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A bad day but not just from our players

By Walter Broeckx

I couldn’t do my usual match report form for this match and will not be able to do so for the next matches because of other obligations. But I did see the match live on a stream not of the greatest quality and with a few times it going down so I might have missed a few things.

First the team changes. Ospina in goal and at the back we had Debuchy and Gibbs playing their first match of the season. Arteta replaced Coquelin and Giroud came back in the team in the place of Walcott. I sense that the Chelsea match was very much (maybe too much) on the mind of Wenger before the start of this match.

But what I did see was that Arsenal started well on the front foot. We were rather fluent I thought at first. And we did get some chances.

Giroud heading a corner to the top corner of the goal but the Zagreb keeper managed to palm it out of his goal. And a bit later again a header from Giroud against the post and then the ball fell back in front of his feet but the keeper was lying centimeters away so he couldn’t get the ball over the keeper.  It was all Arsenal and Zagreb never really came neer to the Arsenal goal.  It was very much a match waiting for the first Arsenal goal up to then.

What I also noticed was the fact that Giroud was having difficulties with the way the ref handled his challenges. I think we saw here the difference between the PL style of refereeing where much more is allowed most of the time and certainly in the duels between the strikers and defenders and the style of the rest of the world. Giroud obviously was getting frustrated as each time he tried to go for the bal in the air he was whistled back. Sometimes correct but also a few times not correct.

You could see his frustration grow and when he showed dissent even in a rather mild way that in the PL would even not been noticed by the refs he got a yellow card. Those are stupid cards to get. If as a player you feel the ref ‘has it in for you’ then the best thing to do is to keep low profile and just shrug your shoulders when the ref punishes you wrongly.

And adding to his frustration will certainly have been the goal from Zagreb that came out of nothing. There was a gap on the right hand side where Debuchy was a bit too much central and Oxlade-Chamberlain missed the run of an opponent and suddenly a Zagreb player was one on one with Ospina. Ospina did amazingly well to block the effort but then the onrushing Oxlade-Chamberlain saw the ball bouncing against his knee and ending up in the net.  Completely against the run of play at that moment but if things go wrong, the sometimes go horribly wrong.

Back to the story of the ref and Giroud. Romanion home referee Ovidiu Hategan who will have a great career at Uefa one day was clearly looking for Giroud for a while. And when Giroud committed a foul the ref saw his chance there and had his red card out of his pocket before the yellow card. A foul like more happened in this match without a card was given. A sending off that was in the ref his head for a while and from that moment on the match went from difficult to impossible.

The goal had taken away a lot of confidence with some players. The body language of the unlucky Oxlade-Chamberlain was telling the story.

Right after the start of the second half Zagreb hit the post and Arsenal had a lucky moment.  Arsenal tried to do something back in the second half but we didn’t create much apart from a few half chances and lots of running offside by our forwards. Zagreb played on the counter and only a good block from Debuchy prevented a possible second goal. The resulting corner was headed in by a Zagreb player and you knew that this match was over with Arsenal having to play with 10 man.

Arsenal tried to get something going but our passing was not good enought at times and we ran a few times too much offside. Wenger brought on Theo, Campbell and Coquelin for Arteta, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Gibbs.

Theo was able to score a goal with some 12 minutes to go but apart from a few half chances we didn’t really came close to scoring a second goal. Ospina showed he can also play a bit of football with coming out of his penalty area, winning the ball, dribbling a player and another one.

At the end it was a bad result. A bit like the result at the first day of the PL this season. We started well enough, didn’t finish our early chances and paid for it in cash. The way the ref handled the Giroud situation didn’t really help and I could see the sending off coming from a long distance but I really think that most players and managers don’t think a ref will really push it that far. Unless you play Barcelona and you expect it to be of course.

The good thing is that a few players got a run out and it showed a bit. Our full backs were clearly not as good as the ones that play week in week out. I know they can be as good if they would play more. I guess they will get a new chance next week at Tottenham. Arteta also was rather rusty and certainly wasn’t as pressing as Coquelin usually is. But I really cannot fault Wenger for resting Coquelin for this match.

A combination of bad finishing, bad luck with their first goal and a ref wanting to send Giroud off was too much on the day to overcome Zagreb.  We know now that we will have to step it up next time against Olympiacos in the CL.

 

32 comments to A bad day but not just from our players

  • omgarsenal

    OMG our season, our CL future and our team are in disarray and basically DONE! Never mind that we have 5 more games in the CL and 33 games to go in the EPL, as well as the various other cups. I am sure the usual suspects from the aaa sewer will worm their way onto UA and spew their anti-Wenger bile, rejoicing in the loss and lamenting our shite team, etc.

    The ref was very harsh with Giroud but that is the CL officiating…..almost diametrically opposite the EPL brutality tolerated by English officials. Regardless, we didn’t play well enough to win and so we face an uphill battle to enter the next round….we’ve been there,done that and we’ll do it again.

  • Josif

    Walter, you pretty much nailed every bit of tonight’s match. Too bad our brilliant away form was ended – we had had 9 away victories in 10 games played after the defeat against Spuds in February.

    Here is a video of our goal:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l-zOCC8v3vE

    From 0:12, it seems that Theo was offside.

  • apo Armani

    Please someone check the refs bank account in the next few days! not that we couldn’t have done much better…but the ref was sure Zagrebs’s 12th man!

  • Florian

    Josif,

    From the recorded highlights I was able to put a still on the moment of the pass. Theo’s head was ahead of the defender by no more than 5-10 cm. Make of that what you will. I’ve rarely seen off-sides given for such a narrow margin. Not that Ramsey wouldn’t have something to say about that.

  • Tom

    Walter
    Agree the sending off was harsh.
    From my playing days for club and country( Poland) , I can tell you, we always did better with a referee from the Eastern block when facing opposition from Western Europe.

    Call it what you will, coincidence, luck or simply above and beyond hospitality from the host country( club) towards referees, which in many cases exceeded allowable within the rules accommodations 🙂

    Let’s face it, bribing officials and not just in sports , was built into the system 🙂

    Didn’t Mr. Hategan have a controversial outing in Moscow in the CSK v City game , where he failed to stop the game as per protocol, for racial chants against Yaya Toure.

  • apo Armani

    It seems Europe is very…VERY ticked off with the TV money (the VAST TV money) going to PL clubs…talk of the the bottom PL clubs being richer then the top Italian clubs is rubbing some people the wrong way!!!

    English teams are being singled out and punished for this!

    Corruption is full on!

    Did AFC kill the game when they had the chances? NO

    Did AFC get the rough end of the stick during the game by officials? YES

    The plot surely thickens!

  • apo Armani

    Some bookies made a fortune…in amongst them the owners of Zagreb FC…SURE

  • apo Armani

    Anyway…Chel$kie next!

    …and thats why we fielded a surprise XI

  • Josif

    @Florian – we were robbed by the linesman against Liverpool, nobody argues about that. That doesn’t change the fact Walcott’s goal – if the linesman had had a decent movement all night long – should have been disallowed. Or that they made a wrong decision regarding one of Özil’s runs.

    The thing is, the referee and the linesman on the left side of the screen were terrible but not only at our expense. Their quality is simply below the level required for Champions’ League. The other linesman (the one on the right side of the screen) had a rather good performance, no dodgy decisions or stuff.

  • Florian

    Josif,

    That’s fair to say. The highlights don’t include the Ozil moment, so I can’t verify it.

    The linesman was actually well positioned, at least in Theo’s case (believe me I checked ;). The fact that he let the play carry on is all the more baffling. It almost looks like the was taken by surprise by the speed of the game and made a toss about reacting or not. Which would explain his inconsistencies. Nothing surprising considering the level of play in the Romanian league 🙁

  • Josif

    @apo Armani, there is NK Zagreb (it could be translated as FC Zagreb) and that is completely different club than Dinamo Zagreb. Zagreb have won the league once – in 2001-02 by playing excellent football and edging out Slaven Bilić’s Hajduk Split with Ivica Olić in the starring role.

  • Crovax

    To add to Josif’s point – where did this fascination with calling the clubs by the city they are from, come from? The club’s name is Dinamo, and should be referred to as such. It just happens that they come from Zagreb. Imagine if everywhere outside UK, people started referring to London’s clubs as “London” – how would you ever know who they were talking about? Indeed, the only club called “Zagreb” by Croatians is NK (FC) Zagreb.

    Also Walter, shame not to give any credit where it’s due – to Dinamo. It wasn’t their fault the ref was complete rubbish and we were a shadow of Arsenal – they had a game plan and executed it, thus earning their first win in modern UCL.

  • apo Armani

    @Josif
    September 17, 2015 at 12:42 am

    Fair enough…but you know which of the two I mean 😉

  • Clockendrider

    Interstingly, we ran only 90% of the distance run by the opposition yesterday. This was true right throughout the game including the period we p,aged with 11 before Girouds petulance spilled over. The midfield particularly being significantly behind the opposition in terms of Kms covered. I just think Wenger told them not to put too much in ahead of Chelsea. Let’s face it, Saturday is a more important game and is in a competition we have a reasonable chance of doing well in. The Cl is just there for us to make up the numbers.

  • Mandy Dodd

    a lot went wrong last night
    1/Some players were clearly not match ready, maybe understandable, they will need more game time. Some seem to need a bit of adjustment to our less gung-ho way of playing these days.
    2/ We had to rotate due to a ridiculous fixture issue. Sat lunch game after wed ECL away. Not for the first time either. FIF claimed Utd sent lawyers to ensure Utd got “fairer” fixtures after CL games. Are Arsenal doing the same…do we need to complain a bit more?
    3/ An interesting referee, we faced an ..interesting club, if recent history is anything to go by. It is said Wenger is a romantic, and places more emphasis on his own team than other forces that may affect the game. I and others on here have said this before, but maybe Wenger needs to start analysing referees before the game. I am not saying anything was at work, and if it was some of our players certainly helped out, but Arsene, football is not a nicey nicey game where all is fair and on a level playing field. Tom has made interesting points, This referee should perhaps have been identified and players warned. Giroud had become a walking red card. as pointed out in this article, that was beyond obvious.
    4/ Not for the first time, we were spectacularly naive. Sucker punched in more ways than 1. I would have hooked Giroud soon after that yellow. In the case of Coq at Palace, the referee and Per pretty much had to ask the bench to get him off for his own good. Giroud may not be in the best place at the moment, he is a player trying too hard,an early substitution may not have been great for him, but maybe Wenger needs to be a bit more proactive in moving players from the firing line in some cases, even that early on.
    5/ We do now seem worryingly reliant on a Coq like figure, the team may have adapted itself to his presence
    6/ A very poor night on several levels, but hindsight is a wonderful thing, the team must move on. We will hit our stride and qualify, but doing so in first place looks a tough ask.

  • Gw

    ‘Giroud was having difficulties with the way the ref handled his challenges. I think we saw here the difference between the PL style of refereeing where much more is allowed most of the time and certainly in the duels between the strikers and defenders and the style of the rest of the world’

    Giroud is a 28 year old 39 cap French International.

    He has played in France as well as the UK

    He has played in Europe for 5 seasons

    He has played at the World Cup and a European Championship

    As a result this sort of not being able to adapt to different refereeing really isn’t good enough. He has plenty of experience of different refereeing styles. His poor temper got him yellow carded and also annoyed the referee. Now it certainly isn’t a reason to send someone off in itself but if you have antagonised the ref, shouted or swore at him to the point he could hear and book you then it is only common sense that he will be watching you very closely.

    All the time we have human referees we must take account of human factors and this one was entirely predictable.

    We are starting to look a bit indisciplined and it will cost us

  • porter

    Mandy spot on .Giroud was going off sooner or later. Sometimes a bullet needs biting and Wenger should have seen it coming. The way they were defending was made for Theo as we saw when he got on so tactically it would have been hard for them to change and we would still have had 11.

  • Jamie

    If you think we’ll drop out in the UCL group stages, then you’re stupid. If you think we’ll go beyond the quarter-finals, then you’re even more stupid.

    We saved players for Chelsea, but went on to select the least athletic midfield we have on our books. Surely Wenger must know that Santi and Arteta are 30 and are not physically dominant in any way whatsoever, but let’s underestimate Dinamo and come away with the loss that reminds everybody that we’ll still come second in the group. We’ll probably bounce back against Chelsea, or the game after, but we’ll still fall and it will be blamed on everything and everyone that isn’t 4th contracted to Arsenal FC. Go on and come second this year, and tell the whole world that we’ve improved, and that cohesion was the answer all along, ignoring that we finished with a lower points tally than last year, and we are more than 10 points off the eventual winners.

    All the people who believe Wenger did enough in the transfer window can like to take a look at the number of chances we have created this season and the number of goals we’ve scored, and tell me we don’t need better strikers, or look at our first match without Coq, and tell me why Arteta played so poorly in his place, or why Wilshere is injured again, or how there’s nobody who can improve us, because we won the treble last year and we have two XI’s that can beat any team

    Wenger keeps talking about cohesion, but also thought it was wise to change three of your back five, including the goalkeeper, and then replace one of the best DM’s in the league with an old, slow, converted AM who hasn’t played 5 games this year. Remember the piece on the .com about Per not being the slowest person at the club… no marks for guessing who it was. Please tell me there was no player on the market that would have played better.
    The market is history now though, but surely the greatest manager in the world should know that having a middle 3 of Özil (who doesn’t like defending), Santi( an athletism deficient AM turned CM) and Arteta (see above) would lead to us lacking energy in the middle to aid transition from attack to defence?

    Let’s address our internal problems before blaming the entire world do everything wrong that happens to us. Let’s not hail every Wenger move as a genius move, and then blame bad luck or accidents when they go wrong.

  • “and I could see the sending off coming from a long distance”
    You were not the only one, based on my view of the match and that of a number of other commenters.

    It was clear Giroud was frustrated. He had missed two good opportunties to score and the ref was failing to blow for fouls against him, while happy to penalise him for less the other way.

    In the minutes shortly before the dissent, one zagreb player felt a hand on his face by Giroud as they turned and proceeded to writhe around on the deck in attempt to get Giroud sent off. The ref gave Giroud a stern warning but held onto his cards but was probably tempted to issue one then.

    The ‘foul’ that lead to his first yellow, was a foul on Giroud who was already airborne when the Zagreb player hit him. No real surprise he vented, I know I did. But the ref was still thinking about the previous incident, so the chat back from Giroud was more than he could take.

    Given this and the mental state Giroud must be in following the booing by the french fans, the management should have intervened. Giroud was not in a good place.

    Pull him to one side, sub him off. Whatever, do something. Not nothing. Dissent to a ref marks you out for punishment above all else. Managers should manage the situation, sitting on your hands is dereliction of duty.

    Was the second yellow deserved? Possible. I didn’t think so. But the ref didn’t really need an excuse. If Giroud had batted an eyelid at him he would have sent him packing.

  • Pete

    There is a lot of hindsight going on here re Giroud. Yes, the situation looked volatile and I was very concerned but can anyone ever recall a manager subbing a player in the first half due to a yellow card? Anywhere?

    Giroud’s dissent was ridiculous, but I do think he was unlucky with the 2nd yellow as I don’t think he saw the player. But it did cost us the game and did knacker the remaining players ahead of our tough run. As I commented last night, he let us down similarly against QPR last season.

    But a good player doesn’t become a bad player over night.

  • Pete

    Jamie – Oh dear, I think we are going to cross swords again. Dissecting your comment:

    “If you think we’ll drop out in the UCL group stages, then you’re stupid. If you think we’ll go beyond the quarter-finals, then you’re even more stupid.”

    That’s a bit of an asinine comment isn’t it? You are probably right – but none of us know.

    “We saved players for Chelsea, but went on to select the least athletic midfield we have on our books. Surely Wenger must know that Santi and Arteta are 30 and are not physically dominant in any way whatsoever, but let’s underestimate Dinamo and come away with the loss that reminds everybody that we’ll still come second in the group. ”

    On paper, this was the easiest game of our current run. Therefore I was broadly happy with the changes. Wenger will probably change the “other” 5 for Tottenham. Arteta may be old but he was a very decent player before his injury so I think you’re being very harsh. It will take anyone time to get match sharp after that long out. And this was probably the game to give him some minutes. Dinamo weren’t taking the game to us, just defending deep and hitting on the break. I didn’t see you on here pre-match listing your preferred line up? Hindsight is a wonderful thing.

    “We’ll probably bounce back against Chelsea, or the game after, but we’ll still fall and it will be blamed on everything and everyone that isn’t 4th contracted to Arsenal FC. Go on and come second this year, and tell the whole world that we’ve improved, and that cohesion was the answer all along, ignoring that we finished with a lower points tally than last year, and we are more than 10 points off the eventual winners.”

    This is a bit incoherent. There is a pretty good chance that we will lose to Chelsea, which would be disappointing, but not the end of the world. None of us know how the season will turn out. It is ridiculous to draw these conclusions so early in the season.

    “All the people who believe Wenger did enough in the transfer window can like to take a look at the number of chances we have created this season and the number of goals we’ve scored, and tell me we don’t need better strikers”

    Repeating my question from a couple of weeks ago (again): WHO would you have bought and HOW MUCH would you have paid? If you can’t be specific here your argument carries no weight.

    “, or look at our first match without Coq, and tell me why Arteta played so poorly in his place, or why Wilshere is injured again, or how there’s nobody who can improve us, because we won the treble last year and we have two XI’s that can beat any team”

    So WHO would you have signed as a DM (presumably as a back up) and HOW MUCH would you have paid. And do you even think they would have come? Arteta issue addressed above. What has Wilshere’s injury got to do with last night? Your last clause is just silly. Of course the team can be improved, but it is not easy. Man Utd and Man City both lost two and they spent vastly more.

    “Wenger keeps talking about cohesion, but also thought it was wise to change three of your back five, including the goalkeeper, and then replace one of the best DM’s in the league with an old, slow, converted AM who hasn’t played 5 games this year. Remember the piece on the .com about Per not being the slowest person at the club… no marks for guessing who it was. Please tell me there was no player on the market that would have played better.”

    You have to rest them some time! They all train with each other every day. Ospina and Gibbs did pretty well I thought. See comments above re transfer market. And someone has to be slowest!

    “The market is history now though, but surely the greatest manager in the world should know that having a middle 3 of Özil (who doesn’t like defending), Santi( an athletism deficient AM turned CM) and Arteta (see above) would lead to us lacking energy in the middle to aid transition from attack to defence?”

    Not really. Santi is pretty athletic in my eyes. Again this was a match where we would have the bulk of possession and would need our flair players to try to pick a way through.

    “Let’s address our internal problems before blaming the entire world do everything wrong that happens to us. Let’s not hail every Wenger move as a genius move, and then blame bad luck or accidents when they go wrong.”

    Of course Arsenal made mistakes last night. The world is not perfect. Some times we lose when we shouldn’t. That is football. But we lost for several reasons – not just our mistakes.

  • proudkev

    As expected pre-match the media, the pundits and members of the aaa were talking about this being an easy away game. This was despite Man Utd proving that even spending quarter of a billion gives you no right to win away at a poor PSV team, a team that had sold their best players. This despite Zagreb having gone 41 games unbeaten and playing at home. No this was an easy game, they said. Just turn up and you win.

    This is a typical tactic to enable any victory to be poo poo’d and any defeat to be sensationalised as the biggest defeat in the clubs history.

    Of course, Olivier Giroud (the favourite scapegoat) is the perfect villain but his sending off is not to be questioned nor excused as a reason why we lost the game.

    Arsenal don’t rotate players they said. There has been much condemnation that Wenger refuses to rest players for big games or use the squad. Yet when he decided to rest players with Chelsea, Spurs and Leicester away and Man Utd in mind, he is criticised.

    I was disappointed last night. I was disappointed with the team selection. I was disappointed with Olivier Giroud’s stupid first booking. I was disappointed with what was a terrible refereeing performance (which I predicted due to Eastern Europeans tendency to always support each other).

    But I was most disappointed with the way the media and the aaa completely went over the top and used this as some kind of justification for their continual attacks on the club, the players and the manager. Of course, they loaded the dice before the game, as they always do, by making our we were playing some part timers from Outer Mongolia. At least Man Utd fans, despite one year out of the Champians League & with a number of big money flops, stand behind their club however disappointed they may be.

    We have an embarrassing fan base that feed the media. It may be my age but I have a totally different idea in my mind of how to enjoy supporting my club. I expect disappointments and they piss me off, My wife tells me I spend the next few days like a bear with a sore head. But you will never hear me slagging off my club or abusing anyone connected with it. This club gives me so much enjoyment and is responsible for a huge number of happy memories. I have no idea why some people want to continually attack the club after defeats, while discrediting when we win. I find it baffling.

  • Menace

    Jamie – most of what you’ve said is reasonable. However do you honestly think Wenger doesn’t know that? There are very few things that evade Wenger. He will not behave like you would because he has created & built a team. You have only a big set of narrow minded views that do not fit in with the thinking in Arsenal. Wenger has to consider his existing players as well as the emerging market that seems to have very few quality players. I am sure Wenger will be happy to receive a few millions in donation towards your choice of replacement player. Words unfortunately come cheap.

    My view is that our players are performing well but not getting the luck. All this rubbish of aged players is a little rich considering the performance has been excellent.
    The younger players are improving because of the experienced players & we should see some interesting games in the next few days. I don’t expect Arsenal will win all the games but we will win the games that have our best team playing.

  • Menace

    Josif – There were many offside calls in the game that were not offside. The first Zagreb goal was offside – observe carefully when the ball is actually kicked because he dummies his initial kick. The assistant was always ahead of his position (parallel & in line with last defender) & was looking at an angle across the field. This gave him an incorrect line & subsequently incorrect assumption of offside. Take a look at the game again just for the officiating.

    I’m surprised that Walter didn’t pick up on the positioning of the assistants.

  • saint

    By the way Jamie what a good post.A little surprised it was allowed to be posted on here though.

  • proudkev

    Saint.

    “By the way Jamie what a good post.A little surprised it was allowed to be posted on here though”

    Your comment is a bit bizarre, as after all Jamies was indeed allowed to comment. I didn’t see anyone abusing him, just sensible debate.

    You seem to be confusing this blog with anohter one. You know, the blog where every day the same negativity is peddled and anyone offering an alternative view is abused and called names, the politist of which is AKB. At least on this blog your sexual preference isnt questioned and you are not subjected to an abusive tirade of four letter words.It’s a lot more grown up. So feel free to offer an alternative view but if you abuse people, including members of the football club we support, be prepared to be censored. It’s called being respectful.

  • Rosicky@Arsenal

    Pete & Proudkiev

    Good posts.

    Excellent reply to Jamie who has no answer to your post.

  • arse_or_brain

    The problem with the ref wasn’t just a difference between CL and PL. He was very inconsistent the worst character in a bad ref. Was the zargreb player booked when he virtually caught the ball no was the zargreb player booked when he wrestled MD to the floor no. The problem is not style, strictness is fine but it has to be all round to avoid influencing the game perversely.

  • ColG

    I thought for while (along with lots of others) that Arsenal are vulnerable at this level due to lack of back up for Coquelin and lack of another striker. Nothing about last night’s game changed my opinion on that.

    I also found it strange that I didn’t feel particularly upset about it. Arsenal went into the season as an accident waiting to happen. I believe Wenger has been particularly unlucky with the setbacks to Wellbeck and Wilshire, and what happened last night, but that doesn’t alter the fact that this sort of result was almost inevitable at some stage. I no longer feel annoyed at this, its just a matter of accepting that these things happen when your squad doesn’t have enough depth – which for Arsenal has been true for years.

  • A wake up cal for the Team @ CL just like West Ham in the EPL.

    Hoping the lads pick up their guts and turn the blue side of Stamford to Crimson Red of the Arsenal Brigade .

    Come on Ramsey and the Spanish Bellerino !

  • Menace

    ColG – It was not the team but one stupid player getting the referee mad. Your perception of the squad is wrong. You are obviously unsighted when it suits.