Doncaster need this more than us…

Carabao Arsenal Team

A little history about our opponents before you read on, okay ?

They play in League 1, having been promoted last season from League 2. They lost their last home game on Sunday vs Scunthorpe 0-1 and over the last 3 seasons they have finished 3rd, 21st and 13th.

This game is not even a formality. It’s the Carabao Cup and this tournament will just add to the fixture list this year.

In terms of a hierarchy of competitions in order of importance and priority, I feel the order below is correct :

  1. The English premier league (or a top 4 finish)
  2. The Europa League
  3. FA Cup
  4. Not the Carabao Cup

It just doesn’t do it for me, number 4. It’s as good as saying that the community shield is a trophy like the Emirates Cup is a piece of silverware that every professional football team wants.

There are no stakes here. I hope to see Arsenal win convincingly and if they lose, our confidence in this Arsenal team will sink to a new low. I mean, if we cannot beat Doncaster(with no disrespect) at home, we should just forfeit the tournament.

In the event of us losing however, there definitely will be a bright side (apart from hell we will feel inside) since to be frank this competition is a burden on us.

The team should consist of the raw and unseen talent from the reserves and fringe first team players coming back from injury or hoping to get their season in motion – players like Jack Wilshere, Debuchy, Giroud and that idiot Walcott should start to give us some level of experience.

lineup (3).png

In reality this game is a confidence booster game and I expect Arsenal to perform well against Doncaster especially after the fundamentally strong defensive performance vs Chelsea last game. Keeping those same principles in mind we should approach this game in that manner.

Tickets are being sold as low as 10 pounds and still apparently nobody gives a shit – so it does give you some perspective regarding the expectations fans have at Arsenal. Sure, if we win the cup it’s going to be included as a “trophy” won however speaking strictly from a long term fundamental point of view this trophy won’t be significant.

Let’s just hope we get to see the Niles and the Nelson’s of tomorrow and have a good enjoyable game.

Predicted Score :

Arsenal 1-0 Doncaster. I don’t expect much, that way if we win 2-0 or even 3-0 I will feel happier.

 

Chelsea makes us optimistic..a tiny bit..

Chears

It was a cagey start as we kicked off that afternoon in Stamford Bridge.

You have two teams both playing the same formation, very strong in attack and light at the back intending to get at each others neck for 90 odd mins …what do you expect?

A classic school boy’s game indeed.

I have said before I am not a fan of the 3 man defense. I don’t think it’s a piece of cake and for a team to adopt it and implement it well would demand a very high level of structural discipline. But as 90 mins passed by yesterday, I felt for the first time in a long time, that there is a glimpse of discipline, at least defensively in this Arsenal side. 

I do not want to jinx our performance and the reason I write this is majorly due to Wenger forcing my hand to ‘expect the least’ from Arsenal – a measure I have adopted with open arms, in order to protect myself from getting frustrated.

In my preview regarding the key factor(s) in this game, I had cited :

The key, however, will be to defend strongly when Chelsea attack – be it counter-attack or normally. Kante will be hungry to nick the ball of any of our midfielders to start countering so nullifying him will help us immensely. Ozil needs to step up and maybe draw Kante out of his natural position in order to allow Ramsey & co better passage. Xhaka needs to be more aware and another lackluster performance by him can actually see him benched in the future. Players need to maintain their shape, even if they lose the ball. The Barcelona pressing system is something which won’t work very well against Chelsea becuase they prefer to distribute the ball and attack in numbers, so it’s better if we preserve our energy till it’s needed and not run the risk of losing our basic formational structure.

(Wow, I just quoted myself)

Chelsea did not have any response on Sunday. Sure, they had one real chance in the first half with Cech blocking Pedro, but apart from that, we did tame the champions at their own backyard. Are there areas where we could improve?

Definitely, but the performance we displayed could have won us this game if Lacazette had converted his chance because overall, we were the better team – something we have not been against Chelsea for a while (at least at Stamford Bridge, the Wembley victories are debatable)

The back 3 kept their shape and the entire midfield helped out. Xhaka had his periods of clumsiness and making me want to kill myself but apart from that, this was actually the first time Arsenal had a successful complete defensive formation since their win against City in 2015.

In the second half, we should have led but Lacazette missed a sitter. He did not have a good derby, the french-man. We know he can finish and he has a very clean technique of hitting the ball but today his head was someplace else.

Luiz was sent off in the 87th min as the referee showed him a direct red. In my opinion, I feel that the card was fair because Luiz’s attempt to get the ball back was pathetic as he lunged with his studs exposed on Kolasinac’s calf. Yes, Kolasinac was not injured but you can’t wait for players to have their legs snapped in order to lay some foundations with respect to reckless tackling. I will confess, as much as I love Arsenal I have always hated their ineptness in dealing with the top 6 of England.

I will confess, as much as I love Arsenal I have always hated their ineptness in dealing with the top 6 of England.

Sunday has given me some hope and optimism.

We may have not won but fans won’t be too sad. In fact, most Arsenal fans (myself included) did not think we would even get a point today, but not only did we get a point but also we almost beat Chelsea (the true wonder of expecting the least).

Its performances like these, are what I have missed at Arsenal. Until yesterday, I had very little hope that Arsenal would be better defensively – that we would finally be playing as a TEAM against our rivals and have a well-disciplined approach towards the game. Credit to Wenger for communicating this to the players on Sunday. It was a good response to the Liverpool debacle, a very good response indeed.

Can they perform like this consistently over 38 games, is something I hope to see but there is no doubt about the possibility or the potential they can reach if they play according to a game-plan and maintain team discipline.

I think I’ve said enough, expect us to lose at Doncaster this week…

Europa 101…

Europa .jpg

Arsenal welcomes FC Koln. today at the Emirates and let’s face facts over window dressing this – it’s not the ideal state to be in and contrary to popular belief – this club competition is not your Carabao Cup or another decorative trophy. We do not want to be in the Europa League, but we were more mediocre than the top 4 teams in England last season, so we deserve to be.

Games will be played on Thursday and most of the subsequent premier league games will be scheduled for Sunday. This schedule gets even more packed at the latter half of the season or “the business end” since we have other competitions like the FA Cup and the crucial Carabao Cup

The money aspect is minuscule as compared to the champions league. But winning the Europa League will give the winner direct entry into the champions league even if they do not qualify from their domestic league. Manchester United was smart to focus on this aspect and now they find themselves in the UCL despite finishing below us.

The bottom line that an Arsenal fan should not ignore is this – despite us not ideally wanting to be in this league, its gives a very good opportunity to do well and progress in it. It would help nurture younger talent and also allow Wenger to try some new styles with the team. Youth teams players can be given an opportunity to express themselves and build themselves up towards the first team. I am looking forward to seeing Jack Wilshere and Reiss Nelson start today’s game and it’s going to be interesting to see if Wenger tries to do something different – it is his first time too here.

Progressing throughout the tournament won’t be easy since we have a very long way to go before even reaching the finals. To put things into perspective, from September to December the champions league eliminates 16 teams and keeps the best 16 in Europe – these teams enter the knock out in February. It’s brief, short and sweet. You have the best teams in Europe playing here and Manchester United.

In the same time, the Europa League (Sept-Dec) eliminates 24 of 48 teams (4 teams 12 groups, with top 2 qualifying) with 24 teams progressing to the next round – the third place teams from the champions league group stage (8) join these 24 and collectively 32 teams play it out in February. From 32 teams, you have the knockout phase to eliminate 16 teams and the rounds continue until you reach 8 teams and 4 teams for the quarters and the semis.

It is a long tournament in that sense and it does become grueling for any team who is thinking of competing seriously about it.

Am I excited about the Europa League?

Honestly, I see it more as a platform to show and understand teams skill-set over an actual competition. Make no mistake about the fact that it is not easy to win. But yes, it doesn’t get my excitement to the level the champions league does (that being said, if we win I will be elated). This is of course, independent of the fact that we have a BETTER chance to win the Europa League than we have a chance to win the champions league – but I do feel the way I feel because I have this thing bad habit called “expectations” from Arsenal.

It is a hard pill to swallow, us here, and the likes of Liverpool and Spurs in the champions league. More so for Arsenal fans since this is our first (hopefully last) season in the Europa League and as once, long ago in the dark ages, our great manager did say

“if you eat caviar everyday, its difficult to return to sausages”

We are definitely not used to sausages, but a man’s got to eat what a man’s got to eat…

If you want to beat Chelsea, don’t be so predictable…

Aaron Ramsey of Arsenal and Oscar of Chelsea

The first real test for this Arsenal side is going to come this Sunday against a team which has revolutionalized the art of the 3 man defense and a competent and fully functional midfield.

When Conte got thrashed 3-0 at the Emirates last season, it might have seemed that he would not have an instantaneous answer to what the premier league had thrown at him. A three man defense may have worked for Juventus in Seria, but getting it right and effective in the premier league given the league’s pace and quality of football seemed out of reach.

But what he did in response to that Arsenal defeat was astounding and he deserves all the credit because his tweak from the 3-5-2 to a 3-4-3 formation made Chelsea win the premier league.

The man understood that attacking and defending are two sides of the same coin and one without the other is a dangerously short-lived team (one perfect example is Barcelona under Vilanova)

With new signings such as Morata and Bakayoko, Antonio Conte seems to be very serious in continuing his formation style of 3-4-3.

Make no mistake, this formation will stay and what makes the formation even more full-proof is the presence of players like Kante – something the world of football was missing since Makalele.

Arsenal line up for Chelsea game and the tactics to be adopted.

lineup (2)

The golden rule against teams like Chelsea, Manchester United or any other counter-attacking side is this :

DO NOT LOSE THE BALL. IF YOU DO, EVERYBODY GET BACK & GET THE BALL BACK!

Sir Alex Ferguson made a very astute observation regarding Wenger. I am going to paraphrase a bit from his book in which he spoke about the tactics he used against Wenger.

He said the best way to play against Arsenal is through patience and awareness. Patience is for waiting and not getting frustrated because if you are facing a team like Arsenal, it’s less likely that you will have more possession of the ball. Awareness is to make sure you “intercept” the ball and quickly break for the counter – the key to beating Arsenal is counter-attacking football. This is true. 100%.

Arsenal without the ball against a good counter-attacking side is as good as a group of headless chickens because when it comes to defending we may still be average (I am being biased since we are below average). But when it comes to “defending against counter-attacks” we don’t have any answer. It’s the only tangible weakness of this Arsenal side.

My guess is Conte will be ready for this. Not only will he tell his team to take the game to us (being a home game) but as a PLAN B, he will make sure his team is setup to counter – effectively.

The thing with games like these is that they have to be contested as a team and your marquee players performance will only help your team. Arsenal has to perform as one unit and if Ozil or Sanchez or Lacazette step up that’s a re-enforcement. The game vs Bournemouth was a feel good factor for Arsenal fans. It was like getting prize money at the casino worth 100$ after losing 500$ till then – the 100$ makes you feel good, but don’t get your hopes up, yet.

Tactically, I believe that Arsenal needs to keep possession (and will be allowed to some extent) and attack with 2-3 game plans. This includes crossing to Lacazette and others if needed, playing quick passes – long and short in order to get balls into the box and thus attempting to break down a resilient Chelsea defense. Simultaneously, however, Cech must be protected.

The key, however, will be to defend strongly when Chelsea attack – be it counter-attack or normally. Kante will be hungry to nick the ball of any of our midfielders to start countering so nullifying him will help us immensely. Ozil needs to step up and maybe draw Kante out of his natural position in order to allow Ramsey & co better passage. Xhaka needs to be more aware and another lack luster performance by him can actually see him benched in the future. Players need to maintain their shape, even if they lose the ball. The Barcelona pressing system is something which won’t work very well against Chelsea becuase they prefer to distribute the ball and attack in numbers, so it’s better if we preserve our energy till it’s needed and not run the risk of losing our basic formational structure. We should play a 4-3-3 and this shape should not be compromised under any conditions. This is my opinion, but Wenger may opt for the “defensive suicidal formation” 3-4-3.

I have my doubts about this structure and the only reason I do so is that it takes more than 2-3 months for a team to get used to this formation completely. We have had pre-season and 4 games to do the same. I am going to do some research on this and publish another article regarding the loop-holes in the 3-4-3 or the 3-5-2 and why some teams are better off without it, so I shall come back to this later.

Overall, this is going to be one tough game for Arsenal. If they win, their confidence will sky-rocket because beating Chelsea at Stamford Bridge is nothing close to easy.

Get the tactics right, get the mentality of the players set and keep the shape and discipline (even if you want to play the 3-4-3) – we can do this if these 3 things are addressed and win.

If not, expect another cricket scoreline this week

Deadline day bullshit finally hits the fan…

arsenal_1886___2011___forward___by_anverster-d3fyico.jpg

So deadline day came to an end…and we lost sold Chamberlain. The transfer makes perfect sense.

Arsenal cashing in on AOC for 40 million pounds, instead of letting him go for free. What’s interesting is the fact that Chamberlain chose Liverpool despite almost ending up in Chelsea – the same player who refused a 180,000 pounds/week contract at Arsenal settled for less at Liverpool (I think it was 125,000).

It just goes to show that a players morale, which is crucial for mental balance in professional football is significantly influenced by the position in which they feel the best suited to play/contribute from. It’s not that Chamberlain did not want to play wing back but frankly speaking, it was not his preferred position.

At Chelsea, he would be in a team which is a better Arsenal with the same style of play. At Liverpool, he hopes to be the next Gerrard.

He was a good player and prospect. Majorly hard to assess fairly courtesy of Wenger’s incessant methods of playing him in the wrong position, but when he did put in performances the man was a delight to watch. He goes to a team where the manager shall put him to good use in a system that thrives on his strength i.e playing the ball through the middle and running at defenders with his pace and strength.

Thomas Lemar was scouted till 11 pm on deadline day. Arsenal again left it ‘neither later or early’  based on their deadline day past record, where they snap up deals hours before the window ends. Lemar, however, decided to stay put. Weighing his options he didn’t seem interested in moving to Arsenal – a team challenging for top 4, in the Europa League and prima facie lacking a level of competitiveness that top teams have.
I don’t understand why the decision to leave things so late is so readily accepted by the management at Arsenal. Lemar would have brought about (at best) marginal optimism at the Emirates. This is because Sanchez would then leave. We lose a world class player and gain a very hot prospect – I think my use of the word ‘marginal’ is correct in this analysis. I feel transfers of this nature should be actively pursued early and decisions need to be made. If we are interested in Leymar why should we bid 90+ at 9 pm on deadline day and show we are not interested 2 months (no bids, no talk)

Fans are upset with Wenger and his band of merry men and they have all right to be. Arsenal left it late and this time the plan didn’t work out. But surprise-surprise there is no plan B. Before the window started the objective was standard and simple –

  • Keep the world class talent at Arsenal.
  • Ship out dead-wood and over-valued players
  • Recruit talent for positions where we seem to be short.

Have we done these?

  • Yes. But the way isn’t exactly how we imagined it would be. Sanchez should have been offered the wages he has been demanding because he deserves it. He has been an exceptional leader and his value is significant to us on every level. Now Sanchez is here and is expected to play. All we can do is hope he is mentally present for Arsenal, at least until January 1st.
  • Yes. Lucas Perez, Gibbs and Gabriel were all sold. But idiots like Walcott, Bellerin still sit pretty on the wage bill. Xhaka has been abysmal this season but he needs another 6 months of performing like this to be labeled ‘ a waste of space’ (he’s getting there though)
  • Lacazette was signed. Kolasinac was signed. An attacker and a versatile defender. Fair enough. But the lack of a disciplined tactical approach will make these signings pointless, which I fear will be the case with Wenger.

Both players did not start vs Liverpool in order to be rested for the international break this week. Tactics at its best.

I honestly have accepted that Arsenal will finish 7th this season. Top 4 is now, unfortunately, the real objective and we are in September.

Under Wenger, the situation seems to be neglected all the time. Actual issues like defensive formations and tactics are thrown out the window as we chose to defend like school boys and get humiliated thereafter. The more this is ignored by the manager, Arsenal fans should get used to the 3-0, 4-1 score lines because we will be having that more often than naught this season.

Liverpool 4 – 0 Spineless FC

Alexis

Let’s just try and be objective about what happened at Anfield on sunday.

Arsenal’s lack of organization is something I will talk about in detail in my next post. This is something that  I have called and foreseen a long time ago. It really does appear to be coming true (how I wish I was wrong).

What we witnessed on sunday should be made into a DVD and shown to children in football academies of what you should never strive to do. It was pathetic and Wenger as usual in his post match conference, when asked about the reason, conjures this :

That question is very difficult to answer straight after the game. There are some reasons but I don’t think I have too much to come out on that at the moment.

Really ?

Can you not call it like it is. That the defense lacked organization. That we needed to adapt quickly to the first goal and we didn’t. That the players seemed off and that we needed to have a better game plan.

No. Instead cite the “good” performances vs Stoke (we lost) and Leicester (we just won)

Last season I said that after 30 games. We’ve played three games, one at home and two away. In our two first games we were quite good and performances good. Today was not acceptable. Today was not acceptable at that level.

Good ? or Lucky ??

To those people who saw the game on sunday, my heart goes out to you. We played so badly that it’s hard to digest a performance like within the first 3 matches of the season.

This is the Arsenal, or what’s left of it. So bloody disgraceful.

ANALYSIS :

For today’s post, I have decided to do a quick summary analysis of the way these spineless turds played on sunday. To compare, I have listed out what Liverpool did in each situation also.

Please be warned if the photos are not very clear, this was my first time with a camera.

The below figure shows a Liverpool side where each player has a rough idea of where his position should be.

img_0220.jpg

It is important to note here that Liverpool does not have possession of the ball and thus this is the default (without the ball) set structure of the team i.e a 4-3-3 or a 4-5-1 depending on the situation.

IMG_0217

The above figure is when we were trailing 1-0. Liverpool now has possession of the ball. Look at the formation. What exactly is this?

Seriously, what exactly is this?

5-4-1 or a 4-4-2 ??

Who knows where Alex Chamberlain is?

Not his fault though, he has not been instructed properly. Just told to ‘do your best’

5 mins later, we have this…

IMG_0222

Just look at the clueless Bellerin ball-watching, not even aware of the full-back calling out for a through ball. Just look at the space!

Now, it should be noted that Arsenal has shifted to a 5-4-1 and they were trailing at this point with no threats to the Liverpool goal (excluding Welbeck’s sitter) Liverpool, on the other hand, has still kept their structure(a little stretched), despite being the ones in the lead.

Liverpool, on the other hand, has still kept their structure(a little stretched), despite being the ones in the lead.

Yes, Mr. Wenger. A 5-4-1 when we trail 1-0…did you ever think about switching from a 3 man defense to maybe a 4-3-3 or a 4-4-1-1?

2 mins later…Arsenal tries to attack.

Liverpool does not have the ball, just look at how they setup/re-shuffle accordingly. All Arsenal players are marked via zones. For 6 Arsenal players there are 6 Liverpool players on screen (barring Mane who is still tracking back)

IMG_0225

Sanchez has the ball, but there is nobody fucking available. Why ? Because Bellerin is strolling around near him and if I am not wrong, Xhaka is chatting up with the Spaniard. The only 2 people trying to do something is Ozil and Welbeck, but given the brilliance in their positioning Sanchez can’t seem to find anyone free.

1 min later after Arsenal loses the ball and Liverpool attack…

IMG_0228

Mane is free. The defense for some reason has become narrow. It looks like the formation and changed to a 5-2 something. Chamberlain has no clue who is at the back of him. Bellerin is again ball-watching. This was a similar position where he was caught out and could not deal with an incoming tap in (missed) by Salah (thank you, Petr Cech).

When you lack organization and instructions the above pictures are what you get. School boy defending and a shambolic shameless performance. There is no leader at the club and there is no will.

Arsenal’s will probably finish 8th or 9th this season given the way they are playing and while this is pretty disgusting it is the most realistic thing which fans should get tuned with. This is not going to be our season, in fact, I do not know what will be our season. Don’t put your hopes up and think a comeback is on…the problems lie at the heart of the team and in its structure and formation. If you send a navy seal unarmed vs someone who has a gun, no matter what seal training teaches you, the latter has leverage.

Arsenal right now is the navy seal (actually even worse, they probably have no training) and the season is the armed man.

In the words of Tyrion Lannister, yes, sir, we are truly

“fucked”

My request to all Arsenal fans…

This season isn’t going to be pretty.

Imagine you’re in school, and for no reason, Timmy (Class clown) thinks it funny to scratch the chalk board with his compass.

That terrible screech. It’s going to be like that. Honestly, it already feels like it.

Anyone remember that joke that never gets old with an Arsenal fan? No, not this one.

Arsenal 4th

The other one.

The one which says that an Arsenal fan is immune to heartbreak because while heartbreak happens to people once in a while, Gooners have their heart broken every single season.

Thus we turn skeptical and sometimes even if people do not want to admit it, a tad bitchy (not to mention, pessimism is bred too!)

Justified ?

Maybe.

If you don’t think so, try and support Arsenal for a decade. As I had written earlier, 4 years 1 month and 24 days ago :

But to see Arsenal is like to see a diver walking the plank and just standing there. Everybody waits in anticipation for the dive, for that lunge forward but it never happens. And it pisses the audience/me off so much….

I am not going to be all goody-goody and say that we should be united and stand behind the club (there are so many other blogs where you get stuff like that). To be honest with you, I actually do feel that even the skeptical ones are behind the club. They support the club and shed their hard earned money to see Arsenal (despite the circus show they pay to see)

This is a fact no doubt, I stand behind Arsenal. 100%.

Behind Wenger?

No.

But as far as the Arsenal is concerned, I am there all 38+ games of the season.

(FYI, before I get all the hate in the world concerning I am not behind Wenger comment, please, I do not care. If I disagree with his tactics, I just disagree. It is what it is, nothing personal.)

I am just going to leave you with this.

Don’t sit idle and watch the Arsenal, if you are not going to be vocal about things which really piss you off. To the fans going to the stadium, please DO shout at the players(especially that bozo Walcott) and go livid if we perform at a level which doesn’t meet your expectations.

You are the backbone of the club and no matter people say, you will always remain the backbone of this great institution. 

Let’s not kid ourselves okay? We know it’s already frustrating us to see Arsenal playing like they were last season. If you have any doubts regarding this, just think about our last game vs Stoke and the lack of ideas. I think things will be clear.

It’s been 180 minutes and this is our state. We have another 3240+ minutes left.

Doesn’t look good, does it?