Arsenal and Sanchez Meraviglia*

Good morning ++++ers,

And a fine one it is.

If last Sunday morning’s blank screen presented me with something akin to rolling large rock up a steep hill yesterday’s events in Leicester offer not even a vaguely similar challenge. I have had to search deep in my superlative drawer however to do the game justice.

An exceptionally enjoyable game of football played by two sides who set out to play fast and inventive football and maintained that approach to the 93rd minute. They treated each other with respect, no diving, hard challenges but no malice, and who gave referee Pawson very little to whistle about. The final score could have been 7-12. Even at 1-4 the home side were hurling themselves at Cech’s goal as if their lives depended on it. 22 shots for us from inside the box, 4 from outside – 92% on target – ridiculous !

Our lot ?

The headlines go to the goal scorers and to Alexis’ return to net stretching proficiency. If the Chilean has not been back to 100% efficiency then the Foxes offered him the stage to show what he does best. An extra half yard of space or split second allowed him to shine. His second and third goals were super strikes. I say the second was the standout, made by the perfect chip from Ozil, but Sanchez’s leap above the tall defender was masterful.

Theo made further progress, more confident, a little sharper and proactive in his movement than where six weeks ago he was not there. His craft is coming, incrementally, a game and a goal at a time. Next Sunday will be an important test to see if he can spring what is, surprisingly, quite an efficient ManYoo defence.

The relatively unsung heroes of the afternoon I would pick three; Cech and Kosc for withstanding an opening 15 minute battering with just a one goal deficit. And third Hector Bellerin who I thought again had outstanding game. Young Hector was pressed hard by Danny Drinkwater in the opening but gradually tamed the brute. His flank play going forward was brilliant yesterday. That young man is going to be HUGE.

Them ?

That Jamie Vardy did not earn the game’s second hat trick is a bit of a mystery. The goal frame was badly bruised. He is about as far from the “world class” goal scorer model as I can imagine. His touch is a bit scruffy, his movement and running is untidy, he is all ‘rough edges’ including his haircut, but what he has got he uses to the nth degree. Playing non league until he was 25 and joined Leicester so his chance in the top flight came late on. I hope that Leicester are able to hold on to him as anyone who scores goals these days is prone to be lured for big money. Stay where you are son. They love you.

Robert Hoof and Wes Morgan deserve an honourable mention in despatches. I doubted either would last on a hot afternoon and chasing Sanchez and Theo up and down. At the end I suspect both were on their proverbial knees but they kept throwing themselves about.

One mild shadow on an otherwise perfect afternoon was the injury to Flamini – after weeks of waiting quietly he steps up to his triumph at the Lane, followed by a second chance to perform against a side who I think would suit Matty’s style. Then his hamstring pops 20 minutes in. How unlucky is that ?

Onward to Olympiakos on Tuesday evening and a little more pressure for a good result than is ideal. And unlike yesterday Tuesday is about the result, not the quality.

Enjoy your Day of Rest.

* And thank you to Claudio Ranieri for the Italian term for yesterday’s contribution from Alexis

40 comments on “Arsenal and Sanchez Meraviglia*

  1. Marvellous.


  2. A joyous read.
    I feel very chipper today.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Yes, I am feeling very smug and very relaxed. I detect the same in your post Andrew. I think I may very well mow the lawns, probably for the last time this year, have another cup of tea and generally take it easy…..

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Just a word for Captain Haircut. Some may disagree but I thought he was masterful when he replaced the Flamster. Fantastic anticipation and masterful distribution. Agree about the right-back, an5, but the left-back wasn’t bad either. We kept the pressure up on both flanks and that contributed a lot to the scoreline.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Sorry – 2 “masterfuls” – now where is that thesauraus?


  6. Thesaurus – where’s the edit function?


  7. We have world class right and left backs…..

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Delightful match well summed up.


  9. Fantastic performance from the lads,be lovely to chalk up 3 points on Tuesday then shut those red Mancs up before the interlull.


  10. Thanks also to Leicester for a fair, open way of playing the game and for allowing our talisman to find his shooting boots. May have been suicidal but…

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Leicester were excellent yesterday, but Arsenal were excellenterful.
    Happy days.
    Roll on the chief spoofer next Sunday.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. That was a good game, wasnt it? This is how football should be played. Blow for blow of footballing skill and intent.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I agree with almost everything you say Andrew. You capture the mood perfectly. The only area I would quibble over is Theo. He was better than you say to my eyes and has been for a while. He isn’t the one improving by increments it’s his team-mates reading of his game that is coming on. His runs are so clever, (he has such a football brain) and so perfectly timed that I think the providers in the team have had to change gears from Giroud’s style to which they are so accustomed.
    Also Per. He was quite simply magnificent.

    Liked by 3 people

  14. Sensational Arsenal:
    Yes, that was the kind of match that could start someone on a life long love of the game. Proper football. Well done Leicester for their part in it.


  15. With such a good game of football and the right result any other sound but a loud contented purring would be odd.

    It may be the only mild discrepancy between Mr B and myself concerns the extent of Theo’s development – I see there are still substantial areas to be developed and mastered before the player becoming the player he could be and I am sure wants to be. You think he is nearer the terminus that I Stew.

    Not the worse dilemma to encounter


  16. I don’t think there was anything ‘suicidal’ about Leicester’s set up.

    Hard to be critical of a team that were unbeaten till the encountered with an Arsenal team in the groove and on the mood.

    I think Swansea and Southampton have shown those subjected to the gibberish of The Neville-Neville’s, the Savages, that is possible to avoid the clothed and outdated homo-erotic metaphors and just play your Football

    Liked by 1 person

  17. While I agree every player can find areas of improvement I just think he was superb in every department yesterday. Even his relatively slight and historically vulnerable frame was belied by his strength. See him holding off Huth? Experience. It’s the kind of thing Rosický is so good at knowing when to shift your weight into the player, brains beating brawn.
    As you say Andrew if that’s the only bone between us then these are good times.

    Liked by 3 people

  18. please to read that, thanks so much. Vardy’s mention was a class act..such a workhorse and unorthodoxly nifty too.

    Arsenal players were brilliant each one of them, even when they went 1-0 up, I was sure there were more goals and we were going to win..

    walcott has scary potential. i know he is already playing at very high level but then he can be a real one off type player in a larger context..he is the real heir to Henry..and who knows maybe he can top Henrys stats as well perhaps? age is well on his side..

    ozil class, santi class, sanchez started poorly but finished with aplomb..seriously what a player!..Arteta never has a bad game..loved Giroud’s goal which deserves a lot many mentions btw..

    COYG! lets start piling them points in CL now!


  19. Magnifico. Well I hope that is the meaning of Meraviglia.


  20. We obviously saw the same game…this old fart’s thoughts on yesterday.

    For the neutral supporter, this was definitely the game of the week-end to watch. End to end, some great skills, lots of heart and played at a pace that was fast and furious throughout. Definitely close to orgasm country.
    For us gooners, it was bliss marred only by Mathieu’s hamstring going kaput. Regardless of whatever you think of him as a player, you have to admit that this was a cruel stroke after his performance on Wednesday.

    Another minor blip of course was going behind. We’d come close prior to this with Petr and woodwork helping us out. Personally I didn’t think that our having a penalty claim turned down was unfair…what was unfair was the speed at which Leicester broke away, clear of too many defenders. The finish was clean and to rub a bit of salt into that wound, we came ridiculously close to conceding another with woodwork being our best defender.

    Might that have been the turning point? After that scare we grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck and produced a great deal of wonderful football starting with Santi’s great pass to Theo who calmly slotted home.

    Then, at last, with Oz and Santi pulling all the strings, Alexis opened his account for the season. Not his greatest goal but the relief on his face spoke volumes. For sure he went on to prove that he had his head screwed on, a great header to get our third, and to prove his boots had also come right, his hat-trick goal was reminiscent of that scored in the cup final.

    In retrospect it was probably fair that Leicester got one back to make it 2-4, they contributed a great deal to this game, but to double our goals for the season tally, Olly came on to replace Theo and scored our 5th

    Overall a really good performance which following after the Spuds, was ample reward for the week that preceded it. After the early scares, our back line performed really well, Nacho and Hector perhaps shading KosPer for the plaudits. Petr was responsible for several key saves and Mikel’s appearance to replace Flamster, far from being a concern showed that whilst he may have lost his speed (not that he was all that quick before) his ability to intercept (mainly the ball, but occasionally the player) is as good as anyone’s.

    Santi, Oz in particular, and Rambo were all superb and made us look as though we were the unbeaten side in the PL and both Theo and Alexis were as sharp as tin-tacks.

    May this continue for next week, in particular on Sunday.

    Liked by 4 people

  21. There is a well known blog that does post-match player ratings which is very good for readership but is consistently, predictably poor at truly assessing players and their importance to the squad. Yesterday they assessed Koscielny at having a poorer performance by Monreal which had me amazed at the facile, simplicity of these people. Monreal and Kos had the job of neutralizing the marauding Mahrez and neither of them acting individually could contain him. There were several times, particularly in the first 20 minutes he would slip Monreal and run straight into a brickwall named Koscielny who by the way had to also cover for runners through the center when there was a counter attack. That was how we conceded the 1st goal cause Per was way behind the play. Just making the point that it takes teamwork to defend as exemplified by players standing around and not closing down forwards which led to Leicester’s 2nd goal. BTW: I rate our defending a 7.5 yesterday because of the 2 goals we conceded. I believe in clean sheets.

    Liked by 2 people

  22. When Theo learns how to play that position, he’s going to be unstoppable.

    Our spine is solid. Arteta was his usual metronomic self and the BFG, Koscielny and Cech were exceptional.


  23. Chambo dozing again on that second. I believe ‘Ector told him off (a glare) on this occasion and for sure they’d have discussed it away from the hacky slappers and amongst themselves. Looking forward to seeing the Ox start somewhere on the pitch mid-week, no doubt he’ll improve off the ball with a run or more games and he’s already been incredible to watch at times this season.
    And It might be obvious that Arteta will have to risk two games in three/four days (like the equally cold Flamini) with Coquelin given till Sunday to recover.


  24. it was amazing on Match of the Day that Alexis hat-trick got so little coverage, if the likes of Hazard, Silva or Mata had scored 3 they would have made a five minute feature of it, but it seems this lot don’t want him this year getting the Player of the Year award he was so brazenly denied last season


  25. “When Theo learns how to play that position, he’s going to be unstoppable. ”

    I shall retire from this particular debate as I’m clearly in the minority. I thought his game was perfect yesterday. And it’s his team mates who need to start anticipating his movement. But as I say I shan’t press my point just sit back smugly knowing I’m right.

    Liked by 2 people

  26. Ah, yes, Shotta, that’s the website that invariably gives Aaron a 6.5 rating – every freaking week. Usually while extolling how hard he works and then something about wasted or useless on the right. I’m really getting sick of this narrative. And it’s everywhere, every week, no matter how well he plays. Well, everywhere but here…

    Liked by 1 person

  27. alabamagooner: I was just interacting with @RancidPotato on Twitter (StrayPassenger here) on the cultists who day-in, day-out demand that Rambo must play central and Ox must play right with total disregard for the balance of the team as well as the fact that Rambo is a superior all-round player. They are also in complete denial of the fact that when The Ox plays he is inevitably makes a defensive blunder which leads to a goal.

    This leads me to comment on the debate we have been having about Theo. I would suggest to the naysaysers who think Theo isn’t already a central striker that you are making the same mistake as the pundits and the high priest of Arsenal blogging who since the pre-season and up to the close of the window, tried desperately to discredit the idea of Theo playing centrally. These guys are always behind the curve trying to keep up with the fast moving tail-lights. When Henry left they doubted Ade could be the striker, similarly they doubted Van Stapleton, and they have made the same miscalculation with Theo.

    Liked by 5 people

  28. I see that, Shotta. I’m afraid I may have hijacked that thread. My apologies that your Twitter mentions exploded.


  29. Alabama, behave yourself!

    “I’d love to work with Tom Ford, his label is a real favourite of mine,” Aaron Ramsay told us. “At this moment in time I wouldn’t want to do any shoots with my kit off… I don’t think my fiancee would be too happy about that! I still have to get used to pulling poses for the camera – it doesn’t come naturally to me – I feel lost without a football close by!”

    Liked by 1 person

  30. those with an agenda against Ramsey like to parrot the plundits and commentators who spout rubbish such as
    “Ramsey unbalances the team cos he moves central and (amazingly) to the left, during game”
    this one “soundbite” is massive proof that this whole lot don’t actually know what
    1. team balance actually is,
    2. what Wenger’s tactics are (despite AW actually having explained his exact thinking in playing Ramsey on the right of midfield)
    3. that this is not something new from Wenger

    1. What is team balance
    the Ramsey haters it seems only do simplistic thinking, in their world to have a balanced team you have to have the same sort of player on each side, doing the same things, of course this only true from them when it actually suits their argument, they will tell you we need one attacking fullback and one who stays back, one ball playing CB and one brute, one ball winning Cm and one passer, and a big one and a little skilled one up front, but for some unexplained reason, well most certainly never explained by them in anything more than the most simplistic of terms, we need two line hugging wide men, who only cut in to have a shot or get in to score, in their little world the wide role is the only one where its yin and yin, no yang to be seen anywhere, I always knew they hadn’t a brain cell between them, but now I realize they don’t have a yang between them either, explains a lot about their —– envy.
    This brings me on to point 2 –

    2. not knowing Wenger’s tactics.
    Well just thinking about why the Ramsey Haters don’t actually know what Wenger’s tactics are, I suggest that its a deliberate act, and this becomes clear when you match up the Ramsey Haters with the Wenger Haters, it seems there is a massive overlap. So Ramsey is collateral damage in the ongoing agenda they have against Wenger.
    Anyway back to what they fail to understand about Ramsey’s role and the tactics behind it. As stated in point 1, they think we need same, same on left and right of midfield, but that little tactic died a death when 4-2-4 outgrew its usefulness, and was only a bit part tactic when 4-4-2 was the norm. I don’t see any of the successful teams who use 4-2-3-1, actually use their wide midfielders in a rigid role, I don’t see any of them have similar players on opposite sides either.
    As I said earlier there is a deliberate act in not knowing what Wenger’s tactics are with Ramsey wide midfield. Made all the more deliberate due to the fact Wenger has on a couple of occasions explained the thinking behind it. And believe it or not, its all about team balance, AW explained that the reasons for selecting Ramsey there, has many aspects, such as
    A) he wants someone who brings a different kind of game than Alexis, (AS takes on players, dribbles a lot, is more of a striker kind of wide man) where AR is more of a midfielder type, someone who will help support our central midfielders, especially when opponents put a 3 in there against our 2.
    B) Bellerin is a very attack minded fullback, and Ramsey’s game compliments Hector’s game two fold, firstly Ramsey has the discipline to track back and/or block opponents attacking lanes when HB charges forward, and the fact Ramsey moves infield also leaves the space for Hector to run into, that space is not only there cos Ramsey is not, but often opponents have also followed Ramsey infield.
    C) Wenger also explained that its a deliberate ploy to have Ramsey pop up on the left, AW wants to “overload” on that side, opponents already have their hands full trying to plug the holes caused by alexis and Ozil and even Santi drifts that side, so in a way Ramsey going there too is to bust the dam. Now the reason why Wenger’s explanation of Ramsey’s role has been ignored can be easily explained by the fact, that if they were to acknowledge the explanation of this tactic, would be to confess that Wenger does something they so very much like to claim he does not do, namely “tactics”, and that would never do, now would it.

    3. Its not something new from Wenger.
    And no I do not mean, as they AAA/WOB so like to claim, playing people out of position. In fact what I’m getting as is that in his 19 years in charge Wenger has by and large had different types on either side of midfield. Think about it, who was on the right when we had Overmars on the left, he was still on the right when Pires showed up on our left, I’m talking about a player who many of the AAA/WOB say we should have bought his type in the summer, a player who for me Ramsey is most like in so many ways, of course I’m talking about Romford Pele himself Ray Parlour. Was there ever a more opposite player to both Overmars or Pires. Didn’t Parlour just like Ramsey drift infield, do box to box, but from a wide base,
    Parlour was replaced on the right by Ljunberg, again, although not like Parlour, our Freddie played a different role to Pires, he was the off the ball runner, he was the guy to get on the end of God’s and Pires passes, he would like Ramsey pop up all over the place.
    Pires and Ljunberg were replaced by Nasri and Hleb, and I don’t think anyone would suggest that Nasri and Hleb had similar types of game or roles, and then Theo became our wide right player, again we never had anyone similar to Theo on our left at the same time. And the reason for that, just as it is now for having Ramsey on the right and Alexis on the left, is “team balance”, and of course “tactical balance”, but don’t shout it too loudly, it might upset the moaners

    Liked by 6 people

  31. in the A) section of point 2, stop should support, as in “help support our centeral midfielders”


  32. NOTH, of course…Aaron is a family man. Hence the sweet picture of him and his wife (and the dog!) he posted on social media today. Only his wife and his teammates get to see him shirtless on a routine basis. The rest of us just have to imagine……*trails off thoughtfully*

    Liked by 1 person

  33. Eddy, that’s pretty much it. I think you’ve nailed it pretty well.

    Liked by 1 person

  34. I might make that a post Eddy
    Well played.

    Liked by 5 people

  35. Just popped on this morning and I see Shotta’s reference to ‘the cultists’ ah lol…a good laugh at some of life’s lesser absurdities to start the morning.

    I wish I had the nous or nuanced knowledge to wade into the Theo-the-central-striker-now-or-soon debate, but alas, I only see what TV land shows me, don’t know much about these fancy off-the-ball runs and what not.


  36. no problem george, feel free to word it better if you want, and make that change I mentioned in my follow up post, otherwise the point I make in that section does not read right or as intended.

    Liked by 2 people

  37. alabamagooner: I was busy all afternoon and on my return to civilization only to see all hell broke loose on my twitter feed with that Ramsey thread. See you held your ground. Also helpful to have George around.

    Liked by 1 person

  38. Excellent work Eddy.

    You might care to examine some Ramsey heat maps, because they conclusively show that Rambo isn’t stuck out on the far right for the whole game.
    Unlike many of his detractors.

    Also I wouldn’t suggest that some voices hate Ramsey per say (looking at you, fat pitch Morgan) but as you rightly say hate him to use him as a weapon against their bigger bogeyman – Wenger.

    Eddy”s piece well deserves it’s own publication, George.


  39. I don’t post on here often but just wanted to say what an absolute pleasure it is to come on here and read sensible constructive stuff rather than the incessant moaning on twitter!! Keep it up all posters and commenters!! Cheers


    Liked by 2 people

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