Arsenal: Why the long face ?


Good morning Positive AFC,

As we all anticipated our excellent home form carried us over the line against Toon. It was a little messy at the end and as we discussed last night by not slotting a second and ideally a third goal we left the chance available for the visitors to scuffle something from the game in the final few minutes. Despite a couple of misdirected efforts from Ayoze Perez in that phase we were ok.

There has been a bit of debate as to the quality, or lack of it, of Arsenal over the 90 minutes. As Arsene had suggested in the pre match press bash a little more speed and craft were required to score goals.

Mesut is always creative although first half he seemed to be playing further back than usual. His goal was a peach, the work of a world class footballer.  I’d say with Alex Iwobi and Jack starting that more creative spring was in place. Alex would pop up one moment on the left side dribbling into the Toon box, in the next move he’d be crossing from the left. We shot more and we shot accurately. I think therefore that ball carrying/crossing/using the full pitch was better. Newcastle were pulled about and opened up. As in the West Ham game all they could do for long periods was clear it them wait for our next attacking wave to arrive.

Where more work is needed is in the finishing as having opened the opposition up wide twice more (at least) we did not add to our goals tally. Laca’s chipped effort that sailed over Elliot and the bar by six feet was a shock – for the Frenchman as well as the 60,000 spectators. To be fair, and I’m always fair, I thought our Chilean did rather better yesterday than in recent matches and put in a couple of excellent crosses, one to Hector first half and a second to Larry, either of which could/should have been converted. Sanchez can cross a ball superbly – and that is what wingers do. Do more of it.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles ? That crazy slalom first half run! The finish that hit the side netting with Elliott flailing. A right footed midfielder at left back ?!? What is it all about son? In any event your first PL home debut and hardly a foot put wrong. You may therefore receive the MotM award from this fan. Please enjoy the day.

So on to the Ammers and the Cariboo on Tuesday, a very quick turnaround, before a big Friday night in prospect. B team to dispatch what I guess is likely to be the Claret and Blue B team. We have more than enough quality to put them away. Friday though …………… that is the game I am already looking forward to.


Enjoy your Sunday.




47 comments on “Arsenal: Why the long face ?

  1. A lot of gloom out there as you say.
    Let’s face it, we are not going to win the league this season, even at this stage, we have a pretty good idea of who might, unlimited money, top players, superb manager, and coach, and the confidence that goes with all that helps, but plenty still to fight for.
    We still have the cups, and a high league placing, with the noted exception, our top four rivals are pretty much as inconsistent as we are, that could increase as the ECL takes its toll.
    We have been a little nervous and lacking in confidence lately, hence a more timid approach than usual. But the players are without exception putting the effort in, performances will return, as will our finishing. This week would be a good start.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. arse_or_brain
    15 minutesgravatar.com/ianspace2014

    Ed, Theo has a slight groin problem but will be considered soon.
    Rosicky, Alexis is undoubtably a top talent and when on form is an asset however you have to consider the amount of times he loses the ball, fails to pass or just goes round in circles.
    In close games and when teams are defending deep he disruptes the flow and when he loses the ball takes the pressure off the defending side. This also means we lose varste amounts of time, even more than from opposition goalkeepers.
    He always cuts inside (although at the moment the whole team are guilty of that) making him easier to defend against and because he prefers to go on his own rather than pass other players stop overlapping him.
    The debate is would we already be goals up in those games where he plays apart in late goals or would the whole team be as wasteful without him in. I think Arsene probably agrees with you but on this one I think he is wrong.
    Its similar to the problem we had with Limpar, great player but getting him to pass was a nightmare. The only difference is Limpar had a manager who didn’t like playing through the midfield.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Once again the “fans” analysis of the game is based solely on the score line.No way was that a bad performance.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Unlike our gleeful bard , who has grasped the actual events and reported them correctly. Well played Andy.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Hmm. If I was Pep at Arsenal the owner had better be willing to spend a ton load of money to improve the quality of the finishing. I would be shot of Alexis in short order just as they did at Barca. I wouldn’t give one flying “you know what” where the money is coming from and how the club survives. My reputation is the most important thing here. Geddit.

    Liked by 4 people

  6. Andy you are fair and the embodiment of P.A. and I often wish I could be more like you.
    I however am a little more revolutionary and so I thought we were poor yesterday.
    I understand had we converted those chances you highlighted the score would have looked more respectable, but even then it would have been hidding a problem we have with our current play.
    I am gettin more and more frustrated with the amount of time the defenders are getting the ball passed back to them and the amount of general backwards and sidewards play. I dont know if our players have been told not to take on the full back or whether its just become a habit but its making us very predictable.
    Alexis did put in some good crosses yesterday but if he mixed it up by taking on the last defender on the outside he would be a lot more dangerous and would be talked about in the same circles as Sane and Salah.
    Oh what are we going to do about a problem like Xhaka, I dont know its just a poor run of form but he scares me everytime he plays. If Jack or Aaron take the ball off defenders they, where possible, look to turn or play the ball forward taking the responsabillity, Xhaka on the other hand plays so many passes straight back to the player who has just given him the ball this in turn slows play down and allows the opposition press to close in on our defenders. If a midfielder cant take care of the ball he shouldn’t be in midfield and should certainly not be playing for ARSENAL. I really hope its just a confidence thing with him.
    The cutting inside problem is becoming an epidemic and Hector with his speed and the passes he is given should be getting more crosses in. This used to be a feature of our play quick passing that moved the defence around to create space for our wide players to create better chances.
    At the moment our chances stats are good but if you look closer their not good chances with a high % of converting.
    I know confidence affects decision making and that was something again on show yesterday, Alex Iwobi was brilliant at times yesterday withhis quick feet however he must learn when to release the ball to get end product, Alexis is also suffering with that at the moment.
    The other thing that concerned me yesterday and annoyed Cech, was the lack of tracking back in the last 15 minutes. It could of been tiredness late in the game but it nearly cost us two points in a game we dominated. The defence has received alot of stick recently but they performed excellently at a time the midfield was letting them down.
    There was some good performances yesterday, Defence were solid against a front two, Monreal a monster, Mezut was emperous, Jack was Back and AMN looks the real deal in a position he must find difficult. So we still have a few creaks to iron out but we certainly not shit as the pundits would have us believe, confidence and form will return and then we will be flying.

    Liked by 5 people

  7. Straight as an arrow Andrew Nic. In my expert analysis based on the scoreline alone, couldn’t resist PG:

    We couldn’t have asked for more than what we got… 3 points (what we deserve) and another clean sheet.

    Had we played well it could’ve easily lulled us into believing we are battle ready for Friday’s game.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. oh in answer to your question in the title Andy it’s because i’m a horse.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. pg. No way was it a good performance either. Indeed take away the genius of Oz and a great performance by AMN and it resembled the two previous games, Wham in particular.


  10. Özil’s goal was so great it is worth being the only highlight reel of the game. From all angles, then Wrighty and Shearer telling us how they couldn’t have done it any better.

    Oh and Maitland-Niles’ run and shot deserve getting plaudits as well just to add meat to that highlight.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. surely Wham aren’t back whos playing George?


  12. I didn’t say it was a good performance, I said it wasn’t bad. I choose my words carefully and its always best to read them, rather than something I didn’t say.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Newcastle are a team low on confidence and form, it is very difficult to work out how well or badly we play in any game because of the exact measurement of the opposition.
    So we measure ourselves against ourselves and we know where we are brilliant sometimes. This is the same as when wobs measure Arsene against Arsene.
    In both cases there are very big unknows that can sway the argument either way, in the smaller game situation however the data in our minds is more recent.
    We lost against manure and assumed we played well, won against the barcodes and assumed we played badly. Football is an anomily.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Well, I’m happy with result, and highlights on Motd were better than I expected given all the stuff I’d read beforehand.

    Admittedly, I missed out on all my normal tension when I watch a close match.

    On Xhaka, and our defenders as well, it’s always worth remembering the immense difference between how we play in comparison with most teams.

    For the 100th or so time the West ham game had me thinking about how much football we play relative to the opposition. Sometimes with,say, four or five nice passes from the back just to get us in position half way inside the opponents half for the really hard work to begin.

    All while knowing if one of those early passes goes wrong the opposition could have a direct route to goal from very simple play. Likewise, if it breaks down in later stages inside the opposition half, again the opposition may well have a relatively straightforward pass available to get at us in space. Often they don’t, but when they do it feels so painful and can leave you questioning everything about being a true footballing side.

    That’s just what it is to be a footballing side against incredibly defensive opposition.

    Within that context, Xhaka may well have been bad yesterday- didn’t see it so don’t know- but the context should always be remembered.

    I struggle for any good metaphors for football but the best of a bad bunch I come back to is that we play a sort of high wire football, without a safety net.

    I think all of the (few) truly attacking positive footballing teams do. It just happens to be the case that the few teams who play like that- Barca, PSG, City, Bayern under Pep- are, not coincidentally, normally the strongest and richest in their leagues

    Liked by 2 people

  15. i have long since stopped watching motd because its highlights give little relavence to the game. We all know how bad they are so we cant complain when they do not show our true selves then use them as a sword to defend a poor performance.
    Basically if motd says its good it means we won, they coment only on the result and give no worthwhile match insight

    Liked by 3 people

  16. arse-or-brain

    Yeah, didn’t listen to them. Talking only of the clips shown. They tend to show every half decent chance opposition gets while often leaving out plenty of our own, giving a distorted picture.

    Therefore, I took their only having two decent Newcastle chance to show as evidence Newc had very few good chances

    Liked by 2 people

  17. On that debate about right time for young players on previous post. Don’t think any perfect, safe moment really exists, or only extremely rarely, and often when matches are already dead.

    I want to make the cup semis as badly as anyone, partly because it could mean even more minutes for youngsters, but there’s always a tension between various aims going on, and what with it being at home, in busy period, against opponents who might not prioritise cup, I hope we’ll risk at least one youngster in team.

    Wenger may well see it differently, and i’ll have no problem with that.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. 2 points on Alexis yesterday – during the first half he was directly in front of me as I was roughly on the Toon 18 yard line and the Chilean did not always go inside. Several times, to my astonishment, he went outside the Newcastle defender and created space for a cross. And his crossing was good.

    Second thing I do not know where the ‘losing possession’ stats are from yesterday ( usually they are in fourteen inch high letters on Twitter) but the player who ‘lost’ the ball most from what I could see was Alex Iwobi – he tried to dribble through the position but was dispossessed having beaten two defenders not not the third. He’d hit a cross in the box but it was cut out, he’d try a shot but it was blocked – in each of these cases Toon collected the loose ball. Yet in my view the Nigerian had a good game and much of what we did well came through Iwobi’s initiative. So what will Arsene tell Alex Iwobi on Monday? Do less, don’t dribble, play the simple ball?

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Thanks Andrew. I too was very impressed by AMN.

    Apparently Newcastle have had good opening spells in recent matches before fading, so I was told, and yesterday they had some momentum for the first and final fifteen minutes. I felt it was that run from the young player that brought the opening phase of the match to a close and for The Arsenal to build their ascendancy in the first half.

    Depending upon The Bosnian’s fitness he may get a run out in midfield midweek.

    Somehow I feel that this player’s potential, his career, will not peak with his agent snagging his picture onto the cover of a computer game.

    He does not need to be a protected diving clogger in the interests of “Theatre” or to satiate the desires and interests of the bare faced luvvies or even an entire team of protected diving cloggers. As we have all witnessed and acknowledged.

    Not when he can play football.

    *the aforementioned Bare Faced Luvvies must be an endangered species. Which could explain why the pgMOB affords them a protected status over officials from the rest, the most populas part of the isles…for twenty plus years…


  20. Ian, I’d agree in the second half we reverted to the static sideways passing. It was on (roughly) 49 and 53 minutes we had two attacks that moved the ball to the edge of the Toon box but we had not ONE SINGLE PLAYER in the box to pass to, we had six in a semi circle outside the box and the ball duly was passed backwards and forwards slowly and eventually ended up with Kosc on the halfway line.

    Liked by 3 people

  21. Having missed recent games it seemed to me that Alexis was much more in control of his urges to run deep into midfield yesterday? perhaps a result of Özil standing in the space he wanted to run into haha!

    I felt Alexis was in need of a breather as the second half dragged on, he hasn’t had a rest or break of late like Özil who was still gloriously gliding over the pitch during those last few minutes. With a rest midweek he’ll hopefully have a full tank for Liverpool.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. pg. “No way was that a bad performance.”
    Gf60 ” No way was it a good performance EITHER”
    Who could dare put words into your comments? LOL

    Liked by 2 people

  23. As was said yesterday Fins it may be sensible to take Alexis out for a game or two. Let him recharge his batteries and allow someone else a couple of games on that left hand side, although I doubt the first game to do that is against Liverpool.

    Liked by 2 people

  24. Agree on Xhaka Rich. Most teams are packed full of holding MFs, our neighbours for starters. We have Coq, but he doesn’t always play, I wouldn’t really call any other first team squad players holding MFs. I am not sure GX is even a holding MF, but he is often the nearest we have , and he usually plays that alone, in some teams, he would have a couple more alongside him.
    Xhaka, and Ramsey have to operate in this environment. I think our Swiss player has a very difficult job on his hands with a Wenger set up, and usually, he copes admirably. When he has to defend, he is often caught, with other players, notably Ramsey, or now Wilshere up in attack and having to rush back, Xhaka is easily isolated in our system. When we are attacking, again, Xhaka has to patrol a large area as our forwards, other MFs and full backs stream forward.
    Xhaka has to be very quick in thought, disciplined, and accurate, for someone who is asked to do so much, he is bound to make mistakes, which with our setup can be costly, especially with vulnerability to counter attacks. I would imagine he is also in a position most prone to fatigue, as we may have seen on the third Utd goal.
    Xhaka is a very capable player asked to play a high risk role in a high risk system. Our manager has a philosophy of attacking football, at times, this can be to the detriment of all asked to defend, Xhaka included. Not advocating a change in philosophy btw, though I suspect that may come with a new manager with the pressure he will be under,just defending a very decent , and brave player.

    Liked by 5 people

  25. Mandy should win a prize for that post.

    Liked by 2 people

  26. Mandy

    Blinking heck you’ve nailed it there. Enjoyed reading that, even if it did leave me wondering why I couldn’t write it so well myself!

    Leads right back to thinking of Santi. He’s a guy who is better than almost anyone at making adjustments at the last split second, thanks to technique, two-footedness, low centre of gravity, intelligence and lord knows what else. He can delay, adjust, delay, turn this way, that way, and so on.

    Xhaka seems to me, despite good skills and a good brain, the polar opposite in that regard. Think he likes to do things early if he can because he knows well enough if he delays and is closed down his options are then limited.

    That’s natural for all people much stronger on one foot than the other, combine it with average dexterity and quickness….as you said it makes things difficult given his responsibilities and role for us.

    Still think he is a top player and if we can nail a midfield combination that suits him he will do excellently in years ahead.


  27. Does anyone have a suggestion, by the way, of a midfielder we could add who would provide (near) ideal balance for us? Even a ‘type’?

    I’m pretty stumped. Obviously the ‘right’ midfield, whether two or three, depends on the makeup of rest of team and style of play.

    The best partnerships or trios I can think of typically involve a range of attributes and allow people to use their strengths while compensating for any weaknesses.

    Schweinsteiger, Kroos, Khedeira was a good one. Kroos, Modric, Casemiro another. Juventus and Italy have had some good ones involving Pirlo and players who cover his physical limitations. Pirlo, Vidal, Pogba, Marchsio in mix as well.

    Think Bayern the year they were imperious in CL had two out and out dm’s- Brazilian guy, Martinez- and Schweinsteiger. They had best widemen in world at that time though.

    Viera and Petit was a classic of two-man variety for us. Gilberto and Viera,too.

    I really like our set of midfielders and it’s a surprise to me that among them I can’t find a near perfect combo for us.

    I’m torn between thinking it’s speed and legs- maitland-niles style- that could be answer or sublime skills of Santi variety.


  28. At the moment Rich a Freddie Ljunberg type, able an willing to get into the box and on to the end of opportunities. Hard working, good fitness. From the rumours at Trafford Park Mkhitaryan might be available and who did just that attacking midfielder job at Dortmund


  29. I was watching AMN yesterday and he actually reminds me of a retro Brazilian player so languid and natural and also can light the afterburner seemingly at will. He seems to get better all the time. Long may it continue. Maybe the Ox knew his days may have been numbered anyway.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Hear Mkhitaryan was excellent in Dortmund days. Clearly not Mou’s cuppa. Don’t think he’d risk selling him to us though.

    Anyway, you’re definitely more adventurous than me. I don’t know who I’d like to see but lean more towards someone who can complement Xhaka, Ramsey, Wilshere on defensive and physical side.

    I know Xhaka was helped a lot in Swiss team at Euro’s by having the limited but aggressive, speedy and industrious Behrami charging around alongside him doing the closing down and chasing back if anyone got past Xhaka. Now he’s had an upgrade with an impressive young powerhouse of Viera-ian build Zakaria alongside him.

    But…we’re a more attacking team than Switzerland so that might not be way. Plus Ramsey and Wilshere and Ozil!!

    Genuinely don’t know, however. I would never have guessed Santi and Coquelin would be an excellent partnership!

    I’m one who thinks Sanchez argument- good, bad for us- is at the very least close as could be, but aye I’d swap him for De Bruyne. That would sure improve us!

    Ceballos of Madrid is a wildcard suggestion for Santi-type skills. Possibly he is even more skillfull. Ridiculously skilful in fact.

    But, though he’s hardly playing, extremely unlikely they’d sell him, and that fucker Pep would probably nip in and bung extra millions his and Madrid’s way if there was a chance.

    Liked by 1 person

  31. Zakaria certainly caught my eye against the Irish Rich – just 21 so a real bull with his own china shop available

    Liked by 1 person

  32. Some Mesut goals on clubs twitter feed, some reading significance.
    No idea if anything happening, but a new Ozil contract would be good for xmas


  33. anicoll

    Liked the young Swiss centre back as well. Speedy, strong, good in air and seemed decent on ball. Basel, I think.

    Zakaria only moved this summer to Gladbach, I think, so prob not on move for a while.

    Category of players I think we can improve on with old diamond eyes,I hope. Youngsters who have had a good year or two, at less glamorous clubs or leagues.

    We haven’t pulled off one of them for ages, but then I don’t think any prem clubs have a good record for them lately, and it may well be that,say, mid-ranking bundesliga clubs are a more sensible destination for most young players.

    Hard to know for instance if us and other prem clubs were negligent not to pick up likes of Lemar, martial, Mendy, etc when they moved for a snip from first clubs, or if again the players quite sensibly didn’t want to move early to prem and especially big clubs in prem.

    Still rue idea Kompany supposedly didn’t fancy a move to us when young as felt too early and instead went to Hamburg.

    Would like to think more opportunities we give to youngsters in first team better chance we have with youngsters elsewhere.

    Liked by 2 people

  34. a Mesut deal would be really great… he is such an intelligent player and great for our game
    Alexis being inspired to do same would cap things nicely after so much rubbish we have heard.
    AW deserves that from them… Arsenal does too. A win win

    Liked by 3 people

  35. Jeez, I dislike Martin tyler

    The way he loaded up with meaning just now to say ‘Oxlade Chamberlain absolutely loving playing for Liverpool’

    Liked by 2 people

  36. Wilshere and Iwobi may add a creative spring but sadly they are not adding end product, no goals, no assists.

    I seen somewhere yesterday that Alexis is 14 goals( goals and assists combined) down on this stage last season, that is a massive drop on what we would have hoped to be getting from him.

    a_o_b I seen 3 different highlight reels from yesterday’s game and the thing that stood out from the MOTD highlights was how much of a different slant they had on the game, almost all if not all of the Toon’s chances were shown, but so many of the AFC chances not shown. The Narrative has to be adhered to it seems.

    For me yesterday’s performance falls into the almost category, but with the difference that we still won the game. But it was one of those days when we almost scored several more goals, a day when if the simple fie to ten yard pass across goal had been made instead of the speculative shot or spectacular effort Lacazette, Alexis and I think it was Iwobi would all have had simple tap ins to an empty net. Bellerin twice and Alexis the 3 who took the wrong option. we also had Lacazette go for an outrageous chip effort when the more standard shot may have gained the reward of a goal.
    And as we so often see, when we do not take our good chances it encourages our opponents to battle on and then we give them some chances of their own.

    must also say it looks like we are finished getting penalties in the BPL this season

    Liked by 2 people

  37. Arsenal have scored 3 goals from their last 89 shots in the Premier League

    Liked by 2 people

  38. Look on the bright side Eddy – we have put in 326 shots in the PL this season, just one behind Citeh

    Liked by 3 people

  39. Clearly we are therefore doing something right, and something not right (banned smiley)

    Liked by 3 people

  40. Morning, All,

    Anicoll you piece on the static passing — “It was on (roughly) 49 and 53 minutes we had two attacks that moved the ball to the edge of the Toon box but we had not ONE SINGLE PLAYER in the box to pass to, we had six in a semi circle outside the box and the ball duly was passed backwards and forwards slowly and eventually ended up with Kosc on the halfway line” will be recognised by all Arsenal fans, as this happens quite frequently.

    It does upset many fans – me included – because we are so much better than that.
    In contrast, when we get the wind up our tails (the players’ tails that is – not fans trying to let rip a sneaky one) and we go forward with some world class inter-passing at pace, we can bemuse and slice apart any team. So the static stuff tho’ perhaps necessary in the circumstances does not usually end well, as you pointed out.

    P.S. I agree with you — Iwobi is a fantastic player still learning the ropes — and moaning fans should leave him alone – and he will become a star!

    Liked by 2 people

  41. A5,

    “Something right – and something not right” are you saying we are indecisive, or like my girl friend – fickle? lol And how do you know that? lol

    Liked by 2 people

  42. Always a good read and always another game coming up to get over any disappointments we may have suffered. Roll on the next game and keep rolling on the Arsenal as the top four is well within our reach. Would not mind a league cup too.

    Liked by 2 people

  43. Anyone watch Everton game?

    Swans surely doomed but unlucky with pens today. First just about was- clumsy action capitalised on by attacker- second was far enough outside box to make it a bad mistake from ref. An easy job for VAR, that one.

    Our old pal Moss it was. Felt he was pretty friendly to Everton outside of the pens, happy for the increasingly unhinged Williams to push the kid he was marking about all night, but maybe Moss just likes his tough, English, Big Samian footy… and then he goes and produces only a yellow for a foul with lots of similarities to Xhaka- very cynical, stopping a speedy run around halfway having chased the guy about 20 yards, but a much wilder challenge, with more speed and venom, a full out, full stretch aggressive lunge.

    Explanations on a postcard as to how it’s possible again. Why the friendly call, delivered with a sheepish smile this time, or why the unprecedentedly harsh call last time?

    Mood? His wife left him for a Swiss fellow? Not wanting to be harsh on a passionate young English lad in the best of those traditions?

    Maybe Riley gave him a big telling off last time, and now Mossy realises this clearly worse challenge deserves the lesser punishment, and that’s just bad luck for old Granit, but at least it won’t happen to him or us again.

    Liked by 3 people

  44. I think Paul Clement is done and dusted at Swansea

    Liked by 1 person

  45. The Gooner Reverend: Your pieces have been excellent. I keep forgetting to make public my appreciation.

    Liked by 2 people

  46. Phil has come up with the goods Shotta – new post up

    Liked by 1 person

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