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October 2016
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Arsenal v Everton. Being top of the “last 6” league, efficiency, changing tactics, top scorers and flares

By Bulldog Drummond

As I suspect everyone has worked out, we’ll be top if we win, although quite possibly only for a day.  But even so it’s not a bad feeling.  Indeed looking at the table built just from the last six league games we are indeed top:

Pos Team P W D L F A GD Pts Form
1 Arsenal 6 5 0 1 14 4 +10 15 WWLWWW
9 Everton 6 2 3 1 7 7 0 9 DWDWDL

Arsène Wenger has been talking about the side becoming more efficient of late, praising the defence and singling out Mesut Özil for improving even further.  Certainly in the last two games it has looked very much like that.

The tactics are also changing, and seem now to be changeable for each and every game.  Possession all the time is not seen as vital – and it certainly wasn’t against Bayern Munich.  In that game we had just 30% of possession, and only completed 175 passes to 600 from Bayern!   Normally that would cue huge outrage from the aaa, but they seem to have shut up for a moment – undoubtedly awaiting a defeat so they can say, “It’s no good beating Bayern if we can’t…”

Anyway they don’t have to think up that line as I’ve now written it for them.  (It wouldn’t do to let them strain their brains too much).

As to why that tactic hasn’t been used in the past Mr Wenger said, “We had very young teams before and now we have a bit more experience.

“I also believe the recent history of a team makes the team stronger or weaker. In the modern game, even more. In the modern game, as soon as you lose an unexpected game, you face a storm. That is why I think we are bit more stable defensively.

“We have maybe a better discipline.  People reproached us many times: ‘OK, Arsenal play football but they are a bit fragile’. Before, maybe, when we were not dominating completely the game, we were a bit insecure. On Tuesday night, Bayern had a lot of the ball but we could handle that.

“We are more mature, for sure. Two years ago, we were a long time top of the league. After, we lost one or two players, and we lost one or two big games. That was the killer for us. I feel today we are better prepared. We know, as well, the competition will be long. We have played nine games [in the Premier League], there is a long way to go. But let’s make sure that we can produce week in, week out.”

It certainly seems a fair analysis to me, as does the praise Özil is getting.  On that subject the boss said,

“He is 27 now.   It is the golden age of a football player, 27-31, 32, the age when you know your job, you realise suddenly that it is not only important to play, it is important to win as well. You go into that period thinking: ‘Finally’. Under 25 you think you can last forever. Once you get to 27 you realise it’s time to capitalise on what you have learned and efficiency takes a little bit over the playing mood.

“He is focused on his job. Talent wise, I think deeply he is a very collective player. He is a very respectful guy. If you tell him to do that he will do it for you. I think his talent is exceptional. Sometimes I think he sacrifices himself for the team. Sometimes he releases the ball when you want him to, sometimes he will do it when you don’t want him to.

“He plays in the link between the low midfield and the striker. He is the vital part in that. In that final part of the pitch he has the most assists. There he is vital.”

And of course we have Petr Cech currently being the top ranked keeper in the league.  Long may that last too.

However rather worrying the Telegraph has now run a feature with the headline Is this finally Arsenal’s year?    That’s usually enough to knock us back a few pegs.

And the praise that the Telegraph is passing Arsenal’s way is actually getting frightening with them saying there is an “argument for Arsenal being the heavyweight champions of the world at the moment. Bayern Munich are a superb outfit and have made the most dominant start of any team in the top five European leagues, and yet Arsenal put in a plundering shift…”

Of course in the end there was the normal Telegraphian sarcasm without which any article in that paper is not complete, but even so – half a sentence of praise therein is quite something.

So what of Everton?

When Untold published its article Arsenal must deal with the Merseyside flares issue we received a huge level of comment – often from supporters of the Merseyside clubs seeking to blame Arsenal or excuse Merseyside fans for bringing flares into the stadium or even trying to say one of the articles was worthless because there is a difference between flares and smoke bombs.   My own view, for what it is worth, is that one set of dangerous behaviour never excuses another – and besides who cares what the difference is between a smoke bomb and a flare.   It is a criminal offence to bring either into a ground.  Untold has never excused bad or dangerous behaviour by Arsenal supporters, whether it is directed against rival fans, or even our own manager.

Dealing with flares in previous games against Merseyside teams has left Arsenal looking foolish as the stewards were quite unable to cope with the situation, and I am hoping that this time around no one will try and smuggle a flare into the ground.  If they do and let it off the stewards must have a much better set of tactics for getting to the perpetrator and handing him/her over to the police.

Moving on to the game, Everton have never won at The Emirates Stadium.  In fact the last time they won against us in London was the 1995/96 season.  That was the year we came fifth and they came sixth.  And our manager was Bruce Rioch.  Incidentally in case you are not too familiar with Arsenal’s history, the season before that we came 10th scoring fewer goals than any other team in the Premier League.  Now what, I wonder, would the aaa make of that?

On this matter of not beating Arsenal, Martinez, the manager said, “Obviously, two years ago we were very good there and deserved to win the game but ended up drawing 1-1 and you’re thinking about something a bit further than just the game itself in terms of the psychological edge you might need to go to places like Old Trafford and the Emirates and believe that you can win.

“On Saturday we have to react to our performance last weekend [in which they lost 0-3 at home].   We cannot just afford to be facing Arsenal and that could narrow things down in terms of not carrying that baggage of not being able to win there for a long time.

“We are facing an Arsenal team that I watched against Bayern and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that they won. They were very worthy of the win. They are a very complete team at the moment and I think this will be as big a challenge as we will face all season.”

Which is a fair and decent summary I think.

In relation to that home defeat to Man U the Everton manager said, “It was an emotional day and none of us enjoyed the footballing occasion.   Goodison was quite emotionally charged that day and now we need to get back to having our normal dynamic and positive approach.

“It was a one-off… the character and resilience you need to be a winning team, we have that in the squad… it is part of our DNA and will never leave us.”

Moving on for a moment I think it is interesting to consider the current top scorers with Arsenal.  Interesting to see who is in second place.

Rank Player CL CS LG LC Total
1 Alexis Sánchez 1 0 6 0 7
2 Olivier Giroud 1 0 4 0 5
3 Theo Walcott 2 0 2 0 4
4 Mathieu Flamini 0 0 0 2 2
4 Mesut Özil 1 0 1 0 2
5 Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain 0 1 0 0 1
5 Aaron Ramsey 0 0 1 0 1

Everton’s top scorer is Lukaku with seven, exactly as per Alexis, with five in the league and two in the league cup.  After that it is Naissmith (4), Barkley (3), Koné (2) and two players on one.

The review continues with the teams, injuries, and more analysis, in the next article which will be published shortly…

Today’s anniversaries (part 1)

24 October 1883:  George Allison (the third manager in the first Arsenal Golden Age) born in County Durham.  Bernard Joy said “he lacked the professional’s deep knowledge of the game”.  But he still managed to win the FA Cup and the League twice.

24 October 1936: The East Stand, Highbury opened for game against Grimsby.  It cost £130,000.  With the West Stand opened three years earlier, Chapman and Norris’ vision for the stadium neared completion.

You can find all the Arsenal Anniversaries on Arsenal On This Day.

Arsenal in the summer – 48 tales from the Pre-Season files now including all the Wenger years.  Here are the latest…

33 comments to Arsenal v Everton. Being top of the “last 6” league, efficiency, changing tactics, top scorers and flares

  • yj

    Up Arsenal.3 points are certain

  • Nonny

    Loving this interesting piece. Can’t wait for the follow up.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Great article, hopefully a win, no injuries, no flares, smoke bombs or any other devices classed as pyrotechnic, and a fair performance from the ref. may not be reality in all cases but one can hope.
    Aren’t we about due to be given a penalty at some point?

  • jayramfootball

    Being top for the last 6 games or indeed this calendar year yields no trophies. If and when we win the league then Wenger will have saved his reputation. Until then I see him as a manager who has failed for a decade in his job.

  • Sam Sayed

    Glad you talked about tactics. I was having some thoughts sending an article to Tony but never got up to it.

    Watching the Bayern match at the Emirates (oh yes, I’m sharing a season ticket this season in block 109!), it was obvious after the first 15-20 mins that Arsenal had decided to sit back in order to be compact in our own final third and hit on the counter. It looked a very sensible move given how well Bayern were keeping the ball and given our ability to counterattack at ridiculous speed. I thought however that the best chances in the first half fell to Arsenal, not to mention Neuer’s amazing save of Walcott’s header.

    The scoreboard at halftime seemed to confirm my view with Arsenal having 10 shots at goal with 4 on target in contrast to Bayern’s 8 and 2 despite them having 70% possession.

    Then I looked at the live coverage of the game by Guardian in my mobile and felt the Barry Glendenning was watching some other match. I quote:

    18 min: “It’s so easy for Bayern, Alonso’s always free … everybody’s ball-watching. They need to start closing him down,” says BT co-comms man Owen Hargreaves. If anything, he’s being too kind to Arsenal in that appraisal.

    22 min: With 25% of the match gone, Arsenal are getting their pants pulled down here. Bayern are dominating the pace, the tempo, the possession … pinning Arsenal deep into their own half.

    41 min: As we approach half-time, Bayern Munich continue to control a game in which the best chance so far has fallen to Arsenal. That’s about the size of it so far: Bayern look like the home side, while Arsenal look dangerous on the break.

    44 min: Standing outside his own penalty area with the ball at his feet, Manuel Neuer is given all the time in the world to survey his options, wait for Xabi Alonso to retreat unmarked from midfield and pick up the ball from his goalkeeper and play a long ball towards the Arsenal penalty area. Make of that what you will.

    I was amazed to see that the “Deputy Sports Editor” of Guardian couldn’t recognise tactics when it stared him in the face. Oh yes “tactics” – something Arsenal/Wenger are thought not capable of doing. Maybe Mr. Glendenning had taken his media chum’s views about Arsenal/Wenger too literally.

    Walcott’s interview on confirmed my views:

    “It was just one of those days when we had to be patient,” he said. “We knew we were not going to have a lot of the ball and we had to go at them on the counter-attack.

    You can’t just chase them – if you chase the ball you just get passed around and you are going to lose so much energy. There is no need to do that.

    You just have to bide your time. Once they lose the ball they pressure quite quickly. If you can counteract that first pressure you have a chance. We were getting at them while we could and dropping back while we had to and obviously the goals came at great stages.”

    Walcott’s quotes:

  • SamuelAkinsolaAdebosin

    Everton 6 players main power play are: John Stones, Ross Barkley, Phil Jagielka, Seamus Coleman, Romelu Lukaku and Steven Naismith. Everton have quality players. But lost at home 0-3 to Man Utd. The reason for the lose being the Toffees downlooked Man Utd resolved to win the game and they were hit to their surprise. The Boss has classified this Everton game as a big game. And I agree it is a big game looking at their above 6 quality players. But they can’t stop Arsenal beating them today at Emirate Stadium. The Toffees will come in charging and rushing on the Gunners to test their tiredness resolves to see if it can withstand overrun presure. Therefore, the Gunners MUST resist by stoutly defending against any attempt by the Toffees to overrun them early on in the game. And later, the Gunners MUST pounce on the Toffees and dominate them in all aspect of the game and make a mincemeat of them. AFC 5-0 EFC. Full time 90” +.

  • colario

    @ Sam
    in other words we ‘parked the bus.’

    Or in our case ‘the gun carriage’.

  • Jayram, that may be your personal opinion but you offer no explanation as to why such a restrictive view should be held as valid, and so by and large it is an opinion of no value. To be taken seriously you have to explain why the parameters you use are valid. We’ve done this hundreds of time on this site, but you? Nope. Nothing.

  • Jambug


    As Tony said, could you please explain?

  • Jambug

    Being top for the last 6 games or indeed this calendar year is an incredible achievement. If and when we win the league then Wenger will have proved his reputation as the best manager we have ever seen. Until then though I’ll just enjoy the ride. 🙂

  • Mick

    Chelsea 1-0 and a man (Matic) down at halftime. Their coach sent off as well. The specious one continues to suffer, what will be his excuse this time?

  • jayramfootball

    Yes Tony I have explained my position several times.
    I do not mind that it is an opinion not shared by the majority.

    Wenger was simply stunning in his first 6-7 years. He brought new ideas and also a deep insight into the developing players of the time across Europe. He was brilliant in that early period. However since 2006 his teams have struggled to compete in the league and even when they did get close (2008 for example) his teams have lacked the confidence to go on and win the league. The discussion on Wenger;s short comings have been discussed for many years. The fact we wne ton a good run at the end of last season and the start of this is nice, but its over a whole season, with the pressure at it’s highest, that a team has to perform.

    I do not believe we have turned the corner and I don’t beleive we will with Wenger in charge. Just recently he talked about the team not being focused enough for the first 2 CL games. How can that happen? How many lessons do the team need to learn before they stop doing that? All down to the manager.

    There are signs that he is finally abandoning his one dimensional game – certainly the game against Bayern was a welcome sight. We accepted they were better than us and played defensively and on the break. We should have been doing that fot years against better teams.

    I could list so many issues – they have all been discussed before.

    Now I prefer to keep it simple. No PL title before he retires and I will always see his tenure as great to start with, then years of failure.

    I think it does Arsenal FC a discredit to keep listing out faux successes like 4th place, best in the last 6 games, most points thsi calendar year, best to watch, 18 years in the CL, 16 years qualifying out the groups etc.. none of those are successes. 2 Fa Cups in 10 years is not good enough and all the excuses in the worls will not change that. Everything else outside the trophy cabinet is just opinion and we all have different views.

  • jayramfootball

    Oh, and if Wenger DOES rebuild a team to win the league after all this time then, yes, i will post an apology here and admit I was wrong. I actually would like to be wrong. Truth is I just lost faith in the guy, no because of one thing but an accumulation of issues over the years.

  • Samrat Jha

    Carroll 2 Moaninho 1

  • syd

    A comment to ‘proudkev’ I don’t know how old you are but do not make disparaging remarks about Alan Smith this is a man who got 2 golden boots scored the 1st against Liverpool when we won the league scored the winning and only goal against a fantastic Palma team ( have a look) in the final and also making g comments about ‘bungs’ is totally out of order so either do some proper research as everyone on this site demands or grow up and never again slag off anyone who has represented AFC with dignity and tireless effort

  • Mick

    Poor old Chelsea. Still they should look on the bright side, when their specialist in failure goes Brenda Rodgers is available to replace him.

  • porter

    Jayram I have sympathy with your view but although I can criticise some of his decisions re selection and substitutions we are presently top of the shop at the moment. If anything I would lay the blame of our period of so called failure in the board room. To use football parlance their tactics forced the manager to sell players to pay the stadium debt . There were probably other directions that they could have taken which might have slowed the repayments but might have let Wenger manage without one hand behind his back and given him more chance to go for the titles that we all covet.

  • para

    Great win.

    Our defence is much better now that’s why we do not need to have as much possession as before. Possession makes you tired too, and coming from CL a few days ago would have finished us off.

    Özil is always that step ahead 🙂 , sadly sometimes also a little ahead of our other players 🙁 , who then can only react too slow.

    I notice our throw ins are much better too. Gone are the days where we just could not get the ball to our players and then keep it. I notice how we dominate the throw ins now.

    This team has improved so much, has just got another hurdle off our back(Manu) and is ready to use that confidence to propel us forwards.

    A perfect week, as AW said.

  • Menace

    jayramfootball – you are an insult to Indian supporters of Arsenal with your chutia comments on the greatest Manager in football. Wenger has built a club from mediocre to fabulous by a combination of trophies, sporting excellence & worth that has never been done before. You are a total cretin with your comments. You have neither conviction nor evidence apart from your stupid comments. Get a life on another blog or get an education before commenting on Wenger.

  • Menace

    Oh and if you grow up jayramfootball, you may become a gooner & Arsenal supporter.

    The game is not about winning trophies it is about sustained growth with a balanced team playing good football & ensuring good income….unless you are owned by a sheikh or an oligarch. You are neither. Your opinion is based on a view of the clubs that have uncontrolled external income or non sporting corrupt influence with the FA.

    Wenger’s Arsenal is a sporting entity run on business principles.

  • porter

    Sorry Menace but football is a game and the purpose of playing is to win . The days of Baron Pierre de Coubertin are long gone ,just being there to take part is not enough.

  • para


    It has been explained many times here. Purpose is not just to win and then fade into non-existance, but to re-build Arsenal into a football dynasty AND to win.

  • Mick

    Spoken like a true infant.

  • Mick

    You may have to continue in your self imposed misery for a good deal longer as it is reported that Arsene has been offered a two year contract extension.

  • porter

    An infant whose first match at Highbury was Arsenal v Preston in 1956 I believe . .

  • Mick

    Well its about time you started acting like an adult then.

  • porter

    Mick , I have never understood people that take your position. Football matches are there to be won , no point in going on the pitch otherwise. If you need to talk about financial stability as a rule those that win things tend to attract better sponsorship to go with the additional winners prize money.Success on the pitch breeds success on and off of it.

  • Mick

    I wouldn’t expect you to understand people who take my position. People like you who think that winning is all that matters are indeed like spoiled, over indulged children who want it all now. You are an insult to the supporters of all the clubs who have never won anything and probably never will. We on Untold want to win as much as you do but accept with good grace that sometimes other people/clubs win and it is then their turn to enjoy success as we do when we win something. That is the point of competition. Our winning habit actually came two years ago when we beat Hull in the FA cup and then retained it against Aston Villa the following year but apparently you seem to have forgotten that.

  • jayramfootball

    @Menace you will be unsurprised to know I disagree with you completely.

    Football, in my view, is not about “business principles”. That is just a disgusting symptom of the greed in the game today. I will never accept it is about money and look forward to the day when that particular house of cards collapses and we get back to what football is REALLY about. That is winning trophies.

    Fans, players and managers want to win – that is the measure of success and what gets all excited. being top of the oney league is a goal no one cares about other than those involve din teh game to suck assets out for the sport for personal financial gain. Thos epeople are not sportsmen.

    I have no idea why you are going on about being an ‘insult to Indian supporters’. Bizarre comment.

    To suggest Arsenal were ‘mediocre’ when Wenger took over is completely disingenuous. In fact we had won 6 trophies in the preceding 10 year, inclusing 2 league titles and a European trophy. So Wenger has not really improved much on that. In fact, his trophies per season record is worse than the preceding decade from when he took over. Of course, he has made us a lot of money and we do play more attractive football (neither of which are measures of success in my view as I have stated).

    The ‘sustainable football model’ that is just another faux measure of success is a complete nonsense. Its a false label for Arsenal’s model when in fact most all other models are sustainable. Financial Fair Play is a joke and means nothing. No teams in the PL are going to go out of business until te TV money dries up and Corporate sponsorship wanes off the back of that. If and when that happens Arsenal will be in teh same boat as everyone else, cutting back to make ends meet. Hardly ‘sustainable’. I don’t buy any argument that says Wenger could not spend because the accounts of the club suggest otherwise. Accounts, not opinions or PR. that whole excuse is really quite boring now and completely false.

  • jayramfootball

    Excuse my typing abobe (!) mobile phone is being naughty.

  • porter

    Mick , how very noble of you . I was taught to open doors for and allow Ladies to sit on the tube ,but hen it came to sport I was always taught to be a winner and it’s by competing that you learn to lose with grace when it happens which it surely will. You make too many assumptions about others . I don’t know where you got the idea that I have belittled the F.A Cup wins, they were great days and well deserved however I still want to win the league again because that is the pinnacle of domestic football and should be the only true way to gain entry to the top table in Europe.

  • Mick

    ‘I don’t know where you got the idea that I have belittled the F.A Cup wins’
    Maybe because you previously said…
    ‘Sorry Menace but football is a game and the purpose of playing is to win’
    You should have added the caveat ‘as long as it’s the Premier League title’.

  • porter

    Menace said :- The game is not about winning trophies it is about sustained growth with a balanced team playing good football & ensuring good income.

    I basically disagreed for the reasons that I stated. He did not specify any competition merely any one that had a trophy for winning it.