No Drama, No Crisis and For Arsenal, No Qualification. Yet.

Arsenal 0 – 0 Marseille

Arsenal’s progress to the knockout phase stalled last night, put on ice for three weeks at least. Marseille’s improvement in form since the sides first met a fortnight ago combined with a tired performance by the hosts to produce a stalemate in North London. Qualification is still in Arsenal’s hands but must wait until Borussia Dortmund visit The Emirates after the international break before being confirmed.

Whether or not it was a good result remains to be seen. In the context of recent events, the outcome is disappointing. The win at Chelsea had set things up nicely, emotions built and as I observed yesterday, these things tend to end in disappointment.

Changes were wrought from the weekend, Robin van Persie relegated to the bench, Park his replacement; Jenkinson was in at right back to continue his footballing education whilst Thomas Vermaelen was voted Man of the Match on his return although that seemed overly generous with Per Mertesacker having a more than decent shout at the award. Even at Arsenal, performances are overlooked for sentimentality and popularity. 

The pairing of Mertesacker and Vermaelen looked solid, the latter belying his absences through injury with an assured performance. The German though is starting to raise the bar with his displays; yes, he might lack pace but his reading of the game is exemplary, allowing timely interventions at crucial moments. Their work is helped by Alex Song who is continually improving and a testament to what can be achieved with hard work. Written off by some early in his career, he is protecting the back four well this season along with excellent distribution of the ball when in possession.

Arsenal were not quick out of the blocks, Marseille were with Remy and both Ayew’s going close. Theo Walcott and Aaron Ramsey responded for Arsenal who took some time to get into their stride. When they did, Gervinho carried the attacking threat Ramsey was pulling the midfield strings. The Welsh international is starting to produce the consistency of performance that was evident before the agricultural intervention of Ryan Shawcross.

Remy reminded Arsenal not to be complacent; Ramsey and Park reminded us of the profligacy in front of goal that haunted the team in previous european campaigns.

There were opportunities for either side but nothing clear cut until the 77th minute when van Persie opted for the audaucious when the clinical would have been a better choice. Vermaelen had a couple of headers that were close but precious little else.

Post-match, Wenger observed that the team was tired but happy with the defensive discipline that kept a clean sheet. It was no thanks to Andre Santos who is doing his best to bring the samba style to Arsenal’s attack, a pity he is employed as a left back. His manager may believe that he has stronger defensive discipline than is thought – and in fairness, he improved as the evening wore on – but consistent performances such as that in the second half would help lose the tag he is gaining of being a buccaneering defender. He really does not want to be buccaneer when he should be buccanthere. 

Wenger started with his captain on the bench but was once more unable to give the Dutchman a proper rest. As Wenger pointed out, Park has not played many games recently and is off the pace; that might come but he is not going to be first choice for a while so it is almost a chicken and egg situation. Having impressed with his willingness and finish in the Carling Cup, the Korean’s detractors were handed the initiative once more following last night.

For Wenger, the reliance upon van Persie is a concern. It is approaching Henry proportions during his final seasons at the club. Arsenal cannot afford for that situation to remain in the long term, goals from other sources have to come as opponents seek to nullify van Persie’s threat.

Sometimes results do not go as planned. No doubt this is one of those occasions. There is no drama, no crisis, no qualification. Other opportunities exist for that to happen and I am sure they will be taken.

’til Tomorrow.

Posted on November 2, 2011, in Arsenal, Champions League, Football, Soccer and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 133 Comments.

  1. Wenger targetted 4 points from OM.he’s got it.thats all i’ve to say on that.

  2. Thanks YW for avoiding the temptation of going down the same road of the English media. During the game the plundits kept jabbering hysterically about Santos defensive failings and his inability to defend. Yet at least three of the chances we created in the 1st half was due, dare I say, to his “buccaneering” runs. We had five shots on goal that half. In the second when he played more conservatively, as he was probably instructed, our attacks were as blunt as a “non-buccaneer” with only two shots on goal.
    As we should all do, I simply ignore these blathering idiots. Pity they have so much impact on the fickle minded among us.

  3. Just Another Luke

    no prizes for 2nd. But I have read the posting.

  4. Just Another Luke


  5. Fair and accurate Yogi – the passing was a little shakey last night in midfield, and when we did pick out the right ball in the penalty box either Park, or Gervinho or Aaron clumped it

    Second half we lost the initiative and for 20 minutes between 60 and 80 – it looked like we might concede – very good performance from TV and Per and Szcz his usual noisy and authoritative self

    I was pleased with Santos’ performance in the first half _ I can only assume that he owes Alan Smith money !

  6. Though disappointing, a draw is a decent and solid result, in 3 ways.
    a) No goals conceded has to be, at home, bottom line – achieved, good
    b) Post-Chelsea, and another draining game 2 days later, Marseille have improved and desperately needed not to lose this, a draw and no goals conceded was not a poor result in context, just midly disappointing
    c) We have played, arguably, our most testing games: Dortmund away (they now lie third in Bundesliga) and Marseille away (and home), the main rivals and 4 points taken against them. If we draw with Dortmund (at home) and Marseille do not lose to Olymps, Dortmund and Olymps are out, but we are not necessarily top. To remain top we have to match the Marseille results against the same 2 teams.

    Th downside is that Dortmund, no pushovers and 3rd in Germany, have to win; nothing less will help their cause in the next match against Arsenal. So expect a tough and taxing encounter. They dominated a depleted Arsenal for large parts of the last match, and will “believe”.

  7. Zim – I’m glad Dortmund have to win – we usually play better when teams come on to us, even more so when we know their intentions from the off.

    Anyone any idea what exactly the chelscum were singing last night?

  8. Psychologically, and tactically, the simplest thing that can be said is unlike some previous seasons, progression (and remaining top too) is entirely in our hands, and not dependent on other results. 2 points is sufficient (to go through), 1 point might be, but would leave us dependent on the other results. The hopeful result is that Olymps hold Marseille, unlikely I think; and we must not lose to Dortmund at home.

  9. If we had a draw away at Marseille and a win at home we would be delight so it no different .At least we have the edge over Marseille if it comes down to head to head result to confirm who finishes top. not a bad result at all. Not only Arsenal looked jaded Chelsea did too, the game on Saturday took a lot out of both teams.
    Some pundits laughed at Park I thought that was harsh, I guess it is ruthless out there you have to be Superman from the start. The guy is good enough, this was his first game with the first team, just need games to understand how his team mates work in a competitive match.

  10. Vermaelen is what I call a spice player. He is a delight to watch. When he jumps its like he’s actually flying. When he tackles its like magic. As for Mertesacker I love his long legs. You think someone’s getting past and Merte kicks the ball away. Loved the combination and it’s good to think that a combination of either with Kozzer is just as ”bad.”
    I saw Jordan Ayew’s face and I didn’t expect a real threat their. The boy’s a baby. And he didn’t scare. I think Ramsey had a great game – he was heading towards being my man of the match – but the lack of the goal he should have scored paid to that. But the making of a legend is there for all to see. The moment he went off you could see that L’OM got more of a look in the game.

  11. I thought last night was better than the away leg, but we won that game so the narrative was skewed.

    We don’t have to wait until BvB to qualify.

    If we beat Olympiacos we qualify, if Marseille draw against BvB and we beat Olympiacos we win the group.

    Only losing the last 2 games would knock us out, and even then 2 draws for Marseille and we still qualify.

  12. Hell, given our worst start to a season since The Byrds and The Beatles settled on Miss Spelling, or even further back into the great pea-soup mists of another era, we are settling rather well.

  13. I thought our next was Dortmund at home. If it is Olymps away, better. If the last match is to be decisive, you really want it played at home.

  14. Song was man of the match, without a doubt. Tireless he was, and he needed to be, constantly having to cover for Santos. I remember a few years back my heart used to be in mouth every time Song tried to play his way out of danger, or around the midfield. At this stage I’m relieved to see him get the ball because I don’t think I’ve ever seen him lose it.

    Team defending was pretty solid though. Marseille had one chance on target the entire game. I thought Jenkinson had a very solid game. Gave the ball away once but I think other than that a decent shift.

    Rosicky cautioned again for two inch-perfect sliding tackles. It’s becoming a theme in the CL.

    Park looked pretty good at winning balls in the air, which surprised me. We may have a “traditional English centre-forward” on our hands…

    Zim and Jonny at 10:20, good points!

  15. Lovely write up Yogi.

    Was at the game again last night, atmosphere was great (in my section) and had an enjoyable evening – yes, the result isn’t perfect but the group outcome is still in our hands. Not ideal, but its the Champs League, it never is.

    Anyway, I thought TV was utterly incredible yesterday. He won everything, if the rest of the team put as much pressure on the ball as our him (pressure on the ball was pretty weak by all accounts last night) then we would be golden. Still shaky defensively, losing too many second balls and requiring 3/4 attempts to clear our lines is never good.

    Our FB’s are still find thier feet. As much as I enjoy Jenks, and respect his attitude and commitment I thought he again looked out of his depth, shy of the quality required just for now. But he is no nonsense, he works hard on his basics, and he wont put his team in jeopardy, but he wont be able to be a threat down the right flank just yet. Many a counter was lost when he failed to play Walcott into space in the second half.

    The opposite can be said of our wandering Brazilian, whose positioning, by any account (English hack or Mongolian sheep herder) beggars belief at some times. He will learn. He is wonderful on the ball, and has great end product going forward (more so than his predecessor), but, like at the weekend, we will get punished by better sides if he continues to leave wide open space for his opposing man.

    Certainly thought we were good for the win, especially if we bagged one of our multiple first half chances. Credit where it is due, Marseille played brilliantly. Executed thier game play to perfection, and had massive performances in key contest zones (Diarra and Ayew A)

  16. @zimpaul, I’m the one in the wrong, next is Dortmund at home. A draw and we’re through.

  17. since when did Marseille become a shit side then? they only lost one game in 10 or something against english sides. 4 points is a good return. still top after most punTits said we would fail to get through the group. kept a clean sheet aswell with our dodgy defenders a!!!

  18. Luke,

    How did Jenks look out of his depth? i thought he looked quick and solid, he look as solid as the so solid crew smoking solids listening to ashford and simpsons solid as a rock.

  19. “I thought he again looked out of his depth, shy of the quality required just for now. But he is no nonsense, he works hard on his basics, and he wont put his team in jeopardy, but he wont be able to be a threat down the right flank just yet”

  20. Its a recurring theme I know,but the Sky punditry was woeful .David Seaman must have been told what to say because he lost all control of his senses for the evening.He takes “monotone” to a whole new level.
    They have script and stick to it.

  21. Jenkinson was up against full French Internationals etc. Some very impressive moments.
    His telepathy with the forward players will improve as well.

    Santos’ desire to win back possesion in the opponents half may raise the blood pressure in some quarters, but against the likes of Stoke it works a treat. Harder against better players last night, but still impressive.
    There was one moment in the second half where his teammates kept passing him the ball in a tricksy situation, almost as if they were teasing him. Or trying to help him build up his fitness! He was fine.

    It’s a good thing that Theo’s football brain was working when Santos picked up a ‘niggle’ near the end of the first half.

  22. One or two points from last night’s game.
    A draw was a fair result. What many commentators have missed is that Marseille are a very good side.
    I felt Park was out of his depth a bit, although he did not receive much service. The number of balls he won in the air was pleasing and I hope Wenger will have reassured him as to his future.
    To me, Song was clearly MOTM. He ran miles, never gave up, broke up attacks and protected the back four. He seems to improve each game he plays.
    I liked Santos, even when he neglects his defensive duties. I wonder whether he is a winghalf in the making…but perhaps not.
    The defence improves as it gels. I only hope that when Sagna returns, we can look forward to a period of regularity.
    All things considered, our progress within the CL for yet another year
    is steady, if not dramatic. Better than many of the doom and gloom pundits anticipated.

  23. The positive thing about Santos is that while he makes errors which will cost us – as did Gael – he is just as likely to pop up at the other end and score. His work on the left last night should, if the referee had been a bit sharper, have brought us a penalty.

    And Finsbury I am glad I was not the only one who noticed Theo busting a gut to cover for Santos when he had his “niggle”

  24. Can’t understand how anyone can look elsewhere than TV for MOTM.

    Our best CB and defender by miles. He won absolutley everything he went for yesterday – was under a lot of the pressure as our midfield was certainly coming off second best for the majority of the game.

  25. The positive thing about Santos is that while he makes errors which will cost us – as did Gael – he is just as likely to pop up at the other end and score.


    Exactly. That was the massive issue some had with Clichy for the last couple of years was that his end product for a FB which joins pretty much every attack was pathetic.

    If Santos can bag between 4-7 assists and 1-3 goals then the amount we send our FB forward will be a calculated risk.

  26. Walcott intereviewed post-match looked red-eye drained. He speaks well.

    Having Vermaelen back and looking like he means business is, let’s face it, a massive advantage, especially as the team has earned some results without him. Now we can rotate almost seamlessly at the back, a nice problem, all defenders have played together effectively. Almost more newsy than this result. Having Jenks back is not far behind. Djourou is less effective defensively, but acquitted himself well on the whole.

    Santos’ meanderings might be a little too much, and might sometimes get us in trouble, but should work if he doesn’t go overboard. It is a strength, especially on the left side for some reason. Mostly, at this level, you ensure 3 backs are covering everything, so one wingback can cause some trouble; and as long as Song keeps an eye on events. Evra has been astute at this kind of game, and its a real bonus. I have a feeling Santos has potential to become the best LB in the EPL.

  27. I agree that Jenkinson is not quite there yet for a team with top ambitions but he is definitely one for the future.Santos worries me and if we had a quality left back {please no-body mention Gibbs}then I could see him occasionally playing ahead of the full back in a wide left attacking role.
    Surely Wenger should be ahead of the game and not say after the event that Saturday was a huge drain on the players.He should have found a way to start with Rosicky,Arshavin and Benayoun.

  28. YW – kudos for your write up…..
    our CB’s looked under control against a very respectable Marseille club, especially Mertesacker.

    When I saw the scheduling and little rest after Chelsea, I thought this match would be a crap shoot.

    If there is any criticism to be handed out……it should be directed at the players who squandered their chances in front of goal…… why are comments aimed at the defense?
    Clean sheet, right.

    “Even at Arsenal, performances are overlooked for sentimentality and popularity.”

    Jenkinson – solid match……19 – 1st year in premier league…..WTF.

    re: Santos
    Buccaneering…..hell that’s what we’ve been needing for 6 years – a real attacking threat from the back. Let Arteta, Song, or Ramsey drop back and cover.

    Santo’s is exceptional with the ball and his delivery is quality. We rate Sagna highly for his defensive prowess, but Sagna and Santo’s have different games. What Arsenal needs is diversity in attack….and that is what Santos brings.

  29. hi 2 u all i greet u my comment is as arsenal are getting their form we have to focus on d remaning maches dat we must win and GOD will help us.

  30. Yup Brian, I was a bit surprised that we started with Gervinho & Walcott – it was discussed yesterday, but I don’t think that is our most suitable combination on the flanks against a side who is clearly coming for a point, especially if VP isnt starting.

  31. Luke : “Can’t understand how anyone can look elsewhere than TV for MOTM.”

    Vermaelen had an excellent return and looked sharp, but he was not MOTM. Even Mertesacker was a closer shout. But both of them were kept relatively quiet because of the covering done by Song and Arteta, who for me are the most solid pairing in midfield we’ve had for ages. And considering both of them put in the same shifts against Chelsea I was amazed at their fitness levels last night.

  32. Markus – I would say our midfield came off second best yesterday. We failed to pressure the ball well, and lost a lot of the second ball. Song had a solid game, but the base of the midfield was struggling under pressure from Marseille’s high pressing, as a result, we never truley found our rhythm.

  33. My man of the match was Per, I thought also Marseille played very well, gave us a real test. The one point was not ideal but I’ll take it, now lets hope we do better in the remaining two games.

  34. I support Markus’s position about Song and Arteta performances.

  35. Good write up YW, but I cannot understand the criticism of Santos. Watching the game at the stadium, I was not overly concerned by his performance. Football is a team game and as long as the team are playing for each other and covering, his runs forward are really helpful to the attacking play of the team. I actually thought he was better overall than he was on Saturday and is starting to get a better balance between attack and defence.

    Luke, I won’t argue with you as everyone sees the game differently, but TV dived in to try to win the ball early at one point and missed completely. Had the ball fallen to a Marseille player it would have left a perfect hole in the defence for them to run on to a chance on goal. He was also ball watching when one of the Marseille forwards bent his run to get in behind and was fortunate to recover in time to intercept. I’m not saying he had a poor game, but there were one or two signs of a player just coming back after a long lay off. He’s similar to Szczesny – a bit of a hot head with his diving in or rushing out. It’s a high risk strategy which looks great when it comes off, but could put us in trouble when their luck runs out.

  36. ZimPaul: “Walcott intereviewed post-match looked red-eye drained. He speaks well.”

    He really does. I just wish he had said “We were solid defensively as a team” instead of “We were solid defensively at the back”. Dunno, just made me a little uneasy. But he handled the question of the back pairing well. The interviewer tried to put words in his mouth by saying that Per and Vermaelen were the first choice. Theo basically just said nobody’s position is certain as there is so much competition.

  37. Nice write up Yogi:

    A little disappointed that we did not get a goal but we are still in control of our group. Clean sheet and a good overall display on defense is always encouraging. Attacking was a bit knackered after the Chelsea game but the defense should always stay solid and keep you in every game. Mert is the man. Pace in central defenders is nice but its importance has been greatly over-rated by many of us for a long time. I think we now have the building blocks for a strong defense as long as we continue to maintain our concentration and solidarity. Santos is scary but didn’t hurt us yesterday because the rest of the back 4 covered well for him.

    Need to regain the momentum this weekend against the Baggies.

  38. Good review, YW. I agree with many of your observations. The comments are also very well-observed today.

    A few thoughts from the match:

    Although I like him as a player, Jenkinson looked pretty shaky at times. He passed the ball straight into touch on at least two occasions. After the second time, in the second half, he seemed to take much more care with his passing (probably a good thing!), but the result was, as Luke pointed out above, that he wasn’t able to get the ball to Walcott quickly enough. On the plus side, he broke up a number of attacks and I like the way he gets forward.

    The crowd was more subdued than normal for a CL tie. Part of that may stem from heightened expectations following the win at the weekend. We may have also been a bit intimidated by the Marseilles support. They brought one of the largest groups I’ve seen for the CL, and they were right up there with Hamburg SV for passion. The Emirates crowd took quite a while to find their (our?) voice. Generally seems to follow how well the team are playing.

    Mert and TV were immense at the back. PM in particular seemed to be in his element. Shame he couldn’t have done more with his free-header in the box in the second half, but his debut goal will come, I’m sure!

    Santos is shaping up (!) as our very own Roberto Carlos. Particularly in the first half, as soon as we won possession, he was off like a shot. Very entertaining. I imagine AW might have had a word in his (buccan)ear at half-time about the need to make sure he doesn’t leave his colleagues too exposed. As finsbury commented above, he is very good at winning the ball in the opponents’ half of the pitch. His extra attacking threat will be a big plus.

    OM did a great job of squeezing play and denying space for our midfield. (I admit, I didn’t think that they would play a high line, but they did, and they did it well.) They are a good side.

    It seems virtually impossible for an opponent to get Song off the ball. On more than one occasion, OM had to wrestle him to the floor. Top marks for strength.

    My favourite moment of the match was seeing Walcott sprint for 50-60 yards to fill in for Santos. I always knew he was fast but, as Paul-N might say, blow wow!

    All in all, for a 0-0, it was a pretty entertaining match.

  39. tv and koz should be the best pairing for me, mers cant run caNT JUMP, GOOD FOR BACK UP, JENKS IS FULL Of enthusiasm but clumsy, hope we can get through with this team but who knows, jack will be back when the knock out starts along with cahill and a proper replacement for fab4, if diabi finaly emerges we can go a long way . we have a good chance to pick up points this month, shopuld have started with rvp imo, and theo
    should be given a shot up front, i think its a real shame that players who are obviously not high enough quality (park) should be pushed into these situations, sadly thats Arsenal these days, not enough quality so roll on winter window

  40. irishgray – Yes, I heard that Koscielny was originally pencilled in to start, but he suddenly looked exhausted following an encounter with a mysterious fan in the tunnel.

  41. Excellent Yogi. Spot on analysis.

    Nothing much wrong with that performance either.

    A few more tweaks and a more settled attitude will see us alright.

  42. I have no complaints about the match. We played a good team that defended well and passed the ball around nicely.

    Not sure if it is me but what is up with throwing around the term “out of their depth”? In what way did Jenks look out of his depth? and how can a player like Park be out of his depth? The guy needs to play more games.

  43. Jenks is clumsey now!

    Does it hurt if there is no one to talk about negatively?

  44. i n the year 2011 Pace is important for Centre Backs.

    Unless Slurgus’ recent comments indicate that he has ‘lost it’, or whatever stupid term you may prefer that people use to heckle managers. (Such as ‘marxist’. Baffling, but true). And AVB needs to think again about how his team will line up with someone who’s survived these past seasons thanks to the generosity of the ‘Home’ refs.

    In short, as shown by Per’s necessary and vital interception in behind Jenk’s towards the end of the game,he’s not slow. Not in the slightest. In fact, he was very quick in that instance. Most lumps are what we can call Slow. Hence, Per is the better player compared to your average Rugby reject. As 75 Caps for one of the world’s top three national teams would indicate.

    Some ‘critics’ need to get over themselves. And no. TV5 will not be moved to LB. Sorry.

  45. “how can a player like Park be out of his depth? The guy needs to play more games.”

    Exactly Paul – he must have played Marseille a few times during his time at Monaco. He just needs games with his new team mates in order to gel the same way some of the other newbies have. I think Arsene should start with Park again on Saturday as he needs the games in order to find his match sharpness. RVP can always come off the bench if necessary. But we will not get past this perceived over-reliance on him unless the others are given the responsibility and time on the pitch that they need to get up to speed.

  46. Thats what I am talking about Passenal. We just throw phrases around without really giving it thought.

    I agree with you about playing Park also this weekend. I want us to trust our players. He will never get up to speed if he doesn’t play.

  47. @Billy Boots… you guys should leave that mysterious fan alone! LOL

  48. YW, nicely summarized.

    @ Markus | November 2, 2011 at 10:56 am
    Concur re: Song (the guy uses his body like Dennis Rodman, boxing people out to keep the ball under his control) and also re: Rosicky (the Guardian has this thing with people in the MBMs calling him “meh” and implying that his attitude is summed up with “whatever” and I have no idea where that came from, whenever I see him he’s harrying and hustling just like he did in this game).

    @Luke | November 2, 2011 at 11:02 am
    I agree with your assessment of Jenkinson. He played solidly, and deserves credit for that, but it’s a clear decline from Sagna, whose return I await eagerly. Honestly it makes me think selling Eboue was unwise, as I’d pick him as backup RB any day.

    @nicky | November 2, 2011 at 11:37 am
    Disagree w/r/t Park. I thought he looked economical and smart on the ball, and his only failing was his heavy first touch in the box from Walcott(I think)’s pass. I’d have kept him on the field and removed Gervinho, who played with a lot of intent but looked like his feet were a second behind his brain.

    @ brian | November 2, 2011 at 11:52 am
    I was also surprised that Walcott, Gervinho, and the three midfielders who played at Chelsea all started. I would have liked to see Arshavin and Rosicky start, preferably in place of Gervinho and Ramsey (to rest them, not because I thought they performed poorly).

    @ boomer | November 2, 2011 at 1:24 pm
    Fuck outta here with that Cahill bullshit, I really see no use for him and if another CB is needed he should be nowhere near our list of potential players. In fact, I don’t like the attitude of your whole post, with the ‘Park sucks, we need to buy lots more people’ garbage. I suggest you go play manager mode in FIFA and then you can buy whoever you want.

  49. @ Paul N and Passenal

    I concur regarding using Park more, especially in the context of over-reliance on RVP.

  50. What really impressed me yesterday was how often our front three rotated. Walcott seemed to spend half the game out on the left while Gervinho was playing through the middle several times, pushing Park out on the right. Not sure if it was some tactical experimentation by Arsene or not but it was quite interesting to see.

  51. @boomer, and who exactly is Cahill supposed to be replacing…. cos i doubt he will leave a club where hes prob captain and become 5th choice defender? Arteta left everton where he was top player, he however sees a lot first team footy. Its what baffled me about Hleb leaving to barca, who was he thinking he would replace?

  52. Not every match we play can be like spanking chelsea. We had chances and never took them but, got a point out of it playing below average. I say save it for WBA to get the flow going again.

    Jenkinson, has played very well for a youngster coming from where he has and to be playing at the level he is at now is totally amazing. He has got consistently better and better each game he has played and at one point in the second half last night I thought I was watching Theo speeding down the right flank and then I realised it was Jenkinson and I thought, shit the kids got pace too.

    I was totally baffled when he came in and even more baffed we seen that he isn’t even a tricky flair player but, I can see why Weger has brought him to the club. We are very lucky to have a player like Jenks, who can play in any position, quick and does all the simple things very simply and he will be loyal to us for years to come.

  53. What I have noticed with Santos, is that when an attacker faces him square on with the ball they manage to pass him. His timing from a standing tackle is well on point.

  54. What’s the issue with yet another of these fucking idiotic international breaks?

    I was under the impression we’d seen the last of this drivel for the year. We’ve only just got things going again and yet another of these rocks up like some shit on your shoe you can’t seem to wipe off.

    Honestly, with any luck the negotiation that happens in the not too distant future results in the clubs telling FIFA et al to go and do one.

  55. I must have watched a different match cos I thought Jenks was really solid, and actually made decent overlapping runs..

    Park needs time but he looks a good solid hard-working CF and as we saw the other night certainly does not lack finishing…remember Pires needed time..then he did things like the goal at villa..I remember drogba being called a “failure” by the pundits of eternal wisdom..

    Santos looked reallyyy tired in the last 15..but that is to be expected in his first few months of adjustment..hope gibbs is available soon cos we definitely need to rotate at LB..but it pleases me to say both options look really good at LB..

    Per and TV were brilliant..

    Scz runs out of his goal once a game for his mad-max moment..but hey jens had those too and nobody was awesomer than Jens…

    4 points against a Marseille side which was set up to stifle and frustrate and counter-attack..better head to head gives us an “extra point” over them..and over the 2 legs I guess we restricted them to around 3 shots on target (by my estimation)…

    All in all almost entirely positives to take from our CL situation at the of the 2nd toughest group in the CL..not bad at all..lets beat BVB and secure top spot..up the arsenal !!

  56. or maybe even toughest

    Bayern slightly tougher than BVB (more CL experience no other reason)

    Marseille tougher than Napoli

    Olymipicos comparable with villareal

    On the whole maybe we have the toughest group when compared to city…tight one though..

  57. Some months back was berated by afew for saying that I rated RVP above David Silva. Well let me add that TV is better than Puyol!

  58. @ kenyan

    Certainly…let me add Kos to that statement

  59. Who is Puyol?

  60. Billy’s Boots – LOL!! Poor LK has no idea what he could be in for!!

  61. Team Spirit – As there is no point closing the barn doors after the horses have bolted, I shall dig this particular hole a little bit deeper. Say 6 feet?

  62. @irish

    The guy with wierd hairdo..

  63. He sometimes tries his hand at defending too..not very successfully either..

  64. Irish, Puyol is some fellow from Catalonia who never shaves the mop on his head. And by the way how’s the girlfriend?

  65. TV does not start in my first eleven.
    Wow,I cant believe we have improved to such an extent that I now actually think that.
    I think(you wont believe this) that if Song and Arteta start we need Arshavin in the middle to create ,If not Andrei then TR7.

  66. MikeSA

    The break in European terms is competitive for the most part, its the Euro2012 play-offs and is integral to the calendar. Nothing idiotic this time around. Well other than countries playing 2 friendlies with full squads.

  67. Great link Yogi. The great Cafu was probably the greatest lateral of them all. In serie A he was played as a winger. Interesting that A. Santos was a winger in Fernabache. Yet even Kieran Gibbs plays a very high wing. Maybe Wenger wants a lateral on our left wing?

  68. Irish

    Puyol is centre back with Barcelona. He was reportedly injured at varying points in time last season but it was subsequently found that he had been playing rhythm guitar for various 80s tribute rock bands touring the US.

    Amongst others he played with Bus Halen, Whiteasp, AB/CD, Raincurtsey, Zeppelin (the Led’s been nicked by some light-fingered tea leafs), Twisted Brother and Judas Vicar. Not to mention Aerojones.

    I’ll get me coat.

  69. Kenyan

    One of the reasons we play a high line is to condense play, allowing the midfielders and attackers to pressurise opponents into ceding possession in dangerous areas. It’s a dangerous ploy when your players do not attack the ball as frequently as they should or fail to provide support / hunt in packs.

  70. Anirudh, Kenyan Gunner and YW – I know full well who Carlos Puyol is!!! I was born at night but not last night! It was obviously a failed attempt at something called “humor”, I shall try harder next time. 😦

  71. Whilst skilfully avoiding answering Kenyan’s question on your personal life. Good one.

  72. Irish, we all know that you know Puyol. We are just sticking it in!

  73. Kenyan (and apparently YW) – The Girlfriend is great, even better she is at work while I am just now getting out of bed and debating whether to make breakfast, order in or hit the diner.

    YW – I enjoyed that article on Santos, but regardless of what position you do or do not play in, and whatever its title, when defending one-on-one he has to improve and he will with time. He also should be more aware of people making runs off the ball as he was horribly caught out yesterday only for TV to get back and cover. That being said I think he is a great signing and great addition to the team.

  74. Yogi, on the dangers of the high game – excusing Irish GF – interesting I never have any worries when Sagna goes forward. And yet I don’t see him as a player in the mold of Santos and Gibbs. For me Sagna is the quitessential – did I get the spelling right? – defender.

  75. Kenyan- As if my hangover is not punishment enough you really think you should be sticking it in?

    YW – Yes I thought I was quite skillful in avoiding that, thank you very much 🙂

  76. YW, thank you for the great link regarding Andre Santos.

  77. YW – I thought you were getting your coat?

  78. For those of you who do not understand the meaning of the Phrase “Out of his depth”, I will try to explain simply for you. It often happens when a new boy is suddenly asked to play with the big boys. Sometimes he gets off to a lucky start, scores a crucial goal and is on his way to glory. More likely, though, he hasn’t had time to gel with the first team lads IN A MATCH and it begins to show. He wins many 50/50 balls in the air but manages little else. He tries but not much goes right and he is correctly subbed.
    Don’t worry, all of you who feel that a negative report must be the end of him. It won’t. He’s a wondrous buy who will become an Arsenal legend IN DUE TIME.

  79. Thanks for the link at 4.25 pm Yogi. I’m not knowledgeable enough about tactics to be able to describe Santos, but I think that article describes what I saw from him on the pitch last night. Since Arteta seems to be more defensive than I expected, between him and Song we have enough defensive cover when Santos goes forward. Santos is one of the best passers on the team and he can score goals, so why not play to his strengths and make use of him further forward? We may need to adjust our expectations as to what a full back can offer the team as sometimes maybe attack really is the best form of defence!

  80. Irish, I envy you. Rained in Nairobi and that means the roads are in a mess. One and a half hours on the road and I’m not home yet. Thank God for small mercies. I.e. enjoy your time in bed.

  81. Irishgray @5.01 pm, isn’t that the point of team play? When the full back goes forward, the centre back on his side covers for him and one of the two more defensive midfielders drop back to cover the centre back. I thought that worked well last night night.

  82. Kenyan – Drive safe my friend and yes I fully agree with you, thank God for small mercies indeed. Well that and the fact that I am self-employed and I gave myself the day off to recover from last night. 🙂

  83. Passenal – I was not talking about when he went forward as then what you said would be exactly what should happen. I was pointing out that he tends to drift forwards when he/we do not have the ball. This breaks our defensive line and let’s runners get in behind him whilst remaining onside.

  84. There was a narrative about Santos before he came to this club that suggested he wasn’t good defencively, but an awesome force getting forward. This seems to be the hymn book the pundits are reading from and they will not deviate regardless of how many times Santos pokes the ball away from his striker. During the Chelsea game, Bosingwa and Mata got absolutely no change from his side. In every game that I’ve seen him play he has had a similar performance. When are these idiots going to realize that Andre Santos is a big lad who can defend well and is amazing getting forward? Personally, I think it’s between him and Mertesacker for the best signing of the past transfer window. Arteta is very good, but these two boys give us something our team lacked. A solid, senior defender and a left back who is an offensive threat.

  85. I can’t say I really noticed that Irishgray @ 5.25 pm. But you sometimes see things differently dependent upon where you are when you are watching the game.

  86. Passenal – True enough mate, either way I think I am right when I say we both like him and wish him well.

  87. Gains, I didn’t want to sound insulting by saying it, but I think you are right. When you watch the game from the helicopter view in the upper tier at the Emirates and the whole pitch, positioning and off the ball movement of the players can be seen without the influence of agenda driven commentary, I often find that I notice different things.

  88. Limestonegunner

    Santos is going to be a really frustrating player for a lot of people, so I am glad you copied that link YW. First, let’s compare him to Clichy. As was pointed out, he gives us much more attacking ability. Clichy was always playing forward as well but it almost always amounted nothing. Santos has already given us more than Clichy did his whole career from that perspective. Is he comparable worse as a defender, does he weaken our team defense that much more that it outweighs his attacking advantages? I don’t think so. Clichy was prone to the odd and costly error and was generally exposed because the front players didn’t really help him much either. He was also caught forward a fair amount because of his ultimately pretty fruitless runs forward too, but he had enough pace to limit the damage. The real problems with Santos right now is that he has played very few games with us and in a new league and doesn’t appear to be terribly fit. All of this can and likely will improve. Hopefully he will be a bit more disciplined, but he has already shown that he can put in a good shift–i.e. second half of Chelsea. Plus as was pointed out above as well, Arteta is very committed defensively, disciplined and tough–frankly I expected him to go forward more and hope he will but in balance with Santos’ forays forward.

    Frankly, Santos is an exciting player who enhances our attack and while uneven defensively can and will improve with games. He is an upgrade over Clichy for us and should be appreciated for that. He will give some of us heart attacks both for defensive lapses and attacking thrills. But I suspect the latter will be more enduring and characteristic of his career with us.

  89. Just got this via text from a mate of mine, it’s so bad I felt I just had to share it with ya!!

    Stevie Wonder plays a 3 hour concert in Tokyo. 

    At the end he asks if there are any requests and a Japanese man at the front shouts, “Pray a Jazz Chord”

    So Stevie plays 15 minutes of perfect Harlem Jazz. 

    Then the same man shouts, “No! Pray a Jazz Chord!!!”

    So Stevie says, “Listen, if you think you can do better, why don’t you come up here and have a go!”

    So the Japanese man gets up on stage, sits at the piano, picks up the microphone and sings…. “A JAZZ CHORD…..TO SAY A RUV YOU…”

    On that note I am off, later peeps! COYG!!!!!!!!

  90. Limestonegunner

    Here is something that makes me feel very proud about Arsenal FC. Especially given the latest flurry of allegations about racial abuse. Good job of the .com to put this up there given what has been going on.

  91. Gael was a very good LB .I am not yet sure Santos is an upgrade.That might be true bit at this stage it is only wishful thinking.
    Clearly he is more of an attacking threat but as far as I can remember LB’s main job is defending.
    Still, I am being pedantic,the signs are more than good.

  92. nicky, sorry but just throwing out that phrase because a player needs time to gel with his team is nonsense to me. The whole team has needed time to get, Per is just coming to terms, likewise Santos but no one is saying they are “out of their depth”.

  93. Chamberlain was the best signing last summers.

  94. For my money, Santos has been defending well. He suffered in the first half against Chelsea but otherwise, he has been good. He always seems to stick a well timed foot in and nick the ball.

  95. Limestonegunner

    George, it might be a bit wishful as you say (that might overstate the case) but he is already a big upgrade from an attacking perspective. So far he doesn’t look so much worse as a defender, plus he is still adapting. Of course, we might have been able to bring in a PL experienced LB like Enrique and that would have been pretty good too. All in all I am pretty happy with Santos and expect him to improve.

  96. Limestonegunner

    Paul, we both were pretty shocked during that first half–the comments are there to prove it no matter what we say now!

  97. Limestonegunner | November 2, 2011 at 5:57 pm

    I agree LG and I’m not surprised that our club would be the first to achieve that accolade.

  98. Why did you say that Limestone?

  99. Limestonegunner

    Not at all surprising. That’s Arsenal–by far the greatest club the world has ever seen!

  100. Our left-backs have always been the more attacking. It’s why Clichy got shit when he was caught out. Santos will too, as will Gibbs.

  101. Limestonegunner

    Because we both were commenting on the game here on ACLF during the Chelsea game, as I recall, and both think he is a good player but had our hearts in our mouths a couple of times there. I think it was almost like his metabolism was low with such an early kickoff. After halftime he was totally different, alert and much more energetic!

  102. Limestonegunner: “Clichy was always playing forward as well but it almost always amounted to nothing.”

    Bit harsh but I get what you mean. Santos definitely is more gung-ho in his approach, should serve us well. But it’s a good job he has the lads in midfield to cover his wandering ass!

  103. Agreed Limestone, Santos looked dead tired in the first half against Chelsea Apart from that, he has played quite well to me.

    Did I say something different?

  104. “no matter what we say now!” is what I am confused about?

  105. Passenal, no worries. I don’t think you were insulting at all. I t was kind of odd that you prefaced your comment like that.

    Lime, one thing which I also like about Santos is that he’s very hard to dispossess. It is one of the features of his game that stood out at me during the Copa America. I mean, just look at the frame on that guy. There aren’t too many players who are going to push him around.

    With regards to him getting caught out, I recall the play where Sturridge flew past him in the first half of the Chelsea game. After Sturridge broke free Koscielny was there to stop his run and Santos eventually caught up and took the ball away from him as if he was an under 10 player.

    With a bit more work in the side, a good diet and some words from Wenger as to how he wants him to defend, I’m sure that Santos will become one of the best LBs in the league. The guy can cross, he can pass, he can shoot and he links up excellently with the midfielders and attack. I’m pleased as punch that Arsene was able to get him on the cheap. I suspect it was because of that idiotic meme about him not being a good defender and the misguided press in Brazil keeping the other big European clubs away.

  106. I agree G69, Santos is a great buy.

  107. Paul and Lime, you guys should check out a few of the games which Brazil played in the Copa America if you want to see what Wenger saw in Santos. For Brazil he was used more as a stay at home LB since their RBs were given license to roam forward and he had Neymar on his side. Brazil had an air tight defence thanks in no small part to him.

  108. I did get a chance to watch a little G69, but not as much as I wanted to. I really didnt get a chance to follow Santos that much.

  109. Wait, this is much better.

  110. Limestonegunner

    Gains, I missed most of the Copa America and will try to see some of those Brazil games. I think you are spot on about his size and strength–he is not getting knocked off the ball and with some conditioning work and diet-good call on that because I don’t think in Turkey his club would have been as sophisticated about this–he will improve his fitness. I’ve been very impressed with him on the ball and his intelligence in movement and deftness of skill. He is an interesting player.

    I noticed also that Wenger really seems to like him–at the first Marseille press conference pre match, he seemed quite jovial, had an arm on his shoulder and pointed out that his English was amazing for being in England for only one month. And then after the Chelsea or Marseille match this week, I can’t remember, he was very positive about his play in a very strong way.

  111. Limestonegunner

    Paul, I just meant that it would be funny to read those moments of anxiety then and compare how positive we are about the player because there is no getting around the fact that it was scary a couple of moments there before he pulled it together! But boy did he come back strong.

  112. got you bro! yes, he had me nervous for real!

  113. no harm no foul. A tie wasn’t what I was hoping for but it is far better than a loss. Still we need to have wrapped this puppy up. The only problem was that the guys couldn’t finish.

  114. Lime: “I noticed also that Wenger really seems to like him–at the first Marseille press conference pre match, he seemed quite jovial, had an arm on his shoulder and pointed out that his English was amazing for being in England for only one month. And then after the Chelsea or Marseille match this week, I can’t remember, he was very positive about his play in a very strong way.”

    As someone who speaks around the same number of languages as Wenger does I can’t begin to tell you how happy it makes me when someone makes an effort to learn another language. It shows astuteness and desire, since learning a language requires that you make a fool of yourself quite often.

    Wenger probably likes him a lot because he has seen foreign players have a tough time learning English and Santos picked it up in a matter of months. I suspect that had he known zero English he would’ve had to work a lot harder to include himself in the group. From his goal celebration last week-end it looks like the group has absorbed him quite easily.

  115. Interesting Santos article. Brazilians just play a different type of football, don’t they?

    That award makes me so proud. Class. You cannot buy it. We take these matters seriously, it’s not just paying lip service. One recent example was Ivan’s accolade for Laura Harvey and the Ladies at the start of the AGM, but there are countless anecdotal examples of the ethos at the club, It’s one reason why Arsenal FC is so inspiring to people all around the world

  116. hearhear.
    one and only GUNNERS.!!!!

  117. Has there been a worse team in the CL than Otelul Galati. Man U made hard work of beating them.

  118. Limestonegunner

    Gains, I cannot agree more on the admiration for learning languages and adapting to new cultures. I’ve studied several languages as well and lived abroad in Europe and the Middle East; it certainly does take a willingness to risk oneself. Learning a foreign language is like having to be a child again in terms of expressing yourself!

  119. Damn, red and blue mancs winning tonight!

  120. I can barely speak English.Stop making me feel useless.

  121. i want to say that champions league is lopsided and its comparing apples to oranges in terms of talent and resources. but then you get a team from cypress in APOEL NICOSIA that bogel the mind with their achievements. can’t underestimate heart and desire in any sporting competition. hats off to them.

    @george. its never to late to learn another language friend.
    just step out of comfort zone.
    and then there is the language of love. pickup on that. 😉

  122. @Josef,
    As you have failed to comprehend my comments on the introduction
    of young Park to CL football, I feel you are way out of your depth.

  123. goonerton | November 2, 2011 at 3:11 pm


    “What I have noticed with Santos, is that when an attacker faces him square on with the ball they manage to pass him. His timing from a standing tackle is well on point”.

    That was meant to say:

    What I have noticed with Santos, is that when an attacker faces him square on with the ball they NEVER manage to pass him. His timing from a standing tackle is well on point.

  124. HAHAHA
    two Iranian players of the team Persepolis have been banned indefinatly from their team and even entering a football stadium by the state authorities for immoral behavior during a goal celebration. what did they do, you ask. one player grabed the hindside of the the goal scored after the final goal was scored to seal the win for Persepolis 3-2.
    the gooser said the butt grabing was done in the heat of the moment…. 🙂
    the goosee said he was as shocked for being grabbed as the authorities and as such shouldn’t be pink carded…. 🙂

  125. hey…
    at least they won….

  126. We seem to need a ‘crutch’ to lean on, a talisman before we can perform.

    Maybe it is because we have attacked in order to defend and if we have had no confidence in the attack we have had no defence.

    That is why it has been such a joy and a revelation to see the re-emergence of the clean sheet. It is about time our attack can start relying on a defence for a change.

    As ManUre have shown (and $hiite-y surely will show this season) if you put too many goals in they don’t just continue to flow…it evidently messes up the law of averages. Eventually you will have games where you just can’t do anything right on the night – see Ramsey’s inability to pull the trigger with an empty portion of net to beat.

    Call it tiredness, luck, averages: eventually any run comes to an end. What ensues when it does is the test of a team – in the case of $hiite-y it will be arguments about who’s got the biggest
    (pay) packet.

    For this team, it was a good time for ‘luck’ to leave and the result was not bad. Opportunities abound for us to qualify ahead of Marseille – whose defenders looked excellent at cutting out our final passes – and we sure appreciated those matches that we won in the qualifiers, maybe we had some ‘luck’ then.

    Meanwhile we have to win our EPL games to keep pressure on the HotenTots, Scousers and the Brown Ale Brigade, who are all playing teams at the top in their next few matches. We can take points off them.

    Draws are always good at the top , but there is an argument to hope for the ritual executions by $hiite-y to continue, taking points off all the other teams at the top, until their own moment of truth arrives and they self destruct come Feb. This gives us the best opportunity to challenge for fourth now and then maybe make a late run for the title next year.

  127. More than once Santos has whispered to a tricksy-wingy opposing player “hello, if you run into me, and you will, you fall down, I get up, OK, can you samba?”.

  128. Jenks, who cannot samba, but rocks, puts it another way “if you run around me, and you might, I get the ball, you take the high road, OK, can you rock?”

  129. goonerton@11:55 pm and 3:11 pm (in spirit)

    The funniest thing about that tackle is that you would swear (along with the attacking player) that they have got passed, but then you realise that The Saint is left two meters away with the ball.

    Like Simon Templer, with his quasi-mystical power, he is standing there with the ball in loads of empty space, it is class.

    He makes you worry, but he makes you feel something special is going to happen too.

    Bloody entertaining football, long live Simon Templer.

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