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April 2021

Boreham Wood – Arsenal 0-2

By Walter Broeckx

Well we started with a very mixed team in the first half and come to think of it also in the second half.

At the start we could see Szczesny, Jenkinson, Hayden, Ajayi, Monreal, Coquelin, Ramsey, Toral, Zelalem, Willock, Sanogo.

A first big chance came when Sanogo was released on the right hand side but he couldn’t get past the excellent Borehamd Wood keeper who blocked his effort from close range. An excellent ball from Zelalem almost got Monreal through but he couldn’t use the ball well enough and the ball stuck between his feet and the grass. With the heat it seemed that the grass was very dry and so he ball didn’t really got the needed speed for the Arsenal passing game.

Arsenal had all the possession in the game but the pace was too slow to really trouble the home team. A few attempts from distance was all what really was to be seen. But just after the half hour Sanogo got some space on the left and laid it off to Toral whose effort shaved the post.

And just before half time Sanogo got another chance when a long ball was prolonged in his path by a defender but again the keeper stopped the effort. It was the end of a first half that was played at a too low speed.  When we raised the tempo we looked dangerous but the heat was not really inviting players to really have a go.

In the second half we started with Martinez, Gibbs, Bellerin, Miquel, Pleguezuelo, Afobe, Akpom, Olsson, Flamini, Diaby.

Certainly in the back 4 a lot of Spanish speaking players and if Wenger would have started with Gibbs in the first half we could have played an all Spanish back 4 with a Spanish speaking goalkeeper behind them with the Argentine Martinez.

In the past I have been very impressed with Bellerin on the right flank.  And I think a few are now sharing this opinion. I have said before that if he can defend at the required level and keep his attacking game going he will be one hell of a right back. Our right flank looked rather impressive in the second half I found and it was almost all because of Bellerin.

A first run forward resulted in a Boreham Wood defender having to clear in front of the line after he chipped the ball to Olsson over a defender. A few minutes later another Bellerin attacking run and this the attack ended with a fierce shot from Diaby that the keeper had to tip over.

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A bit later an attack on the left hand side and again a good shot from Akpom but again the keeper could tip the ball over. And another cross from Bellerin was well gathered by the Boreham Wood keeper. But you could feel a goal was coming.

It came a few minutes later when Rosicky made a spin and with the outside of the right boot released Olsson who poked it over the goalkeeper. A good movement from Rosicky and good finish from Olsson.

Akpom wanted to show something and he did again after a nice personal attempt but again the keeper with a strong fist to turn it in to a corner. Gibbs added a low attempt straight at the keeper.

But then Akpom made the move of the day. With two Boreham Wood defenders all over him he passed them both with a nice movement. And then his cross looked dangerous but Afobe couldn’t really challenge for the ball as he was pushed over completely on the goal line. A penalty was the result and Afobe put himself behind the ball and coolly converted the spot kick with the keeper going the wrong way. 0-2 and this was the final score.

Things to remember for me was Akpom with a strong finish of the match and Bellerin who made the right flank his own in the second half.

The young Spanish defence looked well enough against such an opponent and I like to see more of them in the league cup or so.

Zelalem in the first half showed that he really has some superb vision. And our first team players will get better when the rest of the regular first team players are back from their holidays.

The season has finally started. Up to New York next to have a meeting with Mr. Thierry Henry. Looking forward to that already.

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18 comments to Boreham Wood – Arsenal 0-2

  • I wish ARSENE give those young guys chance to operate this time and…hoping to see JOEL CAMPBEL in emirate this season.

  • Gerry

    I have a similar view to yours Walter. If players were booking a place for the NYRB match, then Bellerin and Akpom were the standouts.

    In the 1st half I thought Hayden looked the most composed, back in his CB role, but neither backs had much too do, as it looked like BW would be happy with a 0-0 draw? But like you say, Arsenal had the bulk of possession, but were very laborious in getting it forward. Sanogo and Toral tried hard, but I had not realised Ramsey was playing, as I had technical issues with the sound commentary.

    2nd half though, Bellerin did everything that Jenkinson didn’t do,i.e. moved at pace, use both feet to pass, and most importantly, put crosses in. However, should we get another RB in this TW, I would be happy to see Bellerin switch back to being a winger that can defend, as he will get more opportunity being back up to Walcott than 3rd(4th) choice RB? He was ably assisted by Olsson, who I thought took his goal well, as well as the movement that Rosicky saw for the assist. In a way. that had a lot to do with the Bellerin threat, as Rosicky had been supplying him with some great passes in space, so defenders had half an eye to covering that area.

    Akpom playing out on the left, rather than his usual central role, was a touch of class … at this level at least? It will be interesting if he gets a start in New York, as to whether he can continue that form? He looked cool in last season’s pre-season, as did Afobe once upon a time. Alas, I feel his age will count against him now, regarding a squad place?

    The real difference between the two sets of players was mainly in the balance, and Rosicky always having that bit more urgency to move things forwards. So much so, that Martinez did not have a lot to do.
    Finally, God bless Diaby for coming through without injury. He looked good, until tiring too.

    Certainly a lot to look forward to in New York.

  • blacksheep63

    i was quite impressed with Bellerin and we would great to have a player in the squad called Hector, what a handle! I thought Diaby looked awesome at times – so powerful (like Yaya Toure) and Zelalem, Olsson, and Toral suggests we have some good youngsters to play a fringe role this season. I am more convinced that Sanogo needs a loan till xmas because I’ve no doubt he has the talent but needs the confidence playing gives you

  • nicky

    Pleased to read your encouraging report on Diaby. So many of us are hoping that he will have a good season at long last.

  • Thanks for the review Walter. I agree with the feelings about Diaby – and I think he has been helped by coming out of his last injury and getting a game at the end of last season. I imagine that he has been in regular training ever since, so should be quite strong by now. Let’s home he can be moved back into the squad.

    Drew and I met up last night and differed about Coquelin who I thought had done well. It looks like he is a squad member again having been given a number. But I fear for Eisfeld – no appearance at all and no squad number.

    Sad, I really thought he was going to be a star player.

  • Ray from Norfolk, Virginia

    Great report. Saw the game on Player.
    The second half line-up included Rosicky.

  • bc

    @ gerry

    Neither afobe or akpom should be worried about their age regarding a place in the squad. Afobe is a 93 born so unaffected by the premier league rules, whilst akpom should be encouraged by the progress of gnabry and zelalem, if your good enough you are old enough.

    I was most impressed by coquelin in the first half and bellerin in the 2nd half. Olsson and akpom also impressed.

    As it stands the 25 places are taken but, whether martinez, miquel, coquelin, ryo and campbell keep a space, only wenger knows. He stated yesterday that he will sign a keeper and replace vermaelen if he leaves. That for me suggests that martinez and miquel are considered not quite ready. Whilst the interest in another Dm suggests that coquelin will miss out. If rumours are true that we are still in the market for a cf and a Lw then ryo and campbell could be forced out too.

    The thing is those 5 are born 1991/92 as is jenkinson, meaning that it is they who are most under threat, as a player born 1993 or later can take their place without pressuring the homegrown/non-homegrown rules. These 6

    Could be covered by these 11

    Thus freeing up 6 places in the 25 man squad, should we need to add more experience and adding more depth.

  • Tony mack

    However good these youngsters are, they are just there to be sold at a later date for a tidy profit.
    Depending whose side you are on it is unfortunate/fortunate that Arsenal have money to go out and buy players.
    For every player Arsenal buy a youngster drops in the pecking order. No backs against the wall Arsene = no shortage of money. Arsenal have no need or it seems no interest in promoting these young players.
    All they can hope for is a cup game or two. If they reach a final they can rest easy in the fact that will not take part in that final.
    I personal think these young players should be given a chance to prove themselves and not in friendlies

  • Gerry

    @nicky – I am glad you liked that part, but you may not like this so much …?

    I would happily send Diaby on a loan to a French club like Auxerre, initially until the New Year, but with the option to extend for the full season, if all three parties agreed.
    The reason? Well I think he could be a target in the EPL for some leg mangler to do their worst, given the way some referees operate here. If he could get half a season of solid games behind him, he will be that much sharper to evade/ride tackles which will give him more confidence over his body’s fitness? He may even want to extend the loan and secure a decent position for the French club, rather than compete for a place at Arsenal when the pressure is really on?
    I would hate for him to get back into contention, only to have his whole career wrecked by a reckless tackle?

    I only mention Auxerre because we have had good transfer dealings with them, and may want to do so again?

  • Gerry

    @Tony – I am glad you mentioned Coquelin.

    It was a mixed bag for him. The positives were that he tried to do what Rosicky did later, in moving the ball forwards, and making himself available for passes. Unfortunately, nearly all his crossfield long balls were over hit, and thus lost us possession. And the occasional dive in for a failed tackle did not help help?
    It would be wrong to write him off on just this showing, but the signs are not good regards the TW?

    He may be just what a Championship or League 1 side are looking for, and he could make a nice career for himself?

  • oldgroover

    I was correct with my prediction (the other day) that Ramsey would be our next captain, but didn’t expect it to happen so quickly.
    A well deserved appointment (if only temporary), and one I hope to see more of during the coming season.

  • Gerry

    @bc – I stand corrected. I thought he(Afobe) was older. Thanks for the full breakdown of the squad potential too.

    However, I am still of the view that his ship has probably sailed? Injuries have not helped him, that is true, but he does not seem to have progressed over the last couple of seasons? The quick twist, turn, and shoot that Sanogo did in the first half, looks somehow beyond him? I will be surprised if he is still on our books come September. That is also true of Ryo and Coquelin. But there are a few more friendlies ahead to confirm the promise or otherwise?

    Matt Macey is my tip to progress to the role of No 3 keeper. Just his size makes him a more imposing prospect, as well as his keeping skills. Mind, I don’t think Martinez will be short of offers if that turns out to be the case?

    The new coach may have different ideas of course?

    Regards Sanogo, I think his first goal will do more for him than a loan spell. He would be well on his way to double figures had several keepers not made blinding saves, or the odd post not intervened? He is always an interesting alternative to have on the bench, and more so if he starts scoring regularly?

  • Gerry

    @Tony mac – I think you may find we will see more of the promising youngsters this season, because of our potential to be far enough ahead to secure all three points early? They can then come on under no pressure but simply be confident to do what they can do, mistakes and all, and it will not cost us.

    Tell me the amount of games we could be sure of that in the past few seasons? And when we could have afford to have more than the odd body on the bench?

    For a side not previously not blessed with the depth of squad to keep us in a challenging position, Arsene Wenger is clearly trying to change that in this TW. In which case, we should, in certain games, be able to have a couple of fringe players from the younger brigade so they get regular playing time? Just dropping them in at the start of some games could easily wreck their confidence. Build them up gently, and you have a better long term future for the best of them?
    We already have two or three who have been starting games, and ending up injured, but Ox and Gnabry will get their moments this season for sure. The new academy coach’s primary role is to prepare the likely prospects to take their opportunities when the arise. So have a little patience, and let the cream rise to the top when the time comes?
    Winning the league or dropping to 4th, or worse, costs a lot more than the odd £m made on selling on youngsters I think?

  • zuer

    Nice Report Walter, as always. Its good to see Arsenal back in action.

    Wenger sees these game as workout and rightly so. The youngsters take this game as an audition and gives some good performance. Many outstanding displays.

    Striker. Funny how we suddenly well stocked in this department. We are said to overly reliant on Giroud last season. We didn’t sign that many strikers, only Alexis Sanchez. Interesting that Wenger mention that with Sanchez we could play him on the flank, play 4-4-2 or 4-3-3, with Giroud or without Giroud. We also have Theo and Poldi.

    With the likes of Campbell, Sanogo, Akpom and Afobe we have some quality on the reserve too. I really hope that somehow Campbell get his chance this season. And Akpom too, everytime I see him I like him more and more. Maybe the first Arsenal striker from the academy setup in many years (correct me if I’m wrong).

    Against Boreham Wood in the second half, I thought I saw 2 Rosicky. Rosicky and a younger version of himself. In Olson I think we have a ready made replacement for Rosicky in 2-3 years time. He even look liked Rosicky in a glimpse. His running, passing and THAT goal – an assist from Rosicky himself. Wow!

    Its seems we have many promising talent in midfield. Zelalem, Toral and co. But I’m curious about DM/Holding/Deep Lying/whatever that is. We already had Arteta and Flamini. Diaby can play there also. Suddenly Coquelin got a squad number or maybe I’m reading too much of this.

    Wenger said the two signings so far is only a beginning. Well if thats correct than I’d assume we are buying a DM and I prefer Schneiderlin or Bender. Maybe I read too many transfer rumours but then if that materialise what will happen to Le Coq?

    Diaby. Watching him for 45 min against BW remind us why Wenger keep the faith in him. Really hope the season he will be free from his injury curse and fulfil his potential and destiny with Arsenal.

    This is great time indeed. We have a strong squad fresh from winning FA cup, 3 World Cup winners, promising youngsters in reserve and we have cash to splash to strengthen the squad if we need to do so. This coming season will be very interesting. ;D

  • zuer

    Oh yeah, Bellerin. He’s good. Jenkinson need to step it up if he want to wrestle that RB position from Debuchy or he may even lose his position to Bellerin.

  • Quincy

    What I gathered from this match report is, WENGA, SIGN THE BOREHAM WOOD KEEPER!!!

  • WalterBroeckx

    yeah Quincy, time to Wenga to spendafackingmoney 😉

  • omgarsenal

    Anyone saying Campbell should be let go is insane! He has such potential and proven abilities at the top level and is a true Gunner at heart. We are blessed, thanks to Wenger’s excellent talent spotting, with numerous youth and academy players who could soon be replacing older players who are getting past it (Arteta,Flamini,Poldi etc.)or who are injured. I gather Eisfeld had a minor niggle and was unavailable. My greatest hope is that diaby will stay fit and have a killer season a la Viera or Toure!