By Bulldog Drummond
So the complaints against Arsenal and Arsene Wenger rattle on and are utterly lapped up by the media which publish them all without any investigation into the truthfulness or otherwise of the allegations. And of course pointing out that factual errors and disinformation (which has now soared to unprecedented heights) combined without differentiation with personal opinion, is pointless. There comes a stage where some people simply don’t want to listen.
But for those interested, the game goes on, so we’re all off to Leicester to see how things go and we’ll be watching another game of pace with Alexis and Theo aiming to get the defence rattled. Which is why Alexis as a centre forward is interesting – as Mr Wenger says, when he plays on the winger he chases back, rather than saving his energy for the moments when he can run behind the defenders.
Apparently he played in the number 9 role for Barcelona (I don’t have the figures to tell you how often) but what we have against him running through the whole game at the moment is yet another summer (two running for Alexis) of international competitions in which his country won the trophy they were competing for. So this year Mr Wenger has said, “Maybe I will have to rest him a bit more. When he came back he was not completely ready to be 100 per cent. This week he was already sharper in training.”
The first match of the season lifted us up the injury league a little, although not to the top as the new “Statements not Evidence” approach to reporting has suggested.
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Ramsey and Iwobi are the latest on the list – which as I mentioned before includes Jenkinson who was knocked to bits with State Aid Utd and then immediately came back onto our list of injured players.
One player not on the list is Jack Wilshere, but whether that gets him a game or not, I’m not sure. Certainly with Leicester being at home, being champions and not have won any of their last ten games against us, they will be trying every tactic under the sun to try and make it happen this time. And of course all records come to an end one day – the aim is to try and extend them as long as possible.
As for who will play…
Apparently after the last game Cech had a senior player moment when trying to extricate his car from that pesky underground car park at the Ems last week. (Personally with a salary like that I think I would either ask either a mate or the lady wife to take me home in his car or employ a driver to get me home, but then I’ve never played at that level nor earned that amount of money, so I don’t really know. But the accident should have got his annoyance at last week’s result out of his system.)
Just as I suspect Bellerin and Monreal will be back to their very best – the style and performance that we saw last season. Which then gives the first problem: who plays in between them. Chambers will I think be given every chance to grow into his role, just as Koscielny was – and I suspect that for some of the players playing away from the critical bunch on the north bank will actually be very welcome. Indeed as the Arsenal History Society reviews this week have been showing, Chapman worked on getting a team that could be better away from home than at home, and I suspect we might start seeing that this season, once again.
I guess it has to be Koscielny also back one week earlier than would have been liked but Holding needs to be introduced gently, and not offered to the baying hounds. I suspect he is going to be one of the exceptional buys of the season in an era when spending has gone mad.
Granit Xhaka looked a little surprised at the sort of world he found himself in last week – and it is because the PL is different from other leagues that new defensive players are generally introduced slowly. It is a complex issue to learn what is allowable and what not – just as it is complex to understand exactly why it was that no one but no one mentioned who won the Fair Play League last season. It has been mentioned some years – but not all of them. Odd that.
One solution to the lack of complete fitness by Kos would be to play Coquelin and Elneny in front of him, particularly with Ramsey out for a few games which then gives us Santi Cazorla free to do his stuff in front of them, knowing he’s got cover at all time.
Mr Wenger suggested Santi was not 100% fit yet, which could mean Santi plays and Ozil comes on, on the hour.
Then with a line up like that we can have Walcott on one side and the Ox on the other. The Ox has been terrific so far this season although he did fade a bit in the last game, so although he’s getting a place because of injury he knows he is also getting it because of his pre-season, and that could spur him on even further.
That gives us interesting attacking options on both sides, Santi running forwards and Alexis up front.
Monreal Koscielny Chambers Bellerin
Now the alternative story I have heard is that we are going to bring back all three missing Euro players to give a line up somewhat different…
Alexis Ozil Walcott
Monreal Koscielny Chambers Bellerin
The defence stays the same but midfield and attack changes.
Not mentioned in dispatches and thus lurking on the beach will be any of the above not included in the squad and/or Ospina, Debuchy, Holding, Gibbs, Wilshere, Akpom.
Or to summarise the whole thing in one go: I don’t know which way the line up will look. I suspect just Kos will come back with Giroud and Ozil on the beach.
Apparently this is the first time since 1953 that both of the top two teams (Arsenal and Preston that year) have lost their openers (Aston Villa were the last team to lose the opening two after being champions). Indeed having won the league in 1953 Tom Whittaker’s team famously didn’t win a single one of their first eight league games in 1953/4 ending that run with a 1-7 defeat to Sunderland. By the eighth game Arsenal had used 20 players and only one defensive position retained the same player throughout the run. Arsenal didn’t sack their manager, and went on to just two defeats in the next 20 games.
Moving on, here’s a nice quote from Mr Wenger this week…
“Of the players who left, 99.5% of the players have asked to come back even when they left.” I’m not sure they have all become fully aware of the latest antics by the aaa but it is an interesting notion. He added, “You are absolutely convinced that I do not want to spend the money, but I reassure you we are ready to spend the money. What I fight against is to think that the only way in football is to buy. To buy in itself is not a quality but to buy the good players is a quality, and I think this club has been built on that.”
So on to the usual factoidies (new word of the week – a small and not necessarily relevant fact but still more truthful that something you read in the newspaper).
Of the last 19 games between the two Leicester have lost 13 and drawn six, and their only win over Arsenal in 31 league and cup games was at Filbert Street in 1994. But Arsenal didn’t find it too easy against Leicester in the unbeaten season, drawing 1-1 in the Midlands and then going 0-1 down in the last game of the season at Highbury, before coming back to 2-1 and the Invincibles title as Leicester went down.
Arsenal have only failed to score once in the 27 last games between the two – it was a 0-0 draw. But Leicester are the penalty kings – they get a penalty in one game in four at the moment. Arsenal haven’t lost two games in a row at the start of a season since 1992/3 – a season when we ended up lower than the Tiny Totts.
And to conclude, try this one: Alexis Sanchez has scored four goals in his two previous league games in Leicester.
Meanwhile, if you haven’t already seen it, and feel like making a comment, please do read
- ABNORMAL BEHAVIOUR , PHOBIAS , DISEASES AND AILMENTS OBSERVED ON UNTOLD ARSENAL
- Leicester v Arsenal Sat 20 August – The Match Officials and what we know of them.
- Danny’s early return, youngsters leaving, and tales from the Scientology wing of transfer rumours