Walcott…the legend

 

Walcott.jpg

If Theo Walcott can just be used right, he will be as good as Lionel Messi – the delusional guy who had 6 beers and is speaking rubbish

Hope all is going well in the Arsenal sphere this year – the below checklist should give us a good idea.

Sell Alexis in the summer because its inevitable he will leave – check

Why would someone want to stay at Arsenal anyway – a mediocre, mid-table team that can’t seem to sort it’s shit out despite the faults gaping at any neutral.

Not workout the ideal formation so that the defence can be as terrible as it was for 5 seasons ago – check

Chelsea, last season, used the 3-4-3 and conceded 33 goals. This season we have already conceded 28 and we have played 22 games. Even Burnley, who are 7th have let in 19.

Keep faith in Walcott so that he may turn into a star one day – like Drogba – check

Maybe Walcott is having a bad time because of the position he plays. In the newly adopted 3-4-3, a formation that deploys wing-backs as wingers to aid in attack Walcott will never-ever fit in. Why? Because he can’t defend.

So what do we do with him? May down the middle? – but Lacazette will not be happy and given that the french-man is miles ahead of Walcott, why would we engage in such a stupid decision?

Maybe Wenger is sadistic that way.

I just want to repost something I had written in on 5th January 2012 – 6 years back (post the QPR match)

I don’t know what to make of Theo Walcott because to be neutral I do not think he fits in at Arsenal. Yes, this is more criticism directed at the Englishman, but this time he deserves it. He was atrocious that day, and it makes me wonder why Wenger allows Theo to continue this way. If you think about it Walcott is a regular starter at Arsenal, and having a  player like him as a starter shows you how depleted the clubs ambitions are. Walcott is quick, but what good does it do if he cannot use his brain on a football field. Against QPR he was through 1 on 1 with the keeper only to send his scuffed toothless shot right of the post AFTER eyeing up the goal. Chamberlain will give him good competition but let’s face it the boy will not replace Theo this season. That Wenger will make sure of. He likes getting the player ready before putting them on the pitch. Theo was probably an experiment which has turned out very badly. Not only is he inconsistent but also dull when it comes to certain situations on the pitch. Surprisingly he is ‘gifted’ the same situations game after game and even then he fails to capitalise. When he does we feel he will improve but let us be real, we have been feeling that for quite some time now.

 

 

Advertisements

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!

[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

City 3-1 Arsenal : If you want to be optimistic, we were not that bad

MCISARSStarting with five at the back when I switched on the game on Sunday, the first thing I thought to myself was “Is he going to park the bus?”

To be honest, I would not be surprised if Wenger did choose to do go down that route with a team like City.  Three at the back would be suicidal against pacy wingers like Sane and Sterling.

90 seconds later, the hosts could have led as Aguero bumbled a chance you could have bet he would score. It started with some shabby Arsenal defending against a swift City counterattack after an overplayed pass by Sanchez on the other side of the pitch.

Arsenal responded within minutes as Sanchez’s cross towards goal was headed away, however, as the ball fell to Iwobi outside the D-box – the resultant shot is not worth blogging about.

As the game settled down after that, the first (second if you consider Aguero’s miss) real chance came in the 10th minute as Sane’s rolling ball across Cech’s goal almost found Sterling.

In the 18th minute though, it was 1-0 – a brilliant goal from Kevin DeBruyne, the master orchestrator and Silva’s prodigy for Manchester City as he slotted a left-footed drive under Cech, who to be honest, should have done better. Arsenal was not playing bad till then and it wasn’t a one-sided game, it was a textbook case of executing and taking your chances as even prior to that we could have led, despite the ‘real chances’ count being 2 for City.

6 minutes later, Ozil could have found himself in a 1 v 1 situation but Sanchez’ pass was fractionally over-hit. One of few chances wasted, the Chilean was having a sub-standard game till now.

By the half an hour mark, Silva mimicked a Sane type ball as he was fed a slick ball by DeBruyne and slashed it across Cech. Fortunately for Arsenal, nobody was in the box.

When Arsenal attacked the back four narrowed itself in a three-man defence and when they defended, the wing backs sat back as the three-man defence changed to 5 at the back. The issue was however lost possession while attacking. In the 32nd min, the away side lost possession while attacking leaving a 2 vs 1 situation between Sterling-Sane and Koscielny. Sterling, however, majorly fucked up as he botched a simple ball to Sane for the latter to tap in.

Arsenal, on the other hand, seemed to lose the plot. The “right formation” was ditched for the suicidal one as Wenger resorted to a 3 man defence in a hope to get more players onto midfield and control of the ball.

48th min, City were awarded a penalty as Monreal forced his weight on to Sterling after the latter shrewdly timed his run past Kolasinac and found himself 1 vs 1 against Cech. It was a case of shoulder to shoulder between Monreal and Sterling, but the benefit of the doubt was given to City as the Spaniard was not near the ball. Aguero stepped up and slotted the ball for 2-0.

Alexandre Lacazette came on in the 56th min for Coquelin as Wenger made a bold change – 10 minutes later, it paid off as the Frenchman slotted a right-footed drive between Ederson’s legs. 2-1

City did not take kindly to Arsenal’s goal as they immediately retaliated. The Arsenal defence was of no help to him as the “Lord Almighty” Jesus found the ball at the end of a shabby cross from De Bruyne. His shot, however, was miraculously saved by Petr Cech as the latter showed the world why he is considered world class. (He may have a few poor games, but if you think he sucks, sincerely, have yourself tested)

On 74, it was 3-1 as Silva slotted the ball to Jesus who had a simple tap-in. This goal was dubious as the linesman should have flagged Silva off-side. Arsenal was hard done by as the game that was well poised before this goal finally shifted to the hosts. People can criticise the Arsenal defence for overlying on the linesman’s honesty, but this was a harsh goal for us – even for me.

Arsenal purposely stretched themselves after this goal as this was the only realistic way to have numbers in the midfield and attack. This did lead to a few chances for the home side but none of them were tucked away.

Arsenal did not play poorly. It was better than the debacle against Liverpool, but City was overall – a more composed and clinical side as they took the chances that fell for them. Yes, we did give them a good fight and the offside did swing things their way, but credit must be given where its due. We were NOT the usual mediocre Arsenal against top 6 opposition. City, all be it a little fortunate were just better.

Final score : Manchester City 3-1 Arsenal FC

November blues exist.

 

Arsenal FC v Paris Saint-Germain - UEFA Champions League

If you personify the month November and compare him to a kid in the playground, he is the bully which makes Arsenal’s life hell.

November is that month of the season in which you get some direction to where a team is headed and if they are likely to do anything in the season. It is not conclusive, but it gives you a good idea.

For Arsenal, however, November sucks.

I did some digging in to drill in my point. I made a list of all the games we have had since the 2012 season, specifically for the month of November. Disclaimer to Arsenal fans, go watch “IT”, it is less horrifying than the stats you are going to witness…

2012-13

Played 5 – Points picked up out of a possible 15?

6.

Games thrown away, look at 2,4 and 5.

2013-14

Played 5 – Points picked up out of a possible 15?

12.

Games thrown away, look at 2. Believe you me, this was the outlier November.

2014-15

Played 3 – Points picked up out of a possible 9?

3.

Games thrown away? Both, since this was the season in which even Manchester United was shit.

2015-16

Played 3 – Points picked up out of a possible 9?

2.

We drew to Norwich and lost to Albion – both away and we drew to Tottenham at home. Seeing a trend already?

2016-17

Played 3 – Points picked up out of a possible 9?

5.

To be fair, these games were not easy. Although Giroud saved us with his 90th min header and we scored 0 goals in the derby, this too was one of the better Novembers.

Our total games played over these 5 years are 19, which means a total of 57 points. Of this, we have picked up – 28.

In short, we have a 49% chance of picking up points in each game this November.

Just think about that for a moment – if I told you that there is 50:50 chance that a team will pick up (may win or draw) points against the teams it faces this month, would you categorise that team as a “title challenging team”

Over a season, if we consider that out of 38 games, a team will pick up points only in 19 games that give us maximum points of 57 (assuming they won 19 out of 19) – the end league position over one year would be about 7th to 9th.

This is our fixture list below :

Screen Shot 2017-10-30 at 10.09.45 AM

If you do not consider Cologne (which you should not since we are talking about the premier league specifically), what are the odds that we will get points vs Burnley and Huddersfield and drop points against City and Spurs?

I’ll leave that for you to ponder over.

..I hope I am wrong.

Cruel Expectations..

They said they would start at 3:00 pm !You see this guy on the right?

I was like him on sunday. The only addition was that I had a peg of Jack Daniels beside me…

Every Arsenal fan has an expectation bar related to the club. If you consider the last few years, the season’s have been quite heart-wrenching. I personally know 2 of my friends who are fellow Gooners who take annual pledges (may start from October or even December) not to watch Arsenal games for a given time period, and post that “having the option” to watch them based on how the team is performing. They don’t do this because they are plastic fans. These guys have been supporting Arsenal for well over a decade, but sometimes it’s more important to look out for yourself over giving a shit about what the world thinks…

In the financial world, we use a term called “hedging” (it’s basically protecting your money from any financial harm) – well, in football and especially relevant to this context that is what Arsenal fans do. They hedge, by staying clear – against the heartbreak, the frustration, the repetitiveness, by moving themselves out of the equation.

A perfectly acceptable coping mechanism.

You will notice that I have not used the words “disappointment” while describing the typical Gooners sentiment to Arsenal. That is because it’s absolutely fine to be disappointed or embarrassed by a performance. This is football and its quite probable that if you face a world-class team, you can get thrashed OR you could be tactically outclassed or even wrongfully set up to ship in goals.

But there is a fine difference between getting disappointed and getting frustrated. The latter is toxic because it implies that the reason to get frustrated has occurred more than once over a given period of time.

Most Arsenal fans are frustrated since we have expectations at the club. For eg. 2 years ago when Leicester won the league, we expected Arsenal to challenge and win the league.

Did we come close to having our expectation fulfilled?

No. We finished 10 points of Leicester at 71 and 1 point ahead of Spurs.

Is it wrong to expect from your team ? Especially when you have a team that is worth in terms of transfer fees 335 million pounds (approximately) – I don’t think so.

As this season progresses, I cannot help but get a feeling that we have a long way to go ahead. We are in 4 competitions this year. But we are actually challenging for 2 and hoping for a top 4 finish. Thus, I have set up my expectations for Arsenal from the 2017-18 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

We have the Europa League, we have the premier league and we have the FA Cup. 3 competitions we are focusing and fighting for – The premier league has 38 games, add to that 14 in the Europa League (if we reach the final) and another 6 games or so in the FA Cup. That’s about 58 games. I have not included the Carabao Cup because I don’t even consider it as a cup, but if you do, it’s safe to add another 5 games.

We are not secure defensively and we have not found our goal scoring form yet. Our last game vs Watford was a superb spectacle of my point above. Tak about holding it together for a bit and free-falling like a pack of cards. After Deeney put his spot-kick away one couldn’t help but feel Tom Petty’s free-falling playing in the background as this pathetic team sang to its tune. There are the 2 Manchester clubs which are looking better and better as each game progresses and the more time we lose in finding our rhythm the more likely we are to fall behind.

There are the 2 Manchester clubs which are looking better and better as each game progresses and the more time we lose in finding our rhythm the more likely we are to fall behind. United have conceded 2 goals in their first 8 games and City just shipped 7 past Stoke. Arsenal, on the other hand, can’t seem to get a grip on things.

A few weeks back we came off a world-class performance at Stamford Bridge and then Doncaster did an “Arsenal” on us as we struggled to ship in goals in a match where your first scoreline to bet would be 3-0 to the home side. Then we win a few games against sides which are playing shit themselves (no offence, we still needed to get the job done) – but these teams did not challenge Arsenal at all – West Brom, BATE and Brighton. 2 weeks later, we lose again.

It really is difficult for someone to assess how Arsenal is going to fare this season. But certain things are very clear – players are on the edge. There is no leader on the field that can communicate to these players to close the game, the manager is what he is and when shit hits the fan the players play like headless chickens i.e we have no clue how to react to adversity.

A true mark of champions. 

Before I finish this post, I just want to add what Wenger said after the Watford game :

‘Everybody’s shocked in the dressing room,’

no Shit Sherlock…

Add the word “world” instead of “dressing room” to that sentence and you would still be right…