Arsenal: Hide not your deeds nor your omission


Good morning Positive Arsenal friends,

A thorough hiding on Merseyside yesterday evening I feel most, if not all of you, would agree. We were attacked at speed and with venom by talented footballers. Their fury unhinged us, and their efficient finishing expelled us from the game in 18 deadly first half minutes. From 1-0 up to 3-1 down. Sala, Firmino and Mane running riot, and Arsenal defenders left sprawling like bowling pins.  In theory we still had a foot in the game and who can forget some of the storming, high scoring contests with the Scousers in recent years ? Unfortunately for us the normally porous Liverpool defensive line, though pierced early by our own version of swift and  incisive attack, were much better organised and denied us much chance to add to our early success. It was over. If you’d offered me 5-1 at Half time I’d have taken you hand off.


Is there much to be learned by us after such a public thrashing ? I think there is.

First, and probably foremost, we played against a very good football side who provided a display of how to win football matches. Look, learn, and absorb. None of our players will be any worse off for the learning experience.

Second, defensively, while we can get away with some patchy concentration and seat-of-our-pants work against plenty of teams in the PL and Europa ( and 22 the game run underlines it) against really good teams it is not going to work. I refuse to believe Lichtensteiner, all 250+ Juve appearances,  7 Scuddettos, multiple CL games, under his belt has suddenly forgotten how to defend or where to stand. Looking at the Keystone Cops performance of the Swiss, Mustafi and Sokratis in the first half however, with the actually RUNNING INTO ONE ANOTHER and even the dependable Torreira falling flat on his face (!), we need far better organisation at the back. You can see I am a football expert with such insight.  I strongly suspect it is a coaching issue though I accept it may have a personnel strain within it. The replacement of Shkodran by the evidently the 90% fit Laurent seemed to calm the hysteria along the back four, albeit Liverpool were no longer playing at full tilt. In the short term therefore Koscielny is likely to be a key player so let us hope the 90% can gradually increase to the full fitness.

Third, I thought that going forward last night, when we did have the ball, we did OK. I was dubious about choosing AMN and Iwobi but both played well all evening. Kosalinac battled hard and Ramey did fine. Laca was unlucky with his penalty shout, possibly because he tried to stay on his feet for a stride when other players when they feel “contact” would hit the deck immediately.

A few games this afternoon to keep an eye on. I expect little joy but, as we saw at Wembley yesterday, it is strange how the crumbs of relief spill from the breadboard of Life when you least expect it.

I am off to breakfast. Enjoy Sunday.




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  1. “it is strange how the crumbs of relief spill from the breadboard of Life when you least expect it.”
    Oh that’s sooooooooooooo good.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. As with Labo yesterday, a big thank you to Andrew for a year of remarkably consistent post-match write-ups, sadly written, as yesterday and from time to time, following a set back and a disappointment and yet retaining a modicum of balance and even-handedness that must be the envy of many a lesser blog.

    At least you and Labo don’t bump into each other …

    Liverpool probably rode their luck somewhat although, equally probably, retained a gear or two still to deploy had they needed it. We looked well beaten but had we enjoyed their good fortune (deflections, penalties) I believe it would have been a far closer contest.

    If our shortcomings have been exposed then it couldn’t have come at a better time with one window about to open for some stop-gaps acquisitions and a big one to plan for, through the spring ahead of another summer of opportunity. Losing Özil and Ramsey would be grim but the freeing up of wages could provide some compensation yet.

    Next season will better show our true future direction and the promise of VAR give us plenty to look forward to.

    For now, I don’t believe we are as bad as yesterday’s scoreline suggests and one or two new signings combining with the return of our first team injured, can still deliver us into top four; with that elusive fair wind and a fair share of good luck and balanced refereeing (well it COULD happen) it’s certainly possible.

    I think the run-in will be very entertaining with Liverpool convinced it’s in the bag; I know Citeh will have very different ideas.

    Enjoy it.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Not the main story of yesterday, by any means, but it”s been a good start for this prediction from the 21st Dec

    ‘Not yet time to start seriously worrying about Invincibles record, but I would hate to see Pool get within ten games of it.

    Just a hunch, but at the moment, it’s only offsides I’ve noticed them doing fantastically well on, but if they are still pushing hard through 2nd half of season, think they’ll start getting big calls at same rate as their last title push- 12 pens that year, majority 2nd half of year. Leics only team to have more- 13- in prem last 20 odd years. Momentum.’

    They’re in a good place with a good team, but chances are so much better if protected from an away kicking, nearly every close offside going your way, little or no prospect of an untimely ropey pen against, etc, etc.’

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great post Anicoll
    As I said a few weeks ago that we will lose points during winter months as it happenes to us almost every season. It maybe due to injuries fatigue mid-season syndrome whatever one thinks.
    Every team has it’s weak periods and for Arsenal it has been the cold winters generally.

    For me Liechestner was the weak link yesterday and not playing full strength with Laca & Auba playing together with a fit ozil should have kept the scoreline a bid modest IMHO.

    We shouldn’t have lost heavily also if Oliver was not too generous giving the last dubious penalty.

    Going forward I will still pray that Ramsey remains at the club and Ozil matter to be settled immediately as we need his creativity surely. If we fail to do so I doubt we can clinch top4 with new faces as it always takes time to settle in a new team.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. As for that defending of ours…yikes.

    I had the fear before kick off. Epic vulnerability of something. Impossible to describe but as though…the pitch is too open. No other ground/occassion feels quite like it. Nou Camp in our CL battles? Produces a feeling akin to having to make a speech when you’re not used to it and not keen on public speaking. Something like that.

    Anyway, so I try to get a grip of myself. Man up,etc, lets see what happens, hope for the best.

    Game starts and I’m nervous as hell. A few signs of early danger but doing ok. Then a few signs of promise at other end, then a quality goal!

    Before I can even settle down after…those two dagger blows, which make the earlier trepidation feel more than warranted and, if anything, not quite extreme enough. From there that sense of vulnerability never left, and was a reality.

    I know that front three is exceptionally dangerous and good, but even so….damn.

    So I’ll presumably have a similar feeling heading there next year. At some stage it will change. Can’t come quick enough for me.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. The aggravating thing Rich is that at the Emirates, just two months back on 3/11, we managed to keep a reasonable grip on Salah, Firmino and Mane. Not perfect but they had scraps to feed off. Mustafi and Holding played in a 4 with Kolasinac and Hector at the corners. That day their most dangerous threat came from Van Dijk with his head and Milner scored against the run of play following an error by Leno.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. In line with my breadcrumbs comment I have just picked up the lower tier Chelsea ticket that has been eluding me for a month.

    ‘Tis an ill-wind ….”

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Firstly many thanks Anicoll, I wondered yesterday how you would approach this, and thank you for a level headed assessment. Thanks also for all your post match reviews and to everyone for their posts over the year. Some friends gone, some new friends made, hot moments here cold moments there, such is the roller coaster of AFC.

    Odd thing was I didnt feel the pain as I thought I would.I do hope we can keep the Invincible status, if not then it goes into the history books like everything else. But even the new darlings of 29yrs no league title, will have their day, and also fade away again.

    The biggest dung from yesterday was one bloke from AFTV basically ranting with the agenda of hidden goalposts. Im really bored of AW getting it in the neck still by people who cant kick a ball. I wished there was a parallel universe where I could beam people to play in that game yesterday, the people who say local games on Stanley park produce better defenders. Thats kack straight from the dogs arse. These people have no idea what its like out there, at that speed against those players who are having the game of their lives, on the back of poor results. Pro football is Van Eyck level, Stanley park local teams are the local watercolour painter who cant draw for starters.
    They have similar playground ideas of how a club is run and how transfers work. They seem to think its supermarket sweep.

    I have no single reason for yesterday, because life doesnt work like that;its always of things coming together and creates a moment that then leaves a legacy that has to be dealt with. And we can we’ve seen it enough times this season. All things are possible,always.

    Anyway thats my 10ps worth. All the best to you all for the New Year and COYG!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. hidden goalposts-eh?wtf? Shifting goalposts I meant.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. It is a pleasure to write for such a discerning and well informed audience. We go forward together into 2019 with positive stride.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. anicoll

    Yeah. Never been able to fully account for home/away differences myself. Hector more suited to how we play, of course, and Rob looking better and better in his absence.

    I don’t know. not looking anything up but think we’ve had two 5’s, couple of 4’s and some 3’s against them in last 5 years so we’ve been generally struggling to contain them.

    I think plenty of it comes down, now at least, to our way of playing leaving us vulnerable to a good fast un who can dribble and beat people in one-on-one’s. Son, and lesser lights too like Redmond.

    So when there’s three of them and they are top quality! Even City aren’t quite as threatening to us.

    That’s not particularly personnel to me (though someone like, yes, Van Dijk could probably cope with it better). Maybe some absolutely first rate defender could have made the tackle Mustafi and Sokratis couldn’t for 2nd goal, anticipated it slightly earlier, etc. Maybe someone else could have managed a better clearance than Licht. I’m not sure. Maybe a defence first team would be far less likely to be caught with that mess of an offside trap for the third.

    But I am pretty sure that lesser defenders would not have been in those positions if playing in a deep, set defence. They may still get beat- think Pool have 100% record against non top 6- but they’d be a different type of goal almost certainly.

    The odds just seem very bad for us coping with that three with the way we play. Where the ball just sort of arrives in front of our box at their feet with very little build up, we aren’t set, and then it’s maybe 3-5 of us against similar numbers of them.

    It’s not an easy thing to change- if we even wanted to- as those sides who get proficient or better at deep defending do so over time, with a commitment to that style, and with, no doubt, recruitment policies in line with playing like that often or nearly all the time. They also in the majority of cases have aims, ambitions, expectations which are different to ours.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Yesterdays defending was sub pathetic at times, but yes, we are not as bad as all that.
    A combination of injuries to key players, new systems, as posted in the comments yesterday-new players not used to playing every three days mid winter, and perhaps some fatigue caused by constantly either chasing games, or having to redress silly mistakes at vital times may have sapped some energy and spirit. And the behind the scenes stuff, allegedly.
    We were up against an opponent with excellent players, a top manager, flying high, in a happy place, none of the injuries, and none of the fatigue our players exhibit. A team much further down the road with their “process” Leading so many games so much of the time conserves energy, in addition to what I imagine must be excellent medical and fitness staff. In addition, they seem to get every decision going this season, and have some very skilled practitioners at conning refs, who in some cases seem very willing to be conned. I posted some pen stats yesterday, to highlight we are not getting any such favours, perhaps some learning there. Still, life goes on.
    All is not lost, but looks like reinforcements may be needed, if they are out there.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. And forgot to add, with some clever sales , CL success and I am sure other things, they have spent a lot more than we have on players recently, not in any way significant of course.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. The fatigue at this stage of the season point is another puzzle Mandy. No denying all PL clubs, and particularly those playing in Europe have played a lot of football since August and December is game after game.

    In contrast to our good selves however and the stroll we enjoyed through the Europa League to the knock out stage with a second string picked for each game, Liverpool had at least four, and arguably six, hard CL games to get out of their group.

    When the club are flying maybe fatigue is not such a factor, but when the team is struggling the muscles ache harder.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. like Dave that defeat did not hurt me, the defending was so pathetic that I actually found myself laughing at it, I suppose in reality I chose to laugh as the alternative is a much worse choice.

    did someone mention fatigue, shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh don’t tell our PR team, they spent months showing us every detail of the much improved training regime the new coaching staff had brought with them, never in the history of man has so few been so fit, or something like that.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Can’t help with fatigue and aching muscles that so many of our games against non-top-six teams, including those at the bottom, are absolutely gruelling physical battles, including at home.

    I then tune into our rivals against same teams and it often looks a very different story, leaving me frustrated at why they aren’t playing at the same pitch ,with the same aggression, leaving foot in whenever possible etc.

    Of course I think I know why that is.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Chels do just enough against a flat Palace. Zaha found Azpilcueta a bloody sight more hard work than Granit.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Just joined Saints game couple of minutes ago. Goal already and very City one at that. Nicely worked out wide, pulled back around pen spot, dispatched.

    No sign yet of Saints aggressive approach against us, but I guess five mins not enough to judge it.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Ah, there was one. City make big show of it to try get the booking. Our mate Tierney doesn’t oblige but protests might help for next one.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. its all right guys we are not actually only one point better off than at same stage last season, no we are a full 7 it seems,

    John Williamson
    ‏ @willow1886
    3m3 minutes ago
    Replying to @edminton1966 @Gooner_Echo3

    I call 7 more points that the corresponding matches – changing those that were promoted/relegated – from last season tangible improvement despite the fact we have a new HC, new tactics as well as major injuries to our defence.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. There we go. Bit of claret seemed to inspire Southampton, who capitalise on loose play and score nice goal.

    Hojberg looking more the player I thought he was going to be these days.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. southampton have leveled v city

    Liked by 1 person

  23. city with 2 stoppage times goals to lead 3-1 at half time

    Liked by 1 person

  24. If one is looking for a reason, not an excuse, why yesterday happened, perhaps it is symptomatic of our players’ inability to keep their concentration immediately after scoring or conceding a goal, or at the end of a half, which must take the blame.

    Add to that their fluke first goal, surely it is a fluke when a defender kicks the ball away and it hits another defender and lands in front of Firmano in front of an open net, so soon after our goal, followed by another within a few seconds, and it was downhill all the way.

    This inability to keep their concentration has been the bane of our players year after year.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Ed

    Fascinating to see new approach from that guy.

    On the one level, it makes reasonable sense- he had firmly decided against Wenger, so everything was interpreted through that- locked and loaded with negativity at all moments, hand on the holster. Now he wants to give the new guy a chance, so everything is being interpreted through that. Hand on a cup of tea or something instead.

    On a different level, it is obviously poor, not cricket,etc, and draws attention to that phenomenon, with tweeter in question and many others, of going too far when for or against someone.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Should I criticise a good decision? Massively controversial pen call in Saints game. Denied a pen when their man got in front in on keeper, defender behind, a hand on player, body to body contact, theatrical fall.

    I actually want that to be just below the pen threshold, and so, good call.

    But….fuck me, I’d expect us to be pinged for it every time, and indeed we almost always are, including twice yesterday. Crucially, each time media tend to agree that it is a pen.

    That’s how you can end up with a ref like Oliver apparently giving us two pens for ten against, Dean with his similarly remarkable pen stats with us, Leicester getting their 12/13 on their title charge, Liverpool the same on their last charge, our minus (more against than for) in 7 or so of last ten seasons.

    Not paranoia either. Not when the stats predict that, say, if they have two shouts for softish pens, us one of our own yesterday, there’s a good chance they’ll get theirs, one at least, and we won’t.

    Ditto the stats for straight reds against us for Pool, Utd, Chelsea. Maybe one in last ten years. So you could predict beforehand that if Fellaini grabs someones hair, or Mane puts hands on someone’s throat, there’ll be no red.

    Liked by 2 people

  27. A bit late to A5’s review; enjoying summer. All 30 degrees of it.

    True to form Andrew you offered calm when so many are losing their minds. I said the other twitter if we had look at the Brighton, Liverpool and Fulham games as bloc we should hv look how to maximize points during the times of a chocful schedule. Maybe should hv gone hung ho at Brighton and then Fulham and played footsie with the dippers. No Fulham, fucking Fulham, is a must win game. Gotta do what we gotta do.

    Thanks AA for your kind words yesterday on previous thread (only read it earlier) and above. As A5 alluded to everyone else contributing makes it very easy. Not a tough crowd at all.

    Liked by 2 people

  28. Damnit. Was doing well after yesterday’s disappointment. More philosophical than typically am; then, with my latest round of ref-doubting, the thought occurred to me that we don’t ‘just’ have to do what Liverpool have done to get in a similar position, we have to do way more and be significantly better!

    Unless our luck turns, of course, or unless it’s mostly in my imagination, and the stats to go with it are simply coincidence, or proof of flaws we have, including the lack of the sort of players who can ‘earn’ pens.

    Happy new year!

    Liked by 1 person

  29. 3-1 after 45 at Old Toilet. I would not mind but Bournemouth have been bloody good.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Need St.Totteringham to put the pox on the ManUre! Oh for a few more results going our way! Come on Bournemouth!

    Liked by 1 person

  31. Not going to happen today. Chelsea keep grinding out results, and are more defensively stable than us, as sadly are most in the last few games, Utd playing like birds released, City and Liverpool prob too far ahead, and the latter will probably get at least 20 dodgy pens come May, Spuds, we shall see.
    But if Emerys target is the CL, looks to me like he needs help and a boost this Jan, some of our players look physically, and mentally knackered

    Liked by 1 person

  32. Arsenal now just the 3pts ahead of Utd, a few weeks ago we were 11pts ahead

    Liked by 1 person

  33. Mandy

    We are always knackered at this time of the season but credit to Wenger he always had some trick in the bag to keep us in top4 seasons after seasons.

    Liked by 1 person

  34. we are just past the half way stage of the season, and I have a question for you all

    what is Emery’s preferred formation,

    once I get your views on that, I very well might have some more questions

    Liked by 1 person

  35. Why would a coach have a first choice formation and more than a preferred or first choice 11?

    Unless you imagine you are the Brazilian team that won the Mexico World Cup I think every coach in the world with a squad of decent players picks and chooses their weapons to take apart the opponents who are up next.

    What’s the next question?

    Liked by 1 person

  36. Seems Scudamore’s replacement has, in football parlance, bottled it.

    *must not entertain tiny hopes of some scandal to down him and Riley, must not entertain tiny hopes… **

    ** Just kidding, Andy. ****

    **** Sort of.

    Liked by 1 person

  37. anicol most coaches have a preferred formation, the one that the want to use, the one the want to use the most, it in fact is the starting point for any coach and is needed for such things as what tactics they want to use, and what players they want to bring in or keep.

    Liked by 1 person

  38. Ed

    Not a clue,really.

    My strongest early impression is that he is a cm-centric sort of coach, i.e he sees centre mid as the main source of a teams balance between offence and defence, favours those with a good mixed game there- tackle, pass, receive from back, connect, savvy, engine- but, in not fancying Ramsey in the two, doesn’t want the cm’s to be high up pitch too often.

    Startling thing for me, as someone who always thought Ramsey was better with two defensive-minded mids behind him, and who assumed two centre mids with good defensive attributes between them and reasonable degree of caution about pushing on would automatically give us 5-10% more defensive security, is…well, suppose I’ve already said it : that hasn’t been case so far.

    Really ,though, I learned that lesson a few years back: I considered all of Xhaka, Coq and Elneny to have some good defensive attributes, and be good players, but rarely did any combo of them look the part or make me feel defence was more secure.

    Now I’m just re-learning it, with a couple more players I like and who I think have some good defensive attributes between them, Torreira and Guendouzi, in the cast.

    Ainsley’s role yesterday was interesting. Closest we’ve had to a winger in a very long time? Though maybe that’s not right- as Iwobi does some wingerish stuff, from a wide position, but his role is hard to describe for me (wide forward?) and i don’t think of him as a winger.

    In other words, not a clue what Emery’s preferred or ideal set-up is, or if he has one.

    Liked by 1 person

  39. seems like it is the Tinkerman formation to me

    Liked by 1 person

  40. Hmm – well I’ve no idea how a football coach likes UE thinks about his players and his squad, and his he approaches different games, with different opponents.

    What I do know is that each working problem I tackle I have a look at what is entailed to tackle it, and choose how I will go about it based on what I see as the prime obstacles, and the parts that will be less of a struggle or which I know I can exploit.

    Clearly the problems I encounter are not football matches (and if they were I’d have been sacked long ago) but I think I’d choose different players and/or formations to beat, say Blackpool, compared to, as another example playing at Anfield.

    I’m not saying I might not use the same personnel and formation for both, simply that there is no ruled that I should or would.

    Liked by 1 person

  41. Dinnage eh ?

    Are we in for a Fat Sam expose in the morning or is this a genuine case of smoke with no fire ?

    A left field appointment to begin with in the most conservative of business institutions. Most odd.

    Liked by 1 person

  42. I don’t think we’ll hear anything more than she had change of heart and opted to stay with current employers.

    If there was anything juicy to it, and it’s a possibility, even if it’s just her getting a better sense of the characters and practices within that level of football and thinking ‘no thanks’, I figure all parties would be happy to keep it private.

    Shame. Based on very little, I loved the idea of a total newcomer up at the highest echelons of power. Thought there was a small chance that if she discovered any things that are off or strange she could look into them, and that it might put people on their best behaviour at least.

    Oh well. Maybe Blair is back in the hat.

    Liked by 1 person

  43. it seems Arsenal have completed the signing of 16 year old Romanian midfielder Catalin Cirjan, the player himself said back in the summer he had agreed to join AFC but deal could only be completed after he turned 16, which has now happened.

    Liked by 1 person

  44. Rosicky 6.27, agree, Wenger deserves huge credit for what he did with the top four, and his trophies towards the end, pretty unlucky in the Europa semi as well, better finishing in the first leg would have seen us through, probably to win that final.
    But, we are in another era now, as frustrating as yesterday was, and Emery and the holy trinity certainly need to address things, the team certainly needs our help and support

    Liked by 2 people

  45. Doesn’t look great Ms Dinnage pulling out of this appointment, a nice , well paid ,high profile appointment. Maybe she doesn’t like the idea of prison food? She is a Fulham fan I believe, maybe Mike Riley has done them too at some point?
    Blair, bloody hell, hope not, but if he is under consideration, Sepp Blatter is probably also looking for a job.

    Liked by 1 person

  46. I don’t disagree, Andy, that coaches would even should use different tactics for different opponents. But am I the only one who thinks the players are suffering from not having enough consistent time together in the same formations/positions to develop any kind of understanding with each other? Is it good that I never have any idea who Unai will choose or how the ones chosen will set up? It does for sure acheive the positive of keeping opponents off balance, but I wonder if it keeps the players too off balance as well? Maybe they know as they prepare for a team who is going to play and where, perhaps that’s how he does it. But it sure seems chaotic from the outside looking in.

    I don’t know the answer. Unai does what he thinks is best, I’m sure. But I do wonder.

    Liked by 2 people

  47. ha ha ha, ive been blocked by several people on twitter today, it must have been something I said

    Liked by 1 person

  48. Looks like Giroud took heavy blow in game earlier.

    Mad isn’t it that pens are given for such soft touches these days, but defenders can still typically get away with heavy late hits after player releases shot. Wonder if VAR could change that at all.


    Must admit, I stop just about short of fully wishing injuries on any rival players…just about…though i do wish on them exactly the same physicality and fouls we receive (a similar thing)…but not on Olly!

    He’d be bottom of list among anyone who doesn’t play for us.

    Liked by 1 person

  49. laughably the Mirror who have ran a dozen or more Arsenal in coming transfer stories in the last couple of weeks, are now, seeing as we lost yesterday and the malcontents are vocal again, running a story that Arsenal do not want to spend any money in January as we don’t have any money available, and that only in coming by if we recall Chambers. I really don’t get why these cunts don’t get called out on their bull.

    Liked by 1 person

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