Malcom in the middle

Imagine a player who likes to hug the touchline, who can break his opponent’s ankles with a dribble, destroys back lines with his throughball vision, but who predictably always cuts in on his favored foot, can’t really cross, shoot or dribble with his off foot, and who tends to like to receive the ball, stop, take on his man, work the ball onto his favored foot, stop his opponent again, and then cross. Arsenal supporters don’t have to imagine, they know that I am  talking about Malcom, the left-footed Brazilian right-winger who plays for Bordeaux in Ligue Un.

Let’s talk about stats (first), Baby. Malcom is 20 and this is his third season in european football after making the move to France from Corinthians in 2015. His main skill is ball control and at 20 years old already averages 3.1 successful dribbles per90. He’s a 70% dribbler which is excellent for a player who mainly operates in the wide attacking area. When Walcott was 20 years old, he averaged 1.5 per90 with a 33% success rate and when Alexis was 21 (I don’t have his dribbles data from the year prior) he averaged 2.7 per90 with a flat 50-50 chance of beating his man. So, Malcom is already way ahead of both players.

Malcom is a creative type. He’s not really using his dribble to create a shot for himself but rather looking to free up teammates. This season he’s averaging 2.6 key passes per90, Alexis at 21 was 2.7 and Theo 1.8. As for crossing, despite being entirely one-legged, Malcom is right there with Walcott (1.5/4.9) and Alexis (1.3/4.9) with his 1.5/4.7 accurate crosses.

Malcom also takes corners for his team. He’s already averaging 1.3 accurate corners of 2.2 attempts per90, Theo didn’t really take corners at that age but Malcom is already more prolific than Alexis was: Sanchez only averaged 0.6/1.6 per90 when he was at Udinese.

One key feature of Malcom’s game, though, isn’t just the fact that he creates for his teammates it’s that he looks for the throughball. It doesn’t really show up in his key passes stats but when you watch him play you see almost immediately how much he likes that splitting pass. The reason his throughball stats don’t show up (for me) is because his teammates don’t always take shots off his through passes.

Malcom does offer some problems for potential suitors (Arsenal). First, as good as his left foot cross is, his right foot cross is very poor. That means that in order to play in a cross, he has to do exactly what Arsenal supporters hate about Alexis Sanchez: he has to stop his man and get the ball onto his favored foot.

Second, he slows play down. When he collects the ball he’s often stopping play, like Alexis does, and sizing up the situation with his opponents, taking them on, and trying to get a ball in for his teammates. This is frustrating and will allow opposition defenses time to recombine like the Terminator in Terminator 2.

He’s also insanely predictable with his dribbles in that he always goes left. He’s explosive enough going left that he’s able to get away with it (like Alexis and Robben) for right now.

That sounds like a complaint (and it is) but he uses his left-foot dribble on the right side to create space for himself to get that throughball in for a runner behind. That is his actual killer move. And he’s truly magical when he makes that pass. The problem is that if you play him as a right-side forward, he’ll most-likely be making that pass to a fullback (hence the low throughball KP numbers). Watching a number of his videos I thought it would be interesting to see him through the middle for Arsenal, rather than out wide. His on-ball technique is impeccable and he could be an interesting Cazorla-type player through the middle. It would be a massive upgrade for him and possibly not something he could take on in his career but I salivate at the thought of him drifting left in the middle of the park and finding Lacazette with one of those through balls that Lacazette is looking for.*

The thing is, though, why wait to sign Malcom? He’s good enough right now to take a chance on him. He’s at least as good as Alexis was and miles better than Walcott was when he was 20 years old. Just buy him. Don’t wait for Alexis to leave. Alexis is leaving no matter what. If Malcom is available, you take him.

Qq

*This is one of the biggest problems at Arsenal right now. Alexis’ final ball tends to be that looping pass over the top and that’s not Lacazette’s best pass (nor anyone’s really). Lacazette’s runs are designed for those throughballs but he’s just not getting them. If Wenger could get a player through the middle who was looking to make that incisive pass, rather than mostly camped out on the wings, Arsenal could maximize Lacazette.

111 comments

  1. Great analysis, and I agree we should sign him. In general, it’s a good policy to sign the best players who are available and willing to play for you. That’s like 90% of being a successful manager.

    Regarding the through balls to Lacazette though, isn’t that what Ozil’s supposed to be doing? Or is he just making key passes for Ramsey, Sanchez and Xhaka? Don’t get me wrong, teams should have more than one attacking threat. That’s why I thought we should try and sign James for the last two summers.

  2. I think young players are gambles, but they have to be taken. Arsenal are at the point where they can take a 30m flyer on the upside potential without worrying that the downside risk will screw the club’s finances. If he turns out to be continue to develop, he’ll either be too expensive for Arsenal or be the target of higher-status clubs. And Arsenal’s situation is such that he would be likely to play and therefore have more chances to develop.
    I think the club’s good but not quite good enough status for the last few years has both hampered development and made the club less attractive to young players.

  3. Couldn’t agree more. Did am hour of internet scouting last night and even if he isn’t perfect, he’s exactly the kind of prospect you buy immediately if available and answer the questions about how he best suits your team later.

  4. I read on Arseblog today that Malcom was identified by Mislintat, which I find reassuring. However, he’s 20, inexperienced, and coming from Ligue Uhh. Even if Mislintat has a good track record, I don’t imagine he or we should imagine him coming in to make an impact right away. So this seems to be another one for the future, no? I would be very surprised indeed if he slotted straight into the starting eleven.

    The larger issue for me, then, is that we’ll be letting Alexis go without a replacement (like for like is a fantasy, of course, but couldn’t we identify someone who could join the starting eleven?). I agree with Tim that we should buy Malcom no matter what happens with Alexis, but who then steps in to take Alexis’ place?

    1. I am wary of the Mislintat hype. His big ‘find’ seems to be Dembele, but everyone and his mother knew Dembele was going to be big before Dortmund came in.

      1. Not at all. He was behind pretty much all their big transfer successes of the last decade (e.g. Kagawa and Aubamayang, off the top of my head).

      1. In Afrikaans, a Dutch dialect spoken in South Africa, Malcom roughly translates to “crazy ejaculate”. LOL

    1. This actually is my thought, unfortunately. He’s a 20 year old creator with potential. Yesterday we served up a litany of youth talent wasted in the past 10 years at Arsenal. Good chance he would be yet another.

    2. Hopefully a season and a half won’t be enough to ruin him. Actually this might be good for him. He will learn verticality and through balls from Wenger, and the rest from another manager.

  5. 1. I admit to being underwhelmed by his Youtube videos, for the very reasons that Tim highlights. I’d be thrilled to be proved wrong, but let’s just put it this way: if this guy turns out to be world class in the future, it’ll be a great testament to how professional football scouts see all sorts of things when they look at a player that we casual fans miss.

    2. The problem is not per se his cutting in on this left foot constantly (though I admit that even in the youtube videos it was driving me freakin crazy), but rather the penchant for slowing down attacks. I’ve felt for a while that–with or without Alexis–what this attack needs is a very speedy, very direct wide forward, in the Salah/Mane mold, to stretch defenses and kill teams on the counter (the only two players we have like that now are Welbeck, who can’t shoot/score, and Walcott, who can’t dribble or pass). Lacazette is quick but not that outright speedster, ditto Ozil, though both of them could happily fit into a counterattacking side alongside such a speedster. Malcom looks fast, but it’s hard to say how fast, since he’s constantly slowing attacks down with a style that combines Sanchez and Robben at their frustrating worst.

    3. Still, I’m all for aggressively buying exciting young talent before other clubs, in the hope/expectation that they’re about to blow up and become stars, tripling or quadrupling their value. And if Wenger and Mislintat both fancy him, that gives me more confidence. (That’s assuming Wenger hasn’t been frozen out entirely from these decisions at this point. As much as he’s been getting a kicking on here and elsewhere lately, I still rate AW as better than most when it comes to spotting (especially attacking) talent. Whereas if this is all Mislintat’s call and Arsene doesn’t really love the player, that would worry me a little, even if I think Arsene should retire sooner rather than later.)

    1. the penchant for slowing down attacks. I’ve felt for a while that–with or without Alexis–what this attack needs is a very speedy, very direct wide forward

      ===

      Yes.

      It’s been ages since we’ve been able to counterattack effectively, even with Alexis. When the field opens up, and we’re running full tilt at them, there’s no precision and no intelligence of movement (or, if there, there’s no quickness of thought to find the movement). Instead the attack slows and slows and slows until the opposition is back, firmly planted around and in the 18-yard box.

      One problem is that we don’t usually play a hit-them-on-the-counter system, preferring to take the game to the opposition. On the other hand, we saw against Chelsea that it was defensively effective to play the counter game, the only problem being that when we were in positions to counterattack, the play broke down badly (case in point: the hilarious way Alexis’ pass to put Welbeck through, only to see his pass go whack boing spadoom off the Welbeck’s calf). Like I say, speed, ok, but no precision. We need players who, at full speed ahead, are technically able to make accurate passes, and players who are technically able to receive them.

      That said, if we’re not interested in that kind of game, Malcom looks used to trying to unlock a stubborn bus job!

      1. Someone should make a Welbeck shin/calf/thigh/heel and shoulder highlight reel. Basically anything other than the foot and the head. I bet it would be hilarious.

        1. I read a comment recently in which someone said that Danny Welbeck’s highlight reel will be the only one in football history set to the Benny Hill theme song.

    2. I try to stay away from YouTube videos though I did see Lacazette’s last summer. I am going to keep en eye on how he develops (assuming this happens – with arsenal nothing’s a given) especially since he may turn out to the first Mislintat pick.

      Generally speaking, I noticed that most young players who rely on speed tend to stop the ball and then try to beat the defender on a 1 v 1. Maybe it works at youth level but in proper leagues teams adjust their defenses and you need to identify the space before you take the touch. Few players have this gift at a young age.

      Speed works great in counter attacks though. It’s unfortunate that we are not a great counter attacking team – though we have our moments. We want to be a possession team without really knowing how to keep possession. We should know how to keep possession but play a more counterattacking style. So we have it backwards. I agree we need dribblers to pull defenders out of position. As of a matter of fact, it would be great if we had two. Liverpool has Mane and Salah and it’s not doing their attack any harm.

  6. 4. But here’s the thing: Tim says if a player like Malcom becomes available, why not take a chance and snap him up? But surely the decision is not between buying Malcom and buying no one (as Alexis and maybe Theo is sold), but rather between buying Malcom and buying some other young player with potential to fill Alexis’s shoes.

    I’m with Bunburyist: young potential for the future is great, but ideally they’d be able to contribute to a significant degree this year. I really hope the club hierarchy aren’t writing off the rest of the season, as it would be incredibly defeatist (and some of our fans are clearly there right now) to rule out our qualifying for the CL either through the league or the Europa. It won’t be easy, but this team has shown it has a winning run in it every season (as much as it also has a humiliating collapse just around the corner). Getting back into the CL after only one season out will be huge for the longterm prospects–vis a vis other big PL clubs like Liverpool, United, and Sp*rs–of this club.

    With that in mind: what about Lemar? I know he’d be way more expensive, but we manifestly have the money. Remember we got 35m for Ox at the end of the last window, we’ve just sold Coquelin for 12m (could rise to 20), we’re going to get 20-30 for Alexis, and look likely to get around 20 more for Theo. Plus, we’re STILL one of the richest clubs on the planet. Or if he doesn’t fancy us and/or is going to Liverpool, what about Mahrez? What about getting Mkhitaryan from United in exchange for Sanchez (yes, trading them Alexis would make me want to throw up, but stranger/worse things have happened)? Or why on earth are we not going in for Nabil Fekir, someone who, like Lemar, is obviously more polished than Malcom right now, and arguably also has a bigger upside (and wouldn’t be as expensive as Lemar)? Or, if we’re only looking at hot prospects that are still relatively unknown, is Malcom really better than Cristian Pavon or Leon Bailey? I’m admittedly just throwing names out here, but then I’m not a professional scout or manager.

    Maybe Malcom will be an absolutely brilliant buy, but it’s hard to deny he’s still very, very rough around the edges with a limited game and not a lot of top-flight European experience. So is he really the best buy for us right now, especially at 40m (to me it smacks of thinking we were being clever by getting Gabriel for 16m instead of paying 2 or 3 times that for a more polished, surer thing at CB)?

      1. Seems Wenger will destroy him best is to get Rid of the Manager then we take it up From There. As it stands we have a very arrogant Manager Who is immune From the sack, Who tramples on everyone including the Board.

    1. Yes to Mikhitaryan and Mahrez! Two very good dribblers who will completement Lacazette! Though I can’t even contemplate selling Sanchez to United and hopefully neither can the club since United is a top 4 rival. We are too far behind City so the marginal damage is less when we sell Sanchez to them.

      In a perfect world, Arsenal will decide they are going to go for the jugular, buy Lemar and Fekir and fire up the fan base. Unfortunately we will just see them getting snapped up by our rivals as we settle for the next tier of players.

    2. Mkhitaryan would be a risky signing. He earns £140,000 a week and will turn 29 this month. Maybe he’ll play better at Arsenal, but if his performances are as poor as at United, that will be a burden on the payroll and good luck trying to sell him at 31 or 32.

      1. Mourinho ruined him. He’d almost certainly play better for us. Plus he’d have a huge point to prove. I somewhat agree with you because of his age (though Ozil and Sanchez are both older), but the thing is we’re talking about him as part of a swap deal for Alexis, a player that, one way or another, we are losing for well under his value, so in that light, getting HM in return isn’t such a risk.

  7. Buy. He has pace and vision, plus a rocket of a shot. We need goal scorers like this who will complement Laca. And I’m not sure why everyone says he can’t cross with his right foot. He’s clearly stronger with his left, but is willing and capable of going to his right and crossing. See this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TG9a9xCl0mM

    He can hold up play, but he is also willing to tak the ball down the line and cross. He will bring a lot of energy to the Gunners. He opens up possibilities that our current attacking players just can’t. And there could be upside, if Wenger doesn’t ruin him, per Tim’s last post. 🙂

  8. Sorry for the double post, but Tim’s idea of moving him central is really intriguing. His dribbling is exceptional and he can make great through passes. He’s not afarid to mix it up, either. He seems like an Ozil replacement more than a Sanchez replacement in our current formation. If we revert to 4-2-3-1 then he can play a wing position on the right. God knows who fills Sanchez’s role in that scheme… Any chance Wenger wants to try him as a Santi replacement? He’s not as skilled, but he has pace, vision and can lead a counterattack. And he does track back, but I don’t see the tackling as strong enough.

    But I agree – buy him and then figure out how to use him.

  9. Hey, like I said, I’d be thrilled to be wrong in this case. I’m only going off of the youtube videos I’ve watched and Tim’s stats to get an impression of the player.

    But I’ve already watched the youtube video to which you link, and what I see is a player who repeatedly and predictably cuts inside on his left foot. The fact that there are one or two clips of him doing otherwise isn’t really enough to change that impression.

    I’ll get a huge amount of stick for this, but he actually reminds me a bit of Joel Campbell (not saying he won’t be miles better in the end!), the way he cuts in and looks to play the slide rule pass.

  10. OK.

    First, bringing in Malcom kills Reiss-Nelson. (This is a throw back to Wenger’s concern for Alex Song ages ago, for the newbies)

    Second, I don’t think Bordeaux are all that interested in selling this January.

    Third, I’m not all that convinced that we’re going to sell Sanchez. It sounds like a) we’re asking too much when we have zero leverage (35m is absurd) and b) his agent is insisting on a 5m cut on top of any fee. We may very well be stuck with him.

    Fourth, Joel Campbell is coming back. There’s your through-ball master.

    Fifth, I’ve watched a couple YouTube clips of him and a) he’s not ready for the Premier League, b) Tim is right, he will slow down the ball circulation and c) I would rather have Julian Draxler any day of the week if we’re looking for creative players. Keep your powder dry and go grab Draxler this summer when PSG have to offload someone when the bill for Mbappe comes due.

    1. I betcha Arsenal and City find a compromise before the end of the window. I’d be surprised to see Alexis in an Arsenal shirt come February.

      Joel Campbell? Ugh. Doesn’t exactly inspire confidence, does it?

    2. No doubt Draxler is way more polished, but I doubt he comes to Arsenal unless there’s guaranteed CL play. He’s a proven quantity and I would take him in a second if he would come.

      You may be right that Malcom isn’t ready for PL at this minute, but he has a big ceiling. A lot comes down to whether he’s coachable and willing to learn. I have no idea about that.

      1. Yeah, that’s true, though by the summer we might have CL if we don’t weaken the squad too much now.

        But what about Mahrez, or someone like Fekir? Obviously none of us know more than Mislintat about any of these players, especially Malcom, so if the Brazilian comes, we’ll just have to wait and see. I’m just nervous he might really underwhelm, or at best take 18 months to settle in, at which point we’ll be a mid-table team and he’ll be angling for a move to a bigger club with more ambition like Sp*rs…

        1. There’s always that!

          You just wonder if Ivan is presiding over Wenger’s departing fire sale. Clean everything out and let the boss go this summer, so he won’t authorize any big new acquisitions until there’s a new manager. Younger talent with an eye to the future vs. guys who are at/near their prime.

    3. It doesn’t make sense to me that we are trying to replace Sanchez with an unproven youngster when we have someone like Reiss-Nelson who needs all the playing time he can get. That said, I don’t mind buying up talent (and I am putting a lot of faith in the club here) if we get the chance. But to properly replace Sanchez we need to buy a more complete player and we should, at the very least, go for someone like a Mahrez or Draxler.

      I hope you are joking about Joel Campbell.

      1. Not really… read today that Real Betis are cutting their loan short and shipping him back to us.

        He’s not a great player but he is serviceable. I thought he and Bellerin functioned well together on the right at times. If both Walcott and Sanchez go, I can see Campbell getting some time at right midfield in a 4-2-3-1. It wouldn’t be the end of the world.

        We do have Lucas Perez still under contract, too. We could recall him (maybe, not sure what the agreement was).

  11. I too am only going by youtube, and I agree he clearly prefers to cut inside. But he shows the ability to go to his right down the line and make strong crosses. He’s a much better dribbler than Campbell, and his quickness is superior, imo. He can change direction in a way Campbell never could. And we could use a few more slide rule passes for Lacazette, imo. I see qualities here that our current team is desperately missing.

  12. If you ever watched Brazilian top flight football, Malcolm’s propensity for slowing play down by , what almost at times looks like waiting for defenders to close him down just so he can dribble past them, is the single most common characteristic of every Brazilian player.

    I think proper coaching can change that especially in a 20 year old player , who looks like a exciting talent .

    On a different subject
    Hilarious moment during Trump MLK Jr. proclamation signing when reporters shouted out questions at the President.

    “Mr President , are you a racist?”

    Amongst other questions asked were: “do bears $hit in the woods” and “ is frog’s a$$ water tight?”

    1. Yeah, but it’s a stupid question for another reason, too: There’s only ever going to be one response! What public figure in their right mind would say, “yeah, totally, I’m a racist”?

      1. Perhaps the reporter was trying to catch him off guard. I wish somebody would put some truth syrum in his water. I bet the interviews would be much more interesting.

  13. One common tread I often notice watching live football and political pressers is how incredibly stupid some of the questions asked by otherwise smart people tend to get .

    Curiously though , according to statistics, the immigrants from countries and places Trump called $hitholes are some of the most educated coming to this country.
    Not that Trump would know this of course ,or care.

  14. I’m surprised at how tepid the response to Malcom is here – to me, he’s exactly the right sort of prospect. I saw upthread a few references to Lemar – now there is an overrated player. There’s nothing in his statistical profile to suggest he’s a world class player in waiting and he certainly doesn’t look like a player who could replace Alexis.

    Malcom on the other hand does a lot of what Alexis does. He’s not as shooty but he’s just as dribbly and he likes a throughball. He’s a 20 year old Brazilian who’s already doing well in a good European league. While I’ve seen the just coming from Ligue Un bit upthread – 1. A sizable amount of Arsenal’s good players of the last 20 years came from there 2. League 1 is a decent league, I’d get pooh-poohing a guy tearing up the Eredevisie or the Portuguese Liga but Ligue Un is a different caliber. He strikes me a lot like buying Alexis from Udinese and that’s the level of purchase we’ve all been agitating for Arsenal to do more of.

    I get wanting Draxler, but that’s a purchase we’re going to need Champions League football to guarantee and I’m not sure he isn’t just happy to collect filthy lucre at PSG anyway. Players at the level of Malcom are the kind of players you buy when you’re rebuilding and I like the idea. I think as fans we have to get away from wanting the 1-2 players who will push us into title contention and accept that with the contract/age profile the manager has allowed us to get into that its time to start a new Arsenal era. We probably will lose 10 either key or formerly key players over the next 8 months (Coquelin, Walcott, Sanchez, Ozil, Giroud, Mertesacker, Cazorla for sure; and there’s potential for a good number of the likes of Koscielny, Wilshere, Ramsey, Welbeck, Mustafi, Cech, Ospina and Monreal given either their contract status, health status, age or dissatisfaction with the squad.) We are up for a rebuild the scale we haven’t seen since at least the beginning of the post-invincibles era. You don’t lose all those guys, many on frees or reduced fees and slot in a bunch of ready-made superstars. We’re looking at a lot of Malcoms not to mention Mavropanos’ to make up the next Arsenal squad. I’ll feel a lot better if we’re starting it off with a guy with Malcom’s potential at a reasonable (for modern football) fee than if we drop 90 million quid on Lemar.

    1. Good thoughts. I think as long as you set your expectations accordingly (bedding in youngsters learning their craft as part of the rebuild means Arsenal will be finishing 6th or 7th or possibly worse for a few years or longer), then it makes sense.

      Me? I’d rather avoid those kind of doldrums, because they can set you into a really long cycle that’s hard to get out of…for more than just a few years.

      Malcom? Yes, sure, let’s get him. He sounds like he has a lot of promise. I’m just not sure our rebuild should look like Project Youth 2.0.

      1. Well, I’m not sure that I want Project Youth 2.0 nor am I sure that’s exactly what the rebuild will look like. I don’t think every buy needs to be 20 years old, I just think we need to temper our expectations in regards to who is coming to replace the legions heading for the door. When you lose that many players, you can’t spend quite as much on any one.

        What’s the best case realistic scenario in terms of player retention/departure this year? We keep Wilshere, Ramsey, Welbeck, Mustafi either on new deals or happy enough to stay, we manage to get another two seasons out of Koscielny, Cech, Monreal? If you assume the fledgling centre-halves develop and you don’t need to buy anymore there that leaves you with a shopping list of 3 attackers, a midfielder and a pair of full/wing backs to field a balanced squad. If you spend 90 million quid on a replacement for Alexis, I just don’t see how you replace the rest of them with anything quality. It would be a different animal if we had sold off Alexis and Ozil last summer and gotten actual cash for them, but we didn’t, so that’s roughly 100MM less in the budget for replacements.

        If I were doing the buying, I’d probably buy young in the attack and the fullback positions and get an established professional for the midfield. But regardless of how we buy, a season or two more out of the champions league is the most likely scenario, given the state Wenger has left the squad.

        1. It makes sense to buy top players before they are superstars. You will inevitably whiff a large percentage of the time, so the question is how much are you willing to pay to punch your ticket?

          The other main question is, what’s the best time to buy potential superstars? The answer to that is getting earlier and earlier every year. Malcom is no mere youngster in today’s game at age 20, especially for a creative/attacking player, playing week in and week out in a top flight league.

          By pursuing him, we have to be willing to accept all possible outcomes, which range from Thierry Henry (very unlikely) to Samir Nasri (most likely eventually) to Wellington Silva (also unlikely).

  15. Doing some scouting on Chelsea, watching their home game vs. Leicester. They look terrible, particularly Fabregas, who is playing a strangely direct advanced midfield role completely unsuited to his late-career physical deficiencies, and they’ve just lost Cahill to a hamstring injury.

    Leicester look remarkably composed and efficient offensively and their left back Chilwell looks like a real prospect. Mahrez would look good in Arsenal colors, too. Ball on a string, clever switches of play after drawing double/triple teams, very direct.

      1. I’ve always had kind of a lingering feeling about him that he should be better than he is given his talent; he seems to get by on that just fine but I feel he could be so much better if he really tried. Along a similar vein, I would also say he’s not particularly hard working on defense or tough in the tackle, so pairing him with another such player (like Hazard, Ozil, etc.) would be risky against competitive teams. Still, I think he would improve us and would go some way to covering the impending loss of Sanchez. He would also dovetail very well with Lacazette, given his long partnership with Vardy who likes similar kinds of service as the Frenchman.

        1. Yeah, he probably wouldn’t be my first choice to replace Alexis, for the reasons you mention, but we could do a lot worse. I’m mostly just surprised someone hasn’t snapped him up.

  16. Thanks Tim, and interesting thread, everyone.

    Slowing down counterattacks and play generally is a side-effect of playing inverted wingers / forwards like Sanchez on the left or Malcom on the right. I guess it’s a strategic decision to get more chances in prime from throughballs rather than less dangerous crosses from the byline, and I guess given our generally very good record at creating a high volume of chances, it works up to a point.

    I’m interested in this Malcom fella, keeping fingers crossed.

    1. It’s hard to think that the players aren’t 100% invested in this. The club will have to act sooner rather than later. I’m not sure there any more rabbits left in that top hat of the manager.

  17. It’s no coincedence that both Bournemouth goals came from their right as most teams have now spotted this weakness in our defence. AM-N was again partly responsible, and if this continues he’ll be broken and Wenger will just shrug it off as bad luck & part of his development.
    The Vitality Stadium has a 11360 capacity. Just how good would Eddie Howe & Jason Tindal be with the income generated by a 60000 plus ground?

    1. Maybe they are attacking the left, but I thought the first goal was on the goalkeeper. I think ospina would have claimed that. Besides that, the cross came from a long way out and one of the center backs should have been able to cut it out. At any rate, I don’t think talented players can be “broken“I

      1. Not in terms opf their talent, but in terms of their motivation, outlook and ambition, they can very well be “broken”.

        1. Yeah! That’s what I meant. Hopefully Ainsley (& his adorable Mum) are strong enough to survive this.

          1. Simple really, he might just decide it’s not worth the bother, or that Arsenal is not wqirth it longterm, maybe Arsenal is no the place to get the best out of him. Look, we’re all adults and know that “broken” is a metaphor. No need to play the passive-aggressive contrarian.

          2. I don’t mean literally, although when I think about it both Wilshere & Ramsey have in the past been regularly overplayed to the point of break down.
            What I meant was more that Ainsley might become depressed at continuously being played out of position and forced into errors that lead to goals, although he doesn’t speak of it (in the way that Flamini did before running his contract down). It almost happened with Chambers before he went off on loan for a couple of seasons, and Djourou was never the same player after being forced into the right back position.
            This is all just my opinion of course. Doesn’t have to be right.

        1. If I had to name names for who is responsible for that goal, his might be on the list but probably at the bottom.

          1. Clearly there were like 7 people responsible for that clusterf*ck of a goal. Cech’s mistake was the most obvious, and it was glaring, but I reckon if he has complete confidence in his backline, he stays on his line. AMN wasn’t tight enough to his marker, but the entire defense was caught on their heels and not well prepared for the attack and the cross.

            Surely there’s nothing to really disagree about here, is there?

  18. At this point would truth serum make much of a difference?

    Trump’s said a litany of racist things in the past year.

    He called protesting black players ‘sons of bitches’.

    He called a south american beauty contestant ‘Miss Housekeeping.’

    ‘Mexican rapists.’

    His real estate company was sued twice by the federal government for discriminating against black people.

    He pretty much founded the birther movement against America’s first black president.

    He’s had Steve Bannon in the white house and had/has the backing of the leader of the KKK.

    He talked about how there were ‘very nice people’ amongst the nazi’s and white supremacists who marched in Charlottesville and publicly murdered a young woman.

    ‘Both sides.’

    The Wall.

    The Muslim Ban.

    The Central Park Five.

    The more recent ‘aids’ and ‘huts’ comments.

    ‘Shithole countries.’

    I’ve left out loads more.

    The guy is constantly and consistently been openly racist both in his words and his policies but most news outlets/people still won’t call him a racist and people are still waiting for ‘real proof’ the guy is racist, bigoted white supremacist.

    Bad result today 🙁

  19. I said to myself at the start of the match, self, where are the goals in this lineup.
    My very first answer was Bellerin, of course.
    If Lacazette gets injured, we can bring a confident Walcott off the bench with no drop off in our attack.
    Despite the goal, Bellerin has no end product when he gets in favorable attacking positions.
    Iwobi finally makes the right pass for the first time in memory that leads to goal.
    The best differences between AMN and Iwobi is that AMN tries to get behind the defense, tries to get in the box and tries to take on defenders.
    There is a reason why most teams attack our right side because Bellerin is a defender and AMN plays at being one after staying at a Holiday Inn one night.
    Don’t hurt me Jule.
    Cech coming out of your goal, was not fucking helpful.
    Jack is promising but still doesn’t deliver enough for us at the level we aspire to be to be at.
    Once we drooled over our Wengerball and now we just drool pudding down our chins.
    Once we were known for a dynamic and dangerous counter attacks and now that Iwobi and Bellerin lead our attack, we are shite. Lacazette be like WTF?
    Welbeck use to run at defenders, Welbeck use to display skills, Welbeck used to be a player but both he and I forget when that was.
    I could now shout Wenger out but that would just be knee jerk and lazy because this team needs more than Wenger out.
    This team needs so much more than Sanchez to be gone because Sanchez was never really the problem, only a symptom of the malaise that came from the leadership at this club.
    Where is the Ox when we need a goal?

    1. Not a surprising result considering the talent in the Liverpool team.
      Perversely I was hoping City would equal our record and break 100 points just to prove how far behind we actually have become.
      I hope people don’t now make a big fuss over this retaining the ‘invincible’s’ thing as a way of burying bad news. We were quite awful today.

      1. I think it’s pretty sad you’re hoping another team breaks our record, one of the most amazing records in recent history, just so people don’t lose sight of how shit we are now.

        Don’t worry man, I think everyone’s fully aware of how bad things are at Arsenal right now and most of us are looking forward to a change of manager.

      2. We all knew Liverpool had a good attack. Today they showed just how good they are. Ox looked like an improved player. Almost as if he is being coached differently. It was a good game to watch after the sh*tshow we put up.

  20. I watched Arsenal play Bournemouth today and I said to myself, self, where are the goals in this Arsenal team. Bellerin was right on the tip of my tongue.
    Bellerin in favorable attacking positions is a black hole.
    Iwobi leading our counter attacks right a cliff into a black hole.
    Cech coming out from his goal, not fucking helpful.
    If Lacazette gets hurt the we can rely on that confident and pacy striker, Walcott off our stacked bench to get us a goal.
    We drooled over Wengerball in the past and now we drool pudding on our chins in slack jaw amazement at our woeful displays this season.
    Sanchez going to Man U is not going to fix this team. “Wenger out” is not going to fix this team. Losing your best player to be replaced by a player who hasn’t done a complete season in Ligue Un is not going to save this season.
    Welbeck used to run at defenders, Welbeck used to show skillful moves, Welbeck used to run past defenders, Welbeck used to an attacking threat and score a odd goal or two, Welbeck used to be a player once upon a time.
    There is a reason why teams attack our right side and that’s because Bellerin is a defender and AMN plays at being one after staying one night at a Holiday Inn.
    Don’t hate on me Jule.
    Wherefore art though Arsenal?

  21. I said to myself, self where are the goals going to come from today against Bournemouth? Bellerin was on the tip of my tongue.
    Tomorrow the answer will be Malcolm.
    Welbeck used to run at defenders, Welbeck used to use skillful moves to beat defenders, Welbeck used to score the odd goal or two, Welbeck used to be a player once upon a time.
    Iwobi’s through ball today was one for the ages and only the first in ages.
    Teams attack our right side because Bellerin is a defender and AMN plays at being one after staying one night at a Holiday Inn.
    Don’t hate the messenger Jule.
    To his credit, AMN will get to the baseline whereas Iwobi doesn’t cross the Maginot line at the 18 yd box.

  22. I said to myself, self where are the goals going to come from today against Bournemouth? Bellerin was on the tip of my tongue.
    Tomorrow the answer will be Malcolm.
    Welbeck used to run at defenders, Welbeck used to use skillful moves to beat defenders, Welbeck used to score the odd goal or two, Welbeck used to be a player once upon a time.
    Iwobi’s through ball today was one for the ages and only the first in ages.
    Teams attack our right side because Bellerin is a defender and AMN plays at being one after staying one night at a Holiday Inn.
    Don’t hate the messenger Jule.
    To his credit, AMN will get to the baseline whereas Iwobi doesn’t cross the Maginot line at the 18 yd box.
    Right now Arsenal can substitute as a meditation mantra: hmmmmmmmmm.

  23. We can only hope that a an off season spent in the gym will bring us a better version of Lacazette next season.
    35 mil and Mkhitaryan for Sanchez, warm up the fax machine mama, I’ll be right over to sign that deal.

  24. We’re watching the real time transformation of Arsenal into a mid-table team. Tim, sadly, is right about that.

    To Liverpool, thanks for (hopefully) putting an end to the Pep worship. It was becoming a bit much. They’re still going to run away with it, mind. But, reality check.

    1. A big win without the big money CB signing Virgil.
      What a goal threat that Ox guy is turning out to be. Just the kind of player Arsenal should poach from them.

    2. And what is the “reality” Claude? 🙂

      City have been slowing down for a few weeks now. Not the results but performance – wise for sure.

      To play this sort of football and be effective you have to prioritize and Guardiola might’ve been too ambitious trophy wise, and in the process running his key players into the ground a bit.

      In the last 50 days City have played on average one game every 3.3 days.
      Liverpool on the other hand one game every 3.9 days.

      This result was hardly surprising if you paid attention.

      1. The reality is that going through a season unbeaten is very, very hard, and it will hopefully silence people (gooners especially) who have been denigrating that accomplishment.

        Oh, and no need for the friendly pat on the head. That the result isn’t surprising is precisely my point all along!

        1. I don’t post on every thread but I read most of the comments and I can’t recall a single one by this community sugesting City would go the whole season without losing once.

          Guardiola himself stated he wasn’t concerned about going undefeated.
          As a matter of fact his words if I remember correctly were ” it’s impossible ”
          He did say trophies was what he was after , and as many as he could win too.

          1. It’s probably about a month ago, but I said I thought City would go unbeaten and crash through the 100 points barrier.
            Please don’t ask me to find it though.

          2. Tom
            I must be a sad fcuck, because I went back over the articles & found it on Dec 14th in the 33 Shots FC article and you yourself posted the comment immediately before mine.

    1. haha, I know things are bad, but let’s not go overboard here. Mkhitaryan is a classy player who’s had his confidence ruined by the biggest managerial c*nt of all time.

  25. 5 things I learned from todays game
    •Eddie Howe & Jason Tindal would add to our ‘looks dept’.
    • With the advent of VAR the refs still don’t seem to be all that bothered about
    making the correct decisions (not just in our game).
    • Danny Welbeck has lost half a yard of his blistering pace.
    • Theo needs to shave that beard. He’ll never make it as a hipster.
    • Our away support is a bit grim looking.

  26. This is a pretty average team assembled by a pretty average manager who will finish in a pretty average league position.

    Felt sorry for Lacazette and Wilshere today. Quality players surrounded by dross. Lost count of how many times Lacazette made an impressive run across the back line, but the advancing player failed to spot him / make the pass.

    AMN’s baptism of fire continues apace. Well done, Wenger.

    1. In AW’s defense (I know, I know), we have literally NO ONE ELSE to play left back or left wing back right now, with both our two regulars injured (and you don’t *typically* need more than two left backs…). But of course, there’s only one person responsible for not having a third player proper defender who can fill in there in the squad…

      1. We had the same frailties (particularly away) even when all our first-team players were available. The personnel change, the problems persist. This can’t be pinned on the young players alone. Wenger is the problem.

  27. I watched an Arsenal match after ages and regretted it immensely. Watching this sh**fest and not turning off the telly at half time was a big blunder. I can’t remember the last time I saw a game where our passing was SO POOR. It was depressing. I was so mad by the end that I was hoping we don’t get an equaliser as that will be so cruel on Bournemouth .

    These players have given up on AW. I think out of respect and pride they pushed hard in last year’s FA Cup. Maybe they were hoping, Wenger was going to bid farewell on a high. How wrong were they. No wonder this year has been dire. They look at the top Five and see coaches with modern mentaility. Then they look at their coaches and manager and wonder when this movie is going to end. From Groundhog Day, this is becoming The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

    The current state of Arsenal was best encapsulated by the Ox scoring a screamer against City while our best 11 trudged into oblivion after the latest humiliation.

    Players are human beings. They look at the people around them and when your teammates are of a high calibre and your coach is full of energy, your motivation to do better is way more than in a tired setup we have right now.

  28. Coquelin was a decent player and right now I’d take him back in a heart beat over Xhaka.
    Before this season is over, The Ox will prove that Arsenal got robbed on his sale.
    Heaven help us what Sanchez will do in a top 4 side.
    Bournemouth played for Eddie Howe today. Arsenal have not been playing for Arsene Wenger.
    We are waiting for a brand new day:

  29. It would be so Arsenal if we sold Alexis to United and he helped them overtake City to the title. I tell you, the only balm in this otherwise dumpster fire of a season is the prospect of Guardiola winning the title instead of Mourinho. Take that away, and all you have is the dumpster. On fire. Us in it.

    1. Sellin Alexis to Mourinho, the man who wouldn’t sanction the loan of Ba out of pure spite would be embarassing.

  30. No way City collapse that bad. They’re good for the title.

    If we get Mkhytarian (I can’t bloody spell his bloody name) plus cash, then I don’t mind so much selling to United. Not because I think he’ll be some kind of savior (ha ha), but because 20-35m plus a genuinely top class attacking player (who, unlike Malcom, is ready to slot into our first team right now) is WAY more than we had any right to expect to get for Alexis this January.
    And as good as Sanchez can be, I don’t think he makes them title winners this season or next, or even guarantees them top 4, unless he rediscovers his very best form (put it this way: they already have a squad that should be guaranteed top 4 and challenging for the title; it’s their manager holding them back, just like ours). And he’s 30 next season. We swap him, with only 6 months left on his contract, for some cash and a player who’s basically the same age and almost as talented. Given that Alexis has refused to play for us beyond this season, I’d say that’s a good deal, especially if we go buy a second top class attacker (Malcom or Aubameyang, is what it looks like) for under 60m. We’d be getting two top class players for Sanchez (who can walk away for free in six months) and about 25-30m.

    Anyway, I’m not holding my breath that any of this is going to happen. Except that Alexis is leaving Arsenal, of course. And it probably doesn’t matter, because even if, miracle of miracles, we somehow end up barely salvaging this season by qualifying for the CL, Arsene Wenger has already definitively proven at this point that he’s no long capable of building a title-winning side, so what’s the point of it all, anyway?

    1. The question is, why would Micky want to come to Arsenal?`And unfortunately I don’t see many reasons right now.

        1. But he could hang on until the summer wen e.g. Atletico will be looking for a replacement for Griezmann, maybe Inter will be looking for a new playmaker.
          But other than that Micky is a gamble, his confidence is very brittle and he only really shone in the last two years under Tuchel at Dortmund and then he was sensational. But before that he couldn’t hit a barn door, remember the games against Dortmund in the CL a few seasons back? He was deemed a flop and one of the big reasons Klopp’ time in Dortmund ended the way it did. All in all I’m not sure the club would be a good place for a sensitive guy like him.

  31. City are going to win the tee-tle (Guardiola speak) quite comfortably. But they’re going to get some bloody nose days like yesterday. Good. Personally, I don’t care where Alexis goes, as long as we get the best possible deal for him. And that sounds like United.

    The last day attempt to sell him after insisting bullishly that he wasn’t for sale was gross mismanagement of the transfer. The last day attempt to sign Lemar, a player we had all summer to sign, saw Arsenal’s France players trying to help twist his arm during a wc qualifying training camp. That was embarrassing, and honestly, I feel like firing Wenger now for the whole thing.

    Keep Alexis, sell him last summer. Would have been fine with either. Just not the last minute shitshow that messed with our season.

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