Arsenal : A Significant Advantage


Good morning Positivistas,

And with our third fixture yielding its proper reward a far more pleasant international ‘break’ faces us as we take an enforced breather until the Saints in a fortnight.

Of the game itself I know you all saw it and clearly it was a fixture that was all but over by half time. We often put ourselves through the grinder of anxiety watching the team, heart in mouth on occasions I admit, but yesterday was not one of them. Even before we had collected our unassailable three goal lead the home side had not demonstrated they had the ability to counter our swift, incisive play. They tried to meet guile with bruises, and in the modern PL there is only one way that ends.

Naming names Granit showed the steel in his game and he and Santi fit together well in the middle. In addition to the Swiss steel he hit a couple of extraordinarily good passes. I did not doubt Xhaka had that quality of passing in his repertoire, it takes a confident player to pull it out in his full first team debut, and in the rough and tumble at Vicarage Road.

Sanchez had a good afternoon. Having endured a fortnight of “he can’t play up front” accusations he showed that he can play up front, lead the orchestra and play the fiddle rather well. Now that may be a result of Watford’s three man defence and erratic wingbacks. It may however he the result of Alexis, and those supplying him tuning in better. It strikes me that if you are asking a player to take on a new job it will take at least 5-6 games before you find out if he is really cut out for it, and the players around him adapting to the change. I am sure, even though we are likely to see our French centre forward back on September the 10th that the ‘Sanchez as striker experiment’ is not over.

Other mentions ? Ozil, the usual inventive quality and a lovely goal with his head !! HIS HEAD ? Is their nothing this man cannot do! Theo’s right wing rehabilitation moved a step further forward with a more assured, more involved 90 minutes. He left his opponents on their arse on a couple of occasions. More of that please. And finally, and the weekly mention for our keeper. Despite our control of the game, Watford clambered out of their coffin in the second half, made chances and got a toehold back in the game with a tidy finish from their record signing Pereyra. Any wobbling after that would have made it a tense final few minutes, and Cech stopped two good efforts from Holebas then Ighalo that might have embarrassed us.

Of our opponents the Hornets look as though they have a difficult second season in prospects, and given the maniacs in charge sacked what seemed me a manager, Quique Flores, performing well above expectation in the Summer I wish the new man Mazzari good luck. One strong card he has in his hand are a two strikers, Deeney, Ighalo and the attacking midfield recruit Pereyra, who have goal scoring ability.

The only genuine cause for concern I had on yesterday’s performance from Arsenal was Jack trying too hard and getting booked. The player is desperate to make an impression in the few minutes that he is given. I sympathise, in fact I understand, but jumping in is not going to help.

The less serious cause for concern is where, with Gabriel and Danny and Giroud due back in the none too distant future, our new signings are gong to fit in ?

Such are the worries of the modern football fan. Enjoy your Sunday.

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52 comments on “Arsenal : A Significant Advantage

  1. Ah , Andy’s review is like a gentle shoulder rub on a Sunday morning.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. First thing my son points out to me was Xhaka’s 73 minutes at the King Power

    Serpent toothed child


  3. I still think defensively Arsenal aint that strong. Maybe with the new guy,it shd improve.
    Beatin Watford is one thing. There ae bigger challenges ahead


  4. The old fart’s thoughts.
    What a pleasure to see the team really turn it on. Fair enough, they rather sat on their laurels in the second half, but the first 45 minutes was bliss….in particular our 3rd goal from Oz after Alexis’ “let’s wait until Oz arrives” cross. Oz seemed to have run at least 30 yards to get there and his header was classic. Our previous two goals proved a) that at last we have a penalty taker back in the ranks, b) that Kevin Friend was 100% accurate with his decision and c) that Alexis can spark the machinery that switched on as the ball crossed the line. Am I correct in thinking that that was the first goal we’ve scored thanks to the electronic eye?

    Not one of his best goals but together with his overall performance, Alexis will look back on this game with far happier memories. As indeed will Oz whose return showed how the game should be played. He was not altogether alone. Petr didn’t have much to do but his save to spare Kos’s blushes from a very misdirected header, was spectacular. Other than that mistake, Kos was as firm as a rock and once again helped young Rob Holding to prove that he may well be AW’s best value for money signing for many years. Equally Granit, who I suspect still has some way to go before reaching peak fitness, was really good. Some of his long range passes were amazing for both accuracy and weighting.

    Most of his long passes were aimed at Theo who was obviously geared up for this one. Not too much of the Wally on show thankfully and it was a pleasure to see him continuing his new found defensive abilities. I’m sure he’s conscious of Gnabry’s return and was told that Campbell’s loan was conditional on his working at both ends. His cross to Alexis for our second was spot on.

    A few chances went begging prior to Watford’s pinball reply and there were a few anxious moments as we relaxed and let them take midfield control. Could well be that we still need a few weeks condition training in that area Just as well Mo Elneny was on hand to bolster the midfield. He performed well as did Kieran Gibbs who replaced Nacho who was limping from a kick. At least I think it was the kick wot dun ‘im, and not the bit of a going over that he received for most of the second half. Ox not doing much to help him had a deal to do with this and Ox perhaps should watch Theo to see what can be done.

    All together a happy day and the Saints will hopefully be worried as opposed to confident of their ability to take points from us. Unfortunately interbloodynationals get in the way. Keep the faith that all our lads return undamaged.

    Liked by 8 people

  5. Mustafi should certainly add some experience Malaysia but what is just as important is having a settled pairing who get to know each other and the whole unit of the back five.

    German footballers tend to be ‘intelligent’ so learning the system should be a swift process for Mustafi.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Gabriel won’t get a look in… He’s already behind Mustafi and Holding.


  7. Malaysian Gooner

    It was in the second half that the midfield dropped of in its defensive duties. This left our back four exposed. This may be a fitness issue as intimated by the boss. I hope so because it is a plausible explanation. Teams like Watford have an early season advantage as they have few players with international commitments during the early summer. Just like Livepool, Watford couldn’t cope during the first half. Let’s hope our fitness reaches its maximum after the international break, if so we will be a force to be reckoned with.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Gabriel is getting the Kos treatment of 5 years ago
    How did that all turn out?

    Liked by 5 people

  9. Let me qualify that post:

    I have been really impressed with Holding. I never expected him to be any where near the first team this season. I read a few articles by Bolton fans and journalists who were all glowing in their praise of the young lad, but felt he wasn’t ready for the Arsenal first team.

    Gabriel is very committed and aggressive in his play and I like him loads. But feel he and Koz do not make a complimentary pairing, whereas Mustafi (from what I’ve read) and holding appear better matches.

    We played brilliantly for the most part, their goal was lucky I thought as it rebounded kindly for their new guy.

    Theo was excellent and he deserves to stay in the team. Not sure Ox will tho.

    As for Jack, he won’t like this but a loan may be the best option for him. It could really give him a boost.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I have just noticed the date for the Forest game has been fixed for Tuesday the 20th September.

    Subject to our staying reasonably injury free we have the option of sending in a monstrously strong ‘second’ string team, or chucking in 3/4 youngsters into the mix with some experienced heads. Recalling our painful exit at Hillsborough last season my bet would be on the strong option.

    Either way there will be plenty of opportunities for all the first team squad to get game time over the next few weeks.


  11. George

    Gabriel has made rash decisions and cost us in games. Koscielny isn’t averse to the odd moment of madness too, still That’s part of their make up and why they are better when’s partnered with calmer players. Like Per.


  12. Dexter, I’m so pleased that you feel qualified to lecture me on the qualities of a defensive partnership.
    If only i had known these thing earlier.


  13. Lancing the small boil of our early season start was certainly an exquisite release. Darn shame it’s the international break now, I feel. I am sitting here looking at our squad and without the two new signings I know very little about, I’m thinking we are comfortably equipped to challenge seriously for all competitions and while I demand nothing, I can dream of everything.

    Virtually a whole season to go. Lots to look forward to. Lots to enjoy. If others can’t see how good we can be then I don’t know what will open their eyes.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Christ you’re still a pompous arse!

    You accused me of scape goating Gabriel. If you think it was a lecture that’s your problem. I was simply expanding on my first post, I hadn’t even seen your bitchy childish post.


  15. Thank you Andrew for your sober and insightful take on yesterday’s proceedings. It’s the first game I’ve seen this season and I was extremely pleased with what I saw of new boys Granit and Rob. The passing from GX especially had me swooning at times. Add those kind of long, accurate balls to our Mesut style guile and trickery and defences won’t know whether to stick or twist. Rob Holding is a sensation – OK given such a short time and few games that is massive hyperbole and of course I know that. Even so to step up so far and play with such composure is wonderful and I take my hat off to the boy.
    Ox seems to lack a little confidence – maybe – it’s impossible to read his mind of course. Theo worked his socks off and Mesut showed what he can do but is clearly not 100% yet. But Alexis was dazzling in the first half. Everything we want from him was there.

    Liked by 4 people

  16. Dexter for Gawds sake get a grip – if you want a scrap there are 284 alternative Arsenal blogs/message boards and a million AFC Twitter users to start one with.

    Not here.

    Your point about the comparative strengths of the back four is perfectly sensible.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. I think we’re looking ok now.

    Ospina; Debuchy Per, Mustafi,Gibbs; Coq,Elneny, Wilshere, Ramsey, Perez, Giroud; Iwobi, Chambers,Gabriel, Welbeck, Bielek, Akpom, Jeff, Gnabry, Martinez- that squad should be competitive.

    Oh, we had 11 others who started the game yesterday. Well now…

    But seriously, we have panicked and dithered our way to a very strong squad.

    Liked by 5 people

  18. What pleased me about Theo was that he put in a full 90 minute performance Stew – too often I have pointed the finger at the player when he has donned the football equivalent of the invisibility cloak. Not yesterday though.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Nice one Andy Nic!

    I think overall the squad is in good condition – pretty much as you’d expect from a team that ended last season in 2nd place. This is self-evidently good news but the generally over-looked spin-off benefit to this is how quickly the recent new faces have settled in. That could of course be mere coincidence but a rough rule of thumb used to assume up to 12 months of bedding in for most signings.

    To my uncultured eye, the squad appears to have gone up a level over the last two years and the quality and nature of recent additions suggests to me that while some amongst us have found ever less inventive ways to propagate their failing ‘Whegnar-out’ message, the A4 placards already gathering dust were piling up as Arsene laid the foundations for his next five years.

    When this particular penny drops the wailing types will feel terminally let down by a club that will have spent the best part of 20 years preparing for that moment. That Arsenal FC have traversed the succession of banana skins presented by the Oiligarchs, the financial crash, the FFP farce and the current chaos of the bloated bubble-like transfer window will, in time, be seen as mere footnotes to the bigger picture.

    And what an extraordinary picture this is.

    One I can not wait to watch unfold further over the coming season.

    Liked by 9 people

  20. And I read (here I think) that the full backs got no protection – not true for Hector as Theo fought like a tiger without the ball when on the right wing.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Anicol

    Thanks. Don’t worry mate. I’m not planning on being a regular poster. I don’t have the patience any more! All the best.


  22. Dex – you’re more than welcome here as far as I’m concerned. I just think the name calling is a little out of place here. We’re too laid back, stoned, or philosophical (or all of the above) for it.

    Liked by 3 people

  23. Shid I think I should clarify that one too! I mean I don’t have pTience with the team/players/manager and am a tad volatile as evidenced already.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Cheers Steww. You’re right of course.


  25. Andrew

    I use a game from Jan 2012 as a reference point, for no reason other than I caught a repeat last year and it made a big impression me.


    13 Szczesny
    04 Mertesacker (Oxlade-Chamberlain – 77′ )
    06 Koscielny
    20 Djourou
    49 Miquel
    14 Walcott
    16 Ramsey
    17 Song
    23 Arshavin (Henry – 63′ )
    30 Benayoun (Rosicky – 63′ )
    10 Van Persie
    01 Almunia
    18 Squillaci
    07 Rosicky
    15 Oxlade-Chamberlain
    56 Yennaris
    09 Park Chu-Young
    12 Henry.

    Even the players who remain have in nearly all cases improved, and elsewhere there seem upgrades everywhere, bar Van Persie.

    Who knows where the improved squad will take us in a much-changed league, but the idea nothing has changed with the squad over the years is as stupid as suggesting our finances didn’t impact on what we could do or have not changed over the same time.

    I think this summer’s additions have taken us to the promised land where we have no big weakness, lots of options, and can calmly work on bringing in superstars if any become available.

    Liked by 2 people


    Arsène Wenger believes “we will see a different Theo Walcott this season”.
    The England international endured a tough 2015/16 campaign, but has started this term in encouraging fashion.

    “I said before the season started that we will get a different Theo Walcott this year,” the manager told Arsenal Player. “If he can maintain that focus, that desire and that fighting attitude then he will have a great season.

    “I hope he has no setback because he is an intelligent player, he is focused and has a great desire to prove his critics wrong and he’s on a good way.
    “I am very pleased, I think we had an excellent first half at Watford,” he added. “We cannot maintain it completely physically yet for 90 minutes but overall I could see there was some potential in the team, some fluency.

    “We created chances and there was great movement. Overall I am very pleased with our first-half performance. Defensively we had a good game as well and I believe when everybody is on board physically for 90 minutes, we have a strong team.”

    Read more at http://www.arsenal.com/news/news-archive/20160827/-we-ll-get-different-theo-this-season-#l1BM2Ym0M7Jk5ufB.99


  27. on the subject of Gabriel, well I’m told that he is still having major problems learning English, he just can’t master it. That is bound to lead to some problems in the heat of the action, it may even be a big hindrance in fully understanding things worked on in training.


  28. I think jack’s booking did not come from him trying too hard, I think Jack knew exactly what he was doing, he has always been one to stand up to the bully boy tactics of other team, regardless of their size, the team, the game, the score, he does not take a backward step. Watford had heeded the pundits usual advice of “get in Arsenal’s face”, and Jack decided to say “bring it on” and “we are still here”,

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Nice to see Dexter back, George-I’ve already had a gentle rub this morning.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Excellent A5. I am busy in the lab trying to cook up something but not too busy to see another friendly spat between George and his old pal Dex. Good to see despite the sands of time, some things never change.

    Liked by 1 person

  31. Undoubtedly the squad is a lot stronger Rich as a consequence as you say of some of the younger players almost five years back growing into their role and fulfilling their potential Rich. The big ticket signings have also added a dimension that was not there in 2012 although on its day that side could do great things.

    Liked by 3 people

  32. anicoll

    Yes, even in a dark time in Swansea there was still lots of talent about, enough for plenty of good days.

    It was just a strange one for me rewatching that game as I had moment where I went ‘sheesh, I’m sure I was hoping for nothing less than the bleeding title that season, and the team surely wasn’t strong enough for that.’

    I think the difference now is that ,during those years, optimism on challenging for the title was justified- if you based it upon absolutely everything going right for us, in terms of everyone reaching their highest potential and nobody suffering injury.

    I’ve convinced myself that was how Wenger approached those years, believing anything was possible, but knowing, realistically, we’d need the tremendous and rare good fortune of no serious injuries- Wilshere, Diaby (aargh), etc- and nearly all players- Song, Djourou, etc- fulfilling the highest reasonable hopes of them. Plus nobody wanting to jump ship for more dough or a better shot at title.

    I think someone who had years of battling for 1st would have struggled to motivate themselves and to transmit the necessary positivity if they viewed it any other way.

    All past now. We’re about half as vulnerable to the old slings and arrows.


  33. Now, if he can manage 3/10 of those Eduardo, he’ll do! Thanks.


  34. Good half from Citeh and although this is the first time I have watched them seriously this season they are a level above their neighbours and Chels on today’s showing – going forward very dangerous – team to beat at this stage.

    Not quite sure about their defence as the Ammers have managed to open them up on a couple of occasions


  35. 65 minutes gone and Citeh’s first half superiority a faint memory – the Ammers back to 2-1 and in charge.

    Come on Pep – pull your finger out son.


  36. Gabriel had a good game up until his last minute injury when the Arsenal beat this City team in pre-season, I guess that defeat is what made them the plundits’ favourite?


  37. Fair to say the two league games between Arsenal and City are going to be good games of football.

    Liked by 2 people

  38. A very narrow margin in the end at the Etihad – Aguero can look forward to a three game break from PL action with some confidence.


  39. Mustafi has given an interview with sky germany, and says he has signed a five year contract, is looking forward to playing under wenger, and deal should be announced by Tuesday


  40. Osman ‏@OsmanZtheGooner 14m14 minutes ago
    According to @radiomarca Lucas Perez will hold a press conference tomorrow to say goodbye & thank Deportivo fans. #Arsenal


  41. Arsenal Ladies ‏@ArsenalLadies 13m13 minutes ago
    A superb start to the second half for @ArsenalLadies! @AsisatOshoala keeps her balance and rounds Walsh before slotting home 1-0 (47)

    The referee has shown a red card to goalkeeper Emma Byrne 1-0 (60)
    Byrne was sent off after bringing down Ellen White outside her penalty area 1-0 (61)
    It’s going to be @_KatieMcCabe9 who makes way for @SarivVeenendaal 1-0 (61)


  42. Arsenal Ladies ‏@ArsenalLadies 2m2 minutes ago
    GOAL FOR @ARSENALLADIES! It’s an own goal for Walsh… 2-0 (70) #ALFC


  43. Arsenal Ladies ‏@ArsenalLadies 2m2 minutes ago
    FULL-TIME: @Official_NCLFC 0-2 @ArsenalLadies – #ALFC


  44. so how many England managers is that now that have selected Walcott, someone should tell them that they need the advice of the malcontents


  45. walcott in, wilshere out

    The squad

    Goalkeepers: Fraser Forster (Southampton), Joe Hart (Manchester City), Tom Heaton (Burnley)

    Defenders: Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Nathaniel Clyne (Liverpool), Phil Jagielka (Everton), Danny Rose (Tottenham Hotspur), Luke Shaw (Manchester United), Chris Smalling (Manchester United), John Stones (Manchester City), Kyle Walker (Tottenham Hotspur)

    Midfielders: Dele Alli (Tottenham Hotspur), Michail Antonio (West Ham United), Eric Dier (Tottenham Hotspur), Danny Drinkwater (Leicester City), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Adam Lallana (Liverpool), Wayne Rooney (Manchester United), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City), Theo Walcott (Arsenal)

    Strikers: Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur), Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool), Jamie Vardy (Leicester City)

    Read more at http://www.thefa.com/news/england/2016/aug/england-squad-slovakia-2018-fifa-world-cup-qualifier#ZPI4gmlIDG726glx.99


  46. Jeorge Bird ‏@jeorgebird 21h21 hours ago
    Jeff Reine-Adelaide has received his first call-up to the France U19 squad for the friendly with Serbia


  47. I see Dexter hasn’t used his time-off from PA to work on his social skills.

    No one can complain about the result at Watford. In the first half we could not be contained.
    The 2nd half drop of in work rate was a worry – like Liverpool game, I hope this is as you say due to fitness levels.
    The quality of subs we can now employ makes a huge difference, Jack and ElNeney don’t exactly weaken the XI on the pitch.

    6 goals so far, 6 goal scorers. Not bad at all.

    Since even Wenger himself has said we’ve signed the two new boys I hope Stew won’t mind if we can name them here now.


  48. Has the French team been announced?
    I hope they leave Kos to rest up a bit.

    Liked by 1 person

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