Stop Slandering Alexis…

AOOne must stay true and honest to what one feels. This may be a debatable topic and so I want to make it clear that its okay to not agree with my opinion. That’s your right.

Alexis Sanchez is one player whom Arsenal fans have a very mixed feeling about. The man has been Arsenal’s best performer since he arrived from FC Barcelona for 30 million pounds.

He is a ‘work-horse’ and runs his legs off every day, each game week. Please be open-minded and understand that there is a chance that players can have a dip in form, that players may not have the best games. Yet however, I think its safe to say that when it comes to Sanchez his good game to bad game ratio is in short, favourable(more good than bad) over the last year at Arsenal (there is no doubt about this over his entire tenure at Arsenal)

There has been a lot of transfer jargon last summer regarding Sanchez leaving. Was I happy about it? No. Do I want him to leave? No. But, do I think he will leave because the man gives it all every game and innately thinks he deserves some level of recognition? Yes.

Now before you judge the man(again), try to think, if you as an Arsenal fan have felt like this before – quite frankly this should not be new to Arsenal fans.

It’s in fact, the same template only the players are different. Replace Sanchez with Fabregas, Van Persie and you get the same thing. Players who left the club with the feeling of deficiency when it comes to their expectation.

Take Van Persie’s case :

Why did Wenger allow him to go?

“I let Van Persie go in the last year of his contract because he was 29, going on 30 and he was signing a long-term contract.

What did Van Persie say?

“I personally have had a great season but my goal has been to win trophies with the team and to bring the club back to its glory days.

“Out of my huge respect for Mr Wenger, the players and the fans I don’t want to go into any details, but unfortunately in this meeting, it has again become clear to me that we in many aspects disagree on the way Arsenal FC should move forward.”

Now ask yourself the question and try to remain neutral (even if its hard).

I don’t like what he said, but does that make what he said wrong?

He does not agree with the way the club was moving forward based on his expectations and thus leaves.

Wenger describes the Sanchez situation very similar to Van Persie, citing that he let the latter leave because he was going to be 30. On the contrary, replace Messi with Van Persie, would you let Messi go if he was going on 30? Does one let the marque player leave because he’s getting old ??

Sanchez has chosen to stay quiet because he knows he is valuable and after a point of time, money will not matter. Yes, that particular point of time may not be now but it’s still there. If I wanted to win the champions league and I am 8th in my domestic league, my immediate goal is to qualify for the competition, winning comes later. Similarly, Sanchez knows he is valuable, yet even if Arsenal agree his wage demands of supposedly 350,000-400,000 a week (rightfully so given his quality and value to the team) he may not agree…

When Arsenal fans are first to say that this team is shit and we have no chance of winning anything and becoming a world-class team (wow, such truth) – nobody says a word. Yet, if an Arsenal player supposedly implies anything similar to this, everybody is so fast to call him out.

Get used to one harsh fact in life.

Alexis Sanchez will most likely depart the club in January or for free next season. Let’s separate the reaction from the cause and let’s focus on the latter – try asking yourself why is history being repeated. Environment breeds reactions so why is this aspect going unchecked. Why are we always focusing on the end result of the player leaving and not asking ourselves why is he choosing to leave?

Don’t blame Sanchez, blame the environment. Today it’s Sanchez, tomorrow it will be Ozil and then the next marque player we get. The system itself is faulty so why blame the pawn when the chess board itself is unstable.

Personally, I have alienated myself from Alexis. I’m happy if he does well and if he doesn’t, I don’t care. I had a lot of respect for him and I still do – the only difference is that it’s tarnished a bit because at the end of the day I support Arsenal FC and not Alexis FC. This man has given so much for Arsenal and I just think it’s wrong for anyone to brand him in the same league as Nasri – that shameless pig, so I choose to disassociate myself from him.

Think of the big picture.

Since it’s becoming more and more evident that Arsenal is not being managed properly – if every single time the best player of the team(Fabregas, Van Persie, Sanchez) has issues with extending a contract, is it always fair to assume he is a money hungry prick or can we objectively look at the picture in order to ask ourselves, why again?

Peace!

Title gone/ Urge to reshape and reschedule expectations this season

Today is 14th December 2017 – a little less than 2 months ago, I had written a post “Cruel Expectations” citing the realistic goals for Arsenal this season.

The old me would say :

Win the premier league | Win the Europa League | Win the FA Cup.

But now, it’s slightly different. For starters, I am not drunk. Hence, my revised expectations are:

Top 4 finish | Europa League – semi-final | Win the FA Cup

Don’t you like December. A fresh smell of something similar which we feel in March seems to have come early this year.

As we stand today, this is the league table :

Table Dec 17.png

As I write this post, Arsenal has thrown away 2 games,  both of which they should have won. The first game was vs Southampton, a game in which Olivier Giroud saved the team from losing 3 points. Southampton is 11th on the table as it stands above, just to give you an idea of how poor we have been. The second game was vs West Ham. They are in the relegation zone.

Very funny thing vs West Ham – we actually started with 4 at the back. Wenger opts to change the formation from the usual 3-5-2 and to start Giroud. Iwobi also started and Lacazette was rested. Let us be objective here and assume that there was a good enough reason for this – Christmas period, squad rotation, penguins laughing whatever be the reason, let us give Wenger the benefit of the doubt.

Yet, when you know that you need to win this game. Your opponents are playing a 9-0-1 formation, clearly with little or no intent to score apart from a lucky break (if they get one) why wait until the 82nd minute to bring on Lacazette?

I guess it must be superstition.

A game of possession and sad at being clinical is the ideal way I can describe this match. In fact, Hernandez should have scored in the 90th min to seal it for the hammers after a whammy by Koscielny – who does not seem to have got his head straight since United.

But it was usual Arsenal, no plan A, no plan B, no plan C – only “let’s keep possession and play pass-pass to each other” – uninspiring and dull.

True qualities of a title-winning side, don’t you think?

Can you blame West Ham fans for shouting “Boring, Boring Arsenal ??”

The inability to actually break down teams and not figuring out what to do if you hit a brick wall is a clear sign that there something innately wrong with the tactics – and while I completely agree that you can choose to play and approach a game in a certain way but if you see things that are not going the way you want, one has to adapt and do things that are necessary. The initiative counts more than the result.

No matter what, whenever we are up against a team who defend properly and put every man behind the ball, its like we become clueless and rather just prefer to pass side-ways than to take an initiative to actually try and score.

The league is realistically gone. It is not in sight and if anyone thinks differently then they are kidding themselves or they have a delusional sense of humour. This is not FIFA and Manchester City look better and better with each game.

2 games thrown away. If we had won these 2 games we would be 4th with a thread of a chance to actually challenge for the title.

I hope Saturday is different.

Peace!

Match Ratings : Arsenal 1-3 Manchester United

If my ratings offend anyone because majority people get offended anyway with opinions I apologise in advance.

Here is a picture of a stoned duck to lift your mood up :

Stoned Duck.jpg

Petr Cech – 5

Cannot fault this man for the goals conceded. Every single goal was unexpected and he did do his best. The issue with GK’s is that no matter what they do, you only remember the ones that went in – in this case, it was 3.

Koscielny – 3

Directly responsible for 2 of the 3 we conceded, this man probably was like Donald on top when playing. I am a Koscielny fan but one has to call a spade a spade. He was terrible. Even when he positioned himself well to defend against Pogba, he let his French counter-part get the better of him and allow a pass for United’s 3rd. Lacking in concentration, we are not used to him playing so shabby. Let’s just hope it was one of those days for him.

Mustafi – 2

Well, he made a huge impact on the game when he allowed himself to get dispossessed for Arsenal’s second. Can we really rate a man who was on the pitch for less than 12 minutes and was subbed moments after he led us to concede? It is a little unfair I feel with no scope for any real picture. I may have given him a 3 if he played the 90, I don’t know..

Monreal – 5

I like this guy. He filled in as CB when Mustafi was taken off and he did a good job. You can’t really blame him for any of the goals and he did his job as a defender when one needed him.

Bellerin – 5

He made a few good runs on the right, but nobody really gave him the ball. The usual flow of running down, cutting back and passing back was abundant in his play. He helped out at the back when needed though and the boy is really fast. I appreciate the fact that over time he seems to have become a little less lazy and help out when needed in the back (another crucial element in the 3-4-3 formation)

Xhaka – 2

I don’t really have much to say about this lurch in the middle of the field. I don’t see him contributing anything and have not seen him do anything for a while. He reminds me of Denilson, a player whose game only consisted of stupid back passes and once in a while shots.

Xhaka has been heavily criticised by Arsenal fans in the last few games. More criticism is biased towards him not doing anything rather than doing something productive. He failed to mark Lindegaard for United’s third too. Not a very good period for our “lost” Swiss camel.

Ramsey – 5

The guy tries. He seems to be improving and playing better with each game. I loved his presence of mind when he played the ball back to Lacazette for our only goal. He made good runs and played a few good balls, but nothing the United defence could not handle.

Kolasinac – 5

Out of position and out of place most of the time. His contribution towards attacking was null and with respect to his defensive duties, he really seemed too cavalier. Sure, he helped out when needed but overall it was not one of his games. His influence quotient which is a term I made up a few seconds ago and which means the amount a player influences a game on and off the ball was 0.

He was not at fault for the first goal, that was a shit cross by Koscielny.

Ozil – 6

Let us see. He made good runs. He took the ball forward, played some great passes and also helped out at the back. He had a good game given the rest of the team’s performance and certainly could have done more – but should I be harsh and type unrealistic things like he should have passed better or even scored, no. Even the man’s free-kick was on target and if it were not for Ashley Young he would have scored.

Sanchez – 4

I think, easily one of the worst games he has had this season. He just could not get it together for who knows what reason. Maybe his dog shat on him for some reason and he was pissed, I do not know, but I am never seen a Sanchez who was so out of sorts like the way he was on Saturday. Let’s not kid ourselves, the man was his usual self – making runs, pressing and taking the ball forward, but there was no end result for him today.

If I had money I would have probably lost it because I had expected him to equalise in the 56th min (fuck you DeGea), but nothing went right for him today.

Lacazette – 5

He deserves a little more. He scored the only goal in the game and for a player who was recovering from a groin injury, this man was astounding. I genuinely feel that Lacazette is a good player and with time he will improve. Sure, he has the odd chance that he skyrockets into Highbury once in a while, but everybody does that (Ramos, Beckham). I am going to give him 6 just because it felt like he tried.


 

As I said before, this game was thrown away by us. United were not better, but we made them look better.

I am not a very optimistic person but I do feel we are on the right track. That being said, there is no cure for a lack of concentration so one can’t do much about that.

Yet, I am hopeful that these holes can be plugged and we can bounce back at Bate, sorry, at Southampton next week.

Till then…

Peace!

Mr. DeGea, you should be frozen…

DDG

The last 2 wins for this Arsenal side was some-what ‘relaxing’, especially when you consider the Burnley game. But this game vs Manchester United is as always, a classic!

I did not expect any philosophy changes between Wenger and Mourinho for this game and when the team sheets were announced, the only surprise was that Lacazette started. Didn’t fancy Wenger for mind games manager, but I was impressed.

That was short-lived though as the first 15 mins changed everything.

On 3, Koscielny gave possession away and United scored. There are a few things for this 3-4-3 formation that are suicidal – giving away possession is No 1 on this list.

First, it was Koscielny in the 3rd minute when his cross to Kolasinac was shabby and weak. Second, Mustafi joined in – it was 0-1 in four mins and 0-2 in eleven. The Arsenal defence was shambolic, the Arsenal attack was mute.

We didn’t have to employ a tactic to counter Mourinho. We put oil on ourselves and lit it with a flint…imagine this guy…

BM

That was us…

Having played into United’s tactics, Mustafi’s injury (seconds after he gave the ball away) forced Wenger into a tactical change. Would he have made this change if Mustafi was fit, is debatable, but right now let us not get into that. Iwobi entered the pitch minutes later as the formation switched to a 4-5-1.

Its moments like these that set games up in a predefined way. When you face top teams, games are approached in a certain way. For Arsenal, it was (always is) keep possession and play to their strengths. For United, it is defending collectively and attacking via counter-attacks. Now imagine you give a cheap 2 goal lead to the latter (..feel that tilt)

From the 16th min onwards until the end of the first half, we gave it all. Everything was thrown at United. If you did a heat map scan of the pitch it would be this:

Heat Map.png

We had our chances. We definitely had our chances, but if it was not for David DeGea, a goalkeeper I honestly consider to be the best in the world we would have been 3 up.

I just want to make a small thing clear – there are players who make teams world class. David DeGea is one such player. He was the one who emulated another one of his famous performances against us a few seasons back when United had Van Gaal and won 1-2 at the Emirates. He was the one who was a fucking wall between us and the goal. That man should be frozen and kept alive to show generations ahead, what a GK is supposed to do. He made saves, he shouted at his mediocre united defence, he ran the show. I don’t do match ratings for opposition teams, but this man deserved a 20 on 10.

It was Arsenal vs DDG. Period.

In the second half, there were 2 or 3 talking points. One was Ramsey’s assist to Lacazette for our first goal. It was a delightful touch to set up the Frenchman for a good finish. DeGea was finally beaten.

One would think that dents confidence, but as I said before David here was on another level.

In the 56th minute, he made a double save that is worth watching more than once to keep United in the game as we unloaded run after run, play after play into his D-box. If this goal had gone in, we would have been in the driving seat of this game. United had not done anything to even harm Cech apart from their 2 goals and if Sanchez had slotted the ball past DeGea here, we would have had leverage, a great deal of it, over our opponents.

Right on the hour mark, another silly error by Koscielny made it 1-3 to United. It is very easy to give a defender shit about his performance. Laurent Koscielny quite frankly, just had one of those days in which he woke up on the right side of the bed but then stepped on dog shit seconds later. He made stupid decisions and was not himself. I have always rated the man highly and I feel he is a great defender, but even Messi ran through Roberto Carlos and Sergio Ramos once, so I am giving him a pass…

I am not going to critically analyse the game further because there is indeed nothing more to add to this game. There was only one “MAN OF THE SHOW” for United as he seemed to just level up after United clinched their third.

Wenger did change the formation to a 3-3-4 post the 70th min, but United held on.

Let us try and be objective in our approach here.

Manchester United came to play in a certain fixed way. All credit to them. Its classic Mourinho formula gentlemen (Matic and Pogba as CDM’s!!), the 1 nil wins or the 0-0 draw still adds more points than a loss.

We did serve the game to them on a pallet – nice and hot! You can plan tactics all night every night, but you can’t plan double whammy’s (or as they are known more popularly as “fuck ups”) they just happen.

Its just one of those games you know – imagine playing a small team (not referring to United) at home and losing 0-1 despite having more than 30 shots on target. It makes you feel “we tried our best, but it just wasn’t going to be” and that’s A BAD FEELING to take away in a game vs Huddersfield or Burnley.

But it is NOT a bad feeling to take away from a game like this. I completely agree that it sucks to lose to United, but there is a difference between 8-2 and 1-3 apart from the scoreline. We played well, we were the cause of our own demise.

Next week is Southampton, a place where we end up getting thrashed all the time. Don’t let this hiccup get you too down, we just need to be more consistent and concentrate for 95 mins or so on the pitch.

Till then, here is one happy beaver…

Beaver.jpg

[Report/Ratings] Arsenal 2-0 Spurs ; One of those derbies..

Screen Shot 2017-11-18 at 6.28.07 PM

This was indeed Arsenal’s best starting line up as the game kicked off today. This time Wenger opting to spearhead the attack with Aleksandr Lacazette – a player who I highly rate.

Arsenal started on a positive note with the midfield energetic and the defence playing a high line. Both Kolasinac and Bellerin played wide and the duo of Sanchez and Ozil took narrower positions. This allowed a more balanced side that could press from the front while defending and forming a solid defence at the back (when the wing backs fell in, it became a 5 man defence).

ArsSpurs

The first chance came in the 5th minute when some superb pressing by Lacazette forced a weak clearance from Dier, but the French man’s shot from the successful ‘nick’ found the sky as an unmarked Ramsey raised his hands in frustration. On analysing the replay, it is true that Lacazette could have found the Welshman and IF that happened we may have led. Yet, its hard to blame the striker for not trying and in split-second decision making moments like that, I felt it was fair.

The second real chance came when Ramsey’s ball from the middle found Bellerin’s run behind the Spurs defence but no sooner had the Spaniard shuffled in a low cross than David Sanchez struggle off Lacazette to make a last-second clearance for a corner.

In the 36th minute, we led.

Shkodran Mustafi found the back of the net in his first game since October from a cross from Ozil. It was one of those headers in which you follow the trail of the ball after its been head, right into the net – an exquisite finish as the German jumped and made a quick adjustment seconds before the ball landed on his head.

Coming to the off-side perspective of this goal – if you go by the rulebook, Mustafi is offside but from a footballing perspective if plays like this are given offside (5% of his body was off), it would really hamper fluidity in the game – This would be my opinion even if we had conceded in the same manner.

5 mins later, it was 2. Bellerin’s sneaky pass found Lacazette’s perfectly timed run (against a 5 man Spurs defence playing a moderately high line) and the Frenchman fed a delicious ball into the 6-yard box to Sanchez. The Chilean making no mistake as his 2 touches (one to set it up and another to fire it) found Lloris’ net.

As the first half ended, one could feel proud of the way Arsenal played. They did not give away silly balls and were professional at the back. They had this sense of hunger and urge to score – something this Arsenal team has been missing for a while. It was indeed great to see them play like this.

The second half, as expected started with some immediate Spurs pressure, but Arsenal just about managed to hold them off. It seemed like the Wenger had told his players to step down a gear while Pochettino said the opposite. Arsenal was content with their 2 goal lead and wanted to hit Spurs on the counter-attack. (A tactic I could absolutely see work if the defence held up good)

In fact, the majority of the second half was based on this approach. Arsenal waiting, soaking in pressure from Spurs until they could counter-attack when they had the ball. This almost came to fruit too as in the 78th minute, Sanchez had a superb chance from close range, but Lloris did well to block out the Chilean for number 3.

It’s not that Spurs did not try. Rather it was just some good organisation (sometimes not so good) and shabby Spurs football that rendered the away side useless – Dier came close in the 80th minute but his header was saved by Cech and Son squandered away a good chance moments later firing his shot wide as the Arsenal defence was asleep.

The only 2 real chances for them in this game.  

When Ozil left the field, the man was given a standing ovation – and it was well deserved given the way he handled himself today. He ensured that no one was left wanting for the ball, found every man (including Mustafi for the 1st goal) and he worked when he did not have the ball. One of the best performances of Mesut Ozil against a top side for a long time.

As we hit 90, Sanchez almost got another. From a long ball the Chilean powered off David Sanchez to make it 1 v 1 against Lloris, but again the French GK prevailed – denying Sanchez and saving Spurs from a red face – it could have been 4!

FT: Arsenal 2-0 Spurs

MATCH RATINGS:

Cech – Maybe 3, or 4 saves to make this game. Nothing to bother him…. 7

Koscielny – He made sure the defence was intact and had a decent performance… 6.5

Monreal – Same as Koscielny. I liked the way he supported and covered Kolasinac when the latter attacked…. 7.5

Mustafi – His goal was outstanding and he put in a solid performance at the back. I like this combination with Koscielny, maybe some more game time with both will nurture their partnership and understanding of each other….

Kolasinac – Made some good runs from the back to support Sanchez and he helped out at the back too. His physicality is a huge bonus and he did a good job today… 7.5

Xhaka – Supported the defence and played some good long balls. Decent overall… 6

Ramsey – Made some good runs into the box and protected the defence. One of the most versatile positions in the team, I liked the way he balanced going up and defending today. He needs some more consistent performances like this…..7.5

Bellerin – His runs from the wing are getting better and better. He helped out the back, but less compared to the others. I like the way he found Lacazette for the second goal – the pass was good and this is a side of Bellerin which can be nurtured. He needs to be a little better defensively but that is the pay-off if you are a wing back playing the 3-4-2-1.. 8.5

Alexis – Alexis doesn’t need to be rated. He gets a default 9 for his performance. If I am going to be critical he stole the chance to get a hattrick for himself (although he made those chances) and give millions of Gooners around the world eternal bliss…9.5

Lacazette – As I said, I rate this man highly. He makes good runs (as he did for the second goal), his understanding of the game becomes better and better with each game and he’s fast. The usual Lacazette score-card … 8.5

Ozil – MOTM – The standing ovation from the Emirates says enough for Ozil. Today he showed his true German self and exactly why he is worth the 42 million we paid for him. His runs, work-rate off the ball and of course his passing – made the afternoon …10