Arsenal: Deflection and Guile


Good morning Positive Arsenal,

A third straight win despite a number of changes in the starting line up, tiredness among the players and dogged opponents hell bent on leaving with a point. Perhaps the most striking point of the evening was Leicester’s approach. League champions last season, their trophy deserved, and dangerous opponents on their last visit to the Ems. This season an entirely negative, nine men at the back all evening, barely willing to move the ball over the half way line. Even Vardy seemed half hearted. Just one serious effort on goal (and an excellent save from Cech required). Was this mob really standing toe to toe with Athletico Madrid in the QF on the Champions League last week ? Entirely fitting that they should be undone by an own goal.

With regard to the Arsenal starting line-up it raised a few eyebrows, mine included. As I said yesterday we have a strong squad so changing players in itself was not unexpected after the hard afternoon at Wembley but Nacho as a third centre back, Gibbs as a wingback, Theo in from the cold, and no start for Danny or Larry ? I admit those selections puzzled me.

I heard someone say that maybe Arsene was using the game to assess those players whose future at the club after the Summer is in doubt. Speculative given the importance of the game to our final PL position but not entirely implausible.

Of the game itself we played “alright” in the first half. We had a lot of possession, stood up to the Foxes’ aggression, and moved the ball well to the edge of the visitors’ box. Beyond that point we seemed to seize up. Our attackers seemed reluctant to run at opponents into their penalty area with the ball. The ball was passed sideways and backwards across the final third. Corner came and went. We rarely had more than one player actually in the box to inflect any damage from open play. Sanchez dropped deeper and deeper to evade the Leicester centre backs. Theo flickered in and out to no obvious effect. It was only in the final 10 minutes of the first half that Mesut came to life. We never seemed to pull Leicester apart and we did not look like scoring.

As is our usual approach second half we stepped up our efforts after half time  but it was not until the full complement of substitutes were on after 75 minutes that Arsenal began to crack the Leicester shell. Huth and Benalouane, having enjoyed an easy night swatting Sanchez away like an annoying bluebottle all night, suddenly faced the muscle of Giroud. Sanchez and Danny concentrated on the wings, and Aaron played further forward than le Coq. When Kosc went down writhing I had a bad moment but, much to everyone’s surprise, he was back up and playing within a couple of minutes. We became urgent in our efforts. The volume in the ground went up.

The pressure built, the Leicester defending became more ragged, for the first time all evening their defenders were being drawn out of position and gaps were opening. The goal when it came was scruffy, two deflections and no chance for the keeper.

After that decisive goal a strange few minutes. The referee and Sanchez both seemed to lose their heads for no obvious reason. What had been a fairly mild contest degenerated into a fracas with Cech and Schmeichel both leaving their goals to get involved in a row. Cech, to his credit, was telling Sanchez to control himself. Fuchs was already on a card and an idiot for slinging the ball at Alexis. The Austrian should have been off. Alexis, sore lip or not, should not have flung himself down. More concerning immediately after that incident Sanchez crashed into another Leicester player (Drinkwater ? ) in front of Arsene’s technical area and went down clutching his face again, for no obvious reason. If Jones has seen what I had seen then we would have been one Chilean short on Sunday for the NLD. The man had lost it. We all like a bit of passion and fight but even so …….I shall put it down to his exhaustion after two testing games in four  days.

Very much a difficult job completed successfully. Three points nearer the opposition and the Manchester derby tonight to add a little more incentive to our chase. Fingers cross for the Ox and for Kosc this weekend and that they are both fit.

Enjoy Thursday.


182 comments on “Arsenal: Deflection and Guile

  1. And Alexis is the only one among the top five PL players for both goals scored and for assists.

    I have no further questions m’Lord. (sits down)


  2. He’s also 4th in take ons (dribbles) with 86 @ 66%. Sterling has 79 @ 57%. Adama Traore and Eden Hazard are the gold standard here with 136@77% and 130@78% respectively. Zaha has 125@59%.

    I don’t know about you, but it seems to me that Alexis is carrying our attack. Doing a bit of everything at a very high standard. Scoring, assisting, dribbling. And although his playing in different positions complicates the comparisons, his passing rate of 73% percent combined with the number of passes (over 1000) and the chances created, suggests to me that he is a great player for us, who needs help in attack, rather than ridicule and opprobrium.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I think that whilst Wengerball’s one two touch pass and move game is composed predominantly of short triangles when the teams are playing well their ranges are not predictable.

    This is one reason why so many have confidence already in Xhaka as Arteta’s heir.

    It’s one reason why the cheats at the pgMOB had to cook up a cheating (yes they cheat sorry if that word is offensive to anyone but it is accurate) four game ban for the player. There it was! A pile of stinking shite.

    At the same time he’s building the confidence to hold onto the ball when he feels like it, like a matador, or just like Toure at times last night when he masterfully held onto the ball in the c.circle, waiting for the Utd players to move and create the space on his behalf (he’d like to run less of he could!): fantastic football simply executed. The efforts from the AFTV presenter (Gary Neville) to equivocate the performances of Utd and city won’t have fooled anyone who has ever watched a game of football of any level unless they are the kind of person who prefers to ignore their own senses and be told what to think and do?

    The broadcasters’ attack on AFC is so venal it has in fact attempted over several years to fabricate the narrative that an AFC team playing poorly and slowly is actually what Wengerball is. And you can see this reflected in the gibberisms erupting from the orifice of one blagging idiot to the next.

    Amazing but true. The morons at aftv must have a preference for shit on a stick over football otherwise why on earth would these desperate celeberity junkies invite a celebrity failed manager and coach on to their show in order to agree with them? to nod their heads and bray like donkeys?

    Howver as anyone watching the Football knows and understands Wengerball conisists of moves such as Cazorla clipping the ball over the top in the last third first time (not a long ball) giving the likes of Alexis no option to overdribble, forcing him to make the run (and set up a goal!). Exhilarating football. It’s about character skill and balance and maybe it’s as simple an observation as saying that an attacking line up of Cazorla Ozil and Sanchez creates has the right chemistry to produce fizz popping Wengerball. Simple stuff. You’d hope…if the blaggers and plundits ever actually discussed the football they’d discuss the positive as well as the negative Sanchez has bought to the teams’ overall passing game. Eg: That the clipped or short loft was previously an underused tool against the massed ranks of teams like Utd or LCFC that set up to play like Greece C2004 (acceptable from Greece or LCFC but from the world’s richest club this is commonly known as “shit on a stick”), but now a pass that others copy more and more. We can quantify this attempt to rewrite the football that people watch every week from the broadcasters by comparing their above memes about possession and passing etc with their hilarious and embarrassing inability to call out Utd for being set up to play by their manager like a tedious overpriced collection of clogging divers.

    Its perfectly feasible that after becomming Chile’s greatest ever forward, after making Messi cry, that Alexis’ ego ballooned up to RVP proportions, for a short while at least (no one can be as comical as RVP!).

    As long as Sanchez does not get understandably & entirely fed up with the cheating pgMOB as we all clearly saw with Arshavin and the F Word*, I remain hopeful.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. The back and forth on here about Alexis is important and enlightening. It is verboten on most other blogs and even on twitter. Mostly it is George standing alone against those bloggers and podcasters who are the self-appointed guardians of acceptable debate (much like “political correctness” in our wider society where certain ideas and subjects are taboo unless the guardians of free speech allow). These big-shots, I call them the Establishment bloggers and podcasters, have decided that the individualism of Alexis in scoring goals, in coming deep and demanding the ball and often losing possession is more important than the team work demanded of Wengerball.

    The reason why the debate about the pros and cons is important is because, as Arsenal Andrew has reasoned, there seems to be a temporary truce within the squad. They seem to have put their differences aside and and are focussing on a strong finish. But I predict all hell will break lose in the summer as either players via their agents or insiders within the club leak their frustration with Alexis via the media. Then the usual lemmings will start picking sides on the basis of their Wenger-In/Wenger-Out bias without any regard to what is really important to the club.

    I go further, Arsene and the club, would be completely irresponsible if they are not contemplating the sale of Alexis just as Pep and Barcelona concluded. I am not in any way convinced by Wenger’s public posturing that he wants to keep Alexis for the duration of the contract and even run it down to the final year. If you believe that kind of nonsense then I have a bridge somewhere to sell you. Best that we at Positively Arsenal, who are always way ahead of the emotional clap-trap on most blogs and podcasts, prepare for the shit storm that is bound to hit us next summer.

    Meanwhile I follow my gut. After years of holding my breadth and giving Alexis the benefit of the doubt, my stomach is paying the price. I am close to bleeding ulcer whenever he has the ball.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. The main problem with all those stats is the areas he dribbles, the areas he losses the ball and the cause losing the ball on the rest of the side.
    It very leads to a shot on our goal or a loss of several minutes of possession near the end of the game when the opposition are time wasting or using a packed defence.
    As I said the other day there have been glimpses of an improvement in certain games certainly the city game was one where he constantly fed Nacho.
    Ronaldo light was accused of the same thing before slightly changing his game to improve immensely.

    Liked by 4 people

  6. Shotts no need to eat your own stomach with acid just yet! If the club lose AOC this summer (who after apprenticing with Sanchez might go on to be the better player at the same later age) then: go for it! I’ll be joining you…

    It’s important to determine which definition of Wengerball these blaggers are using. If they are follow the same religion as the aftv blaggers and worship at the arse of diving cloggers like Gary Neville, well, no need to add anymore, but if they are talking about the football witnessed by gazillions of football fans they might have something interesting to say or read. Bit like searching for a needle in a sewage pipe.

    The manager’s comments on difficult times could simply be an echo of last years comments at the same time of the season regarding the negative impact the aaa smears and “protests” and upon the camp and the club. IMO that’s an element of what he must be referring to. Seems like a logical and simple conclusion. In addition we can see understand that there must’ve been some natural disharmony following the first Munich match, and after the second a big drop in confidence not easily regained within such a hostile media atmosphere

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Shard
    I’ve sometimes thought that that the switch to a three man midfield was AW rebuilding the team around the very young F Word?


  8. Guys I have been talking about some of the reluctance to sell certain players and the recognition of same i.e carrying a few too many players. Ayo
    @damola3 feels the same and has expresse his thoughts. I think we can all agree with this statement.
    Ayo‏ @damola3 13h13 hours ago
    Replying to @damola3

    Debuchy, Jenkinson, Monreal, Gibbs, Cech, Ospina, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Cazorla, Walcott, Perez, Welbeck etc have next to no value.


  9. Christ all fucking mighty.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. George
    Granit Xhaka is a disaster, Pogba (6 months younger) is a work in progress and Deli Alley is world clazz.
    This is the group think opinion.

    Liked by 3 people

  11. @WWWB
    You will find all kinds of planks on twitter,
    From POTUS downwards.

    It is shocking that after 20 years of observing the most intelligent man in world football running our club, some of fanbase remain so brain dead.

    Liked by 5 people

  12. The way I see it, in the past the club missed options under their noses, they should never have allowed Adebayor to have his head turned. He was consistent , hardly ever injured a regular scorer, fitted the style of play. But the focus was always about RVP,who was regularly injured though he was great player.


  13. double canister
    I disagree on this particular point, Arsenal have been loyal to many players who are unable to take us to the next level and have let the manager down witha lack of application and drive to improve .


  14. Ask yourself a question, big game coming up i.e the FA cup final , straight choice Nacho or Gibbs?


  15. Nacho. Are you suggesting all squad members should be of equal ability? FFS, it gets worse.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. WwwB

    What? How can a club, any club prevent a player from having his head turned? Adebayor had one good season, flirted with AC Milan (Beyonce), and was given a new contract worth a reported 80k/wk. He didn’t produce the same way next season, and was sold to ManCity for a cool (and at the time for the club, necessary) 25m. He got to double his wages. Something we could never have matched in any way. Far better to be rid of a player on a long term expensive contract who has shown he is only mercenary.

    Liked by 5 people

  17. No, what I an suggesting if there is no competition for places there will be no improvement.
    If the players are not looking to improve everyday like Santi does or DB did for Arsenal will not improve.
    When the first 11 player has miss the game it should be when he returns he should find it dificult to get back in the side.
    There are obvious exceptions.


  18. Adebayor was a gonna after he head butted a fellow Gunner during a NLD

    He had a rep for being insane when he was at Monaco, AFC took a punt, and when he started to act insane (or on his agent’s advice…) they made a profit on him. AFC were probably still making a profit on him after he retired and was signed to not play for Tottenham by the reknowned businessman Levy.

    Not a sad tale as far as AFC are concerned but yeah as a footballer Ade’s career didn’t so much tail off as bomb straight down never to return. I don’t think he cares!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Speaking of NLDs I think I’m starting to get a little bit excited.

    The rocket from Rosicky and following 89 minutes were every bit as enjoyable as the title victory at WHL.

    No Rosicky. No Cazorla. Big (or little) boots for others to fill. They can do it.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Shard
    Every team has some player who has a good season , they get bumped in pay. Adebayor was having an exceptional season , but all attention was onan injured again RVP. Ade was a centerforward of rare ability they were and are still extremly rare you have keep players like that as a special case. Bendtner was the alternative ,who would say he was anywhere near in quality.


  21. finsbury

    I’m not sure that the 3 man midfield was to accommodate Cesc as much as it was both to match the trend in Europe (we were legitimately competing for the CL at that point, no matter what people say) and well, to make up for the loss of a colossus. A great two way player in Vieira. We haven’t replaced him even now.

    I still think we need to move away from having a No 10 now, unless we can find another Vieira type two way powerhouse of a player for the midfield. Having 3 attackers instead of 4 gives us a better balance and more security. (433 or 343 – extra midfielder or defender) Of course that means having capable and efficient attackers, and a midfielder ready to join in the attack.

    I may not have convinced anyone else on Alexis, but looking at the stats has convinced me that we really should keep Alexis. Shotta listening to his gut over data amused me (banned smiley) Unless there is a huge attitude problem with Alexis I don’t think Wenger will want to sell him.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. I would Wwwb. Bendtner had immense potential. He just never showed the drive to achieve it. Nor did Adebayor once he had his big payout from us. What do you mean all attention was on RVP? Adebayor got a pay rise and never played with the same desire again, probably because he knew he could get more elsewhere. I didn’t see him uproot any trees after he left us either.

    Liked by 3 people

  23. finsbury
    I am not saying Ade was right to put his head on NB but it was more about what was going on at the training ground,with regrads to NB attitude. Ade took on himself (which he should not have) to put NB in his place as up until then Ade had done more for Arsenal.


  24. Shard
    The attention was on RVP we were all waiting and hoping for his return, because we had lost Eduardo in the hope he would re energise the team and get over the finish line.
    As soon as RVP came on he scored and everyone can see what we had been missing.


  25. So we should not have looked to anyone else to come in and add value to the team, only for Adebayor to carry us to the title, and because we didn’t, he didn’t carry us to the title and then preferred to move clubs. And you write this in defense of Adebayor and his worth which Arsenal apparently misjudged?

    Liked by 3 people

  26. WWB

    Ade’s subsequent conduct at various clubs, his his complete mental breakdown, is strong evidence that AFC were right to get rid. Even though he was a very hard player to replace (Giroud), they had no choice after that headbutt. To be clear: He most probably did it on he advice of his agent. His version of his “statement to the fans”.

    No need to discuss Adebayor when you have Europes premier targetman at the club (Ade had the title maybe for a season, Giroud might have already had it for longer).

    That story is over. Shame the blaggers didn’t appear to the understand the story then and now, but AFC moved on some time ago.

    Liked by 2 people

  27. No point in debating that AFC should’ve held onto a player who retired the minute he left the club!

    Liked by 2 people

  28. @Shard: He who feels it knows it (Lol). I don’t dispute his individual stats but team wise? Good god we are 6th at the end of April. This is unheard of. But I will grant you and the Alexis defenders this; if Santi was playing, he would look like a genius as he did early in the season.

    Liked by 2 people

  29. I think you are missing the point strikers or goal scoring center forwards are rare and as such they are special cases. Just like how we used to hang on and wait for RVP to return from injury. If that type of player is easy to find we should have gone out and got him.


  30. By the way When We Were Boring: 2 months after you highlighted the importance of Santi as the “technical leader”, the useless mainstream media finally figured it out:

    Liked by 1 person

  31. I only used Ade to point out a trend that needs to be adressed, holding on to players who are continually injured or who are not striving everyday to improve.
    I feel we have too many of that sort of player hence they have no sell on value.
    Once upon a time I used to get pissed off as half of our team was being targeted by other big clubs. Now maybe we have one or two.


  32. shotta

    I agree. Which makes it weird for me that the ‘solution’ offered is to sell Alexis rather than add quality in midfield and up front. His individual stats say he’s a great talent. But I don’t see any statistical data to suggest he mucks it all up for the team*. Rather that he might be doing too much. If that’s the problem you take away his need to.

    Maybe I’m being too simplistic, but I’d always rather add quality than subtract it from the squad.

    *(I know he’s had two stinkers in the past 3 games, but that is a blip as far as I’m concerned, and fatigue is playing a part)

    Liked by 3 people

  33. Those guys listed in that tweet. Transfermarkt lists their market value at a combined 157m euros.

    Besides, most of them have value to our team, if not to the market.

    You’re only arguing for greater churn in the squad wwwb. Because any player who comes in to challenge for a first team spot, and ends up losing the battle, must be sold, and another player bought. Great if you’re ok with the idea that getting in someone new guarantees more competition and has commensurate improvement in performances, and think nothing of the financial costs of it all.

    Or maybe, the problem isn’t that our players are lazy?

    As for holding on to injured players. Who is going to buy them if they are injured? Where would we (have) found the money to replace them with sufficient quality if no one would buy them? Why would we want to sell at a loss when we still had squad spaces vacant?

    Liked by 5 people

  34. So it seems that no one has mentioned that the negotiations over the outstanding contracts for our best two players, Özil and Sanchez, might have impacted on their games?

    As professionals, it is not something they should allow to interfere with the focus of their games, but when it is a possible major change in their future careers the distraction cannot be ignored.

    Having just caught up with the comments, Shard, you put a good case for Alexis, as we agreed this morning, but it cannot be denied that when he goes on a mazy dribble and finally loses the ball in midfield, leading to a counter-attack by the opposition, and occasionally a goal against us, it is difficult to think not of his goal scoring prowess, but simply that he is a pillock. lol

    Incidentally, no one can deny that Santi is a wonderful player, altho prone to injury in the latter days of his career, but he too has been known to go on mazy dribbles of his own, and like Sanchez lose the ball to an iffy tackle, or a toe poke from a mid-fielder leading to a counter-attack.

    Two very different players, with different skills, but both trying to do too much — to our list of ‘best players’ above, we would have to add Santi, of course, but every great player has an Achilles heel, don’t you think? lol


  35. Shard, that is a great post.


  36. No I think you miss my point, laziness is not the acusation professional ambition would be the problem. AW promotes players to strive for self improvement, we have STATDna which is used to identify players outside the club and to measure players inside the club.
    Are the hard decsions being made?.
    I do not advocate churn or change for change sake,but I see you that recognise that I have a point as you say some players need to be moved on I say even at a loss in some cases. It’s called a mistake, Fergie made loads, AW not so many sometimes you just have to move some players on.


  37. Why would Arsene shy away from hard decisions?


  38. HenryB: Completely disagree with your comparison between Alexis and Santi. The latter is a complete team player, rarely loses the ball and has a 90% pass completion. Santi’s through balls are over 2 per game, 2nd best on the team, and that is from a deep lying midfielder. Virtually unheard of.


  39. I have no problem with you disagreeing with me, shotta, tho you seem to be disagreeing with something I did not say.

    Either way it’s fine.


  40. interesting debate on here. i’m sure that unlike other fans, no one here will stop supporting the manager if he choses to keep sanches or not.
    on the ade’s debate, i personally think he had more than one good season for us. but he had one exceptionally great one though. if you say he had only one good season, maybe you are also saying that giroud havent had any good season with us, which is not true. as for rvp, the only reason he spent such a long period with us was because he was constantly injured and his return for the team cant be compared to bayo’s. the only season he was fit, he didnt only ask for tranfer, he ridicule the whole club. but the funny thing is that that section of the fan base and majority of the media felt rvp was right to leave while no one think ade has any right to ask for anything. why? my guess is one is captain of holand while the oother is the captain of togo!

    Liked by 3 people

  41. pedantic george
    That is the question
    But I know I was not the only one on this site who at the begining of the season believed that we had more than a good chance to be in the shake up for the title. Now we are 6th , we lost our Technical Leader and there has been a colapse, that should not happen. The other players in Leadership roles should have stepped up ,
    where are they?
    Why has not another player tried to take over the role Santi has been occupying as Technical Leader?
    AW does not designate these roles (except the Captain) the players move into them by force of personality or performance.
    Only Mustafi has made an attempt to take the role of Spiritual Leader .


  42. Laziness? It doesnt exist, its a kind of word a bit like my old fav “luck” and even worse than “luck” comes”nothing”.Ha! ha! More on that another time!

    Underneath the misleading word/term (lazy) lies the real problem(s).Nobody is just lazy.

    Whats caused the poor run and mixed performances only those closest to the club know? Seems like some lack of hope was bouncing around, and I wonder what caused this? Money? A few bad results? Wobs giving it the large one? All mixed together plus loads more strange things(the media) on a long list?

    Of course problems that cause meltdowns arent singular, its like when old Brian Wilson ditched the Smile album, you cant find one singular reason for that albums demise.

    But who knows with AFC? Good thing is we’re back up with the heads held high(er).

    Its been really great to read what you guys have been discussing today.

    Good place is PA.

    Liked by 3 people

  43. i’ve said it here before that sanchez only tend to pass to ozil alone when in the final third. if he passes the ball to other available team mates like he does to ozil, he wont lose so many ball possessions. how many times monreal overlaps thinking alexis will see him as an option only for him to turn infield and eventually loses the ball while trying to find ozil in a harder way and at the same time put moreal in a compromised position defensively. although alexis rushes back trying to help to retrieve but if he had done the right thing, such situation might have been avioded. sometime i get angry why wenger would alow such thing in the team. but whenever iwobi play from the same position, monreal is utilised better.


  44. HenryB: If that was not the comparison you made then I apologize. I am working and posting.


  45. Never known it so busy on here on a Friday – no wonder the economy is in the state it is


    Liked by 3 people

  46. Arsene Wenger is my hero,he has given me the football I dreamed and hoped of seeing at my club.But he is not above being questioned, especially after the finsh of last season. The response of the team against Man City and particularly Leicester City,
    in the face of all that criticism the team showed something, was special .

    Where have those performances been?

    Why did they need it to get so bad for them to react and show they are behind the manager?


  47. I like people asking questions that can’t possibly be answered, especially when the implication is that someone has failed.
    Great stuff.

    Liked by 2 people

  48. layksite
    Agreed on your points on Alexis ,Ade and RVP


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