Community Shield: the preparation for the game tells us what the manager has in mind.

By Tony Attwood

Remember Dennis Bergkamp?  Even if you’ve only come to Arsenal of late you will know the name and most likely seen some of the film.  Arsène Wenger called him a genius – which is not something he calls a player very often.

Indeed I may well have missed it but I am not sure who else Arsène Wenger has called a genius since then.  But I think most of us can see who Arsène thinks is a genius, and who he has step by step been putting at the very heart of the team: Mesut Özil.

Which is interesting because when Dennis Bergkamp arrived we remember not just the incredible passes and amazing goals but also the criticism. Attempting to belittle Dennis while he was still at Inter Milan, la Repubblica changed its L’asino della settimana (Donkey of the Week award)  to Bergkamp della settimana.

Özil hasn’t suffered in the same way, but he has suffered…

  • Ozil hasn’t got enough fight, says Ballack – ESPN
  • Thierry Henry hits out at Olivier Giroud and Mesut Ozil – Telegraph
  • Club Record Flop Ozil – Caught Offside
  • Mesut Ozil is not a ‘game-changer’ for Arsenal – Metro
  • The marks in the debit column against him that underpinned Real’s decision to sell have not only followed him to England, they have deepened – Guardian
  • David Moyes: I didn’t want Mesut Ozil at Manchester United – Daily Mail

But to some people he is worth every last penny of the transfer fee.   People like Mourinho who was manager of Özil at Real Mad.  “There is no copy of him – not even a bad one,” is the quote regularly trotted out from that time.

If you listen to what Mr Wenger says about Özil it is similar to what he used to say of Bergkamp.  “He shows more authority to dictate the game than before.   He is physically stronger, that is for sure, and he is more equipped to deal with the Premier League. In the second part of last season we saw the intelligence of his passing, the fact that he added some steel to his game that was needed certainly in the Premier League. I’m confident that he can be one of the great players of 2015-16. He can become player of the year.”

Yes, what he says about one can be seen in the context of the other.

“He joined very late in 2013 without any preparation with the team. In 2014 he came back exhausted by the World Cup and was then injured for four months. In the second part of last season he started to really adapt and, of course, this is the test. It’s a very important season for him.”

Which makes the point very clearly.  This summer is the first summer Messers Wenger and Özil have worked together through pre-season for the first time.

Which pretty much tells us not just how Arsenal will play today but all through the season, providing Özil is fit: Özil  at number 10 running the show.  And this is the reason to have particular confidence this season.  Because we’ve seen some interesting improvements in the last two years, and of course two significant trophies, and this development and growth has coincided with the arrival and gradual development of… Özil.

Of course to the press it is quite different – the issue is Mourinho v Wenger – but much more to the point is the development and growth of the teams – something the press are notoriously awful at discussing in a pre-season when neither club has been very active.  The question is, which side has developed the most?

Mr Wenger is working on Mr Özil saying, “He doesn’t take enough chances. He is conscious of it and wants to do it now, so I am confident in that. Although his main aspect will always be in the intelligence of his passing and his creativity, he can finish better and we want from him 10 goals this season.”

Which also tells us something about the over-excitement of the media and blogettas about Arsenal buying a striker: it is not a priority.  Add 10 from Özil to the goals from Alexis and Giroud, add another 10 from Theo – more if he plays centre forward – and you have quite a few goals really.

Also, the Guardian came up with an interesting point that I’ve not heard before when quoting Wenger on Özil.  We know about Alexis’ wife wanting London not Liverpool when he arrived, but Mr Wenger went further saying, “London transforms people.  I believe at the start, people who come here feel a bit of a shock. Why? The climate is different, London is a big city. After, London slowly gets people with the charm of the city and I have seen that many times. They start to really enjoy living in London and the club is the same. Arsenal is similar because the Premier League is a shock sometimes for the players.”

So, we are starting the season today, with some real fixtures in the team.  Cech in goal.  Ozil at number 10.  Alexis on the wing drifting in (although obviously not today).  Koscielny (described by the boss as the best value for money he’s ever bought) in defence.  Santi Cazorla buzzing.  Coquelin at defensive midfield.

When fit, these are the men who will always be there this season, no matter what the tactics.  This is the spine that people have talked about so much; in fact more than a spine – but the concept is right – everyone else fits in around them.

And this along with the flexibility of having players like Chambers, Monreal, Walcott, Ramsey, Wilshere, the Ox, who can play in more than one position to accommodate the inevitable injuries and assaults, is what will take the club up to another level this season.  As Mr Wenger said,

“After six games we were 11 points behind Chelsea. We finished 13 points behind Chelsea. That means after six games the decision was made.  That’s what they had – a strong start while we had a slow start. Man City had a slow start, Man United had a slow start, we had a slow start and they went off the block very decisively and positively and that made the difference.”

Next up: the teams and the match itself.


Not very charitable Shield preview part 1: the context

We’re on Twitter @UntoldArsenal

41 Replies to “Community Shield: the preparation for the game tells us what the manager has in mind.”

  1. So sad that Wojciech Szczesny
    is not one of the permanent fixture you speak of.

  2. When Wenger talks, you have to listen to what he doesn’t say.

    When Özil plays, you have to watch what he does without the ball.

    Appreciating subtlety is not the forte of the press/pundits/whiners, and Wenger and Özil are masters of subtlety in their respective professions.

    Picky point: Özil scored 5 goals last season, so he’ll need to add 5 more to hit Wenger’s target. His pre-season performances certainly hint at a remit to score more. And if anyone has the skills to score Bergkampesque goals, it’s Özil.

    And I wonder if Walcott will turn out to be the 20+ striker the “experts” are saying we need.

  3. I’m confident we can beat the bus parking company with fair officiating. Sadly I do not expect any impartiality at all from the men in the middle in any of our encounters with Chelsea, friendly match or not. But Let’s hope today’s game will not be the template of how our matches are refereed for the rest of the season.

  4. Ozil is a decent player but we paid way over the odds for him. Given the lack of investment in the team this summer and the amounts spent by the scousers and ManU, I think we’ll be fighting for forth again this season.

  5. Dex – you are amazing. Worth your weight in bus tickets. 😉
    Thanks for the entertainment.

  6. The price of a players transfer fee influences the view of some, especially when things aren’t going well. Often “not going well” for Arsenal means when we lose a game and we don’t lose many. Their fee/wages are then used as a means of criticism. In the case of “not going well” for Bergkamp when he joined Arsenal and now Ozil, it can be very subjective. I recall Mark Lawrenson stating in one National newspaper that he “Wouldn’t pay 7.5 pence for Bergkamp let alone £7.5m”. This was shortly before Bergkamp scored his first two goals for Arsenal against Southampton. The rest is history.

    Ozil is sheer class. I’m amazed that more pundits and fans didn’t and continue not to see this. I love watching him play and consider myself very fortunate to be able to do so.

  7. CB
    Correct, but he did have a lovely WAG ( Laia Grassi ), who split with him late 2014

  8. Dex, it’s a real shame that you can’t appreciate how a team works. The mug-smashers and united may have added players but we’ve no idea whether they’ve actually added to the team yet. It’s certain that a number of their players (not all) will take a year to adapt to the PL and even for players that moved within the PL, it may take some months to adapt to their new surroundings and to build an understanding with team mates.
    We don’t have that issue. Our team are a team. Now the question ‘does that make us better than team X’ can’t be answered until the end of the season but we could (Could, rather than will!) be 10 points ahead before those teams get moving. The Chavs are the most stable team and will be the biggest challenge if their players are hungry enough.
    If you’re really a supporter, show some support now and ‘re-consider’ after 2 or 3 competitive games while the window is open and we have a real idea of how good our team is.

  9. @Dex

    For a player of Ozil’s quality and you saying £42.5 m is over the odds. I wonder how much he is worth to you? Maybe £20m-£25m.

    Let’s compare to players of say comparable status. Di Maria? Marco Reus? Muller? How much do you think these are currently worth?

  10. Good morning to everyone for this beautiful Sunday morning. Today will be beautiful for all Gooners at Wembley by God’s grace. Amen! I charge every regular playing Gunners who have scored only 5, 10, 15, 20, 25 goals last season to add 5 goals each to their tallies this season. And those defenders that scored less than 5 should get their goal tally to 5 each. And whoever did not score a goal at all should aspire to score 5. As regards to today’s match, the Gunners have to pounce on the Blues. And they will undoubtedly not only pounce on them but pound them by 3-0 whether Mr Jose Mourinho likes it or not is no concern of we the Arsenal fans to worry about. My Gunners start: Czech. DebuchyRhino’ KosielneyMonreal. CoquelinCazorla. WilshereOzilOxlade. Walcott. My bench: MartinezGibbsBellerinChambersRamseyIwobiGiroud. I think my bench had every starting position covered. Playing style: 4-2-3-1. Are the Blues starts likely to look like this?: Courtois. AzlillicuetaTerryCahil-Ivanovich. MaticFebregas. HazardOscarWilliam. Remi. Costa may be short to start. And I don’t want to name the Blues bench as I am not that conversant with the Blues first team.

  11. Dex:
    forth =
    forward in place, time, order, or degree.

    I worry for the youth, education is just not what it used to be, no wonder the thinking capabilities have decreased. 🙂

    Seriously, i hope we avoid penalties and show these blue people that their time has now passed.


  12. SamuelAkinsolaAdebosin:

    Are you a preacher? I hear the resounding answers of the congregation after every sentence: 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

    goals goals goals,
    more than five each,
    pounce, pounce pounce on them,
    no worry, no worry,
    whether 4,2,3,1, or 4,3,2,1, or 4,1,4,1
    no worries, no worries.

    Please do not take this too seriously. 🙂

  13. Des, the Scousers and Brendan have done a Tottenham again, and will probably do it for a third time when Mr Rodgers gets the sack and a new man comes in wanting new players. ditto Man City and probably Man Utd. All three of these teams squads will be unsettled, all three may have managers who are dead men walking.
    Ozil could be very special this year, though I rpfear that today, Jose will show his respect for the German BT putting a Matic hatchet job on him, just hope we have a ref strong enough to stand up to their tried and tested tactics.
    Don’t even know who the red is, but I would remind him, yes, cards can be issued in the first five minutes

  14. Jim, Mandy,

    Yes the man in charge is Anthony Taylor that most beloved and even handed paragon of virtue chosen by the PGMO.

    I didn’t do a ref preview for this game but to paraphrase what my suss art would have been:-

    Anthony Taylor is a piss poor referee with an astonishing anti-Arsenal bias and if we get a fairly refereed match today then it will signal a major shift in the way we might expect referees to behave for the coming season.

  15. Anthony – The Incompetent – Taylor. You need look no further than last season’s Stoke away game to see his extreme incompetence, bias, whatever. No doubt Walter can provide many more examples.

    Him refereeing the Community Shield was at least part of the reason The Spending One was bleating about refs last week. If you recall, Taylor booked Fabregas for diving last season. Surly One bleated. Taylor apologised. Taylor then refereed Chelsea’s League Cup final victory.

    Not a good omen for us – especially on the injury front.

  16. ESPN,Telegraph,Caught Offside,Metro, Guardian…now they are real media outlets who must be taken seriously (truck loads of sarcasm)…as for David Moyes…I am laughing at the success story he brings to the table!!!!!!

  17. Robert, as you say, the ref is one of the worst possible (with refs like Atkinson, that’s quite an achievement!), so I guess Matic, Cahill, Terry, Ivanovic and Ramires will be fully aware that a ‘choke-hold’ is fair play in Taylors book…….

  18. could the improvement in refereeing towards the end of last season have had something to to with statdna?
    I hope that is the case . Then we may see a different Taylor today or tonight as the case may be

  19. Taylor…..predictable I guess. Just hope the slight improvement in refereeing standards we face continues, and that he does not allow them to dish out too much to our creative players.
    Suppose this is the first of the eight or nine times we will see this ref this season.
    We can still win this though, with or without Taylor.
    At least they won’t be able to kick Sanchez today, though fear for Ozil a bit.

  20. Samuel you say you want each defender and player not to have scored to make 5 their target. I would prefer that they concentrate on reducing the number of goals scored by the opposition.
    Football is a two way street.

  21. Nonny about £30m given the inflated nature of transfers.

    Menace I’m chuffed you get a kick out of my crap mate.

    Para you are really really tedious and petty. Are you in IT or accounting by any chance?

    Andy jack. Thanks for the leesson but I kinda get how a team works, but there’s no doubting United have significantly strengthened their weakest area, the midfield. Not only that but they have done so with a player Arsenal should have signed. The fact we didn’t bother going for him has been compounded by the fact he has gone to a rival. If AW doesn’t add to the squad we are going into the season praying nothing happens to Coquelin hardly confidence enduring.

    Mandy Dodd.

    Thanks for your thoughts. Don’t get me wrong, we have great depth in most areas and this current team should be too good for most opponents, just like last season. But with a couple of quality additions we could challenge for the title, in my humble and oh so misguided opinion.

  22. Taylor can be a problem, but there is a solution.
    Sucrifise Debuchy with yellow card as early as possible. That will make very dofficult for Taylor not to give a card to Chelsea players.
    Hazard should be at thee recieving end with an injury. Substitude Debuchy with Belerin and let him run injured Hazard to the ground.

  23. Dex, if Wenger shares your view, rest assured he will be moving heaven and earth to bring in who ever he believes will improve this, as you say, already impressive squad……the Spanish press, for what it’s worth…. are currently suggesting he is doing just that.
    If he really deems he needs new players, still a lot of time ….and very little activity so far.

  24. @Dex

    It is obvious you do not either understand the intrigues of the transfer market or my question. I also asked for your supposed valuation of Muller, Reus and Di Maria and I also want to add James Rodrigez to the mix

    It the Market is inflated. It is because there are so few good players been chased by so much money. Even lesser players like Sterling are beginning to command higher fee.

    Know that Arsenal is also buying from the same inflated market which is the current market valuation

  25. The people who say negative things about Ozil are just plain jealous. I love the way he seemingly seems to glide on the pitch with the ball of the way be drops his shoulder and move around. I wish I had at least 1% of that ability.

  26. Very true Nonny. And as for our so called reported main target, even if it’s true, and even if his current club are willing to sell, there is always the chance of someone like Utd putting ten to twenty million on our offer.
    I will happily live with the great players we already have at our disposal and welcome anyone else when they arrive.

  27. not sure what my take on those players transfer values will show. And what are these intrigues you pompously go on about? Not really that complicated but you clearly need attention…

    Reus £25m
    Muller £35m
    Di Maria £25m
    James £ oh I give up with this! Rues is a top player but has suffered serious injuries which lowers his value. Muller is quality and fairly young, hence the higher fee, di Maria value has shrunk after a very underwhelming season.

    Transfer fees are obscene as are the wages which only exacerbates the dilemma of wanting a fairer society but also wanting Arsenal to spend £50m on new signings.

  28. Ozil was overpriced, not his fault of course. But he’s a bargain compared to Sterling, obviously.

  29. No one else was after Ozil or Sterling, same went for Suarez yet still went for inflated fees.

    Oops that’s your ‘theory’ blown out the water.

  30. Dex, obviously you have some inside knowledge to say that no one else was after Ozil, Sterling or Suarez. Please tell.
    Or are you just as clueless as everyone else on the outside about who else was interested?

  31. Guys, the media is either blind or something. Look at the goals he assisted. Last afternoon against the Chavs it was his footwork that did damage.

  32. Sorry, OT. The Ox hates country music, and is having a go at Carl Jenkinson about it. Friendly though.

    Alexander, you are young, you have things to learn. A song is music, not necessarily played on an instrument. A song is often a message. Being a modern chap, I’ll assume you can search for things yourself.

    The Lion Sleeps Tonight has often been played with little or no musical instruments. It consists of people using their voices as instruments. You may not enjoy opera, but it is easily apparent that all the people singing in opera have highly trained voices.

    I grew up with Rock and Roll (I am probably your Dad’s age), and it is what I lean toward. But there are entirely too many bad songs and bad singers in Rock and Roll. There have been a few leaders in music associated with Rock and Roll, but mostly a lot of followers. For a long time, the most popular commercial song in the world was White Christmas by Bing Crosby (possibly others). After Bing came along and was being successful, you can find lots of other male performers singing in the same manner Bing sang in. While Bing might have been the first crooner, Frank Sinatra came along not too long afterwards with some ideas of his own. Hence being a crooner isn’t riding on one coat tail.

    If you enjoy Rock and Roll, please listen to some of the 1950’s music, to get a feel for where it is coming from.

    There have been songs that are ballads, they have a story. But we also see the beginning of songs which only have a few words in them, repeated over and over. If you don’t know what a ballad song is, I suggest American Pie by Don Maclean.

    Somewhere along the line, the music industry wanted songs to become about 2.5 minutes long. Arlo Guthrie’s Alice’s Restaurant is a rambling song that is significantly longer than 2.5 minutes. Possibly Tony will disagree, but if you just want rambling, Bob Dylan rambles. (I have Bob Dylan records and songs Tony.)

    At this time, I think we have already been introduced to the monotone singers. I can remember listening to music from far earlier than this which seems to be monotone to me. I do think that this is about the time we started to find whisperers producing songs. I think most of them were female, but we have male whisperers now. And much later on (still a long time ago to you Alex) are the screamers. All of the vocal track is screaming or yelling.

    Monotone, whispering and screaming are all about having a vocal range of probably an octave at the most. In other words, these are people who probably would never have been accepted at singing school, as there was nothing to work with. They had no ability to sing.

    I think there were more people going into Country music who had a background in going to church. And while it may not have been professional training, they did receive some proper singing training.

    Sure, many of the people going into Country music came from the farm, and the world is overwhelmingly city now. To sing about a John Deere tractor probably doesn’t mean a lot to you. Relatively recently, we have had a song on the radio about whether having such and such a tractor make you sexy. You may not appreciate the tractor part, but driving a John Deere is about as likely to make you sexy as driving a Chevrolet Corvette (IMHO).

    How many follow ice hockey? What is the largest manufacturer of the thing which cleans the ice for ice hockey? I believe that manufacturer is Zamboni. And wouldn’t you know it, Country music reached out to the ice hockey world, with a song about driving a Zamboni.

    Songs are typically topical, possibly on many levels. How many of you have gotten stuck in mud? Do you know that people go driving off road, with the hope of getting stuck. As it can be fun to get unstuck. Most of you are not familiar with the Canadian prairies, which are almost a desert because of how little water they get. But Corb Lund has a song about 3 guys (1 Ford, 1 Dodge, 1 Chev) heading to a place which gets muddy when it finally does rain enough. Of course: Ford is better, Dodge is better, Chev is better. Some blurb about Hutterites you might not catch. But the song ends about RoundUp-Ready Canola. RRC is a genetically modified canola (rapeseed) which has been in the courts a lot, about people seeding RRC they hadn’t purchased (it volunteered on their land). I believe the song is called Truck Got Stuck.

    The song is well sung, it is funny, it picks up on common prejudices in society, and it is topical.

    I think Corb Lund has a bunch of good songs in his playlist now. But, something which might be more approachable for people who enjoy drinking alcoholic beverages, is Time to Switch to Whiskey.

    For a song done by someone who isn’t Albertan, try “Hold My Beer” by various people. A guy sees a girl with a dork at a dance, and asks him to hold his beer while he dances with (and kisses) his girlfriend.

    Oh, and Alex keep scoring goals and running back to help the defence. 🙂

  33. @ Gord – I always thought that them there cowpokes and cowgals were repetitive and sang only about –
    a). Their pardners cheating or lying eyes / hearts and about their achy breaky hearts .
    b). Their hound dogs , and nothing else but their hound dogs.
    c). Their life in the poor/doghouse or rocking the jailhouse .
    d). Theirs or the old man’s shotguns .
    e). Blue/bad moon rising and howling in the wind.
    f). Feeling lonesome /blue while on the trail/ drive , on the lam or just walking the line.
    g). About that ole weeping guitar /banjo /violin .
    h). Their souped up cars /jeeps /monster trucks and The Nascar races.
    i). That wise old turkey buzzard that’s flyin’ high.
    j). Square dancing and swinging your partners high.
    k). Their love for the Bluegrass or other types , and the Green green grass of home.
    l). How the South will rise again .
    m). Rose gardens .

    I think that about covers country music as my knowledge goes. . Please feel free to enlighten me if there is more that I may have missed . We don’t really get too many cowboy types in my country
    Except probably these guys from the nineties -

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