood it was all over !

    Have you no understanding of the term ‘ consultation goal’ ?

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  18. Well it’s something like that

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  19. i don’t think the penalty call was wrong, yes the first goal was clearly offside. Questions do need to be asked about leadership, both on and off the pitch, surely the likes of Mert, Monreal, gibbs, Flamini, Caz, alexis and Ramsey are experienced enough to calm down the team and get a few more players to be less gung ho, and surely Wenger and bould should have got the message to the players to be cautious when it went 3-1 and certainly when it went 3-2.
    I felt at the time that we brought on the wrong subs, Theo should have been one of those coming on when we took off the pace of Welbeck and Ox, and how Ramsey and Caz stayed on I just don’t understand, they were both very poor all game long.

    Having said all that, I do find it amusing that we see gooners saying Ramsey should never play for the club again, Wenger should be sacked, and gibbs was at fault for the offside goal (really some idiots are blaming him for the officials not calling a clear offside)

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  20. Oops. What a weird game. Could have been 2-0 down but went three up without ever looking in total control. We lack a leader on the pitch when Arteta isn’t playing it seems.

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  21. Could have been worse, we could have lost 4 – 3!

    Seriously, I put a lot of that down to tiredness. For once we were the ones conceding rather than scoring the late goals. This is where the injuries are causing us a problem. The manager was not in a position to change much from a team that played only 2 days ago. He’s clearly trying to manage Arteta’s health by taking him off early in the last 2 games, but that was where we seemed to lose our shape. Flamini for all his pointing and shouting is no Arteta. Ramsey still hasn’t found his spark, but I was pleased that the crowd was trying to encourage him by singing his song. I am worried that Rosicky might be on the wane. I expected his experience to help us hold onto the ball better, but I am just not seeing that same energy and determination when he comes on these days.

    Anyway, enough whinging from me – we’ve still got 2 games to get the points we need to qualify for the next round. So let’s put this one behind us and move on to the next challenge.

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  22. Sorry eduardo, but I disagree about the penalty. He clearly sensed Nacho behind him, turned into him and went down. Total con.

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  23. dkg he may have looked for it, but Monreal was the one who bought it, we would be furious if we were not given a penalty for that.
    Arteta done his hamstring tonight and will be out for a while

    the team was jaded, and wenger admitted as much after the game, so it begs the question why we did not bring on subs earlier, it was the 80th minuted when we brought on Pod and Rosicky.

    Swansea has now become a very big game, it really is a must win now, confidence must be restored before the players go off on international break

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  24. Every game a must win game
    Every game a don’t draw game
    Every game a ffs don’t lose game

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  25. I imagine you have to be fairly robust to face up to that every week as a manager

    No to mention deal with it

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  26. Classic Arsenal: 3 nil up.
    One blatant offside.
    One dubious penalty.
    Midfielders can’t hold onto the ball in the 90th minute.
    Bazinga!
    It must be Wenger’s fault.

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  27. I blame Denilson.

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  28. Well that was really disappointing, and although this won’t help anyone, these things do occasionally happen in life, and especially in sport. They shouldn’t but they do, and sometimes it is not really any one person’s fault, but a combination of things that suddenly turn the tide that you had been swimming happily with against you – and all momentum and belief is lost. And of course that is why sport is so great, because you do get momentum shifts and epic comebacks: grand slams won after match points saved, Majors nicked on the final green, Tests gloriously decided after the ignominy of follow-on, 3-0 leads squandered and surrendered.
    Questions will be asked in the Dressing Room and rightly so, and fingers will be pointed by fans and pundits, understandably so. There is no point looking for excuses, but equally there is no point looking for scapegoats either, so lets see what happens from now on. As ever, it is how the players and the manager react to the setback that is the really interesting bit – and that goes for the supporters too.

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  29. wenger admitted that we didnt defend well all through the game. if he did point out this fact to thEm during the break and things went even worse in the second half, then what kinds of professionals do we have in this club. ramsey needs to go back to the basics. he made his name as a central midfielder but most of the game last night he was either in the final third or on the wing. leaving arteta all alone in the middle. the last two games we played we were more stable with falmini and arteta in the middle, allowing alexis to drop deep to collect the ball. ramsey have no business on the wing. bit to suggest he is not good enough is to say one has a memory loss or short memory.

    ox’s performance on the left wing last night may make him retain the spot as walcott is working himself back to fitness and form. ox on the left, walcott on the right and alexis behind giroud or welbeck.

    what happend after arteta was subed only proved not only his importance but his indispensability in the team. his positioning more than compensate for his lack of pace and power. his ability to almost always pick the right pass takes pressure away from the defenders. but it also justifies those who believe we need another defensive minded midfielder in the team. we cant rely on him always as we saw last night. wenger needs to make that a priority in january.

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  30. Layksite, yes and AW only mentioned the offside for the first goal but identified poor defending on the second and third goals. He even suggested a loss of concentration thinking the job was over at 3-0 and 3-1. So he was disappointed but wasn’t looking for other excuses. Hopefully he can put things to right defensively because this has been a big vulnerability this season as opposed to last season when it was a big strength. I do think that despite Arteta being composed and solid, that we have been lacking certain attributes in midfield and his absence, as was shown this match when he departed, will be felt. But after last season, I never would have expected him to be able to start 40-45 matches with are and risk of injury catching up. He had two excellent years where he missed rather few games. Last season indicated that the physical rigor would start to take a toll on his availability. The problem is that unfortunately Flamini really hasn’t been that reliable since midway last season and Diaby just is never fit. Hopefully we can redress this in January but defending is a collective issue so there must be some way to improve this within the squad we have. I hope AW finds a solution to our porousness before MU, because I would very much like to see us defeat them, as it has been a while–that would be a positive step for the team.

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  31. me too LSG. i will like to see us beat manure home and away this season. and i’ll be glad if we can do it with clean sheet or at least not allowing that traitor or rooney to score. i hate them both .hope kos and arteta or wilshere are available as well. i know kos hate that traitor and will keep him out of the game.

    one good thing this season is that we can score goals. but we cant do that at the expense of our last season’s strength. we need to find the right balance. we can do it. we always do. just as we have corrected the set pieces problem we had at the start of the season.

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  32. I cant write anything because I’m lost for words really.
    And I hate blaming players. Well I hate singling out players from a collective failure. But I will say this, If any two players are not to blame,they are Monreal and Mikel.

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  33. Layk, my sentiments exactly!

    George, it was a collective failure. I agree on Arteta, but I don’t think AW rushed to his defense when he said it was bad defending for the second goal rather than casting doubt on the penalty. Of course the bad defending was from more than one person but Monreal didn’t do especially well on that play and when the manager says we were poor at defending the entire match, I don’t think you can really single out one of the starting CB’s for praise or even as exempt from the collective problems. If I were to choose two, I’d say Welbeck and Arteta.

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  34. What I don’t understand is why Mertesacker has not been able to show the composure and leadership of last season.

    I think WS made some decent saves, didn’t he? I’d maybe add him as a third?

    Anyway, the fundamental point is that it was very disappointing and even a bit embarrassing, but hopefully we’ll still qualify and try to address the panicked disorganization and loss of composure defensively in the matches ahead. Is Dortmund before or after MU?

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  35. After LG
    I presume a few Dortmund fans are also musing over the collective failure of their brave lads this season so it will be an interesting night

    To be fair – and with my wooly bobble I-am-a-fan hat on I am pleased the games against Dortmund and Gala matter

    It saves us the the nonsense of sending out weak sides and cheating anyone
    (Yes Brendan I am referring to you)

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  36. the players really need to hold their hands up and acknowledge they didn’t do well on this… dubious pen and off side goal notwithstanding… some of these things can actually be avoided with a little more collective effort to do so

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  37. shape and balance were the major reasons for the poor manner we defended. ramsey was the main cause if the truth has to be said. this is not the matter of ability or not but trying to get on the score sheet. apart from cazorla who i think has been off colour particularly this season, every other player yesterday was good enough to give us the much needed victory. arsene spoke about getting the priority right. ramsey’s priority is to defend well with arteta in the midfield. the goals will come but first do the job in the middle. i cant fault alexis, ox gibbs and mikel. even chambers was left open whenever ox moves to the left wing, same as gibbs when ox was on the right. having to mark two pacy wingers all on their own was a big ask. bellerin would have done a better job shielding chambers than rosicky i guess. just like we did severally last season bringing on monreal to cover for gibbs whenever we needed to close out games.

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  38. Anicoll

    I fully agree, our little hiccup last night had defected from a Mick McCarthy wolves style capitulation by Brendan’s Liverpool.
    I really really hope Basel take them to the cleaners and Lucozade Belgrade beat them too.

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  39. TS, explain how someone standing 2 yards offside, and a soft pen can be avoided ?

    Liked by 1 person

  40. poldi is most useful coming in when we are in total control of a game or in despirate need of goal, rather than when we need to defend a lead. he is most dangerous in the opposition box not when they are in our own area.

    Liked by 1 person

  41. in the round of 16 we’ll likely meet madrid, athletico, bayern, barca or psg. my preference is barca.

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  42. Well,that was annoying. And I agree with much written above. I haven’t seen the first pen again so can’t say much other then it looked like the forward threw himself on the floor, and he wasn’t the first Anderlecht player to do that on the night.

    What I did see from my vista was three players who picked up niggles – Welbeck, Chambo* and Ramsey wasn’t a hundred per cent after that knee in the back early on – I guess that Rosicky was warming up for Rambo when Arteta twanged his hammy and asked to be taken off, so that’s why I guess that there was a slight delay there, but that was no excuse for the Lino to forget the rules! Arteta was giving a bit of a master class up till that moment. Clear as day to see. So, I hope the Groaners can at the least acknowledge the importance of their cup winning captain from a cup final when they were denied two or three nailed on pens after this devestating draw? Ha. Ha. Ha.

    Only need a point from two games, three nil at home to a Dortmund who have waved goodbye to the Bundesliga was always unlikely. Swansea was always the more important game for me after Burnley, so I hope the three players I mentioned above are good to go again.

    *Chambo was actually brilliant. But he’s only now just coming back into full fitness and confidence after his first big injury trials. Walcott too, which is partially why Plodders got the nod.

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  43. finsbury, i was reminded severally yesterday that ox was just 21. he looks 25 to me. he played his best attacking game yeasterday and he took his goal well.

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  44. Also: reminder that Anderlecht need to beat BOTH Dortmund and Galatasaray to overtake us, if we don’t win another CL group game.

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  45. I have managed to avoid Twitter, Arsenal newsnow aggregator and the sports section of the Guardian so far. I’m still left with a feeling of despair at that performance…..

    Liked by 1 person

  46. G-P, this may be the season we lift the cl trophy. we might well look back at last night capitulation and laugh about the result.

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