Arsenal 5 – 2 Tottenham: Match Thoughts And Individual Analysis

I completed 32 years on this planet on Friday and was hoping for a birthday gift from the Gunners on Saturday. They obliged, and how! My thanks also to former Gunner Adebayor for his part in giving me such a delightful start to a new year. Defeats for United, Chelsea, and Everton were like the icing on a sumptuous cake.

Wenger started with the expected line-up incorporating Szczesny and Wilshere into the eleven. AVB surprised me a bit by picking two strikers, a move that would have delighted many Tottenham fans and looked like it was working till one of the two pressed self-destruct.

The opening exchanges were even but Spurs created the two incisive moves including the goal. Arsenal saw more of the ball but the visitors were, as expected, very well organized and worked hard to prevent the build-up from the back. I don’t remember the Gunners creating anything in the final third in the first 15 minutes or so.

At the other end, multiple defensive issues combined to present Tottenham with their first goal. Defoe’s movement flummoxed Mertesacker. The German’s lack of pace and inability to turn quickly was also evident in the manner in which the Spurs striker spun in behind. The fact that no one closed Vertonghen down – Giroud was trying but Cazorla should have stepped up , or the manner in which Sagna and Koscielny dropped back while Mertesacker was pushing up, exposed the lack of collective defensive understanding between the Gunners.

Minutes later another golden opportunity arose for the visitors when a simple hoof from Lloris resulted in a 4-v-4 for Spurs as the gaps between the Arsenal lines were too large for the midfield to influence the move. Lennon dragged his shot wide, just.

Arsenal’s first real inspiring moment came in the 16th minute when a sublime turn from Wilshere eliminated the midfield screen and opened passing options behind the defence. While that move in itself was not decisive, it did result in a minute or so of territorial pressure from Arsenal and forced the clearance from Vertonghen that Adebayor challenged for.

Of course, no amount of pressure on the defence would justify the sheer recklessness of that tackle. It was to be the single most decisive moment of the game and provided further proof that Adebayor’s lack of mental stability/clarity has hindered his talent from blossoming into a world class striker.

 The game was completely different after that as Tottenham’s tactic of defending in the centre of the pitch was no longer effective. This meant they had to drop much deeper as a unit. I don’t think they were prepared, as a team, for such a scenario. From the sending off till the first half came to an end, it was all Arsenal.

Spurs completed 53 of their 67 passes in the opening 17 minutes which produced 4 shots and 1 goal. In the remaining 28 minutes plus injury time, they just completed 55 out of their 77 passes with no shots on goal.

In contrast, the Gunners completed 80 of their 99 passes in the first 17 minutes but did not have any shots on goal. After the sending off, Arsenal were 161/181 for the passes and had 7 attempts including 3 goals.

The passing charts explain the patterns of play pretty accurately. In the opening 17 minutes the game was tight and both teams found it hard to gain territory. It was mostly a battle in the midfield but Spurs were able to create two good opportunities even if those were the only real moments of penetration. Arsenal weren’t able to build from the back. Although they too have a couple of passes into the box, Tottenham were not as open at the back. That said, the sending off was indirectly related to those two passes into the Spurs box as it was the first occasion where Arsenal enjoyed some territorial gain and kept the game in the Spurs half.

For the rest of the first half, Spurs just didn’t have a way out. I’ve often talked about the importance of building from the back to Arsenal’s tactical dominance as it’s directly related to their ability to attack and defend. Once Tottenham went a man down, the Gunners were able to link the defence with attack and made it count.

The passes that we see inside the Spurs half in the central third and on the edge of their defensive third were the key to this linking process.

It’s worth noting that many smaller teams do cede that territory to the Gunners in order to defend resolutely by dropping deep and narrow in a compact shape. At times, when opponents show impeccable discipline, that works and frustrates the Gunners. But most of these teams play a variant of 4-5-1 and often have 9 or even all 10 outfield bodies between the ball and goal. It was difficult to visualize AVB instructing his side to do so mainly because they’re not built to play that way. I don’t remember the last time Spurs put all men behind the ball for 70+ minutes to hold on to a one goal lead.

That said, we must also commend the Gunners for the manner in which they piled on the pressure. A stand out observation for me was the manner in which they sustained territorial advantage and had bodies in the box even after an initial set-piece was cleared.

Arsenal’s first and third goals came from such sustained pressure. Mertesacker went up for a corner in the 22nd minute and stayed up for nearly a minute and a half to score the vital equalizer. Spurs didn’t know how to deal with the extra attacker as Podolski and Giroud occupied their central defenders. I saw Huddlestone marking Mertesacker but the Englishman lost the German way too easily. Walker was also seen idly observing play without sensing danger. Walcott’s ability to get past Naughton to create space for the cross should also be noted.

The second goal was not related to a set-piece but again resulted from Arsenal’s ability to gain control of cleared balls to keep the visitors pinned deep. Podolski got a bit of luck with the momentary pin-ball effect that directed his attempt towards goal but this kind of fortune is generated by the pressure that opens gaps and forces mistakes.

Giroud’s goal was again a result of winning possession back from a clearance and creating a chance soon after. Again Arsenal had 5 or 6 bodies in the box but the key part in the goal was Cazorla’s tenacity and desire to make something happen. He could easily have gone down for a foul but the Spaniard sensed the opening and went for it.

It is impossible to overemphasize the importance of the second and third goals. If the game had been close at half-time, as it had been for 40 odd minutes, AVB could have given his team the instructions to be compact and play for a draw with the hopes of nicking a goal on the break late in the game. Arsenal would have been frustrated as time went on and the fans would also have become edgy.

But a two goal lead meant Tottenham had no choice but to go for goals. Villas-Boas did the right thing in taking out the full-backs for a central defender and a midfielder. The idea with a 3-4-2 or a 3-5-1 was to build the same kind of pressure higher up the pitch that prevented Arsenal from building play from the back in the initial exchanges. AVB had to find a way to regain some territory and push his team away from their own goal. Some might argue that Walker was the better man for the role on the flank rather than Lennon but it’s difficult to say whether that would have had any impact on the result.

Combined with the fact that an Arsenal side lacking in confidence wasn’t really sure how to handle a two goal lead i.e. whether they should sit on it or go for more, AVB’s tactics succeeded in shielding the Tottenham goal while making the game a lot more even despite the numerical difference.

In the first 15 minutes or so of the second half Arsenal did not have a shot on goal as the game once again became a midfield battle albeit with a few more spaces. The passing chalkboards from 45-60 minutes show a distinct lack of Arsenal passes inside the Tottenham half in central areas.

The way around the midfield congestion can be a ball over the top as Tottenham had showed in the early exchanges of the first half. Wenger’s team are not good exponents of this approach but they used it to good effect to add to their lead on the hour mark.

It took approximately 10 seconds for the ball to move from Szczesny’s six yard box to the back of Lloris’ net. All four of Arsenal’s attacking players (Front three plus Cazorla) were involved, but the goalkeeper bypassed the back four and the two central midfielders, and thus the area Tottenham were contesting. Apart from Walcott, every Gunner involved played one-touch football in that move. Once the central third was taken out of the picture, Spurs paid the price of being one defender short. Gallas and Vertonghen were in a 2-v-2 with Walcott and Podolski while Giroud had pulled Dawson ahead. Cazorla broke forward from the centre circle when Giroud headed the ball and was able to score unchallenged at the back post. Some people might blame Sandro for losing his man but, having seen many occasions where the midfielders tracking back can’t quite make a difference, I find it harsh to blame the Brazilian.

Arsenal regained confidence and control after the fourth goal. They now moved the ball with a lot more assurance even if it was just a keep-ball exercise for most parts. They created numerous promising moments in the rest of the period and could have scored two or three with better composure and technique in the final third. The fifth goal did come in injury time as Oxlade-Chamberlain capped his cameo with an assist while Walcott carried his knack for scoring injury time goals forward.

In between, Spurs did get one back as Bale was rewarded for his hard work and gaps in front of the Arsenal defence remained worrisome. Had the Welshman showed better judgment and squared the ball for Defoe in the 74th minute, the game could have become extremely nervy for the Gunners. But no team scores with every chance they create and on the balance of play i.e. considering the chances created by the two sides, the 5-2 score seemed fair.

Individual Performances:

Szczesny: I don’t think he was culpable for either goal even though his positioning for the first one seemed indecisive. There was more indecision on other occasions as well like the Defoe air-kick in the 77th minute from the corner. There was an odd occasion where his distribution put the team under pressure. On the whole it wasn’t a great game from the Keeper but it wasn’t too bad either.

Sagna: Saw a lot of the ball – the second most touches. Was part of many attacks that were built down the right and created an excellent chance for Giroud. Admirable shift on the flank against Bale but wasn’t on the same page as Mertesacker which led to them going in opposite directions in the build up to the first.

Mertesacker: Bad error in judgment and decision making for the first goal. Good presence in the box and excellent attacking header for his goal. Won all his duels and tackles but that only tells part of the story as Tottenham did find space and opportunities in the Arsenal defensive third.

Koscielny: Can’t really blame him for the first goal but he probably should have done better for the second. Decent game on the whole.

Vermaelen: Not directly at fault for either goal but Spurs did get into some promising positions down his side. Was able to make a greater contribution to the attack than he’s done in the recent past from left-back.

I wouldn’t say this was a good defensive effort from Arsenal considering the nature of chances conceded and more so after getting a man advantage. The spacing between the defenders themselves, that between the defenders and midfield, and the decision making of individuals could all have been better. In fact, it needs to be better or simple balls over the top will keep putting the team under pressure. That said, it’s vital to reiterate that the task of defending is just not limited to the back five.

Arteta: Was under pressure in the opening exchanges and Tottenham made it hard for him to influence the game. He completed 13 of his 18 passes in the first 17 minutes but only 2 of those went into the opposition half. Came into his own and ran the show after the man advantage led to territorial gains as discussed above.

Cazorla: Didn’t see much of the ball when the Gunners couldn’t build from the back early on. Was extremely influential with many decisive contributions, including but not limited to his assist and goal, after the sending off. Was the most creative player for the Gunners and a constant menace for the visitors.

Wilshere: Didn’t quite know how to help his team when Spurs were pressing high up the pitch. Attempted only 6 passes in the first 17 minutes and that shows he just wasn’t getting into useful areas to circulate the ball which would have helped the tempo and created possibilities to beat the pressing in the congested central third. It’s down to his age and experience. Does create some highlights-worthy moments like his turn in the 16th minute which show what he can do, but he needs to develop into a more rounded player rather than one who is known for a few inspiring moments in a 90 minute game. Was the least influential of the midfielders but his limitations weren’t a concern after the sending off.

I’m not convinced about this midfield combination. Individually they’re all excellent players but the balance doesn’t seem right. If Arsenal have to give Wilshere the freedom to express his talents, they need another technically sound and physically strong player in there with Arteta to build play. Cazorla will probably have to move wide in such a case. With Wilshere and Cazorla both in midfield, the burden on Arteta is tremendous and the cover in front of the defence is flimsy at times.

 Walcott: Terrorized Naughton after Arsenal were able to push Spurs back. Excellent inviting cross for the first goal, good composure for his goal, and played a vital part in the fourth as well. But he also missed a couple of very good chances and his poor touch or decision making wasted some promising moments as well. Overall a commendable offensive game.

Giroud: Got three chances, scored one – again a respectable conversion rate. Had good presence in the box and kept the defenders on their toes. Another player with a useful contribution to the nerve-settling fourth goal.

Podolski: Got a bit of luck for his goal, but the first-time assist was superb. Played much of the game as the second striker in the box and his presence played its part in the first and third goals. Made some noteworthy defensive contributions as well. Didn’t see too much of the ball – received only 22 passes in his time on the pitch – but showed the impact he can have when he receives the ball high up the pitch.

The front three didn’t see much of the ball in the early exchanges but they were able to make telling contributions once Arsenal gained control of the match. All-in-all the Gunners did well to convert promising situations into chances and chances into goals even if there were a few disappointing misses.

Subs: Ramsey provided extra work rate and played a couple of eye catching passes. Oxlade-Chamberlain looked lively and hungry. Santos provided useful cover late in the game.

Wenger: Has to find the right balance in midfield so that Arsenal can play past the pressure in the central third. Arsenal’s trademark attacking game is returning and hopefully that will now be enough against teams that cede the centre and drop deep or leave spaces at the back. It’s good to see goals from crosses, from goal-kicks, and such avenues but without consistency these will just be singular pleasant memories. Am I right in thinking that in two games, without being anywhere near their best, his side have put 10 goals past teams managed by AVB – a manager who was touted as the right choice to take over from Arsene in order to take the club forward!?


52 Responses to Arsenal 5 – 2 Tottenham: Match Thoughts And Individual Analysis

  1. RockyLives says:

    I know I sound like a stuck record, but that’s another great piece of analysis Desi.

    I was very excited by the prospect of a midfield three of Arteta, Jack and Santi but, like you, I’m having some reservations now.

    I think Santi and Jack might work better with a more traditional holding DM behind them (Gilberto style), but on the other hand Arteta is such a great player it seems like heresy to suggest swapping him out.

    If Diaby ever returns to fitness there will be some interesting selection issues for AW.

    • Redcore says:

      Agree with you Rocky. Arteta, Cazorla and Wilshere is probably the best midfield on paper in the premier league and should be playing teams off the park and not struggle to play out as they are now.

      I have not given up hope for this trio yet. I’ll give JW one more month to get to know his new midfield colleagues better and then judge whether they will work out..

      • santori says:

        Need a bit of time. Jack’s just started playing with the other two.

        An Arteta injury is a big worry.

        Would have liked to see Coquelin on instead of Ramsey close to end of the game just to give him more time in the event he has to step up.

      • santori says:

        Jack….another thing. he bleeds Arsenal.

        Gratifying to see him stand up to the plonker bale tell him like it is. That’s the sort of fight you want on the pitch. You can see victory means so much more to Jack.

    • finsbury says:

      Great review and comments too. Tippy top stuff. Thanks DG.

  2. eniolascb@yahoo.com says:

    Happy belated birthday Desi, wishing you a blessed, fruitful, prosperous and victorious year!

  3. RockyLives says:

    Whoops – happy birthday Desi.

  4. Cupsui says:

    I don’t think people need to worry so much about the midfield trio. They will blossom. Give them some time. What four games together?! Arteta is clearly the best DM we have. Whilshere balances attack and defense and Santi is the offensive spark who never shirks away from closing down. They will be good together. And diaby if he ever comes back will give this trio much needed rotation.

    Some areas you didn’t really touch on that i feel need a mention desi…

    1. The crossing is improving out of site in the last 3-4 weeks. And it is bringing goals. Giroud is simply immense in the air and i’ll also give praise to Mertesacker’s header that was pure world class…one of the best attacking headers you will ever see!!

    2. Giroud. I’ll say it again. Give him service and the mids/wingers learn to play off him when he drops back and he’ll be the forward we need. He was awesome yesterday. Right up there with theo and Carzorla. His goal was RvP esque…he was being tightly marked by two defenders but still managed to score. And the assist for the fourth was giroud to a tee. He wins SO many headers from GK kick outs and yesterday walcott and podolski finally started looking to make runs off his headers!! FINALLY!! He is a beast and i rate him very highly (sorry desi but i would have Giroud anyday over a slow and sometimes lazy berbatov!!)

    3. Merte should have closed down bale for the second goal and koz prob should have made a better block but merte had koz for cover and shoulda shut him down

    4. SIGN WALCOTT UP NOW!! if we were waiting for him to prove he was worth a big contract…he has done it! sign him!

    • santori says:

      Wouldn’t mind Wenger loosening the purse strings and grabbing Lloris off of the great pretenders. He’d like to play in Europe surely.

  5. weedonald says:

    Excellent post and analysis Desi and Happy birthday,,,,nice present all around….you should have more birthdays this year!!!

    • santori says:

      Great birthday present. Happy BIrthday.

      Lightning does strike twice it seems.;D

      • santori says:

        Great to see Sol trying to surpress emotion next to Henry.

        Some Spuds forums upset about him. Why would he be cheering for Spurs instead of us? He is an invincible.

  6. Gun.. errrh says:

    Did anyone notice how fast mertesacker ran after he scored, nearly as quick as walcott..lol

  7. a99 says:

    Happy with the result but we seem to be playing with a midfielder light – given that Cazorla is essentially an attacker who drops deep to collect the ball – so we are almost playing 4-2-4 in order to accomodate Giroud/Walcott within the team.
    IMHO we will continue to concede lots of goals until we play a more orthodox 4-3-3 with 3 hard-working midfielders, whilst allowing Cazorla to play behind two fast strikers – Walcott+Podolski – who are both capable of pulling wide to create space in the middle. With the current formation we will not be able to create enough pressure on the ball and thus leave the opposition with enough time to pick their passes through our defense.
    One last observation: will be watching the Ox carefully from now on; his attitude seems to have changed since he’s been with the England squad; no longer seems to have his feet on the ground…

  8. Scott (USA ) says:

    Nice read and not a bad job on the player ratings. I thought Giroud was great again. Gives us another look and is so great in the air. Work rate is really good also. Walcott was a threat and Cazorla was pure class. Cazorla falling (crawling) and keeping the ball and then crossing to Giroud was an amazing play. I can watch him play all day long. Pod was solid and work rate top notch. Nice to have Szs and Sagna back. Wilshere seems to be a few games away but will get there I believe. Happy B Day Desi. Love this blog.

    • santori says:

      Giroud.

      5 goals in 5 games represents a fairly decent return. ;)

      We can get 10 gaols + from Giroud, Santi, Podolski, Walcott, Gervinho = 50

      another 10 from the midfield and 10 from defense = 70.

      Minimum.

  9. MSL says:

    “Am I right in thinking that in two games, without being anywhere near their best, his side have put 10 goals past teams managed by AVB – a manager who was touted as the right choice to take over from Arsene in order to take the club forward!?”

    It is a bit harsh on AVB. His teams did score 3 and 2 with only 10 players on the pitch. As for the yesterday’s defeat, it might have turned on Adebayor’s recklessness.

    I agree that he might not cut and ready to take the reigns as suggested but he is not as bad the two results against us make him out to be.

  10. Gooner says:

    We shouldn’t need a terrible decision from a retarded referee to beat a top team.

    If one of our players got sent off for trying to win the ball we’d be up in arms

    It’s fortunate that Howard Webb is a manchild who hates Tottenham for some reason

    • cupsui says:

      That card is 100% straight red. So what he was playing the ball. So was shawcross when he broke ramsey’s leg…

      The problem is you can’t tackle high off the ground studs out and considerably late. That tackle could have easily broken a foot/ankle bone. Freaking lucky it didn’t cause we’d be in a bit of sh*t without santi.

      Tackles like that need to be out of the game. FULLSTOP!

      • santori says:

        They lost a striker (and a twat)

        They could have easily gone more compact and played effectively even with 10 men.

        Many 10 men teams have held a lead or even gone ahead.

        It’s not to AVB’s credit that the team was unable to adjust.

        Their loss our gain.

    • Scott (USA) says:

      That was a Red any day of the week and you are a fool ….

  11. jeff says:

    desi,i thought u’ve mistaken ramsey for cazorla.. he didnt make any eye cacthing pass.. indeed,he tried to pass like cazorla,which in the end turned out to be missplaced. I expect ramsey to do much better than that,considering we’re playing against10 men,but just like usual,he’s slow,ineffective,and losing his possession a couple of times. IMO,he’s the only one who didnt play well yesterday.

    • RockyLives says:

      Jeff
      Ramsey did try a few Hollywood balls that didn’t come off. Part of the problem is that he keeps getting brief substitute appearances and seems to feel obliged to try and do something spectacular. He doesn’t seem to realise that if he just played hard and played tidy, without the attemtpted showboating, his stock would rise.

      • cupsui says:

        The main problem with Ramsey is that he is lost defensively. His positioning is poor and he makes zero sliding tackles. He does work hard but thats not enough in midfield. Otherwise why not just sign Jay spearing…great player…not!!

        I think he can be an effective sub and the techincal wing role but for me he is lost as a midfield player cause he is a liability in defense

    • mk says:

      I wish people would quit it with the Ramsey complaints.. he isn’t playing as badly as anyone is making out.. you have just got it stuck in your head that he is bad so you only pay attention to his mistakes.

      If you watch any player with that mindset you will always think they are poor.. he is a decent young player who has plenty of potential and deserves far more respect from our fans than he gets.

      The whole team has been inconsistent but a certain portion of our fans moronically like to assign ALL the blame to one player regardless of their qualities or their performance, then proceed to attempt to shatter that players confidence in attempt to prove themselves right in detriment to the entire team.

      • santori says:

        Ramsey is decent in the attacking midfield position. He has good vision and execution but defensively, he is not combative enough.

        I think he is gunning for the Rosicky replacement spot albeit in that, he will be pushed very hard by young Eisfeld. Both will be behind Santi in pecking order.

      • jeff says:

        when u play for arsenal,the expectation of performing with a good standard is there.. it’s not that we watch with negative mindset dat we only pay attention to his mistakes,but let’s be honest,even spurs’ fans know dat he aint good enough. i’m not surprised if he lost his captaincy at wales national team. yes he has good work-rate,i never deny that,but u just expect more for an arsenal player. u cant lose ur possession too easily like ramsey does when u play for a footballing team like arsenal,not even at spurs.

  12. RockyLives says:

    Gooner
    Congratulations. You are the first person (apart from Spuds) who does not think that was a straight red.

    Every football journalist and every pundit agreed it was a red. Arsene Wenger and AVB agreed it was red. Everyone on Match of the Day agreed it was a red.

    So if it’s only embittered Spudders who think it wasn’t… and you think it wasn’t…

    Wait a minute! You’re not a real Arsenal fan at all are you! Go back to your Spud swamplands you impostor!

  13. Raghugovind says:

    Belated Happy Birthday Desi !! And should say it was a truly memorable Birthday !!

  14. santori says:

    Loved MOTD (you can catch it on footytube)

    Redknapp reckons spurs have still the more talented squad despite finishing below us for 17 seasons.

    Imitation Walcott (Lennon), Song (Huddlestone), Wilshere (parker) simply don’t cut the mustard. Close but no cigar.

    Since Spurs won the league, TV has moved on from black and white, we have had several men visit the moon, the internet,etc..

    Fair too to note that 8 managers have come and gone at Spurs since Wenger took over, none of which have got them to finish above us.

    Good win for us and something to build on.

    Plenty still to play for with 26 games to go. If we can win 18, (big ask), we will put ourselves in a decent position to finish with customary strength (title likely out of question).

    Let’s get it sorted. COYG.

    • santori says:

      wonder if press will come out with articles proclaiming the “power shift” in North London back to Red and White following 2 consecutive 5-2 drubbings of the cocks.:D

  15. Aussie Jack says:

    I live in the Aussie bush, nobody here talks `soccer`, it`s regarded as a `Pommy poofter` sport so I have no one to converse with other than on the net. I`m not a young bloke (pushing eighty to be exact) but I did have a short stint with Fulham in my younger days and been an Aresenal fan since just after the war. Having said all that, and if you`ll pardon my ignorance ,but I have no idea what is meant by the term `the final third`. First off I thought it was the 60 minute mark, but that theory fell apart. Advice please!

    Mertesacker should not be part of the Arsenal defence. He has his own little plot about 10 x 10 and the ball comes to him. He then gives it to the nearest defending player or goalkeeper and reteats back into his little plot. To see him score gave me heart tremors.
    Sorry Per, I`m sure you`re a hell of a nice guy but we need to replace you and also buy a left full back.

    • santori says:

      Final third of the pitch where the team does most of the attacking. Ie. opposition half in and around the box.

      Metersecker. Don’t know if you still see too well but he has been massive for us this season (literarily). He may have mucked up a little this game but he more than made up for it with a splendid goal.

      If you’re thinking of getting rid of him, may as well get rid of our other Cbacks first because they have been poor by comparison.

      You see the logic in your argument or lack thereof?;)

      all due respects.

      • santori says:

        Here’s the other thing, not absolving our current defensive fragility but when we let one in (or more) someone’s invariably made a mistake.

        when the other side let’s one (or more ) in, well…it was a goal that their defenders could do nothing about.

        Goals always mean someone has mucked up somewhere, even for our opponents.

    • jeff says:

      Per mertesacker is by miles our best defender so far this season.

      • jeff says:

        btw,Happy Birthday Desi!!! great work! d best arsenal blog i must say! :)

      • Scott (USA) says:

        Agree. Merts has been our best and most consistent defender all season. Now if we could get Kos and TV5 to be steady it would help a lot.

    • Phil23 says:

      Aussie Jack, nice to see a fellow Australasian who is passionate about football! I’ve seen you post many times on this and other sights. We in New Zealand face a similar footballing prejudice.
      As Santori mentioned, the final third is the attacking third of the pitch.
      I believe that the perfect player to have added to the squad played in yesterdays game for Spurs. Jan Vertonghen has shown for Tottenham that he is a top Centre back as well as a top left back. If reports are correct, Arsene had the same idea but Vertonghen decided he would rather get a couple whippings each year in exchange for slightly more playing time. Had we got him, we would have been able to get rid of Djourou and Santos. This would have lowered the wages of the squad while also raising the overall quality. Let us hope that there is another such player out there that Arsene has spotted.

      • Cupsui says:

        I’ll chuck my hat in the down under contingent! I don’t read the news nor talk to moron bogans who watch rugby league nor live in the bush so i’m pretty football immersed, especially with my beloved gooners!

        I think mertesacker has been really good this season but i still see TV5 and Kozzer as the best combo although we have plenty of games for rotation and if gibbsy is out TV5 is left…sorry but santos is a LB no more.

        Koz is starting to find his feet again after a difficult start to the season. Which is good cause he has the attributes and ability to be our best defender as he was last year. Fast, good leap, great positioning, hard tackler…i like the man…maybe i said that before?! His timing is coming back and he is da man for me.

        If i was wenger i would seriously consider giving TV5 a run as DM in a cup game and see how he does cause if he could excel there it would sort out a lot of probs!!

  16. Rejoice says:

    Happy birthday to you Desi and thanks for another brilliant review.
    As a radio football analyst, especially the EPL, in the Nigerian city of Kaduna, I usually wait to read your preview before going into the studio. Your write-ups are top notch.
    As for the Arsenal midfield, I feel that what we need is a physically strong DM like Yann Mvila. Etienne Copue, Felliani etc. Diaby would have done that but his injuries won’t just let him do it. The team would only get better from here.

  17. ibk emmanuelson says:

    every1 actually played well but i expect d defence 2 get better soon,they ve been a shadow of demselves and wat we actually expected of their class. am short of word 4 d attack,they are absolutely out of dis world. i av got problems with d midfield too,i bet they would not av found it easy cos of d way sandro was asked frustrate and kick them if Bayor had not given us dat pre-xmas gift. and d problem is jack and santi press too high up d pitch of which 1 has sit deep along side mikel 2 balance play and also run @ d opposition defence 4rm deep occassionaly(d diaby`s way) which i guess should be jack`s role since cazorla is much more creative. but,lets see as they play together much more,and lets hope they get better they play 2geda. in Arsene we trust!!!

  18. Nick from Portugal says:

    Great post Desi, the midfield is a worry and we do need an enforcer, especially against teams like Man U. Sandro played like a man possessed in the first 15 and he broke up our lines continually, he ain’t no Arteta in the footballing sense but he is a brute and you need a bit of that. Even Diaby, (and I am a great Diaby fan) is a bit lightweight given his understandable concern for injuries. We beat a 10 man team reasonably well and scored some neat goals, especially Numbers 2 and 4 but there is a long way to go. Asene has them all playing football but to use an Australian colloquilism in deference to our friends from across the seas we need someone with a bit of mongrel in them. Wilshere certainly has the mongrel dimension but his tackling is on a par with that of Paul Scholes…

    This team needs to produce on Wednesday and I would definitely sacrifice someone for Coquelin in the first half, maybe Walcott then look for the Podolski Walcott, Wilshire/Ramsey switch at about 65 minutes. They have to win so the counter late on will be massive and that is where Theo comes in. Also liked OX in the defensive position versus Milan last year at the Emirates but we do need an enforcer.

    Ramsey is not fast enough to be effective in anything but a forward midfield role but he can see a pass better than most and many clubs would die for this quality, he is just not in our top 5.

    parabens, as we say here.

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