Arsenal: We can work it out

46c6c21e69df450b156ac45ad040f2a4.jpgGood Morning Positive Arsenal fans,

Or as I believe they say on Merseyside a “Go ‘ed, rrrright, nice one, boss, well in, sound, belter, I’m made up” sort of Morning, or something like that.

Another sour taste of defeat in the roof of the mouth this morning, a little sharper and harder to ignore because it was the correct result against a Liverpool side who are as erratic as Arsenal are.

Of the game itself George had spoken of the need for the players, ALL the players, to turn up and perform to their abilities in what obviously would be a difficult tie. We had seen too many “slow” starts, too many games we have had to chase like fiends having let our opponents get ahead. Anfield was surely not the stage to slip into that sluggish entry to a game. Our players were rested. Our opponents had endured a poor night at the King Power and a far from solid home form. The task was clear and the auspices favourable.

The afternoon began poorly. Even before the referee’s whistle touched hi lips we were without Mesut so our creative engine was missing a crucial gear. That Sanchez on the bench was a surprise, but given our shaky recent form I could understand the change, applying a different and hopefully more direct approach. A strategy to try to retain the ball more which is not always the Chilean’s forte.

Sadly the first half was a contrast, to my eye at least, of Liverpool’s dynamic, fast football, orchestrated by Coutinho and with Sane as its cutting edge, in contrast to our own rather pedestrian approach. It was not just that they scored two goals, they looked dangerous every time they crossed the halfway line with the ball. We on the other hand had periods of possession during that first 45 but never ever looked like landing a dangerous blow. 30 yards out we huffed, puffed and passed in triangles, then frittered away possession with a speculative ill-directed chip into a crowded box or were harried off the ball by the gegenpresse. I find it difficult to identify one Arsenal player who during that first half performed to a level that they might look back and give themselves even a 6 out of 10. I saw not lack of effort, I just saw a lack of quality compared to our opponents.

I suspect Arsene did read the proverbial riot act at HT and, as we all saw, we set about the opposition with verve, in fact the sort of energy that had it been employed at 5.30 rather than 6.30 might have made a considerable difference to my work this morning. The obvious trigger for the change of pace was the arrival of Alexis and that he immediately became a thorn in the Scouse flank. Beyond that Latin injection though all of our players looked about a inch taller and a yard faster in that second half. An injection of half time confidence ? Or an injection of my favourite sporting concept at the moment “desperation”.

We clambered back aboard the train with ample 30+ minutes to retrieve at least a point, more than sufficient time. For the next 20 minutes the hosts rocked on their heels, with Coutinho finally subdued and their back four exhibiting all the signs of panic for which they have become so rightly famous.

They bent, they scrambled, they flung themselves in and across, but crack them we could not ! The whole game pivoted on our scoring again. We played out final Lucas and Theo cards but it was not to be. During that final fifteen minutes of the game, when I hoped we would have had the LFC goal under siege, in truth they managed to get a grip back on the match. If Origi’s header had spun inside rather than outside the post then it would have been no surprise. We pressed, but not with sufficient guile to penetrate.

We went down to the third of the well taken Liverpool goals with a blocked shot and a breakaway leading to Winjaldum’s tidy finish. The curtain came down, the evening was truly over.

So, with not as much enthusiasm as I should have, onwards to our meeting with Bayern. There is pride at stake, and possibly a few careers.


Enjoy your Sunday.

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75 comments on “Arsenal: We can work it out

  1. And neatly shimmies in to pick up a lower tier Lincoln ticket after posting – result

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great effort Andy. Its a shitty stick you have to pick up.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. How you can say Liverpool have a far from solid home form. They beat spurs lately and drawn
    With United and Chelsea and blowing away the smaller teams at home.Not a poor display imo.

    We were never going to win at Anfield and with the Bayern game 2 days away i think Wenger did the logical thing to rest ozil Alexis and Walcot.

    Am i the only one defenfing Wenger here?

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I read the papers after writing and I am struck by reference to the “pundits” being “baffled” by Arsene’s decision to start with Danny and Olivier and Alexis on the bench.

    The “pundits” in question appear to be Ian Wright, Rio Ferdinand and Steven Gerrard.

    If one of them had one match worth of experience as a manager at any level of football perhaps they would be less puzzled.

    Who knows ?

    Liked by 4 people

  5. Morning Andrew, everyone.

    Liverpool started at a predictable 100mph and we conceded two ‘sloppy’ goals. Pretty sure we were set up to weather that anticipated early storm with an attacking trio of subs due on as our opponents inevitably tired in the 2nd half.

    The inconceivably unpunished out of control assault on Theo, as he bore down on their goal, was a turning point in a game which was at that point wholly in the balance and with 15 minutes plus injury still to play.

    How was Can not carded? Why were tiring Liverpool not reduced to ten?

    Game-changing stuff, conveniently over-looked by most pundits and the noisiest of the club’s detractors.

    Every game we see at least one ‘odd’ decision and it ALWAYS goes against Arsenal.

    Their 3rd offside goal I can forgive as it was marginal and we can hardly expect that level of competence from linesmen when the movement is played out at that kind of speed. Only next season’s video refs will sort out this nonsense I’m afraid.

    But the sight of Xhaka being booked for the Can attack on Walcott is as inexplicable as it is totally unacceptable. Can was SO out of control it was a Liverpool player left rolling around in the aftermath. Had Walcott stayed down I suspect the encounter would have ended very differently. How Xhaka’s ‘dissent’ was deemed more of an offence than the wild Liverpudlian lunge I will never know.

    So the weekly question mark over the referee leaves some of us with a bad taste in our mouths whilst some others are simply screeching for Wenger to go.

    But the real question mark from the game hangs over Klopp, whose sides can not sustainably play at the pace and intensity he requires of them and that are only capable of doing so occasionally, reserving their biggest efforts for the biggest opponents.

    Looking forward to Tuesday; I’ve no doubt Arsene had one eye on that encounter when devising his line up for yesterday’s game.

    I expect few will bother mentioning that though.

    Liked by 5 people

  6. A team that has lost at home to Swansea, Saints and Wolves, and managed a draw with Plymouth since the turn of the year I’d say as one with less than sparkling form Ro.

    All about opinions though.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. The old fart’s thoughts:

    Maybe the team selected to start was designed with a view to pulling back a 4 goal deficit on Tuesday. If so, it wasn’t the brightest thing we could have done. Suffice to say that the first half was an embarrassment, even for old farts who’ve been there before and have postcards to prove it. I would have thought that the chance of 3 points was more important.
    Particularly worrying is the pressure being put on young Alex, who seems to be a passenger these days yet remains as a starter. Any wonder that Lucas is p’d off? This malaise is now spreading to Hector and le Coq and it would have little surprise had all three been hooked at half time.
    Mind you that doesn’t excuse our midfield. The old system of attack with 7 and defend with 8 seems to have gone by the board. Both Liverpool goals came from glaring spaces being left. At least the Ox was trying.
    At last the entry of Alexis at half time (for le Coq) showed that we could play and we came close with a good header from Olly. Unfortunately the save went on top of the bar rather than under. But we did score when Danny latched on to a clever pass from Alexis and took the chance well.
    At that stage a point looked more than attainable but substituting both Olly and Danny for Theo and Lucas left me with a more than hollow feeling. Poor young Alex was left on.
    And of course, sod’s law had to come into the equation as a really promising attack was countered and a breakaway took them out of sight.
    So we slip to 5th and bar a miracle we’ll slip out of the CL on Tuesday. But I do believe in miracles, so keep everything crossed. We are a far better side than recent results suggest.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Anicol

    Got your point. Pool lost to Saints and Swans at home so we should have been doing better.
    But you know big teams show up better at home to direct rivals and i will stick to my opinion that Wenger and the boys had the c L game in mind for the slow and poor showing in the 1st half.

    Liked by 4 people

  9. Very poor for much of the game. Sadly, the 2017 vintage seems to share little of the flair and excitement of previous Wenger teams, yet offers the same defensive worries.
    There will be many reasons for this, and to lay them all at the manager is simplistic to say the least. That said, the decision to bench Alexis at the start , maybe done for good reasons, proved to be a costly mistake….funny how things just seem to go against an individual during a difficult patch.
    As for the refereeing …the Can episode was inexplicable, but happens regularly against Arsenal . There is clearly a media agenda against the manager/club…..who is to say this agenda doesn’t extend further, or influence officials….it seems they can make some pretty poor decisions against Arsenal without the scrutiny if they made the same decisions against other teams I could mention. The fact is, whether officials are bent , biased, or incompetent, or just of human frailties, you are always up against it when away against a north west giant…..unfortunately for Arsenal, they are also up against it away to Sutton, and the pundits keep quiet, or just laugh
    The future, I back Wenger to get us through this season and finish strongly,if he does, he will have a very busy in tray in the summer, not least of which, the Cazorla conundrum.
    If we underachieve this season, the future is far from clear, guess we may just have to trust in the wider club.at the risk of sounding like an obituary, my admiration for Wenger , the man and his achievements will last as long as I have my faculties, but I would not want the great man staying under a Stan indulged black cloud, he is better than that, I want hims staying because he is the best for us…..but at the moment, that seems a hard sell. As for the unthinkable, I am hoping it doesn’t come anywhere near that this summer.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. The problem is Rosicky, if that is the case, then its awful from manager and players alike.


  11. The cult of the ‘super manager’ has taken a shocking hiding this season – on Monday and after recent ignominious home defeats Klopp was everyone’s punchbag as a failing manager, Pep has been on and off the naughty/crisis step all season, Jose is 6th (as ever) and unable to unlock 10 man Bournemouth and insists he needs £300m to put things right. And our own 21 year veteran is one pace ahead of the righteous ” I’ve paid my money” lynch mob.

    Liked by 4 people

  12. George

    I think we have a difference of opinion.
    Lets forget and move forward to the CL game and then maybe we can see who has the correct opinion.


  13. Only Granit could manage to get himself he booked for complaining – learn the lesson ffs – Madeley for reasons best known to himself was not going to book Can and going on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on – was only going to end one way.

    If you think about it.

    Liked by 4 people

  14. I listened to the Mancs game on the radio yesterday so only had a rough idea of the hijinks at Trafford Park – just watched the highlights – I predict Mr Mings will be in a bit of disciplinary bother tomorrow. I hold few players in as low as esteem as Ibrahimovich but that stamp was outrageous.


  15. “Got your point. Pool lost to Saints and Swans at home so we should have been doing better.”

    Then you have the wrong point. If we are about to play against an opponent who has a rock solid home record then I go into the game with less confidence than if I go into a game against a home side whose previous half dozen games have been one win, two draws and three defeats.


  16. Andy Nic is vicariously living the life of a football manager. When the club wins he has it easy; everything he writes is effervescent and joyful. But after a defeat, he carries the weight of Positively Arsenal, deploring the negatives by the team while giving hope for the future. He will be a wreck by end of season.

    I have an observation which is not supported by data; i.e starting slowly is embedded in the dna of this team in reaction to years of going gungho at the start and being ripped to shreds by balls over the top and runners flooding the Arsenal box. Unfortunately Koscielny made a major mistake in the 9th minute (excellent from then on) when he went to contest an aerial ball, misjudged the flight and the opponent backing into him, losing the ball and providing Liverpool with the opportunity they had been preparing forever.

    Unless we take the mad crazy option of ripping up this team and starting all over again, Arsenal will need another top-top central midfielder, along with Ozil and Santi who can make us a dominant ball-possession, creative team. We and City are the only two teams built aroud this template but the gulf in talent needs to be bridged

    Liked by 2 people

  17. What was surprising yesterday, in the midfield department I thought, was that Aaron stayed on the bench. He is a highly experienced, box to box midfielder who could, I thought, have helped Alex Iwobi out in a creative way, and provided more defensive certainty and height as Liverpool streamed forward. His introduction just never seemed to come up as in idea. Is he not fit ? Is his form so shaky that Arsene decided against it and thought Iwobi alone was the answer to Ozil’s absence ? Most odd.


  18. Andy Nic deserves a medal for outstanding services to a blog in my opinion; my reaction to a setback is often to walk away for a few days, not attempt to make some kind of written, public, balanced assessment of what I’ve just seen.

    Was it Mings that Ibrahimovic threw, unpunished, to the ground moments earlier?

    Can we say for certain Mings stamped or merely landed his boot on Ibra’s head?

    Can we say for certain Mings ran into Ibra’s raised and pointy elbow or did the ungentle giant simply ‘want it more’?

    I would suggest that a video ref would have had Ibra red-carded for assaulting Mings in the first place, thus rendering subsequent incidents, er, non-incidents.

    At the very least a yellow card would likely have nipped the indiscipline in the bud. Instead, Ibra was free to strut around ignoring the niceties of acceptable good conduct.

    Pretty much as he always does.

    Liked by 3 people

  19. With all due respect to Aaron Ramsey, he cannot control a game via 90 percent passing or dribbling in tight spaces to break a Liverpool press. We have a horde of midfielders but very, very few have that skillset.


  20. Oh and while I remember to mention it – there was a point in the game where, despite our being behind, I was congratulating the referee and his colleagues on having a very good game.

    This changed when, once a visibly tiring Liverpool started to fling themselves to the ground under the lightest of touches, like so many gossamer fairies, and the ref bought Every. Single. One. A minute’s breather later the Liverpool free-kicks would be eventually taken, the game happily neutralised for a few minutes more.

    Then came the failure to apply the rules and dismiss Can for his out of control ‘manoeuvre’ on Theo.

    And that ended my anticipation of a glowing report on the ref.

    Should we expect more of the same?

    On this season’s form, yes, I think we probably Can.

    Liked by 3 people

  21. “Can we say for certain Mings stamped or merely landed his boot on Ibra’s head?”

    We certainly can. (banned smiley)

    I’d say Ibrahimovich deserves a 3 game ban for the elbow AA but the stamp on his head was nuts – I trust the authorities will deal with it on a different scale of punishment. We shall see.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. A5 and AA: I can’t wait for the arrival of the video ref. It won’t eliminate all the issues of weak, cowardly, inept refereeing but they will be relegated to the role of little secretaries recording the big decisions of a cold, unbiased, unemotional observer, the camera. Eventually that camera will also be used to grade them on the routine, secretarial decisions they make within a game. The totally inept will be rooted out by the Darwinian process of natural selection. Gawd, I hope I live to see the day.

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  23. AA
    It was an out of control lunge by Can (can’t remember if it was even called a foul) that caused the original Welbeck injury and interrupted, possibly ruined the current leading English goal scorers career, or at the least reduced him to one game a week and no plastic pitches.
    Bit like Ramsey whose hamstrings won’t really allow him there games a week, not on a return from injury, hence he was rested.

    The kid at Charlton is out for the season, the Charlton manager admitting he overdid it by asking the nipper to run the gauntlet three times in a week for the first time without even bringing him off early before the ninety was up.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Just like they did with the Adebayor stamp on RVPs head eh?

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Just three games unfortunately Fins as I recall – stamping on an opponent’s head however is just crazy

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Ade got three for the RVP stamp which was more the obvious hack, Mings might get away with less but it was against a Utd player…


  27. Yup I was just checking!


  28. three games for that Ade stamp was too little!
    I’ll leave the FA to debate if stamps are worse then biting/dribbling over someone’s shoulder.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. < head stamps


  30. Video refs unlikely to help with stuff like Ibra’s little spot of judo. If I remember right, the ref had a perfect view of that.

    Just one of those weird quirks of the game where, say, a little push in the chest is something which has to be carded but something more unusual, like the throws Utd have done about three times now (so not that unusual) are apparently grey areas.

    It’s similar to headlocks and a bit of eye-scratching- unusual and you’ll probably get lightly punished- whereas woe betide the player who makes the merest head contact with head or hand. As a general rule, going down, however ridiculously, helps your chances of getting the other player booked or sent of.

    As another rule, our players can forget trying to make sense of it or trying to capitalise on the way things work here.

    A compilation of Ibra’s indiscretions this year compared to Xhaka’s would be interesting and bleak.

    Meanwhile Can was allowed to break up play cynically three times yesterday, including once while out of control, for 1 yellow, while Xhaka of course got a red for doing so once. Again bleak and again video refs won’t help that.

    Liked by 5 people

  31. Xhaka was silly to get a booking for complaining, but must get to him, when you see the things he gets carded for, then comes up against a player who does far worse, but a ref stubbornly , weakly, ineptly refuses to do his job….at Anfield…the home of a media darling team…
    Was reading that our refs have been criticised by FIFA for not applying the offside rule correctly, for having insufficient refs for proper rotation, refs doing the same team too many times over a season. I ask again, why is Mike Riley still in post ?

    Liked by 5 people

  32. I don’t like everything about US sports, their favourite football code is not my favourite who though when you watch a game it does appear to be a better sport then the pgMOB Rules (ok?) flexible code variant but still not a patch on what they call ‘soccer’ (which is why more kids play ‘soccer’ in the US then other sports?), but what is not an opinion is the observation that after 1919* they haven’t been messing or mincing about when it comes to supporting their officials. *Ninety eight years ago!


  33. Biting people should attract the footballing equivalent of being sent to a secure psychiatric unit until doctors confirm you are longer a danger to others or yourself.

    Liked by 3 people

  34. Mandy
    the reactions of the players to this tilting is the great white elephant in the room that few have the footballs to discuss.

    Liked by 3 people

  35. Of course Aaron is not Santi, even with the due respect, which I’m 100% sure was for my benefit (thanks, Shotta). But, he could have offered some experience and energy. My observation is that Ox is not as adept at (or maybe was not instructed to?) helping to cover midfield when he starts wide. I thought he might start playing that role more the way Aaron has, since Ox has spent a little more time now in CM. I didn’t really notice that. It might not have been the plan, or it might also be that it did happen and I didn’t notice. I’m not that good at analyzing games, which is why I never really try. But it did look like the plan was for Ox to drop into CM when new attackers were brought on, like Aaron does, which I think was why Aaron didn’t play at all.

    That said, I’m relieved Aaron did not start, however disappointed I was that he didn’t get any playing time. It would have been asking too much of the injury gods not to strike him down against Liverpool, again, if he played when he wasn’t ready. I do hate for him to be thrown to the Bayern wolves on Tuesday with no game time under his belt, though. He will want to play; we’ll see if he does.

    Liked by 1 person

  36. A stomp on the head wearing metal spikes is not as bad as some spittle on the shoulder? I’m not qualified to judge that one but I do have an opinion.


  37. Spitting should be dealt with in a much more practical way – the perpetrator should have his mouth washed out with a bar of soap on the pitch before the next home game.

    I would go so far as to “guarantee” spitting at or even deliberately toward an opponent would stop overnight.

    Liked by 3 people

  38. < clarification
    The Ade stamp had several degrees more intent then Mings' for me


  39. Ben Thatcher got eight games for that elbow in Mendes, in my humble opinion that was also worthy of more punishment then a gummy bear impersonation.


  40. As for Suarez, the ten match ban was hardly an effective deterrent for the hungry muncher. A muzzle would’ve proved more effective!

    Liked by 1 person

  41. I had a look at the Thatcher/Mendes reports as it is a while ago now in 2006;

    “Manchester City defender Ben Thatcher has been suspended for eight games by the Football Association for elbowing Portsmouth midfield man Pedro Mendes.
    He has also been given a further 15-match ban suspended for two years for his foul in the goalless draw at Eastlands on 23 August.

    Manchester City have already suspended Thatcher for six games after the foul, which left Mendes unconscious.

    The 30-year-old Wales defender was also fined six weeks’ wages by City.”

    I like the 15 game bender, and interesting is the action taken by Citeh – that soon faded.

    Liked by 4 people

  42. In the last few losses we have conceded goals due to schoolboy errors. I would expect top class, intelligent players to understand and adapt much more rapidly than our team (which unfortunately hasn’t yet).

    Shotta supports his conclusion with data that Santi is the linchpin for our success. I say, if it’s takes this long for our team to find a way to adapt to the loss of Santi then our team is not resilient and versatile enough to be a serious title contender. It’s a bitter pill for me to swallow.

    Liked by 1 person

  43. You mean a club taking additional action faded? Liverpool’s ‘solidarity’ with the hungry chomper was definitely a contrast,


  44. < then again it must have been a lot easier for a club to publicly support (even if we all laughed at them for doing so !) a biting maniac who never drew blood when compared to someone who did what Thatcher did.


  45. A tad bit late. An honest appraisal of the game A5. You have been put through the ringer this season, thanks for the sacrifice. Good follow up posts as well.

    We were so poor in that first half and the ref we even worse in second, so perhaps its best putting that one in the bin and look ahead to salvage some pride on Tuesday night.

    One can only hope the home supporters will get behind our boys and show them we are all in this together. They will need all the help they can get.

    Liked by 4 people

  46. Hi anicoll,

    You will know me well enough by now to know what I am about to say is well intentioned so with out further ado, let me say that full credit is due to you for having the stomach to write your post match analysis/report.

    I do not think it was difficult for you to write the content of the game’s assessment because you have it within you to simply say what you saw, and no sentient being could possibly disagree with your findings.

    Having sulked from blog to blog, altho not to comment, until now, it intrigues me that so many fans have voiced their own, impossible to prove, versions as to why AW ‘dropped’ Sanchez, and rather than accepting AW’s own explanation that he had discussed using Welly and Giro to ‘go direct’ with the other coaches, that is what he did – and he accepted it had back-fired.

    Reading all the confusing and contradictory guesses reminded me of the advice given to the court jester in an old film, where he was under threat of poisoning from an assassin. Before the celebratory toast, the jester was told how to avoid the assassin’s poison.

    “Remember, the pellet with the poison is in the vessel with the pestle, the chalice from the palace has the brew that is true.” To make sure he had heard correctly the jester repeated – the pellet with the poison is in the vessel with the pestle, the chalice from the palace has the brew that is true. He is then told the chalice has been accidentally broken, and the advice becomes, “The chalice from the palace has been replaced with a flagon with a dragon on it. So, the pellet with the poison’s in the flagon with the dragon; the vessel with the pestle has the brew that is true.”

    Wenger’s simple explanation is the one that is true.

    Liked by 5 people

  47. Fins: Check your email.

    Liked by 1 person

  48. Thanks a lot Shotts.

    Watching the PSL 20/20 cricket final, don’t often watch 20/20 but even as a neutral this is a huge occasion (not to be spoiled by poor and questionable officials) and Tim’s old teammate Viv Richards is the coach! Still a legend, amazing stuff!


  49. The Liverpool shirt protest over the abuse of Evra was so awful I’d erased it from memory


  50. Hi A5 -and thanks for the write up. No easy task in our current climes.

    For only the second time in ages I went over to Untold, it seemed really sad, the vultures gloating and waiting for the last moments when they can proclaim total victory. over the last stand. Makes you look at Georges door policy here and feel grateful. Made me feel really sad for all the years I was over there and having good times with some pretty decent people.
    Really wish the lads could give a bit more for a great ending to the rest of the season, and what maybe the end of an era–and finish things off with the FAC . But who would say no to a miracle against Bayern? Libet miraculum! Amen.


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