The 18 minute roundup

I have 18 minutes until I have to take my daughter to school so here’s your 18 minute recap. Maybe I should change the byline for the site to “the web site for the apathetic Arsenal fan” or “the place to go when you’re trying to wean yourself off of Arsenal but still kinda care enough to post something.”

Man City are still winning the League. They have now broken the record for most wins with a thrilling.. eh.. win over Tottenham Hotspur. City literally dismantled Spurs, ripping off the narrative armor so carefully constructed over the years about how Spurs play with heart, how they are such a great team for the English national side, and how they put the pressure on. If Spurs are an example of English football, then English football is decades behind the continent.

Spurs naked were just a long ball team a long ball team making snide tackles and trying to break legs. Dele Alli went in hard on Kevin de Bruyne and stood on his tibia. The referee gave a yellow, a yellow for cowardice: both the ref’s and Alli’s. De Bruyne dusted himself off, collected the ball with a wince, and drove straight at Spurs, scoring a thumping goal straight through the arms of Lloris. It was my favorite goal of the weekend – you can’t even kick City off the pitch, it will only make them angry.

And Arsenal won too. Won one. One nil. To the Arsenal. I fell asleep. I was woken from my slumber when Xhaka turned the ball over a dozen (14) times in the second half. I tried to make out whether Newcastle were even pressing him, I guess so?

I have to admit I was wrong about Xhaka. Naveen (he used to write a tactics column here) was right, Xhaka is not really that good. I was so high on Arsenal buying him and he’s turned out to have all the flaws Naveen said he would. Maybe I’ve been spoilt on the Fabregases and Artetas and Denilsons but Xhaka is bad bad bad. I tweeted “he’s got all the defense of Denilson and half the passing ability” and you and I both know it’s true. He’s lumbering, he’s a liability with the ball and he can’t tackle. When he does play defense, he doesn’t know where to go or who to cover. It’s frightening because his replacement is Elneny. Elneny is better with the ball but worse at defending and he’s the only reason why Xhaka starts so often.

Wilshere looked good. I hope he stays healthy and re-signs for Arsenal. Why not? The one thing I will point out is that his dribbling doesn’t come off as well in the Premier League as it has in Europa. He’s not given the same amount of space and time. But I love the fact that he can and does get the ball in to the forwards with his close control.

Times up.

Check out my By the Numbers piece on Arseblog news.

Be good to each other.





  1. Hey Tim, if short snippets mean that we’re going to get a little more of you than we otherwise might, I’ll take that deal.

    Funny you should mention Naveen… he came to mind the other day when you wrote a preview, and I thought how different his would have been. Have to say I didn’t like his pieces at all. I thought, with his studious intellectualism laced with wild assumptions, that he was full of it. But to his credit, his pieces were unlike anything else on offer in football punditry.

    I’ve been plenty critical of Xhaka, but I thought that he looked decent to good when we played with a back four. Interestingly, Ian Wright said on Match of the Day that he’s in danger of losing his place to Wilshsere, whose performance against Newcastle the pundits really liked. Some here think that a like-for-like wouldn’t be tactically sound. Interesting that Wrighty apparently sees no issues with that. Guess well over analyse these things too much sometimes.

    1. Hey Tim, if short snippets mean that we’re going to get a little more of you than we otherwise might, I’ll take that deal.


      I second this motion!

        1. Yeah, man! You could start a series of columns titled “7:15,” where the understanding is that your readers are getting whatever 7am is able to write in 15 minutes. Even something stream-of-consciousness-y would be welcome. Wouldn’t have to be every day, of course, but if you would enjoy doing that…I would enjoy reading!

          1. (And then your lengthier posts, under the normal 7am format, would occur whenever you had time. Only if you want to, of course. You owe us nothing.)

    2. Nah. Pay yourself first.

      Wake up in the morning, write for an hour on your book. If you do well and you have tone after dinner you can give us 30 minutes.

      I’m going to miss you though.

  2. Ok, can’t really disagree with any of the substance of that (though Ozil’s was my favorite goal of the weekend), but here’s a (probably unpopular) prediction:

    If given sufficient time (and assuming no major injuries), Xhaka will still come good at Arsenal.

    He’s been bad this year, absolutely, but he’s still got the tools to be very good, and he’ll show them, eventually (even assuming he’s never the player he could be, given Wenger’s coaching decisions frequently lead to limiting players’ potential). I actually thought he was very good against Newcastle in the first half, and solid up to about the 70 minute mark, but he was terrible at the end when we were crying out for a bit of composure.

    1. Could you elaborate on what you mean by “come good”? Would it look like a better passing percentage? More assists/key passes? Better control under pressure? There are limits to how much he could improve any one of those things. Me, I’d be happy if he didn’t switch off while covering a runner three feet in front of goal. I thought he would learn from his mistakes, but so far, he’s had chances and hasn’t improved. To me, that says he won’t improve.

  3. Difficult to disagree with the general anti Xhaka line.
    Although he bossed it against Huddersfield (!), he never makes you feel he’s going to do so against anyone else, particularly against the bigger teams (but he was good against Utd).
    Is Nzonzi being lined up as his replacement or midfield partner?

  4. It’s just as likely that Xhaka will lose his spot to Maitland-Niles when Wenger eventually gets around to playing him in his preferred defensive midfield role, and being right footed he’ll balance the midfield up a little. It’ll give Kolasinac a route back into the side also. Perhaps not against Liverpool (and Ramsey has to fit in there also), but I can see it coming soon. Xhaka’s a liability.
    Good to see you still posting, even if in small doses Tim.

    1. I’ve defended Xhaka a lot, but my patience has worn thin. He is becoming a big liability. If AMN is a defensive midfielder by choice, I am all for him getting a shot! His dribbling is way beyond Xhaka’s, and he’s fast and can actually play defense. I will gladly sacrifice Xhaka’s occasional great through balls for more consistent defense and better control of the ball.

  5. While I was watching Xhaka play against Newcastle, I thought to myself ” Wow, even Denilson was better than this”. It was a after the third time he gave the ball away after not being under any sort of pressure whatsoever. He is an extremely limited footballer – something I have mentioned on here earlier, but I had hopes he can improve. That hope is fading fast. Maybe under a different system his flaws won’t be as exposed as much. However when you give the ball away with shameful regularity like he was doing I am not sure how you can play well in any system. Maybe in a 4-3-3 when he has two hard working defensive minded midfielders next to him, he can shine because he doesn’t have to play defense. He can just collect the ball from one of the midfielders and spray it around, which seems to be just about the only thing he is good it, but that is such a limited skill compared to what’s required from a midfielder these days!

  6. Hi all, I am just curious if any of you are a red member in to be able to view tickets available for the Arsenal v. Chelsea game on Jan 3rd 2018?

    I will be visiting London for a possible first time watching Arsenal and would like to buy but can’t decide if I should become a member only to find out there are no tickets left. I have called box office but they cannot share that info.

    If any of you are red member and are willing to share, that’d be great. Only to check availability, not to actually buy it.

    1. Follow the twitter handle called @arsenal_tickets. There are lot of sellers who sell their tickets even till the last minute before kickoff. I was able to see RedStar and NLD through this route. However, do exercise the usual caution and dont pay till you have the ticket in hand. Hope you get to see us punch Chel$hit. Cheers!

  7. I always read ‘The Game’ supplement on Monday in The Times and have suspected a bias towards Spurs in their writing for some time. They have made contentious refereeing decisions concerning Arsenal their front cover story on a few occasions. But yesterday’s edition made me laugh when they managed to bury City’s humbling of Spurs somewhere deep inside the paper and made the headline of that match ‘New City video risks wrath of Mourinho ‘. Nothing about the fact they hammered the Spuds. Maybe I should just read a different newspaper.

  8. Your By the Numbers piece is really interesting. Really sounds like Alexis ’tilting’ (esports term) is really hurting the team’s offence (not to speak of defence).

    Sounds like the midfield needs a revamp and a couple of new signings, too – replacements for Cazorla and Vieira.

  9. Maybe I should change the byline for the site to “the web site for the apathetic Arsenal fan” or “the place to go when you’re trying to wean yourself off of Arsenal but still kinda care enough to post something.”

    A hybrid of the two perhaps: “the website for the apathetic Arsenal fan who still kinda cares enough to post something”

  10. xhaka was awful at the end of both the west ham game and the newcastle game. last season, when wenger preferred cazorla to xhaka, that made sense as it gave xhaka time to “adapt” to the new league and the team. he’s had plenty of time and plenty of premier league minutes to be at a higher level and still he struggles.

    both frank and mo are smarter players without the ball than xhaka is. although neither of them are defensive mids, one of them should get a chance to play ahead of xhaka. i’m not suggesting that xhaka should be sold but he should be benched; he should be taught that what he’s been doing isn’t good enough.

  11. Le Grove (sometimes well worth a read if you avoid the comments section) are suggesting that Arteta is more or less confirmed as the next manager. I could go with that. The source of this story is apparently the Telegraph who seem to have a direct line to Ivan Gazidis and usually get it right.

      1. Probably true about Matt Lawson (who wrote this particular article), but anything that originates with Jeremy Wilson is usually very reliable.

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