Arsenal 3 – 1 Shrewsbury Town: Match Thoughts And Individual Analysis

Strong start. Eased off. Conceded a sloppy goal and some chances. Regrouped. Equalized. Pushed on and closed the game out by adding a couple more. Entertaining. Encouraging. Much needed.

It was a youthful line-up and an even younger bench. Le Boss also started with a fluid 4-4-2 giving Park and Chamakh having a great deal of freedom to move. Wenger took a gamble and it paid off. Credit to the man for believing in his squad players at a time when a win was imperative.

In the first ten minutes or so, all the play was deep in the Shrewsbury half. The tempo was high and Arsenal were pressing effectively. It led to a couple of glorious chances in quick succession. Park was in possession just outside the right edge of the Shrewsbury box. Gibbs made an overlapping run and the Korean skipper found it with a simple yet efficient pass. The full-back delivered an excellent ball between the defenders. Chamakh attacked it but couldn’t direct it away from the Keeper who made a good save.

From the resulting corner the ball went beyond everyone. Coquelin collected it, again just outside the right edge of the opposition D. A step-over and drop-of-the-shoulder later the youngster was at the by-line cutting one back. Once again Chamakh got on the end of it and attempted a well-directed side-footed strike. The Keeper did well to keep it out as it came at him through a crowd of legs.

The visitors were just trying to play it long with the hope of fighting for the ball in the Arsenal half. It led to a free-kick in the 10th minute that wasn’t defended particularly well. Djourou attacked the ball but didn’t get it but the ball fell kindly for Fabianski and the danger was averted for the moment.

The League Two side did grow in confidence from that point on. They pushed forward a bit more as Arsenal eased off. I thought the Gunners were unsure about their pressing which was neither here nor there.

A couple of minutes later a number of individual mistakes allowed the visitors to cut right through Arsenal. Collins got in behind and hit the post with a scuffed strike across the Keeper. Fabianski did well to cover the ground just in time to make a save as Morgan got on the end of the rebound.

Graham Turner’s side took the lead in the 16th minute. It was simple. Throw-in, cross, header, goal. Number of Arsenal bodies back but no pressure on any opponent. Schoolboys would have been ashamed of conceding a goal like that.

The game slowed down and lacked quality for a while after the goal. The atmosphere at the Emirates seemed to be edgy. The players were trying hard and there was a lot of movement but the level of understanding was well below par. For instance, Jenkinson kept getting really high up the pitch and that left very little room for Oxlade-Chamberlain who was forced into questioning the defender about his positioning around the 20th minute.

Coquelin then tested the Keeper from distance but it was a routine save. At the other end another corner was inches away from going in. Fabianski, it appeared to me, was being blocked by an opponent and a foul should have been called. But the Gunners should know better than to expect such decisions from a ref who plies his trade in the lower divisions in England. The defenders must take a lot more responsibility.

Just after the half-hour mark, Shrewsbury again went close. This time from a counter-attack. Coquelin initially made the mistake of going to ground while attempting an interception inside the opposition half. This opened the field up for the visitors who had a 3-v-3 situation. The youngster made up for his mistake by sprinting back to make a timely interception just as an opponent was lining up a clear strike at goal.

Soon after, Arsenal equalized from an unlikely source. Jenkinson whipped in a good cross that was only deflected towards the back post by the Shrewsbury centre back. Gibbs was well placed and his header was immaculate despite the difficult angle.

Both sides produced some excellent crosses with the best one coming from Ainsworth. Collins almost directed it into the goal.

Coquelin, who had been the best Arsenal player, then produced a wonderful long pass after bringing the ball out from the edge of the D. Park got a shot off but wasn’t able to keep it on target.

The first half ended on level terms.

After the break Arsenal came out with greater purpose. The Gunners pressed higher up the pitch and played at a higher tempo in a manner resembling their strong start in the first period. That led to a number of half chances and one could sense a goal coming. The visitors were tiring and the gulf in class was finally beginning to tell.

AOC was a lot more involved in the second half after a rather quiet opening half. His runs were powerful and threatening, often getting the better of two or three opponents. The final ball and overall impact would have been greater if the teammates had been on the same page.

Deservedly, the youngster put Arsenal ahead with a blistering strike that came out of nowhere. I thought it took a deflection but there was enough pace to beat the Keeper. By now the players and crowd were buzzing and there was a more settled feel to the football.

The visitors were limited to long punts but still got some joy as there were a few iffy moments from the Arsenal centre backs and Fabianski.

At the other end, Arsenal might have had two penalties. After a strong run, it appeared to me that a defender knocked AOC without getting anything on the ball. In another incident, a square pass from Benayoun struck the arm of a defender who fell while trying to intercept a pass. But this was one of those games where the ref was in no mood to make big decisions. Wonder how people would have reacted if the result had been different.

Arsene introduced Ryo for Park after 70 minutes. Ozyakup came on for Frimpong a few minutes later and picked up his assist soon after. Benayoun got his first goal for the Gunners.

The home side created more chances, most notably Benayoun going close from distance, but the score remained unchanged.

If I am not mistaken, Gibbs, AOC, and Benayoun got their first goals for the club while Frimpong, and Ozyakup got their first assists. Jenkinson already had an assist against United.

It was a good recovery from Arsenal and a highly positive result in the current climate. The overall defending, especially on set-pieces and crosses is still suspect and it was too easy for the visitors to break on the counter in the first half. It’s a complex problem but Arsene will have to find a solution if much is to be made of this season.

Individual Performances:

Fabianski: Looked shaky but I don’t blame him. The defence in front should be doing a lot better when simple balls are put into the box.

Jenkinson: Amazing stamina, some wonderful crosses, decent defending on the flank. Needed better understanding with AOC as they got in each other’s way quite often.

Djourou: Poor performance from the captain on the night. Should have attacked the cross better. Didn’t look very comfortable on the ball at times and put Fabianski under pressure. One would expect a Premier League defender to dominate his area in such a game.

Miquel: Surprisingly, he did better than his experienced partner. Was put under pressure and had to deal with some physical battles but came out with a strong display. Played some delightful long passes. Still not quite a Premiership defender and needs to improve his positioning but looks like he is improving at a steady rate.

Gibbs: Excellent goal, superb engine, played a key part in the third goal, put in some quality crosses, and fairly strong defensively even though he was caught up the pitch a few times. Most encouraging part is that he can become a lot better.

The defending has to be better. Many players were at fault. Overall shape of the team wasn’t good enough to prevent counter-attacks in the first half. But it wasn’t all down to the back five. They should have dealt with the aerial balls better but looking at the troubles while defending corners, I find it hard to accept this is anything but a coaching issue.

AOC: Jenkinson’s runs unsettled him in the first half and he didn’t know where to go. Often ended up being deeper on the right flank behind the full-back. Presumably, some instructions from the manager at half-time must have changed all that as he took more liberties with his movement. Very dynamic and forceful second half performance with a well deserved goal. Probably the popular choice for the MotM but a close second in my reckoning.

Frimpong: Another physically dominant effort from the youngster. Moved the ball well, offered good protection to the defence in the second half, and tested the Keeper with a couple of well taken shots. Was caught in possession three or four times. That must not happen in the big games. Should contribute more while defending balls into the box.

Coquelin: MotM in my opinion. Simply a delightful performance from start till finish. Made a number of tackles and interceptions, passing was almost silken at times, technically accomplished, looks like a naturally gifted football player. Will have to be stronger in physical battles in order to get more chances in the League.

Benayoun: Looked like the classiest player on the pitch. Struggled with the movement of the others, especially in the first half when he got into good positions but there weren’t enough runs into the box. Still managed to play a couple of excellent through balls. Got a bit greedy towards the end. Good to see him get off the mark.

I thought everyone in the midfield worked hard. But they pushed forward a lot and made some errors in judgement which opened the counter-attacking opportunities for the visitors. When better understanding develops, all of them will offer a lot more.

Chamakh: His movement and work-rate was top notch. Tested the Keeper twice in the opening few minutes but didn’t get much joy after that. I believe his instincts in the box need improvement as he doesn’t anticipate chances, mostly from second balls or deflections, as well as a striker should. Should also offer more while defending set-pieces.

Park: Was moving to the wings all through the opening period. He lacks sharpness at the moment but effort was good. With practice his touch and positioning will get better.

I got a feeling that the front two would have been better off staying more central or dropping a bit deeper rather than moving to wide areas. The full-backs were effective in those areas but often when they got into good crossing positions, there weren’t enough targets in the box. Chamakh would have been unplayable if more crosses came in his vicinity. Fair effort on the whole.

Wenger: All credit to the manager for sticking to his guns! And for being flexible in the formation at the same time.

21 Responses to Arsenal 3 – 1 Shrewsbury Town: Match Thoughts And Individual Analysis

  1. alwaysgunner says:

    That my friend was a top top write up. You didnt mention RYO it was a cameo performance but that boy can move. But once again a topwrite up.

  2. Sedetganw Degafi says:

    Good summary.

    Frimpong has that napping problem which we saw many times in Diaby. He must be aware that players are always like hungry dogs. He would be great in the years to come.

    Coquelin seems a bit a head of Frimpong in the regard. He needs to add some steel and would ge a great addition to the team.

  3. el bizarron says:

    I couldn’t believe my eyes when I read 4-4-2 on the match reports. And 2 defensive midfielders? Wenger changing tactics and formation? A silly one off trick or a sign of things to come?

    • FoolishgooNer says:

      Sorry mate I gave you the wrong rating. Yes the old Dog is trying his best. I mean hiding players weaknesses and planning your tactics carefully is the managers job. Next is not playing robin up top alone, defensive confidense, and changing tactics within games! Cheers lets beat Bolton Gary cahill… It be desaster of we lose to Samba and his Partner and Cahil.

  4. Arsenal says:

    Great performance from the team except the back still need to work on defending set pieces and corner kicks aspect (esp Djourou who clearly lost confidence,clam composure & leadership)….. The back lacks basic urgency and fundamental skills to clear the danger so it seems clear that Wenger must swallow his pride and get his coaches (Pat Rice/Steve Bould) to put more extra training sessions on the pitch for all defenders. Something is just not right with the back line defending, and we cannot allow such attitudes to continue otherwise we can leak goals in the premiership.

    However I am condemning defending is entirely the back line responsibilties. The midfielders, wingers to the strikers need to close down all the options of the ball holders regardless of having high pressure defending which baffle me such a big club like Arsenal can committ such a fundamental mistakes.

    Regardless of Coquelin strong showing tonight, I believed Arsene needs to invest in another experienced quality player maybe Fann M’Vila (I like the player quality and attitude on the pitch) to provide competition, rotation freshness to squad, and allow the younger inexperienced players (Frim & Coquelin) to mature and grow in their games.

    Wenger either needs to shows trust to the pivotal midfield role to Ramsey otherwise his natural abilties to link through that killing pass for the false 9 of the front line will become a issue which fluidity and stepping of toes/crossing each other’s path lead to break down of attack and causing problems to others as well. Wenger need to implement. In fact I hope he can get Hazard to provide class acts and competition to the team.

    I also hope we can get Gar Cahill for the reasons…. FA 25 players rule/ Potential to turn into class defender/ English spine

  5. zaragooner says:

    Great write up Desi. As always. Not surprising me when we start 4-4-2 because we always play this formation in the Carling Cup game. I have confident with this line up when i saw we play Coquelin and Frimpong as DM, as well as Chamakh and Park as upfront. I have feeling that Oxlade will be our star tonight because his consistent performance recently and i have good guess. Overall i think Desi has cover it, but i was a bit disappointed with Djourou performance, he look clumsy and cost us a goal. He didn’t even try to win the ball, that make us can’t keep clean sheet. It’s good to see Fabianski is back, great touch, sometime look shaky but i really hope he will get his confidence soon.. till we meet again for Bolton. Up the Arsenal!!!

  6. oba olayinka says:

    This is the most analytical post match
    Report after the game. Our defending
    Nightmare will definate mar our season
    Once again. Wengers rigidity in
    Administering the affairs of the team
    Will finally nail Arsenal in the coffin

    I can’t believe his claims of his claims
    For not needing a defensive coach!

  7. Tim says:

    Nice summary as always, Desi. Having only been able to listen to the audio commentary plus some feedback from those watching, I had Ox as my MotM with Coquelin second, but it doesn’t really matter as I think both proved they have enormous potential.

    It’s understandable that this completely new and inexperienced team might struggle early on. What is less understandable is Djourou’s failure to provide stability and leadership. Wenger should probably have made Benayoun captain instead for the night. Regardless the lads did a fine job turning the game around despite the early setback.

    Now, it’s the first team’s turn …

  8. cupsui says:

    Imagine we could splice the DNA of coquelin and Frimpong…making coqepong. It would be the perfect player. Passing, movement and timing of the coq combined with frimpongs strength, tenacity, long shots and urgency.

    A lot of promise in those two and AOC for sure…hope we see more of Ryo too

  9. Satish says:

    The boys showed great character to come out of a tricky scenario after being a goal down(especially with the miseries lately).Got to understand it was a completely new team out there with many playing together for the very first time.Regardless of that,we made a promising start and kept coming at them.Once they found our backline being vulnerable to long balls and crosses they clearly started exploiting the weakness.JD was ball watching and never went for the ball for their goal which was awful from a Premier League defender’s standard.It is disappointing to see Arsenal players not attacking the ball.TV and Kos are the only ones who have done that recently.In the last 4 matches we have been in a better position than at the start of the season with two wins and a very crucial draw at Dortmund but only to lose to Blackburn under woeful circumstances(Pathetic defending).I can only say we dominated most of the game at Ewood Park and still got nothing from the game which is why its even more disappointing.Answer to it is clear focus and concentration for the entire 90 minutes cause we have not yet played a full game with confidence and flair as we are used to this season.The hauntings of the past season and the 8-2 are still very much intact.Only way to move forward is to focus and eat out results and slowly the confidence will come.Park could do an excellent job playing behind the striker.Alex Ox was really good and so was Coquelin.Coquelin reminds me of Flamini or should i say even better than Flamini at this stage of his career.Hope these two lads can continue their development.Frimpong did what he does best.Was strong in the mid with Coquelin.Ryo came on and was decent.Gibbs with his first goal for the club and looked better today.Jenkinson was decent too and can definitely put in some crosses.Miquel looked very assured and was clearly way better than JD. He is a real talent.He looked really good against Liverpool too.Hope he gets more games.Would like to see Miquel play more than JD on current form.This kid looks really promising and most importantly a steady and calm head than the nervy JD who seems to have lost all his confidence.Chamakh was lively to begin with and had a decent run out.Yossi did what he could do as a senior pro among these kids and was rewarded with his first Arsenal goal.And yeah good to have Fabianski back.He looked real short of match fitness.His kicks were not that great and looked shaky cause of a shaky JD i would say.Hope he will get better with games.All in all a new team on the night and a win is always a win and the way won the game after being a goal down showed some promise that this Arsenal team does have a lot more to offer which shall come once we start winning more games.Till then Cheers. Arsenal4eva!

    • 9ja Gunner says:

      U r spot on regarding Miguel. He is a talent; and should get more games ahead of JD. And JD’s been a weak link of recent: 1st goal United scored, the blackburn game and this one.

  10. Edinary Gunner says:

    Arshavin/Gerv ____________Wilshere

    This is the formation Arsenal needs to reclaim former glory.
    None of these players are poor(they’re excellent actually), but Arsene’s headache has been deployment .
    How do you keep both flanks equally potent while at the same time defensively astute??
    Our formerly glorious left wing of Cole/Pires had both wide threat (Cole) with inward cutting of Pires while defensive nous and workrate of Cole plus contributions of Pires held fort.
    Now we can. We have wide threat of one heck of wingback in Santos ably linking with Wilshere while attacking. There is a worry that Santos isn’t very solid while defending. But, Wilshere’s robust engine will oft provide balance and cover.
    On the right we already have an astute defender in whom the onus to attack or defend will vary depending on opposition. Both Arshavin and Gervinho offer plenty going forward but Arshavin has grown better in his defensive duties. Now, Arteta is best utilized areas and he can link up play or even shoot from distance. Combining him with the classy RvP and pacey cool finisher Walcott in a Bergkamp/Henryesque formation is a prospect to terrify even the unmovable of bus parks while potentially exploiting all openly playing teams with Speed, Guile, Possession and Finishing.
    Bring on Barcelona/Europe!!! UP THE GUNNERS!!

  11. TT says:

    Satish I was thinking the same about Coquelin, he does remind me of Flamini in his work rate and the amountt of ground he covers. He has much better technique thouge and his passing is often sublime. JD and the defense is simply a training issue as JD did not become bad all of a sudden. he had a very good period last year so he has all the qualitys just needs to be drilled back to confidence and that can be don on the training pitch. Iread this morning that the manager had answered a question about defensive coch with the remark that he had 32 years of exsperience in coching and people should give him some credit. Arrogant in my opinion as we have had the same defensive freialtys for the last few years so why did he not fix it?

  12. Bradster says:

    Great match summary. I think they need a leader at the back to calm the young nerves and direct the line and positioning. I agree Djourou needed to be a better leader and mightive done the defensive leading better if Benayoun was captain.
    I also agree that the strikers needed to stay central due to the formation and able crossers.
    Definitely good looking prospects and good confidence for the weekend.

  13. bob says:

    Super review and ratings, Desi. My complaint is this perception:
    “But the Gunners should know better than to expect such decisions from a ref who plies his trade in the lower divisions in England.” I find this to be giving too little credit to lower division refs and too much credit to EPL refs, witness Marriner & linesmen in our recent defeat.

  14. Am says:

    I think Coquelin should be the number 2 right back this season. I think Jenkinson needs a little more time to settle in before he is top nothch, mayb a loan to championship or lower premiership would do him good.

  15. Am says:

    If you wanted a younger captain last night Gibbs or Fabianski would have done a better job. Djourou needs time to get his confidence back.

  16. JJ Pittman says:

    I believe Adams is coaching in central Asia(Azerbaijan?) but Keown was doing commentarynin UK last season. Surely we could get him to come on board !?

  17. ak47 says:

    thanx des.

  18. Kushagra India says:

    desi arry’s opinion on defensive coaching..

    ON THE pitch football will not change much over the next few years.

    But off it I can see a revolution in the way we coach our top players.

    Suggestions that Arsene Wenger should be given a specialist defensive coach has sparked a big debate about what they are?

    Should we have them? And what would they do?

    Arsene is entitled to his own opinion but I think it won’t be long before we go down the American football route and have specialised coaches for every position in the team.

    I played out in America and got hooked on the NFL while there. I still watch it a lot on the TV at home. They are years ahead of us in terms of coaching.

    They have quarterback coaches, wide receiver coaches, a coach for almost every conceivable aspect of the game.

    I see nothing wrong with it. It will only improve the players and, as a result, improve the end product which is designed to entertain the fans.

    When I was at West Ham we didn’t have a specialist goalkeeper coach. Now every club has one I’m pretty sure.

    Ernie Gregory was the team’s goalkeeper for years and after retiring he took the reserves and did a bit of work with the goalkeepers.

    But it was nothing targeted or position-specific.

    The players should practise what they will be doing in matches. That means goal-keepers should work on saves, defenders on heading and defending, wingers on making runs and crossing and strikers on the obvious.

    I believe Newcastle experimented with it some time ago and brought in Mark Lawrenson as a defensive coach.

    They let in quite a few and it didn’t seem to work out too well so I can understand the reluctance.

    If you are the defensive coach and let in four at the weekend you’ll be unfairly criticised and pigeon-holed.

    But I talk to my coaches about it all the time and want to see more of it in the game.

    For example we have young Kyle Walker with us at Tottenham. A good, promising right-back who could be the right-back for England for years to come.

    He’s great going forward but he would benefit from someone coming in to target the areas he needs to work on, the defensive side of his game.

    Gareth Bale should spend about 45 minutes every day making runs and crossing, or cutting inside to shoot with his right foot.

    Sometimes you have a group of about 20 players and you end up trying to do something that caters for them all and you come away afterwards and wonder what you have actually achieved.

    What we must do is reassess what we mean by ‘coaching’.

    I guess most punters imagine it’s a bit of fitness work, then a session where the players play a practice match or work on tactics relevant to the next opponents.

    At Spurs we have Tony Parkes, our former goalie, who works with the keepers. Maybe I should get Kevin Bond to work more with the defence and perhaps Joe Jordan with the forwards, although we already have Les Ferdinand who comes in to help our strikers.

    But I’m all for drilling the lads for what they will be required to do every Saturday.

    If my chairman rings me today and says ‘Harry, we want to bring in some more specialised coaches for you’ I’d be delighted.

    After all, we have expert dieticians, expert medics and expert fitness guys. Why not expert trainers to get the best out of your players?

    It’s a no-brainer for me

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