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March 2021

Arsenal – Wall Building Army 1-0: Giroud the demolisher with the important goal

By Walter Broeckx

A few changes to the team that started in our last two defeats away to Everton and Manchester City. We got a few injured after that match like Oxlade-Chamberlain who wasn’t in the team today.

Up front we saw Giroud make his return and this of course results in Alexis dropping to the left flank.  No Walcott in the starting line up or even on the bench so this will mean that he is either injured or had some Christmas- turkey digestive problems, or just sick in other words. Iwobi starting at the right flank.

At left back we also had no Monreal  so this means that Gibbs would start at left back in this match.

On the bench we had the usual players but also Reine-Adelaide.

Team at the start:  Cech, Bellerin, Gabriel, Koscielny, Gibbs, Coquelin, Xhaka, Alexis, Ozil, Iwobi, Giroud.

On the beach: Ospina, Holding, Monreal, Elneny, Ramsey, Reine-Adelaide, Lucas

Arsenal with most of the ball in the opening 5 minutes but WBA not leaving any open space at the back for the moment. Arsenal not coming to a shot after a well worked attack from within the penalty area and then a shot from distance from Xhaka goes wide. An attempted shot from Özil is blocked by a defender after a low cross from Gibbs. Gabriel escapes a yellow card after brubgubg diwb a WBA player who wanted to go on a counter attack. Giroud tries to curl a ball after again good work from Gibbs on the left flank but it goes well wide. Bellerin was found on the right flank but his cross can’t find an Arsenal player. Well spotted from Xhaka that pass. A shot from Alexis goes wide and so 0-0 after 15 minutes.

Alexis sends Özil away and when the ball looked to be going out he managed to make a corner out of it with a lovely turn. A cross from Gibbs is cleared with a backheel for a corner in front of Iwobi. WBA get a corner and the usual (unpunished) routine of blocking the keeper is performed. Well it is punished at the second attempt. The attacker only had eye for running in to the keeper. Girou almost through but a last ditch tackle can clear the ball for WBA. Arsenal try to break down the WBA-wall but 10 players in and around their penalty area is difficult to go around. Arsenal banging the wall but not finding a hole so still 0-0 after 60 minutes.

Alexis with a run in the centre but the keeper can push his shot away and then Iwobi with a shot but it goes over. Rondon then suddenly in some space but it was clearly offside and Cech saved the effort anyway. A lovely ball voer the top then and Giroud lays it off to Alexis who misses it but not sure if anyone gave an offside or not. But that should have been put over the line at least. Iwobi with a shooting chance but as usual too many defenders in the line of fire. Alexis with a cross to Xhaka but he just couldn’t reach the ball. Giroud goes in the book for showing dissent when the assistant calls him back after a push. That is stupid Olivier. Iwobi thought about having a cracking shot but again a defender in the way. The ref not really being helpful when Arsenal try to use their body in the challenges by calling the fouls and giving WBA a break. 0-0 after 45 minutes.

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Yacob blocks Giroud and the ref gives the foul against Giroud… and then again the ref sees him make a foul. A ref on a mission? Iwobi with a shot that is saved by the keeper and again at the rebound from Alexis. Corner to Arsenal and Alexis hits the post. That was unlucky after he had to turn from some space. Alexis with another shot then but again the keeper with a great save for a corner. Giroud heads the final ball in the arms of the keeper after that corner. Gibbs with a header but the keeper can save it comfortably. Giroud with a low effort but the keeper can save again with his foot this time.  Still 0-0 after 60 minutes.

The passing has to be dead precise in such matches and there is always a WBA body in the way. Gibbs clashes with Yacob and both players stay on the floor injured. Gibbs overran the ball and tried to make up for it and got a yellow card for his foul. No argument there. The combinations in the penalty area still not precise enough and that is not difficult with so many bodies out there. Lucas and Monreal prepare themselves to come on for Gibbs and Iwobi,  while WBA get a few corners and Cech under pressure loses the ball but Yacob misses the first and only chance for WBA. After the corners Monreal and Lucas are on the field after 70 minutes. Each time WBA get the chance they go down and look to be seriously injured. Ref points at his watch… we will see if he really will add that lost time. Meanwhile Ramsey also prepares to come on in the place of Coquelin. after 72 minutes. And still 0-0 after 75 minutes.

A low cross from Lucas cannot be put over the line by Giroud. Some mixe up in the WBA penalty area but so confusing the ball ends up for the keeper who can pick it up. A shot from distance from Xhaka goes over. As usual when Alexis jumps for a high ball the refs give it against him. Wether he ducks himself or the other player ducks away: it’s always Alexis who is penalized. Lucas with a cross but Bellerin heads it over from 6 meters out. Foster gets a yellow card for his time wasting after 82 minutes. Foster continues his time wasting and the ref turns his back to it. That’s also a way of dealing with it one could say…. And then finally…. after 86 minutes. Özil to Bellerin who give it back to Özil, a cross and Giroud beats his defender and head it over the keeper with a looping header. GOAL!!! 1-0 to the Arsenal after 87 minutes.

Arsenal attack and the cross from Bellerin is headed back to Ramsey whose shot is blocked by the keeper. Alexis then with a shot but diverted by a defender for a corner. Bellerin with a low shot but the keeper saves it. Good pressure from Giroud forces Foster to miskick his clearance and Arsenal win the ball back. Lucas to Alexis but shot is too predictable to beat the keeper. Özil frees Ramsey but he takes too much time to beat Foster and then his cross to Giroud is not good enough. Arsenal having enough chances to make 2-3 goals in those final 6 minutes.

Arsenal win this match after having to break the wall, the bus station, the whole concrete bunker from Pulis that he had put in front of Arsenal.

Our 8 Arsenal Belgium members who are in London and for some the trip was almost a nightmare could celebrate at the end. Well done boys!

39 comments to Arsenal – Wall Building Army 1-0: Giroud the demolisher with the important goal

  • para

    A nearly ineffective performance against the wall but luck was on our side for Giroud to get that chance and he(no luck about the header though) put it away.

    Now we have to improve again our quick slick passing for these sort of teams.

  • Porter

    Or even get to the by line ,turn their defence, centre and attack the ball. Threading needles is all well and good but if it’s in front of a defence it’s easy to block out.

  • WalterBroeckx

    One of my sons was out there in the Emirates and the last time he could come was when we won 1-0 against City also with a very late goal from Arteta that day. So I will warn you in the future so you only have to look at the last 10 minutes of the match when he comes 😉

  • Rosicky@Arsenal

    Also ozil with the assist!
    WillThe anti ozil camp can get off ozils back now?

  • We finally kept a clean sheet!


  • Usama Zaka

    I have no problem and dont mind teams that park their bus and defend with all players in the box, as this is a formation and fair (but negative) tactic when the ball is in play.

    But teams that waste time at every possbile stoppage, pretend/dive to get fouled, fake injuries to waste even more time, force refs to make the wrong decisons…. these teams belong in the very depths of hell, where they can waste as much time they want for the eternity in burning fire. THIS IS CHEATING!!! And absolutely no action is taken.

    Up the Arsenal. And safe travels to your son Walter, and all gooners.

  • John L.

    Whilst from the sound of the commentary, it was a frustrating match and it would have been vastly preferable to have got an early lead followed by more goals, there is a particular satisfaction in scoring at the very end to overcome Pulis` dreadful tactics and time wasting, just when he may think that he`s succeeded in getting a point.

    I bet it made Foster suddenly start to play as if he had a rocket up his ar*e.

  • Al

    How did Giroud manage to direct the header over the keeper and into the corner while being wrestled to the ground..? I like Giroud starting against these bus parking teams, his style is very effective against such teams. He gives us another dimension.

  • Arvind

    If Arsenal Belgium is there, we cannot lose :). Thanks Walter.

  • Matt Clarke

    Shurely shome mishtake on the headline?

  • Leon

    I don’t know why these ultra defensive teams cause Arsenal so many problems. Yes, it doesn’t help when the goal-keepr deliberately slows the match down, and that should be dealt with sooner by the officials but like today can often be counter productive when we score a late goal.
    For as long as I can remember the best way to get passed a packed defense is to get to the by line & cut the ball back. This is probably why Gibbs was prefered to Montreal, but he wasn’t put in often enough & Bellerin & Iwobi had no luck on the other side. Walcott may have been an improvement (had he not been injured) and Perez certainly was when he eventually came on.
    The years we’ve been dealing with this same situation and we still struggle against it. Can you blame teams for parking the bus at The Emirates?

  • Florian

    A good way to start the day on the other side of the World. We toned down the commentary because the manure match was being displayed at the same time on another TV in the pub. I think I counted about $6 millions wasted in Pogba shots that went wide or to the keeper:)

    But seriously, it really felt like falling asleep because the boredom instilled by the day’s opponents’ tactics (or lack thereof). I can’t imagine what it’s like being supporter of such a team, whose only occupation seems to be the destruction of anything good. Besides a few sprints by their left wing (or was it full back, I couldn’t really tell the difference) and a few corner kicks, they never created anything worth remembering. Their biggest chance came when they fouled Cech in his box so he couldn’t get hold of the ball.

    Payback’s a bitch:)

  • Florian


    You’ll have the answer in the ref review. I can’t wait to count how many times Giroud’s shirt got pulled by the invisible man (the only possible explanation for the ref not giving a penalty).

  • GoingGoingGooner

    Pullis claims that his defender had his shirt pulled on the goal…I think that is rich considering the way teams try to wrestle Giroud and pull off his sweater while taking him to the ground. Besides from the 3 or 4 angles that I saw of the goal, I couldn’t see that.

  • Al

    Pulis must need a new pair of glasses; it was the other way round. As can be clearly seen below, Giroud’s hands aren’t holding onto anything. Instead the west brom player is grabbing Giroud’s jersey by the collar, with his left hand blocking Giroud’s chest.

  • John L.

    Pulis is an unpleasant man who has brought nothing good to football. He can only play destructive tactics and he encourages the sort of play which shattered Ramsey`s leg

    There should be no place for him in the game.

  • Zuruvi

    Good result for the Gunners. Well done.

    But why is it that Arsenal always struggle against these teams that park the bus?
    I don’t have the statistical evidence but it seems we struggle more than the other big teams do. I seem to see us struggle against such teams but our competition (Chel$ea, The Poo, Manure, City and the Spuds) seem to frequently wallop the Tony Pulis teams.
    Are we too one-dimensional by always trying to pass, pass, pass our way through a packed defense?
    Are we tactically naive by keeping on playing a formation with two defensive midfielders when maybe we should have just one defensive midfielder for this game and instead have two strikers? (What about dropping one of the defensive midfielders and instead starting with Giroud PLUS Sanchez as the Central Strikers with Theo and Iwobi/the Ox as the wingers?)

    It’s great we have got back to winning again.
    Viva Arsenal … All guns blazing!!!

  • dieter

    As we all could see it was Giroud who initiated the shoving and thus making sure McAuley didn’t have the slightest chance of challenging the ball. We are presumably happy with the 3 points so why push it? And rest assured Ollie is big enough to look after himself and he’s no stranger to some “inevitable” dirty tricks either.

    A great looping header, though. I’ll reiterate my claim that OG is the best airborne striker in the world.

    Holding Pulis even remotely responsible for Ramsey’s horror injury is vile to say the least. No matter how much you dislike him and his tactics.

  • Zuruvi

    “We kept going and in the end, when we couldn’t make a the difference on the ground we did it in the air with maybe the only player in our team who can do that,” Wenger said.

    Therein lies our problem.

    We are trying to pass, pass, pass our way to a goal via a path that is blocked by Tony Pulis’ bus.

    We need to use the aerial threat in addition to our passing game all the time. And not wait until the last 10 minutes of the game.

    We all know that all weaker teams know that Arsenal will try to pass, pass and pass so their EFFECTIVE strategy is to always have 9 or 10 players in two defensive row positions.

    Surely, our team and management know that this is what is happening????
    Every time pundits encourage teams that to park the bus is an effective way to stop Arsenal from scoring.

    It is not great for us to have 70% ball possession but the game ends 0-0.

  • Zuruvi

    Dieter, I think a team is a reflection of a manager’s football style. Stoke under Pulis played a type of football that was extremely robust and bordering on the illegal.
    Stoke under Mark Hughes now plays a better quality of football which is not based on long throw-ins and being excessively physical on opponents. “Get in their faces” was a code openly used to indicate that players should be extra-robust in their challenges on Arsenal players.
    Tony Pulis’ reaction after Ramsey had his leg broken by that Stoke defender said everything about how he instructed his players to behave on the pitch towards Arsenal.

  • Al

    You won’t find the other teams such as Chelsea or utd having the same kind of possession against these bus parkers. They’ll have the bigger share, yes, but it’ll be something like 60-40 or so at most. Think today we were hovering around 80% most of the match. To confirm this when we play against Chelsea or utd we rarely ever share equal possession with them, home or away, we always boss possession against them.

    The problem, in my view, is these teams know full well if you try to have a go against a sleek passing side like us you’ve got no chance. Against other side’s they might try to play as they will think ok we could get something out of this.

    Barcelona suffers from the same tactics in Spain; they struggle against these small sides even though they average well over 70% possession each time. Yet when Madrid plays against the same sides Madrid crushes them, with much less possession. Another side that is about to face the same fate is guardiola’s city. His sides are famous for passing football. This season they’ll struggle a little, but it’ll get worse next season when other teams wise up to that you don’t try to play football against city.

    It’s unfortunate because not much can be done about it by us, apart from abandoning our fluid style altogether. It’s the other teams that set themselves this way to snuff out the life out of teams like us by leaving virtually no space in the final third to run into. Today we could easily have scored 3 goals in the last 4 minutes, because after we scored west brom abandoned the bus parking and time-wasting. Now imagine, if we can get chances to score 3 goals in last four minutes, how many could we have got had west brom played the other 88 minutes or so the same way they played the last 4?

    In games such as today, players like Walcott are less effective as they will find no space to exploit. Fast left and right backs are key though as they can overlap to provide crosses to target men like Giroud, while being able to recover quickly in the event of a counter. Think that’s why Wenger went with Gibbs (who’s quicker than Nacho), and Giroud had his first start in a while. Likewise defensive midfielders like Coq who don’t really have a goal threat are marginalised in such a match as they don’t really have any attacks to stem. Think that’s why Wenger took him off for Ramsey.

    Teams like west brom are disruptive as they make you play a game that’s not your game, a game you’re not used to. I’d rather lose to city or Liverpool in an attacking game where both teams are having a go, provided the officials are being fair of course, than go through another day like today (or Burnley, Middlesborough, etc).

  • MickHazel

    I am sure that Pulis would never condone the breaking of anyone’s leg or wish injury on an opponent be it Arsenal or any other team but the potential for injury to an opponent is obviously and indesputably increased by adopting and deliberately encouraging the ‘they don’t like it up’em’, get stuck in to them physical tactics which Pulis used against Arsenal when manager of Stoke. He is therefore complicit to a degree in Ramsey’s terrible injury which was sustained as a result of Stokes overly physical game plan.

  • Al

    My rather longish post above was responding to your 7:11pm post. And when I hit submit I found you had made another two posts in the meantime!? So what I’m saying here is not response to them…

  • Al

    Seems dieter is gutted we won.

  • bjtgooner

    A timely win against WB and their very unpleasant manager – it is always nice to take the points when playing against his cheating teams.

    Good win, a valuable three points and hopefully the team back to a more positive mind set!

    I like Giroud up front, I feel we retain the ball better when he is there – and he gives us a tighter defense and a more dangerous attack for set pieces; and as he showed today he can get on the end of crosses – even when being fouled!

  • MickHazel

    Quite right. You can always rely on Dieter to stand up for our enemies.

  • Josif

    We have finally seen Ozil’s crosses from the right wing that most opponents can’t deal with. Last season he did that against Spuds with Giroud being his main target. Today, Bellerin came close to score before Giroud put the bloody ball in.

    I would like to see more of Perez today. Aside from Mr Wenger’s funny mistake on the press conference regarding some Perez-Gabriel incident, I think there is nothing wrong about Perez. He knows how to cross, he is quick and is a sharp shooter. We have a tight schedule with games on 1st and 3rd January respectively so Perez might show his Podolski-like qualities.

  • That was so close.coyg.

  • Zuruvi

    Thanks Al for your detailed response.

    I think we should have two strikers and only one defensive midfielder when we face such a team.
    Let’s have Sanchez and Giroud as the strikers when we face these teams that park the bus. Or maybe Welbeck and Giroud as the central strikers.
    These strikers would be complemented by two fast wingers like Chamberlain and Theo.

  • Goonermikey

    @ Zuruvi

    That’s why you’re a member of the public with absolutely no experience of football management and Arsene Wenger is a top football manager.

  • omgarsenal

    Watching at home, the entire game seemed to be Arsenal passing their way into a forest of WBA players and foster particularly. We were lloking for the clean shot and here is my take on why we struggle to get results against defensive teams like WBA:

    1) Wengerball demands possession and quick one touch football. Park the bus teams are setup to stop one touch Football and allow possession by packing their Penalty area, leaving possession to their opponents.

    2) We fail to shoot from distance enough. Xhaka and Alexis have scored some crackers from 25-35 metres out and we need to give that option a go more often.

    3)We are NOT a tall team, with Giroud being the tallest at just 6 feet…..but he is so strong and precise in the air that he makes it look easy against the tallest defenders.

    4)Our crosses into the box are top class but we are moving so incessantly in the box that we often overun or underrun the timing for those excellent crosses. That timing is Giroud’s great strength.

    5) We are one of the fastest teams mentally and can create excellent chances out of almost nothing BUT our opponents know and fear this so we get hugged, grabbed, pulled back and generally harassed by less talented defenders….thus upsetting our tactics and positioning. When it works, we often score.

    6) We play at such pace and often with perfect three pass triangles that any officiating injustice is magnified many times because it allows our playing style to be disrupted and defused.

    7) We are a team that play with enormous intensity (when on our game) for the entire match that eventually we get the chance to win with late goals like today’s.

  • Pat


    Fair points, but just to add – we are hugged, grasped, pulled back and generally harassed – and the refs do nothing! That is the extra element that makes playing these teams hard.

  • Menace

    Usama – I totally agree with your comment on time wasting & cheating. The FA & PGMOL are complicit & should be fined for supplying a product of poor quality.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    WOO HOO , HOO ! A well deserved win against a dour and defensive team .
    Up the Gunners !

  • ARSENAL 13

    Why we struggle to break the bus parking teams?

    I dont think we do, when we have our full team. Yesterdays game is a good example. Notice carefully the goal we scored.

    Ozil crossed the ball to Giroud and Giroud heads it to score the goal. Did we miss something??? Where was the other defender?? The other defender was taken out by Ramsey. The perfectly timed run of Ramsey takes out the other defender by drawing him away from Girouds zone, creating ‘overload’.

    We have Santi sidelined. Whoz close control takes people out in the edge of their penalty area and Ramsey whoz timed late runs off the ball draws defenders out of position. They are important players who we missed in a few games.

  • Florian

    Interesting observation about Perez, and might I add Ramsey. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that we scored _after_ they were introduced. With Perez on the field, their defense got double the work to do, and spaces started to appear. One might say it’s because of the fatigue, and I agree it plays a role, but from this perspective the two subs were the straws that broke the camel’s back. Beginning with a few minutes before we scored, we were already creating chances by supplying balls to our players unmarked in the box. Perez coming in deflected some of the defenders’ attention away from Giroud, which eventually scored from a 1-on-1 situation with (or against) a defender. Ramsey was an alternative ball supplier, plus his appetite for runs in the box. Maybe we found a solution to the bus parking after all.

  • Zuruvi


    I agree. Wenger is a brilliant manager.
    I am not a coach or manager.

    I admire Arsene Wenger and I think he is the best manager Arsenal has ever had. And I hope Arsene Wenger stays as our coach for many more years.

    However (unlike some) I don’t think Wenger is immune from making mistakes. I don’t think Arsene Wenger is perfect.
    When I was at university it was not taboo for an undergraduate to correct a professor. Being a professor doesn’t mean you know everything.

  • Goonermikey

    @ Zuruvi

    This is not directed at you and your analogy is an interesting one. The analogy for me is that we get too many Arsenal “supporters” who would struggle to get a job in MacDonalds who think they know more about theoretical physics than Stephen Hawking because they once did a week as an apprentice electrician.

    And I agree Wenger is not perfect. He is human, hence the expectation that he should get everything right all of the time is unrealistic.

  • Polo

    Good win by the team against a team hell bent on playing defensively. Did anyone notice after half time break when the players was walking back on the pitch that Giroud and Ozil was talking to each other? To me it look like they were planning something, and I think their plan succeeded.

    I disagree that Arsenal’s team play struggle at breaking down ultra defensive teams (park the bus), they do break the bus down but whenever the chance arises the ball either hit the post, shot narrowly off target, get last ditch block, or the keeper make great saves. I believe when the team play against bus parkers they have to be very clinical at goal, that’s also the main problem last season, the team created a lot of chances but just lack the clinical finish.