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Arsenal Versus Boro: Discipline and Fizz

top-coppers

Let’s get the grovelling out of the way first. And the excuses, let’s get those out of the way first too. Oh heck. Is there a mathematician in the house? Can I have two first things? Even if I can you’d need to discount the preceding five sentences wouldn’t you? All I was going to say is I am writing at a disadvantage after an heroic dosage of pain killers intended to alleviate the old nerve problem but actually just causing a dense fog to descend.

Also I’ve been forced very much against my will to take up gainful employment again. As a defence mechanism and the only way I can prevent my brain from imploding under the twin weights of tedium and loathing I have to switch off all but the basic cognitive functions from breakfast to bedtime. This means that the usual hunt for interesting or at least diverting topics with which to pad out my pre match ramblings have been suspended along with all other philosophical musings.

I hope the team doesn’t suffer a similar lack of motivation nor paucity of inspiration today. Surely they won’t. Surely they’ll be floating on cloud nine after their joyful six session with those tricksy Bulgarian visitors on Wednesday evening. If there is a problem with an improbably long winning run it is quite simply in our nervous and worried minds. We struggle not to harbour the superstitious dread that the longer it goes on the closer the inevitable hiccup, crash, fall from grace – call it what you will – must surely be. Granted it isn’t all superstition. If we accept that the winning run will not in fact last until the end of time then of course it must be interrupted at some point.

I believe the trick is not to think too hard about that. I also believe that for the players the key will be how they respond. Treat it as a bump in the road and they’ll be fine. Allow their morale to collapse à la Tottenham after the Chelsea result last season and things might become a little uncomfortable for all concerned. This is where having a manager who has been there and long since taken over the t-shirt factory, never mind just bought one, becomes a resource of incalculable value.

Pochettino, for all his undoubted talents, couldn’t transmit the necessary calm to his charges when the ordure and the air conditioning came into contact at Stamford Bridge last season. I’m guessing of course but I suspect that is down to not having been in such rarefied air before. Arsène has. He knows how a near miss feels and he knows the sweet taste of ultimate success. He has learned what works and what doesn’t and when the blip happens we should be grateful to have him at the helm to steer the ship back on course in double quick time.

But I don’t want to contemplate defeat just yet. I’m quite content to clamber up on the virtual surf board and enjoy the ride as long as the wave keeps rolling on in. If confidence is the huge intangible which drives all successful teams then we must have a full tank of the stuff right now. The victory on Wednesday, or least the margin of victory which seemed so improbable for much of the first half, must have done much for both the individual and collective spirit in the squad.

I have to give special credit to Arsène. His timing was impeccable. Sooner or later we all knew he would have to rest some players and would have to give others a start in the first team. That he chose to do so in the Champions League is a mark of a manager confident in the ability of his second string. It also must have helped boost their own confidence that they were so trusted to carry on the good work, much of which they’d had to watch from a seat in the wings.

The hunger on show from the understudies was to be expected but what impressed more was the quiet assurance with which they went about their business. From Kieran Gibbs’ seamless transition from bench to starting berth to the Ox’s sublime finish and on to Lucas Pérez’s wonderful little cameo they all showed the manager what they can do and did it with aplomb. The only reason I don’t mention David Ospina in the same sentence as those others is because I believe he deserved one all of his own. Sod it, I’m giving him this one too – viva Ospina!

I honestly don’t know if these guys are waiting for injuries to take their toll or whether Arsène has plans to gradually increase the involvement of some players as the season progresses. It is an intriguing prospect. Of all of them Pérez is the one I think most likely to feature with sustained regularity. Like George I really like what I’ve seen. His work-rate and intensity are high, his speed of thought and decision making impressive. That he can score as well as provide for others augers well. Above all he just looks the part.

The most compelling battle for selection is between Coquelin and Xhaka – unless of course they end up playing together. It’s Coquelin all the way for me. The most underrated, or perhaps the least overrated, player in our squad by some margin. Caricatured as no more than a hard tackling defensive midfielder, he actually prefers an Arteta style interception, his positional play is extraordinary, appearing to have stolen the opposition’s blueprints before kick off, and his close control and passing are far from that of a boneheaded midfield hatchet man. I give him the edge over Xhaka by dint of not being suspended today.

Middlesbrough haven’t won since back in August. In fairness they’ve not been properly turned over since then, losing the majority of their games by the odd goal. Regardless of their recent form any Premier League team has the ability to beat any other. If we’re going to see Shotta’s streak continue we will need the ruthlessness Arsène is so fond of calling for. With the usual faces absent and Santi a doubt following his early departure on Wednesday we may see Elneny and Coquelin at the heart of our midfield. As big a loss as our tiny Spanish giant may be I’d be quite happy to see them on the team sheet together. Discipline and fizz. They could have their own prime-time show. Other than that as much as I think the Ox deserves another run out I suspect Arsène will stick to his winning team. But what do I know?

If you’re at the game sing one for me, if not I’ll see you here at three.

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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131 comments on “Arsenal Versus Boro: Discipline and Fizz

  1. ozil goal ruled out for offside – right call

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  2. just not our day by the looks of it

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  3. We all knew the goal would come. And when it did, it didn’t.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. its games like this that we really miss Giroud

    I see dean blew for full time right on the 5 minutes of stoppage time, despite boro making a sub in stoppage time, what happened to the 30 seconds for a sub

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  5. we are top of the league

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  6. the malcontents will be happy

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  7. it was a bit of an after the lord mayors show performance. close but no cigar.

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  8. The #streak is over. And the idiots on NBC start moaning about not good enough. The impt thing is we did not lose. We at PA focus on Avg PPG now 2.22. Win the next game and it is back to 2.3. Long ways to go.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Breaking news: The Winning ‘streak is set to start again in the League Cup. “we had to keep the moaners happy for a few days even though we are top of the league” said an Arsenal insider.
    ” I cant wait to strip off again” said the Arsenal Streaker.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Leicester win, Spurs draw. After Champions League games on a Tuesday.

    Arsenal, played on the Wednesday, a day less to recover.

    Shotta, does a grand job, Analytics, will consider the effects of recovery time, and other physical concerns, plus of course the stats of the games.

    We, know that we do not have access to the StatDNA info, so London Colney is a closed shop, as far as I am concerned.

    Fatigue, will affect different players, at different times. As for the bruises, a week is better than a couple of days?

    At the moment, the Arsenal are in 3 competitions, at the moment.

    Most of you, will not be interested. In season 2005/2006, Spurs were knocked out in the first round of the League Cup and in the FA Cup, both played away from WHL. The princely sum of £146,000, was reported in the turnover for the Cups.

    COTG, we move on!

    Liked by 2 people

  11. AndyNic: Your boy Deano wasn’t bad today tbh. In fact compared to Jon Moss he was excellent. That contemptous look at Negredo on the ground under the challenge of Mustafi was classic.

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  12. Epilogue

    Spurs, should always play in the prelim rounds of both Cups?

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  13. Interestingly, on twitter absolutely no reaction to my observation that ending the streak is secondary to the average PPG. All the is fuss by tweeps moaning and whingeing that we dropped 2 points after a 3rd game in 7 days. Any surprise that?

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  14. Q;are the wobs addicted to fear and drama?

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  15. Mills: Fear and Despair. (Shameless self-promotion some may say but it is the bad side of human nature .)

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  16. Arsenal fans:
    Wednesday: Our squad depth is insane!
    Saturday: We’re doomed without Player X!

    Me:
    Wednesday: Our squad depth is insane!
    Saturday: Our squad depth is insane! And some people do not understand the concept of an off day.

    Liked by 5 people

  17. Arsenal fans: Must find someone to blame for failing to take certain 3 points!

    Me: Some people clearly do not understand how sport works.

    Liked by 3 people

  18. ‘WE LACKED OUR USUAL CREATIVITY’

    Arsenal were held to a draw by Middlesbrough in a tense encounter at Emirates Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

    on whether he was frustrated that it ended 0-0…
    I think I have a frustrated face, certainly, and I am. We had a lot of the ball, in the modern game it’s maybe not enough to win the games. We had 75 per cent possession but we didn’t have our usual pace in the combination or enough sharpness in our movement. In the first 20 minutes we were quite satisfied, after Middlesbrough came back in the game and were dangerous on the break. In the end, we couldn’t win it. At least we were intelligent enough not to lose it.

    on whether not being able to win was down to tiredness…
    Yes, you are right. We paid a little price for the Champions League on Wednesday night and usually when you play at home you still would like to manage to win but we couldn’t. We could’ve lost the game as well in the first half, but that’s the modern game you know. If you don’t score early, if you’re not sharp enough, if you’re not creative enough. We lacked a bit of creativity today and then you can have a draw or even lose the game.

    on Petr Cech making crucial saves…
    This week, I must say our two goalkeepers had two great performances. You know, Ospina on Wednesday night and Petr Cech today and that shows you how important it is to have two top-class goalkeepers.

    on whether Arsenal missed Olivier Giroud…
    Look, we didn’t make enough from our set-pieces today and from our crosses, so of course the first thing that comes to mind is a guy with a bit more size in the box and more physical presence could have helped, yes. But we’ve just come out of six straight wins you know and we still would not like to jump on this kind of excuse. We have to deal with what we face and unfortunately we are used to scoring, we are an offensive team. We have five or six offensive players on the pitch in the end, we didn’t manage to score so it’s a bit frustrating but it’s part of the Premier League. You know, the other day Man City had a similar possession against Everton and didn’t win. We have to find a way to be efficient even when the games are like that.

    on whether Arsenal missed Santi Cazorla…
    Yeah, of course. You miss always, of course, Cazorla. At home he is from deep midfield into the final third, his pass is always quick and accurate. And, yes.

    on when Giroud and Cazorla will return…
    Cazorla – I don’t really know because we have to see how he recovers on Monday and Giroud could be in the squad on Tuesday night. We have a game on Tuesday night here, so maybe he will be available to be in the squad on Tuesday.

    Copyright 2016 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/20161022/-we-lacked-our-usual-creativity-#sRGBd4fbXLGOQWZd.99

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  19. Shotts -I was thinking about the small quote from Isaiah Berlin the other day (Im paraphrasing)–“whenever somebody starts talking about Realism or being Realist some dirty deed is always about to be done”. Smells like wob to me.
    Why is it that positivity is seen as false and negativity as “real”? In fairness though fear and despair are tough things when they consume the mind, and people really suffer and create more suffering from it.
    Odd how compassion isnt taught at schooll level, in that the we dont see the suffering off the bully, but their deeds and the suffering they inflict.
    Compassion is the hardest thing in some ways to attain and hold onto…

    Liked by 2 people

  20. So on to the EFLC game v Reading on Tuesday, I’m expecting 10 changes from today, we might see something like

    Martinez, Jenkinson, Holding, Gabriel, Gibbs, Elneny, Zelalem, Reine-Adelaide, Maitland-Niles, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Lucas

    with Giroud on the subs bench, along with Ospina, Bielik, Sheaf, McGuane, Mavadidi, C Willock

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  21. Today we were inches away from scoring into an empty net, twice, Alexis to Kos a yard out just too high, and Walcott across goal to Ozil just a fraction too fast.
    Boro had some very good chances but no open goals.
    Arsenal certainly a little off today, but it was only a matter of a few inches in the end. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, and most of us can see that it may have been better to have started xhaka in midweek, for Cazorla, seeing as granit is suspended today and next two games, but none of us know if that would have resulted in drawing in CL, or if it would have seen us win today either. But the malcontents seem certain it would have meant a win midweek, and a win today. Of course its just another thing that can not be proven either way, but they will run with it all day long anyhow.

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  22. never been so dissapointed to be top of the league, even if it only lasted a few hours.
    I know Andy will do a well balanced piece tomorrow but for now i just feel like moaning. Not really got much to moan about apart from we were a little slow today and played to centrally rather than using the width. Alexis was guilty of beating players and then turning to beat them again instead of releasing the ball. The player i’m most worried about is Nacho, he is regulary getting beating defensively, not winning balls in the air and is not getting crosses accross. He seems like he needs a rest but with games coming every couple of days it will difficult to switch for Keiran.
    At the end of the season two points dropped in these games can prove costly and we will not have much room to repeat it. However you cant help thinking in previous seasons we would have lost today so maybe I shouldn’t be so dispondant.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. a_o_b I agree that Nacho’s form is a concern, he is not near his level of last year. Gibbs could very well play himself back into the starting 11.
    Iwobi and Alexis were off the pace today, our midfield duo of coq and elneny, were a little too slow and a little too sideways with their passing,
    unavailable today –
    in defence — Mertesacker, Jenkinson
    in midfield — Cazorla, Ramsey and Xhaka
    in attack — Giroud, Welbeck, Akpom and Sanogo

    any of the 7 from midfield and attack may very well have been the missing inches we needed today. Thankfully five of the 7 are due back in the next two weeks.

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  24. liverpool 2-1 wba means we remain top, till at least after the city game tomorrow.

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  25. Disappointing, especially after recent highs, but in reality, just one of those days when they were just a little off the pace…..and clearly missed a player or two, including a brilliant Spaniard.
    As for the malcontents, they will be pleased about Liverpool, but ultimately, a bit gutted Spurs did no better than we did

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  26. we have played 9 bpl games so far and conceded 9 goals, we have kept 4 clean sheets, and overall we have played 13 games and have kept 7 clean sheets.

    in the 6 bpl games mustafi and koscielny have played together in we have conceded 4 goals, keeping 3 clean sheets. and in the 9 games they have played together we have conceded 5 goals and kept 5 clean sheets

    of course its not all down to them, as cech/ospina, and bellerin and monreal have played in nearly all of those games too.

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  27. Steve Gooner ‏@Merse10 7h7 hours ago
    Never understood the “they were lucky. Keeper had a blinder” nobody thinks teams are lucky when a striker has a blinder.

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  28. Ahmed ‏@Ahmed91Gooner 3h3 hours ago
    Arsenal played (25) league games without @19SCazorla since 2014/15:

    6 times 0-0
    40% win rate
    #NoSantiNoParty

    Liked by 2 people

  29. Interesting stats with and without Caz. Maybe the club need to get his deal extended as well, have read something to the effect he is waiting for an offer as he is near the end of his deal??
    A stupendously brilliant player, I wonder if others in the team are a bit ….almost reliant on his talents? Know Ramsey and Jack can do some similar things but Caz is a very special player

    Liked by 2 people

  30. New post up

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