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Arsenal – Crystal Palace: 1-1 : A come back from catenaccio

By Walter Broeckx

As I had a board meeting with my fellow members from the Arsenal Belgium supporters club I wasn’t close to a computer during and after the match. So not the usual match report this time. More a combination of the match and some after thoughts.

Arsenal started with the same outfield players that started against West Ham. The only change was made in goal where Cech came back after his injury and Ospina dropped to the bench. I wonder if the why didn’t he start Cech against West Ham shouts will still be heard after the match.

From the off it was clear to see. Crystal Palace didn’t came to play a match of football. They came to play something that can be called parking the bus, catenaccio, concrete football…

All the ingredients to spoil the pleasant affair that should be a football match. I think in the first 45 minutes Crystal Palace wasn’t even interested or tried to put some passes together. No it was just hoofing it in any direction as long as it was as far away as possible from their own goal. Time wasting from the first minute on by all their players.

What you need then is an early goal. We didn’t get that. Because we found it difficult to get behind their 3 double defensive line. Most of the time they even played without anyone up front. 10 defenders and a goalkeeper. We started too slow and didn’t find the early opening.

The longer the match went on the more frustrating it became. To pass your way through 10 defenders is very difficult and asks for very precise passing. Our passing wasn’t very precise. On the few occasions when things opened up a bit we lacked the final ball. Welbeck tried to flick on a few balls but too many Palace legs in the way. Alexis worked hard but his crosses only found Palace heads and legs.

Yes we were denied our weekly penalty. Koscielny trying to make a run for a corner was blatantly held back by a defender for 6 or 7 metres. The Palace defender was holding Kos with both arms but this seems to be allowed when performed on Arsenal players these days.

At the other end when Palace got themselves a corner from a deflected hoofed ball they always made a foul on Cech. Even ref East called one. He could have done it each time but well…

Özil came close after a fine attack between him and Alexis but his poked shot was straight at Hennesey. Elneny tried his luck with a shot from distance but it took a deflection and went over the crossbar.

And then suddenly in the extra time of the first half we found the opening. Arsenal won the ball back high up the field and Welbeck chipped in a cross towards Alexis whose looping header found the back of the net. 1-0 to the Arsenal at the end of the first half. Well deserved as we had been the only team that had tried to play football.

Arsenal tried to add a second after the interval. Crystal Palace tried to keep the score at 1-0 and hoped they could get the lucky break somehow. For more than 70 minutes it was more of the same. Arsenal trying to play football and Crystal Palace playing …. Yes what were they playing??? Surely not football?

Arsenal had enough chances to score a second goal. Alexis with two headers that just went wide at each end of the post. Welbeck with a chance from close range but he struck the keeper on the shoulder and the ball bounced away from the goal. Özil with a free kick that went just wide.

Crystal Palace had been fouling all day. And some cynical fouls amongst the fouls. And the ref kept his cards in the pocket. Around the hour mark he finally produced a yellow card but some of the cynical attack breaking fouls deserved more cards.

Arsenal not being able to make that second goal came back to haunt them. Crystal Palace had one weak shot in the first half straight at Cech and with some 10 minutes to go they had their second shot of the match. It seemed not that hard to catch but somehow Cech didn’t go down fast enough to his right hand side and just like against West Ham in the first match the stoppable shot went in. If that would have been Ospina…hell would have been loosed upon Ospina and on Wenger for picking him. We know and realise every keeper makes the odd mistake from time to time. Even world class keepers. Cech will get over it as he has been around long enough but it sure was a very unfortunate moment for him and for Arsenal. 1-1 after 81 minutes.

Arsenal was shocked by the goal and the cruelty of the game that had unfolded. The organisation went out of the door and lucky for a strong challenge from Gabriel to block Crystal Palace when Kos gave them almost a second chance. That would have been a complete unfair affair but well nobody is claiming that football results in fair results.

I can imagine Dean shouting in the ear of ref East to finish the match as just when Alexis was preparing to take a shot outside the penalty area for Arsenal he blew his whistle. This isn’t the first time this has happened this season. Southampton? Or was it Swansea?

Anyway the match ended with a 1-1 score. Completely against anything that has happened on the field. The draw at West Ham came at a bad moment but as it was a match played between two teams who went for it I could easily accept it.  Even with all the refereeing errors on display.

But this draw is harder to take. Because it was so completely undeserved that Palace should get anything from this match with their tactics of spoiling what should have been a football match. Because now not only my Arsenal heart is bleeding. No, now also my football heart is bleeding.  And that is the hardest part in fact.

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81 comments to Arsenal – Crystal Palace: 1-1 : A come back from catenaccio

  • Philbet

    But surely after this truly awful performance(result), we should sack the manager, disembowel all the players, burn the ground down and be forced to change the clubs name to Allwaysfailalot!!
    Sorry I popped into Twitter last week and thought all the above had already been done.

  • nicky

    During the Summer Transfer Window, Arsene will have ample funds in order to strengthen the team in a number of positions.
    But will he have the will to do so?

  • Hi Berry

    Walter…this report reads like a real hard-luck story for Arsenal – how dare a team like Palace execute a tactical game plan of setting up defensively and hope to hit us on the break in an attempt to nullify the overwhelming financial resources we have over them. Get a grip man, it’s called tactics…or should we chastise Palace for fighting whatever way they can to secure enough points to stay at the Premier League feeding-trough next season? The fact of the matter is that a few years back we would have played with sufficient guile and power to put Palace and other teams like them to the sword….performances, dare I say it, not dissimilar to the outstanding way in which Tottenham brushed Stoke aside last night. Instead of moaning about how everyone is so unfair to the Arsenal why not look a little closer to home and wonder why so many supporters are becoming thoroughly fed up with these continual insipid and toothless displays year on year.

  • Reginald Maudling

    Hi Walter

    I was in the Palace end supporting the Eagles. You sound a bit sore to say the least. Palace showed determination to stay in the game and that takes football skill as well you know.

    I had a different view of the game from you. Arsenal were so slow and ponderous and were very boring to watch. I don’t know how Arsenal fans stick that type of play. The crowd was so quiet. In the first half Arsenal just passed it around in front of our defence without really threatening. We don’t play so defensively very week, in fact we would be higher up the table if we did. But finally Pardew got his tactics right apart from playing Bolasie up front rather than wide.

    I thought we were unlucky to concede on the stroke of half-time. Really Arsenal for all their possession had created very little. I still thought Arsenal would win but I was thinking it’s no surprise you can’t beat elite teams as Arsenal show no urgency or energy. Watch Leicester this year and see their energy and the speed in which they build attacks. For quality and skill plus threat look no further than your North London rivals. The old cliche is true the table does not lie – Leicester and Spurs have been the best two teams I have seen at Selhurst this year and of the two, I would pick Spurs.

    Really without Ozil and Sanchez your team at the moment is very ordinary, more like a mid-table team rather than one you would expect from the world’s 5th richest club.

    I went many times to the old Highbury which I enjoyed as a classic old ground. I am sorry to tell you that I think these days Arsenal has become a corporatied, soulless global brand.I have nothing against Arsenal supporters who I think are generally a civilised bunch.

    It might help a great deal if you got a new manager with some energy and who wasn’t so in cahoots with the Arsenal board.

    Anyway hope you still sort of enjoyed the game, I enjoyed the ending especially! I don’t think you should be blaming Palace for our excellent result.

    kind regards


  • Brickfields Gunners

    We should have finished them off earlier , but again some poor finishing cost us dear. I don’t really think any of our players had a bad game , but we have to be more ruthless and cunning .

  • Mick

    I do not normally criticize individual players but I think the Cech signing has been a failure. A keeper of his reputation should have done better with the Yannick Bolasie shot, and goalkeeping errors by Cech have cost us points in other matches as well, notably West Ham at home. I did not think he was a necessary signing as Ospina had performed fantastically well last season and does not deserve to be behind Cech in the pecking order. He is not the infallible keeper he is made out to be and far from gaining us 12 points a season as all the experts told us he would he has actually cost us instead.

  • Col

    Arsenal league form 2016: W5 D6 L3, 23 points form 14 games. Over a season, that would be equivalent to about 62 points. In the last 5 years, 62 points would have delivered 6th, 8th, 7th, 7th and 6th place respectively.

  • WalterBroeckx

    yes and somehow amazing that the same group of players managed the highest points total in the year 2015. The same players, the same manager… and such a difference.

  • norman14

    I’m beginning to think that Mr Wenger doesn’t have as much say as he and the board would have us believe.

    The non re-signing of Cesc Fabregas, the failure to bring Patrick Viera, and more recently, Thierry Henry and now Mikel Arteta onto the coaching staff, suggests a lot more than the manager simply fell out of love with them all.

    However, what is more worrying is the falling away of players like Walcott, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Chambers, Debuchy and Szczeny, who should have progressed much further than they have – and that HAS to be down to coaches.

  • Rich

    Tough week or so.

    I really detest the look and feel of those home games against the bus. Drives me nuts when people comment on the game, and how poor it is as a spectacle, while putting all or nearly all the blame on us.

    Unless a lead is established, it’s hard to appreciate any good football we can produce on those days, as the nauseating threat remains of the breakthrough never happening and, worse, some rare break or set-piece resulting in a goal for the opposition.

    Things become better if we get the lead- the football, and my unease- but the tension remains very high unless a second comes.

    To complete the unpleasant picture, the chances for the team playing on the break will tend to be much better than our own. I’ve always felt this was obvious, and a stat from yesterday certainly supports that view.

    Apparently our shot conversion rate at the Emirates is about 8%, and the lowest in the league, while for our away games it’s about 26%, the highest in the league.

    The only explanation for such a large difference is that our chances away from home tend to be much better ones. Generally speaking, a better chance is one where you have a little more space, or time, and fewer bodies in the way to block you.

    Anyway, I can only really see even more bus-parking from opponents at the Emirates in future. Changing our manager would surely not alter that.

    Realistically, the only way to change it would be to refuse to play ball and take the initiative, for a long enough period, perhaps a much as a year, in an effort to force opposition coaches and managers to attack us more. To do so would involve bizarre spectacles, where neither team has much interest in attacking, and wouldn’t improve our odds of victory on any given home game during this process. To think there is any other way to induce teams to come at us more, creating opportunities for those lovely breaks into space, seems worse than naive to me.

    An ultra lethal finisher is the only guarantee of a significant improvement in how we deal with the challenges of it, but any honest person should know it is ultra difficult for us to secure one of those.

    Damn, I hate that style of football, but unfortunately it is quite successful and, lacking even a minimum of cultural resistance to it now, it is here to stay.

    Pardew and all the rest know they would take no heat, from fans or the media, playing that way against us whether they lose 1, 2 or 3 nil. That, combined with the fact the success rate of those tactics is quite good (or, this year against us, very good) is enough to guarantee that approach.

  • serge

    Were you really expecting a footballing extravaganza? Palace only needed a point to stay reasonably safe in the league. They did what was necessary to achieve that.
    This is the way to play against technically better teams and it’s worked against us all this season to the extent that inferior sides have drawn and even beaten us.
    It’s up to the club and the manager to devise a system to overcome this or we’ll have more seasons of disappointment like this one.
    I thought Roger East had an exceptional game and “Barrel & Scraping” come to mind with your “ear whispering” slur.

  • WalterBroeckx

    if you show this match to a neutral football fan they run away from it or change channel to the national championship of paint drying.
    Of course every team has the right to play the tactics they want. But it is my right, not just as an Arsenal supporter but as a football lover, to call it what it is: boring and terribly anti football.

    I have always condemned such tactics be it played by any other team. I hated it when Italy won world cups that way, I hated it when Belgium almost won a European championship that way… I hated it when my own local team played it and we got well deserved relegated to the second division in Belgium. I even stopped going to my local team in those days. As it is the kind of football I hate.

    It’s the type of football I condemn. Not Crystal Palace (unless they play catenaccio 😉 ) . To be honest I have only been to 3 grounds in England: Highbury, the Emirates and… Selhurst Park. The first time was in 1979 when I had fallen in love with Arsenal on the Saturday when they lost 0-1 to Wolverhampton Wanderers. On Monday night we had FA cup football and we went to Selhurst Park, missed the opening goal from Wolves and you lost 0-1 to them. Wolves was a better team in those days…

    And some 15-20 years ago I went with my family to see you beat Aston Villa. We couldn’t get tickets for the Arsenal match that day… So I have nothing against Crystal Palace at all. Been there and enjoyed the football in those days. But you didn’t play catenaccio then 🙂

  • WalterBroeckx

    we leave it up to the referee review but he should have given a few yellow cards for very cynical fouls. The foul from Dann on the touchline on Welbeck didn’t even get a yellow card as just one example. As far as I know it didn’t and my match commentator was very surprised about it.

    The same match commentator who also expressed his surprise that he blew the whistle just as Alexis was preparing himself for a shot just outside the penalty area…

    So then at least my match commentator was also scraping the barrel…

  • WalterBroeckx

    I can assure you if you play that way in the Dutch league they will condemn you in all football circles and in the media and give you all the abuse you deserve. But in that country they not only want you to win but want you to win in style. And in England the only thing that matters is winning at all costs.

    If Jan Mulder (Dutch pundit)* should have been commentating on the Arsenal – Palace match he would have started swearing and using very ugly and bad words live on TV to show his disgust. He would have used the “cnut” word to describe it. As I have grown up watching Dutch football in my childhood days as they were far ahead on football shows compared to Belgium I think I have been influenced a lot by the desire of the Dutch football to not only win but also play nice and good football to win. I grew up watching Cruijff and other Dutch football artists like Jan Mulder. I think it is a bit cultural as I also speak Dutch of course…

    * for Dutch speaking people. Jan Mulder probably would have said about it: “Nou, wat een afgrijselijk lelijk kut voetbal heeft Palace hier gespeeld en dan jatten ze zo ook nog een punt weg. Degoutant. Ze moesten ze uit de PL schoppen. Gewoon een schop onder hun kont. Bah. Ja, nee zeg dit kan toch echt niet meer” 🙂

    Warning: if you try to translate contains foul language.

  • Reginald Maudling

    I do agree with you to a large extent as football should be entertaining. I don’t think you can blame less well resourced clubs for employing that tactic against clubs with more expensive better paid players. What is hard to stomach – I think unacceptable for lovers of good football – is seeing a rich club like Chelsea under Mourinho and the rich Italian clubs often playing that way when they have players who have great ability.

    Pardew has frustrated a lot of palace fans by his insistence to go “toe to toe” (his favourite phrase) this season when if he set out more cautiously we would have had fewer defeats, more draws and some more wins. He has a tendency to take off the midfield and put on forwards which has left us wide open and for example gifted a win for 10 man liverpool against us.

    so quite often this season I wished we had played more defensively just like against arsenal. Not every time though and at least with a plan B. If you want to watch the ultimate boring football you have a watch a Pulis team for that, he really knows no other way and thank goodness he did what he had to do for us and left when he had taken the staying up bonus early.

    Aren’t you playing west Brom next? So now you will see defensive football!

    The onus is on richer clubs like arsenal to break down defences but you dont do that by passing it around so slowly so that defences have so much time to get organised. Arsenal on Sunday only had themselves to blame. Palace have been given little credit for at least hanging in there to get a break. Behind the palace goal I had a moment when i thought my eyes were deceiving me when Cech fell over the ball, at the match I thought Bolasie’s shot wasn’t very strong.

    I would say that we played a defensive style on sunday but actually in their own way Arsenal were very boring. They did not take risks and were content to play safe ball around in the middle of the field. My nephew is an Arsenal fan and he texted me at the match to say palace were in a for a long afternoon. I think it would be arsenal fans watching their team play like that against a lesser team who would be most bored.

  • Gooner S

    I don’t think you can knock Crystal Palace’s tactics against Arsenal at all. Those tactics have worked for a number of teams against Arsenal; the most recent being Watford in the FA Cup. It’s no surprise and not against any rules. They needed to do what was needed to get a point or perhaps even 3!

    I thought Arsenal’s performance was somewhat tepid. The goal conceded against Palace was preventable as he should have been closed down much sooner. There were a few good chances created but in terms of the dynamic of the performance it wasn’t dominating though we (of course) had the possession and had more shots etc. I thought Arsenal looked like a team that wanted the season to end now. Jaded. Perhaps more mentally than physically. Ah well, roll on Thursday and West Brom.

  • WalterBroeckx

    I think the cultural difference shows 😉

  • Reginald Maudling

    at least English football is not the Italian way!

  • WalterBroeckx

    You never know Reginald… 😉

  • Reginald Maudling

    I wasn’t very impressed on sunday with Coquelin and Elneny.

    Yes they are competent and decent premier league level players but for Arsenal’s wealth? And playing both of them against little Crystal Palace?

    Cabaye looks jaded now because he has been playing with lesser players all season but really he would have done a much better job covering arsenal’s less than secure defence this season. He would have cost the Arsenal board more money and he would have little resale value but there you go all the rich clubs have gone the way of the marquee signing when often you need the less glamorous players to make an effective team. and it always strikes me that Arsenal have lacked a leader for several years, a Tony Adams type figure, all the successful teams have that man.

  • Hi Berry

    Walter…so following your logic I can’t understand why you started supporting Arsenal in the first place – the seventies and eighties were not awash with vibrant attacking play at Highbury as I seem to recall – in fact one could argue that the opposite was true with Arsenal very much a side that ground out results. I presume you took no delight in Arsenal winning the Cup Winners’ Cup in 95 nor the FA Cup in 2005 – both high profile games in which a pragmatic game-plan reaped rewards. There are those of us who have supported Arsenal longer than you have (assuming 1979 was your starting point) and can appreciate all aspects of the art of football, not just the tippy, tappy Wengerball and I, like many others, used to take immense pleasure in watching Arsenal manfully strangle the life out of a game when necessary – defending is as much of an art as vibrant attacking play is, the only difference these days is that we see neither. Opposition supporters used to chant ‘boring, boring Arsenal’….how ironic that the same could be said now.

  • Reginald Maudling

    OK I will leave now before I outstay my welcome!

  • WalterBroeckx

    Thanks for saying what you think in a nice and polite way, Reginald.

  • Gouresh

    Reginald Maudling: all are welcome on this site to discuss football in a civilised manner. its nice to hear the fans of other teams and their thoughts on how we played.

  • serge


    We’re not the only club that has to deal with such negative bus parking tactics. Others seem more than capable of combatting them, and as for the referees, then we need someone to come right out front on it. A regular commenter here suggests that Ivan Gazidis is working “behind the scenes” on it. “behind the scenes”? Fuck “behind the scenes”, lets have it out in public the way that Karren Brady deals with these issues.
    Better still let’s clone her and slip her into the club at chair level.

  • Rich


    Can believe that. I meant that in England there is no resistance to it any more.

    My memory could easily be failing me here but I just don’t seem to remember teams setting up like that in the first 15 or so years (from 90′) that I was watching football.

    I think if you could jump back in time and have a team set up like that in, say, 2000, the commentators would be astonished and the fans dismayed. But, things change, and the resistance gradually disappeared. No one did more for the cause than our old pal Mourinho, of course.


    Just want to make clear I don’t really hold it against Palace for playing as they did.

    It’s bloody hard (impossible, really) to put yourself in the shoes of fans from another club, but probably key to you approving of it is your knowledge it’ll only be that extreme for a few games per year.

    For us, of course, we see it a lot more than that, and it’s a joyless (at this time, anyway, for a gloomster like me) tremendously nervy and frustrating spectacle unless we can force a breakthrough.

    I think people underestimate the difficulty levels of playing against such a set-up.

    Our frustrated fans tend to criticise us for not varying the play enough, or playing fast enough, etc, but, for one, speeding it up of course increases the likelihood of losing the ball, and having to start all over again.

    The players aren’t daft, they have faced the challenge countless times, and so their judgement is actually fairly good of the balance they need to find between risky or safe passes, fast or slow passing. It can fluctuate a lot in a game and individuals and the team itself will become more cautious or risk-taking depending on how things are going. The crowd can also exert an influence on our players, inhibiting or at least increasing the pressure on them.

    But the fact remains, it’s bloody difficult to break through the wall. Typically requires an exquisite pass or a lapse in defensive concentration, a bit of luck or a great finish (we’re struggling badly on that front this year).

    To be honest, it pushes me to question football and our approach constantly.

    The evidence seems so clear that there is something stupid about NOT playing counter-attacking football. Counter-attacking football allows you to set your defence up at its strongest, and tends to produce better chances when they arrive, seeing you break with a few players into space and against fewer defenders. Also, it allows you to avoid the immense frustration of trying to break through massed ranks, with all that involves and with the danger always lurking of being made to look foolish and incompetent by conceding on the break.

    But, this is my brain misleading me. There is the simple fact that you cannot counter a team who are completely set and have almost everyone behind the ball. Nor, of course, would football be much of a sport if every last team got the idea that counter-attacking is the only way to go. (Though that is straying into moral territory and has almost no influence on what style a team chooses to play on any day).

    It’s hard for me to remember, at times, but it really isn’t as stupid or as bad a tactic as it looks to persist with passing football against massed ranks/ countering teams. The bad moments tend to have a bigger impact on the mind, this one at least, but there are plenty of days when we do make the breakthrough and go on to win.

    In many ways,though, there is simply no choice : if the opposition puts everything into defence, you simply have to try break them down.

    It’s just hard to remember or care about that on the days when we don’t succeed.

  • Rich


    Good to hear your views and I’m glad us lot all seem to have behaved in response to them.

  • Reginald Maudling

    like I said I think arsenal fans tend to be a civilised bunch, I wouldn’t say that abpout some other clubs Chelsea mentioning no names!

  • dan

    People seem to forget parking the bus was Wenger’s undoing by Mourinho, and it always worked. So much was made out of it other managers took note. Pulis will be no different this Thursday, Wenger knows this as do all of us, the game against CP was won as always the lack in concentration costs us always. Mistakes have been made by the club and manager, but some of not most of the blame sits with the players, especially those whom consider themselves untouchable with Wenger!

  • WalterBroeckx

    Hi Berry,
    Yes I started really supporting them in 1979. But on that day I saw a free flowing team attack under a conductor named Liam Brady.
    The next match I saw (on TV)… the Cup final that we won 3-2 against Manchester United and again a great display from attacking football (well that is what I remember of it 😉 )

    But then followed a lot of years without me being able to come to London to see football live from Arsenal. So I must have missed the boring years and it was down to seeing the short highlights of MOTD (so not really a good way to measure things).
    And when the internet and sports channel came to my country and I could see them again we had already entered the Wenger era.

    So… I have only seen Arsenal play nice football when I could see them…. I think they do it for me personally 🙂

  • Al

    Rich & Walter
    I posted the below on the thread talking about 500 wins, but feel it is more appropriate here;

    You got it spot on that it seems in the final third we’re too congested. I have observed the same thing with Barcelona this season; when faced with teams who monopolise possession like us or Barcelona teams just refuse to come out and park the bus. They only come out on a counter, set-piece or corner. As a result you find negativity is overcoming the good football. Just take a look at Barcelona’s recent games, they’re losing to teams who will have had something like 22% possession and 3 shots on target. The same thing is happening to us too, teams are congesting their defence and yesterday I think we were above 80% possession for most of the match and had over 20 shots.

    When these same teams play other sides who don’t hog the ball like us they come out as they believe they’re in with a chance to, and leave themselves open at the back. So what I’m saying is a team like West brom has a better chance of beating a team like crystal palace than we have at the moment. It’s sad, but it is what is; negative footbal rules”

    Now if we believe we have to spend money and go and buy a world class striker, what should Barcelona do? They have the three best strikers in the world right now, should they go and buy a world class s striker to solve their goal drought? We can clearly see that it’s not the strikers who are at fault, esp in Barcelona’s case(and ours too, but know this is bound to create a massive debate so I’ll point at Barca).

    The real problem, as Walter’s report shows, is 10 men congesting the box, leaving no room for shots. Rich points out any interesting fact that our conversion rate is lower at home than away. That’s because teams tend to be a little more adventurous on their own grounds, creating a little more room for us. I’m sure, Rich, were you to do an investigation into it you’ll also find even though we have a much better conversion rate away from home, we have less possession in those matches. While at home where we have less conversion we have more possession. So I agree Rich, that in order to counter these negative tactics we must start playing with ball in out own half. That’s not football but then again so was what palace was “playing”; not football.

    Neymar, Messi or Suarez have not been able to find their way past these bus Parker’s. What chance does Welbeck, Sanchez, Giroud have???

  • Pat

    Thanks Walter and Rich for cheering me up. A proper analysis of what we were up against on Sunday is what I needed!

    Maybe Cech’s failure to save the 20 yard shot was an error. But I was interested to read a recent analysis by Bob Wilson of the problems created for goalkeepers by the changes in the ball since he was playing. He was describing the difficulties for goalies in keeping out Dmitri Payet’s free kicks and the problems have a lot to do with the way the ball now swerves.

    In his opinion a Dmitri Payet free kick from a certain distance is actually unstoppable for the goalie. So the whole opposing team has to work to prevent free kicks at that distance!

    So I was just wondering if the ball was a factor in Cech not saving what looked like an easy save.

    There are so many things the professional player has to deal with that we know very little about unless we are wised up by an expert like Bob Wilson.

  • Al

    Meant we should start playing the ball in our own half…

  • Mandy Dodd

    Reginald, yes, West Brom next, then Sunderland…and Mike Dean.

    Does seem a bit of a strange inhibited brand of football, especially at home in 2016, no doubt there are reasons, both our ball players out on long term injury for starters. I have always rated Santi Caz, but in his absence, the man has acquired near God like status in these eyes. He knits so much together,is so vital in transition from defence to attack…..God, I miss him! We may not have the most clinical of strikers, but with Caz playing, we dont really need them. His injury is when we lost the title, not having Jack in replacement doesnt help.
    As ever, if looking for root causes, I think injuries to key players have seriously hampered this team. we debate the causes of them, lenient refereeing doesnt help, nor does the current fad for pushing players into advertising hoardings/camera pits…see Norwich were at that again last weekend.

  • Menace

    It doesn’t matter how many players we buy. We could replace the whole team. The only change we need is to buy a referee!!!

    The game in England is a FA monopoly & they control everything including the corruption. If you disrupt anything the FA have the power to eject you from football. The FA are more powerful than the Law of the land.

    I do not see a way out, apart from playing despite the handicap of the FA.

  • Al

    I know Cech could have done better, but the ball took a slight bounce just before it got to him, and to me that looked like what caused the keeper to fail to stop the shot. It wasn’t the fiercest of shots I’ve seen, more of a bobble to be honest.

    Having said that Ospina has shown he’s more than just a deputy, and I think the manager will definitely have a head ache on who to pick.

  • Andrew Crawshaw


    I am sure it isn’t the FA. That bunch of stuffed shirts couldn’t organise refreshments in a brewery or entertainment in a house of ill repute.

    It all comes down to where the money is and that is almost certainly the betting markets in the Far East . They will be bound to be behind the corruption in the game and probably the incompetence of the FA.

    As for overcoming teams who park the bus, we should try just giving them the ball and retreating to defend our area, won’t be pretty but might be better. If we go one nil up then we park the bus and look to play on the counter attack. We can practice that on Thursday against West Brom.

  • para

    There was a time when Arsenal played the best football in UK, actually two times.

    1: The invincibles. These were players who were innovative, thinking and determined to win to the last minute.

    2: What came after, playing in a sort of Barca style, it took PL by storm. Other teams were frightened of playing us.

    Sadly the 2nd way is just not it anymore. The club must see that. It is stupid to continue to “bash one’s head against a wall hoping to crumble the wall, when only the head is (literally) getting injured”.

    So, what do Arsenal do?
    Change is required we all know and realise, but what changes?

    I do expect Arsenal to change at the end of this season, these changes are probably being worked out right now as i write.

    What changes? I really do not know anymore, but either we are all going to be surprised at these changes, or we are going to see none.

    This is the moment where Arsenal needs to stop it’s falling and start climbing again, both in it’s football and in it’s way of fighting.

    Arsenal are now at the “crossroads” (actually since some seasons ago, but now very acute) and we are all waiting to see the direction taken.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Dean at Sunderland…. someone wants us out of the top 4 it seems…

  • Mandy Dodd

    not sure Wenger is really one for massive changing Para, but agree, something needs doing.
    I suspect two or three buys, and some rather good youngsters will enter the fray next season.
    Interesting to read suggestions of a new pitch being laid….and cancelling the Emirates Cup…wonder if this is just routine pitch upgrade….or part of a wider scheme to look at our biggest problem….injuries?
    To read the press and social media now, one would think we are about to be relegated.
    We just need to get this bad season over within a…relatively… decent position, get our best signed up on extended deals, tweak a few things, see current players develop…at our best, we are a match for anyone….no defeats this season against the greatest teams that ever lived who sit above us.
    That said,I think wenger will surprise us in a good way next season, and probably leave if things do not improve. There has been no improvement this season…you could argue the opposite, there have been wasted opportunities, I am sure that will hurt Wenger even more than it hurts us.
    While Wenger is working on things, Ivan needs to have a word with his mates on the standard of refereeing we get.

  • Mandy Dodd

    I think the club will act behind the scenes if unfairly taken out of the Top four Walter….but seeing our main rival is Utd, you may be right.

  • Rich

    Al, you and your bleeding logic!

    Talk about crushing a man’s dreams with that excellent observation Barca have some pretty good strikers already.

    Someone above scoffs at criticism of defensive football and suggests we have forgotten the club’s past,etc…within a few minutes i realised there’s a very good clue defensive football of today is not the defensive football of old : offsides.

    Was that not one of the things our great defence was famous for, superbly using the offside trap? Well, that’s a hell of a clue that defensive football was different back then and didn’t involve either the midfield or defence sitting as deep. (also worth considering in terms of Bould’s defensive coaching : a prime area of expertise rendered so much less valuable because it can’t be applied to the modern game with any regularity)

    I’m genuinely interested, as it goes, in these changes in the game, or if they even exist. As I mentioned in an early post, I just don’t remember defending like that in the British game for at least the first ten years I watched (90-2000) and, on the basis that I feel if it happened I would definitely, average memory or not, remember it- hating it as I do- unless someone can convince me otherwise I regard it as a new thing.

    I figure defensive teams of the past played a mean offside trap, took few chances bringing the ball from defence, tackled ferociously, tended towards hard work over flair on the flanks and, especially, in central midfield; often bypassed the midfield entirely; and played very direct football, with a lot of long balls, into the channels and to a target man; often playing with two strikers who stayed up front a lot. That’s my vague memory of defensive teams until relatively recent times. This played out in a culture where everyone behind the ball and no intent to make the play at all would have been considered astonishing and would have drawn criticism from fans and the punditry class alike.

    The impression is then that, with more money in and more attention on the game, it was now ‘more important’ and justified any means to hit objectives, including staying in the league at all costs, and this gradually paved the way to where we are today. The biggest factor however was the example of the most successful teams having, at heart, the same idea and philosophy. Game over, almost. Cheers, Mou.

    I love the idea, by the way, of saying ‘fuck it’ and absolutely refusing to play ball and take the game to opponents at home. It appeals to me so much: for the scrutiny it will throw on ultra defensive football, the truth it reveals that the game would be dire if everyone did it, and the opportunity for hypocrisy, which will be taken up by so many; for the pitch black humour and nihilistic thrills it should involve; and more than anything, for the opportunities it will give the bozos to learn what it would take for us to earn chances to play in space at home (before getting a 1 or often 2 goal lead).

    The truth ,however, is surely that it is a pipe dream, and a dubious one. Wenger will never permit it. And should any future manager get the idea, they would receive intense criticism and little support from the critical fans unless it bore instant success (which it wouldn’t), most likely enjoy less success (results wise) than they would by attacking, and, most gallingly, the bozos wouldn’t learn any lesson from it : they’d froth and foam but they wouldn’t see it as either a logical move to try defeat the bus through the only other means available, nor would they acknowledge that it is precisely what they themselves asked for through their criticism of the previous approach.

    Despite all that, i’d be very very tempted to go for it. So I suppose it’s for the best I have no say in the matter.

    I do think it’s a shame that we have not tried it at all in recent years. I guess Wenger’s determination to play another way is bit too strong, or that I underestimate the incredible pressure for results and how difficult it would be to experiment in that way, involving as it may well do actually lessening your chances on the day.

    In truth, i believe that despite all that we have missed a trick. West Ham first game of the season. 100% knowing what they’d do. Why not just sit, sit, sit. Make the game a rubbish spectacle. Make everyone ask what the hell is happening and give them the chance to think about what we’re doing. Then see if West Ham would actually respond and come forward. Earlier in the season it would be easier to take that risk.

    I like to think I would have fully and happily supported that approach, regardless of the result. But who knows if that’d be true at the crunch.

  • Jerry

    Good recap of the match Walter, it is tough for any team to overcome a 10 man barricade in front of goal.

    I think the lack of 3 players in 2016 due to either injuries/loss of form has been Arsenal’s undoing: Cazorla, Wilshere, and Ramsey.

    Mandy already talked about Cazorla: his ability to direct from the back, wiggle his way between defenders, and take shots from a distance creates both space for other players and chaos on the defending teams trying to keep him contained.

    Ramsey, when on form, has a great ability to find that open space and power to get off a good shot right outside the box area.

    Wilshere does a great job running quick one-twos to get in open space, usually with Giroud, as well as technically amazing dribbling ability to get around defenders.

    Speaking of Giroud, I think he’s also better option up front to start against teams that are likely to park the bus and perhaps move Welbeck wide in those matches. I think Welbeck is much more dynamic then Giroud, but in my opinion Giroud is better at link up play, as a target man, and heading, so players like Alexis/Welbeck/Iwobi/Özil can get on the other end when knocks it down.

  • Zedsaunt

    Pulis & WBA followed by Allardyce & Dean. There has to be a phrase for it, something with the word ‘grind’ involved.

    My quite rational fear is that this summer’s Euros will be dominated by teams parking the bus and playing anti-football. A number of quality players will then emerge for sale fior next season’s EPL – a handful will be attack minded and capable of breaking down defences, the majority will be highly professional, at the top of their game, in parking the bus.

    I hope I’m wrong, I hope that the ghost of Cruyff and glories past will terrify the coaches and we get to see the ravishing beauty of football played at its best.

  • WalterBroeckx

    I also have been thinking (oh that lovely hindsight 😉 ) that Giroud might have been a better option to start against Palace. I do think he is better as a target man and is stronger in the air and would have had a better chance to maybe get a header in somewhere in the match. Maybe Welbeck – Giroud – Alexis combination. Speed on the flanks and a big centre forward could have been better against a team parking their busses.
    But then again not even I expected CP to be so defensive.

  • What if Leicester does a Barcelona and loses 3 games in a low??? And Vardy the hustler is banned for more games???? As always spurs mates can eat paster and have their usual running stuff. How many matches do you expect arsenal to lose.

  • Al

    Funny that you mention not seeing this kind of defensive football up to 2000 🙂

    Guess what, on the old thread I plucked my quote from, myself and a few others pointed the finger squarely at Allardyce with his Bolton side for introducing this kind of football. And the period you mention exactly coincides with Allardyce taking over at Bolton, in 1999! That’s when it all started going downhill for attacking football in England. Football in England was never like this (well at least from the time I started following around the mid eighties). And spot on about offsides, another dead giveaway 🙂

  • Andrew Crawshaw

    The trouble with Giroud at the moment is that he is bereft of confidence. Despite that I suspect he will start against West Brom on Thursday.

    Dean for Sunderland makes the referee preview the easiest of the year, and probably the shortest.

    We must really have annoyed the ‘powers that be’ this year, they seem determined to do everything to keep us out of Europe next season. I think they are trying to ensure that both United and W Ham finish above us. Look out for Dean to engineer a win for W Ham and a loss for us. He will have had five games in eight days all involving teams fighting for fourth or higher. It would be funny if it weren’t so serious!

  • Jerry

    Got to love hindsight, it’s always 20/20! I agree the front three combination you mentioned Welbeck-Giroud-Sanchez would be better suited and think that was the original plan by Wenger when purchasing them two summers ago. That combo does cause a lot of chaos up top (i.e. the end of the Leicester match). Unfortunately, different injuries never let that partnership develop over the last two seasons. It’s a perfect blend of strength (Giroud), speed (Welbeck), and and technical skills (Sanchez).

  • Alex

    Honestly, let’s stop over-estimating the absences of Cazorla, Wilshere and Ramsey. Since when has Cazrola goaled or assisted? He was doing none of his anymore at the start of the season. Ramsey is repeatedly selfish, slowing down the pace. When he was injured, Elneny has shown how superior for the team he is. Wilshere is quite the same kind of player, running for himself, thinking he is Messi and losing balls and teamplay sense. When he was our n°10 during the beginning of last season, it was a catastrophe.
    But well, the absentees are always the best in the world, unless they are back and we realise how average they are (saying this, I rate Cazorla a lot).

  • para

    I think that we Arsenal fans must come to the realisation that the era of Arsenal’s “beautiful football” is now gone.

    Other teams have now incorporated some “beautiful football” into their strategy but they also know how to park the bus.

    If Arsenal does not constantly adapt and modify our way of playing coming up with new ideas to combat stagnation and more importantly, combat the strategies oppositions come up with against us, i see no progression.

    We have to stop ignoring the other teams thinking Arsenal can overcome them just like that. Our players have not reached a level where this is possible(does any team really do that forever?), it happens only on their great days, and these great days are dwindling away very very fast.

    I have a feeling that many great players have avoided/are avoiding coming to Arsenal because of our blinkered view, and that many have even left Arsenal because of it too.

    Arsenal have to learn how to win against all the odds thrown against us. This goes from top to bottom in Arsenal.

    If Arsenal were war mercenaries for hire i ask the question:
    How many Arsenal fans/supporters would hire them to defend their country?

  • Tom

    You got 10 dislikes for your Cech remarks, so most people disagree with you on that as do I, but Im gonna tell you why you are wrong about him.

    If you expected 12-15 points more this season because of Cech then I can see how you are disappointed with him, but the simple fact is, Cech has been a ‘ positive asset’ for us this season. He clearly cost us points in a couple of games, WHam most notably , but overall he has saved us more than lost.

    If you are looking for a culprit for the CP equalizer, look no further than Coquelin. He’s perfectly positioned at the top right corner of the penalty box to lead Bolasie onto his weaker left foot down ta wards the byline and then he decides for some ridiculous reason to bunny hop to his right inviting Bolasie to take it into his stronger right foot.

    Add two Arsenal defenders and CP attacker directly in Cech’s view to the mix, and a powerful shot from 20 yards skipping at the near post is anything but a routine save.

    Could Cech have done better? Maybe, but mistakes were made on defense on this one.
    If you are going to apportion blame, put it where it belongs.

  • Hi Berry

    Al and Rich….sorry to dispel your illusions but defensive football has been around since before I started watching football in the sixties. I suggest you look up ‘catenaccio’ which I remember reading about as a boy in the sixties and upon which the Italian game was based for many years. It is my recollection as well that England won the World Cup with Ramsey’s ‘wingless wonders’ a system designed to swamp midfield with four players to protect the four defenders behind them and Herbert Chapman had a hand in deploying a deep-lying centre-half way back in the twenties.
    I presume you are referring to me when you say ‘someone above scoffs at critcicsm of defensive football’ but as is quite often the case on forums you are misinterpreting or misunderstanding my comments.
    My point was that watching Arsenal stoutly and manfully defend a 1-0 lead was at times a thing of great beauty and made one proud to support them. There is more to football than ‘gung-ho’ attacking and I see no mention being made of the occasions that Arsenal have ‘parked the bus’ as in my examples above and most recently at the Etihad for a 2-0 win against Man City.
    The ‘boring, boring Arsenal’ tag wasn’t an ironic chant invented by Arsenal supporters – it could be heard up and down the country week in and week out by supporters of other teams who could not break us down once we grabbed a lead. Football isn’t only about vibrant attacking play (although we could do with some of our own on a more regular basis) and I think if you checked the record books going back a few decades the teams with the best defences usually lifted the trophies.

  • Jerry


    I think your frustrations are getting the best of you. Team play in football is not only about the people that make the goals and assists. For example, in regards to Cazorla, there’s been many times where he has dribbled past defenders into open space, and making the pass to release Ozil/other attackers, to make the final pass. In fact, whoscored still has Santi with the 3rd highest score in the Arsenal squad this season. So yeah, he’s been a big miss these 4-5 months.

  • upp

    Few points
    1. catenaccio played out a draw with sideways tippy tappy.
    2. I remember when barca came to town, forward tippy tappy beat catenaccio then. I think some people are only mad at catenaccio when their team gets beaten by it. They celebrate the catenaccio team that won the fa cup in 2005 and the one that beat man city Last year
    3. I thought palace played defensively but I don’t think they hoofed the ball at every opportunity, in fact we only scored when we were gifted possession when the palace defence and midfield refused to hoof the ball upfield, we maybe ought to be grateful to the palace team for the point

  • Al

    When we met Barca it was two attacking teams. And yes they bossed possession, as not both teams could boss possession at the same time and because we accept they’re better at that than us, but I don’t think anyone went home thinking what a borefest. So your trying to compare the two is laughable. You can only think of two other games, 10 years apart where we played defensively. Even then I doubt you’d find that it was a complete shut out along palace lines. Even you know it that of the games Arsenal played in the last 15 years or so we bosses possession in probably 98% of them.

    On another note, I’m really struggling to convince myself that you are an Arsenal supporter. I mean what kind of supporter posts a comment such as the below when his team concedes to a sucjer punch a few minutes before the final whistle? Do I detect a hint of glee in your post? How many exclamation marks? And the description too would have made the commentator or a palace fan jealous. I may be wrong but it certainly sounds like you were thrilled;

    April 17, 2016 at 5:39 pm
    Shit! !!!! What a shot from bolasie”

  • walter

    in both matches against Barcelona we attacked when we could and had some very decent chances. We should have been in front after half an hour at home but The Ox missed a big big chance
    At Barcelona we had more shots than they had… not really catenaccio isn’t it?

    yes the FA cup win in 2005 was dreadful and was not pleasing at all. I could and can understand any MU fan who calls this a win from catenaccio and discredit it.

    But those are rather one offs as you know that Arsenal always tries to play attacking football. In fact they blame Wenger for only playing that way….

  • Mick

    I didn’t say I expected 12-15 more points this season, I said the experts told us he would be worth 12 points a season, an assertion I thought ridiculous at the time.
    I agree the defense especially Coquelin should have done better but I am glad you agree with me that Cech could have done better and that he has cost us points this season.
    As for the points he has saved us there is no way of knowing whether that is so or not so that assertion is no more than a guess. Presumably you are saying that Cech has made saves that Ospina wouldn’t have, which of course is impossible to say.
    I think Ospina would have made the save on Sunday and I base that on the way he has performed both this season and last. Of course I am only guessing as you were.
    What we can say with absolute certainty is that with the same defensive unit apart from the goalkeeper we had a superior goals against record last season than we have this season after 33 games.

  • Rosicky@Arsenal

    I wonder people criticising Arsenal for drawing a match where CP parked 2 busses.
    I can bet if a 2nd string team plays like CP did it will be a draw surely or a 1 nil.
    Mayb we draw the match due to bad luck but atleast we put the required effort and played attacking football.Not like the drab boring Mourinhio style which most of the teams play these days.

  • Al

    Apparently Tom knows exactly why Mick got 10 dislikes. Hmmmmm. I’ve seen people getting dozens of dislikes on here for stating simple things such as stating that today is Tuesday.

  • Mick

    The amount of dislikes one gets is directly proportional to the validity of ones argument!

  • Al

    So it seems, Mick 🙂

  • Al

    Not sure what’s happening with the smiley’s on this site… I just can’t seem to get them right anymore.

  • Tom

    No I don’t agree with you.
    First of all, I said maybe he could’ve done better for the CP goal.

    All the replays I’ve seen, his positioning is correct as is his technique.

    There are no replays available to see the play from his exact position, so to say he should’ve done better when three players are in front of him is pure speculation, as is saying Ospina would’ve saved it.

    Also, you will not find many to agree with you that overall Cech has cost us points this season. That is simply a ridiculous statement.

  • Menace

    Al – the site has lost its humour. I was at the game & I was entertained by the way we played. There was a lack of intelligence in some aspects of play which really surpised me. The kicking of the ball at the player attacking you & giving him the opportunity to continue with his run. ‘If in doubt kick it out’ not at the player! The shots at goal were not thought through. Players that I’ve seen pass the ball into the net were passing it to the goalkeeper. The shooting from distance seems to be coached out of Arsenal players & the phylosophy of pass pass pass seems to be the mantra. The shooting technique that is simple is non existent because it isn’t coached. One day maybe, technique will be part of the coaching.

  • Mick

    You most certainly did agree with me, you said…
    ‘He clearly cost us points in a couple of games, W Ham most notably…’
    Then you go in to say…
    ‘but overall he has saved us more than lost.’
    I disagree on this, and unless you can back up this statement with some facts, which of course you can’t because it is only your opinion, then I am afraid your comments are as ridiculous as you claim mine to be.

  • thierryhenry22

    To be honest the job was done on Arsenal a few games ago. Anything that has happened since doesn’t matter because some of the absolutely shocking decisions i’ve seen this year say it all. From Sanchez getting neck wrestled and then pushed into the pit to handballs on the line to raking studs down the back of our players the list goes on, and on.

    Top-level football (top-level anything really) requires that extra 1-2% otherwise you’ll get left behind. I think not being able to play with controlled aggression this year has done the job on us. We receive a yellow every 4 fouls. It’s ridiculous. We breathe and it’s a yellow.

    -We have the 3rd highest ‘fouls against’ per game yet the highest possesion per game.
    -We have the 2nd lowest ‘fouls for’ per game, Leicester have the 3rd highest. (

    Anyway, cue the inevitable extra-fair refereeing in our remaing upcoming games now that we are out of the title race because as they say, ‘it all evens out in the end’.

  • thierryhenry22

    @menace Although I couldn’t agree more regarding our shooting technique and clear lack of extra training in that regard.

    Our club is far from perfect so it will forever be fine-tuning and tweaking it’s methods. I just feel that when fans take it beyond what I just said, and imply that we’re getting relegated every year, write off historical cup wins etc, it becomes a bit weird.

  • Rosicky@Arsenal

    Henry you are right. I am expecting a favourable refreeing performance from the PGMo after we are out of the title race.Maybe we get a Penalty from Dean or a red card to Sunderland.To even things out.

  • Al

    Agree too. Although I think we may not see a change in fortunes yet till the pgmob are absolutely certain they have the table in the order they want. And with Utd breathing down our necks they may just decide to push us out of the top four altogether.

    Pgmob officiating follows a predictable pattern it’s baffling to see some failing to see this. I had an argument the other day with a certain Quinn after I predicted a week ago that once first and second were more or less decided we would see a change in fortunes for City officiating as I’m convinced the pgmob would want them to finish above us, and I sad they’d get at least 1 or 2 penalties before the the end of the season while I didn’t expect us to get any.

    This weekend they got one, and I hear there was a hint of offside in one of their goals v Chelsea. Yesterday Aguerro scored from an offside position, and the goal was allowed to stand. These types of decisions would NOT have gone city’s way should they be 1 point behind Leicester. I expect Atkinson to referee our match at the etihad if we’re still challenging for third or if Utd need to pip us to fourth. These are obvious things, but some people are not capable of seeing this.

  • Rich


    What do you make of Moss for Thursday?

    I’d say whoever got him next would be a bit unfortunate after the weekend’s furore.

    Feels like a bit of a perfect storm, with Pulis in town, supporter issues, top four looking precarious and a ref who has already stuffed us once this year arriving on the back of the biggest controversy of his career.

    Nervous doesn’t cover it.

    First time I’ve ever been tempted not to watch a game. Sure I’ll man up, but a dark room with my fingers crossed for two hours has its appeal this time.

  • Pat

    And the ‘random’ – but obviously decided by somebody – way the refs are selected allows the PGMO to tinker according to what they want to happen. Mind you, when it comes to Arsenal, the PGMO bosses have got all the refs where they want them now.

  • upp

    No I don’t think we attacked much when we played barca at home. We also didn’t attack much when we played bayern at the Emirates, I could give some other examples but it doesn’t matter, if we use the style when we need a result, it’s hypocrisy to fault palace when they also use it to get a result.
    Also exclamation marks are used to express emotion. Excitement, disappointment, anxiety etc all count as emotions and exclamation marks will be in order when used. No point searching to give a dog a bad name so you can kill it.

  • Al

    I laughed when I saw that appointment too. Moss has always struck me as clumsy, going back to the time he sprayed Carzola in the face and a few other incidents. Now if you add nervousness to an already clumsy individual… it could be a disaster. On the plus side, he may want to stay out of the limelight a little by not making another controversial decision/s so that might work to our favour. Fingers crossed.

  • Al

    I don’t think you’ll find, anywhere in this world, a team that has dominated in every match they played over the last 15 years or so. Even Brazil got hammered 7-0! Shall we compare them to palace coz they were dreadful that day? No. I think you’ll find that even though they were dominated by a superior German team on the day, at least they tried. Against Barcelona we tried our best and could have taken the lead as Walter pointed out had the Ox taken his shot well. However, since I know you take anything said on this site with a massive dose of salt, I copied and pasted the snippet below from the BBC report of our our match. Don’t think the same can be said of Palace. Palace just didn’t try.

    “Arsenal deserve credit

    Arsenal and manager Wenger will be desolate after this result effectively consigns them to yet another last 16 exit – but they deserve a measure of credit for their display.

    In the first half they were hugely disciplined to keep Barcelona at bay, indeed in the first 30 minutes the holders only had two touches in Arsenal’s penalty area compared to 11 from Wenger’s team.”

  • WalterBroeckx

    Well we sure got a lot of touches in their penalty area for a team that parked the bus… 😉

  • Rich

    Hi Berry

    I’ve been reading a ton of football books in recent years so I’m familiar with a fair bit of the games history.

    I’ll admit, however, that I make most of my judgements based on what I’ve seen myself.

    Don’t know if you saw my posts but I am genuinely interested in whether ultra defence looks different today to in the past. I set out my reasons why I believe it does and is more extreme.

    I remember ages back watching some of the Celtic Inter European cup final. A fascinating watch for a host of reasons (in part because it made so clear to me that it is hard to compare the different eras thanks to the immense changes to the speed of the game).

    Inter were, I believe, one of the most renowned defensive teams of any era, but if my recollection is correct of that game they were positively adventurous compared to ultra-defence of today. A cynical lot, extremely skilled at defending, but they didn’t have 8-10 players in their own half nearly all the time.

    If you can watch teams set up against us that defensively, playing what it seems fair to me to call parasitic football, and not feel a strong instinctive dislike of it, that’s surprising to me; but we’re all different, I guess.

    I love good defending, by the way. I just think there is a world of difference between having a strong defence or even basing your game primarily on defence and ultra ultra defensiveness.

    Similarly it seems unfair and is certainly wrong in my case to presume that liking attacking football means abandoning notions of defending well or not caring about defending poorly.

    If i could handle the tedium it would be worth my while trying to watch footage of the world cup final of Italia 90 or even better that notorious European final of a year later between Marseille and Red Star.

    Both dreadful spectacles with a huge emphasis on defence, but even a quick glance seems to show that ultra defence looks different to that of today.

    I should watch it all to really test that belief but bloody hell it looks a poor watch.

  • Al

    I wonder why some individuals always have to take the opposing view on any topic that’s being discussed here. If we say this or that ref was biased against us and here is the evidence, they’ll say no there’s no bias against Arsenal. If we say this or that team was parking the bus and here is the evidence they’ll still say no the other team wasn’t parking the bus. I never imagined that one day we could be having a debate about a Palace team who had less than 20% possession for huge chunks of the match, but here we are….

    I’m sure if Walter or someone were to write an article saying the world is round they’d still be here arguing that the world isn’t round. It appears the default is to take an opposing view, whatever the subject of discussion. How can anyone manage to do that? All the time?? Very strange. And in each case they will never support an argument that seems to support Arsenal. I can justify my taking a pro Arsenal stance by saying because I love Arsenal. Wonder what their justification for taking an anti Arsenal stance in every argument is.

  • Reginald Maudling

    so many comment here mentioning arsenal and Barcelona in the same breath

    i will point out to you that is part of Arsenmal’s problem: just becuase you go for possession play you are not in Barcelona;s legaue, there is a world of difference in the use of possession, Arsenal haven’t been any where near Barcelona for the past decade

    just look at where Arsenal reach in the CL year after year : 2nd round

    Arsenal are no Barcelona

    oh and Wishere is no Messi
    your Barcelona delusion is holding you back

    and now I also read here the refs are biased against Arsenal, this is quite amazing to read

    look if you want to blame anybody for Arsenal underachieving as the world’s 5th richest club look closer to home, look at the board and the manager

    this should have been your year but next year you may get a marquee signing but you will watching spurs with envy

  • Hi Berry

    Thanks for your reply – nice to know some people on this site can respond in a respectful manner. We appear to be saying the same thing….I don’t condone defensive football per se but do recognise there are times when needs must – as in the case of Palace recently. Our resources dwarf theirs and they know that if they tried to go toe to toe with us the contest would be over very quickly. Palace are capable of playing attractive football but there is a time and place for playing on the front foot and one for defending for your life and hoping to ‘knick one’ on a breakaway….all perfectly legitimate and something Arsenal could learn from should they wish to lift the PL trophy any time soon
    If Palace or any other side choose to set up like that against us it’s not a question of me liking or disliking it..I recognise the need of the other team to play in that manner but with our resources one would hope the team and manager have sufficient nous to be able to break down such a defence….passing the ball sideways twenty to thirty metres from goal while allowing a defence to set itself in the hope that some of the intricate moves pay dividends is rather naive in my opinion…..especially when it is repeated time and time again. I say, once again, that no-one seems to mind the occasions when we play like that in order to eke out a result (Parma 1994, Cup Final 2005, Etihad last season) and to my mind I think it’s a shame that Wenger cannot bring himself to employ similar tactics on more occasions when they might be needed – some of the heavy defeats at the hands of Chelsea, Man Utd and City (to name a few) might have been avoided and games in which leads were surrendered might have made the difference between being perpetual also-rans and Champions.
    I don’t condone defensive football, but can recognise its necessity in certain circumstances and can also marvel at memories of the the artistry displayed by the Dixon, Adams, Bould, Winterburn back four when the chips were down.

  • Hi Berry

    I presume you are referring to me, amongst others, as being contrarian….your post appears to include a number of wild generalisations. I never said that Palace weren’t parking the bus, but they have every right to do so if that’s the way they think they can get a result. Whether I like it doesn’t come into the equation….they did and they got a result. More to the point Arsenal didn’t have the wit or guile to break down their defence nor stop them from scoring.

    Tony Attwood made a point of chiding me for making (in his opinion) a wild generalisation quite recently – you are obviously allowed to get away with it due to your ‘super-fan’ status.

    I love Arsenal as well and have done for more than fifty years, despite the recent mind-numbing predictability of knowing how each season will pan out before a ball in kicked in August, but that doesn’t mean I cannot be critical of the way the club is run or the manager.