Arsenal subdue Baku crew with very little ballyhoo


Sabahınız xeyir Positives,

An evening with Unai experimented with the formation and gave our younger and squad  players a good run out. An easy win in  the end. Had our hosts managed to get a goal, particularly to get it back to 1-1 during a first half when they created plenty of half chances, it may have been different. The 60,000 Azeris were desperate to cheer on their side but Sokratis’ very early opener rather punctured their ballon.  The crowd got quieter and quieter. The chances  Qarabag did create, or we provided with some dodgy defending, were wasted. When they hit the target Bernd pulled off 3-4 good saves. Not their night. Can I say however, to any Azeris reading the post today “Congratulations” on the pitch, its green surface put Wembley to shame.

I think for us the experiment with a back three did not show much promise and, understandably, at half time it was abandoned. Given the number of games Monreal has played recently I am not sure that emery intended to carry on for the full 90 on that formation even if it had been a revelation. I can understand why Unai might look at it as we are not particularly secure in defence. He may, in fact, look at it again as 45 minutes in Azerbaijan is hardly proof either way. I very much doubt however we shall see the three centre backs deployed at Craven Cottage, or any time in the next two or three games against domestic league opponents.

In contrast to the back three experiment the performance of the young players drafted in and relied on last night was far more pleasing. Smith Rowe demonstrated what we know is his excellent technique and did not flinch in the charged atmosphere. His goal was the cherry on  the cake for the 18 year old. I heard last night from the commentator that Emile  meant to “nutmeg” the keeper as he put the ball away. Yeah – right. Guendozi I also thought brought all the energy he has to control of midfield and  again the 19 year old finished his evening with a goal. And my man of the match ? Alex Iwobi – did you see his bit of skill  on the two Qarabag defenders. I shall drop in the film below. The young man is in a great rum of form at the moment and improving every week.

Of our other players good to see THE TANK back on the pitch after his injury break. He will need a few games to get his sharpness back but I sense he is player that Emery will want to work with and improve. And finally I was gratified to see that having brought Laca and Ozil 2,500miles to Baku the manager got them off the bench to run about a bit. Never having been  a professional footballer I do not know what it would be like to travel all that way, in midweek, and sit on the bench for 90 minutes, and then go home with your kit all still clean. I imagine however it would be frustrating. If as a player you do get a chance to get on the pitch, kick the ball about even for 15-20 minutes, you can at least feel the trip has been worthwhile.

A day off I see for the players today after the long trip home and tomorrow preparing for the short trip to Putney for Fulham. A very different  set of obstacles on the tight ground beside the Thames.


Enjoy Friday.




About anicoll5

Arsenal supporter, 60, Dad, harmless and humourless, political militant moderate, school governor and worker bee

46 comments on “Arsenal subdue Baku crew with very little ballyhoo

  1. The bit of Alex’s skill – Hale End since 9 yeas old and it shows;

    Liked by 3 people

  2. That was indeed a fantastic piece of passe passe from Alex, player of the month so far!
    Defence has to be the focus. We are more or less on par with Liverpool Chelsea and Spurs in attack with only one goal separating us. But we have conceded more goals than the four above us.
    It will be challenging to get the defence solid without impacting on attack and so far we don’t seem to have great options. Kos is out, no cover for Monreal as Saed will take to time to get into form, Holding though improving in every game is relatively green, no established partnerships as Sokratis beds in, Mustafi is still an enigma. If we can keep pace and be in top 4 by Jan we will need to add a centre back, one with pace as well.
    Iwobi seems nailed on for the wings and if Reece steps up we may not need to get another player in but I would love to see another Ox type player in the mix. Smith Rowe looks like he can be our next Ramsey.
    If we just get the defence right I think we are nailed on for a top four.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I don’t think it is a matter (necessarily) of the quality of our defensive players TFL. I see some far worse clubs with far worse defensive players putting up a battling, last ditch display to keep out better opposition. What kills us is the mistakes that we make, players out of position and seemingly not understanding what is required of them, players not concentrating, dithering on the ball when was is needed is a great big hoof.


  4. Last night’s game was quite enjoyable… we just have this way of of stringing together wins without playing at our fluent best. I’m starting to think that maybe all this chaos on the field is what Emeryball is all about. It open up the games by not allowing opposition to get into formation. I like it!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. It’s like there isn’t a language to talk adequately about defending in its collective sense. That goes for the way that no individual defender could have prevented Isaac Success’s chance last week. It was all about spacing, and Torreira being a little naive when Monreal was miles up the pitch. If the team is an organism, its growth plates haven’t fused yet…or something.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I do like us though. Normally in the good times you forget what the drought is like. But we’re in the drought right now – a gang of irregulars shambling across the mesa.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I’d add Maitland-Niles and Nketiah to the list of ‘likely lads’ coming through to replace the old guard. Arguably they’ve already arrived and it’s just injuries/high cost competition in certain spots that’s stopping them from being in the team now.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I wasnt able to see the game, so much appreciated your report Anicoll5. Many thanks.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. no problem Dave – it was an odd game to watch. Once we went 1-0 up so early I sort of switched off mentally. I expect Sporting Lisbon to put up a bit more of a challenge but fingers crossed, before we go to the Ukraine at the end of November we will have safely qualified. We have Spurs then ManYoo the following week after Poltova so I’d guess a very skeleton squad would take the field if progression to the next round is sorted out.


  10. Thanks anicoll5, fine food for thought on your 11.41am.


  11. for me the 3 at the back can not be judged on last nights 45 minutes, as we will have to see it with Mustafi in the 3 and Hector and Nacho as the wingbacks, and of course Torreira and Xhaka as the midfield two. As last night Lichtsteiner, Kolasinac, Eleney and Guendouzi all struggled. As did smith-rowe with the defensive side of his game, but like Guendouzi his goal covers a multitude of sins. EMS was good in one direction only.


  12. reports in the USA say Arsenal are set to sign Paraguayan star Miguel Almiron from MLS side Atlanta for £11million in January, with the president of Atlanta United confirming the attacking midfielder will move to the Premier League, but he did not confirm that AFC is the side he will move to


  13. Alex is indeed brilliant at times but he has a touch of the Alexis about him and I’m afraid his work rate is low. I certainly wouldn’t want him in front of me if I was a defender. To be MotM or indeed Player of month you have to be judged on your all round game and not just moments of brilliance.
    I love supporting players from Hale end and like Alex but he hasn’t had a stand out game this month and certainly not yesterday. While I agree he had no right to get out of that situation (shown above) I’m sure the coaches will be having a word about times he failed to track midfield runners. Sometimes it’s not all about what you do but also what you haven’t done.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Now I’ve got that out of the way there once again was some very pleasing bits and some worrying bits. Sead looked suspect on his return although as it was his first game he can be forgiven.
    As I mentioned the modern habit of takleing from the wrong side last week another modern phenomenon was in evidence last night. Getting close to wingers to stop crosses then defending the corner used to be the norm. Now however it seems players stand off allowing the cross or pull back to happen and try to deal with the initial danger. This however has me crapping my pants far more than setting up to defend a corner although maybe there’s some stats somewhere that prove the new approach is less dangerous.
    It is amazing that in our eight game run the oppossision has plenty of chances and we haven’t controlled a single game but we keep racking up the wins and even when our forward line aren’t linking at points in every game we have been clinical.
    The longer the game went on last night the more I enjoyed it and it’s strange to see Unai through on striker after striker, he is true to his word he does like goals.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Hi Positives. After you luxuriate in AA’s match report, take some time to see what our own Gooner Reverend has to say over at http://uniteforvar.com/?p=1320


  16. ianspace2014
    October 5, 2018 at 1:08 pm

    If Matteo won the award last month, I can’t see why Alex wouldn’t deserve it this month. It’s not about being perfect or no one would win. Alex has been effective going forward and contributed to a few goals. Winning the player of the month would be a boost to his confidence and encourage him to continue improving. I see that as a good thing.


  17. Anicol@10:52 the mistakes are a worry. The fact that time and again we get exposed on eithet flank is frankly getting a bit ridiculous. It does show that there is no effective communication or organisation from the bark. We desperately.need.a.leader someone who can read the game and direct the defence.
    I was impressed with Torreira and the way he read the game last night. But the number of times the full backs were left 2 on 1 or even 3 on 1 was worrying. Also the way the full backs got sacked in and moved into the centre (especially Saed) left gaps to be exploited.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. It shouldn’t be a surprise that a mix-and-match team looks a bit disjointed. I think winning despite this flaw is a good sign. Although I wasn’t able to see yesterday’s match, one thing I noticed during the Brentford game was that Elneny and Guendouzi both seemed to be trailing the play a lot. When one CM does this, a team can manage, but when both do it, the opposition can get at the back line and create chances.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Passenal, normally I agree with you on most things but this I just can’t. I do agree you don’t have to be perfect and a player showing consistent improvement should be up for the award however I think while he is undoubtedly skillful in places I don’t think his played well for a full 90 minutes in any of this month’s games.
    He still losses the ball to often, he still makes the wrong decisions often and he is still let’s midfielders run past him and doesn’t go with them.
    Now I do like him I have since he broke into the U21s but I just don’t get the all those saying he’s playing well. I believe he can play alot better and I believe he will.


  20. If seven or eight wins on the bounce and three clean sheets in a row represents a drought then I am drowning!

    This run reminds me of the runs of 2014-16, parsimonious, efficient, as some wrote at the time almost Mourinhio-esque (yikes!) football. No wonder the Billy big blaggers had to write a story that didn’t match what was happening of the football pitch, otherwise at at this time there’d have no memes to churn out as click bait. See that old nag over there, that’s right, the poor beast is getting a flogging. Same as the Cech Leno gibberish, Unai’s method and manner was easy to predict and appreciate, he simply did the same as all good managers would do. But when you need to churn out the content I suppose something has gotta give eh! Lucky us.

    A return to some decent form for the team after the replacements for Gabriel and Coquelin had settled and re-strengthened the squad was almost as predictable as the Barca players easing off at the start of the second half and letting in one or two goals midweek when 2-0 up they observed that Messi could score at will. Alas it wasn’t to be my favorite scoreline when the plundits favourite team are playing.

    Still not sure about Mustafi though! Sorry Passenal. Hopefully he’ll prove me wrong, he’ll rightfully get the chance to do so. With only three main CBs he’ll be getting plenty of minutes, at least till the new year.


  21. The big difference I forgot to clarify between this season and the runs of 201416 (two golden gloves, consecutive clean sheet record etc. etc. etc.!) is of course the big big as in BIG chances being offered up to the opponent on a slightly higher frequency.

    However as I don’t know what I am talking about I wouldn’t want to make an Arsenal of myself by critiquing some mysterious unseen nebulous entity vaguely and blissfully described as “Defensive Coaching”.


  22. The new gaffer will be feeling pretty good about those three clean sheets in a row.

    A max. of 45 in the GA in the league is feasible, I hope. And it would be a great signal of an improved away form. Which is why Sunday’s match is just or yet another huuuuuuuuge contest for this squad.



  23. 12 England call-ups for Arsenal youth stars
    Dan Critchlow –
    Oct 5, 2018
    England will have a strong Arsenal contingent in their youth teams over the international break, with the squads having been announced on Friday.

    After England announced all the different squad selections on the FA website, we’ve run through them all to round up all the Arsenal players involved for you. Let’s have a look at who’s involved at each level:
    England u21s

    Reiss Nelson, currently on loan at Hoffenheim, has received a call-up for the top England youth side. The 18-year-old has never played at this level before, so it’s a great opportunity to make the step up permanently. The u21s face Andorra on 11th October and Scotland on the 16th October.
    England u20s

    Eddie Nketiah and Joe Willock haven’t quite made the same jump up to the u21 squad yet, despite their good form for the Arsenal academy. There are no spaces opening up in the top team for a striker and central midfielder just yet. Those two are instead part of the u20 squad to face Italy on 11th October.
    England u19s

    Like Nelson, Emile Smith Rowe could be making a first appearance in a higher age group over the break. Fresh from his first goal in senior football, the young Arsenal star will be part of the squad to face Portugal on 11th October and Macedonia on 16th October.
    England u18s

    Unsurprisingly, there are a large number of Arsenal players called up for the England u18s, as the Gunners are very strong at that level right now.

    Arthur Okonkwo, Vontae Daley-Campbell, Bukayo Saka, Folarin Balogun and Tyreece John-Jules make up more than a quarter of the entire England u18 squad to face Sweden on 11th October and the Czech Republic on 15th October.
    England u17s

    Miguel Azeez, Yunus Musah and summer signing Sam Greenwood are all part of the u17 squad taking part in a four nations tournament from 12th-16th October. Brazil u17s, USA u17s and Russia u18s will all take part in the mini-competition.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. A number of our players have been called up by their countries for the October round of international fixtures. Scroll down to find out who’s involved:

    Danny Welbeck has been named in Gareth Southgate’s squad for England’s Uefa Nations League games against Croatia on Friday, October 12 and Spain on Monday, October 15.

    Aaron Ramsey has been called up by Ryan Giggs for Wales’ international friendly against Thursday, October 11 and Nations League game against Republic of Ireland on Tuesday, October 16.

    Sokratis will also be in Nations League action when Greece host Hungary on Friday, October 12, before travelling to Finland on Monday, October 15.

    Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been named in the Gabon squad for their Africa Cup of Nations qualifying double-header against South Sudan on Friday, October 12 and Tuesday, October 16.

    Alex Iwobi could also be in Africa Cup of Nations qualifying action, as Nigeria face Libya on Friday, October 12 and Monday, October 15, while Mohamed Elneny completes our African continent, having been called up for Egypt’s qualifiers against Swaziland on Friday, October 12 and Tuesday, October 16.

    Lucas Torreira has been included in Uruguay’s squad for their international friendlies against Korea Republic on Friday, October 12 and Japan on Tuesday, October 16.

    Takuma Asano is likely to feature in that game too, after Japan’s friendly against Panama on Friday, October 12, while David Ospina has been named in Colombia’s squad for their games against the United States on Friday, October 12 and Costa Rica on Monday, October 15.

    Granit Xhaka, Stephan Lichtsteiner and Henrikh Mkhitaryan could still be called up, with Switzerland and Armenia yet to confirm their Nations League squads for this month’s fixtures.

    Copyright 2018 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to http://www.arsenal.com as the source.


  25. Iwobi on Aaron Ramsey: “He’s a great player. When I was breaking into the first team, I always used to watch & learn things from him. I am still doing that today. It would be a great miss if he goes but hopefully he can stay. We all want him to stay.”

    Liked by 2 people

  26. With the benefit of hindsight I feel even more strongly that the handling of the two keepers has been as good as could have been hoped for from the new gaffer. He’s encouraged great form from both players.

    Clearly such a smart inspiring coach would want as strong a squad as possible.

    Although it is highly unlikely I still hope to see a CM of Ramsey & Torreira at some point, during the Xmas crunch etc. And to see Ramsey re-sign. I’m more optimist about seeing Maitland-Niles fit and ready to play in the last few group games of the EL when perhaps more opportunities to start will be available for the younger players.

    I am out of my depth here but I do wonder if the new gaffer will try a 433 similar to Germany in 2014 or Chelsea today with Özil up and roaming from the left, to be fair I did wonder if the old gaffer would ever copy that Germany team too.
    We did see a 343 which Young Pep found interesting, though I can’t remember exactly when he said that, probably in the aftermath of City’s defeat in the FA Cup SF and the comprehensive performance against the champions in the final. In the 343 Özil would be ‘right’ and Sanchez ‘left’?
    Özil has been on the right in the current 4231, swapping with the centre player, sometimes with the opposite player. These variations are encouraging to me, there could indeed be a lot more to come from the attack. I wonder if we’ll see Özil start from the left? The rebuild at the top was impressing last season and looks even better with a fit and firing Lacazette free from his injury niggles last autumn and winter.
    But as always for me CM is the key, who will be this new team’s general? The new senior CM is my front runner, though I guess he his relatively inexperienced and also new to the league.


  27. < encouraged great form from the circumstances of Cech approaching the end of a legendary career and the new arrival Leno hoping to follow in his rival's footsteps.

    Two Arsenal keepers kept a clean sheet in Europe this week. Heh.


  28. “while he is undoubtedly skillful in places I don’t think his played well for a full 90 minutes in any of this month’s games.
    He still losses the ball to often, he still makes the wrong decisions often and he is still let’s midfielders run past him and doesn’t go with them.”

    I still feel he is held to a higher standard than other players when I have seen the same from quite a few in our team so far this season. For example Lichtsteiner’s best performance has come at left-back, so far as a right back he has been patchy and when he can’t keep up with his opponent he fouls them, risking a yellow card and putting pressure on the team. Guendouzi has been patchy, but everyone is raving about him. Torriera looks promising but he is not a significant upgrade on Xhaka. It just feels like the new boys are given a free pass on the basis that anything new is good, while the old boys are unfairly scrutinised. Iwobi is still a young player and it is only recently that he is getting a consistent run in the side. I accept that he is not there yet, but there are definite signs of improvement, which should be celebrated.

    Liked by 2 people

  29. “Still not sure about Mustafi though! Sorry Passenal. Hopefully he’ll prove me wrong, he’ll rightfully get the chance to do so. With only three main CBs he’ll be getting plenty of minutes, at least till the new year.”

    I don’t get this negative view of Mustafi, yes he has made a few high profile errors, but he has also had many solid games. He needs to play alongside a more experienced defender but due to injuries he has had to take the lead when he is not quite ready. I found it interesting at the last home game that Rob Holding made several poor passes, but the guy next to me thought it was Mustafi and was berating the latter for it, despite me pointing out that it was actually Holding not Mustafi. He was delighted when Mustafi then made an error to reinforce his negative stereotype. It seems that once people have decided what they think of a player they only notice the things that support their view and are unwilling to give the benefit of the doubt and allow the player to grow and improve. Donkey Adams would not have made it in the current climate.

    Liked by 2 people

  30. spot on passenal, when Sokratis fouls an opponent he is “being smart” and its something our team has sadly needed, but when Mustafi commits similar foul he is “an idiot”

    Liked by 1 person

  31. also passenal, look at the stick Cech got for that one bad pass across his goal that went close to being an og, then compare it with Leno miskicking the ball onto his standing foot and the ball almost rolling into our net, both judged completely differently, some have already written Leno’s mistake out of the history books. Its this sort of thing that sees Xhaka seen by these idiots as a liability, Ramsey as hollywood, Bellerin as a fairy, etc etc etc

    Liked by 1 person

  32. There is nothing that aggravates me more than giving away a needless free kick. Mustafi does it all to regularly. He’s not a bad player, but he is a stupid player.
    I like him btw.

    Liked by 2 people

  33. The opinions on Mustafi sums him up. A good defender who is prone to inexplicably amateurish gaffs. He has had some really brilliant games which only goes to mistify why he hasn’t addressed the errors of judgement (which I think is what annoys most) that have often proved costly.
    Fans will give the newbies like Sokratis an easy ride but Mustafi has been established enough that the jury is no longer out.
    When fit he starts as he is one of our most experienced defenders but there isn’t much room for him to make anymore mistakes


  34. Passenal, new lads should be given a free pass to a certain extent as they are bedding in. As far as fans going mad over Matteo etc I think it’s the potential they see that gets them excited rather than a current critic about them.
    Remember Alex has already had this excitement about him as he has shown his potential in spades. He is now being judged on continuous improvement rather than raw talent.
    Indeed my comments about him was only I didn’t think he was playing well enough to be considered either MotM (in which he would have to be the major difference in a single game) or Potm ( in which he would have to show a consistent high level for a whole month)
    I already know he can run at players and go past them for fun however if he is getting tackled he needs to pass the ball early before again trying to take players on again otherwise he just becomes another Alexis Brilliant one minute and a liability the next.
    Another thing that really grates me is a player standing and watching an opposing player run past them without the ball and not covering the run. This sometimes goes unnoticed as you tend to watch the ball. In the next couple of games watch Alex if he stops doing this then I’ll vote for him myself as like I say I do like him and want him to do well. I do believe he will improve and also think he will start to score on a regular basis but to become a natural first team starter he needs to work on his all round game.
    On Mustafi I agree with George great defender, really great likeable personality but scares me to death.

    Liked by 1 person

  35. Andy I’ve just lost a comment can you find it

    Liked by 1 person

  36. FT. Arsenal 2 (Balogun, Flaherty) West Ham 1 (Alese).

    Arsenal U18 v West Ham: Okonkwo; Daley-Campbell, McGuiness, Spencer-Adams, Lopez; M. Smith, Clarke; Greenwood, Coyle, Musah; Balogun. Subs: Hein, Swanson, Cottrell, Alebiousu, Flaherty.

    Liked by 1 person

  37. Its alright George it’s the comment just above where I said I’d lost it. Maybe it didn’t come up straight away or maybe I’m just going mad.


  38. It was in the spam Ian – no clue as to why


  39. Agent Alexis making a sacrifice to keep his cover


  40. Booger. One of those daft free kicks talked of earlier let them back in as well.

    If you’re thinking clearly, surely you’d never make that foul, especially when opposition’s open play finishing has been ropey.



  41. Unless it’s already a done thing, may still be a possibility for Mou to save himself if it clicks with him after today he’d be better going on the attack.

    It looked very on right from start of second half with all the attackers out there and the gamble/necessity to go nearly all out.

    Maybe Newc tired, maybe doubts set in with them or they were caught in that weird zone of not knowing whether to push on or try protect. Also they had one great chance and a couple more opportunities. Hurt them having very little on bench as well. Atsu was atrocious.

    Still, though, I wonder what could happen if they opt for attack, instead of the weird, slow, passive defensive approach which hasn’t been working

    Thankfully, I’m not sure he can change his spots at all.

    Can’t believe it if it’s the case that we were 45 mins from being free of the Mou scourge, possibly forever, and now he may still have a chance.


  42. It is a done thing


  43. Interesting to see Shearer on MOTD actually coming out & justifiably criticising Anthony Taylor for his inept performance yesterday. Especially so, as my understanding (from a Positively lite blog) was that the BBC had been instructed by the PL not to do so.
    Perhaps with the advent of VAR attitudes are changing.

    Liked by 1 person

  44. New post up


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