Improved Arsenal Go Fourth

Online Ed: Southampton defeated 2-0 at Emirates

Improved Arsenal Go Fourth

On a beautiful late winter Sunday afternoon at the Emirates there was no doubting there were a couple of uncomfortable moments in yesterday’s 2-0 victory over Southampton, but the sheer number of decent chances created by Arsenal outweighed those situations, and Unai Emery’s team climbed to fourth place as a consequence of Manchester United drawing at home to Liverpool and Chelsea not playing due to their involvement in the Carabao Cup Final.

The team selection suggested an element of rotation. Having not played for so long, Mesut Ozil was rested after his 90 minutes against BATE and came on from the bench. He is likely to start on Wednesday evening against Bournemouth. Aarom Ramsey took his place in the team yesterday, whilst Alex Lacazette came in for Aubameyang. Given the number 9 is now banned for the two legs of the Europa League tie against Rennes, I expect he and Aubameyang will both start against Spurs and Manchester United, but that one will start against Bournemouth on the bench.

There was rotation at the back as well, with uncertainties over Laurent Koscielny’s fitness after leaving the pitch against BATE. Sokratis came in to partner Mustafi in a back four. It should be noted that both Kolasinac and Lichtsteiner had decent matches, both defensively and offensively. We wait to see what happens when Ainsley Maitland-Niles returns from fitness, but it made a nice change to see the Swiss international not blow his lines, and contribute in attack.

Both goals were nicely taken, and converted in the first 20 minutes. After that, it was mostly one way traffic and let’s simply be thankful that the team were creating a lot of chances, even if they could not finish them. Yes, they will have to be more clinical when facing better opposition, but at this stage, at least the chances are coming. That hasn’t been the case too often of late. In fairness the absence of Mesut Ozil from proceedings until late on did not seem to hamper the side’s creative edge. What seems to be the distinguishing feature of a lot of the side’s best performances under Emery is to work the ball from wide, get behind the defence. It partly explains why he seems to prefer the three at the back, giving extra insurance to his wide defenders. It certainly creates more panic than playing the ball across the width of the pitch 15 yards outside the opposition penalty box and waiting for an opening.

Aaron Ramsey was replaced by Ozil after 63 minutes. The Welshman had played his part in the good things the team achieved and the knowledge that he will be paid £400k a week puts him in a new light (even if a good portion of that is compensation to the player for Juventus not having to suffer a transfer fee). It was good for him to get a start, and he was warmly applauded off the field. Were he going to another team in this country, that might not have been the case, but in that scenario, one doubts there would have been any news about a deal until the season was over. Ramsey could still play a big part in the remainder of Arsenal’s season.

Alex Iwobi left the pitch injured, subbed instead of Lacazette when Aubameyang made his entry. Iwobi does offer danger going forward, but his careless loss of possession put his team in danger twice yesterday. It’s a side of his game that needs work. Elsewhere, Torreira was noticeable for his aggression and forward forays. He adds a bite to Arsenal’s midfield that has been missing for far too long. Already a crowd favourite, I don’t see this particular love affair going stale anytime soon.

Granted, we can mitigate how good Arsenal’s performance was with the reality that the opposition are in the drop zone, but they weren’t pulling up many trees when they defeated Emery’s side back in December either. The team need to build confidence and get into a groove, and not losing to Spurs and Manchester United in the very near future would be huge in this respect. Let’s hope they raise their game for these two matches. With enough points, both of these sides could be overtaken by Arsenal. Emery’s team could finish third and they could finish sixth. It is dependent on putting together a run.

Three points were key from yesterday’s match. In the preview piece on the game I highlighted that I felt Arsenal would need 26 points out of the 36 available to them in the remainder of the campaign to achieve fourth place. So far three out of three, none dropped, 23 from 33 now required. I’ll keep a tally of this for the remaining matches this season. Bournemouth on Wednesday is certainly another they have to take maximum points from. It’s a fact they have only suffered one league defeat at home so far this season, and that was on the opening day. At least that side of things seems to be developing nicely. Spurs, Liverpool and Chelsea combined have only taken a point away in those three matches. So it’s away from home that the real uplift will be required. Fingers crossed…

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  1. Don Howe

    Feb 26, 2019, 17:42 #113315

    I do so agree. I absolutely love Socrates as well as Kolasinac, Sideshow Bob, the Man from Montevideo, Le Croissant, Obamawang, the much underrated Mkhteryian, Nacho Cheese and Kos. Carl Jenkinson as well. NB they all " get stuck in" as my dear old dad used to say, I also like our young players like AML, Willock and Nelson. They want to rip the opposition's guts out as well. I note your view of fans who sucked on the dry teat of the idiot but even the most moisturised Diamond Club dweller appreciates a fighting performance.


    Feb 25, 2019, 20:43 #113311

    Don. Totally agree re England & I am a big fan of Owen Farrell, an honest guy too. Whilst on the rugby, I was nervous because Warren G is a smart cookie & it is bleeding' obvious that Eliot Daley, unless well protected, is a liability at full back under the high ball tactic & I think that was the key factor. My previous point really was that I also love Dick's theatricals ( like Conte) but with the new breed of fan it is completely wasted at the Emirates. If only we could recreate Cardiff. From what I saw, the team played some excellent stuff & Sokratis doesn't tolerate anyone who doesn't put in a shift - a very good buy who should give us at least 2 more seasons.

  3. Don Howe

    Feb 25, 2019, 20:25 #113310

    Cornish. Interesting that you should comment on England Wales. Woodward got England to ‘think correctly under pressure’. The England team were too stupid to realise that their kicking game was not working. What I love about Dick Emery is that he does his nut on the touch line telling them what to do. And he not only uses his brain ( in stark contrast to the idiot) but also encourages the team to think. The second half was spent under the cosh but they didn’t panic and broke well several times. No more goals but game management much better. Now let’s see if we can keep it up.


    Feb 25, 2019, 19:49 #113309

    Blimey this is all getting a bit heavy? Back to jumpers for goalposts, oui? Actually all I want is to get rid of the odious Walmart clan, the Kroenkes, because of their obvious disinterest have got to be the worst of all the billionaire brigade. On the bigger picture ( & it's probably because I am of a certain age) I am totally pissed off with pretty well all sports & media stuff. It's become overblown fluff, with shallow content & totally money orientated. In contrast much as I wanted England to do the Grand Slam it was heartwarming to watch & listen to the sheer passion of the Welsh crowd in Cardiff - it was a genuine & a heartfelt expression of doing a job on the arrogant English. & don't start me on the showbizzy, oscar chasing luvvies - "Olivia" to become the new National Treasure! Signing off before I get even grumpier.

  5. markymark

    Feb 25, 2019, 18:04 #113308

    Looking for the soul is like looking for the holy grail. It’s a long hunt that will come to nowt. The 70’s football which to most judging by age group is soulful . So was pop music with dirty Marshall speakers and singers not professionally trained . When you look at the football now 20 years on it will look a bit quaint . For ever soulful I was there moment there was also a lot of crap. The world was ever thus. Interesting next 3 games. Unai could be riding a massive boost if he doesn’t lose, but let’s see eh

  6. itsRonagain2

    Feb 25, 2019, 17:21 #113307

    Very perceptive lads indeed. To add to the mix, i d take it even further. I think with Arsenal being a London Club makes it nigh impossible for the club to ever find its lost meaning and roots etc etc again for all of the obvious reasons that being based there means. Thinking football generally here though, i honestly think that if the game is ever to regain its sanity and elevate the fans back to a proper place in the game rather than being just TV accessories, those top 4 or 5 clubs all need to clear off and form their crappy Euro League asap. Yes, that will include Arsenal i know, who ironically would enthuse over the concept and rush to join it and then become its 'Crystal Palace' or even its 'Sunderland' being whipped most weeks. Its going to happen sooner than we reckon i think. It would leave an emaciated so called Premier League but its would be a league that would manage OK with those clubs gone, all of who are doing their bit each day to kill off football in reality with their odious methods. This way, home grown players would thrive. Home grown coaches would emerge at the new top level league left intact here and the fans would have the game returned to them in a state that we could recognise again and at a cost that befits its new sanity and level. In doing that, we could all laugh at the new 'fantastic' European league clubs playing each other 6 times per season in far off places in front of low crowds of about 5000 each match. PS - Who else could happily cricket bat that idiot Tyler when he shouts 'aaaaannnnd iittts livvve' before each sh--te, bore fest game? He stand for all that bad about TV football.

  7. Exiled in Pt

    Feb 25, 2019, 16:42 #113306

    Bard - i am in 100% agreement with you but i fear the only way we could rediscover the soul of Arsenal is to follow the example set by AFC Wimbledon and FC United !! Our club now is probably the least likely to rediscover its soul in the entire PL . We have an owner that will milk the gravy train for all its worth and a support base that will except a top 5 spot in the deluded belief that if we keep spending we might catch up with the others !

  8. Bard

    Feb 25, 2019, 15:53 #113305

    There are two threads here guys. We all want us to finish as high as we can and I would be delighted if we managed to finish 4th. Although that says more about the quality of the Prem than how good we are. But the underlying issues about the club and more widely football are well recognized. The new enthusiasm for England is inextricably bound up with Southgate bringing a group of younger players who really want to play for England. We arent going to get very far in the longer term as a club loading ourselves up with sub standard foreign players. As one poster succinctly pointed out why Suarez instead of Reiss. I recognize that we are piss poor at bringing players through but surely if you want to rediscover the "soul of Arsenal', why not give it a go. We would then have something to really get behind and might compensate for the 'excess' that has become the Prem.

  9. Exiled in Pt

    Feb 25, 2019, 13:57 #113304

    100% Ron , i was just thinking how much the PL has damaged domestic football but then you look at UEFA and how it has ruined European football .When a team that is not even the domestic champions of its own league can be crowned European champions it is truly absurd... Where the incentive for players is to achieve fourth place not win the title.

  10. itsRonagain2

    Feb 25, 2019, 13:16 #113303

    You're right Exiled. It always bring us back to the heresy that we have to contemplate of perhaps wanting AFC to fail and slide down towards 12th etc so to perversely improve the best interest of the clubs future! We can blame UEFA though fpor creating that pathetic CL. Biggest e.g of its absurdity is Tottenham in it. Not even sniffed at being champions for nigh on 60 years yet there they are, stinking it out while pretending to be big time by dint of UEFA s greed fest.

  11. Exiled in Pt

    Feb 25, 2019, 13:00 #113301

    Just hope it is City that win it Ron the lesser of the 3 evils ........ If we can beat Man Ure , then i think on paper we should be able to hold on to that 4th spot . Just dont see that it will help the overall progress of the club. Will put more money in the Yanks pocket which we will not see invested in the team , will put more pressure on Dick to buy on the cheap and not to push more of the youngsters in to the team .. Sad really that we will of seen an improvement on the last couple of years but in the bigger picture it is all irrelevant until we have a change of owner and that is not going to happen !

  12. itsRonagain2

    Feb 25, 2019, 12:43 #113299

    Theyre decent enough to get that 4 th place i think even with all of our fallibility. Man Utd arent a lot of good, though the media and hacks are making out that they re borderline world beaters because as usual, thats what they want them to be. Them, nor Liverpool are any great shakes based on that bore fest yesterday. Klopp has burned his team out as he does every season. The legs have gone. Hurrah for that! Anybody but them to win that title for me.