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Arsenal Versus Zagreb: Holding Out For A Hero

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Zagreb then is it? I wonder if our fortunes will be reversed from earlier in the season when our league form was scintillating and our European scorelines so disappointing. I suspect not. Life seldom runs on such neat and predictable lines. People are glibly, or airily if you prefer, predicting that the return of some injured players will be the magic bullet needed to get everything back into the groove from which we have so recently slipped.
What is it with all this magic bullet baloney? Bullets aren’t magic. Firearms are simple machines, what comes out and where it ends up are dependent on what you put in and how well you aim them. There seems an almost superstitious Arthurian bent among much of our fan base. People spend the entire season believing that some mythical saviour will come riding over the hill, sunlight glinting on his shield, to save us from the dragon or lift the siege and free the city.
All the evidence points in a far more prosaic direction. Success comes from patient hard work. From sticking remorselessly to first principles and doing the right thing and when the right thing appears elusive continuing to try to do the right thing until over time a run of good performances and results have dragged us back into contention.
No single returning player can achieve what diligent hard work and nerve can do. The big problem with the returning player as saviour script is that injuries wreck our good form not just because we lose players at the top of their game and because the replacements are wont to be ring rusty. These things are of course significant, but what really gums up the works is disruption.

Players like to play in settled formations and to build understandings and trust with their partners all over the pitch. Taking people out and adding them back in just buggers all that up, and again it takes time and patience to get it back.  Give the returning players a chance for goodness sake. Let them bed back in and let their team mates get back into playing with them again. Nothing good happens in a hurry and the team will need a little luck and a lot of resolve to get out of the trough into which they’ve slipped.
There is no crisis just an understandable dip in form or rather in results. Some of the performances have been fine, some of the individuals have been wonderful. A couple of things go wrong and in some matches you get punished in others you don’t – that is the boring truth.
I am not going to waste much time on the nonsense I’ve had to listen to and read about injuries. How they were avoidable or that something more could have been done to prepare for them. Not so many, not all at once and not all affecting similar positions on the pitch. Not possible and the drivel that I’ve read suggesting such catastrophic and unpredictable events could have been better planned for is too feeble minded and frankly beneath my contempt and so I shall pass over it with ne’er a backward glance. The manager and the remaining fit players must somehow cope with all that is thrown at them and we as fans must hope, or pray if praying is your thing, and just wait and see what luck and hard work can bring.
I’d like us to do well tonight but it isn’t the priority, that is the league. The problem I have is with the unpredictable and frankly surreal spate of one injury after another I’m left reeling and I now watch matches just beseeching the great unknowable forces of the universe that no one else goes under. Which is a shame as I am lucky enough to support one of the most entertaining football sides on the planet and I ought to watch games with a mood of drooling anticipation rather that the world weary cynicism that someone else is just bound to get hurt.
However these feelings can’t hold a good man down for long, and they certainly can’t hold a weak, old fool like me down either and I shall begin once more to approach each kick off with the same level of belief and will to win as I did the first match I ever saw as an Arsenal fan.
What will Zagreb bring to tonight’s encounter? I would be amazed if they didn’t come with precisely the same mind set as when they hosted us way back in September. Soak up whatever we throw at them, hope the ref does them a massive favour and look to hit us on the counter. Lightning we have been assured since childhood does not strike the same place twice. I am no scientist but I’m happy to go along with this as simple fact rather than the colourful metaphorical language it almost certainly intended to be. I can’t believe the luck which saw us hit the post, miss an open goal and a penalty will curse us again tonight as it did in the Midlands on Saturday. Likewise I can’t see Zagreb getting the run of green in quite the same was as they did in our previous meeting.
I can’t predict an amazing reversal of all the poor results and rotten fortune that has so blighted our enjoyment of the beautiful game of late but just a small change of wind might help. A deflected goal perhaps, a glaring miss for an opposition player instead of one of ours for a change, a close off side call going our way that sort of thing. It won’t take a lot, I’m sure the application and willingness is there among the players – they like everyone else just need a helping hand every now and again.
We here are of course not called negative Arsenal and for a bloody good reason. If we want to wail and gnash our teeth and rip our shirts to bear the freshly bloody self inflicted wounds of torment we have plenty of other places we can go and do these things. There are myriad Arsenal related (I don’t say supporting) blogs where such veiled and open criticisms of the manager and individual players can be aired, there is always Arsenal twitter which loves a moan and there are newspapers and talk sport and BBC radio which thrive on an Arsenal hating, self loathing, alleged Arsenal fan venting their spleen. Here we try to maintain our sanity and our equilibrium and pick out that which went well rather that pore over a tiny defensive lapse merely because it led to a goal. Honestly what pleasure does that bring people? I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it, looking at and discussing a conceded goal is like gazing into the toilet pan after a difficult, unpleasant and forgettable visit to the smallest room. Why on earth would you want to do such a thing?
We have much to cheer still. Santi has been a revelation this season, playing us out of defence with calm assurance, supporting the attack with invention and wit. Mesut and Petr Čech are on a different level and Alexis is too hot to handle. Olivier Giroud can’t stop scoring and Monreal is one of the best defenders in the league right now. Much to love much to get excited about, much to distract all but the most hopeless masochists among us.
So chin up boys and girls, we live to fight another day. Saturday is already history, glory beckons the faithful, fame and fortune await the brave.

About steww

Arsenal, books, photography, bass guitar, dog walking, mountain biking, being on the radio, writing, talking too much, failing, making mistakes, buggering on regardless.

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124 comments on “Arsenal Versus Zagreb: Holding Out For A Hero

  1. Have to agree about Campbell – a fine display. I guess that was some of what Arsene sees on the training ground. He does need to be a bit less slapdash in front of goal though. Hopefully that will come. Arsene knows.
    Flamster a real old pro. Only one dodgy tackle the whole evening. But can he do it on Sunday again in Norwich? Perhaps he won’t have to with Aaron back. Maybe not a talisman but it’s a lift to have players coming back. Rotation on the treatment table.
    Great reaction from Cech to stop o.g. scoring again.
    Athens in two weeks it is then.
    Fuck – Barca beat Roma 6-1. Suarez 2, Messi 2.
    6-1. Amazing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Aaron Ramsey ‏@aaronramsey 4m4 minutes ago
    Felt great to be back on the pitch tonight. A good win, we’ll go to Greece confident we can qualify #AFC #ChampionsLeague

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  3. seemingly despite letting in six goals, Szczesny is said to have had a great game

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  4. thats 51 games at the Emirates unbeaten for Flamini

    Liked by 3 people

  5. It was a walk out protest about not playing Jeff,

    haha.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Going back to Campbell again, it seems like he’s been around for ages – loaned out here, there and eveywhere (including Olympiakos 2 seasons ago) but in fact he’s only 23.

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  7. Described as our “7th choice” right sided attacker in one paper today Dk

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  8. Strength in depth, Andrew. Strength in depth.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. well anicol that is about right, if fit Ramsey, Ox, Walcott, Welbeck and Jack would all be in the side ahead of him, maybe Rosicky would too.
    but what it does show is that our strength in depth is very good, when you can have a guy as talented as Campbell that far down the pecking order

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Seemingly Wenger has updated the Coquelin injury news, and according to sky he says its 3 Months he will be out.

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  11. Ozil’s touches v Zagreb

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  12. He will be missed – no doubt about that.
    3 months – that’s March then – at the earliest, knowing us. Next year FFS.
    It’s a big ask expecting Flamini and Chambers to cover it – one is no spring chicken and the other has just hatched.
    Hopefully Arsene has his eye on someone. But it’s difficult getting someone of the required standard who will be prepared to sit on the bench when Francis returns. Especially in January. Kim Källström anyone? He looked on his game for Sweden last week. (Broad smiley with wink)
    Or maybe an experienced 28/29 year-old?

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  13. Wenger said Coquelin does not need surgery, but to be realistic it will be 12 weeks out

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  14. Re. Ozil’s touches v Zagreb
    Is that all?
    Lazy bastard.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. the opening goal

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  16. If we do buy someone to cover for le Coq, my guess is he’ll be German.

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  17. Olympiacos last 16 CL home game results, also AFC have lost all 3 games there so far

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  18. That first goal – looks like they only had one man on the pitch.
    No wonder we scored.

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  19. History has nothing to do with the future, eddy.

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  20. all I’m pointing out is that it looks like he won’t be easy, like some are already claiming it should be.

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  21. WENGER ON THE WIN, OLYMPIACOS AND ALEXIS

    Arsène Wenger spoke to the media after Arsenal’s 3-0 win against Dinamo Zagreb on Tuesday. This is what he said:

    on the game…
    We played at a good pace, produced a game of quality that we wanted. I believe the speed of our movement and passing gave Zagreb a problem. From then on, once we had scored the first goal you could see the chances were coming. It was important that we did not concede the first goal as we looked dangerous [going] forward. Overall we had a game of quality that we controlled well.

    on qualification chances…
    What we wanted was to come out of this game with a chance to qualify and we needed to do the job and Bayern Munich needed to do the job and they did that well. It gives us a chance but how big the chance is I don’t know. I believe we can do it.

    on having to win by two goals…
    We just need to win. It might not be enough, but what I mean is if we go ahead 1-0 then they will be in a situation where they could lose it and we will be a situation in the game which we can win it, so we have to go there to win the game. If you can win 1-0, you can win 2-0. It is a must-win for us and the task is very clear.

    on Olympiacos…
    Let’s forget that and focus on the Premier League with Norwich on Sunday and take care of the Premier League again.

    on not resting Alexis…
    Because the break makes him tired.

    on how good Alexis was…
    I don’t know how important percentage wise he is but he is just a very important player because at the moment we have real strikers. We have Giroud and Alexis so at the moment all these strikers are needed. Giroud had a little problem with his ankle over the weekend but I decided to give [him] a breather. Hector Bellerin, I took him off because he had a groin problem just before so I had to take them off meaning I could not take Alexis off. We now have five days to recover.

    on Alexis not getting tired…
    I would have loved to do it tonight (rest Alexis) but I [had] two different options. Once it is 3-0 you are not in a position where you need him to work back and when you put him central up front you can spare a bit of energy. It is not like you have to go up and down. I tried to compromise a little bit and give a break to Giroud and not take a risk with Bellerin.

    on not spending in the transfer window…
    I don’t agree with you. If you come out with me, you will see I like to spend money! It is you the press that have given me that reputation but my friends don’t think that.

    on Ozil, Alexis and Campbell…
    Tonight Campbell offensively was outstanding. He was dangerous from the start and the three had an outstanding performance tonight.

    on responding after West Brom…
    It was important to respond tonight as confidence can drop quickly. Hopefully we can do that again at Norwich.

    on who will be back for the game against Olympiacos…
    For Olympiacos, apart from tonight, Oxalde-Chamberlain will certainly be back while Theo Walcott has a chance.

    on Coquelin’s scan…
    It is what we feared basically. Let’s be realistic, it will be 12 weeks.

    on if he requires surgery…
    No. He does not need surgery. It was a knee ligament so it will be 12 weeks

    on having already played before at Olympiacos…
    Sometimes when we played at Olympiacos we had already qualified, this time we go to Olympiacos heading to qualify. It will be tough but we have to believe we can do it and I believe we can do it.

    on the atmosphere at Olympiacos…
    You have to trust Uefa and organisations to do that well. On the pitch the rules are respected and you never normally have a problem so we have a chance on that front.
    on if he thought Arsenal could progress after the loss against Bayern Munich…
    The result on the night was bad as Olympiacos won on the night in the last minute against Zagreb. On the night I thought it would have been very difficult. Then it depended on us and on the other result against Bayern, so at least tonight we are in with a chance. Let’s make right what we did not do right until now.

    Copyright 2015 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to http://www.arsenal.com as the source

    Read more at http://www.arsenal.com/news/news-archive/20151124/wenger-on-the-win-olympiacos-and-alexis#OPmc5TYdRwS7oaIG.99

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  22. Be interesting to see when Wenger puts Ramsey, in the Norwich game.

    Beside Santi?
    further forward?
    Or right side? this seems covered with Campbell doing a job there.

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  23. New Posts up

    Plenty of Ra Ra Ra in case you wondered

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