Snow Creativity at the Emirates

Online Ed: Arsenal make hard work of gaining three valuable points against Cardiff

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It was a cold, wet, windy evening at the fag end of January, and unsurprisingly, in spite of the game not being live on TV, many ticket holders chose not to attend. Those that did would have spent long periods of the game pondering whether they might have been better curled up in their respective front rooms, as snow fell during the course of the 90 minutes, although mercifully did not settle.

They weren’t conditions conducive to quality football, and so it proved. At least, in the opening 45 minutes, Cardiff provided the drama, with some dangerous attacks. Their lack of ability in front of goal to punish their opponents provided a chilling reminder of the reasons they signed the tragically disappeared striker Emiliano Sala. This was Cardiff’s first game since that news, and a minute’s silence held before kick off quickly turned into respectful applause. Sala’s name was printed at the bottom of the Cardiff squad list on the back of the programme, with a daffodil image instead of a squad number. It was a nice touch.

Arsenal lined up with a back four of Lichtsteiner, Mustafi, Monreal and Kolasinac. Three central midfielders started – Elneny, Torreira and Guendouzi – Elneny presumably for his defensive contribution. Granit Xhaka was on the bench, presumably for reasons of rotation. Mesut Ozil enjoyed a rare start alongside Aubameyang and Lacazette. The home side were so disappointing in the first 45 minutes that they were booed off by the home crowd at the interval.

Alex Iwobi replaced Elneny at the start of the second half, and Arsenal at least suffered less danger from Cardiff as they were more aggressive going forward. The biggest cheer of the night, at least before the home side were awarded a penalty, greeted the entrance of Carl Jenkinson in place of Stephan Lichtsteiner. It was that kind of night. Ainsley Maitland-Niles was not on the bench, although one assumes for reasons of rotation rather than punishment for the first goal last Friday v Man Utd, when he played Sanchez onside.

Arsenal’s opening goal eventually came after Kolasinac was brought down in the area. To the relief of the crowd, Aubameyang converted the spot kick. Aaron Ramsey replaced captain for the night Mesut Ozil in the 76th minute. In fairness to the number 10, the manager would have been justified in taking any of his attacking players off, and I suspect match fitness was a factor in Ozil’s being hooked. No-one really shone. In mitigation, it was so wet that controlling the ball wasn't always easy. With the wind and the cold driving the light snow into the faces of the players, it was a pig of a night to be playing a football match.

A second goal arrived in the 83rd minute courtesy of Alex Lacazette, and the game seemed to peter out. There was a late scare when Cardiff pulled back a consolation goal deep into injury time, but were unable to force an equaliser in the time that remained.

Certainly, the conditions did not help, but in truth, even if Emery rested a few players or had others unavailable through injury, his team should not have made such hard work of relegation zone opposition. It doesn’t augur confidence. Manchester City construed to lose away to Newcastle, but it is difficult to see any combination of available Arsenal defenders preventing goals at the Etihad next Sunday. And I suspect most fans have already written that game off. Manchester United dropped two points at home last night, which at least allows Arsenal some leeway trying to hold them off as they attempt to get back into the top four. But the creative ability of the side to fashion chances does seem to be slowly drying up. They will need mainly wins in the 13 League matches that remain after next weekend. The performances they have been putting in of late, especially away from home, suggest it may be a big ask to make next season’s Champions League, with all the financial implications of that.

Whether or not Dennis Suarez is the answer, nobody knows. At least, assuming he comes, the club have done something, as opposed to nothing, in an attempt to improve the club’s chances for what remains of the season. A defender or two might have been handy, but let’s just be grateful that at least one new face is coming in. Cardiff will have to struggle on without their planned provider of goals, and will probably go down as a consequence.

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  1. itsRonagain2

    Feb 4, 2019, 13:14 #113089

    Hi Marky - Football was in a very bad place in the early 80s. The Country was mired in Thatchers regime and the recession that wrought and football stadia were in many respects places to avoid because of the hooliganism that was then at its peak. Footie is often as not a reflection of society in general. Gates in differing eras aren't really a good barometer of peoples perceptions of football. I keep hearing people saying to me theyve turned off from TV football due to the bias thats inherent in it towards Liverpool and MU but mainly due to the silly hype about it that screams from the screen.

  2. markymark

    Feb 1, 2019, 19:07 #113068

    I keep on hearing about how tv or salaries or irritating managers have killed off people’s love of football. Can someone please then explain why attendances are often higher than the boom 1930’s and why Championship crowds in the UK are comparable to many European elite crowds. 46k against Bradford at Christmas? Arsenal’s crowd against Cardiff on a cold winters night that has received criticism was actually far higher than would have been seen in the early 80’s. Too much gloom projection with little evidence to back it up

  3. itsRonagain2

    Feb 1, 2019, 14:24 #113063

    Hi Cyril. Good to hear from you. Not many players like Marwood about these days. Cant really see this guy Suarez pulling up any trees. His career is a nothingness these last few years. I think TV has killed of many peoples love of football to be honest. the coverage is in the main wall to wall garbage being peddled by yr mcmanman type cretins and odious planks like carragher and redknapp and the rest of the failure squad and no marks all on the TV bandwagon revelling in every sacked managers loss of job and generally firing up the daft fan viewers who hang on every rubbish comment they spew out by the minute. Its mind - numbing in its tedium. Like you, ive no affection for SKs skeleton of Arsenal FC these days or PL football generally for that matter. Its all one big sham.

  4. The Man From UNCLE

    Feb 1, 2019, 13:21 #113061

    So we finally got ourselves a Saurez - only trouble is it's 5 years too late but at least it was cheap this time. Like Markymark says, you gotta laugh. From going nowhere we suddenly find ourselves in 4th place without having to do very much.

  5. markymark

    Feb 1, 2019, 13:02 #113060

    Good to see we are being open to Denis even in a weary world of Kroenke ownership. Poor old Le Grove is turning somersaults at the moment trying to moan and then finding we are still 4th. You have to laugh as UTD win 9 on the trot and move from 6th to errrr 6th. What an amazing effort for so little effect. Even if we do lose against City and at this point in our journey it’s likely. We will still be within a max of 3 points from top 4. Let’s hope Chelsea don’t sack Old fagash lil too early . Think 3rd is too difficult but 4th is still possible

  6. John F

    Feb 1, 2019, 07:30 #113058

    You must of read my mind Cyril on Marwood one of my favorites at the time replaced by another in Limpar.Just shows that most successful teams need a good winger apart from in 1966.Pearce and Bobby Moore on radio London was a perfect combination. Pearce was heartbroken when he passed away.

  7. Cyril

    Feb 1, 2019, 02:39 #113057

    Hi Ron, it’s great reminiscing. I somehow loved the club so much more back then. I have fallen out of love with this club so much so that I won’t be watching any more matches live for the rest of the season and made that decision a while back as the club is rudderless now that Kroenke owns it wholly. He can of course change this and only time will tell. Thinking of players from the past who came in and changed the club instantly, wouldn’t it be just great if Suarez could do a ‘marwood’ and get the assists and goals he did down the wing. He was arguably the reason we won the league in 89. What an impression he left on me. He got his winner’s medal and his own song within one year, not bad eh! Replaced only by the mercurial Limpar as Jonathan Pearce would describe. Again somehow listening to Pearce on the radio in the eighties was so much more exciting with his use of words and adjectives that bounced around the pitch like the ball and the anticipation that oozed out of him. I could write all night about the old days but enough of the reminiscing. COYG

  8. mbg

    Jan 31, 2019, 20:34 #113056

    Yes it's good news about Suarez he has finally arrived, and he sounds exciting, hopefully he'll do good things. One thing we can be sure about he'll be played in the proper position and not on the wing or in defence, look at it this way if it had been you know who it would have probably fell through.

  9. markymark

    Jan 31, 2019, 19:47 #113055

    Am I the only person in the Arsenal universe to be excited about Denis Suarez ? Is it just the name Denis ? Let’s hope he can really add something. Bard I thought Jenks was excellent when he came on , full of energy

  10. peter wain

    Jan 31, 2019, 13:20 #113054

    the problem is the contract he was given. Now the Yank is using this as a reason not to spend even though he agreed it. We need a budget of £250 million minimum just to stand still but we probably only spend £50 million at most. We need a new back four with real quality in the centre of defence. We need two new fullbacks. What will we get probably two 34+ free transfers.

  11. TonyEvans

    Jan 31, 2019, 12:29 #113053

    Not sure why, but Terry Mancini sprung immediately to my mind when thinking about Jenkinson type players of the past. So many others could be mentioned - Willie Young and Brian McDermott to name but two.

  12. Bard

    Jan 31, 2019, 10:42 #113052

    Some good posts. The Ozil situation links up with the posts about Jenks. For all his talent its clear Ozil doesnt give a f*** about Arsenal and to some extent why should he. He is just a footballing mercenary like so many others, take the money and run. I agree with Don Howe, dump him the reserves and leave him there until he gets fed up and moves on. I know it sounds grandiose but players like Jenks and other that many have mentioned have integrity, they love the club and give their all every week. I can take my side losing and not winning trophies if you see them sweat blood for the club every week. In the end thats what I hated about the Wenger regime. Whether Dick can change that culture we will have to wait and see but you cant imagine the other players are happy about Ozil's antics.

  13. John F

    Jan 31, 2019, 09:50 #113051

    I know it is silly season in the press so large dose of salt needed with the story that Ozil turned down a loan move to PSG.It it turns out to be correct it says a lot about his ambition and plays into my theory that he is happy to take a wage regardless of being picked and has lost his passion for the game.He is concentrating on his new venture with Flamini.Playing with better players at PSG and the French league would be ideal for his talents/work rate.

  14. markymark

    Jan 31, 2019, 07:11 #113050

    Just a quick note that the Spuds only got 29,000 turm up at Wembley vs Watford ( Hertfordshire Derby!) That is poor . We definitely had more against Carfdiff

  15. Don Howe

    Jan 30, 2019, 22:27 #113049

    Ozil was astonishingly poor last night. He kills any momentum and I think it’s deliberate. Discipline him. Dismiss him. Save over a million a month. Let him sue for his wages. He is obliged to go and get another job. We would save money and throw a massive elbow. His attitude and performance levels are unacceptable. Jenkinson a pleasure in contrast.

  16. Paulo75

    Jan 30, 2019, 22:13 #113048

    Reading some of the comments below its very true that present day Arsenal have little or no "fans favourites" a al Charlie Nicholas, Wrighty, Pires, Henry etc. Probably a result of modern day football sterilisation as much as the globalisation of the game. Looks like Chelsea are having a bit of a meltdown moment just now which is always welcome, hopefully Ole's bubble will burst at Old Trafford before too long. Suarez a welcome addition but agree that we must tighten up at the back or the improvement in results will be negligible. Bit of a free hit this Sunday I reckon, who knows maybe we can turn it on and spring a surprise.

  17. GoonerRon

    Jan 30, 2019, 20:06 #113047

    There wasn’t booing where I was, if there was elsewhere I think it was more for the ref (what a twat he continues to be) than our players. A really stodgy performance in the first half but, again, it was a slightly conversative team selection in playing Elneny, Guen and Torreira together. Iwobi’s introduction improved that and we got better. With the injuries, weather and turmoil around our opponents, it’s just one of those games you hope to chalk off with three points and move on. We’ve been competitive in all of our big games bar Liverpool away so I approach Sunday with marginally more confidence than usual.

  18. markymark

    Jan 30, 2019, 20:04 #113046

    I was at the match last night I genuinely did not hear anyone booing at half time. My take on it was most of the crowd expected the poor first half better 2nd half pattern. During the 1st half Arsenal were far to slow in the transition between defence and attack. This problem was effectively resolved by Iwobi. I thought the crowd was actually pretty good. I’d say that it’ll have been about 23k in the early 80’s.

  19. markymark

    Jan 30, 2019, 19:47 #113045

    I was at the match last night I genuinely did not hear anyone booing at half time. My take on it was most of the crowd expected the poor first half better 2nd half pattern. During the 1st half Arsenal were far to slow in the transition between defence and attack. This problem was effectively resolved by Iwobi. I thought the crowd was actually pretty good. I’d say that it’ll have been about 23k in the early 80’s.

  20. CORNISH GOONER

    Jan 30, 2019, 19:43 #113044

    Random thoughts. Poor game from what I saw but a vital win. Ramsey missed a golden chance in his typical way that a really top player would have snapped up. I really don't get why people are upset at losing him. I see Arthur & his entourage have cost us £17.1mill to get him to bugger off. Interesting piece from that Rhys Jagger guy today on the latest AFC financials which show the commercial side is not going well. Will Stanley be so forthcoming with next year's results? Thought not!

  21. Seven Kings Gooner 1

    Jan 30, 2019, 19:30 #113043

    As you say Kev, the chances this weekend of a "Man City 0" prefixing Arsenal's score is very remote. Strangely though, years back we were City's bogey team, I remember them coming for an evening game early in the season after winning the Championship in 68. We won 4 - 1 and a certain David Jenkins scored a very good goal, it was such a good goal that the Spuds swapped him for Jimmy Robertson - we certainly got the better of the deal in that transaction.

  22. mbg

    Jan 30, 2019, 17:37 #113042

    Lets hope it was as a punnishment and there's a hell of a lot more of it, it's what this team/club has been lost for since wenger ignored, overlooked, and promoted failure.

  23. mbg

    Jan 30, 2019, 16:35 #113041

    The Armani brigade would have been safe enough in their lovely heated Executive boxes.

  24. itsRonagain2

    Jan 30, 2019, 15:24 #113040

    John and Exiled - yes lads, Peter for sure. Charlie Nic was a really classy player wasnt he who some loved others didnt, though i have to smile at times when he s preaching working hard and back tracking s virtues ha ha. Jenks goal was great wasnt it. Real passion for Arsenal. In truth, not many have really had that this last 15 years. Arsenal like most clubs really do lack connections with their areas which local players give them. Chelsea kept a solid core of London lads for years as did Utd and they reaped the benefits. Liverpool always try to do that too. I personally think Arsenal have suffered a lot through losing it. I dont think a price can be put on local pride and its effect on football achievement. Henry and Co claimed it but they didnt really understand it. Give me 11 Ray Parlours every time.Lets face it, a great many of these clubs (inc Arsenal) now could move stadiums 200 miles away and they would still get the same gates. Man Utd could go and play in Chile and still be the same!

  25. Exiled in Pt

    Jan 30, 2019, 14:26 #113039

    Good to see you back Ron , was at the Norwich away game when Jenks got his only goal to date ! The way he celebrated was like it meant everything , none of the posing and preening like so many now ! You make a great point as always , could throw in a few from GG days too, Hillier and Ian Seley off the top of my head ........

  26. John F

    Jan 30, 2019, 13:36 #113038

    I know Ron I think most Arsenal fans are just willing him to succeed especially as he is an Arsenal fan but just can't see it happening..I hope you meant Peter and not Charlie Nicholas.

  27. Bard

    Jan 30, 2019, 13:28 #113037

    Im not too stressed about the poor performance last night. We ground it out and picked up 3 points. Seen plenty of those under Wenger and we came away with nothing. Good point John F, maybe Stan will give us a heads up in one of his monthly emails to Gooners !!!! Cant say Im enamoured by the transfer rumours. Im sure they are good players but cant see any of the mentioned names making that much of a difference. While we continue to give goals away for fun we wont compete. John F I feel Iwobi gets too much stick, he's a young lad who has only had 6 months of coaching in his career at Arsenal. Let's see what he looks like after a season or so with Dick. Once he stops dithering in the final third he might become a player.

  28. itsRonagain2

    Jan 30, 2019, 12:00 #113036

    Jenks always makes me think of one of those honest toilers we used to have in the early to mid 80s pre GG. a Hankin, Hawley or Nicholas type of lad. One who makes a few of us, shake our heads and wonder why we never made it as footie players!! Hes earthy,local and has some roots with the club. We used to love those types before top level football became sterilised 'entertainment' instead of a sport. Precious few of them have passed by since the foreignization program engulfed football at the turn of the century.

  29. John F

    Jan 30, 2019, 11:46 #113035

    Awobi is not the most talented of players but I felt he changed the game when he came on by at least providing some width.I would prefer Jenkinson to play right back rather then the legs have gone Litchsteiner.Can anyone explain to me if we cannot sign players because we are close to the wage threshold for ffp how is it we can sign loan players ,do we still not have to pay their wage.

  30. The Man From UNCLE

    Jan 30, 2019, 10:49 #113034

    Saw it online and it looked like a real slog, however the weather and like all Warnock's sides, Cardiff are a scuffling outfit to play against. A win is a win is a win and yes, Citeh on Sunday, but I really don't think we are going to get a pasting up there as they look as iffy at the back as us.