By Bulldog Drummond.
Amazingly Ibrahimovic scored 113 goals in 122 games over four seasons with PSG – the sort of figures you normally only find recorded during Chapman’s management of Arsenal. These days they look like the sort of figures Messi and Ronaldo get.
He could get them of course because he was very good, but also he was playing for a mega team in a league with a lot of mid-ranking and lesser teams. A bit like the Spanish league and indeed the Scottish league. Last season, Lyon who came second in the French league were closer to relegation than they were to PSG in first place. It was that much of a ludicrous league.
But also Ibrahimovic was a focal point and an icon. As one commentator said, he put French football itself back on the map.
So when we have a very lopsided league like France, Spain, Scotland etc where one, two or three clubs dominate, we tend to look at their Champs League results to see how good they really are. We know Barcelona and Real Mad are indeed good, because they soak up the very best players not only in Spain but around the world. It is no coincidence that as a result of aiming to get hold of everything, both clubs have been found guilty of child trafficking.
Last year in the champs PSG beat Malmo 2-0 at home and 0-5 away, Shakhtar D 0-3 away and 2-0 at home, drew 0-0 with Real Mad at home and lost 1-0 away.
In the 16s they beat Chelsea twice, 2-1, and then went out to Man C in the quarters 2-2 and 0-1. So they were good, but not world beaters. And now two of the key players have gone.
Quite why Qatar has pulled back on its investment is not clear. Maybe the whole thing was a bit of an embarrassment, like being in a Sunday afternoon amateur cricket match and asking if your brother can come along to make up the numbers and him turning out to be some big time international. You win, but really it is all a bit silly.
Certainly for some, last season made the French league a laughing stock – when it is all over with nine games to go you can hardly call it a competition. And maybe that is why the sponsor is pulling back. The one thing sponsor’s don’t like is when instead of taking the sport seriously, people laugh at it.
But maybe this season PSG’s opening blip was just a blip and they are back on track now – it really is hard to tell.
As we know Mr Wenger has now been putting himself under pressure talking up the current squad as being far better than anything we’ve had for a long time – with all the stuff about being grown ups rather than boys. (Hector Bellerin is 21 so I guess he now counts as a man).
Obviously Ozil wanders – he is not playing directly behind Alexis but rather going left when Alexis goes right. If it worked Granit would play long balls to Ozil who would give the killer pass to Alexis.
Now I didn’t think of that I must admit; I found it in the Telegraph. But they did also come up with one that I was sketching out (although with variations) just as their article came in.
What this is all suggesting is not so much that we play counter attack, which I was trying to argue before the last game, but rather that we set out to counter the counter attack and then (rather obviously) counter counter attack. No one has ever produced a side that can counter counter counter attack, so the counter counter is where it ends.
I’m fascinated by this, because if you have been reading the Arsenal in the 30s series on the Arsenal History Society site you will know that Chapman, both at Huddersfield and Arsenal had tremendous success when he worked the counter attack approach both at home and away. Maybe that is where we are going.
Mind you there is also the case of Giroud. He wasn’t started on Saturday, suggesting either he has had his day, or else that he was being rested for today. Take out Walcott and replace with Giroud.
Of course this is getting stranger and stranger, but with this huge range of talent (and remember we haven’t actually yet found space for Elneny who performed well in Europe last year) a whole range of other approaches are possible.
The key decision is, do you want two defensive midfielders or one? If two, one of the two has to be Granit surely because he can come forwards as well as sit back. But I do hope that at the moment, every time he plays, when he gets a yellow he is taken off and Elneny or Coquelin replaces him, because with one yellow there is every chance he will get a second.
- 13 David Ospina
- 26 Emiliano Martinez
- 33 Petr Cech
- 2 Mathieu Debuchy
- 3 Kieran Gibbs
- 4 Per Mertesacker
- 5 Gabriel *
- 6 Laurent Koscielny
- 16 Rob Holding
- 18 Nacho Monreal
- 20 Shkodran Mustafi
- 24 Hector Bellerin
- 25 Carl Jenkinson *
- 8 Aaron Ramsey *
- 11 Mesut Ozil
- 15 Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
- 19 Santi Cazorla
- 29 Granit Xhaka
- 31 Jeff Reine-Adelaide
- 34 Francis Coquelin
- 35 Mohamed Elneny
- 7 Alexis
- 9 Lucas Perez
- 12 Olivier Giroud
- 14 Theo Walcott
- 17 Alex Iwobi
- 22 Yaya Sanogo
- 23 Danny Welbeck *
- 32 Chuba Akpom
The players with the * are injured. Sanogo remains a mystery and maybe Jeff Adelaide and Chuba Akpom are not the fully done deal yet, but it is still one hell of a squad not just in terms of some quality, but the range of opportunities gives us.
So it is going to be great. Let’s create some atmosphere. Shout at the tele.
- Arsène Wenger admits he turned down PSG in build up to tonight’s game
- PSG v Arsenal – the early team news
And elsewhere of late
- When Arsenal moved into the Ems things weren’t perfect but WHU seem to have much bigger problems
- The fans: We are the dead, blindfolded, walking backwards into the darkness, led by those who treat us with contempt
- Arsenal v Wolverhampton: their problems with fouls and cards, and the team
- Arsenal v Wolverhampton: the club that gets cards at over twice the rate of Arsenal
- Arsenal v Wolverhampton Wanderers: where will each team finish?
- Arsenal v Lens: what we found, what we felt, what they did
- Arsenal v Lens: the team, the home/away form and the strange coincidences