Ox in the box. Arsenal v Liverpool, Arsenal never change except when they change

By Bulldog Drummond

I’ve just been told that my new glasses are available at the opticians, which means if I leave for the match in good time (like 2pm) I can pick them up before driving through the undoubtedly solid motorway system to London for tonight’s game.  What a totally stupid night for a football match in London on the busiest night of the year for motorway traffic.  The journey back up the M1 took 2 hours more than it should have done because of traffic chaos.  What are the chances today?

Meanwhile the press are not so much divided as self-contradictory, saying at one time “Wenger’s tactics have been so mind-numbingly predictable as to bring to mind the military strategy espoused by General Melchett in Blackadder Goes Forth: “Doing exactly what we’ve done eighteen times before will be the last thing they expect us to do this time”, while at the same time accusing Mr Wenger of not knowing what his best formation is, as he alternates between a back three and a back four formation, and experiments with a counter-counter attacking approach.

Mind you amidst all the attacks on Arsenal there is one note of interest… The Telegraph actually says this as part of its never ending praise of Sir Alex F,

“…Phil’s brother Gary more or less booted Jose Antonio Reyes out of Manchester with a display of rugged – and often illegal it has to be said – defending. Arsenal were again outmuscled and beaten 2-0, as their 49-match unbeaten run came to a sudden end.”

Something illegal in the 50th game?  Wow!  One more tiny step, Daily Telegraph, and connect up the dots.  You’ve said the tactics were illegal.  Now note that the referee did nothing about it.  And then one more step: ask yourselves why the ref did nothing about it.  Then you will be on the first rung of the ladder towards serious reporting of football matches.

Anyway, tonight we are playing Liverpool, and so the question comes up as to whether the Ox made a good move by leaving Arsenal, and did Arsenal do a good deal getting £35m for him.

Since he went to Liverpool, the Ox has started in five of 15 Premier League games and one of four in the Champions League.  That I think is worse than he got from Arsenal last season where he benefited by Arsenal’s exploration of a number of different ways of arranging the team – something I touched on in the last article and of which the Telegraph are in total denial.

Mr Wenger’s response to the questioning about the Ox was, “You are sure of a place nowhere. In a big club, you have big competition for every single place. That is absolutely normal.

“What do you want? To be a big player and not have to fight? What do you want on top of that – sitting in your rocking chair and saying: ‘I’m a big player? I don’t need to fight?’ No. It doesn’t work like that. Every player can do that and Chamberlain does it. I am convinced it’s part of being a top player.”

Mr Wenger also said that he offered the Ox a new contract to replace the one that had been set to expire in the summer of next year. But the Ox said he wanted out so he was let go.

“At the end of the day, I decided to sell one,” Mr Wenger said. “Chamberlain made his decision and we had to find a compromise to get the best possible transfer out of it. I personally think he will be an important player for England and that he will continue to develop.”

And so, the teams.  Francis Coquelin looked to be injured in the West Ham game (he went off very after he was kicked) and of course Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud are missing.   Shkodran Mustafi is said to be fit.

But do we play four or five at the back?  Do we rest Kolasinac as he was used in mid-week and give Maitland-Niles another first team start?

I have to admit I really don’t know, and I don’t think the media has much of an idea either because most of them are doing nothing much more than talking about the West Ham game and reminding us that tonight’s game is on and that Arsenal are awful.  There’s even an interview with Lee Dixon who tells us that night games are always important.

So let’s see what we can rustle up.


Bellerin Koscielny Mustafi, Monreal

Iwobi Wilshere Xhaka Ozil

Alexis Lacazette

Beached could be some of these…

Ospina, Holding, Mustafi, Welbeck, Kolasinac, Walcott, Elneny, Mertesacker, Debuchy,

49 Replies to “Ox in the box. Arsenal v Liverpool, Arsenal never change except when they change”

  1. I recently looked again at the highlights of the 50th game, I think posted on UA and was totally amazed at what the nevilles and van nistelroy were allowed to get away with unpunished.

    I think that viewing that match should be made compulsory for every referee, so that they should know how not to referee and how bad it can get.

    That the miscreant in that game is now in charge of the referees makes the situation that the EPL is in that much more unbelievable.

  2. Wasn’t it after that game that Wenger coined the phrase “Old Traffordish decision” in reference to officiating inconsistencies? Very apt, at the time, I daresay. Hard to tell how we line up tonight but my guess is 3 at back (as Mustafi is back); Kola and Bellerin at wing back; Xhaka/Coq, Jack and Ozil in midfield; then Alexis and Laca upfront.

    I wouldn’t feel bad to see Welbeck on in place of Alexis though, but sometimes, you need the magic Alexis can offer.

    3-0 Arsenal! If we stay focused and give them no room to play out from the back.

  3. Firmino asking why Atkinson saw a foul when he pushed Jack. It was probably the first Atkinson decision for Arsenal thus far!

  4. Mane jumps at Jack & Atkinson gives a foul against Jack..Such a pathetic bit of simulation & Atkinson falls for it.

  5. We are only down by one but we could be down by four. That’s the bright side…Let’s go boys we have to change something at half.

  6. We have been played of the park, need to significantly improve in the second half

    Is Holding available?

  7. We need a kick in the bum at the break. Players – apart from Čech – have been an absolute disgrace.

    Our midfield looks so below par. All those idiots that hate Ramsey should watch this game over and over again to see how important he is for us.

    Xhaka seems to be the worst Arsene’s purchase ever.

    45 minutes to avoid tue shame of not hitting the target once in two games v Liverpool.

  8. Don’t think I’ve seen a worse first half from Arsenal than what I just seen here. Never one to question manager but why is Maitland-Niles on with Kola on the bench for a game of such magnitude? Predictably most of Liverpool attacks have come from that flank.

  9. Well, I hope, that is as bad as it is going to get. A completely underwhelming performance from the whole team. We should be three down and must consider ourselves lucky it is only one.

  10. Yeah that was a strange one from Atkinson.. Jack had the ball and mane jumps at him and Jack is penalised.

  11. There are so many fouls that go unseen. When a player has the ball, the use of the arm to hold the player with the ball is a foul. It seems to be acceptable when done to an Arsenal player but not when done to a Liverpool player.

    The chances that Liverpool have missed were fortunate as was their goal. Their creation has fallen short and the score is not unfair.

  12. Flares in the Liverpool end again & the FA will point to Arsenal security. It is time for the Police to get involved. That could easily have been an explosive device.

  13. is Holding available? It appears to be available for Liverpool but then isn’t that to be expected?

  14. Mignolet spills ball from a corner and Atkinson blows for a foul.. when no Arsenal player was near him!

  15. Massive point, given we came from 2 nil down. Atkinson played a part, not hugely but he definitely chipped in.

  16. Good result despite the 14 man opposition. Arsenal just have to play with venom rather than allow PGMOL to resist them.

  17. How firmino ended that match without a card I’ll never know, he could easily have seen red.. but not even a yellow? ?

  18. “Xhaka worst purchase ever?” His style is not to be spectacular – though he can be sometimes 🙂 ). But efficient and reliable. And IMHO that’s what he is much of the time.
    Dito Al. Can’t understand how Firmino could go on and on without at least a yellow. Thank’s to Mr Atkinson…
    Too bad we couldn’t win. But a good game, especialy in second half.

  19. the company that makes our shoes needs to review their work. ‘Slipping’ has scored a good number of goals against us this season! Probably the shoes don’t match the tuff.

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