37 Comments

Arsenal – It rhymes with Optimum

cwnz9gmwgaayioeGood morning Positives,

I don’t think any of us were surprised by the result last night as we had been, and were again in Sofia, a better equipped football team than the Bulgarian champions. We acknowledged Ludogorets had some talent and, at home, would probably be a more difficult prospect to beat. However we expected to win, we expected to go through into the last 16, again.

Equally I doubt any of us expected to win in the way we did, fighting back after an opening fifteen minutes in which the hosts shocked us twice. I have checked the script and there was no reference whatsoever to falling behind by two goals, then having to clamber back into the game.

Of the game itself Arsene clearly decided that a decisive step toward qualification was required and started with the strongest 11 available, bar Cech. As matters turned out his caution was well placed as the opening few minutes of the contest was wide open, Sanchez spinning and cutting through the greenshirts, with the Bulgars again raiding fast and wide as they had in London. The first goal conceded was a cock up, from the strange decision by the referee to award a handball, to some static defending by Kosc and Mustafi, a scuffed clump by Cafu (or possibly an own goal by Jenks but we will ignore that) before bobbling past a flat footed Ospina. It was not a classic. Shit happens, but shit has consequences. Sparked by that gift the home side raced forward again, the irritating Cafu turned Kieran inside out, and bingo – 2-0. The second Ludogorets goal was rather good I thought.

Just for Eddy I have retrieved the offending picture from the DT site;

img_2431

Were we unhorsed ? Did we panic – Was it Zagreb Part II ?

Not in the least. A commendable mental strength showed itself following the double setback. We immediately regained control of the ball, worked hard, tackled cleanly and pressed the home side back, creating space and chances around their penalty area. I sensed our lads had given themselves a collective slap and woken up properly. They stood a little taller and straighter. Two well taken goals from Xhaka and Olivier arrived as the result of our dominance. By half time we looked set for the victory and a further two or three goals.

And as I anticipated the second half of one way traffic and the game effectively over by the 70th minute or thereabouts exactly the opposite happened. The men in green, who did not appear to have a clue about defending in the preceding three halves of football, came out in two banks of four and frustrated our attacking efforts. Larry laboured hard, but on scraps. We seemed suddenly tired, listless, out of ideas.

On the break they menaced us and after a first half in which our keeper had almost nothing to do, Ospina was called onto make two saves from Wanderson that on another night would have left us stuffed and 4-2 down. In contrast to the first half it was Borjan in the home goal who had his feet up. Not only did the Bulgars play far more organised and intelligent football in the second half, they also flung themselves on the turf squealing every time they were touched, although on a couple of occasions Granit’s ‘touches’ might well have been grounds for the yellow card that he eventually earned. By 80th minute the game was at stalemate, with Ludogorets content to take a well earned point.

And then, out of the blue, a quick, long pass by Elneny, released Ozil. Our German drove straight toward the goal, scoped the ball over the advancing Borjan, left two defenders on their arse ( see above), and tapped in our winner, our saving moment, our vindication. IT IS WHAT WE DO!

That the game as decided by an exquisite goal from the most talented footballer on the pitch was appropriate.

What an odd referee, very good at times, but a unique view of what constitutes handball with decisions given against both sides on the slightest manual contact. I shall keep an eye on Mr Nijhuis.

On we go then, Europe settle for three weeks – Tottingham next and a very different challenge.

Enjoy your Wednesday.

 

About anicoll5

Arsenal supporter, 58, Dad, harmless and humourless, political militant moderate, school governor and worker bee

37 comments on “Arsenal – It rhymes with Optimum

  1. The old fart’s thoughts:
    2-0 down and 3-2 up; doo-dah, doo-dah! Not the first time we’ve done that in the CL , Belgium’s Standard Liege got an even faster start with 2 within five minutes, but this game was far more fun.
    For the neutral, the first half was great with both sides playing well; for Gooner fans an “oh no, not again,” at 20 minutes followed by relief at half time and for Ludogorets fans, vice versa.
    Our start to say the least, was odd. An almost complete reversal of the home game where they had the possession but we had the goals. Within the first few minutes we’d made chances and looked good for a repeat. Then a very dodgy free kick awarded followed by some non defending put us one down. Worse to follow as some really good wing play which would have left most defenders helpless, saw the resultant cross easily tapped home.
    That didn’t do our clean sheet record any favours.
    Then strike back. Good team work put Oz through and his cross swept in by Granit. That definitely lifted the spirits but we had to wait a bit for the equalizer which came from a great cross by Rambo which Olly bravely nodded home. That was a real pleasure.

    So all square at half time but I suspect a combination of rust and tiredness kept us from breaking loose. Indeed it took good keeping from Oosp to keep Ludogorets away from a third. That would have been painful. But at last, a goal of some beauty, nay great beauty. Olly on the defence and breaking down an attack, passing to Mo Elneny who sliced open their defence with a great pass to Oz. For a moment, I feared an offside flag which would really have pissed us off as what followed was the genius at his very best. Lobbing the keeper and regaining control isn’t easy. To then leave two defenders on their backsides before tapping the ball home takes almost supernatural talent. Could well be goal of the season. Happiness is.
    Now for them up the road. About time we gave them another real thumping. Keep the faith.

    Liked by 5 people

  2. We undoubtedly saw the game game Ian – some good performances in midfield from Le Coq and Xhaka and the spark/energy that Elneny and the Ox gave us in those final few minutes were probably crucial. Ramsey did well I thought although it looked like his first game back.

    Our defence was a bit shakey last night. I thought again we did not really get to grips with their attacks down the wing and as we pressed forward in the second half there was lot of space for the Bulgars to run into.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Decent victory last night with a top class goal. But my worry is on Alexis Sanchez who has been a target for our opponents, amazing how they get away with several malicious tackles against him. I fear the worst soon.
    What do we think of Tottenham anyway? COYG

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I missed most of the 2nd half so A5’s report is very helpful as I wasn’t aware we struggled that much but I got back in time to see the last 15 minutes and that out of the world goal by Ozil.
    Very perceptive of A5 to advise us to “keep an eye on Mr Nijhuis”. He is the kind of ref that gets fast-tracked to somehow “blunder” into victimizing any upstart who may have ideas of breaking the Bayern, Barca, Real Mad champions league cartel.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. A lot of what Nijhuis did last night was good. I praised the Bulgarians in the first leg for their sportsmanlike behaviour but last night then went to ground far too easily. To his credit several times he told then to get up and get on with the game. The cheating made it more difficult for him to decide what was legitimate and what was acting for both sides. Sanchez was unlucky not to get more protection, Granit was lucky not to collect two yellow cards.

    One man who was quiet as far as the referee was concerned last night was Giroud. Hmmmm.

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  6. Thank you Andy. It was a useful match – beyond just the result. To see Aaron and Olivier get the game time they need to help get them back up to scratch without their ring rustiness hurting us was a big plus. Though I have to say our centre forward looks pretty darned sharp to me already.
    The defence looked at times like we had three of our regular five starters missing. That was as expected. One full back has been out injured for years and the other has been warming the subs bench. Everyone playing with a keeper behind them who has only started a couple of games. You don’t expect that defence to purr but to cough up the odd fur ball.
    But this was a game which will be remembered for Mesut’s genius.

    Liked by 8 people

  7. A rusty ring is hard to shake off.

    Liked by 4 people

  8. Yes, great summary on a tricky match to surmise.

    None of football’s usual cliches quite ‘cut the mustard’ – it wasn’t a game of two halves, the referee wasn’t obviously biased or even universally dreadful. None of the Arsenal players were poor although Aaron will have benefited from the run-out as will have Granit.

    One player in particular lit up the night with a goal of the season contender that will be replayed much like Jack’s was from a couple of seasons back. Which was nice, in a Berkampesque kind of way. Oh yes, Ozil, I’m looking at you.

    I do think the Bulgarians are a much better side than people have assumed and certainly AW took zero chances with his line-up last night (much to the mystification of numerous armchair types). By that logic, to recover from 2-0 down away from home in a chilly athletics stadium on a Tuesday night was actually some achievement. Certainly a draw looked nailed on to me from around 70 minutes. Hadn’t reckoned on Mesut messing with the defence, defying offside and ending 3 careers in one twisty-turny slalom of a goal. Marvellous, wasn’t it, talking of cliches? Rather.

    Spuds have a challenging night ahead of them now on the vast plains of Wembley and it will be interesting to see how many of them re-adopt their England form in familiar surroundings. We have an extra recovery day, partially negated by the need to fly home of course.

    This weekend’s game already has the hallmark of one of the games of the season; I think the tenacity in breaking back to 2-3 last night augers very well indeed and let nobody underestimate the burden the team faced with it being 1st November and all!

    Interesting month coming up but what a great way to start it.

    Liked by 5 people

  9. Thank you A5. That amazing goal from Özil trumps everything that gave us pause for thought leading up to it.

    I like to live moment and that’s why I’ll still smirk about that worldy goal. Leaving the worry about our game against our unwashed neighbours for another day.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. To Abbas 9.15
    Wasn’t that the question that got Jack Wilshere into all sorts of trouble?

    Liked by 3 people

  11. To gf60.

    Haha. Yes. But that was a farce. What do we think of Tottenham is more like what are we having for dinner. Lol

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  12. ArsenalAndrew – Thank you for articulating the Bergkamp comparison, which is I’m sure what we must all have been thinking. Sheer beauty.

    Liked by 4 people

  13. I wouldn’t eat **** for dinner
    And I wouldn’t touch a bundle of diving fouling pgMOB patsies or pasties either!

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  14. Living in an Özil wonderland today

    Liked by 3 people

  15. Another quality review A5.
    Once again I have to disagree about the ref, who I thought was woeful. The pace of the second half was dictated by the ref who seemed like a 13 year at caister soul weekend constantly blowing his whistle. Maybe Shotts can do a post on the amount of minutes actually played in games as I can’t imagine it was more than about 10 in the second half such was the amount of stoppages. Obviously finding your rhythm under such circumstances is difficult and I believe that’s why we struggled to impose ourselves more than good defensive work by the Bulgarians.
    I actually thought Mustafi was most at fault for both goals if you have to blame individuals although it’s probably more info collective. Whatever we need to be tighter Saturday given that the spuds are living up to their Jewish generalisation nickname at the moment.
    Having said that there is so much to be positive about our play at the moment we can only look forward with good feelings about Saturday no matter how nervous we may become as supporters.

    Liked by 3 people

  16. “13 year old at Caister soul weekend constantly blowing his whistle” (banned smiley)

    Last time we had Nijhuis was against Olympiakos at the Ems. Can’t say I remember him that night although I missed most of the game fighting on Twitter.

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  17. Leave office at 1945. Turn on car radio to discover game has already started. Drive to Coop to buy milk and bread for the morning, while listening to a bright positive start. Buy milk, bread, yogurt and eggs (sorry Stew). Turn on radio again to hear commentator dissecting second ludicrouset goal. Turn off radio in despair, Drive to kids school to pick them up from play rehearsal. Turn on radio again after self-admonishment for being no better than fans who leave ground early to hear commentator complaining that the ball was out before Ozil cut it back for Xhaka. Reach school. Turn off radio. Find one child, but not the other. Eventually locate son kicking football against playground wall. Return to car to find daughter has commandeered radio and now listening to 95.8FM. Calculate not worth risking night-long sulk for sake of five minutes. Still 2-1 down when I get home to turn on TV, but immediately see outstanding cross from Ramsey attacked fearlessly by Giroud to level the scores. Not altogether surprised to hear commentator (who’d obviously been to same Arsenal-are-shit school as radio colleague) conclude it was a soft goal as goalkeeper badly at fault. Breath sigh of relief at half-time whistle and make mug of Roibos tea. Settle down to enjoy second half, except it wasn’t at all enjoyable as heart in mouth for most of it. Wonder why such an obsessive compulsion should be so painful. Find no answer so keep watching. Call the ref a rude word a couple of times. Well, several tbh. Tell Arsene to take off Jenkinson. Wonder why everyone keeps going on about Alexis when he is clearly useless. Think we would be better off without him and smile to myself how this proves someone’s recent assertion that we see things though our own biased lens. Get totally outraged when TV pundit criticises Alexis. Consider cancelling TV subscription. Think we might scrape a Desmond. Calculate that this might not matter if we beat PSG at home. Then realise they will score late goal. Get irritated at daughter for coming into room to ask question. Hate everything.

    Consider vasectomy reversal so Ozil can have my children. Or me his. Whichever way round it should be.

    One way or another a living Frankie Valli lyric.

    Liked by 8 people

  18. With love to all who write for this outstanding blog, and great appreciation for today’s offering by A5:
    That, FH, was the funniest/best match report I have ever read. Multiple smileys/laughing emojis would be attached here, were it permitted.

    Liked by 5 people

  19. The reactions,decisions and body language of many individuals in the team during uncomfortable situations has been the most encouraging for me this season in my attempt to determine whether this team has what it takes to be a formidable one.
    Using Mustafi as a reference point. He doesn’t let any mistake or wrong application get into his head ;he appears to continue as if he were starting the match all over. Walcott also is another who has imbibed this mental approach. Chamberlain seems to be trying it out but needs to be more calm and play his football ,instead if getting itchy and clumsy. Ramsey has always had that attribute,albeit to a fault ,seemingly unaware of how his daring,sometimes loose and risky play affects the balance and flow of the team – I suppose he’ll be better this season as he is foot ballistically a year older having marked that with a brilliant performance at the Euros.
    Efficiency in attack and solidity at the back should be the mantra around the training ground now if we are to keep up or improve on the stats performances have produced this season.
    I believe we can .That’s all I can do really.

    Liked by 3 people

  20. Jesus H Christ, Alexis has two world cup qualifiers in 5 days to look forward to on his trip home in November.

    Liked by 3 people

  21. What a nice day!

    Now, what is Stew hammering away on his typewriter? Therer was a nice article about Bristol Rovers in the Guardian yesterday. It appears that the Rovers were a yo-yo club, in and out of the Football League. Sad to say, Exeter and Shrewsbury, are yo-yo clubs.

    It would seem, that some Arsenal “fans” would fancy Arsenal as a yo-yo club, in and out of the Football League. Now, what is the subject of Stew’s “mea culpa”?

    Cpl Jenkinson, is an attacking fullback. Ditto Gibbs, I still shudder at the slip against ManurE e, so long ago. The Arsenal, even bought flags for the fans to wave, at that game. Poor Gibbs, he has never recovered from that “slip”.

    Now, what can be the subject of Stew’s novel. Can he make his millions, with the film rights and royalties, for Stew’s forthcoming “opus”?

    El Periodico, has a piece about Sanchez, 983.443 euros durante los años 2012 y 2013,
    Numidia Trading, avoiding tax in those years. Just like Messi, Mascherano , Etoo et al. I wonder if Stew, will make that with his novel.

    Thank you A5, or is 2-3?

    I have managed not to mention that GOAL!!!

    Mesut Özil , ‘from a different planet’

    Liked by 4 people

  22. Jan Aage FjortoftVerified account@JanAageFjortoft
    Aubameyang NOT in Dortmund-squad!!!!! His match-shirt was ready in the dressing-room, but because of “internal affairs” no Aubameyang now

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  23. SlovenianGooner ‏@slovenianGooner 11h11 hours ago
    41 goals in 16 games this season compared to 28 in 16 in the last. Avg goal ratio risen from 1.75 to 2.56. Massive change.

    Like

  24. Dembele has limped off for Spurs.

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  25. It is not a classic at Wembley to say the least – is Wanyama a donkey or am I prejudiced ?

    Liked by 2 people

  26. Pre-juiced?
    A little straightener.
    Leverkusen are certainly making the lily whites work hard, the pitch is a bog thanks to the NFL game.
    Spurs have a lot of rugby league players out there pretending to be footballers.

    Hernandez should have scored.

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  27. Irish tv calling out Spurs for what they are.
    Chickens on a basketball.

    Liked by 1 person

  28. new post up

    Like

  29. The probable group winners, based on 4 games out of 6
    Arsenal
    Barcelona
    Leicester
    Monaco
    Real Madrid
    Juventus
    Athletico
    Napoli
    Likely runners up
    City
    PSG
    Tottenham
    Benfica
    Bayern Munich
    Dortmund
    Copenhagen
    Sevilla

    You all know the drill, brush up on your tourist German.

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  30. dc you may find dortmund are top of their group, with real second, also spurs currently third in their group

    Liked by 1 person

  31. also dc, seville are top of their group with juve second

    Liked by 1 person

  32. Osman ‏@OsmanZtheGooner 10m10 minutes ago
    Madrid, Bayern & Juve all second with 2 games to play. Imagine we get 1st and draw them in R16. Will be hilarious

    Liked by 1 person

  33. Kevin Campbell scores against Tottenham?
    That’s a good omen for me.

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  34. Arsenal and Arsène have been swaying their bollix off for 20. Years to establish themselves in the top ten in Europe on a regular basis.
    Any look at UEFA’s coefficient table in recent years emphatically proves that our club has been one on the highest rated and consistant club up there with the best of them.
    Bear in mind (bare?) that 6 of 7 seven seats at that top ten table are permanently reserved for the proper big boys, all of who have piss early leaves not to worry about, and run as PG rightly and clearly says we have to squabble in the ‘best darned skill technically less league in the world’ tm
    There is no shame to behind the line of:
    Madrid, Barca, Bayern. We have on occasion beaten these bastards.
    I’d say we are equals of Dortmund, Juventus, Atletico, PSG. On the football pitch at least.
    Chelsea’s rouble fuled ride into the upper reaches of the coefficient table will soon drop like a stone thanks to the Specialist. And despite winning the thing once or twice the pair of. Lancastrian clubs the BBC so dearly love are well down the guest list from the top table clubs in Europe.
    How Benfica stay at the top level constantly is an utter mystery.

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  35. Eddy
    I wrote that bit up before tonight’s results came in.
    The powers in charge here kindly moved it forward from the previous session.
    The annoying thing about the R16 draw is that because teams from the same country can’t play each other – that leaves mostly the successful German and Spanish teams as the most likely opponents for English clubs.
    Hence our club’s more than close relationship in recent years with Barca, Bayern and even Dortmund. Same old same old.

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  36. The year Arsenal made a breakthrough to get up to 8th and hence a top seeding in the draw – UEFA go and change the rules to let the Russians, Belgians and Portuguese league winners in ahead of us.
    Sheesh.

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