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Arsenal Versus Southampton: Boxing Clever

I was looking at the photographs of yesterday’s training session on Arsenal.com and it got me to thinking. Shouldn’t the club photographer get a winter break? Is it really fair to expect him to work on Christmas Day, away from his friends and family, missing out on Eastenders and the Queen’s speech? Isn’t there a danger he’ll suffer burn out from too many photocalls in the middle of winter when his fingers are at their coldest and his equipment is vulnerable from the rain and the wind? The ill judged composition of the shot of Calum Chambers with another player’s head seeming to grow from his left shoulder and a poorly placed horizon line breaking the rule of thirds is surely a sign of a photographer taking pictures in the red zone.

From these obvious and serious concerns it was but a small step to realise that bloggers too deserve a break over the festive season. I type with two fingers. That’s perhaps why so often I seem to be saying a massive fuck you to the football establishment, media and referees not to mention many of our fans. Those two fingers are getting worn down and I fear that three matches in a few days is asking far too much of my sadly over exercised digits. How can we expect to attract and keep the best writers in the world if we don’t give them a break when the days are short and the house full of discarded wrapping paper? It makes you think.

The other group of people trying to rouse themselves from their festive torpor today are the players. Arsenal travel to the south coast to face a side they’ve not beaten there since December 29th 2003. Last season we went there on new year’s day and suffered a two nil defeat at the hands of a Southampton side who were in fine fettle and good for their win. This time around Ronald Koeman’s men have not had such a great time of it and it is my fervent Christmas wish that their indifferent form continues for at least one more match.

Today will, I believe, be a test of resilience. A sorely depleted squad desperately in need of big performances from a supporting cast and with just a whiff of a hangover from their stoicism against a resurgent second half Man City will be up against it today. The last thing I’d want to see is another long backs to the wall defence of a slender lead.

If it should come to that of course we can be sure the players will be up for it. The one thing we know for certain about Arsène Wenger’s teams through the ages is that they have guts. Rightly famed for their silky skills and fluid passing his sides have always shown equal measures of fight and determination. Just because the clichéd script of the hacks in the television studios and the chip wrappers refuse to recognise this doesn’t mean it isn’t true. If they can summon the energy for a couple more performances of courage and endurance then we will end the year on a real high and the ludicrous fixture schedule which has blighted the holiday season will suddenly not seem such a stupid idea.

I know it’s traditional and I know that some people look forward to it as the best part of Christmas but I look at the number of games our first eleven is navigating without much respite and I fear for the health and well being of a squad which simply cannot afford any more injuries. On the flip side of that coin Calum and Kieran are getting a bit of game time these days and should be able to slot in more comfortably if called upon so to do. Also, we can expect some of the wounded to return soon, if not soon enough to make a difference to our end of year schedule.

Santi is effectively gone from the equation and the length of time out for Danny and Jack will surely see them eased in very gently when they are fit. I’m picturing a similar scenario to that we witnessed with Theo’s return last season. Maybe one or both will be able to make an impact in one or other of the cup finals but we can’t expect them to play a major role in winning the league.

Still, like that new mountain bike you didn’t get for Christmas there is no point in griping about the things which cannot be changed. Some might suggest the boss and Ivan can alter things in the upcoming transfer window but new faces take time to bed in and it is fanciful or at the very best blindly optimistic to expect anyone bought in to make an immediate impact.

So it’s a case of fingers crossed. Or if you lack the belief in such precautions against the ravages of cruel fate, que sera, sera. Maybe the Saints will be suffering from a surfeit of Christmas pud and come stumbling from the blocks without the panache they showed around this time last year. Maybe Mathieu’s hamstrings can twang on happily for a few weeks yet and Per’s long legs continue to be planted in the right place at the right time without suffering any nasty knocks.

I said during the pre season on these very pages just let Mesut and Aaron remain fit for the duration and we’ll be all right. Well I haven’t been granted that wish with our Welsh wonder already spending time in the MASH tent so I’m going to amend it and ask that they remain in harness for the rest of the campaign.

As Francis and Joel have shown us last season and this help can come from unexpected quarters when most needed. I firmly believe there is enough ability and mental strength left in our squad to keep up with Leicester City’s fabulous start to the season. Whether we will have enough in the tank to overhaul them at the end remains to be seen but if we can just stagger through against the two south coast teams then the Foxes will feel our hot steamy breath on the backs of their necks. This is the hardest pressure of all when there is no one in front of you to aim at and the baying hounds are at your heels. Will they be able to withstand it? If not we need to be in a position to pounce.

Whether I’ll be able to think of anything to write on Monday and how the club photographer will find time to develop his film are other matters all together. At the moment my left index finger is showing signs of a small blister, but I’ll tell you this – if birthday boy Aaron Ramsey can keep running the length of the pitch to the very last whistle then it would be churlish of me to complain so I’ll keep applying the Germolene and just pray that Andy Nic has enough ribbon in his Remington to write another glowing review of another famous victory come Sunday morning.

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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147 comments on “Arsenal Versus Southampton: Boxing Clever

  1. yes Moss has got moss in his eyes. Rambo was lucky to get out of that two footer.
    COYG!

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  2. Chambers on for final 15 minutes

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  3. 78 minutes Iwobi on for Walcott

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  4. Ozil goes very close

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  5. its not often the Gunners dont even get started like this.

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  6. well at least the WOB have had a good Christmas

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  7. is Ox serious? how do you just push someone blatantly like that?

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  8. Thanks to the post.

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  9. oh brother!

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  10. Long makes it 4-0 in injury time

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  11. Well, that was a bad day at the office.
    Too much Xmas pud?

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  12. Well bad night at Hoodoosville, didnt even get going. Peter friends as happy as the Soton fans.
    Oh well. Night lads.

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  13. Less said and written about that the better……

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  14. We are going to face several more games like that,
    short rest times between match days, dubious kick-off times and PGMOL’s finest officiating await us in 2016.

    Still though – Arsenal were poor. Too much pudding and got a bit cocky after beating City?

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  15. FT: 4-0

    I’ve had a fucking headache all evening and it has nothing on that performance, off the pace from the word go, compounded by inept officials, who missed fouls in first 3 goals, a ref who turned a blind eye to so many Southampton yellow card offenses it was unreal.
    Our passing was poor, our attacking play was powderpuff, and out defending was woeful, this is the fifth time in about six weeks that we have failed to take the chance to go top of the league, that does not argue well for us having the mental strength to win the league.

    We play again in less than 44 hours, and a much sharper performance is required, both from the team, and whoever is the match officials, as both tonight were just not good enough.

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  16. I guess that was my punishment for laughing at ManU.

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  17. Good luck with the review tomorrow, Andrew.

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  18. Positively Arsenal ‏@Blackburngeorge 19m19 minutes ago North West, England
    II can#t believe Arsene told them to go out and play like that.
    I will shit it if someone says they will learn lessons

    it was an awful performance, even taking into account the officials. the poor passing had little to do with bad officials, being brushed off the ball too easily had little to do with bad officials, lack of speed in our play had little to do with the officials,

    and what the fuck has happened with Oxlade-Chamberlain, so much ability, so little impact.
    I also do not understand why Gabriel gets so few starts.

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  19. Wenger says 1st goal was offside, 2nd was a foul and the third was a goal kick.

    by the way Howard Webb said the same thing.

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  20. Well Mel did have a bad feeling about this game. He is usually right on these things.
    That result hurt. I hope it did because we need shaking up. That title wont be easy.

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  21. Wenger comments

    “We lost too many challenges today, they were sharper than us. I think we were unlucky as well.”

    “Their (S’oton) first shot on goal went into the top corner from the right back, the second goal came after a foul on Koscielny.”

    “It’s a disappointing result but I have to say well done to Southampton.”

    “The referee let a lot go but when you’re not dominant in challenges that is the price you have to pay.”

    “The title is down to consistency to fight in every single game and produce a performance. Today was a very physical game and we didn’t play well enough.”

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  22. Wenger comments

    “I must say they were sharper than us in the tackles. We can not master the referees decisions but we can master our behaviour.”

    “I felt we were physically not at our best. Long made the game very physical and got away with a lot.”

    “We had to come out and take many risks and they looked sharp on the counter-attack.”

    “These players have fantastic spirit and they will show that in 48 hours. We want to respond from disappointment.”

    “I trust my players to respond well on Monday. Bournemouth have played very well recently.”

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  23. Well Wenger mentioned that it was a tired performance, so lets hope he acts to rectify this, both internal solutions and external ones, a couple of signings early in January could re-energize the squad.

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  24. My daughter’s MCFC-loving boyfriend is spending time with me for the holidays and he made that whoop ass even harder to take. Butt I am not over-reacting. If we win on Monday we are top of the league. Evidently our boys, like too many fans, were thinking today would be a stroll in the park. Nothing like a good defeat to shock us out of any complacency.

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  25. but that is the problem with our team shotta, how many more fucking times will they think they can get away with a shit performance, underestimating the opposition, defeats to WHU, WBA, Southampton, Sheffield Wednesday, Zagreb and Olypiacos and a draw with Norwich, that is the sorry tale of our season so far, we have by and large turned up for the bigger games, but been so inept against lesser teams, you would think our team is full of BPL refs.

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  26. fcstuff ‏@afcstuff 40m40 minutes ago
    Arsene when asked about Mohamed Elneny rumours: “No, no, nothing true about that at the moment.”

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  27. Chelsea fan in the bar today going on about how we should sub (for who, exactly?), then said “how did you beat Leicester?”, then said to me “well, I wouldn’t worry about it, Boxing Day sometimes goes like this”. I couldn’t decide whether to nod or punch him.

    I’m off in search of gifs of Aaron squaring up to Wanyama. That’ll make it all better (smiley thing). The boys will respond on Monday. I guarantee they are more disappointed by this bad day at the office than we are. They’ll bounce back from it.

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  28. How many fucking times will you accuse our team of trying to ‘get away’ with a shit performance, Eduardo? Other blogs indulge such a narrative.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. dc as often as it happens,
    which by the way looking at Wenger’s comments, he too thinks the performance was not good enough(once again), and that too many of our players were not up for the physical elements of the game and lost too many of the challenges.
    and I was only agreeing with shotta’s comment, which extolled the same sentiments,(“Evidently our boys, like too many fans, were thinking today would be a stroll in the park. Nothing like a good defeat to shock us out of any complacency.)
    but he is one of the good old boys so you ignore it and take exception to my comment, odd that.

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  30. The boss on defeat, pressure and Long

    The boss faced the media after Arsenal’s 4-0 defeat at Southampton. Below is a transcript of what he said:

    on the game…
    I think Southampton made the game very physical and we lost many challenges and that explains why we lost the game. That is one aspect, so well done to them. The second aspect is that on the first three goals we were really unlucky with the decision of the referee, the second goal was a foul and the third goal was a goal kick. If you are a bit under level and on top of that you have the first three goals against you with decision-making, it is even more difficult. We hope in the next game we have decisions like that for us.

    on his reaction to the defeat…
    I smile, I don’t smile. What can I do about it? I cannot influence that. I must say they were sharper than us in the challenges and on that front we have to look at what we can master. We cannot master the decision of the referee but we can master our own behaviour and I believe Southampton looked stronger in the challenges and we lost too many tonight.

    on missing out on going top…
    I said before the game at the moment if we are one point ahead or one point behind it is not too important. It is the performance that counts. We were not good enough to win the game and we have to look at that. On the other hand we can’t look too much at that as in 48 hours we play again. We were disappointed and frustrated and the only way is to respond in 48 hours.

    on pressure getting to his players…
    I don’t think so. It is difficult to check that but I felt we were not physically at our best.

    on Shane Long…
    He made the game very physical and he got away with too much but he was good.

    on if he got away with too much…
    I felt sometimes yes, but I have to watch it again. It is difficult for me straight after the game… to analyse every single challenge.

    on Southampton wanting it more…
    I would say that. We know if we lost the challenges it is because of that. They went 1-0 up, 2-0 up and after we had to come out and take more risks and they took advantage of that. They looked sharp on the counter-attack.

    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/20151226/the-boss-on-defeat-pressure-and-long#yJYDGOMpTpc26RUg.99

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  31. Positively Arsenal ‏@Blackburngeorge 3h3 hours ago North West, England
    I don’t care what Arsene or anyone says. that is unacceptable.
    They looked tired from first to last. Dig deeper lads.

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  32. Eduardo, surely you see that Arsene says it without a tone of disgust. If that’s not your intention, you might want to work on your delivery.

    George gets a pass because he says it once, and moves on.

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  33. And if you don’t see the difference in the tone of Shotta’s comment and the tone of yours, then I can’t help you.

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  34. And for the record, lest Eduardo think I’m picking on him, I don’t agree with Shotta either. I don’t think the boys turned up expecting a win. They knew this game would be tough. Mesut couldn’t get going today. And when he doesn’t go, and Alexis is out, Aaron can’t create either. That’s my take on it. The narrative that the boys don’t turn up or don’t care makes my blood boil. And I don’t really care who agrees or doesn’t. I’ll see you all on Monday.

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  35. Eduardo

    Hi. If I may, I think it is a matter of emphasis and interpretation. To say that this was a poor, or even an unacceptable performance is one thing. To say it is unacceptable to lose to the stated teams, and then to presume that this was because we turned up underestimating the opposition is quite another. Especially with the use of an expletive.

    This was a poor performace, combined with bad refereeing, and going behind to a wonder strike. But the media seemed keen to peddle the narrative that Arsenal are mentally weak. This narrative is ridiculous because it is brought up any time we lose, but the same rules don’t seem to apply to other teams. If we lose against the so-called lesser teams it is because we just turned up expecting to win. If we lose to the big clubs it is because we can’t deal with the big game pressure.

    Every team has off days. When these come far enough apart from each other, and especially with other factors contributing to the negative result as well, they should be treated as blips. Which, all of those examples, with the exceptions of perhaps the cl games, are. We responded to most of those setbacks by upping our performances and results. I would be worried if we don’t turn up for Bournemouth and beyond. Until then, I will treat this as a blip rather than look for a negative pattern among what are generally positive results and performances.

    Liked by 1 person

  36. Shit happens. If we can praise our boys when they win then we can constructively criticize when they lose. Defeats are part of football. It is how you respond that is most important. I believe our boys will respond well on Monday, no doubt in my mind.

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  37. Wenger has said several of our performances this season were unacceptable, awful, forgetable etc, and many of the players have said they “under estimated” or took opponents “lightly” and that they had to learn not to do it again.
    I did not say its unacceptable to lose to any “given” opponent, but when you analysis who we have lost to this season, it is rather odd that we have put in most of our poorest performances against teams that now sit 10th to 17th in the league, losing to teams that now sit 10, 12,13 &15th, and drawn with the team in 17th, and yet we have not lost to teams 1,3,4,5,6,7,8 & 9th in the league. Wenger said tonight that Southampton wanted it more. But what does he know.

    Shard I have to disagree that these results are merely blips, and that they should be overlooked cos they are spread out, we have played 26 games so far this season, and have won 15, drawn 3 and lost 8 of them, that is too many blips. The team has shown this season that it has high quality, the only big team that they were really poor against was Bayern Munich (away), we had a bad half v LFC, apart from that there has been some top performances against the bigger teams, but too often we just have not had the same level of performance against the lesser teams.
    I don’t know what the reasons are for this, but when you have the manager saying on more than one occasion that our opponents wanted it more, and you have players saying they under estimated our opponents, then maybe we have to take them at their word. and I think that is all I have done.

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  38. Lots of our fans getting on the Ox & Chambers back on social media,in a year or so’s time,the same people will be purring over them. I’d give a couple of players a rest against Bournmouth,one of the full backs and maybe Joel,pretty sure we’ll win & go top,then of course all the usual miserable bastards will crawl back under their rocks,it’s sad-but that’s how it is. We’ll be alright.

    Liked by 3 people

  39. well said shotta (1:29am)

    I try to be fair in both victory and defeat, I try to analyse both the good and the bad performances, and I try to work out why a team that can dismantle Man Utd, and be worthy victors over man city and Bayern Munich and play so much fantastic football in so many games, then drop so far in performance against others. Today’s starting 11 was the same 11 that put in such a high level performance against City five days ago, but it was like chalk and cheese. What is the reason. Normally when a team as good as ours is on a good run of results and beat a big rival, it is the boost to keep the run going, but so far this season its not worked out like that, the performance levels have been so polar its hard to understand.

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  40. We’ve played 2 more away games than City, how’s that for getting away with it?
    Maybe our away record is still the 2nd best in the League despite tonights result? second only to Leicester City who have played FACKIN’ NO WAN away yet?
    Maybe just maybe our boys are a bit knackered?
    Perhaps an absurd late night away kick off on Boxing day might make the away team and fan a bit ‘up for it’? Especially after a poor previous home game?
    Maybe the ref was a bit one sided? even according to Howard I-LOVE-MAN-U Webb?
    Maybe we can’t rotate efficiently because some of our key squad alternatives have been hacked down?

    Spare me the witch hunt, I’ve seen too many of the fucknuts on the web.

    Liked by 1 person

  41. *home team.

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  42. I thought Chambers done well when he came on, for me Oxlade-Chamberlain has not been good so far this season, maybe its the injuries and the stop start nature of his season that is to blame, but for such a highly talented guy, he is struggling.

    It will be interesting to see how many changes will be made to the starting 11 on Monday. Hard to know who to bring in, Debuchy and Gibbs have been hot and cold in their performances so far, MD looks to be lacking match fitness, so should we risk his rustiness against AFCB who are on a good run at the moment, should we start Chambers at DM, Gabriel at CB, OX on the wing, other than those named, is there anyone else who is in contention for a start. Iwobi?

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  43. Only got the radio commentary and your comments to go on so hard to gauge but it sounds to me that a right old combination of events led to a collective decision to stay out of harms way and to concentrate on 6 points in the two home games coming up rather than busting a gut scrapping for a hard fought single point once they’d seen which way the wind was blowing. And I don’t blame them for that. And I also think AG’S chelsea fan is right: Boxing Day games can resemble one off cup ties.
    The only thing that surprises me is why AW didn’t rotate especially knowing it was likely to be a physical encounter after such an energy sapping win against City. I’d have played Jack for Mesut, Coq for the Flame, Danny for Theo, Alexis for Joel. I’d also have been tempted to rest Aaron and given Santi a run before bringing TR7 on after an hour to freshen things up.

    Liked by 2 people

  44. Good Morning – the new post is up

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