A blessing in disguise? Beyond doubt…

By Walter Broeckx

First let me start with saying that I don’t like it when Arsenal lose a match. I always want us to win each and every match. From the first meaningless pre season match against FC Nobody to the last match of the season the CL final. And when we lose a match I feel sad or angry or both at the same time.

But yesterday I somehow added another feeling to my emotions. I felt sad. I didn’t feel really angry. That is for when we get screwed over by the ref. But to be honest I felt a bit relieved. I know it sounds strange and it felt strange. That was how I felt when the ref made a end to the match.

Going out of the league cup might be a blessing in disguise in the long run. By going out we avoided 6 extra matches this season. And with all the injuries we already have that might be important. I have double feeling about the league cup. Okay, it is a trophy you can win. But a trophy that is an empty one. It costs a lot of energy and lots of extra matches. In that way I would love our competitors in the league to go further. It was fun seeing Manchester United going out in the lastround but I wouldn’t have mind if they would have gone further. Certainly the way it happened.

But now we can completely focus on the really important things like the league, Champions league and from January on also the FA cup. Those are the trophies that matter. The other side of my feelings for the league cup is that it can give some fringe players some match time. And some young players can gain valuable experience when playing with the big boys. So they will miss that experience. And that is the only negative thing I can think of when I think of this exit out of the league cup.

Only one player who started the match at Aston Villa was in the starting line up and that was Chambers who played against his former team. The rest was a mixture of youth and inexperience, a few old and experienced players that don’t get much game time for the moment and two players that you could expect to start in any first team match with the likes of Wilshere and Alexis Sanchez.  Lots of rust in the team and lots of not knowing each other well enough to really be completely fluent.

I tried to follow the match but missed big parts of it. Because of my stream going down or worse because of my computer getting overheated and going down completely. So I missed parts of the match. Which might lead to a not completely accurate view on things.  But here is what happened and how I saw it.

First important thing was a great save from Ospina when a Southampton player was one on one with him. And a bit later Arsenal got a free kick and it was Alexis Sanchez who produced a stunning free kick. Unstoppable. What a great goal. We looked good in that period. But the the most experienced man on the pitch made a silly mistake. Rosicky should have known better. He came in too rash on the Southampton player who was dribbling away from goal in a not dangerous matter and caught his foot just on the line of the penalty area. And as the line is part of the penalty area a foul on the line is punished with a penalty. Ospina going to the corner and the ball going through the middle of the goal to equalise.

I thought the match was rather open after that. The second goal from Southampton will be a goal that will disappoint Ospina. No goal keeper likes to concede goal in the middle of the goal like that. But it was a wonder strike. On my stream it was unclear if the shot got a little deflection or it just swerved around an Arsenal player. Was Ospina a little bit unsighted? It might have been the case but I think he will have been not happy with that goal.

It was a blow for the younger players I think. And some of the older players went missing a bit. Having to play without a real left back also didn’t help. You could see that Coquelin had a decent match when we look at the defensive side but as he is right footed we missed the natural ability of going down the line and put in a decent cross. As a result Podolski also went missing as he didn’t find a runner behind him when he floated inside. So our left flank was not really there attacking wise.

We tried and between rebooting computers and laptops I saw Alexis Sanchez miss a golden opportunity to put us level. But it wasn’t to be.

At the end of the match you could see that for Southampton the league cup is a real target. They want it and for them it is one of the chances to get in to Europe. Arsenal do like to take the regular way to European football by making it sure by the place in the league. For Southampton it is, with the FA cup, the only real possibility to win something. If there is any Southampton fan out there who think they can win the league or make it in to the top 4, make yourself known I would say but I don’t think we will find many.

For us it is the least important competition. It showed in the starting line up and certainly compared to their starting line up. One starter from the weekend compared to 8 in their team (if I counted correctly). In a way I admit that I hope that the other big teams will go further and fight for the trophy. I think the  Liverpool players will love the extra time they had to play against Middlesbrough. And suffer from it in the next weeks. So if the other big boys will get more matches to play for would be nice. We will be sitting and relaxing when they try to make themselves more tired.

And with the many injuries we have it might be important to have more rest between matches. 3 important matches till the next international break. In which we will see a completely different line up. If I had to pick one match of those matches to lose it would have been the Southampton match in the league cup.


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44 Replies to “A blessing in disguise? Beyond doubt…”

  1. I agree 100% Walter. It is never good to lose a match and we would never hope that Arsenal would lose a match, not in a million years but if you could hand pick a game to be your first domestic loss of the season it would be this game.

    Shame that the younger guys won’t see more game time in this competition but that’s the way it goes.

    A silly penalty and a wonder strike undid us, nothing to get worried about especially considering we had three 19 year olds and a 23 year old as our back 4. Poldi, Rosicky, Diaby and Ospina had either not played or barely played so far this season so we could hardly expect a flawless performance.

    On to the next one I say…..

  2. One from the heart and spot on Walter, thanks for the report.Well done Southampton and good luck in the next round.
    But lest we forget, no matter which results come to pass,that a Cannnon is always better than a Chicken.
    COYG! Aha and Amen!

  3. Walter,

    I was at the game. I was directly behind Clyne’s strike and I don’t think it had a deflection – although it did swerve significantly late in its flight – but I agree that Ospina will be disappointed.

    I will quickly get the negatives out of the way:

    – Podolski looked very laboured and hardly contributed apart from one hard strike from the angle from which he was unlucky not to score late in the fist half (a la Bayern Munich away last season and other similar goals).

    – Rosicky was poor by his standards. Little end product and really bad decision for the penalty. Perhaps that affected him.

    – Campbell was a bit in and out. Reminded me a little of Gervinho which may or may not be a good thing. A guy from the bench who can do the unexpected?

    As for the positives:

    – Wilshere and Sanchez gave 100%. Wilshere found it difficult to do anything scintillating – but he didn’t have many runners ahead of him showing. Sanchez was good but perhaps ended up trying to do too much on his own. Free kick was superb.

    – Diaby I thought did well all things considered. He showed discipline in the holding role.

    – Bellerin/Coquelin/Hayden I thought all had excellent games. Really impressed with Hayden – a real option at centre back I feel. Hardly missed anything all night. Bellerin showed great pace and tenacity albeit a little inexperienced. Coquelin was solid defensively and tried to help going forward but, as noted, he is right footed.

    – Surprised how poor Chambers was. Caught in possession at least 4 times which shouldn’t happen to a centre back. Perhaps the abuse from the Southampton fans got to him?

    – Notwithstanding, I thought the defence did very well against a decent prem attack. Those kids are all very young other than Coquelin – and even he is still early 20s.

    Southampton played a strong team – and were good.

    A couple of other observations:

    – Huge queues at Arsenal tube before the match. Took me 15 minutes to get from the train to the surface which I can’t ever remember being the case before (talking 35 years here!).

    – Loads of touts – and actively seeking to buy spares – a sure sign of high demand. Huge crowds on the approaches as well.

    – My bag had its most assiduous search ever! Bizarre, as not much in it other than work documents.

    So lost a tight game by the odd goal which is disappointing – but plenty of positives to take away. Also, no injuries (as far a I could tell) and only a silly card for Wilshere. I was told that Chambers was on 4 bookings already (although .com says 3) – also unclear which competitions these were all in. Can’t have him suspended for Tott or Chelsea (although, to be blunt, I would suggest that Hayden and Bellering are pushing him very hard in his respective possessions – almost to the point where I would give them the nod first).

  4. The main disadvantage of the Carling Cup exit is the reduction in development opportunities for our emerging young players, who would have gained more first team experience in subsequent games.

  5. A nice write up Walter.

    I watched the match on a poor stream and at times had difficulty identifying each of our players. Hence, it was also good to read Pete’s comments, particularly those about Bellerin, Coquelin and Hayden.

    Since the Emirates Cup I have had high expectations for Bellerin, but I have never been quite sure of Hayden, I saw him last year and then he appeared a little bit rash/impulsive. Last night he seemed more controlled and Pete, with a better view than that of my stream seems to confirm this. If Hayden can also step up it would be a major boost to the squad.

    Sanchez is a fantastic addition, but if I was going to be critical, I wold suggest that he would be better to pass the ball more quickly rather than try to dribble through the brutal EPL defenses. Same thought for Wilshere.

  6. To lose yesterday was hard to take, but then I thought Isaac Hayden and Hector Bellerin did alright. It now becomes clearer to those who wonder why Wenger dragged his feet replacing TV5, or reinforcing in the defence. Those guys showed how good they are. Aside from Chambers who had a slightly off-colour game, I think our back four inspires confidence that the future is bright.

  7. Bjt – Yes. I remember Hayden last season, against West Brom I think, in defensive midfield where he was so-so.

    But last night what stood out for me was his strength. Pelle is a big unit, but Hayden generally won the physical battle. Many really strong – and vital – tackles. My concerns would be he is not the tallest (although tall – 6’1″ according to Wiki) and not the quickest (although not particularly slow). He might find it more difficult against more mobile strikers. But then you could say exactly the same about Chambers (who is only 2 months older – Bellerin is within a few days of Hayden – both 19.5).

    On the other hand Bellerin’s speed really stood out. Several times he got himself caught the “wrong” side but recovered to make the tackle (sometimes as the guy was about to shoot). You could see that the Southampton No.10 (I think) fancies himself as a speedster and kept trying it on in foot races – and kept failing! You thought he might have tried a Plan B at some stage!

    I’ve always liked Coquelin – thought he was the “new” Flamini when he first got into the team… Somewhat mystified as to why his career has drifted over the last 2-3 years. If he could get back on track then I think he could be a long-term solution in defensive midfield. Great range of passing off both feet. He showed fantastic anticipation last night and didn’t give his winger a kick.

  8. Oh, and welcome back Abou! Good to see him back. Good to see TR7, Francis Coquelin and Joel Campbell, all running out for the cause for the first time this season, I think. Hard as it is to take the loss, it was a joy (always will be) to see these guys doing their stuff on the field.

  9. Just seen some of the post-match comments.

    Ospina made the point that he was unsighted for Clyne’s goal – which I suspected at the time. Could criticise Wilshere for not closing down faster but I guess he didn’t expect that screamer!

    Also interesting Wenger’s comments about adapting Diaby to a DM role. Let’s see what happens.

  10. IMO we should never ever have got this this ridiculous situation with defence situation. Wenger could and should have bought a cover defender even if it is someone who does nonsense type of defending. Saying that, the problem wasn’t the defence yesterday it’s that worry of not scoring despite having a plethora of attacking players. Podolski…seriously? Did this guy do anything all match? Before some people on here start ridiculing me and tell me to go support spurs you cannot ignore the fact that we have been absolutely toothless up front. Maybe that’s because the new players are taking time to gel or whatever but needs to get it right this Saturday. A convincing win, or, even a win against the spuds would go a long way to appease the fans.

  11. Both of the goals we conceded yesterday had nothing to do with our defence actually. Kudos to the young four, the future is bright, and there’s nothing ridiculous about where we find ourselves defensively.

  12. I thought Bellerin’s inexperience showed, a bit. May be he will need a January loan. Isaac Hayden played really well, I would like to see him blooded into the team this season.He was always calm and collected, won a few headers too. And Campbel, well, he needs to work much harder if he’s to make it at Arsenal.

  13. @ Mika, what ridiculous defensive situation? Debuchy is injured and we have Chambers and Bellerin to fill in. Monreal is injured and we have Gibbs, Flamini and now apparently Coquelin to fill in. Are you suggesting that any club could attract a world beating 3rd choice full back for the just in case times?

    PS. I’m not going to tell you to support Spurs as I don’t want to give them the extra attention!

  14. Sorry but I’m with Mike on this. You can’t honesty say Bellerin and hayden give you any confidence, as well as Chambers

  15. Excellent write Walter!

    Many parts of it reflect how I interpreted things – I commented in similar fashion in the earlier posts.

    On to the spuds!!!!

  16. @JohnW
    ‘I thought Bellerin’s inexperience showed, a bit.’
    Maybe it’s because he is only 19, has just been promoted to the first team and he is…. inexperienced. Duh.

  17. The two characters saying it is Wenger’s fault we are in this defensive crisis should ponder for a minute – which competent defender would sit happily on the bench as the second or third choice defender?

    You would need to offer him a big pay packet to do that although not all will buy into that. With that in mind, we will need to increase ticket price to compensate for this. I bet you are happy paying for a substitute.

    You both are so blinded by hate for Wenger that you don’t see the promise the young defenders have. The “buy buy buy” policy comes with a price increase, is that what you want?

  18. I beg to differ from the views of those who feel apprehensive about Bellerin, Hayden, and Chambers. I think they’ll all come good. They never will sitting on the bench. Remember how a certain young Gibbs ( is he really that old now?) seemed a misfit while Clichy was first choice? I believe in the future, and it starts today. I also feel that we should not lose sight of the balance between youth and adventurism on one hand, and the assurance offered by experience. All games all season cannot be played without allowing the younger talents become better. Loans deals alone will not do it. Some have to grow with the club. Buying experinced players for all positions all the time is clearly a death knell for the academy. We are blessed with an abundance of talents and a few will eventually make it to the highest level if given the chance. The risk is worth taking.

  19. We lose a game, albeit our 2nd string against their 1st string, and as if by magic out pop the Seans and Mikas of this world.

  20. Al 4:33pm.

    Like, awesome, loved it. Epic.

    @All, now come on, you are trying to explain how oyr young players are good, to people who come here to troll and blame Wenger for everything. Just ignore, no sane man who watched the game can blame our young defenders for anything.

  21. Shame if it deprives some very bright talents game time….but let’s face it, even it we won it, it would not appear as a banner around the stadium…..not going to get remotely worked up about this one.

  22. To the AAA trolls whining about a supposed ¨defensive crisis¨ …..go to LeGrove, they need more whiners there! Great post Walter and spot on.

  23. @Sean you shouldn’t project your own inadequacies onto the young Arsenal defenders. Unlike you, who probably never will be able to satisfy a woman or excel in anything worthwhile, they are already brilliant footballers and I see a bright future for them, hopefully as Arsenal players and if not in some other football club.

    In short; learn to be a supporter or shut the fuck up!

  24. I saw the game on a stream, with comments from Arsenal Player. Livesoccertv listed countless Middle-eastern countries with Bein (al-jazeera subsidiary) showing the game in those markets, but Bein USA did not, as they do not have League Cup rights for the American market.
    I thought Arsenal dominated large parts of the game, but somehow always shot straight at Forster, in the middle of the Southampton goal. The penalty was generous, and we should have obtained one when Schneiderlin pushed Campbell with his arm rather than his shoulder.
    The defense was pretty decent, but Podolski and Campbell were ot giving options to their teammates. Hayden looks promising, and to me looks like a double option: back-up centerback or back-up midfielder, though the latter position requires more experience. Akpom looked good, and Coquelin was surprisingly good, though Bellerin was much busier as Southampton deployed the diving Mane/Manay on that side of their attack.

  25. The penalty against Arsenal was soft. It could have easily been seen as a dive. Mane did not really have a chance to make another touch to the ball. And he could have easily jumped over Rosiky.

    Arsenal should have been given a penalty for the foul in the box against Campbell. There was no dive, the defender did not touch the ball but the player. If the penalty had been given and converted then who knows what might have happened.

    But this is another case where the refs bias affected the game.

  26. Exactly the points I was to a couple of friends as they were losing it that Arsenal have gone out and missed another opportunity of lifting a cup, I love this place where I can come to read from like-minded folk, where I can have a sense of belonging.

  27. Not sure why people are moaning about the defensive situation, we rested our two CB’s and two inexperienced CB’s filled in, both played well I thought, we had our third choice right back who again had a good game, and when caught out had the pace to make up for his own errors, and with our two LB’s injured and rested we called upon a DM to play there who carried out his job admirably, none of the defenders were at fault for either of the goals so to me all looks promising rather than problematic for the present and future.

  28. @Al, Only 6 recognised defenders, NO holding midfielder, NO recognised striker capable of getting 15 goals a season in the league with Giroud out…What does Wenger do? Goes to Italy. Why couldn’t we sign Falcao, I know it’s a lot of money but you would get that back in merchandise and also give us a much better chance of winning the league. Why couldn’t he have bought another CB, there were countless available, and why hasn’t he filled the defensive midfielder role that’s been vacant for 9 years. We may have spent massive amounts on Ozil and Sanchez but lets be honest, Ozil HAS flopped since he arrived, I understand that he hasn’t played in the number 10 hole very much which in his own words ‘he is one of the best in the World’, but still, he has flopped at 42.5 million. Sanchez looks a player and will improve I’m sure, but I challenge ONE sole genuine Arsenal fan to honestly say that deep down they don’t worry about the likes of Chelsea, Man.City and even Liverpool without Saurez cutting us up into little pieces and spitting us back out to make a mosaic picture of Wenger covered in excretia.

    Every manager in the land and abroad when it comes to the CL knows exactly what Wenger’s formation will be, 4 at the back with either Arteta or Flamini just in front playing sideways passes when in possession and going missing when We ain’t, a combination of Cazorla, Ramsey, Wilshere or Ox Cam in the centre with Sanchez and Ozil alternating out wide of Sanogoal, start the game trying to walk the ball into the net after numerous corners and free kicks that don’t even beat the first defender, desperate for a breakthrough the genius takes off one of the numerous ineffective midfielders and someone else who looks a bit knackered or is due another injury and throws on another 2 attacking players which normally won’t be Campbell.

    Happy days not.

  29. Oh and AL it means supporting the club and not the manager who makes pathetic and iditoic deciosns time and time again. No wonder he is rightly labelled the ‘SPECIALIST IN FAILURE’


    But hey, let’s no ever mention that obvious pattern eh? Ignore the clubs policies that go back eons. Am I the only one to consider that these idiotic and self defeating sado-masochistic trolls are trying to ferment a hostile corporate takeover of one of the most stable and lucrative financial assets is the Game: why do they AAA ignore the circumstances and the conditions and the timing of the handover from Fizman consistently in their gibberish? Why so they support the feudalistic oligarch model, sometimes writing for rags that are owned by Oligarchs? Either that or they are just very very, very, stupid.

    It is, what it is

    P.S.: DNFTTurd 🙂

  31. …at the end of the day a specialist in signing certain agents’ players is someone who just does what they are told: someone else’s gimp. Which is what they AAA have done to themselves: they have managed to transform themselves into someone else’s gimp. Well done!

  32. No Im with you finsbury.You arent alone.Why do they support it? Because of everything I wrote in “War and Peace off”,and that other regular posters (like yourself) have written about here for a long time.Its starting to get really tedious.Same old same old same old same old crepe.
    Mikas posts make a mockery of everything that Don wrote.
    How is Özil is a flop? Mika youve just been awarded this weeks “cockerel on the AAA dung heap spouting off kack award”.Congrats.Dont forget to take a selfie.

  33. Tell me Mika how much did the “specialist in failure” won the last season (and this) and how much the specialist in eye stabbing won in the same period?
    Or are you the eye stabber himself and you want to big yourself up?

  34. A really good game.

    Didn’t our young players and new boys (including Diaby) do very well.

    The production line is still producing fine fine prospects.

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