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August 2021

Norwich – Arsenal, did you get out of the car park yet ?


“Making the Arsenal” – the book of Arsenal’s rebirth

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By Walter Broeckx

Sometimes you have those games that after 20 minutes you look at the scoreboard and think: is this really the score of the game I am seeing?  How on earth did Norwich managed to be 1-0 up after 20 minutes I was wondering at home. How long would we be missing chances ?

If I want to be dramatic I could say this was the worst Arsenal performance of the last 125 years at least looked at from the finishing point of view.  It looked as we agreed not to score at all at the start of the game. Or maybe we wanted to avoid a Newcastle like last season when we did finish the first chances and later the ref came back to equalize for Newcastle?

But instead of criticising our own players we could of course give credit for the way Norwich defended. Their goal line clearances where spot on to be honest. I think any defender will be proud of such saves. And we must give credit for the keeper also. He made a few great stops. I think the one in the second half when Gervinho had already beaten him but he threw himself back from a lost position to block the shot. As a former keeper I couldn’t but curse him but admire him at the same time.

Talking about Gervinho, I think he had his most unlucky game for Arsenal. I think he was great going forward and causing all kinds of problems for the defenders. But it was as if he just couldn’t score in this game.  Those things can happen. I guess a hat-trick against Dortmund will be enough to get over this game of missed chances for Gervinho.

Talking about hat-tricks. I was a bit disappointed with Van Persie. He should have had one today I feel. Okay just joking. Talk about world class! Well we had it all the time in our dressing room. But a small but loud part of the fan base didn’t see it for a long time, or maybe didn’t want to see it.

But our manager knew about it all the time. And like only Wenger can do it he worked and worked and worked. And Van Persie worked on his game. And worked. And worked.

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Last season when Wenger put RVP out as the striker in the middle those same loud mouthed part of the fans said that surely the old fool (Wenger that was) had lost it. How could Van Persie ever be a decent striker? Well I think most of them by now will deny that they ever said something like that and they will proclaim that they knew it all along ever from the moment that we bought him as a young troublemaker from Feyenoord.

Maybe they will claim that they said 5 years ago that Wenger should play him in the middle. Oh well it is plain to see, if you want to see: Wenger knows. Wenger knew what he was doing with RVP. And if our captain would leave us I am sure Wenger will know what to do to replace him.  He will know much better than all those loud mouthed fans who pretend they know something about football.

Mertesacker was not the luckiest person on the pitch in the 16th minute. I am not going to interfere with the ref review so just will ignore if there was a foul or not. But it was one of those balls that with the spin on the ball and the striker breathing in the neck not the slightest mistake could be made. I know part of the fan base will crucify him for that moment of hesitation. You could see him think: do I head it back to the keeper with the risk of the striker getting in between or do I try to shield the ball.  That fraction of doubt was enough for the striker to get away with it. With whatever “it” is.

But if we had lost points today I don’t think we could blame Mertesacker.   It was our forwards who missed too many chances. And those mistakes made our game difficult. Not that mistake from Mertesacker. Which didn’t help of course but at that moment we should have had a comfortable lead and would have made Norwich lose their belief in themselves.

Another player who deserves a mention is Koscielny. I think he did a great defensive job. But you could see that is not a full back and so he didn’t join in the attack as Sagna and Jenkinson do at times. But playing out of position like he had to do : a great game from him.

All in all we were the far better team of the day. We deserved to go home with 3 points and should have made life easier on ourselves. And on the nerves of our supporters. But you could see that the team has a maturity unseen in the last years now. We didn’t panic when Norwich tried to throw everything at us in the last minutes. And when we got the ball we tried to run the clock down in a very professional way. I think that part is also very pleasing.

And also the fact that Szczesny was very much unemployed once again over the whole 90 minutes. But when we needed him, he just was on the right spot.

An important victory with a too small margin but again a very good and hard working performance of all 11 players on the pitch. And as long as they keep on doing that part of the job, we will be fine.


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22 comments to Norwich – Arsenal, did you get out of the car park yet ?

  • Fedda

    In the past I would be dead worried that we f**ed it up. But not this time, somehow I was certain we was gonna win. Facts are that last year we were at 23 points and now we are at 22 points. If you do a team comparison we are actually ahead with +5pts.

  • Sammy The Snake

    Met seemed a bit our of sorts all 90 minutes, but that can happen to any player. Job done & 3 points collected, thankfully!

  • Alek

    Some times I think you read my mind.

    I mean this part: ‘But if we had lost points today I don’t think we could blame Mertesacker. It was our forwards who missed too many chances. And those mistakes made our game difficult. Not that mistake from Mertesacker.’

    And this one: ‘And if our captain would leave us I am sure Wenger will know what to do to replace him. He will know much better than all those loud mouthed fans who pretend they know something about football.’

  • bjtgooner

    Overall it was a good team performance. We did make life more difficult by missing chances, but the team kept going and kept working for each other.

    I thought Walcott played well and looks as if he is stepping up this year. The combination of Walcott, Grevinho and RVP seems to be gelling very well.

    Posibly Song and Ramsey looked a bit tired after the internationals/travel.

    The important thing was three points bagged and the winning run continued despite disruption from internationals.

  • nicky

    I sometimes wonder whether we should abandon our high-line defensive posture AT THE START OF A GAME. We seem to lay ourselves so open to counter attacks, it frays the nerves of watching Gooners all over the world. I know all about AKB but does he consider the effect on us?!!!

  • Paul Collins

    Once again very settled defensive peformance. I had forgotten just how good a defender TV was. It is only now that he is back and making clearing headers and timely interceptions and striding confidently out of defense that I remember just how excited I was by his arrival three seasons ago. He just seems to bring such calm assurance to our defensive effort.

    I will continue to give Per a pass for a few more weeks at least. We all knew he was slow and weak when he joined the club, that has been his criticism for years. He isnt going to be able to do anything about his pace, but his strength can certainly improve, like Koscielny last season. There is a world of difference between Koscielny now and his stature 12 months ago, when he also was pushed around far too easily. Mertesacker is never going to be a world-class defender, but he should get stronger as he plays more and I would expect he will eventualy challenge for a starting role when everyone is fit.

    I agree that the whole midfield looked tired, or rusty, or just plain out of sorts. They can do better.

    Walcott and RvP were outstanding. It is a pity that many are stil judging Theo on his performances of the past few years, because if you simply look at his play this season, he has generally been good, sometimes very good, and occasionally (like yesterday) outstanding.

  • Olasunkanmi

    I’m observing walcott this season. All our players usually give 120% when they’re negotiating contract and are about to leave the club..flamini,nasri

  • Long Island Gunner

    You guys at Untold are the best – supportive of the Club and AW but backed up by good insight.

    I thought the team played well at times but was disappointed in the passing choices and resulting lack of success of our midfield in general for this game more than others as we did not need to be looking for the Hollywood pass every time. The result was giving away the ball far more often than we should have and creating gobs of transition opportunities for the Canaries.

    Thankfully – the Merte foul / mistake apart – the back 5 were as stable as we’ve seen in an Arsenal shirt in years. When Song decides to “mind the store” a bit more than was evident today, that back 6 can hold off most any attack we can expect to see.

    So the giving the ball away in midfield segues into the next game’s profile as the High pressure, always closing down Dortmunds visit on wednesday and transition football is the altar they worship at.

    Arteta and Rambo will be closed down early and often as we try to build out of the back and the pace of the game and the immediacy of the pressure will rise dramatically. Playing Kosc at right back signaled – I believe – AW’s intent with respect to the back 4 on Wednesday. Having a game under your belt in a new position to coordinate with the rest of the back 4, was all part of looking forward.

    I think the Canaries defending combined with a little bit of bad luck on the part of Gerv and Theo as well as some less than clinical finishing kept what could have been 6-1 to 2-1.

    Anyone care to wager on the starting line-up for wed (I’m thinking exactly the same as yesterday)?

  • dan

    Chelsea looking great, wondering will the media pick up on JT’s crap performance and the defensive play of Torres. Liverpool are just as crap but that luck will dry up soon.

  • Rog B

    Just that you know Walter,Koscielny started his playing career as a right back

  • Woolwich Peripatetic

    Chelsea and Per are finding out just how hard it is to play a high line in the EPL. Dortmund might get a surprise if they try it at the Emirates.

  • nicky

    @Woolwich P,
    What worries me is OUR habit of BEGINNING a match with a high-line, e.g.the Norwich game when their counters early on, before we settled, should have resulted in a couple of goals (except for poor finishing). It seems to happen every game. I know all about AKB but it’s still a nervy time watching.

  • Passenal

    “Mertesacker is never going to be a world-class defender, but he should get stronger as he plays more”

    70 odd caps for a top quality national team like Germany might beg to differ

    I think he is just learning the ropes in the PL and is experienced enough to learn quickly.

    Nicky, you sound like stewart robson. That is just how we play the game and playing deeper would impact on the attacking part of our game. Norwich had 2 shots on target, so our ‘high line’ did not make that much of an impact.

  • Aditya

    Was a great game, I thought Theo was excellent. I have a Stat Question though – How many of Robin’s 31 goals this season were finished with his Right Foot ? Was just wondering coz he was criticized a lot for being over dependent on his left but both his goal against Norwich were from his right foot (man what chip the second one was from his “weaker” foot”).

  • Travis

    “He will know much better than all those loud mouthed fans who pretend they know something about football.”

    Quote of the day.

  • Chowdhury

    “He will know much better than all those loud mouthed fans who pretend to know something about football” — the TRUTH.

    In Arsene We Trust.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Yes amazing how many he scored with his right foot lately. He looks very confident with his right foot this season and scored a lot with his weak foot.
    In fact the second goal came after what I felt was a slightly bad control from his ‘strong’ left foot 😉

  • Paul Collins

    Passanal – “70 odd caps for a top quality national team like Germany might beg to differ” Only if you think International Football is better than top-level European Club Football. I do not. I think top-level European Club Football is a far, far, far better standard of Football than all but 0.0001% of international football. Spain might be the exception, but only because they are dominated by players from one club. France 1997-02 were a similar exception, but only because that whole team grew up together at Clairefontaine.

    In my opinion the majority of international football is drudge. Dross. Feeble imitations of the great game we get to watch at Arsenal every week (and fans of Chelsea, Utd, City, Spurs etc get to watch).

    In my opinion a player getting international caps shows they are one of the better players at that position in their own country, NOT that they are able to consistently perform at the level required for top-level European Club Football. Peter Crouch has 42 caps and 22 international goals for goodness sake.

  • @nicky,
    Would you rather we sat really deep and let opponents pump balls into our box? As in what happens at free kicks (from which we have a nasty habit of conceding)? I grant you if they push up I expect us to tear them a new one but is winning 8-4 really that good for the heart?

  • lorenzo

    paul collind the peter crouch one really cracked me up. that being said per’s influence on our back line is palpable how many times this season when he has played have you had the feeling that arsenal were going to concede a goal soon(you know the 85 mins long balls start flying into our 18yrd box) he does drop some howlers but give him the benefit of the doubt; no pre-season and his first season

  • There are two things that worry me –
    1)the number of gilt-edged chances that we need to put the ball into the back of the net.
    2) The pace of our midfield Arteta-Song-Ramsey midfield looks slow and predictable at times. We only have Rosicky to speed up our game, and he is more of a 60 mins player.

  • Paul Collins

    Lorenzo – I may criticize Per’s pace and strength but his experience, maturity, technique and general calm demeanor have all impressed me hugely. Like I said, I do not think Per will ever be regarded as a true world-class central defender, however I do think he can be a very valuable member of our squad and a regular contributor.