By Tony Attwood
The Guardian today has a bold headline: “Premier League: 10 talking points from the weekend action Guardian”. And not a single one of those talking points relates to Arsenal. Disappointing, but I wonder if they were just being honest; they had called it wrong, and were backing off.
The Independent however follows much of Fleet Street saying, Wenger had “actually set his team out to play in a very deep 4-1-4-1, with Sanchez and Oxlade-Chamberlain almost on top of their full-backs to stop the attacking threat”
They then go on to talk about “the central midfield three of Cazorla, Ramsey or the brilliant Francis Coquelin”
Shall we note that? In one game Coquelin has moved from being the guy pulled back from a loan in the championship to being “brilliant” in a match against the works team of the International Petroleum Investment Company. Just to make sure we realise this is not a misprint they tell us later than “Coquelin had an excellent game as the midfield enforcer.”
Now several papers focus on the fact that Arsenal conceded possession in this match – and had the lowest possession rate of any match this season. And from that the conclusion comes that Mr Wenger has finally learned to listen to what the journalists have been telling him all this time. 1-0 to Fleet Street. “Finally, the 65-year-old seems to be learning” as the Independent says.
Except that most of the season we haven’t had the squad available to put up such a defensive display, because of the insane level of injuries. Who’s fault is that? is the aaa cry – but the fact is that we couldn’t have known where the injuries would come, or indeed if they would come at this level. And even if we had, that doesn’t mean that the players we wanted would be available. Indeed as I have said so many times before, trying to bring in top rated players and convince them to sign for us, to be back up in case of injury is impossible.
On Sunday we used Francis Coquelin – a player developed out of the youth system, and Hector Bellerin – ditto – in defence. And we had the rhino.
Now Mertersacker has been criticised and criticised. But this is what the Telegraph said, in awarding players marks out of ten…
PER MERTESACKER: 8
May have the mobility of a rhinoceros, but he also has its physical strength and determination and he kept Sergio Aguero shackled throughout with a hugely impressive performance.
And how did he get to that level of rating? By playing.
That’s really the point of all this. A key factor in what has stopped this type of performance in the past has been injuries which have forced us to put out whatever players we had. Quite often, given the level of injuries all we could do was to put out players who might be able to score more than the opposition.
It isn’t that Mr Wenger has finally learned to follow the press. It is that before then we didn’t have the players available to run this alternative system.
As it is, we can now look forward to next week’s cup game against Brighton where we could give a game to Gibbs, Theo, Ozil, Rosicky, Chambers, Welbeck, Hayden – ok not all of them, but some. We actually have a squad back.
And Coquelin – a player we’ve mentioned off and on as being of interest, for year after year after year – is at last ready. It surely is not too fanciful to suppose that this readiness did not hit Mr Wenger with a sudden awareness out of the blue. After all it is Wenger who gave Coquelin the contracts each time. He must have known – known that the player had a hard time of it on his last season long loan, and the need a few competitive games to get his edge back. Is it really impossible that we didn’t buy a defensive midfielder because he knew about Coquelin, and didn’t want to waste money on a six month stop gap until Coquelin was ready?
I’ve looked through the papers but haven’t found a single commentary that suggests that. Nope – it is all about the press and how they have been saying all this, all the time, and finally Wenger has noticed. Questioning why Coquelin has just emerged isn’t part of the remit of the press.
And there’s one other twist. Everyone watches Alexis, and of course he is totally watchable. But as Thierry H. said on TV, it is Santi Cazorla who has the most influence. But as a defender it is impossible to let Alexis go, because he scores extraordinary goals. With those two in the team we are starting to pull defences in two directions at once.
The only problem left is where the hell we put Ozil.
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35 Replies to “Was that the moment when the press got it right, or are they just boasting?”
The only problem left is where the hell we put Ozil.
Well, quite a difficult question indeed.
Here’s a possible plan.
a) Against top teams away: on the bench until the opposition start attacking purposefully (for example when we’re one up), and replace Ramsey with Ozil. Ramsey has a tendency to slow down the game when countering. Ozil thrives on counters: unleash his through balls on Sanchez or Walcott. See the gap in score increase dramatically.
b) against top teams home: on the bench
c) against mid/low-table teams: on the left, interchanging with Santi. Sub after 70 mins.
Sorry to be OT, but it now seems Sky are doing a referee review also (albeit much less detailed than the ones on UA)
excellent article as for the press and the wenger haters they will always find excuses to take credit away from him after all they know better
then one of the most respected managers in the game
The only problem is where do we put Ozil?
It’s a nice problem though and I’m confident that Arsene will know.
To be honest I thought Francis was on the way out. My view is that what kept him at the club this season was lack of enough home grown players in the squad. My thinking was that come end of season he would be offloaded. This view was based on the fact that when he demanded playing time in 2011/2012 season he did not impress. When he went to Germany on loan he got even worse. When he was given sub appearances he did nothing exceptional. I thought the Charlton loan was first leg out of Arsenal.
Francis is a player who has surprised all and sundry, and I think even Arsene was surprised by his sudden performances. We know that the player is gifted technically but somehow he was unable to transform talent into real quality. Now he has done so in 7 games on the trot lets hope it does not stop.
I do not understand how the media ‘experts’ and pundits who have been clamoring for Wenger to buy a defensive mid fielder appear to have been blissfully unaware of the one (Coquelin) we already had at the club.
Maybe not quite the experts they think they are?
Maybe Wenger does know better than them?
Anyone following young Kristopher da Graca at the academy? He has signed a professional contract.
Still no news on that other player. 🙂
The press is really something.
I feel our performance yesterday was not too far off our performance at the Bridge back in Oct. The big difference was we scored first rather than concede first. If we had not made the errors (rushing free kick, missing tackles) that led to Hazard’s PK, who knows what result we would have achieved (let’s leave out the Cahill lunge for the purpose of this discussion)?
Our formation was interesting yesterday – it was rotating between a 4-1-4-1 and 4-2-3-1, with Santi moving forwards and backwards to either defend or create as necessary.
Santi has surprised me with his play in the heart of the pitch. We had seen him deployed there in previous matches this season (e.g. vs. Gala at home in CL and at Chelsea in the Prem) but I thought those were due to injuries yet he proved yesterday he belonged there as he did everything – either stopping an attack from City or initiating one for us. He seemed to have jelled with Coq into a nice duo at the heart of the pitch and it’s hard to suggest breaking them up.
Tony, I am not sure if the question is where to play Ozil but rather do we play him or Ramsey or Wilshere (once back from injury)? Ramsey, for me, did not look sharp yesterday, likely due to his return from injury.
If we are playing with a 4-1-4-1, can you imagine having Santi and Ozil just in front of the Coq to create / distribute passes to Theo and Sanchez on the flanks with either Giroud or Welbeck in the middle?
I think I just suggested that Rambo start on the bench … and I cannot believe I just said that. But that’s what Santi’s recent play has done, isn’t it?
(How luck I am that the kit I have … has Cazorla 19 on the back!!!)
Wenger always WAS aware of the potential Coquelin had. Even some of us laymen appreciated the talent he had. I remember how well he played in a match we lost 2 nil against gazprom (in which atkinson gifted them both goals), he was terrific in that match. So for the press to claim all of a sudden Wenger has become aware of what a talent the young man is is a little ridiculous.
As for where Ozil will fit in, that isn’t that much of a problem. I think injuries had been sparing Wenger a real headache of where to play his players. Now it’s making sense why he let Poldi and Sanogo go away on loans. Imagine, from the midfield going forwards he has some of these names to choose from; Coq, Flamini, Arteta, Jack, Rosicky, Santi, Rambo, Zelalem, Ozil, Gnabry, The Ox, Theo, Welbeck, Sanchez, Giroud, Campbell, Akpom….and more(Diaby, Maitland-Niles). Where will he put all these players in the 6 available slots?
Just a shame the league has gone. To little to late to challenge and a large slice of luck me thinks. If arteta was fit not sure coq would be at the club. That said he was superb. Joy to watch. Selection headaches are coming the way of Mr Wenger at last.
oh Fred what a sad f*** you are, title gone? Not yet, difficult but not yet impossible.
Sadly Tony i believe Hayden won’t be heading for the south coast as he’s just had surgery and will be out for few months
Tony I thought you had asked for respect for other contributors. Maybe the guy above needs to be banned.
“I feel our performance yesterday was not too far off our performance at the Bridge back in Oct”
Don’t know if you’ve seen it but on the Man C V Arsenal thread preceding this one I wrote quite a long piece contesting that very point. See Jambug @ 12:45PM
The nauseating repeat of history is upon us, as Santi’s prowess is become cause for an all-out Tippy-Tap alert: In shades of x-Cesc: Barca’s designated Flirter-In-Chief, XAVI the Tempter, is now set out on the charm offensive to turn Santi’s head to leave Arsenal for Barfa, to fulfill his true destiny. Behold:
Jambug, thanks for pointing out your post on the other thread – the numbers make it that much clear, don’t they?
Tinalex & AL,
Here is what Wenger said yesterday about Coquelin – “I took Francis Coquelin from France at the age of 16 and he is now 24. He has gone through some difficult periods, but he is a learner and I always kept faith in him.
“A few months ago, I told him he had to play, he accepted going down to Charlton and had some convincing performances. He came back and I have played him, and he’s done very well.
I commented yesterday after the game, that should the squad’s performance become the norm, I wouldn’t be surprised if it became invincible over the rest of the season.
If that happened, the title would certainly not be out of reach..
I happened to read the Sun Newspaper today, only because I was waiting for a haircut.I could not believe what that wanker Steve Howard said in his match report.He hates Arsenal and hates AW even more.It was a utter disgrace.He ended up saying” At the end Wenger came over all coy and fluttering his eyelashes on TV, when he was asked had he orchestrated some masterplan.Though of course you could see that he believed he had”.I have emailed him to tell him some polite home truths.
Mr.Gary Neville, may I suggest you put into practice what you preach!.Starting with the England team, that you coach.It was also a total disgrace in the World Cup.Rant over.
Steve Howard is a wanker of the first order. Kidd and Reade run him pretty close though.
Three major columnists in our 2 biggest selling Red Tops, and not one of them ever has a good word to say about Arsenal, or Wenger in particular.
If I’ve said it once I’ve said it a thousand times, it’s a joke that any of our players ever talk to these rags, but you mark my words, Theo, Jack, Rambo or one of them will be spilling there guts to them for a dime over the next few weeks.
Until our lot wake up to the disgraceful, disrespectful way our Club, our players and especially our manager are talked about they will continue to spill there bile all over the sports pages.
Arsenal need to do something about this but I wont be holding my breath.
Glad he’s only being linked to Barca, he can’t leave then for at least another 1.5 years!
And got to agree with TH, Cazorla has really stepped up big time and bossed this midfield over the last couple months.
Surely the fact that Santi has reacted so impressively to the challenge thrown down by Ozil and the others is an indication of just how much he wants to be a part of this team.
He can see the potential in this squad the same as many of us on here can.
Of course that may not be the case at all but that’s what I’d like to think.
The league is far from decided, just three years ago City came back from 8 points back in MARCH to win the league from United!
There’s 16 games left, meaning 48 points up for grabs. It is not unthinkable for Arsenal to go on a little run and significantly close the gap on Chelsea.
Arsenal’s tough games until end of the season: Tottenham (away), Liverpool (H), Everton (H), Chelsea (H), West Ham (H), United (away)
Chelsea’s tough games: City (H), Everton (H), West Ham (A), Southampton (H), United (H), Arsenal (away), Liverpool (H).
Over the last 5 games, Arsenal has got 12 points, while Chelsea have got 10 points.
I’m not saying we’ll definitely catch them, but it’s too early to say it’s impossible
yeah, I’m in agreement that I don’t see Santi leaving us (at least I hope he doesn’t for a long time). I was just trying to show how ludicrous it sounds to think that Santi would leave for Barca. They can’t even sign anyone until 2016.
I hope Cazorla will retire (a long time from now) from Arsenal, because his technical skills are amazing, and can still be utilized as he gets older in a deeper position
I can’t imagine the press got it correct, if for no other reason there are too many opinions as to what made the difference.
The Daily Complainer has an article wrapped around the muppet Jamie Carragher about Arsenal playing defence.
In most EPL situations, the visiting team playing defence means “Park the Bus”. Did Arsenal park the bus? How was it different?
Park the Bus often means, 10 men back, punt the ball upfield, and if the lone striker can control the ball, try to get people up to support the striker. Reading the commentaries, it sounded like when Arsenal attacked, which was fairly often, they came as a group. Not get it upfield, try to support, …. Another thing about Park the Bus, is it is typically boring. And with the exception that I don’t think the Independent does commentary well for anything, the other two commentaries I looked at seemed to indicate an enjoyably game for the neutrals.
But, maybe you beg to differ?
We’ve got a few medja reports about Coquelin being offered a new deal by Arsenal. Nothing at Arsenal.com.
Do people in north London, around the Emirates like spicy food (not necessarily peppers)? Maybe the news grunts have been coming the alleys and what not, and the picked up a wiff of something, that has made them write these stories? Magic mushrooms?
Sure, I think Arsenal should give Francis a better deal, the sooner the better (for him, and for Arsenal). But, until it shows at Arsenal.com, it isn’t real.
Still no mention of Krystian Bielik at Arsenal.com. 🙁
A point on Ramsey.
Ramsey though a bit less sharp was an important cog in yesterdays game. Ramsey stitches the team very well. He connects the defense and attack with precision which we suddenly miss when hez out.
Well Santi is 30. Ozil is younger and is just returning from a long injury lay off. There are enough games for both of them to contribute. And looking at yesterdays game, Santi can do well in double pivot system too.
Gord – I like the numbers & basic theory that you have worked on. Perhaps the numbers from last season might give better stronger medians and reference points. Like Jambug, I struggled initially to get terminology & meaning but gradually understood the reasoning.
I found an interesting fact that very few will see in what happened on Sunday. Man City have over the recent past taken several key personnel from Arsenal (some directly & some indirectly). These people have passed on techniques & philosophies used at Arsenal. I have previously referred to intellectual property. Their systems didn’t expect Wengers changes & were flummoxed. It is nice to see that Wenger is super intelligent when it comes to the game & systems within it.
“Where to put Ozil?”
Good question. I think Ozil and Santi can play together. They can interchange
Ramsey, Le COq, Ozil
Santi, Giroud, Sanchez
It then becomes where do you put Wilshere, Walcott and the Ox to name but 3? Lots of options.
Santi is 30 now. So I would ultimately expect him to give way to Ozil to enable Walcott to get in the team. Assuming all are fit and bang on form.
Coquelin has always been seen as the midfield enforcer by Arsene? Really? If this was true why does he only have 5 months left on his contract?
It’s ok to praise Arsene but a bit more realism is needed this looks a good bit of luck at the right time not to say we haven’t deserved it.
Ozil, judging by the last performance againt Chelsea he should probably stay in the treatment room.
Judging players on their last game and certainly when playing injured in a game is THE way to judge players…..yep…. sure is….
Glad you agree…..
And we are one point away from the magic 40 points. Phew! Safe for another season…So glad Arsene listened to all those pundits.
“Wenger always WAS aware of the potential Coquelin had. Even some of us laymen appreciated the talent he had. I remember how well he played in a match we lost 2 nil against Gazprom (in which Atkinson gifted them both goals), he was terrific in that match. So for the press to claim all of a sudden Wenger has become aware of what a talent the young man is a little ridiculous.”
I agree there must of been a reason why Wenger kept faith in Coquelin all these years.
I mean it’s not as if Wenger hasn’t let many a player go that the guys on here who follow the youngsters closely had real high hopes for.
As nice a guy as he is, Wenger does not keep players on sentiment, except perhaps to some degree Diaby, who is surely an exceptional case, but as a rule, no way.
So there must of been something Wenger could see.
I do tend to agree that it does sound like he may, I say may, of been in the last chance saloon with his loan spell at Charlton.
Maybe the enormous potential Wenger and others could see was just not coming to the fore often enough.
And I am willing to concede that his recall may of been forced on Wenger to some degree, but it’s being very disingenuous to suggest it’s just luck and no credit is due to Wenger.
Wenger saw the potential, showed enormous faith and it looks like, at least we all hope, that that insight and faith is going to be rewarded.
However it has come about, all credit to Wenger I say.
@Menace, I’ll have to get back to you.
A little outside story. Where the heck is Brooklands Middle School? A 9 year old boy who like Giroud, saved up his allowance to get a haircut like Giroud. He has been suspended from school for the haircut.
There is a picture of the young man, in the story. Sure, the hair in the center is longer than on the side, but I wouldn’t say the hair in the center is long. If he was older and taking a shop class, I wouldn’t say his hair is long enough to be a hazard.
Intellectual Property. Some fields of work revolve around this, some don’t. Engineering always used to, but there are large parts of it that are downplaying it, or even moving away from it now. Some engineers like myself, don’t believe in it.
Cooking is a field that typically hasn’t paid much attention to intellectual property, and the field has prospered from the sharing of ingredients and techniques. About the only places I consistently see Intellectual Property show up in cooking is molecular gastronomy (using scientific methods to make discoveries or changes that are outside of conventional knowledge) and presentation. And I disgree most with using copyright to protect presentation. But then again, I don’t care what a sandwich looks like.
I don’t think Intellectual Property should be found on the football pitch. There may be things in the back rooms that is treated that way, but I would wonder if the sport might be better off if those weren’t secret or excluded?
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