Ill-prepared Arsenal collapse under Liverpool press

When routine bites hard
And ambitions are low
And resentment rides high
But emotions won’t grow
And we’re changing our ways, taking different roads
Then love, love will tear us apart again
Love, love will tear us apart again

My dishes sat over night in a stinking pile. I “soaked” one pot that I had used for baked beans. The water and sugars combined with the 90F weather yesterday proved the perfect environment for fermentation and my kitchen is pregnant with the sickly sweet smell of garbage. It was entirely predictable. If I had thought about it for 10 seconds I wouldn’t have soaked that pot. I’ve done this before and every time I get the same result: me waking up to a sink full of regret.

Arsenal’s result yesterday was equally predictable. Before the match we all had a nervous chuckle about the center backs and a few moments of discussion about who Wenger would plop in front of them. The debate was divided between those who thought Wenger would look to cover the center backs with Coquelin and those who said he would look to have ball control with Elneny. Everyone assumed Arsenal’s near record midfield signing, Granit Xhaka, would start.

In a shock move, he played Coquelin and Elneny together with Aaron Ramsey.

Nothing about that pairing worked. Coquelin didn’t shore up the defense and Coquelin-Elneny-Ramsey couldn’t get the ball forward from the center backs. Alexis had just one shot in the entire match. He also was forced to try to win 8 aerial duels, each time challenging for the ball, each time getting beaten, and each time rasing his hands to say “why are you doing this to me?”

There will be those who say “yeah, but the first half wasn’t bad” and statistically they are correct: Arsenal and Liverpool played a relatively even match in the first half with both teams showing defensive frailties and a common inability to get control of the ball. But the difference was that Arsenal were riding their luck in midfield and tactically we were playing a bankrupt system that was bound to collapse.

space

Arsenal left the center backs exposed time and again in possession. The few times Elneny dropped to collect the ball he was instantly pressed by Liverpool. He was the better of the two center mids with the ball at feet. Coquelin also was instantly pressed and unlike Elneny who was pretty tidy, Coquelin turned the ball over. Running full-speed with the entire Liverpool midfield bearing down on Arsenal’s two center backs, Liverpool were literally just a few offsides and a scuffed shot away from totally dominating Arsenal.

Note that I didn’t mention Aaron Ramsey as part of the Arsenal midfield. He really wasn’t. He rarely is. He loves to play as a forward. He’s not a “Lampard”. He’s not a “#10”. He’s a striker. He was dribbled by Mignolet. He had more shots than Alexis. His shots were from deeper in the box than Alexis. Alexis played an overlapping ball to him. He had zero tackles and zero interceptions along with zero through balls and zero key passes. He is like Falcao, a player who only passes so that he can bomb forward and try to collect the return pass. He is not a creative midfielder. He doesn’t drop to collect the ball. He is not a midfielder. He once was. He’s not any more. And I’m not sorry if that makes you angry. It should make you angry.

Liverpool’s domination was coming but didn’t come until the 46th minute. Coming right out of the half, Klopp instructed his men to give him 20 minutes of pressing and told them to attack down Monreal’s side of the pitch. That’s exactly what they did and they put on a clinic. It wasn’t until Arsenal were forced to sub off Ramsey and Iwobi that they gained a foothold back in the game. And eventually Wenger took off Elneny for Xhaka and Arsenal actually took control.

Arsenal did score 2 goals to their 3 in the second half and made it look like a closer contest than it was. In the 20 minutes that Liverpool scored their three goals, Arsenal were rumbled. That was the worst I’ve seen Arsenal play in recent memory.

Before the match, most Arsenal supporters were worried about the inexperienced pairing of Chambers and Holding but Klopp didn’t attack through the middle, he focused on Monreal and exposed the more experienced defender badly. Pep also attacked Monreal last season with Bayern and while his team were able to generate shots, they couldn’t finish. This time, Klopp attacked Monreal and his team were able to finish. Three of the four Liverpool goals were produced through Arsenal’s left back area: Lallana scored Liverpool’s second when Monreal was caught too centrally and leaving two players open in the box on his far post; the Liverpool third was a bit of a lucky goal but Clyne beat Monreal to put in the cross; and the fourth goal was simply Mane beating Chambers and then Monreal to scoop home the ball.

No wonder that after the match, Wenger said “Maybe we lacked a bit of experience but if you look well at the goals, I don’t think it was necessarily the inexperienced players that cost us the goals today.”

The biggest problem, though, is that this was supposed to be a well prepared team. Wenger has put off all talk about buying players and has said time and again that his focus is on the team we have and his current players: about specifically preparing them for the new season. He has spoken time and again about the importance of continuity and of how his players are growing and getting better every season. He can’t even use the excuse of Mertesacker and Gabriel ruining his preparations. Mertesacker was injured a month ago and surely Wenger has been working with Holding and Chambers since then to get them up to speed?

Wenger also wanted to lean on the excuse that his players were tired. Yes, that’s true. Alexis and Ramsey played this summer, also Cazorla wasn’t 100% and Xhaka wasn’t 100% either, I guess. But the players he had on the pitch didn’t play this summer, so they aren’t tired. Those players didn’t give the effort needed to stop Liverpool walking through their lines. Even the commentators on Arsenal.com, who are like Baghdad Bob when it comes to Arsenal, complained that the Arsenal midfield wasn’t giving enough. Elneny and Ramsey combined for ZERO tackles and just two interceptions.

Where were the players running for each other? Where was Ramsey, the supposed number 10? Where were the players presenting for each other? Pressing together? Where was this much vaunted teamwork that Wenger has spent the last two weeks drilling into his players?

The bare fact is that Wenger’s team was unprepared. They were unprepared for the press, they were physically unprepared, and the starting XI looked like he threw it together at the last minute. Buying players will certainly appease the Arsenal fans for a little while, but the fact that Wenger’s team was dreadfully unprepared for a press that EVERYONE knew Klopp would apply is the canary in the coal mine.

If Wenger isn’t going to buy players and he’s instead going to talk about how important it is to keep his team together and to work with the players he has, then it’s entirely his fault when those players don’t perform. And yesterday, in the home opener, Arsenal didn’t perform.

Qq

47 Comments on Ill-prepared Arsenal collapse under Liverpool press

  1. Wenger’s body language in the Q&A after the match was interesting, especially the facial movements around his his mouth. He gave the distinct impression of someone who’s under big-time pressure, of being caught out without a shred of anything to offer by way of explanation. Not really convinced the pressure he feels is discontent from the fan base. That’s been there for a long time, and he’s always appeared more composed than yesterday, so there could be something else going on. Wouldn’t be surprised if the futures of Ozil, Sanchez et al might be hanging in the balance, which is the key word for what the club is really missing. The offensive talent is first-class, indeed an embarrassment of riches. But as strong as that element is, the defense just sucks, … absolutely sucks. This isn’t a jab at the players, I assume they’re making their best effort. But unless you’ve got a good, solid defense – and that includes depth + good starters – then the offense can perform miracles and the results will still be all over the place. There’s no balance to the team, … and this is the responsibility of the management and especially Wenger. checked around for the transfer fee for Hummels, and it’s not far off from what Mustafi may cost. That’s one point, but a bigger point is that when asked early in the summer about contacts with Arsenal he replied there were none. A world class defender who ticks all the boxes, and there weren’t any contacts from a club like Arsenal that could really use him.

  2. While I was admittedly hopeful we will buck the trend but I didn’t really expect a win as we seem to have become slow starters (I don’t think Wenger has really intended to win the league in recent years).

    I stopped watching at 4 – 1 but was ‘sadly happy’ as I saw it as the kick up the backside Wenger needed to buy some more players. Alas I was distraught to later find out we escaped with such a flattering result.

    Good job Tim.

  3. Well said.
    So here’s my burning question: is there any way to convince/help Ramsey to become a midfielder again (preferably a box-to-box who can actually contribute to our pass-and-move buildup play before the final third)?? I think his goals in his breakout season mask the fact that he was pretty decent at most other aspects of playing the midfield role too. At some point (FA Cup Final?) the goalscoring went to his head and he decided he didn’t want to work on the other aspects of his game, some of which still seriously need polishing if he’s to become the world class midfielder he could be.
    But if not, if the answer to my question is no, then I don’t see how he fits into our team anymore, which is a shame.

    • Sure there is. Tell him to play a certain way and bench him if he doesn’t. And by benching him I mean bury him so that he’s not on the match day squad. Unfortunately, Wenger seems to have a Walcott sized soft spot when it comes to Aaron.

    • Ramsey was excellent in the Euros because the Wales team was built around maximizing his and Bale’s abilities. Tactically the squad was instructed to center their focus on Ramsey/Bale.

      He had one goldilocks season. He’s a very good player but injury prone and undisciplined. I say this knowing it would never happen but he should be cashed in on. Our new manager next year will probably sell him off.

  4. Did anyone really expect anything else? Arsenal, to paraphrase John Cross, have been regularly undercooked in August for the past 10 years.

    The construction of this squad is mystifying. One OK DM (Coquelin), two pretty good holding midfielders(Elneny, Xhaka), one “pure” central midfielder (Cazorla), one rogue midfielder (Ramsey), one chronically lame midfielder (Wilshere), one wildly inconsistent midfielder (Oxlade-Chamberlain), one confused ingénue midfielder (Iwobi)… need I go on.

    All of Wenger’s failings in full display these past few weeks; you don’t need experienced players if you are a manager capable of COACHING your young players and preparing them properly. Experienced players have more license for on-field autonomy, but this week, knowing you needed to play Holding/Chambers and Bellerin in the same back line there should have been incessant drilling for hours to get them ready. I will bet you there was little of that. Coquelin and Elneny made sense to shield the young CB’s, but Walcott instead of Campbell? Campbell would have helped Bellerin more. Iwobi not ready to help Monreal.

    Brutal. This is on Wenger.

    Prediction – in typical Arsenal fashion we’re going to Leicester next week and losing, Vardy and Mahrez both to score.

    0-2 to start the season. Prepare for the shit to hit the proverbial fan.

  5. Can’t argue with any of that. The Ramsey numbers in particular are mind boggling. Maybe his game works when you can set up specifically to get the best out of him like with Wales but he doesn’t seem interested in playing for anyone but himself. It’s worrying that even after giving him a bit of a dressing down a while back Arsene doesn’t seem interested in tempering Ramsey’s attacking instincts in any way.

    I know this is a stupid question but is there anything in his game that suggests he could be a fox in the box striker? If he’s only interested in playing as a forward what’s the point in setting up a team with him in midfield?

    • I’ve thought about this, but there are two problems.
      First, he’s hardly anyone’s idea of a dream forward:
      1. He doesn’t have the size/strength to hold up the ball with his back to goal or consistently win headers against CB’s.
      2. He doesn’t have the pace to go past defenders or run in behind.
      3. He’s a decent dribbler but doesn’t really have the skills to run at defenders and dribble past them (plus see point 2 above–you tend to need pace for this anyway).
      4. He makes good runs in the box and has a good eye for goal (in this way he is like Lampard), but he’s hardly a phenomenally gifted natural poacher: he gets in good positions but when his confidence is down he does miss chances.

      So I hardly think it’s worth playing him in an entirely new position as a striker at this point in his career, and besides this would necessitate going back to a 4-4-2, or something similar, since it’s hard to see how he could be a lone CF, and (as in the case when people suggest this for Giroud) I don’t think what he’d provide the team would make it worth it to change to a formation that is still largely outdated, wouldn’t be ideal for the majority of the team, and isn’t how Wenger wants to set up (a point about Wales: I think it’s less about them building their team around him, and more that their more defensive/counterattacking style is what more naturally fits his game (or the player he’s decided to become): quick-paced transitions, high risk/high reward passing, lung-busting runs into the final third). This leads to the second problem:

      The fox-in-the-box striker–think Lineker, Fowler, Paolo Rossi, Jimmy Greaves, Inzaghi, late career Michael Owen, Ian Wright to some degree–is largely a creature of the past, and will be until everyone switches back to two forwards. And it may even be then, since having such a narrow skill set doesn’t fit with the hyper athleticism, positional versatility, and defensive demands of the modern game.

      • I agree with Tim’s assessment that Ramsey is a striker. It’s gone through my head a few times. Much like how David Luiz was born to play as a combative CM, but is a liability at CB.

        PFo – Your assessment is spookily similar to mine.

        However I think that Ramsey’s movement and eye for goal might be under-appreciated given that he is nominally a midfielder, and quite a few of the chances he is narrowly missing now might turn into goals if a) He knows that he is a pure attacker, b) His teammates know to look for him when eyeing which attacker to slip the ball to. Why? Because the decision-making is likely to be that little bit quicker, which might enable him to nip in ahead of defenders and get that extra little bit of space to shape his shots (I think it’s a testament to the quality of Fat Frank that he made juggling these responsibilities look so easy).

        That said, because he has the lungs for the striker role, but not the frame, I think Ramsey might make a better out-and-out striker for a lesser light. I mean, he might make a decent gamble for Southampton (who are in the process of converting Nathan Redmond to a forward), Sunderland or Crystal Palace.

  6. You left out Theo’s very poor penalty and later tripping over the ball while open in the box. He’s going to have one hell of a lowlight reel when he’s done.

    I would be interested in further insight into Monreal’s weaknesses. I’ve always thought of him as a strong point. He certainly made a nice run for Iwobi, opening up space for the cross to Theo. He also made a nice run at the end of the game, if Santi had played the ball in front of him we might have equalized.

    I thought that above all we missed Ozil. Our attack was mostly down to individual effort. Not classic Arsenal probe and pass. Maybe that’s a change by Wenger or maybe it was dictated by Pool’s positioning. I would have to rewatch to be sure. But it felt like if we’d had Ozil, Sanchez would have gotten more shots.

    I was surprised that we didn’t start Xhaka and Cazorla. The combination seems perfectly suited to disrupting the press. I assume that it was a combination of lack of fitness and Wenger wanting to go conservative.

    A pity. Three points needlessly wasted. I wish we had the defensive wherewithal to protect a lead. One nil and all that.

    On the positive side, Ox showed some real potential as a super sub. (Though the brain farts are going to prevent him from becoming a starter) Gnabry is going to be LANS. And the machine as a whole is going to work much better once our Euro boys are back.

    I’m confident we’ll bring in a defender. I remain hopeful that we will buy an attacker.

    • What will it do to add a defender and an attacker?

      Unless we are getting Griezmann, I can’t see us dominating teams offensively.

      • A little pessimistic, surely? If we can find a midfield three that works to break teams down by transitioning quickly with vertical passing through the lines–think Ozil-Cazorla-Xhaka or Ozil-Elneny-Xhaka, or even just 2015’s Ozil-Cazorla-Coquelin–and we can add pacy, goal-scoring quality at striker and/or right wing, then I would expect us to dominate most PL teams offensively.

      • He won’t buy either anyway so moot point. He is done in the transfer window and has alluded to that fact several times. “New is just new” for example and talking the young CB’s during pre-season. He has the squad he wants and will not add.

  7. Last season Wenger couldn’t manage a win against Pochettino, nor Slaven Bilic. Klopp ate him alive yesterday, and I have a sneaking suspicion Koeman knows a thing or two about strategy and approach. Conte is also a quality manager, and when we add Guardiola and the ever present Jose, I have a feeling Wenger’s failings when approaching games will be seriously exposed.
    These are all the managers that have serious ambition for the same top four spots and never before had the Premier League had so many astute managers at once.
    I mean, realistically, how many points can we expect to get against that lot? Not to mention the away trips to Stoke or Southampton and I believe this will finally be the year Arsenal drops out of the top four.
    It doesn’t matter if we sign Boateng and Bale, let alone Lacazette/Mustafi, I fear losses like yesterday will come in abundance this season.

    • The three Prem teams that can significantly outspend us for players have added the world’s two most successful managers of the past decade and Serie A’s best manager prior to being the miracle worker who took a moribund Italian side to the Euro quarters. Not only do they have better players, they have better managers. They’re likely fighting for the title. Liverpool and Tottenham are really are direct rivals for fourth. While we can marginally outspend them for players, we choose not to. And Klopp and Pochettino are what Arsene was two decades ago, bright young managers who bring the best of what’s happening in terms of modern football tactics. Pundits have predicted us to fall out of the top four for a decade and I’ve never agreed with those predictions until this season. I fear even if we add the players we need, Wenger’s refusal to modernize his tactical approach will see us drop out the top four.

    • Where would one rank Wenger in terms of the current EPL manager roster?

      I would rank Guardiola, Mourinho, Klopp, Pocchetino and Koeman ahead of him in terms of current managerial ability. Conte is unproven but on pedigree might be considered better. Bilic is building a case, but not quite there yet.

      In the past it could be argued that because of Wenger we’ve been able to punch above our weight when it comes to our final table placing vs. our financial power. ie. if we were 6th in net spend then Wenger was worth another +2 positions in the table… but arguably was that because the quality of managers ahead of us were weaker? That doesn’t exist anymore.

      Lest we forget, the managerial quality at the bottom is getting better as well; Moyes ain’t a bad manager for English football. Howe, Karanka, Puel, Guidolin, Mazzari… not bad managers that may be able to get at least a few surprises on Wenger from the bunch.

      I’m thinking we slide not just out of the top 4 this year, but out of the top 6.

      • No way. Far too pessimistic. I don’t deny that Wenger has his failings, the biggest one being stubbornly refusing to pay the money required to strengthen, but he is still comfortably better than all those managers you mention in your fourth paragraph and a match for most of the managers in your second: even if the likes of Klopp outcoach him in a head-to-head matchup, I think over the course of a season Arsenal still have every chance of being more consistent than Klopp’s team. Wenger’s coaching style was never made for great preparation for one-off occasions–if you want that, might as well go for one R. Benitez. It’s one reason that Arsenal have underperformed in the Champions’ League knockout stages. But between, e.g., Benitez and Wenger, I know who I’d prefer over a 38 game PL season…
        Having said that, staying in the top 4 will hardly be a cakewalk. Much depends on these next two weeks of the transfer window 🙁

        • This notion that Wenger’s managerial style is more suited to a season long campaign versus an elimination game is… antiquated. Every game is now a “one-off” when you consider the amount of scouting and match preparation that goes into those games. My other team is Bayern Munich – Guardiola would change tactics and personnel game to game, regardless of opponent his preparation for each game was specific to the upcoming opponent. In other words he treated each game like a one-off.

          Where Wenger beats Benitez (and Mourinho for that matter) is that he doesn’t wear out his players with constant preparation. But then you get a Guardiola, Ancelotti, Klopp, Koeman who are able to strike the proper balance between preparing your players and not killing them in the process. I think the fulcrum for modern management has moved and Wenger has not adjusted. He’s probably a great manager to play for. That doesn’t mean he knows what it takes to win any longer.

          Thierry Henry is on to something – we can’t recruit anymore. What player who is 22, 23 wants to come to Arsenal to play for Wenger? A few, maybe. But they are increasingly the exception, not the rule. Players want to get paid, want to win, want to be made better. Wenger may be able to do the first, but it’s looking less and less like he’s able to do the latter two.

          • Mate we LITERALLY just got Granit Xhaka, who at 23 is one of the highest rated young midfielders in the world. Stop uttering bullshit to fuel your agenda.

            If you’re going to go ahead and downplay how much of a significant signing Xhaka is and will be, it’s clear you’re just speaking in drivel and hyperbole.

      • I’m not a fan of latter-day, vacillating, prevaricating Wenger, but I don’t support the notion that he’s a worse manager than Koeman or Conte, unproven in England. He just has not prepared his squad sufficiently well for the start of the season. Again.

        Pound for pound, we are a better team than Liverpool, and can out-tactic them. At full-strength (I know, I know), we’d beat them more often than not. It’s his compulsive gambling that cost us.

        Those of us who have turned against Wenger do not doubt his fine qualities as a manager. But he needs to address our shortcomings, which he hasn’t done or is painfully slow to do.

        • Wenger is a gambler? Maybe on the wrong things i.e. the health of his squad. His problem is an ingrained conservatism that makes him shy to pull the trigger in the transfer market, slow to change tactics and over-reliant on certain personnel that ends up wearing them down/under-rotated.

          • Wenger is totally a gambler.

            He has no problem spending big on young prospects like Chambers/Walcott/Ox/Ramsey etc. Those are huge risks to take and cost him money that he could be spending on ready-mades. Where he’s ultra conservative is in not buying ready-made players.

            He also loves gambling on squad fitness and completeness. He couches these things as being conservative, but it wasn’t conservative to only buy Cech last season. That was straight up ludicrous chance taking.

  8. Ughhhhh brutally spot on.

    Surely you start your best players and have the option to sub them off if fatigued. Ramsey ahead of cazorla, really?

    I love Wenger. And yes, I am blinkered by it, because I remain a supporter of him despite the fact we’ve seen this disorganised, confused performance so many times over the last few years.

  9. Amy Lawrence as she has done in the past, took many words right out of my mouth in her Guardian piece. I’ll cherry pick, so you don’t have to read it unless you want to:

    “Arsène Wenger’s gamble fails as Arsenal get a familiar feeling”
    by Amy Lawrence, excerpts below

    “It was one of those moments when the fine lines of sport suddenly crack open into a chasm. Sadio Mané’s lashed strike to put Liverpool 4-1 up sent an electric charge of excitement through (all Liverpool)”

    ” Arsène Wenger sat quietly in his dugout. Punctured. Behind him he must have felt the heat of angry fingers pointing.”

    “…the bigger picture tells the tale of an unfinished squad, a sense of perpetual juggling to try to cover vulnerabilities as best they can.”

    “This is his team, his planning, his preparation, and the evidence on the pitch confirmed all the concerns that were obvious for most of the summer.”

    “Liverpool, still a work in progress, managed stunning moments.”

    “One fan unfolded a piece of home printed A4, the standard these days for messages of discontent, which simply read: “Where’s our money?”

    “It is a fair enough question. While Wenger is entitled to point out that there is more to sporting attainment than spending power, as Leicester so beautifully proved last season, the accusation that Arsenal have not used all their resources to give themselves the best possible chance is a difficult one to defend. Again.”

  10. One more time: AGAIN.

    How many more times? As time grows short and we dither all Wenger is doing is running up prices he already doesn’t want to pay.

  11. Agree with most of that, Tim. In fact, I echoed your observation that early second half was the worst I’ve seen us play. However, this has too quickly become a bash-Ramsey thread. He didn’t have a good game. Who did? Cech kicked long all afternoon, because he had no confidence in the midfield or CBs to avoid Liverpool’s high press.

    Yesterday proved the importance of Mertesacker to our play. Keeper plays it to BFG, he strides with it, and/or passes with great accuracy to the shielding mids or even further forward. The control starts with him, and Koscielny. With an intelligent mid like Arteta or Cazorla, that control is consolidated. Holding on occasion played the Mertesacker, but Coquelin (the villain of the piece for me yesterday), failed to do his job properly. Result was we couldn’t keep the ball. How the hell was it supposed to get to Ramsey without backfield or midfield control?

    Chambers played on Monreal’s side, at LCB, and goal notwithstanding, he was the worst player on the pitch. His other position is RB, so not only did Arsene have two green youngsters playing, but both were right footed, one was actually playing out of his comfort zone, RCB.

    It’s a observation based on brief sightings, but Ox and Theo are not going to win us much this season. Theo has no trickery, something necessary for a forwrad. The Liverpool LB kept showing him the inside, and he did not have the ingenuity in his play to not go wide to the byline and try to cross. Falling over the ball I forgive him for. It happens. But not that penalty.

    i like Santi in the Ozil role in Ozil’s absence. He gave us plenty of cut and bite when he came on. I’m liking Iwobi more and more. Great vision, can run with the ball, has a a shot on him. Elneny was tidy, but was fighting a fire with a teacup of water. Alexis is not a CF. I’m not, today, going to talk about Wenger’s poor planning and preparation that had him play there. Arseblog today perfectly captures my feelings on that.

    All in all, a bad day at the office. Even Cech seemed affected by the second half chaos.

  12. The performance and result came as no surprise to anyone who knew about our needs this summer and the club’s failure to address them. More esoterically, the game itself felt like a microcosm of the traditional Wenger-season: Some early promise, followed by a string of disasters, and then a plucky late challenge that earned some respect but ultimately left us short. That describes not only our 90+ minutes against Liverpool yesterday, but also each one of our seasons the last decade.

    Everything about this club is predictable, from Wenger’s recalcitrance in the transfer market, to our CL R16 bow, our deplorable injury record, to our annual winter meltdown, bouncing back only when there’s nothing to play for. And the one constant at the center of all of it is Wenger. This must be his last season.

  13. I’m so sick of being an American surrounded by United and Chelsea fans. They had garbage seasons last season (and United a couple more before that) and I have NOTHING to say to them. It’s the same, stale, fermented garbage every season. I couldn’t watch the game yesterday but I wasn’t surprised at all to see us losing. Nothing is surprising anymore. There is no hope that anything extraordinary will happen. There is plenty of money in the bank and plenty going for Arsenal. But Arsene Wenger, if he doesn’t fundamentally change in a lot of ways, is going to destroy so much of what he built. I love the man, but it’s true. He’s going to burn Arsenal to the ground. And there’s nothing that can be done except numbly watch it happen.

  14. Wenger did right. The players didnt. These injuries will do us good.Wilshire/ Carzola is a better Ramsey any day when fit.Ox ,Wilshire , Walcott and Coq time to step Up. Hope to see them next game.

  15. One of the biggest gaping hole in the Arsenal squad right now (and not just the matchday squad yesterday) is absence of leaders on the pitch. Frankly for me leadership or having leaders in the team(in football) actually plays a much lesser role than say skill, athleticism, tactics, organisation etc but it can give you the extra 5% (basically an edge) in a match and sometimes that’s what it takes to win matches..

    Yesterday though, i dont think I have ever seen a much greater need of a strong leader on the pitch. the way we capitulated in the first 20 minutes of the second half was just flabbergasting. at that time we needed someone who could calm the nerves down, play the ball around a bit after being 2-1 down instead of the whole team just running around helter skelter like a bunch of scared rabbits! And i dont think we have any in the squad..And i believe having experience does not necessarily lend itself into leadership on the pitch. cech or mertesacker are experienced but not leaders on the “pitch”.

    Anyways hopefully we will find some joy in the coming matches! Ever the optimist!

  16. A couple of new signings will help but, it’s not going to solve the problem. The team have these games where they look horrible. It’s been happening too frequently. I don’t know if it’s my imagination, but since Pat Rice retired, Arsenal just haven’t looked as good. Coincidence?

  17. If we look at the match overall, the inexperience in the defense is shown when we try to build the game from the back. Koscielny and Merteserker know(by experience of playing together and with the forward midfielders, the double pivot) which angle to make run with the ball so that they can beat the initial press while one of the pivot shows himself for the release. If you look in the second half around 1-4 and later, monreal was continuously asking chambers to push forward with the ball. Elneny or coq could have dropped deeper to collect the ball but that means getting pushed more and more on the backfoot and Liverpool committing more men on the press. The only out of this would have been quickly getting ball from the back to either of the pivot or either of the wide forwards who had enough pace to beat their men. In any of the case, Ramsey was supposed to form the third vertex and provide the passing option. Could Ramsey have done anything more? like playing as the number 10 creating space and movement on and off the ball, also playing ahead of 2 more defensive minded mids, going into tackles all round the field, scoring goals, creating them, also defending the goal and making goal line clearance. We would never know. How about Wenger resigning and making Ramsey as the coach of this team. I guess, we can then bash him even more on his failures. If you dont play your regular striker forward you will have to bring the ball from the back. There were many instances before the implosion when 4 Liverpool players pressed the central defenders from the front in U shape. It was only a matter of time when such pressure would have led to turn-over and it did too but not by the central defenders.
    For the first goal, it was a soft foul and interesting position for the free kick. Could Cech have done more? I saw west ham goalie saving Willian’s free kick today from the same spot and it was equally well taken free kick placed in the top right corner. Hit ball with enough power on Cech’s right side and you can beat him more often than not.
    For the second goal, bellerin was too far from his man, coq/elneny allowed lalana to have free run on the goal. They stood for the other players to win the ball for them so that counter could be started. Monreal then Holding for the third goal and Monreal and Chambers for the fourth. In these calamitous results, it is rarely error of one or two players but a collective cluster-duck from the entire team and the system. Theo played well yesterday both offensively and defensively, cazorla’s free kick was amazing, as was the run of chamberlain but we can ignore the positives saying it was pure luck and keep on bashing the players and manager because that is the fashion nowadays. There is still time in the transfer window and things really do move in the last week. Like he says every time, judge him and his team at the end of the season.

    • The midfielders weren’t showing for the defenders. They were hiding like a couple of little cowards. It was shameful. That might be why Wenger took Elneny off instead of Coquelin, because with Coquelin you know his limitations physically but he’s not afraid. Elneny looked afraid, like the occasion was just too much for him.

  18. Like Coquelin, Elneny has his own limitations too but we have not seen him play that much so he is still a bit of an enigma(to me atleast) but he did play at a very good level against Barca at CampNou. Coquelin has different roles at multiple aspects of game going forward and dropping back. Continually dropping from the midfield and showing for the ball and rotating the passes has to be the last of them because everytime the ball somehow gets stuck to his feet when players press on him and he makes a very awkward pass and that’s why Santi is so much important for the team. He is a security against press because 9 out 10 times he will play 1-2 with his left and right foot and successfully evades the challenge and that’s just one aspect of his game. No doubt, he is going to be the most valuable player this season. Just imagine, had Santi played and injured himself yesterday, on the very first day of the season because of insufficient preparation. BottomLine is Coq/Elneny either switched off for the second goal or positioned themselves in counterAttacking positions expecting others to win and pass the ball to them so that they could start the counterattack.

  19. Shard is nowhere to be seen.It’s a common thing with his type.He’s probably consoling himself at Untold

    • That’s the spirit.

      Our team lost so have a go at a fellow fan who isn’t around to defend himself.

      That will solve all Arsenals problems.

      If you’ve an opinion on the match, or the team, or the manager, why not just tell us?

  20. Seeing many complaints for the 1st game of the season.
    Don’t care about last year (2nd if you need reminding)
    Kids played very well, all things considered. Nobody could have stopped Mane’s shot! Left foot too. Coutinho scored with his shin, and another from a mile.
    Walcott needed to make the penalty and Arsenal would have walked with a draw- at the very least.
    We had 3 very important starters missing, and Sanchez looked bewildered. You would be too if you had played as many minutes of futbol as this guy has in the last 3 years.
    Team will jell, maybe even get 1 or more signings coming in before the window.
    Have a chance to defeat the Champions again next week, Arsenal were the only team to beat them 2X last season.
    Onward and upward.
    Another perspective from the many.

  21. we feel your pain, tim.

    i wasn’t shocked to see elneny and coquelin play ahead of xhaka. in fact, i declared i believe that’s the direction wenger would go. xhaka didn’t impress me when i saw him this pre-season. likewise, elneny and coquelin have at least played in the premier league. the only surprise was that wenger played elneny in the dm spot while coquelin played in the #8 spot. i would have thought it the other way around. xhaka played some good passes forward but didn’t take up good positions when defending. luckily, by the time that he’d come on, liverpool didn’t really look to attack arsenal anymore. some of his tackles were ridiculous.

    ramsey playing ahead of cazorla was predictably silly. someone asked me a few threads back if i preferred an unfit cazorla start as the #10 ahead ramsey and did i prefer cazorla for his defensive nous. my reply was simply i preferred an unfit cazorla over an unfit ramsey. likewise, i preferred cazorla not for his defensive nous but his defensive responsibility. ramsey doesn’t fit this team.

    playing alexis at center forward was doomed to fail and it did. at least last year, wenger had us believing welbeck would be back. this year, he doesn’t even try to hide this missing need arsenal has.

    as for holding and chambers, i don’t know if chambers fits at arsenal either. in what position would you trust him? maybe wenger believed the success of the holding/champers partnership from this summer’s toulon tournament would transfer to the league. it clearly didn’t. speaking of that toulon tournament, is anyone speaking about the fact that two of arsene wenger’s 3 signings this transfer window played in that tournament (holding & asano)? i don’t know if that’s a legit point, merely a correlation i just made.

  22. Arsene is no longer Arsene the innovator anymore. It’s as if he’s throwing hail marys after hail marys expecting players to solve the on pitch problems. He’s gonna shore up the shortcomings no doubt but then opponents will find another chink in the armor.

  23. I agree with some of the points. Especially the point around Monreal’s side getting exposed. A midfielder helping out the left back would’ve gone some way in keeping Mane and co. in check.

    The point I don’t agree on is the selection in terms of Elneny and Coquelin. Coquelin is not the best with the ball at his feet but, he makes the interceptions like the one he made in the lead up to the first goal. Elneny does give assurance with his hustling style and looked comfortable in possession. Xhaka may have been a liability if Wenger deemed him not fit to start.

    What really hurt us and the point you made (as per me) is Ramsey’s unavailability in the deeper positions. He kept going forward rather than helping with the mid field. Both him and Alexis seemed to be lacking fitness and were no where near their best.

    Overall the team looked under cooked, physically no where near where they should be. I have said this many times on twitter last month, Liverpool played 10 games before the season opener. Arsenal played 5 with only one of them, the City one, which can be deemed competitive. Really disappointed, another season, same vulnerabilities.

    @samchez7

  24. Tim,

    One issue that I would be interested in your thoughts on is why AW seems so intent in the last few years on forcing British players into the team. There are just not that many good British players around, especially in the more technically oriented positions, and it seems unusual that we seem to be giving so much opportunity to a British core that has underperformed by any measure. When you look at our investment in Walcott, Ramsey, Chamberlain, Wilshere, Chambers, Gibbs, Welbeck, Jenkinson – the results just aren’t there. On a good team, no one from this group is anything more than just a squad player. I know that we are restricted to some extent to by the rules on home grown players, but what is the strategy behind such a a large investment in a pretty shallow pool of British talent?

  25. Jeremy
    There is no point in discussing why we lost.Everybody and his dog knew that,even before the match started.Nobody should be surprised we shipped four goals with a CB pairing of Chambers and Holding.The fact that this happened at the start of a new season where we had plenty of time for planning is frankly atrocious,indefensible but unfortunately all too predictable.Everyone knows why that is so.But some people come up with tired nonsense like ‘the window is still open’,’tranfers are not easy’ and so on.They’ll continue to argue in face of clear past history.I won’t argue with such types

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