Arsenal: The Harder The Conflict, The Tastier The Bacon


Good Morning Positivistas.

I am sure the glow of satisfaction persists among us this morning after the comprehensive slaughter of the Stoke? And on top of that justified satisfaction a glance at the mainstream and social media as your breakfast grills invitingly reveals multiple reference to “the heat is on” and “under pressure” alongside a nervy picture of Jurgen.

After the WHL game and the heathens smashing of the statue of St Totteringham all was despair, renting of replica shirts, wailing and gnashing of teeth in the land of Gooner. Less than 14 days on there is a spring in our step.

Marvellous game football innit?

Of yesterday’s proceedings it was our wing-backs that caught my eye. I say that because in days gone past, too many days, a trip to Stoke has seen us fail to break down the home side’s lumpen defence. Too often our elegance has foundered on the rocks of four or five two-metre high backs. The Stoke defence is always rough, but irritatingly it is often entirely effective in trumping our superior technique with 90 minutes of raw, ugly vigour. Not so yesterday.

The difference yesterday was that the home side were attacked along the flanks, their defenders pulled from side to side, picked on, turned and twisted. Hector particularly had a magnificent game and left Pieters, an experienced left back, in a heap on several occasions. That the opener, decisive in its timing and beautiful in its simplicity came from Hector’s cross, was no chance outcome. And this was of course the same wingback position that the Ox centred so beautifully for Danny to score against the Mancs last Sunday.

On the left hand side the liberation of Nacho is almost complete. Again he provided width and opened gaps for the Spaniard to score, as well as for Olivier and Alexis to steam through the spaces with Johnson left on his arse.

Breaking through defences that are set up to contain and frustrate us has been our failing this season, and last. With the use of wing-backs, and I think the Ox, Gibbs and Hector are naturally attacking players rather than any sort of classic full back type, we have found a key to open that particular lock.

The second encouraging thing noticed yesterday was a willingness to match Stoke kick for kick, sly elbow for elbow, theatrical tumble for diva dive. They were not used to receiving their own medicine from us. It is a truth universally acknowledged that if you are required to wrestle with pigs that you will inevitably become a bit grubby.

Of the rest of our lads I saw an entirely professional performance, a couple of flashes of excellence and our second goal was a joy to behold. As important there was a nine minute period after Crouch ‘scored’ (ahem) during which we were under pressure, corner after accurate corner from Stoke raining in, but we did not crack. Our players were calm, everyone knew their job, we drove them backwards and finally they were forced away.

Like me I am sure you will have an eye on the London stadium this afternoon. Which ‘Ammers will turn up, and which Liverpool?

Perspective is the thing though, and time.



Right, that is breakfast cooked. Enjoy your Sunday.

41 comments on “Arsenal: The Harder The Conflict, The Tastier The Bacon

  1. Excellent review Andy,
    Great performances yesterday against several forces of evil. I thought we started well enough but then went a bit backward and square which has seen us struggle in games this season. Eventually our patience paid off with the excellent Le Coq proving the difference, although by that time I think five different players had played in our full backs.
    Dean was disgraceful and dangerous and should never ref again. The fact we coped with him and stoke under a pressure situation shows just how brilliant we were even when they were given a goal.
    Great to see Oli quoting George with “keep the Faith” and then ARSENAL. com quoting Stew “Four goals, three points and one big monkey off our backs. It was a very satisfactory day’s work at Stoke City on Saturday”. Proving once and for all the club and players read this blog.
    Cant see city or pool slipping up in their remaining games, however the credit goes to squad for putting the pressure on these other teams. COY IRONS.

    Liked by 6 people

  2. Fantastic job done by Arsene, Andy and the boys. A fit Aaron is a fine player and he is starting to remind us of that. Likewise Hector, who has also been criticised this season. Whoever would have thought that two injuries (ankle and concussion) might have affected his form. And it was not so very long ago that Alexis was pictured (shortly before flying to Chile) with a serious ankle injury. He hasn’t been that good recently, but the last couple of games have seen him back to something like his best. Its almost as if these fine players have been incapacitated by the various kickings they have received. Fully fit they are top players (as are Oxlade and Elneny) so while it is right to point to the lost influence of Santi, let’s not forget the impact these other (largely unacknowledged) injuries have had on this season.

    Liked by 7 people

  3. Anicoll, thank you for the last sentence and the photograph. Perspective indeed.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. …and the 12 points go to…Andy Nic!

    Have a great Sunday PA, and come on you Irons!


    Liked by 2 people

  5. And while on the theme of injuries, let’s not forget Callum Chambers. Away on loan at Middlesbrough he was playing well and helping his side towards mid to bottom safety until a stress fracture forced him out, an injury which proved disastrous for the Boro. I love the thought of him and Holding forming an iconic partnership over the coming years.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Hugely enjoyable win. 1st goal was nice, second exquisite, third a bit lucky, fourth featured stunning Ozil pass then good sharp work from Ramsey. (who could predict that, like all players, he only reaches his top level once he has been back from injury long enough)

    Loads of positives. I’m really liking look of three at the back; already a familiar sight when one of them is beaten to see another sweep in and clear the danger.
    Also helps no doubt at defensive corners.

    Limited evidence so far about how it works if we go behind- good against City, poor Spurs- but the evidence is extremely encouraging that it will help us not to go behind in first place.

    Ideal for me is if we can reach point where we comfortably alternate between three cb’s and two depending on opposition and task.

    Could praise every player basically, but I loved to see Coquelin perform so well in particular.

    Liked by 5 people

  7. This formation really seems to bring out the best in these players, I hope they use it as a basis for the next season. Ramsey….a revelation at the moment, defensive solidity increasing, security helping our creative players, wing backs playing well. The players seem to like it, and are responding.
    Not to put pressure on anyone…..but a £two million youngster from a lower division looking the part, and an English one at that…..and a defender,……according to the media , seems at odds with what Wenger does, surely it is only our neighbours that unearth such promise?

    Liked by 3 people

  8. poor Boro Tim – defensively mid table but in the striking department even fewer goals than the awful Black Cats. If they could just grind out one more decent defensive performance next Sunday though ………..

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Lovely write up Andrew, thank you; left me hungry for more.

    Looks like we are not relinquishing top four without one helluva fight!

    Video technology can not come in one game too soon but I won’t go on about it. Suffice to say had Giroud handled the ball in as per the lanky cheat Crouch, Brexit would have been brought forward two years and Arsenal sent the bill by way of a fine.

    There’s been something very encouraging about recent results.

    Not merely the successive 3 critically important points but the evident togetherness on display throughout the whole squad.

    Sanchez will never change but he could be accommodated.

    If accommodation leads to passes like the one he fed through the eye of the Stoke needle for Ozil’s sublime finish then the prospect of Wenger ‘doing a madness’ and breaking the pay structures to keep both Alexis and Ozil (whilst extending his own stay), then, with the likely player additions this summer, next season will be one of promise and potential.

    Yes, feels like we’ve been there before (at the start of this season, for starters) but losing big characters like Santi, Mert, Rosicky, Arteta is never going to happen entirely without pain. The rate at which newer players (Granit, Mustafi, Gabriel) are now bedding in and/or maturing is a matter of some excitement. Even the visible improvement of established players (I’m looking at you Monreal and Ox) is a cause for quiet celebration.

    Shouldn’t go overboard, I know.

    But if Liverpool wobble in London this afternoon I can see myself er, going overboard!


    Liked by 5 people

  10. The old fart’s thoughts.
    Man U and then Saints and Stoke away, neither happy hunting grounds for us in recent years…9 points and one goal (??) conceded. I dream so well afterwards. May it continue.
    At the start, Nacho and Oz were looking so good yet neither played a role in our opener with Granit, Le Coq, Hector combining so well to leave Olly with a tap in.That was classy, but well overshadowed by our second with true genius from both Alexis and Oz. Don’t know about you, but I could watch goals like that non stop. OK maybe to the end of the season.
    Bar a few barbed thoughts about a linesman, I thought Dean wasn’t having such a bad game until he reverted to being the Dean that we all love to hate. For about 10 minutes he managed to disgrace his profession and there will be several scars and bruises to show for it when the lads get back into training for Tuesday.
    But take a bow Rob Holding. His clattering of Arnautovic sent out the word that evil could be matched by evil if desired. How does a choir-boy look so innocent?
    Despite Alexis indicating that he needed to be subbed, he was left on long enough to restore our 2 goal cushion…how does the man do it?, and then Rambo came on and showed the knuckle draggers that it wasn’t wise to boo him for deliberately breaking his leg on Mum’s favorite boy’s boot some years back. It would have been great to see him score that chance but he well made up for it with a lovely cross to Olly to add his second.
    Fingers crossed for the next two, 6 points and no injuries. Keep the faith.

    Liked by 3 people

  11. Quite right Ian – Rob Holding’s neat despatch of Arnautovic was worth the entrance fee on its own;

    Liked by 4 people

  12. Andy Nic – That porker is too good to be true. I just woke up over here in the West and my mind is made up; bacon for breakfast.

    On a less porcine note, I entirely agree with you on the role of the wing backs with, to me, one important modification. The two wing backs on show yesterday are not in the English tradition of simply trying to loft it into the mixer at the first opportunity. This by the way is the usual advice by the typical neaderthal English pundit we get here on the NBC EPL feed. Neither Nacho nor Hector simply cross the ball at the first opportunity. They will take their man to the by line and create overloads and cross the ball the ball along the ground to forwards or midfielders flooding the box. As Wenger and Giroud explained in the post match interviews the empasis is efficiency.

    Speaking of creating overloads, Nacho Monreal is a master. Arsenal’s bread and butter is running a 3-man set on either flank. When Santi was playing it was typically he, Nacho and Alexis on the left flank. It works perfectly if the man on the ball can play a precision through ball. Yesterday, In the lead up to the important 2nd goal by Ozil, the 3-man overload was Nacho, Alexis and Ozil (actually Coquelin was involved in the build-up) and, as he sometimes does based on his 10 assists, the through ball by Sanchez was perfect. I wish somebody like Adrian Clarke would break this down for fans. I am sure opposing coaches make vids of this and drum it into defenders when they prepare for Arsenal. In his post-game interview when asked about that goal, Arsene acknowledged this is how the club likes to play but it needs players with the technical ability.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Spot on Shotta- the number of times that Hector took the ball into the box was exceptional – and the final pass was them placed – rather than whacked in.

    Liked by 3 people

  14. I prefer Hector to AOC in this position because he defends better and crosses the way my two esteemed colleagues just said,

    Liked by 2 people

  15. The Stoke pitch isn’t the widest (Pulis would reduce width even more), so it would’ve been interesting to see if Chambo could find the space.

    As he’s a ‘midfielder’ (technical term!) the prospect of The Ox as the right sided CM or as the right sided forward alongside Bellerin could produce some nice football.
    Coquelin’s pass through the lines for Bellerin was the second in that move following Xhaka’s, and then there was Ozil curling that pass for Ramsey’s run from the right with his left peg. I’m not complaining.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Fins: As you often note, don’t expect the blaggers to emphasize the finer points of the way we play and the unfair tactics to handicap us.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Thanks to those who covered my absence yesterday and to Andy for his carnivorous carve up of yesterday’s feast.
    I love Rob Holding.

    Liked by 4 people

  18. Shotts
    In spite of the many planes, trains (get out whilst you can!) and auto-blaggers not once did I stumble upon the suggestion that Xhaka and Coquelin could’ve been the CMs away to West Brum with Giroud up top. you know the kind of thing you’d expect in a critical or over critical review…

    Nevermind the football eh?

    It appears as if there’s an exponential relationship between the amount of revenue churning click bait out there and the number of blagging self-publicists and official vampires (such as the ever charming Lawrence, they all do the rounds).

    Thanks again to Andy, Steww, Shotta and even occasionly George for creating a forum for football fans!

    Liked by 3 people

  19. That’s very decent of you Fins.

    Liked by 4 people

  20. “It’s the same the whole world over
    It’s the poor what gets the blame
    It’s the rich what gets the pleasure
    Ain’t it all a bloomin’ shame?”

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Slaven Bilic is incensed ?

    He has no idea ….!


  22. Liked by 4 people

  23. Stoke City v Arsenal - Premier League

    Still enjoying the nutmeg on Shawcross for the third…

    Liked by 3 people

  24. Shotts, unfortunately this ain’t the tiny tots. West Ham hate the spuds and had a reason to beat them, as of this year. Borough are a broken team and everton are good side.


  25. What will be, will be. We have Ben brilliant of late. Wonderful football. We are going to have a very successful next season.

    You read it here first….thanks to all on PA.

    You are a sensible, moderate and fair bunch. A pleasure to be around…

    Liked by 3 people

  26. After our good recent form and the Ammers thumping of Spurs we had grounds for optimism George – not our afternoon though.

    Let’s go again on Tuesday. Do the very best we can. See where we are then.

    Liked by 2 people

  27. Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s Feyenoord have won the dutch league, a possible future Arsenal manager


  28. Well done GVB.
    As for future Arsenal manager…..maybe, but my fear is that there some in high places in the club who would put Thierry Henry in there given the chance


  29. AFC Dan‏ @ArsenalFCDan May 13

    Just realised Ibrahimovic is the only player in United’s entire squad who has scored more goals than Özil this season. League or all comps.


  30. mandy i hope that knob never gets the managers job at afc, in fact i hope he never gets any job with afc.

    Liked by 2 people

  31. Ed, he had the chance to stick around but decided not to take it, as is his choice. But he has yet to do anything to suggest he is Arsenal manager material…being a great player doesn’t cut it I am afraid.
    If The Man departs this summer, I really hope there are those in a sufficiently senior position to ensure they don’t go for the starstruck option.
    I find those reports worrying…assuming they are true…. that a board member tried to get TH back to motivate the team during the recent slump in form.


  32. mandy I don’t believe a word of it, pure guff from the malcontents

    Liked by 1 person

  33. Richard Keys‏Verified account @richardajkeys 7h7 hours ago

    This is Utd’s 150th game since Fergie retired. £488m spent – 3 pts better off than in LVG’s 1st season. Anyone see progress under Jose?


  34. “Anyone see progress under Jose?”

    And the answer is:
    Mino Raiola.

    Liked by 3 people

  35. Fins what on earth is “mino ralola”

    Liked by 2 people

  36. thanks to google… found he is a super agent. lol

    Liked by 2 people

  37. It was a pure pleasure reading the blogs and posts this weekend.

    Liked by 2 people

  38. Weird day yesterday.

    Think we all knew Liverpool were favourites against West Ham but, buoyed by an excellent week, our past experiences and good old fashioned hope we seemed poorly prepared for the favourites winning their game. Maybe I’m just talking about myself, but I felt incredibly deflated by a result which was such a strong possibility.

    Or maybe the near confirmation of no CL is just what it is, a nasty hit. One we’re not used to.

    There’s always the miracle result, but it’s very hard to envisage Boro getting anything.

    Hopefully the players don’t let it get to them and keep doing what they’re doing. Then the cup final to relish.

    Blow of missing out if we do will be significantly softened if it gives us the chance to see many of the young players get some serious game time in Europa League next year. It never seems to work like that with English teams in that competition, but we’ve not seen Wenger in it before.

    I really hope we play it like that, and so the core get to mostly play first half of season as though we are not in Europe, and we get the treat of seeing Maitland-Niles, Jeff and plenty of others play a good few games in that time.

    Could also be a chance to experiment with Wilshere and picking a midfield designed to suit him (runners elsewhere). Chambers, Gabriel, Elneny; Bielek, Akpom, Bennacer, Nwakali (though work permit dicks will prob thwart that again) Willock if he stays. Nelson! Nketiah.

    Liked by 4 people

  39. New post up


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