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More options up front than we had over the last seasons

By Walter Broeckx

Over the last 10-15 years we have seen many different players play for Arsenal. Some were great, others ended up somewhere else because they didn’t want to be with us anymore and earn more money somewhere else. Others were not so great in the long run and found that Arsenal had other and maybe better players available.

But looking back at the season so far I think I have seen something different compared to the last few seasons. Not that I was unhappy with our team over the years. No, I know that sometimes you win and sometimes you don’t and take that on board. And you have different reasons sometimes when you don’t win.

And it’s not always the tactics from the other team that prevent you from winning. Sometimes our own players made errors or deflected a ball past our own goalkeeper and that was it. Football on the field is played by human beings and things can go wrong with human beings.  Plus we did have a rather big share of bad referee moments over the years also. That wasn’t really helping either.

But Arsenal is not a fast buying team. By this I mean a team that for the sake of it brings in dozens of players each transfer window and most of the time is just filling the bank accounts of the agents. We take our time to find the player we want to buy and try to buy in a sensible way and try to avoid mistakes. Yes it can go wrong but most of the time we do rather well with the players we have bought over the years.

And by keeping the players we have now as we can compete with the wages that are being paid elsewhere, and by adding a few players over the last seasons our team seems to have improved a lot. Not just numbers-wise but maybe more importantly… also character-wise.

Yes we can play badly. As any team does from time to time. Playing badly is part of the game one could say. What is however important is that when you play badly you try to minimise the negative effect. Not losing a match when you play bad and getting a draw is such a way of doing this.

And that is the thing I think I have noticed for a few months now that has changed. Before you could almost be sure that if we had a bad day, we would also lose our match. Maybe a few seasons ago our home match against Middlesbrough would have resulted in a 0-1 loss and bring back bad memories of defeats against Hull, Bolton, and you can probably name a few other matches when it just didn’t work and we lost.

There maybe was one exception to this and that was our last defeat. In fact I felt we played an excellent first half, should have been out of sight by the interval and found ourselves at 1-1 after the ref gave them a phantom foul freekick. And then we lost it for 15 minutes after the half time break.  That is something we still have to work on I think. We looked flat when we came back on the field for the second half. Is there something in the air in our dressing room at half time? We looked slow and lethargic more than once. Manchester United was just such a match where after not playing badly in the first half we just don’t turn up in the second half.

Sometimes we are in front and maybe relax a bit thinking that as we played so well in the first half it will be a walk in the park.  That might be a reason but that wasn’t the case at Manchester. We were a bit flat over the whole 90 minutes but certainly in the second half when we were more than flat.

So what can you do when things don’t go your way at all? Giving up is the easiest thing to do. Roll over and accept defeat.

Or you can do what our team is doing for the moment. Keep on fighting and trying even when it seems useless. And this is of course where the slow building of the team becomes visible. Keeping Giroud despite the shouts to dump him was a master stroke by Wenger. Playing Alexis in the middle was for me also a master stroke by Wenger.

Does Alexis in the middle always work? No, certainly not when he comes back tied together with bandages to keep his hamstrings together in the middle of the night,  jetlag, short hours of sleep, tired,… then he isn’t as effective as he can be. We didn’t get the ball to Alexis in the second half but surely Alexis wasn’t himself in that half.

Does Giroud in the middle always work? No, it doesn’t. Most of the time it does but not always.

But now we have this quality of being able to pick either of them and play them in the middle. And then we shouldn’t forget the injured Lucas who is a striker who can play there. But even when we have Giroud and Alexis we don’t have to choose one of them. No, we can play them together but then in different roles. Of course Giroud will not be on the flanks as that is not his skill. But with both being able to work most of the time (only 1 defeat in 17 matches seems to indicate Alexis does work most of the time) we have the luxury that we can play one or play them both.

And when playing them both… we seemed to be in a scoring mode most of the time. Sunderland, Ludogorets… and the last minutes of the match at Old Trafford. We now have the luxury of having good options. Sometimes the smaller striker will do better, sometimes you need the big one up front. And some times you just put them both there to make things happening.

Our attitude has improved a lot and is starting to look like a never die attitude at times. And our striking options have improved even without buying anyone. Sometimes change can come from within. But don’t tell that to the people who want us to buy.

Tales from Untold 

Wenger ponders whether Yaya Sanogo will ever really be good enough for Arsenal. 

Arsenal prepare for PSG; Santi Cazorla off to Barcelona

How the use of downright lies and misinformation has spread from football into the world beyond

Arsenal in November. Exactly how bad are we year after year? You might be surprised.

Man United – Arsenal : 1-1 Our beach saves the day

Man U v Arsenal – the teams, the pizza, the telepathy, the result

José Mourinho vs Arsène Wenger. As far as the media is concerned the teams are irrelevant

Wenger v “M”. Tactical naivety, blaming the medics,

Manchester United v Arsenal 19/11/2016 – The Match Officials

The books

“Making the Arsenal” and “Woolwich Arsenal the club that changed history” are available both via Kindle and in paperback.  For the Kindle editions please go straight to the Kindle shop, for paperback editions and more information about the books please click here.

12 comments to More options up front than we had over the last seasons

  • Gord

    He signed da ting!

    No details of course, but Bellerin signing is up on Arsenal.com.

    Or should I say, re-signing. Certainly not resigning.

    Is this a _sign_ of the times? Are more re-signings in the works?

  • Usama Zaka

    Gord,

    6-year contract is news flying… which is massive. Good work by the club.

    Felix Brych (Germany) is the ref for our game against PSG. He is the “elite” ref in Germany like we have Clattenburg in England. Gets the big games often. He is a decent ref but an extremely card happy ref. He is averaging 7-8 yellow cards a game this season.

    Here is a highlight of him.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T3CLrTOcDa0

  • SamuelAkinsolaAdebosin

    For being game fatigued and having a hamstring issue not yet fully recovered from it, Le Prof should consider starting Alexis from the bench but start Giroud for the PSG game imho.

    Yes, we have 1 new senior front addition to our 1st team squad option by the name Lucas Perez. In the midfield, we have Xhaka and at the back we have Mustafi and Holding. Holding being the depth there. But Perez is down at the moment. Xhaka & Elneny can also be deemed as depths to Cazorla, Ramsey & LeCoq at our midfield. But Cazorla & Perez aren’t useful to the team now until they are able to return to action for Arsenal possibly in our December campaign they would.

    I think it was only Isaac Hayden that was sold by Arsenal this season. The rest of the players kept at the club with some surpluses to 1st team action borrowed out on loan.

    I think we now have sufficient depth in all the playing departments in our squad than we had last season. This depth has strengthens our team selection to have this unbeaten run in 17 games in all competitions so far this season. And I foresee this unbeaten run continuing to the halfway mark of this season campaign when at that time, we would have topped the PL table, reached the ELC semi & be ready for the Ucl knockout stages.

  • Zedsaunt

    Well, fancy that!!!!!

    ”“I’m really, really happy and this club is my home right now,” Bellerin told Arsenal Player. “I’ve been here for more than five years now so I was really, really excited when the club told me that they wanted to extend my contract.”

  • Menace

    Gord – great newscasting. Best news for ages now for the rest of the squad.

    I don’t care how many opinions of selection there may be, the only one that matters is Wengers. Every one of our players has the capacity & capability to play anywhere on the pitch. The fact that they remain in specific positions is just to ensure consistency. One thing is for sure our squad is made up of well coached players. It is always easy to point blame at a player when he is involved in an incident, just as it is easy to praise a goal scorer. To get the ball to the scorer takes a lot of coached movement, just as it does to prevent the opposition from scoring. Our whole squad is showing togetherness & we need to focus our hopes on them staying together for seasons to come. We can overcome the biased officiating as we have done before (even the undefeated squad faced biased officiating & won despite it).

    Wenger is a cool headed pragmatist & gets on with his job despite all the rubbish published & broadcast to try & derail him. Thankfully Untold are on his side, supporting despite all the bias we have exposed.

  • Gord

    Little blurb in the news, about Iwobi’s opinion as to who reads the game the best.

    The expected (by the medja) answer was Mesut Ozil. The answer they got, was Koscielny. The question then arises, how did Koscielny get so good at reading the game.

    I think the answer is Mertesacker. Koscielny has spent a lot of time talking to Mertesacker, on and off the field (I expect).

  • Gord

    Oops.

    Thanks Menace.

    Sorry, I’m a little busy, and forgot to be polite. I have 3 Christmases, and today is the first. So, I cooked a turkey and a couple of other things (trying a salad dressing for potatoes with tamarind in it). And, we had almost 6 inches of snow on the ground, so I had to clear the driveway (1500 feet).

    Good day to all.

  • nicky

    @Gord,
    With respect, why muck about with a delicious roast turkey, by adding a salad?
    Merely add roast potatoes, carrots, sprouts, perhaps a few French beans plus lashings of gravy and you then have a Thanksgiving to be remembered with pleasure until the same time next year! 😉

  • Brickfields Gunners

    @ Gord – Is there any truth to the rumour that most of the Canadian birds have decided en masse , not to migrate south this winter ?

    You know , what with the unfavourable change in climate as well as with the ominous undercurrents in the land below yours.

    If this be true , then you should be able to pick off your main course right in your front yard ! Your daily choice of Poulet du jour , just sitting out there like …..sitting ducks !

  • Gord

    Nicky, I didn’t do a good job on the bird. I thought it was too dry. I had time to brine it, but didn’t. Maybe there is another way?

    I had looked up potato salad, and took the advice. Russet (baking) potatoes, start in cold water which contains salt, sugar and vinegar. There is a pH thing in the cooking, so it can be cheap vinegar there. As soon as you drain the cooking water off, splash the potatoes with a good vinegar. The tamarind (cumin and ginger) dressing was nice. That’s followed by yogurt (I used a lemon/orange yogurt) and chopped cilantro.

    Really nice potato salad.

    Brickfields, we had 2 big snowfalls in October, one really early. Caught many farmers off guard. But, there were still geese honking around at the beginning of November. They all seem to be gone now.

    I seen some really fat robins this year, might give the geese a run in the size department. 🙂

    It has been ages since I got a wild duck. I seldom cook domestic duck, as it is quite fatty.

    I might start raising free range fowl at some point.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    A ventriloquist comes onto the stage with his dummy and starts his act. One bit requires his dummy to tell Dumb-Blonde Jokes. After a few jokes, an angry blonde woman finally stands up and starts speaking her mind.

    “I have had it with the stereotyping of all blondes being stupid!” the woman yells, and she continues ranting on about this.

    Finally, the ventriloquist says, “Sorry ma’am …”

    The woman cuts him off by saying, “You stay out of this. I’m talkin’ to the dummy.”

  • Gord

    On the topic of Blonde Jokes

    > One day a blonde went to a sea food restaurant and saw the
    tank where they kept the lobsters. She took pity on these creatures
    and hid them in her purse. Later she went to the woods to set the poor
    animals free!

    It’s a good thing it wasn’t crayfish that she found. Some species of crayfish have been known to cross 4 miles of dry land to get from one waterway to an other.

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