64 Comments

Arsenal: Riding the Range, Poking Stoke

cylps9zxuaaxe1y

Good morning Positive Arsenal fans,

We sit astride the bolting donkey of the 2016/2017 Premier League this Sunday morning. From my view downward from the saddle I can see a few of our competitors in disarray, particularly up in Manchester. Our lead may not survive the Baggies’ efforts at the home of the Champions elect this lunchtime but it is nevertheless a pleasant marker in the season. We deserve to be where we are this morning because we play football in the right way.

The game yesterday was well worth the Category C money. The Stoke City that turned up was probably the best team that sad little Midland town has put out since their return to the PL. A very brisk start. While I dislike Arnautovic for this part on the Debuchy shoulder injury he played well as a lone striker. Why Klopp sold Allen baffles me. Stoke put together at least two first half moves of attacking football that were of good quality and but for some smart defending and our excellent keeper the one goal they scored might have even been two or three.

Of note in yesterday’s game I thought the arrival of Hector transformed our performance which, to that point had been a little hesitant and wrong footed. That is not to insult Gabriel who has filled in well in the defensive aspects of being right back but our young Spaniard’s speed and attacking threat are exceptional weapons, unique in the present time in England. Suddenly space and time opened along the left side of the visitors’ defence that had not been there before. No surprise whatsoever that it was the Hector/Theo combo that levelled the score at the perfect time.

Of the penalty ? As I was at the wrong end I had no view of it at the time. Seeing it on the box a few times since the award was one that I can see why it was made. When they go in your favour therefore the referee is a man of impeccable integrity, a sound knowledge of the game and exceptionally good eye sight. When they go against you the official  is an absolute tool, naïve beyond belief, and almost certainly in the pay of tyrannical Gulf plutocrats.

Memo to Granit: Keep you elbows a teensy-weensy bit lower ‘cos next time it may not be just a penalty that results.

However, having encountered what is becoming a familiar obstacle of the one goal deficit, we displayed a commendable certainty in taking hold of the game over the next thirteen minutes before the equalizer. As I said Hector was an important part of breaking into the Stoke defence, Alexis was his usual pinball self and Ozil, after a quiet start, made space for himself to work in which, before half time he just could not find.

Of our second and third goals both demonstrated the intelligence of the scorers. Ozil’s was a perfectly judged finish to a chance that most other players would have struggled to know what to do with. The German’s instincts made his choice of the placed header over the stranded Grant look simple. It really was ot simple at all.

And what an end to the week for Alex Iwobi ?? Saw the opening, chose his spot, lovely finish. Last two times the youngster was in the stadium his evenings finished in defeat by the Saints, and the game before that an own goal and his immediate substitution against the dastardly PSG. Last night the hero.

For once I was much obliged to Sky last night for spotting the stamp by Adam on Sanchez in the lead up to Iwobi’s goal. Fucking ridiculous behaviour, again, from the Scotsman. I had not seen Adams’ violence mentioned before so hopefully, having been alerted, the offence can be properly looked at and action taken.

For those of us with leisure to burn this Sunday a day of TV or streamed football stretches out, for those of you working and studying may your industry be rewarded.

Opening picture by an excellent NI photographer Paul Moane @paulmoane

img_2551

Comment navigation

← Older Comments

64 comments on “Arsenal: Riding the Range, Poking Stoke

  1. Spot on Andy, “the intelligence of the scorers” is a really astute observation. Arsène does like thinkers on the pitch doesn’t he?

    Liked by 9 people

  2. I didn’t think it was penalty kick. But having seen it about 20 times now, it was. The high elbow (even if accidental) was a foul.
    If Adam doesn’t get a retrospective ban, there is something seriously wrong with the system.
    Nice review, again Andy.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. He does Stew, a player who can think one stage ahead, who has a three dimensional game “picture” in his head that the artisan’s in the footballing trade do not. They may be wired differently.

    I suspect if the Ozils and Sanchezes of the football world were tested* that they would have far above average spatial awareness.

    * Robbie Savage and his entirely empty head need to apply

    Liked by 4 people

  4. The old fart’s thoughts.
    What a pleasant surprise…a Stoke side wanting to play football in preference to playing gladiators. OK let’s leave Charlie Adam out of that; they should field him with a net and dagger (Retiaritus for those of you up to date with Roman linguistics).
    Not so pleasant was our conceding three corners in as many minutes and some signs of discomfort. A situation that was not improved when Shkodran had to go off injured (Hector coming on and Gabriel moving inside) shortly followed by a penalty awarded against Granit which was converted by the loathsome Adam. This was a strange penalty award with to my mind, no rhyme nor reason. If a deliberate and dangerous foul, then surely a card…maybe even red, should have followed? If not deliberate, then no penalty. I wonder what was going through Mason’s shiny turnip at the time?
    Losing to Stoke at home is unthinkable but for most of the half, promising attacks broke down until some lovely interplay between Alexis and Hector whose first time cross was met by Theo at the near post. A fine goal which saw us level at half time.
    We were revving up nicely and shortly after the start of the half, Ox with an astute cross to Oz and a very special, and rare, cushioned header from Oz put us into the lead. This led to the introduction of Peter Crouch whose very first touch brought a good save from Petr. Fortunately that was the last major threat from Crouch and Mason did very well to play the advantage when Adam brought down Alexis and young Alex took the chance to go on and neatly side footed our third.
    So 12 goals in our last three games. Here’s to continuing that average at Goodison on Tuesday. Keep the faith

    Liked by 7 people

  5. Foul in the build up to the pen shout, Arnautovic on Koscielny with a two handed push in his back was far more obvious then the pen call, I’m guessing that’s why the north bank were irate with that call.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Great review Andy,
    Unfortunately this was another game heavily influenced by a poor ref. While were all salavating over the ARSENAL performance this deflects just how bad the ref was.
    He at points really didnt know what he was doing and both sets of players and the crowd were just as confused. If we really have the best refs in the world then the sooner technology takes over the better, this was a truely awful performance.
    The fact we came out on top against a good side, a major injury early on, going 1-0 down and such a poor ref suggest this side will always find a way. This was probably a bigger performance than we realised at the time.

    Liked by 7 people

  7. Since when did a foul have to be deliberate?

    Liked by 2 people

  8. The pass from chamberlain to Özil was my highlight of the match. Perfect!

    The slip from Alexis moments before distracted the defenders far more then the reasons given by the MOTD plundits creating the space for Özil to run into, more then any other errors.

    Simply a poor assessment of play by the MOTD experts, in their efforts to discredit the arsenal and the goal the very petty plundits called out the Stoke forward player filling in at LB for the Özil goal, yet surely the simple mind not skewered by the editor’s brief would have asked: “should both the CBs have been stepping up to chase a prone Alexis when Özil is running in behind them?” *scratches chin*

    Liked by 5 people

  9. Stoke defenders being scared of and wanting to foul and stamp on Alexis directly led to two Arsenal goals!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Three if we count the switching in position for the first as Alexis drops deeps and Walcott runs into the box…

    Like

  11. You wonder whether Adam might not have used the half second he wasted stamping on the Chilean to try to get after Iwobi instead.

    Pure spite on his part meant he lost any opportunity he might have had to stop the killer third goal.

    Idiocy on his part and we shall see what the referee’s report says

    Liked by 6 people

  12. If Mason was being consistent then perhaps he thought that Adam was favourite to clear the ball after that foul on Alexis & that is why the advantage was played!

    I wouldn’t like to make that conclusion but I do recall that Mason has managed to turn the crowd against him on numerous other visits, if you have the better part of sixty thousand people calling you out year after year then perhaps there is some validity to the criticism.

    Liked by 3 people

  13. A5 is a man of infinite intellectual generosity. Giving Mason the benefit of the doubt is an act of immense charity. If we grant that the penalty was a 50:50 call, how then do you explain some of the other questionable decisions against AFC. That phamtom yellow card for Koscielny vs Arnautovic in the first half was the most blatant act of bias and incompetence in my opinion. How does this guy get PL games to ref?

    Liked by 4 people

  14. Thanks Andy, and stew for yesterday.
    Very good point about players intelligence on the pitch.
    Managers like Wenger and Klopp encourage ceative individual thinking and assements of the game by the players on the pitch as it develops. The likes of Jose and Pep hate that, as it isn’t in their rigid pre-game plans.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Shotta,
    You’ve answered your own question.

    Liked by 4 people

  16. I cannot decide what I want out of today’s battle of the loathsome. A draw is a good result for both Spurs and Mourinho, a defeat for either means a win for the other. It’s lose lose lose as far as I can see.

    Liked by 4 people

  17. The referee performance was diabolical e.g. he gives a dropped ball which gave a 50/50 chance to either team then when Arsenal win the ball and go on the attack he calls it back and orders the Arsenal player to pass the ball back to the Stoke goal keeper? Obviously his directions to the players were not clear in the first place otherwise that would not have happened, or did he change his mind once Stoke did not win the 50/50 ball, which was in our half? Also, how many times did he get in the way of play? An experienced referee should know where to stand on the pitch so as not to interfere with play. Worst of all was when Stoke messed up a free kick, and Arsenal won the ball back, he gave them a second bite at the cherry, which again was in our half of the pitch. I seriously question his competence and despite years of experience he gets worse rather than better.

    Liked by 5 people

  18. Do you mean the foul was “phantom” Shotta or the yellow card ?

    As far as I recall the game yesterday had no cards at all – an almost unique event but other than Adam’s little contribution it was a clean game.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. A phantom yellow card I meant A5. It was a routine foul, nothing malicious. Trust Mason to put our defensive anchor under early pressure.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. I have no idea what was going on with the drop ball either pass and nor did anyone else including Mason – I can’t remember the last time I saw a real drop ball with two players trying to win it and not holding back. Not this century anyway . Might be another anachronism to dispose of and just let the official give whichever side should have the advantage the ball in their half ?

    Liked by 4 people

  21. A5: Correction made.

    Like

  22. Super match report. Thank you.

    I was fuming at the penalty. As has been said, if it was for the elbow then it is dangerous play and at least a yellow card, in most cases a red. As such Mason must have given it for a trip – it wasn’t, Xhaka got the ball.

    Also, Allen went into the challenge at Xhaka’s elbow level, Xhaka did not change his body shape to hit Allen. Allen dived into Granit’s elbow.

    IMO Mason had a shocker but what is more shocking is that I expected something different.

    Liked by 6 people

  23. I wonder if there is any chance of a West Bromwich miracle today. At the moment Chelsea seem to have an extra player in every position.

    Like

  24. Just learned the Russian for deflection is ricochet with the ‘t’ pronounced at the end.

    Liked by 2 people

  25. So you’re not with Wenger on the pen? I can see a pen in there, albeit an unusual one.

    He lost the ball, Xhaka had his body in front; Allen kept going forward, Xhaka made a fairly typical shielding movement, but swung his arm with too much force.

    But it still makes 3 pens in 3 home games, all of them the result of opposition players running into our defenders. I expect Ferguson averaged about 1 home pen against a year once he was established.

    Anyway, team dealt brilliantly with adversity. Xhaka and Coquelin leapt out for me; one for excellent passes, the other for his wonderful clean work intercepting and breaking up play.

    I got the impression we have adapted about as well as possible to the asymmetric warfare of being buffeted, pushed and clipped on almost countless occasions (40? 50? 100?) while knowing if we do the same it’s very likely the opposition will fall over and take a free kick. For instance, the (just about) fair shoulder to shoulder initiated by Allen before the good Arnautovic chance; we can’t really risk that challenge ourselves, certainly not in the box.

    So we have to adapt to it, following Coquelin’s lead by being pin sharp and clean; while in our attacking play, the passing has to be excellent, with invention, speed, cleverness and top level technique. All that was there yesterday. The deep squad this year is surely helping a lot.

    Now, a fun bet. As a top team, with experienced, high class defenders, a plethora of fine offensive players and an attacking approach which sees us spend far more time in the opposition box than the reverse, what would you guess the pen count for us will be between now and the end of the season or the point at which our title challenge ends?

    Even given the randomness of the sport, the natural limitations and imperfections of human judgement,etc, the odds should highly favour us getting at least a few more pens than the opposition. My bet is 2 for us 4 against, with the caveat that it’s unlikely we’ll get one against top opposition (think 2006 was our last against clean old Chelsea) or while a game is live (i.e when we’re not already well on the way to victory or defeat).

    Place your bets.

    Liked by 4 people

  26. Not a gambling man Rich, especially when the odds are so stacked!

    Liked by 4 people

  27. What I am enjoying most about this season is the excellence of our attacking play. Sometimes it is breathtaking; the pace, accuracy, running off the ball. There is no other club in England who are anywhere close to our level.

    Less pleasing is the amount of times an attacker has space in our box. Stoke created a number of good chances and let’s be honest, if Cavani could finish we would have lost both games against PSG.

    There is work to be done.

    Liked by 4 people

  28. I’m glad you guys were confused by that drop ball. I have never seen anything like that and had no idea what Mason was doing. I thought it was just me. Also, I counted at least three times during open play where Mason actually made contact with the ball. That’s not to mention the number of times he was in the way of play. Even if the penalty decision is arguable (FWIW I thought it was a penalty on its own, but worse fouls were not called all over the pitch) he was really bad.

    Liked by 5 people

  29. Thanks for the write up on a game I’ve not yet seen in full.

    I think it’s a significant win against a ref of dubious integrity and a side capable of causing problems for most opponents. Coming back from 0-1 down is never easy yet, dare I suggest the end result, from the way the attack has been working in recent games, wasn’t ever truly in doubt?

    Today’s games have the hallmarks of the most entertaining banana skins written all over them. Chelsea ‘should’ win but WBA currently making them work hard for it (still 0-0 after an hour). Another draw for the Spuds and another two points dropped for Jose’s sparkling side would be a most welcome outcome mid-afternoon.

    A lot of talk of Chelsea getting a points deduction as a punishment for repeated failure to control their team. The irony here is the bulk of the misbehaviour happened (I think) under a team still very much under Jose’s influence.

    Either way, a fun afternoon beckons.

    Liked by 4 people

  30. A moment of suicidal defending hands Costa a chance he was never going to miss.

    Like

  31. Yep Stew, gutting that bit of defending. Was think West Brom might hold on for a point.

    Nice review Andy.

    Liked by 1 person

  32. so with chelsea winning surely that makes the man u v spurs game a must win for either side, cos as things stand spurs are 10pts off top, and man u are a massive 16pts, which is more than 5 wins.

    Like

  33. Do they test managers for drug use ?

    A welcome win for Chelsea manager I am sure but the man seems a bit chemically enhanced.

    Liked by 3 people

  34. That’s the second soothing bubble bath I’ve had in five days…..

    Lovely pre- and post- write up Steww and Anicoll….

    Liked by 1 person

  35. What do you guys think of this new ref, Bobby Maddley (sp)? Looks calm and consistent with his decisions.

    Liked by 2 people

  36. Players chucking themselves to the floor like suicidal skittles in a bowling alley.

    Liked by 2 people

  37. One thing I do agree with Andy Nic about is the diving, falling to the floor at the slightest contact is every bit as pernicious as poor refereeing. Lots of examples at the Old Toilet

    Liked by 3 people

  38. I think both problems are often connected and could be solved at a stroke with a video referee.

    Liked by 4 people

  39. And when they finally do sort out the video referee that will only leave the foul mouthed tirades of the likes of Rooney directed at referees to be sorted out.

    (Actually the FA and PL could sort it out in about three weeks)

    Liked by 2 people

  40. Good stuff A5.

    Danny Fkng Rose, eh…

    Liked by 1 person

  41. Hope I am still alive to enjoy the video ref. An end to the cheating of Rooney, Hazard etc

    Liked by 3 people

  42. The corrupt Blatter and Platini were the main obstacles to the introduction of technology into football; now they are gone it won’t take long for this wonderful development to be applied to the game.

    Everyone wants it, including the refs but all those players that have spent years perfecting their dives will need to have a good look at themselves.

    I love the use of tech in other sports and I’m really looking forward to the excitement it will bring to football. Teams set up to play the beautiful game will undoubtedly benefit the most and it will be beautiful.

    Liked by 1 person

  43. Cannot wait for the introduction of technology to help the refs, we should not be lagging behind other major sports being played at the higher levels.
    danny rose going down like that…Can guess what would have most likely happened at the Emirates at the moment.
    As for the recent penalties awarded against us, we can debate them all, but as it stands, think it is only struggling Hull who have conceded more pens than us in the league this season….a strange state of affairs with our fairly clean, and top quality defenders.
    Just cannot see the likes of Verthongen , Rose , Dier, Walker conceding pens for the same offences our boys are being punished for…..may be wrong, but just cannot see it

    Liked by 5 people

  44. Shame West Brom couldn’t hold out, and a Mourinho win…..well, but then again, there is today’s opponents, but all in all, not the worst of weekends results wise

    Like

  45. not a bad weekend of results

    Arsenal win

    liverpool draw

    man city lose

    spurs lose

    AFC are 3pts behind cfc, but 3pts ahead of lfc, 4pts ahead of mcfc, 7pts ahead of spurs and 10pts ahead of man u.

    two tough looking games in the next week, everton away and man city away.

    Like

  46. so a busy couple of days coming up for us gooners

    tomorrow we await the CL draw, and also our u23’s are away to liverpool u23’s, a game that is likely to be available on stream. Then on Tuesday the first team is away to Everton.

    Like

  47. in the summer we were told by the malcontents and some of the pundits, pundits pundits(see what I did there) that oxlade-chamberlain should be sold, early season we were told he had no end product, now he is having his best ever season stat wise(goals and assists), and we are being told he needs to play more, this despite him playing in the most number of games of any arsenal player, bar alexis who also has played in 21, so now we are being told he needs to start more games, but he has started the last 3 bpl games in a row, so we are being told he should not be subbed off, or at least not so early, even though this conflicts with two of their favorite soundbites – wenger don’t do subs early enough, – and – wenger don’t often enough take off our explosive players who need rest,

    Liked by 2 people

  48. a different angle of the Randolf error at Anfield today

    Like

  49. Arsenal FC ‏@FFArsenal 22h22 hours ago
    Mark Hughes came to the Emirates with 5 different clubs.. played 10, lost 10. Twat.

    Like

Comment navigation

← Older Comments

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: