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August 2021

A very good looking ugly win, a bounce back, a great win, a satisfying win.


By Walter Broeckx


Last week when Manchester City lost at Chelsea (much to my delight I must admit) the media talked about how important it would be for City to bounce back immediately after a defeat. Because that was the mark of a big team. The next game City won. With a little help from some friends, with some luck. But they won. And so they were praised as a big team.

Last weekend when we lost at Manchester City nobody really talked about us being a big team. I didn’t hear much talking about the mark of a big team: bouncing back after a defeat. I mentioned it a bit in my game retrospective article but that is why we are Untold I guess. But the game at Villa could be a season changing game.

And we started this game with  or better said without some 11 players not available. That is a whole football team. Not saying they all would be playing but surely our normal right and left backs would be on the field. Now we had to start with a reserve-midfielder at right back. At the end of the day he did a great job in fact and his statistics on won tackles were very good. But still wouldn’t we love the face and hair cut of Sagna running up and down the right flank? Or the Brazilian flair of Santos on the left even if “he can’t defend”?

So another make shift defence to start with. But this time our back 4 made it to the end and looked to be okay unless that twat Hutton managed to hurt Vermaelen in his stupid late tackle in the last minute of extra time? But Vermaelen twittered a message after the game thanking Benayoun for bailing him out in this game. A rare mistake from Vermaelen when he headed the ball too short to Mertesacker and so Albrighton could score what would turn out to be goal 20.000 in the EPL.  I’m sure Vermaelen doesn’t want to see his name in the record books under assists for this one.

But let us bounce back to the start of the game and Arsenal bouncing back was required in this game after our defeat last weekend. Sorry to admit it but I couldn’t catch the first 10 minutes. But I heard from my son that Szczesny made a great save early in the game. Imagine if we would have bought another keeper last summer or the summer before. We would have lost this talented boy who can become one of the best keepers in the world.

Villa, credit to them, smelled blood in the opening stages and was hoping that we would feel down after our defeat. And maybe we did because we didn’t start very well. But after some 15 minutes the first storm died down and we took over. Theo making a fine move to fool his defender and then he was pulled back in the penalty area. And the ref pointed to the spot. The only decision he could make. Who else but the new Thierry Henry to step up and to put us in front. With this goal Robin is now on 34 goals in a calendar year. The same that Henry got a few years ago. Ho, ho, ho merry Christmas I would say. Now get that record of Shearer Robin. Go for it. That would make the Christmas something special.

Ramsey then got a great chance to put us 2 in front. But I think his legs are gone a bit for the moment. And when your legs are gone a bit you are not fresh enough in front of goal. And his attempted shot when alone in front of goal went very wide. Ramsey was disappointed with himself as he said on twitter it was a difficult night for him. But if we look back at his first real season so far he has done a great job. He works very hard for the team, he puts a lot of pressure on the other team, he links up with the rest of midfield. The only thing a bit missing is his finishing. But at his age this is a very normal thing. It will come. We just have to make sure we don’t burn him up completely.

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We also have to remember that this is his first real normal campaign so far. The campaign before that he was just a promising youngster who came in to the team around this time of the season. Only to see his leg broken a few weeks later. And then came the fight back from hell. I think it is amazing to see how he has come back and how he seemingly completely recovered from his injury. Maybe a rest now would do him good, Arsène. Not that I want to pretend to know it better than you. Just my take on Aaron for the moment. He is too important for our future to burn his wings before he can completely fly.

We controlled the rest of the first half most of the time but Villa wasn’t dead yet. Early in the second half Vermaelen handed a Christmas gift to Villa. And then we suffered a lot. Some players went missing and seemed tired. Later in the game Wenger took them off. First he took Frimpong off who still is not a Song yet. But Song in his early days wasn’t the Song of now so we must give this Gunner-Gooner the chance to improve himself. And with his fight in him I’m sure Frimpong will fight and work as hard as he can to do this. Rosicky entered the field and suddenly Arsenal was on top. Strange how such a substitution suddenly changed the game.

We didn’t create much but we pushed them back. And won corner after corner. But we couldn’t score from them at first. The best chance fell for Mertesacker but well he sure is no striker. But he will score a goal this season sometime. I just feel it. With time running out Wenger brought Arshavin and Benayoun on the pitch. Gervinho and Ramsey who looked very tired came off. More pressure from Arsenal who were totally on top in the last 20 minutes of the game. A shot from Arshavin was deflected and when Robin Van Persie delivered the ball it was Benayoun who came to the rescue and headed the ball calmly in goal.

Villa was shocked and we missed the chance to even make a third. But then Villa attempted a last kind of attack on our goal. But our defence was determined not to let bad things happen again. Koscielny with an important interception, Mertesacker with a few headers pushed the ball away from our goal.

And then we saw a mature side. Rosicky and Benyaoun playing the ball around to kill the time. And most of all Arteta who made and found space for himself. Turning away from the Villa players so we would be able to keep possession. Not only making space for himself but by doing this also making space for other players so we could keep the ball. This showed the maturity of the team. And when Hutton was so stupid enough to get him sent off in the extra time the game was well won.

So if we judge ourselves by the standard of City (bouncing back after a defeat) we can say that we are a decent team. The players battled really hard and fought for the shirt. That is what we want as supporters. That is all we can ask in fact. I think in the next weeks players like Rosicky and Benayoun will show their worth for the team and will get more playing time. They sure looked good when they came on and with some tired legs out there will be fresh to fill in the gap in this difficult time of the season.

A great win in the end. A difficult win but those are the sweetest wins in fact. Winning ugly is sometimes needed in a season and this was what you could call such a win. A very satisfying win for the players who showed great desire and you could see the joy at the end of the game. We don’t have just 11 players. No our reserves also play their part and can make a difference. But most of all it seems as if we have A TEAM. A team with great fight and team spirit in it.

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26 comments to A very good looking ugly win, a bounce back, a great win, a satisfying win.

  • pedantic george

    great stuff Walter

  • Great article as per usual Walter. The ref almost did us in though. Looking forward to the ref review.

  • It was indeed a great and much-needed win for Arsenal. But i felt the referee did all in his power to swing the game away from us. I still can’t see how he booked RVP for which we should have got a penalty. The corrupt FA should introduce a system to refine referee’s based on their mistakes.

  • Gooner4mIndia

    Well…the Christmas holidays look all the better with this win!Good point about Ramsey…but then the way he is managing to find himself in scoring positions is a talent in itself and it is just a matter of a few goals after which we’ll see him developing into a regular scorer for the team…he is a class act… Merry Xmas to all!!!

  • “The corrupt FA should introduce a system to refine referee’s based on their mistakes.”
    Who’s going to bribe them into doing that exactly?

  • Mandy Dodd

    A good win, but a tired performance, understandable. Just hope Vermaelen is ok?? Maybe we should be thinking about his friend Verthongen if we get any more injuries in that area.

    See our fried Alan Hansen has got himself into trouble on MOTD, referring to black players as coloured….twice. I would guess did not mean anything, maybe he is uncomfortable at referring to the players as black for some reason, but a silly gaffe nonetheless inspiring a lot of tweets from black players. Shame, I was starting to warm to him after recent praise of our team!

  • Dino Abby

    Good article. We are one decent team strengthened by the cohesiveness of the players. The game indeed showed that a few key players looked jaded. Despite that, we battled on with full fighting spirit. Inconsistency of our young players was the sore thumb especially Frimpong, who in my opinion appeared to be more of a passenger. The moment he was replaced by Rosicky, things changed immediately for the better. Le Coq improved as the game progressed.

    I somehow feels there’s much room for improvement at corner kicks. A few preset options or strategies need to be employed. Arshavin & Chamark should be sold while we have interested takers. I see Wenger bringing in one or two players come january and I hope I’m right.

  • @Mandy,
    It’s pretty much impossible to refer to players of different races without being racist, since you have to acknowledge a difference. You can only really talk about racism in the abstract unless you want to provoke a response.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Agree WP, think he was just a bit of a slightly old school guy caught up not really knowing what term to use over black players, without taking the risk of sounding….racist, which I doubt he is. But he would not be the first who did not in anyway lead a racist life, or take racist actions to get in trouble over an unfortunate, and maybe completely mistaken choice of words. Do not think he should be judged too harshly on this one.

    As for the game, was watching the highlights again, we really dug something out there. Eck looked gutted in his interview, not sure he likes us very much! They did play well at times though

  • @Mandy,
    He’s just showing himself up as not as bright as he thinks he is. Which he generally does every week, regularly as clockwork.
    Keown knows more about defending & football in general but he hasn’t won three European cups so he gets the MOTD2 slot instead.

  • Prasanna Veeraraghavan

    I lost the count of the Arsenal games I could not see live on Tv thanks to ESPNStar(Sky) preferring to telecast Liverpool game. Also its not new that most days Liverpool either end up losing or playing out goalless draws on these days.

    Still somebody out there want Arsenal to lose market.

  • John L

    to me the ref never looked very confident. he seemed hesitant to put his lips to the whistle. when people talk about colina, one of the things you hear players and coaches say is that he was always able to take control of the game. players react to that.

    in someways i think huttons red was indicative of the ref never really controlling the game. sure enough by the end, a frustrated player gets himself sent of after lashing out with some bad challenges. i wonder if the ref had impossed himself more on the game if hutton would have lost control?

    i think the RVP yellow was a good example of a ref lacking confidence in his decisions. instead of making a big call, a game changing call, hes taken the easy way out and booked a player for diving. im not sure this was bad reffering in the sense that he didnt see it or was unaware of what happened. but simply a case of cowardly reffering.

  • John L

    sometimes i get frustrated with wenger’s substitutions. but once again the great man reminded me how little i know. his substitutions last night were spot on and well timed. its always nice when you put someone on and they score but the more important thing was that after he made the changes, the teams performance picked up a little bit, and after going ahead, showed alot of maturity in closing the game out. the nerves of last season, when in similar positions, were no where to be found.

    so well done arsene and shame on me……..

  • John L

    for all you guys struggling to find streams of arsenal games, being an overseas gunner for years i feel your pain. i live in america and its sometimes impossible to find a game on tv. i use a program called sopcast in conjunction with a website called: livefootballol

    i am able to watch just about every single arsenal game there. i missed a couple league cup matches this year but i dont think they were televised. hope that helps…..

  • Ugandan Goon

    Walter, i logged on here to read your thoughts on the referees performance, i for one thought this was an even worse performance than phil ‘the walrus’ dowd’s weekend shenanigans, i am not going to name situations as i am sure they will be covered in the review , but i’d like it noted that the tired legs of the players have got a lot to do with a dispiriting performance by the refs.

  • bjtgooner

    @ John L

    I think the match situation was important at the time the penalty was denied to Arsenal (when RVP was floored). The score was 1 all and there was not a lot of time left, an RVP penalty would have given us the lead and probable win – obviously not in someone’s script.

    I also suspect that the ref was reminded at half time that penalties for Arsenal are against policy.

    Happily, the win, three points and a measure of justice was achieved. But, RVP has been wrongly branded a diver by a totally incompetent ref – not a satisfactory outcome. I think the ref should be made to apologise to our captain.

  • goonergerry

    Good article Walter- You make many good points-It is pretty rare for a 20 year old young player to be able to maintain performance levels every 3 days in the EPL. I have to say that when Rosicky came on we immediately looked more cohesive. Against this opposition Song is a vital loss-and I think you understate the progress of Frimpong somewhat-he is right at the very beginning. He has a huge learning curve ahead of him-and Coquelin should be ahead of him in the pecking order.
    I agree with Imagooner-as soon as the home support perked up in the second half-decisions started to increasingly go Villa’s way.
    Personally I thought RVP’s yellow an outrageous decision-but I am sure that you will cover that in a later blog.

  • Gooner Gal

    Whilst we were not at our scintillating best yesterday, I think we were better than what I watched today. Chelsea and the Spuds played quite a bit of nervy air ball and the sky sports commentary team failed to acknowledge the truth of the rubbish spectacle played out in front of them. Also, I must say that I am happy that John Terry put in a good block at the end so it ended in a draw, but it should also be acknowledged that he played Bale on side, which enabled the shot in the first place.

    If I had to watch either of those two teams regularly, I would feel very short changed and angry. As it is I feel aggrieved that both sit above us in the table. It would be a travesty if Arsenal finish outside the top four, or lower than either of these two teams.

  • Sammy The Snake

    A beautiful ugly win! Love it.

  • sam

    Your statement “First he took Frimpong off who still is not a Song yet. But Song in his early days wasn’t the Song of now” is the best I have heard for many days.
    Frimpong is getting a lot of flak for the last 2 matches and the boy deserves more play time to hone his skill….hell he is already physically stronger than Song!!!
    Awesome article as always!!!

  • walter

    Oh and I do love Frimpong a lot in fact. But Song had to learn the job and he has. I really hope that Frimpong will do the same and become as good as Song is now.
    I sometimes think that the expectation that is put on Frimpong is too much for the moment. He gets compared to the Song from now and that is not an honest person to be compared with.
    But I will never write Frimpong off like some fans did with Song. Hell even now Song gets stick from some fans.
    I think Frimpong was too busy to prove himself in the game at Villa. To show that he can do it. And then sometimes you end up with being over concentrated and you get somehow cramped in your game.
    I think he suffers a bit from being not calm enough in all circumstances. Things that should get better when he becomes older

  • He can pass, he can tackle, he can read the game. What he lacks is experience. You’ve got to love his Gooner-till-I-die attitude though. One “Frimmyfact” I liked recently:
    Some players wear their heart on their sleeve, Frimpong wears his opponent’s still beating heart after he rips it out of their chest.

  • Yommex

    The usual high standard of journalism that one is used to. Keep it up. Just by the way, has anybody noticed that Newcastle are not been referred to as a one man team despite the fact that Demba Ba is responsible for 59% of all their goals? How things look different when it is not Arsenal?

  • C4

    Some incredible decisions in this game. I Still can’t figure out what RVP was booked for. Even more incredible for me was Per’s booking. What the hell did he do wrong? Did I miss something?
    I feel like we’ve now entered that ridiculous phase again where we seem to be going against the script, and now the officials are stepping in to “put things right”. After our start to the season, they probably figured we’re not a threat, but at the rate we’ve been brushing teams aside, they don’t want to let us within touching distance of the darling teams. So I expect more ridiculous performances, to try and keep us away from those top 4 places reserved for the darlings.

  • bob

    Your series of expressions for the present moment – “the ridiculous phase” – is spot on. Your unholy trinity wondrfully captures how to capture this moment in words before the too predictable storm: going against the script, putting things right, touching distance. I’ll be using them and appreciate your clarity. Cheers.

  • C4

    Glad I could contribute, though I think true credit should go to the ref reviewers, media watchers, and the regulars who contribute via comments. 🙂