Notes from Arsenal’s win over Bayern

  1. Where is Mustafi? Having a baby. Meanwhile also out for this match were all of the other center backs, due to illness and short term injury. Considering Arsenal started with a back three of Nacho (a left back), Elneny (a CM), and Bielik they did pretty good to keep Bayern quiet.
  2. Maitland-Niles as a RWB didn’t work: not only did he give away a penalty but he was exploited often in the first half. Maybe he was full of the illnesses that the other players had.
  3. For that penalty Bernat took a goal kick and then attacked Arsenal and no one stopped him. To be fair to the Arsenal players, everyone was out of position and slow to get back, plus Bayern played that possession with three up top which is one sure-fire way to break a back three! Especially a back three where the two wingbacks were playing too high up the pitch: AMN was actually closer to the Bayern goal than Bernat when he received the ball and in this photo you can see Kolasinac occupying no space (lower left). 
  4. Cech still hasn’t saved a penalty for Arsenal.
  5. Kolasinac was stricken with the same flu as Mertesacker and others but played through the first half anyway. He was also poor in this match – mostly his positioning. Which is typically a problem when a player is not able to cover as much ground as he needs to – he cheats or fails to recover.
  6. Should have been 2-0 when Arsenal decided not to apply any pressure to the ball and a nice chip over the top found Ribery who headed to Tolisso for the goal. The referee wrongly called the play offside.
  7. Arsenal had two amazing chances as well – one a chip from Welbeck to Özil which the German attempted off the volley but which was saved and the other for Lacazette, who was played clean through but fired straight at the keeper.
  8. James should have scored: James had three great chances in that first half. The second was the best and came from a Ribery chip. How James was completely unmarked at the far post is a mystery (solved: Kolasinac was ambling back nowhere near him – which isn’t really a criticism, I can’t imagine trying to mark a guy like James with a stomach bug) but credit to Cech who made an outstanding save from the one-v-one to keep the score 1-0. Xhaka also made a well-timed tackle basically on the line to stop James from scoring again.
  9. This continued at the start of the second half when James was unmarked, this time on the left, and had a wide open shot saved by Cech.
  10. Amazing piece of skill from Iwobi to get the equalizer. He wins the ball back in midfield, dribbles past half of Bayern, passes it to Ramsey, and then finishes Ramsey’s chip. Credit too to Ramsey, he put that ball on a plate for Iwobi. But Iwobi still had to head the ball into the lower right corner!
  11. Maybe Cech can’t save pens but Martinez can! And Arsenal win the trophy over Bayern.
  12. Please be sure to take any criticisms above to mean that I think the player is worse than Arsenal’s worst ever player (Frimpong), that Arsene Wenger should resign, and that Arsenal are getting relegated this year. Do NOT read the parts where I mention illness nor this part where I say it’s only a pre-season friendly and that conditions were less than ideal. It’s the only logical way to approach what I’ve said.

Good fun to watch and can’t wait to see the match against Chelsea on the 7th.



  1. Don’t forget we have another Chelsea match in two days. Gonna get burned out watching them.

  2. My only beef with this post is the part where Frimpong is the worst ever. I’ve got to stand up for Andre Santos here. Also, If Wenger were to sign a midfielder, a position where we clearly need some depth, who is even available? What set of skills would be ideal? I don’t believe the summer should be considered a success with respect to transfers if no one who can cover for or improve on Ramsey and/or Xhaka.

    1. Santos, even if he couldn’t defend, had a bit of goalscoring ability. My vote goes to Pascal Cygan, a defender who made Giroud look like Usian Bolt. Mertesacker would lap him in a 100 metres race, I reckon.

        1. Guilty secret: I loved Pascal Cygan’s ability to find forwards with laser-like passes from the back, a rare quality back then (Franck Lebouef made a decent career out of it). Overall he was a decent attacking outlet who made us fun to watch but had the turning circle of a planet and the same catastrophic defensive instincts as Titus Bramble.

        2. Ah but his contribution was more than just DENCH. He frimponged Nasri and that alone was worth having him on our books.

    2. You guys need to delve into history a bit, you’re not even close to scraping the bottom of the barrel. The 70s and 80s saw many truely awful players.
      My vote, I suspect shared by many older Gooners would be Gus Caesar, immortalised in Fever Pitch for a very good reason.

  3. We were extremely sluggish in the first half. I remember wondering if there was a stomach bug in the camp. (I hadn’t heard the news)

    That was a dive by Bernat for the penalty. That and some of the tackling and on one occasion Hummels stopping Elneny from getting the ball, made me happy because it showed that Bayern were actually trying to win this. Arsene’s expression and anxiety in the end said the same.

    I thought Niles grew into the game. It couldn’t have helped the backline that Per was a last minute absentee. But that tackle on Ribery was great. In fact I think all of the kids did well. Even Bielik, who made a few mistakes passing the ball out, tackled well.

    Bayern’s ball control was better than ours and that’s why a midfielder is essential to us. But the second half was much better from us and we deserved the 1-1 in the end.

    Also, apparently Cech didn’t lift up the ‘trophy’ and told the guys let’s lift the big one. That’s the kind of stuff that he contributes off the field and why Szcz wasn’t going to get a free ride to a starting spot.

  4. Iwobi’s going to take some shifting from the team when the season starts. He’s looked really sharp in pre-season. Being experimented with on the right, and in a free role, it would seem to me. Looks like Ozil succession preparation.

    I though Wenger rationalised the sale of Szczesny convincingly. He’s got Cech, Martinez, the very promising and very tall Macey… and Ospina (Still. For now).

    Hard to read to much into the game. Certainly the players (especially Bayern’s) seemed to be playing at half trot. Well done Tech for focusing minds on the bigger task.

    Highlight for me? Arsene’s bright red sneakers.

    1. You sure it’s convincingly? For me, it’s like justifying the sale of Alexis, with arguments like we’ve got Lacazette, Nketiah and Malen. And on that note, correct me if I’m wrong but i think 9 in Japanase is “Kyu” (きゅ) not “Ku” (く) although at some description, like saying of hour, it does says as Ku and not Kyu.

  5. The Chinese lasagna will get you every time.

    Interesting comparison between Iwobi and Sanches. Iwobi started well in his first season but did not have enough end product and the formation switch saw him shunted to the bench. Sanches the wunderkind of Euro 2016 for his strong debut for Portugal that led Bayern to spend 35mil € for him. Now he is looking to fight his way off the sales bin and back into the BM team and yesterday’s performance did him no favors. Iwobi’s stellar performance yesterday was highlighted by his taking the ball from Sanches and leading the counter-attack that led to the tying goal.

    I’m trusting Wenger to get the call on Martinez right because he very well could be our Europa League goalkeeper.

    AMN who is no Walcott in that position but he was thrown in against Ribery and it was one way traffic. In fairness to AMN, there was no foul on Bernat for the PK and the announcers should have said as much. The officiating crew should have had that lasagna but they didn’t and that was the only decision they got right.

    1. Iwobi said recently Wenger had told him that if he wants to play regularly he needs to contribute more with his end product. He certainly looks hungry.

  6. Just a note that AS Monaco are are a bit annoyed by the tapping up by Man City and PSG on Mbappe. Arsenal were not involved because we don’t play that.
    Long term, we win the Europa League and finish in a CL spot and call up Mbappe’s family after Sanchez says bon voyage.

  7. Good points on the Bayern game.
    It’s not ideal to have Mustafi, Chambers and Holding on holidays after their respective international exertions when we need to be working hard on defence but along with Sanchez they all do need a rest.
    Cech showed his class behind the makeshift defense with a couple of excellent saves.
    The Wingbacks playing so far forward is likely to be an ongoing problem because of Wengers attacking philosophy but we can hope that when Bould gets back to the squad from his neck surgery in Australia he can influence a more balanced approach.
    A pity Ozil hit the keeper with his volley from that beautiful pass from Welbeck.
    Lacazette was denied by a fantastic save after the lovely ball by Ozil.
    Iwobi has been exceptional with his involvement thus far this preseason. He looks a fantastic talent.
    Plenty to work on but plenty of good too and it’s nice for the side to win even in meaningless preseason games.

  8. pfo, a reply to your comments from 2 threads back:

    i never said falcao came from nowhere when he was at monaco. i simply compared his time in france to his time in england. feel free to include anywhere else he’s played in the comparison to playing in england.

    i agree with you concerning di maria but i don’t know what point you’re trying to make. i was only talking about the difference between playing center forward in england compared to france. di maria’s not a center forward.

    while i’m flattered to be considered with deschamps, who was a lovely player and looks a brilliant manager, i’m not sure that my view of center forward is narrow. our disagreement seems to be that i believe center forwards must do certain things well to be effective and you believe it’s okay if they don’t do certain things well if they have other attributes. not to dismiss your argument but i have experience playing center forward.

    in ’98, i played in germany as a striker in a 4-4-2. back then, i always had a strike partner and, embarrassingly, didn’t recognize that there was a difference between a striker and a center forward. there was a game we played where we had a defender sent off and i had to play alone up top. i struggled mightily as i didn’t know what i was doing and was subbed out. the guy that came on for me struggled as well. the next week, one of the coaches conducted a week-long functional session with the strikers on how to play as a center forward and explained the difference between the two positions. that week was an eye opener and had a profound effect on how i played as well as allowing me to appreciate the difference between the two positions. since then, i’ve always had a real sensitivity and understanding for the center forward role.

    does this make me some sort of expert on center forwards? no, but i do have perspective based not only on my seemingly narrow views, but experience. lacazette is a fine player and i believe can have an incredible career at arsenal. i just don’t think it’s at the center forward role; he can be every bit as effective as a striker without the additional demands of a center forward. with that, arshavin could have had an excellent career at arsenal also if he played as a second striker and not on the left wing. we’ll see what wenger does.

    1. Very interesting perspective. I always thought of the CF as a striker who is more involved in the build-up play than someone who is simply great at finishing off moves. To put it loosely, a CF is someone who can lead the line on their own. I think if you look at the different type of CFs we have seen – Lewandowski, Messi, Aguero, Costa – there is no singular definition of what a CF is. Aguero plays CF but his qualities are very much that of a striker. Messi has played the CF role to devastating effect but he is a completely different type of player than Aguero. So maybe one can say that a CF is also a striker but a striker is not necessarily a CF.

      Without trying to sound someone who doesn’t appreciate these subtle differences, I don’t want to get too bogged down with semantics. The question for me is whether Lacazette can lead the line by himself. He has done so well at Lyon (even considering that Kefir played close to him) but it’s a big step up in the premier league so we will have to see how well he does at Arsenal. I think Alexis and Ozil can create space for him, and his movement seems intelligent enough to be successful here. I certainly hope he can play the CF role because that’s why Wenger bought him and that’s the role we all want to see him do well in.

      1. first, you said that a striker can be a center forward but a center forward is not necessarily a striker. i think you have that backwards. a center forward (lewandowski/suarez/aguero) can play as a striker but a striker (walcott/griezmann/dybala) may not be able to function as a center forward. except for that, your understanding of the role of a center forward is 100% in line with mine.

        as for messi playing center forward, he was more of a false 9. that was a cruyff-based strategy that barcelona had to adopt because they replaced zlatan with david villa and later alexis sanchez, neither of whom are center forwards, and they struggled to score. likewise, when spain won the world cup, their center forward (fernando torres) was playing like dog crap so they instituted the false 9 strategy by playing fabregas there and torres became plan b. you have to have exceptional talent in midfield to play with a false 9. well, barcelona may have had the most talented midfield many of us have ever seen.

        you’re right, the bottom line is can lacazette lead the line in the bpl to better effect than giroud. i have serious doubts but, if this is wenger’s plan, time will tell. i believe he can be equally devastating as a striker but center forward in the bpl has destroyed many great players in the past. we’ll see how he does.

      2. another option is to simply invert the front 3. instead of playing with two strikers behind a center forward, simply drop the center forward and put an attacking midfielder behind the two strikers. this gives arsenal an extra man in midfield and eliminates the need for a center forward; arsenal play a 3-5-2. that’s just a thought.

        1. I completely agree about the option of inverting the front 3 (not that we should do it, but that it’s an attractive option). But I wouldn’t do that with an eye for Giroud being one of those strikers (not sure if that’s what you were thinking or not). To be frank, I don’t want Giroud regularly in our starting lineup. I’m tired of seeing such a limited footballer in our team (yes he’s good at what he’s good at, but it’s not enough to be a starter for us, at least if we’re going to play the way Wenger wants his teams to play). I’m happy for him to be in the squad, but we need to move on from depending on him to regularly start for us, because in spite of his goals, he holds our overall team play back.

          1. Playing 2 up front would only be my preference when Sanchez is not available. Sanchez will always drift deep for the ball and is therefore better used in one of the deep forward positions alongside Ozil, Iwobi or Ramsey instead of as one of a top 2. Welbeck/Laca would be dynamic with Ozil in behind against teams that aren’t parked when Sanchez isn’t available.

            Giroud still has a role to play in the games where teams are parked and getting Lacazette to play close to him could be a good addition to Plan B.

            Lacazette playing at CF against Munich looked good. He linked up play well and made some good runs in behind to stretch them and to get in on goal himself. He looks reasonably strong on the ball and hopefully he can adapt to the physicality of the Premier League.

    2. Joshuad,
      Thanks for the reply.
      1. The point about Di Maria was meant to address what I took to be an implication of what you were saying, namely that players who look good in the French league regularly get found out in the PL. If your point was just about strikers/forwards, then fair enough.
      2. The point about Falcao being a success in La Liga and Portugal before Monaco was meant to respond to another implication of what you said, namely that Falcao is a good example of a striker who couldn’t hack it in the PL even though he looked good in France. The point is if he could hack it for Athletico, both in Europe and La Liga, then there’s no real reason he shouldn’t have been able to hack it in the PL. You can’t say La Liga is a significantly weaker league than the PL, especially a few years ago. If your response is, “yes, but it lacks the PL’s physicality,” sure, that might be true, but Aguero has had no problem dealing with that and he’s smaller than Falcao (interestingly, Falcao was his direct replacement at Athletico). So maybe Falcao’s failure in the PL had little or nothing to do with him not being good enough, and more to do with other factors (e.g. coming back after a very serious injury), and maybe being a successful CF in the PL is not all about physicality and “traditional target man” hold-up play (this may be an oversimplification of your point, but I take it it’s roughly what you’re getting at). In fact, I think Aguero and Lacazette are pretty similar players in style, so if the former could make it as a CF in England, no reason to think the latter couldn’t too (not saying he’s as good as Aguero).

    3. @joshuad

      Please consider writing a piece explaining the CF ST distinction in more detail and in particular, how it would apply to Arsenal given our personnel choices and the way we play. Giroud is a CF. So was Henry. But RVP, Striker? Alexis when he played up top, striker? Do you think that held us back with both? Does that mean you think we should hold onto Perez?

      Do you think Wenger agrees with you? And that’s why he was willing to break the bank on Mbappe? If so, why hasn’t he gotten a CF? What calculus do you think leads him to conclude otherwise?

      I’d be very interested to learn the subtleties and I’m sure everyone else here would enjoy it as well.

  9. Well, I don’t know who you are…and what you have done with Tim, but four posts in four days? More, please! 🙂

  10. A question: If Chelsea won the FA Cup, who were they supposed to play in the Community Shield?

  11. PSG are ready to let go Krychowiak. Could he be a good addition to our midfield? He was pretty good when he was in Sevilla.

        1. Yeah I know. That was just as a confirmation that he seems to be available. I’m not convinced he’s what we need in our midfield. I also think he’ll be happier back in Spain than coming to Arsenal but can’t remember why I think this. Maybe something he said in the past.

    1. He’s a good player, but my sense is he’s not that great on the ball, which is probably why PSG are letting him go after only one year and despite being one of Emery’s favorites at Sevilla. So he’d probably end up being just a bigger, slightly better version of Coquelin, which we don’t really need.

    2. Considered this, but Krychowiak seems to me to be like an upgraded Coquelin. Great at tackling but not exactly fast, and I’m not sure how great a passer he is. Could possibly fill in for Xhaka (or take over?) but I think what is needed is someone with Cazorla’s dribbling ability to improve midfield possession, especially when we are pressed.

      1. Maybe someone like Kovacic from real Madrid. He isnt getting many games there so perhaps there is a chance there to bring him. I think he is like a less injury prone Wilshere.

  12. Ugh I can only tolerate watching so much of Chelski. Think I’ll skip the next friendly and watch the Community Shield.

  13. Beating Bayern in any circumstace is nice, and regardless the meaningless game it is impossible for something to lodge in the minds of those players, however small and far back in there it goes.

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