Arsenal : the Art of Execution

eu-vote-bullfightingGood morning Positives,

And a fine morning again in Norfolk, and a Bank holiday to boot – a rare combination.

A top game yesterday that had me on the edge of the technical area until the 94th minute. A commendable performance from our lads, one and all. No hint of any panic or fright as we played smooth, patient football all afternoon, always on the front foot, passing, passing, passing and gradually driving the Baggies back. I heard/read some frustration that we were “passing too much” and had “too much possession”. I am afraid that to finally crack open the visiting side yesterday that the game we played was required, totally dominant in possession, pass after pass after pass, before finally putting them to the sword. The bullfighting metaphor struck me as apt. Mesut the torero with the cape and hook, Olivier with the sword as matador, the panting beast stumbled to its knees before its lights, finally, went out.

As I say I was pleased with all our players yesterday. Because WBA were not remotely interested in attacking from open play the pitch was open for our unrestricted use. All three of our full backs had excellent games. Hector put in his most attacking performance that I can remember, very effective and deserving of a goal. Gibbs was excellent and his constant pressing on the wing worked well with Sanchez, and Monreal stepped in to keep the pressure on the by then wilting visitors.

Further forward the Coq and Granit combination worked well against the Albion midfield. Both players have bags of energy and are fast over the ground which is about 90% of midfield work in the PL nowadays. Win the ball, then pass it swiftly to the players who don’t waste it. Granit – the shooting from 25 yards son – leave it for now eh?

And finally the men at the tip of the spear, Alexis and Larry, both of whom carved chances out against Albion that on another day, and with a keeper less awake than Ben Foster, would have brought a 2 or 3 goal margin of victory rather than the single goal win.

Against us was arrayed a visiting side who played their part exceptionally well also, resolute defenders to the death, throwing their bodies and heads in until finally they were skewered. Pulis did what he does best, scrape a gang of modestly talented journeymen into a defensive wall of greater quality than its constituent parts. Tony knows when he is beaten at his own game though. To quote the defeated manager on our winner;

“He put his hand across him early and outmuscled him,” said the West Brom manager, Tony Pulis, almost in admiration. “I think if Gareth takes a step forward, then he stops Giroud pinning him. Once he pinned him he is so strong and overpowers him. I’ve got no complaints.”

A defeated manager with “no complaints” Pffft –As flies to wanton boys are we to th’ gods. They kill us for their sport.

Of other aspects of the game ? Bad luck for young Kieran to go off after a clash in which both players could have been seriously injured. Hopefully for our full back he just has a badly bruised knee and will be fit for Palace. No gripes with referee Swarbrick yesterday. Not one of my favourite whistlers but a workmanlike performance with no errors I saw. One minor negative; Giroud needs to control the ‘dissent’ business. A pointless yellow card that early and you are one clumsy challenge or stray arm away from reducing us to ten men. And that would have ruined everyone’s afternoon!

That is me for this year – thank you for reading !


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91 comments on “Arsenal : the Art of Execution

  1. The old fart’s thoughts
    Inspired goalkeeping behind a packed defence is a formula that most of us have seen far too frequently. Other than giving our back line a day off serious work, it’s not designed to keep away frustration. The relief of Olly’s header from Oz’s cross was something else. Another 1-0 to the Arsenal but who cares?
    I did find myself thinking of days of Mark Ovemars and Anders Limpar, let alone Bobby which to my mind seems to be an element missing when meeting up with the park the bus sides.
    As always, Alexis was an ever threatening item, he deserved a goal rather than the near miss against the post and Hector should have done a lot better with a free header that he sent wide but for all the rest there was Foster.
    Next up Palace and Fat Sam making a surprise return. More of the same I suspect but we shall keep the faith!

    Liked by 4 people

  2. And thank you for writing.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Splendid review Andrew – all the more so as I’ve yet to see the game – capping off a great year’s PA service of quality and consistency. Thank you. More of the same in 2017 please!

    Welcome result yesterday, and as I think Eddy pointed out in comments, just about all of the walking wounded close to rejoining us, or not too far off.

    Significance of that?

    Well, how often in previous seasons have the injured reappeared too late for meaningful battle – in February or March?

    Have we just had our dip nice and early and got it out of the way?

    Time will tell, time will tell.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. The opposition set out the problem Ian – we have to find the solution. The solution yesterday was a combination of dogged persistence and a bit of quality fro Giroud.

    Earlier in yesterday’s game I was a bit frustrated that our passing game was taking place a bit too far from the Baggies’ box but after about 25-30 minutes we corrected that. As you say we have to have players able and willing to get into the opposition box with the ball.


  5. A brilliant synopsis of a game which the scoreline quite clearly didnt reflect the game.
    As someone who is massively against bullfighting I didnt like the picture but see why you went for the metaphore it was death by a thousand cuts.
    I have seen games where plenty of chances have gone by the goal but yesterday the amount on target was very high.
    I thought Iwobi was back to his best and he definetly gives an extra dimension around the edge of the area. In the end it was Oli to the rescue again with some good old fashion english centre forward work, which of course match of the day was highly delighted with.
    Any diversion from total Wengerball is always welcomed by the football dinosaurs on that nearly extinct programme.

    Liked by 5 people

  6. Safe to say Stew and Andy have been top top quality this year.Fortitude and flare from our dynamic duo, Writers that do our beloved club justice.
    Oh, and I though Aaron added something extra when he came on. 26 yesterday, how time flies .

    Liked by 5 people

  7. Yes sir, Anicoll the highlights showed a fluid Arsenal. I will watch the full match later on the Arsenal Player.

    Its a bright, cold, crisp, beautiful morn here in north east Derbyshire. Must get out today and stretch my legs.

    I am perusaded that when teams are so close in quality then the schedule makes a difference. We dropped off in the second half against both Everton and ManShitty. This may be due to prior away games, including international travel, and insufficient recovery time vis a vis Everton away.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. You called it during the game Andy when you pointed out that Chelsea needed 75 minutes of persistence and a bit of good fortune from defensive howler to overcome the WBA beast and we should expect nothing different. OK so it took a bit longer but only just – we came very close before Larry’s superb piece of strength and skill.

    Not sure why you single out Giroud as the only player in the entire league not allowed to voice his feelings to the officials, otherwise you got it right before during and after the game.

    I would possibly have added a mention in despatches for the skill of Alex Iwobi. It is flashes of sheer footballing brilliance such as he showed yesterday that puts bums on seats. Once his special touches start producing assists and pre assists the boy can begin writing his own place in our history. What a talent.

    Liked by 5 people

  9. It may be the way Larry expresses himself Stew – Rooney can apparently get away with blue murder in screaming his head off – our Frenchman cannot. Now that might be unfair but pointless red cards for dissent that put him on the edge of a sending off need to be avoided.


  10. Thanks to Stew & Andrew for all the pre & post match reading and Shotta our numbers man for educating us.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Spot on, man from Norfolk.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. A5 never disappoints. He is absolutely correct about Mesut being “the torero with the cape and hook.” he had the Pulis bulls or bullies under general control, moving them around the ring at will, wearying them for the final kill. Of course he had a lot of help but unlike vs City he was not disconnected from the midfield of Coq and Xhaka. I was impressed.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. I like Giroud a lot for those games. You still get Alexis offering much the same as he would if he were playing striker, in addition to the unique qualities of Giroud. Walcott the likely man to miss out but, as he’s at his best in space, I think Giroud’s a better fit for those games. Plus Theo to come on and exploit tiring legs.

    Love to hear from some of our more… experienced fans, and those with better memories than me, if that West Brom setup is a relatively new phenomenon. Started watching football around 90′ and I have no memories of prem teams playing that way until fairly recently. Defensive, yes; long balls and safety first, yes; aggressive, yep; but not that.

    I find it utterly lamentable. Terrible for young players (you’d never put in a young player over an experienced one for that task), terrible as a platform for developing the skills needed to rival the top international teams (unless England tries to be a slightly higher spec Iceland or Northern Ireland), and of course every kind of negative trait, especially time-wasting, is demanded by such an approach.

    Under Pulis and co an extreme version of the absolute last resort for the badly outmatched team in dire need of points has become acceptable and normal even for a team well placed in the league. Sucks, in my opinion, and the thought of perhaps half our home matches being guaranteed to follow that format, this year, next year, seems a hell of a shame.

    It’s probably just a question of waiting until the league becomes about 5% more negative, with a commensurate drop in viewing figures and more games as short of quality as Watford Palace was before the tv companies decide to tell the premier league to tell pgmol to start addressing time wasting, which will hopefully signal an improvement.

    Liked by 3 people

  14. Rich,

    My knowledge and memory are not so great, I could be mistaken, but Overmars and friends had more space to play in.

    The change in what was acceptable was post-Mourinho. If it’s acceptable for the highest spending club in the history of the sport, then, I think we can all appreciate why he called himself the “special friend of the special agents & wheela dealer Portugeezeers” (something like that) and others described his football as “shit on a stick”.

    Of course you need the acquiescence of stunted and blighted officals and the entire stable to smelly football hacks damned (for me at least!) by criminal association bleating like transparent idiots in order to get away with playing not just a different tactic but a different code – as Ranty highlighted in his healthy rant, no simple yellows for the two fouls that were simply aimed at taking out the AFC skipper yesterday…not to forget the complex laws on time wasting…or the lost art of time keeping (a stopwatch?) much to Pulis eventual ire, and to our eventual amusement.

    That pin up plundit extraordinaire Alan Partridge once said “the proof is in the pudding and the pudding in this case is a football…”:

    Back in the day England were beating good Holland and Argentinian teams with some good footy (& the odd dive) clearly there for all to enjoy.
    In recent times they have struggled against giants like Ecuador, Costa Rica and lest we forget, Iceland.

    Of course the sport is constantly evolving, those football teams are of better then they were, but a brief summary is that this is the House that Riley (& Scudamore) has built.

    Liked by 3 people

  15. When the TV companies are chasing plundits like Barton or savage what they have to say has no relevance, possibly worse. There will be no improvement there.

    all we can hope is that supporter groups put enough pressure on broadcasters to keep kick off times close together, reduce travelling distances on holidays for fans etc. (as opposed to being hijacked by the unwell in order to constantly fail with blunted attacks upon the most successful manager in the history of your club), the rest is beyond them.

    Broadcasters in all sports don’t care about the supporters, or even the sport itself.
    There is some evidence to underline that understanding.


  16. < an offical shouldn't need a broadcasting exec. to tell them what a stopwatch is, and how to use one. Nevermind the simple laws on time wasting which they all know and understand,,,


  17. Finsbury. Aye to all that.

    Chief frustration for me is that we are surely so tantalisingly close to some tipping point where these issues will become unignorable and a change, hopefully positive, will arrive.

    So fucking close. All that stops it is that the arch-pragmatists don’t inflict their most extreme negativity on the game on every occasion, and instead dial it down or up quite sensibly; that and the fact it can also be pragmatic for clubs, mega clubs mostly, with great attacking players to let them play some. Finally, there is the odd coach with a genuine love of good positive football.

    If the margins are as close as I believe, then Wenger’s eventual departure could well represent a big step closer to the tipping point for the league.


  18. I read that horse racing and rowing used to be bigger sports then football, before gambling and match fixing smears and scandals (the two are associated: Barton etc. ) diminished those sports to their present status (not even mentioning the doping!).

    Clearly and undeniably Scudamore and his crew are terrified of video replay. Which is why they’ve subtlety *coughs* ignored it for thirty years. Perhaps they’ve been waiting for a ‘manageable’ alternative to arise.

    The horrific recent scandals multiplied with the chronic underinvestment in coaching and facilities will eventually have a negative impact on even amazing and inspiring achievements like the Southampton Acadamy. Which is an amplified tragedy when we consider that the German coaches looked at the football being played at AFC and MUFC in the late nineties before developing the programme that bore fruits like Özil and Muller.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Arsenal played some sumptuous stuff, especially in the second half. The technical quality of all the Arsenal players is so high. Olivier Giroud only scores world class goals.

    So, from a purely football perspective I was entertained to a very high level. On an emotional level I feel that this team and manager have not been rewarded. If we keep this up and with a few twists and turns, they will be. Will it be the Happy New year we all pine for?

    Liked by 2 people

  20. We played them off the park, which is why this game was more boring than the one West Brom played against Chelsea. Against Chelsea they had chances galore and looked likely to steal points until Crowley gave Costa a golden opportunity to score. The time wasting also made this game dreadful to watch. For fuck’s sake, Foster was allowed to waste time from about the tenth minute onward.

    Mesut should stop attempting that cross field pass to the left from a central position until he practices it enough. Right now those passes, when they don’t hit the target, are leaving us exposed to quick counter attacks. That’s the only complaint i have concerning yesterday’s game. The entire team had a flawless game.

    Going forward, I hope Ramsey remains healthy for the rest of the season and Iwobi can regain the confidence he had at this time last year. We haven’t looked as good all season as we did against Chelsea when Iwobi was playing out of his skin. He provides the perfect combination of skill and speed.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. why are there pictures of Arteta fighting a bull, and harry redknapp in the article


  22. A very important win after two defeats.
    Just as the scarfists and Einstein misquoters were sharpening their knives, up pops our persistent, dogged tower of strength that is Giroud.
    Good to see Ramsey back, thought he made a difference, still think we need a creative alongside Coq/Xhaka in these type of situations.
    Just look forward to a few rivals dropping points…..seems a long time since that has happened.

    Liked by 3 people

  23. Granted that I only saw the Arsenal player highlights but they and this excellent review and comments tell me we played very well indeed and with real intensity.
    I have reasonable hopes that Pep n Klopp will help make the point that Arsene has been making for many years and that the football their teams play will drag the English game forward.
    The problem with technology is that it still needs interpretation. Quis custiodet customens or something.

    Liked by 3 people

  24. anyone notice on the Giroud goal, which of our players was the one following it in, just in case there was a rebound,

    Of course it was Ramsey, the one and only midfielder we have who busts a gut to give us an extra/spare man in the area. Malcontents call it glory hunting, anyone with even a modicum of football understanding calls it great play.

    Liked by 4 people

  25. Watching Stoke at Anfield and wondering what ever happened to the ugly but competent defence that Pulis built. Stoke have been good going forward but a total shambles at the back – headshakingly awful and three Liverpool goal all down to indecisive, lazy defensive work.


  26. Arteta eddy?

    I’ve had complaints it’s Mkhitaryan !


  27. Make that four defensive cock-ups from Stoke – that is it – I’ve had enough


  28. Stoke incredibly poor for most of the game.
    Bookies must have taken a real pasting in the last couple of weeks

    Liked by 1 person

  29. I don’t mind defensive football if it is well done – Italian football teams, CL winners and World Cup winners were built on rock solid defensive organisation, with every man playing a part, knowing his place and his job. Strikers were a reluctant luxury. They would defend like maniacs – steal a goal – and collect the trophy.

    Trouble for PL clubs – obsessed with PL survival like Stoke were and WBA are – is that they don’t have good enough players to win games with defensive approach, the height of their capability is not to lose a game.

    Liked by 3 people

  30. Eddy, you won’t be surprised to know that I noticed Aaron moving to be ready to pounce on a possible rebound from Oli’s header. Granit made one run from deep where I yelled “there’s that Rambo run!”, and he almost scored from it. No one else gives us that, and we miss it.

    Also, I couldnt help but notice folks fawning over Iwobi’s “flicks and backheels” yesterday. Careful, son. Too much of that and they’ll hate you for it. Hollywood, they’ll call you…

    Liked by 3 people

  31. media get their way, Bradley sacked by Swansea, can’t be having an American manager in the BPL, now can we.


  32. Think any manager is going to have problems with the way Swansea seem to be going.
    Bet they feel a bit silly losing Gary Monk

    Liked by 2 people

  33. you know how the media and our malcontents go on about how Diego Costa is brilliant, and how shit Oliver Giroud is, well in the two and a half years the brilliant Costa has been with Chelsea, he has scored 50 goals in 97 games, while shit Giroud has scored 49 for Arsenal in 105 games. And although Giroud has played in 8 more games, he has only started 66 and come on as sub in 39, while Costa has started 88 game for chelsea and 9 as sub

    Giroud – Games 66+39, Goals 49

    Costa – Games 88+9, Goals 50

    Liked by 2 people

  34. Well done to both Stew, A5 and the others, who have the tenacity to keep this site, a paradise for simple Arsenal folk!

    I trust the tedium of match reviews and match reports, are still a labour of love for the Arsenal. Long may it continue, without a whiff of duty bound?

    Chelsea 1 WBA 0, 12 v 6 goal attempts.

    Arsenal 1 WBA 0, 26 v 3 goal attempts.

    Look at any match reports on the 2 games, notice how the narrative changes!

    As for Ben Foster, someone on Arseblog , had the audacity to time the goal clearances, from both Foster and the “king”. Why did it take the match officials, so long, to book Foster?

    As for the bus parking, the credit must go to the former Bolton manager, who took up the knowledge in a short stay in the good ole USA. He is the new manager at Crystal Palace. Allardyce, must have the most “sacked” on his c.v.? Red Adair, he is not!

    COTG and of course PA

    Liked by 3 people

  35. Missed the game yesterday, was on a motorway, with a driver who insisted on tuning into Talkshite.
    Turned into quite a pleasurable experience, Adrian Durham , the program’s host at the time was at the Emirates yesterday, getting in snide remarks about the team throughout the game. But, he was audibly …..absolutely gutted when Giroud scored at the end….made my day almost as much as the result

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  36. Mandy I’m glad you mentioned how gutted Durham was when we scored, it never ceases to amaze me how many commentators, co-commentators/pundits, studio pundits, on all the different TV/Satalite/Radio stations just can’t hide their disappointment when we score, and we are the only English club, that even when playing v European opponents we get the “Get In” treatment when it looked like we had conceded a goal (thank God for a great Szczesny save).

    I have said it many many times, but I really would love for someone to give a reasonable explanation as to why Arsenal are treated so differently to all other clubs, by the media – all types, written, radio and tv. We have loads of ex Arsenal players now working as pundits, and what marks nearly all of them out from their liverpool, chelsea, manutd, spurs etc counterparts, is that they can’t wait to have a dig at their former club.
    Now for the pundits it might be job preservation, as I was told Frank McLintock did not have his contract renewed with SKY cos he was too pro-Arsenal, and that the only reason why Charlie Nicolas has not been let go is due to how popular he is.

    Liked by 2 people

  37. Interesting Eduardo, but there is definitely a media agenda against this club. Would love to know why. Football is fixed has claimed some of the pundits and journalists are influenced,,and possibly paid by certain agents…..I believe there are some agents the club refuses to deal with……but only idle speculation.
    The London papers , especially the Standard seem to have a Tottenham thing going on for some reason
    As you say, some of our ex players are amongst the worst….the only real,exception I can think of is Ray Parlour….on most occasions.
    Wonder if it will persist with such ferocity after Wenger departs?

    Liked by 1 person

  38. Positively Arsenal ‏@Blackburngeorge 10m10 minutes ago
    The reason Arsene has so much power at AFC, is he has earned the trust and respect of the board, who clearly value him above anyone else.

    I think his power is well overstated, and is actually something the WOB like to make out is far bigger than it is. For example Wenger always has been, and despite our participation in, he remaims opposed to, overseas long haul summer tours. If he had his way we would still be doing our summers in Austria.
    Yes, the club still, like they have for all of his time here, consult Wenger on many things, but he does not have full control on anything, not even sale of players, as demonstrated by the sale of Nasri, as Samir himself confirmed, Stan/the board, over ruled, wenger, and sold him to city. Yes we don’t sign a player, or renew a contract without AW’s say so, but that is only right, and is that way at loads of clubs, why would a club sign or keep a player the manager don’t rate or want. Wenger is consulted on length of contract, and wages, but its Dick Law and Ivan Gazidis who do the contract negotiations, it is them, the rest of the board and Stan who decide on our budgets, not Wenger.
    Wenger controls most things football wise, such as training, tactics, team selection and how we try to sign. but loads of managers do this, and all his predecessors had the same sort of control.
    As for the bullshit the malcontents say about any new contract – Only Wenger will decide on the contract – well its the greatest load of cods wallop, and is wrapped up in enough half truths to make it sound believable. Wenger can only sign a new contract, if Arsenal FC offer him one, Wenger can not make them offer him a new contract, if they do not want to. And like any other manager, player, or even the cleaning lady, or when it comes to it, any of us, once a contract is offered to him or us by an employer, the decision to sign it or not, is down to the person offered the contract, not those offering it, they can not make anyone sign a contract if they don’t want to. The best they can do is put a time limit on when an answer to their offer has to be made by. Nothing more.

    Liked by 3 people

  39. Mandy I dont think it has anything to do with Wenger,(as many of our ex player pundits and even some of the journos, claim to love and admire the man) and will continue long after he leaves, unless the club change tact and pay off whoever needs to be paid off for it to change.
    Now maybe if stan sells up and we get one of those sugar daddy oily thingies and we buy the latest shiny new toy every summer, the media will be distracted long enough each season and will leave us alone, rinse and repeat.

    Liked by 1 person

  40. You missed one Eddy
    Positively Arsenal ‏@Blackburngeorge 2h2 hours ago
    @AFC_Bam @coops_liz @AFCMemz @CarlBovis_AFC Arsene can only decide to go, or stay,if THE CLUB offer him a contract. Not the FANS.


  41. reports that Walcott will miss our next two games, with a calf injury.


  42. Lying in bed watching the bitesize highlights on Arsenal Player. Giroud’s header was superb. It was completely by design. It was an extraordinary feat. It’s a wonderful nightcap!

    Liked by 1 person

  43. Mandy

    Glad it worked out with Durham on the motorway. Bit of a nightmare scenario, so great that it ended in best possible way.

    Motd commentator was bit put out as well. Left to huff a couple of times that it certainly wasn’t a great game or emphatic win but was (alas, alas) a win.

    Always find it hilarious in those circumstances that they firmly suggest it’s on us that it wasn’t a great game (aesthetically, they must mean- flowing football, space, ebb and flow), as though there’s any possibility of the game going differently against such opponents until you are able to get a first goal.

    Found it an odd, slightly shocking experience, not that long ago, watching an old game with a pre-disgrace Ron Atkinson as commentator. Behind his now-out-of-fashion, ‘the Arsenal’, there was clearly a lot of respect and affection for us. Felt unfamiliar, pleasant, and a call to remember some long overwritten ‘before’ that my brain wasn’t quite able to answer.

    In recent times, there was the treat of having Richard Hughes commentate on our Emirates cup games last year. An excellent commentator full stop, he had lots of good things to say about us and our football, all undercut with healthy realism. I can’t do justice to it, nor to how fantastic such a simple thing felt. So strange not to have someone constantly looking to dampen down any enthusiasm, to add a ‘but’ or ‘it’s only’ to any reluctant praise,etc.

    Anyway, despite being clearly superior at his job to most of BT’s roster, I knew he’d never get near their premier league coverage. Maybe commentating on our games was the test. He failed. Back in the studio afterwards, it was left to the normal crew to bring their much needed negativity to the occasion.

    Overall, I think it adds significantly to the tension of watching our games knowing the commentators and pundits are mostly all hoping we fail. Think we’d all prefer to be among friends or neutrals when life dishes out a blow. I use mute more and more these days.

    Liked by 5 people

  44. It does seem ridiculous to be supporting such a successful club who try to play attractive football and who set out to keep their books balanced and still feel that we are treated by all and sundry as a pernicious enemy.
    I genuinely believe that if the field was properly level and that every game in the League season was officiated strictly according to the rules of the game we would have won the League several times in the last 10 year. I just think we are that good.

    Liked by 8 people

  45. FH


    Liked by 2 people

  46. I don’t mind defensive football. The home victory last season over Munich being a good reference! Perhaps one that influenced AFC at City this season, they scored too early in the game hehe!

    And time wasting and players taking their time to get to their feet in the closing stages of a match is fairly normal even understandable given fatigue etc.

    Time wasting early on is a tactic that’s been more common this past decade, as NOTH reminds us Big Sam was a big fan. Palace up next and they’ll be at home on NYD!
    Tough fixture.

    Liked by 1 person

  47. Never in doubt

    Liked by 4 people

  48. Ben DinneryVerified account@BenDinnery
    Mustafi and Akpom have returned to full training, along with Danny Welbeck. But Walcott and Ox-Chamberlain were NOT with the main group #AFC


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