‘By Bulldog Drummond
Quote of the day: “It’s about what we do on the field.” Roy Hodgson.
First a spot of news about a player definitely not playing: Maitland Niles played for the under 23 on Friday so wont be in squad. But that could well put him into the team for the game next Wednesday.
Yet even without him we have quite a squad available to pick players from…
Leno, Cech, Martinez, Bellerin, Lichtsteiner, Holding, Mustafi, Koscielny, Sokratis, Monreal, Kolasinac, Xhaka, Elneny, Torreira, Guendouzi, Ramsey, Smith Rowe, Iwobi, Mkhitaryan, Ozil, Welbeck, Lacazette, Aubameyang.
Torreira is the man who has the statistics working in his favour – with him in the team we have scored 24 and let in just four. Without him the figures go into the negative.
But of course it is never one player – there is the situation of the rest of the team, how the tactics had been embedded, and indeed who we were playing. Those comparisons can be where the figures break down, not because the figures are wrong but because they are read on their own, without information about other changes that happened.
Although certainly for myself, if I were a manager, which of course I am not, I would play him whenever I could.
As for the knockers (and sadly there are still such people lurking around in the shadows, hiding behind nom de plumes, sniping from the wings while occasionally getting air time on mainstream media) they have given up on Ozil, Mkhitaryan and to some degree Ramsey. But much of the defence is still taking a battering. Indeed we must be the only team in the league whose defence is criticised even when we win. In fact the more we win, the more the defence is criticised!
Typical comments over the weekend included “There still a naievity in defence”, which is sometimes combined with “Arsenal can go after the top 4 finish.” So the logic must be that if we can aim for the top four finish with a hopelessly naive defence, the Premier League is a pretty poor league.
Meanwhile the talking up of Iwobi continues, forgetting all the negatives he got last season, “Arsenal struggle in the middle of the park” (as well as defence), and “Xhaka enjoyed playing at left back,” are among the other phrases circulating. While Merson says, “If they don’t lose by at least three goals next week I will be shocked. Shocked! Liverpool will rip Arsenal apart and Arsenal will get found out.”
One possible line up today is
Bellerin Mustafi Holding Monreal
Mkhitaryan Ozil Iwobi
Which would then leave some of these on the beach
Cech, Lichtsteiner or Kolasinac, Sokratis, Guendouzi, Ramsey, Aubameyang, Welbeck
Those on the beach who might give up sitting it out and actually play would then most likely be Sokratis in the centre of defence, and Aubameyang in attack. I think I would play Auba from the off, but then, what do I know? Maybe he is much better when he is fresh and the defence are tired.
But there are of course other questions that could be asked such as will Cech take over in goal now he is fit, is Monreal fit enough to play and if not could we go back to Xhaka at left back as an alternative, did Mkhitaryan do enough to secure himself a regular spot in the front three, and if he is left out again, how long will Auba accept being a sub?
Roy Hodgson, who seemed singularly out of touch with reality in his comments about the crowd problems at Palace added to that impression by saying, “We’ve played a lot better this season than we did at the start of last. We lost some games heavily last time, which we deserved to, whereas this season we have lost some that we deserved something from.” Now my memory is often faulty but was Hodgson manager at the start of last season? I have a feeling not. Wasn’t it Frank de Boer who was in charge, and thus isn’t that statement a rather sly way of taking a knock at the last man in position?
“Arsenal are playing extremely well. I don’t see any particular weaknesses, so we must make sure we work hard to minimise their opportunities. There are no secrets, it’s about what we do on the field.”
Mr Emery came up with a better soundbite… “I think the first thing we spoke about when I arrived here was to improve our competitiveness, both individually and collectively as a team. We are doing that.
“When we started with the losses in the first two matches, maybe a lot of people were thinking it could be a difficult way for the club this season. Now, when we are winning, maybe the same people are thinking we are on the way to arrive in the top four.
“We aren’t the best team now, and when we lost we weren’t the worst team. We’re a good team who need to improve a lot of things and take more confidence, responsibility and ambition to improve.”
But Palace probably know that if they lose today the will equal the Premier League / 1st Division record of five consecutive home matches without scoring from the beginning of a season. At least that is what the BBC said, but I can’t find out who created that record. If you know please do write in, and give the year… I would like to look up the details.
Palace have won one and lost 14 of their last 16 league matches against the teams that finished in the top six last season – which is interesting. We are so used to hearing about Arsenal’s woes against the other top teams, perhaps sometimes we forget that others get this way too.
And one more snip: Roy Hodgson doesn’t beat Arsenal in the Premier League. He has had nine goes without a victory – his last success being a 1-0 win with Fulham in August 2008.
But to return to the more positives, we have scored 12 away goals this season. No one in the league has done better than that. Likewise no one has scored more second half goals than we have as 705 of our goals have been scored in the second half.
And one the BBC came up with that I didn’t know before: we have won more points and we average more points per game in Premier League all-London matches than any other club.
Finally my favourite, to round it all off
- Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has got 21 goals and assists in 22 Premier League appearances. That is made up of 16 goals and five assists.
Rather good eh?
By the way don’t forget the clocks in Europe changed this morning. It’s earlier than you might think.
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- Everton v Arsenal: extraordinary figures seen in the last 6 games table
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- Everton v Arsenal and the oddity of referee behaviour
- With Balogun will Arsenal be heading toward goalscoring records