Ed’s note - My thanks to Gooner contributor Ian Henry for covering for me to write the piece on yesterday’s game. Normal service will be resumed when Arsenal travel to Wolves, but in the meantime, I hope you have enjoyed some different perspectives on the matches.
In my preview of this game I suggested, none too subtly, that Shkodran Mustafi was a possible risk. And so it came to pass. A generally hapless performance was capped with his failure to deal with Wilfried Zaha for the second Palace goal; he may or may not have been at fault for the 1st or 3rd goals, and I haven’t seen highlights when writing this. But that doesn’t matter; sorry to labour the point, but Shkodran Mustafi is not good enough for Arsenal; he never has been and never will be. If he plays again this season, he will more than likely contribute to our downfall again.
The other key point I raised in the match preview was how Emery decided to manage the squad and rotate players would matter; and it was not a test he passed. We started with a much-changed team; Leno for Cech was fine; no Sokratis meant the hapless Mustafi came back in; and with Monreal rested (rather than Koscielny), Mavropanos made his home debut. Jenkinson came in, with Maitland-Niles dropped to the bench, or presumably rested. With Xhaka and Ramsey injured, and Torreira also benched (carrying an injury we have to assume), our midfield was the curly haired duo of Elneny and Guendouzi. Neither met with the approval of my second half of the match companion Mustafa Goldstein (the man with more aliases than Arsenal have clean sheets); and Ozil was recalled, presumably to provide the bullets for Auba and Laca to fire. Well, like many of the best laid plans which do not include playing your best team, it didn’t work out too well.
A Palace freekick on their right was followed by ball watching and a free header for Benteke. Yes, the chap who hadn’t scored for a year apparently. Arsenal huffed and puffed but didn’t create much in the first half; Ozil was fairly anonymous (again) and neither of our £50m strikers had a shot on target of note, or even a shot not of note. Zaha was causing a lot of problems, and Wan-Bissaka seemed to prevent Kolasinac from wreaking havoc. He will be at Abu Dhabi City next season I expect. In fact, the most havoc was in our own penalty area, with Leno making a double or maybe it was triple save when our defenders failed to do the basics, namely finding row Z or even a team-mate. We could easily have been two or three down at the break.
It was clear from the half time activity on the pitch that changes were afoot. Off went Jenkinson (to be fair, I don’t think he was any worse than anyone else on the pitch) and Mavropanos (who had acquitted himself well, but was on a yellow); so a flat back four for the second half and Maitland Niles and Iwobi on to provide more penetration down the flanks. Initially it seemed to work, with Ozil equalising within a few minutes of the restart. But the momentum was soon lost and then Mustafi had his moment of madness and ineptitude; 1-2 down and not long after it was 1-3 when our defence collectively went to sleep at a corner. And to think this was supposedly an easy game. At kick off, my other match companion, the newly bearded Highbury Spy, had been confident of a record 11 game winning home run; I was worried, mainly because Mustafi was on the pitch.
Eventually, Torreira came on for Elneny and that seemed to energise the team a bit; Auba pulled one back after a mazy run and a deflection and Iwobi shot tamely at the keeper on 90mins when he should leathered it. The 10-game home winning run was over, but Elneny memorably had a real water carrier moment on 80 mins when he brought a couple of water bottle carriers to the touchline for a thirsty Lacazette. It was probably the most constructive thing he did all afternoon.
Apparently, Emery told the press afterwards that Mustafi had been consistent this season. Well, if being generally rubbish is your idea of consistency then ok. But if your idea of defensive consistency involves knowing how to defend, then I beg to differ. As for where this leaves us, the answer is in need of a) some defensive discipline and b) a team selection which excludes Mustafi on a regular basis.
The current issue of The Gooner can be bought at the remaining home and away matches this season. It can also be posted to you (£6 UK addresses, £7.50 overseas) if you wish to buy it through our online store or if you have a PayPal account you can simply send us payment direct click here for our paypal.me link (although please remember to put the name and address for sending your issue in the message, and if you forget, then email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know those details)
2019-20 season subscriptions still available!
Having reached our target of 1000 paid up subscribers to continue printing in 2019-20, we are welcoming further subscriptions. For £30 (UK addresses) or £42 (overseas addresses) you receive six x 68 page issues through your letterbox over the course of next season.
There are four ways to pay –
- You can pay with a credit or debit card via our online store, click here to get to our subscriptions page. NB – Follow the PayPal process until you get the option to pay by debit or credit card (as opposed to setting up a PayPal account, although you will have to set up a Gooner Store account to capture your contact details for the issues to be sent to you). If you wish to set up a PayPal account, that’s fine, but you should not have to.
- Pay £30 or £42 direct via PayPalto this email address: email@example.com. To make this as simple as possible, you can use our paypal.me link and remember to ensure you leave your name and address in the message. If possible, please make your payment a ‘friends and family’ / personal payment – this helps keep our costs down. Very important – If you forget to enter your name and address in the message field, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to inform us of your postal address, as when paying this way, PayPal does not give us your address details unless you type them out in the message with the payment.
- Via online bank transfer, making a payment of £30 or £42 to –
Account name: The Gooner
Sort Code: 20-76-90
Account Number: 03004112
If you are making an international payment, the IBAN and Bic / Swift codes and bank address are as follows -Swift / BIC code: BUKBGB22
Iban: GB79 BUKB 2076 9003 0041 12
Bank address - BARCLAYS BANK PLC Walthamstow 3 Leicestershire, LE87 2BB, England
Use the reference 1920 followed by your surname. Very important - please follow up the payment with an email to email@example.com stating your name and address, and the reference that you used for payment (e.g. 1920Smith). Otherwise, we will not be able to match the payment to you.
- Via post by sending a cheque for £30 or £42 (if you wish you can download a pdf form to fill in your details by clicking on this link.
Send your cheques to -
12 Buxton Court