Points over performance as Arsenal move third

Online Editorial: Gunners make hard work of defeating Bournemouth at the Emirates

Points over performance as Arsenal move third

They do happen: Incisive forward pass from Arsenal’s captain

Let’s start with a high. Tottenham, in their last three games have conceded the same number of goals as Arsenal have in their entire 11 match season so far. And rather fortuitously Unai Emery’s team kept a clean sheet against Bournemouth yesterday. Fortuitous not because Bournemouth peppered shots at Bernd Leno (at least accurate ones), but because of the moment in the second half where Leno was stranded away from his goal and the ball came across it, inviting a touch to level the scores, and Arsenal somehow got away with it.

It was a below par display from the home side, although if you are going to play at half pace, as it seemed they were too often, it is a good habit to take maximum points while doing so. But the Gunners winning matches is something that is gradually seeing longer odds on the best sports betting sites, given their patchy recent form. They did manage to get some unjustified results at times in the 22 match unbeaten run Arsenal were in the midst of this time last year, and this game saw them undefeated for an eighth match running. .

The goal was scored by David Luiz from a corner fairly early in proceedings, and the hope was another would follow and we could relax a bit. It didn’t come. Arsenal looked ponderous, and after the interval, played fairly cautiously and seemed more concerned with not conceding rather than increasing their lead. Given the problems they have faced so far this season that’s perhaps understandable, although at times it felt like they were dicing with death. If you were running a sports book online, you’d have been tempted to offer long odds on a clean sheet for the home side. The clearances weren’t always what they might have been, but somehow the defenders always managed to get a foot in or make a block.

Grant Xhaka is obviously under scrutiny these days and his ability to stop a player going past him has to be a concern. At times he looks statuesque. That he’s the first choice captain means he’s unlikely to be dropped, but you can’t help wandering what it is that makes him so integral to the head coach’s plans. He does play the occasional penetrating pass, but most of the time he simply does simple link play and is a factor in the ball not moving forward at the pace. Given Arsenal do have some pace in their forward line it seems a waste not to utilise it more.

In mitigation Bournemouth did generally defend determinedly, and that Arsenal only enjoyed two shots on goal was a reflection on this, although Emery’s team played their part in that. The introduction of Gabriel Martinelli temporarily livened things up, and at the very death Aubameyang hit the post.

The relief of the final whistle saw Arsenal move into third place, only a point behind Manchester City. On paper that looks all well and good, although you feel they will have to improve, that hopefully yesterday was a very average day at the office. As an advert for the Premier League, it’s probably just as well it wasn’t seen by too many on screen, not broadcast in the UK and up against two other matches which foreign viewers might well have chosen to watch above this one.

It will be largely forgotten, remembered in time maybe only for it featuring David Luiz’s opening goal for the club and a rather amusing pitch invader dressed as an Arsenal player. Let’s see what happens after two weeks of international break, and which team is picked for the Monday night visit to Sheffield United. It certainly won’t feature Mesut Ozil. If Unai Emery intended for him to have any further involvement in his Premier League squads, yesterday was an ideal opportunity.

That he did not feature even on the bench, and the same last Thursday at home to Standard Liege, does finally suggest that the writing is on the wall and isn’t going to be erased. A sad ending to what started as a signing that really excited the fans back in 2013, but one that feels it’s been coming for a long time.


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  1. itsRonagain2

    Oct 09, 2019, 21:45 #115108

    Marky. I had my last season at the Emirates up in Club level. 2012/13. Fab views in a corner seat. I was sat by this guy who was a decent sort and he had bought 4 seats. Back then they were about 2600 per season I recall. The seat I used was a friends husbands who had gone work in the USA a lot. Anyway this guy used to bring 2 if his mates along. Both Chelsea fans who would the week after be at the Bridge. The 2 of these c—-ts would sit there all match chuntering and sneering at Arsenal. They had a deep festering hatred for Cesc ? I d had a gut full by about February if these 2 twats and eventually had to disregard diplomacy and give both a verbal volley one day. I confess to being so abusive that a few of them in seats around me were quite perturbed. It was a bad day. It finished me going to home gamescas itypified what we had become since going to that stadium that we had c—-ts like them going to matches as easily to go to the bathroom to take a piss. Typical shit Chelsea fans if you could call them that. I swear I got close to being a hooligan that day as I was close to decking one of them before the steward asked me to lay off. What did the c....ts do? They moved to new seats down towards the click end !! I wrote to Arsenal at length telling them what was happening as the eg was occurring elsewhere so I learned. Not even had a reply.

  2. itsRonagain2

    Oct 09, 2019, 21:23 #115107

    Marky. You’re bang in re their supporters. Always been sinister and probably the worst type of gobshite fans inLondon. Back in the 70s they were the football special train wreckers. The less prominent Abram and mourinho does help soften their pareceptuon a lot. I’ve always seen Chelsea as the equivalent of the poor deprived kid in the school playground who reacts to being teased by others with violence and then tries to ingratiate himself by false gestures but nobody’s having it so he gets all vile again. Cheap and tacky club. They could have billions upon billions but such is the culture of the club they ll always be the street rag tags. No class at all. Never have had any. Yet, they’ve had some excellent teams in years well before RA has to be said. AFC will always be the biggest club in London no matter what Chelsea or Tottenham do, not that Spurs are ever going to do much. Their fans and owners all know they ll never be Arsenal however many trophies Chelsea might win. Their glory days have gone now though. The Mourinho yrs are not coming back anytime soon in my view but the present crop will have some good times if they keep the players. The London footie scene loves to see AFC having a lean time. It’s all about envy. Fact is Arsenal is the only club that’s ever been able to rub shoulders over many decades with the Northern powerhouses and before them in the NW the Midlands power bases of football. Yes Chelsea have had a great 15 yrs but have they ever looked like a London equiv of Utd or Liverpool? My arse they haven’t and they never will. As for fans, they could do with a fan transplant !! They remain sinister and cynical. As you say though, they have some solid ones no doubt, but not many.

  3. markymark

    Oct 09, 2019, 19:51 #115106

    Ron and Bard , some interesting points made about Chelsea. I wonder if the bitterness against them has reduced since Roman appears to have less time for them and maybe the Maureen at his Panto villain best has left them? I know that Red Bull in Germany have a lot of hatred against them as they’ve been power injected with cash. Bard you mention rabid Chelsea supporters, knowing you’re input I’m sure your mate is the right side of rabid . But that’s the other issue. Nearly beating to death their own fanzine editor as he dared to criticise Neo Nazi supporters. The French subway no blacks allowed incident , the BT engineer Fascist with his spewing racial hatred. I even had a nutter with a Worzel accent on the train to Norwich throwing Seig Heils screaming at the carriage Loyal Chelsea supporter. His sobs when he got arrested at Colchester were hilarious. I know , I know , there are many fine and decent Chelsea supporters but even Miles Palmer said on his site a lot needed therapy. Maybe the image of the club attracted small town nutters as it gave them a good opportunity for a punch up? A lot of Chelsea dodgy set come from South Eastern overspill towns. They are always going to be there , but they are always going to have players flogging access to the ground for a few hundred quid or shooting apprentices with air guns. It’s just that sort of club. I think Arsenal over the years have had a few incidents but they’ve tended to crack down on it so keeping the image of the club higher. Still image doesn’t win trophies!

  4. Dick Dastardly

    Oct 09, 2019, 16:23 #115105

    Ron, in today's world "tourist" fans should be discouraged; it's surely bad for the environment. Perhaps XR will do a sit-in at the Emirates before too long.

  5. itsRonagain2

    Oct 09, 2019, 16:21 #115104

    Hi Bard - agree with all that you say. The Chelsea events and progress are truly refreshing and progressive. Some times out of adversity, things have be adjusted and before you know it we see a whole new basic approach to football which is whats happening at SW6. I d go so far as to say that Chelsea are actually very likeable again, though to be honest ive never had a major problem with them. Ive said to a few people that they put me in mind now of the young Chelsea team from when i was as scrawny lad in the mid 60s. Osgood, Bonnetti,Tambling, Hinton, Cooke GG was in their team then too. They were very exciting even though they used to turn us over all the time back then. PS I was a Chelsea 'fan' for a night once mate! I went to their FAC replay with Leeds at Old Trafford in 1970. What an atmosphere that was , even though Leeds outnumbered the Chelsea fans by a lot. I ll always recall the roar when Webbs header won it for Chelsea.

  6. Bard

    Oct 09, 2019, 15:40 #115103

    Its not glamorous enough Ron. Speaking of atmosphere, I rather envy Chelsea's transfer ban and having to make do with the you'f. My mate is a rabid Chelsea fan and says the atmosphere is great down the Bridge. We could do a lot worse than play more of them at our place. Yes they make mistakes and we will get beaten but they will sure as hell put in a better shift than the likes of Ozil and the place might get rocking and the team might have some kind of identity . As Marky says are the Ropey team that much worse than the League team ? Lets face it we arent going to win anything anytime soon, what's to lose. The less said about Saturdays game the better. Another drab encounter to go along with all the others.

  7. itsRonagain2

    Oct 09, 2019, 10:16 #115102

    Off topic but lads , have you seen that piece about football fan tourists on the BEEB site. Sums up that PL and its funeral parlour stadium atmospheres and exemplifies the SKY fed and brainwashed sheep mentality amongst many, dressed in their rip off replica shirts, many hundreds and some times thousands of miles from home draped in the silly 'halved' scarves. Whatever happened to following your local team.

  8. markymark

    Oct 07, 2019, 18:10 #115101

    Korea were playing high tempo press along with Japan in previous finals. It doesn’t necessarily take Top echelon players . But you need to know what you are doing and have the players to do it. Same for any regimented formation ( a number of good players were sent packing by GG for instance as they didn’t fit his tactics ) the point is Unai can’t make his mind up on what he wants and is overly loyal to Xhaka who is not fast enough and a poor tackler. Unai now also has an issue as his “Cup Team” are playing with more flair than his first team. Unai appears the Arch tinkerer. If he still doesn’t have a style now I doubt he ever will.

  9. John F

    Oct 07, 2019, 17:44 #115100

    On Thursday Arsenal played the style of football that I would like to see.On Sunday it was back to the disjointed playing style. The difference is in my view is not to do with tactics but the players on the pitch.A youthful faster back four and a balanced midfield on Thursday, a slow ponderous back four with Xhaka on Sunday. A fast left-back who could cross on Thursday, an all over the place slower left-back who couldn't cross on Sunday.

  10. itsRonagain2

    Oct 07, 2019, 15:49 #115099

    AM - it certainly is ultimate defending and that a good way of describing it. Its almost total defensive football as each player from the keeper forwards is disciplined in it. GR - very intense indeed matey. Its ferocious in its execution isnt it. ts very hard to counter as well if the team doing it keeps it up for 90 mins as you both mention. Best way? I like, powerful fast breaking football, 2 fast and strong fullbacks, with one at least adept at advancing. 4 at the back in a 4-2-3-1 formation. For me, i d always set up with a real winger on one side or the other. I still think theres room for one in the modern game and id have one whos adept at changing sides. This way your not expecting yr front men to be charging back acting as defenders as the modern game dictates. This way also means that the changes in style needed for European games arent as stark as they need to be for league games.At the end of the day though, you set yr team up to suit the players youve got. If i was Arsenal coach i wdt have a clue frankly, as the squad is in my view still very imbalanced. both as to type of player and as to abilities. We are a 'make it up as we go along team' as are United now due to players who lack ability in key areas.

  11. Dick Dastardly

    Oct 07, 2019, 15:46 #115098

    Another poor performance from Pepe. Can someone take him to one side and tell him exactly why he was bought to N5? I see a player who doesn't know what he's supposed to be doing. He also seems to beat his man and then go back and beat him again which is very trying to watch.

  12. ArsenalMagna

    Oct 07, 2019, 15:36 #115097

    @Ron, I'm surprised you're not a fan of the high press given your appreciation of the defensive side of the game? High pressing like with Guardiola's Barca, Conte's Chelsea, Liverpool under Klopp et al is pretty much the ultimate in successful defending is it not? I agree that it makes teams tired after a few months and in the game too after 60 mins, but Klopp's Liverpool seem to manage fitness/intensity well (OK they dipped mid last season but still set a points record total and won the CL - knackered by the end but so were all European finalists); same with Guardiola's Barca who didn't drop off in terms of fitness/intensity, though maybe La Liga is a lot easier to play in. Out of interest, what would be your favourite overall style for us to play? I think we need a couple of ways of playing depending on opposition, but I would love to see us, as one of these ways of playing, to set up like Atletico (at least without the ball) or the Invincibles - solid defensively with the fast counterattacks.

  13. GoonerRon

    Oct 07, 2019, 15:27 #115096

    @ Ron2 - the front three obviously gets plenty of plaudits and rightly so, but in my opinion you underplay their press. The front three start it all but it falls to pieces and they get passed around easily if the midfield three and full backs don’t position themselves correctly and press with intent. Their intensity it what marks them out for me, their intensity in closing the ball down is off the scale for the most part.

  14. itsRonagain2

    Oct 07, 2019, 15:25 #115095

    PS Liverpools diving and conning is top drawer too. Robbed Leics on Saturday. He needed sending off for simulation not having a non pen awarded to him. The faceless powers that be and the silly VAR will ensure Liverpool win that PL this time. The so called best league in the World is as good as over and here we are first week of October.

  15. ArsenalMagna

    Oct 07, 2019, 15:20 #115094

    Great post GoonerRon, think you're right that it takes either a long time or the most expensive players to perfect the high press, and let's face it, it does need to be done very well lest it be a disaster!

  16. itsRonagain2

    Oct 07, 2019, 15:19 #115093

    GR - I think Liverpools middle is quite poor in isolation. No creativity but they do position well and see the early ball to their forwards to catch the opponent out when the oppo is doing a high press. Its their 3 up top with their speed and power and ability to control the ball that makes them the team they are, not the press, or the full backs though the 2 latter mentioned are very good. You could say Liverpool are a type of refined 'route 1' team. The rest of the PL teams are waiting for that front 3 to burn out as they will in time or perhaps for Klopp to leave, as i think he will once they've won the PL title in May. Bayern are courting him and im sure he ll want that more than Anfield.

  17. itsRonagain2

    Oct 07, 2019, 15:04 #115092

    Personally speaking im sick of the words 'press' and 'high press'. It makes for quite dull football for each side to strangle the other to death in my view. Im glad we dont do it very well. Tippy tappy was bad enough to stomach for all those years. Youre not going to morph from tippy tappy to high pressing play in the short time UE has been there. Yes, it works and Liverpool do it well as did Barca in their heady days. I think though as a tactic its now dying. These tactical methods all have their sell buy date and then die once their not trendy.Not many teams do it all of the time now. It takes a massive toll on players in a Season after 3 or 4 months doing it too.

  18. GoonerRon

    Oct 07, 2019, 13:46 #115091

    @ ArsenalMagna - the pressing is clearly Emery’s blue print but we just aren’t as good at it as Liverpool. Watch Liverpool (and Barca / Citeh under Guardiola) and they are just so rehearsed at where to be on the pitch in any situation when the opposition have the ball (that’s what I think Emery means when he talks about controlling the game through our position on the pitch). Liverpool’s midfield three could easily be improved upon as individuals, but collectively (whatever three he has in there) they just know where to be and their energy and, crucially, intensity is immense - they are massively greater than the sum of their parts. I was at the Etihad last year and watching close up it occurred to me how Citeh’s wide forwards took up specific positions when our full backs had the ball to block off the passing lanes and force us back towards goal - it wasn’t just ‘block the pass up the line’ either, it was properly orchestrated. We just don’t have the automatic trigger right now to know where to be in any given situation. It’s probably partly personnel - Lacazette is our Firmino, we’ve only had our Robertson at the club since the summer and our TAA hasn’t been fit for 9 months so we’ve not had the group together to rehearse it over and over and over again in training. Don’t forget, it took Liverpool a good few years to hone this under Klopp and took Citeh about half a billion to get the right players in to perfect it. Truth is, we’re trying to build a similar pattern of play without the platinum budget or a platinum coach.

  19. markymark

    Oct 07, 2019, 13:31 #115090

    The problem would be I suspect 2 fold. First being Unai’s poor command of English. 2nd part being obsessive attempt to nullify the opposition. In a way the exact opposite of Wenger who cared nothing for the opposition just our own pattern. We now have under Unai a real struggle to form a pattern as what pattern is it? Liverpool do the press and that’s the way they play. With us it’s take your pick and I suspect it confuses us more than the opposition


    Oct 07, 2019, 12:12 #115088

    Again only saw the highlights & Keown had some constructive points to make - but to me Kola seemed all over the place ( is he a bit thick?) & Xhaka was just Xhaka. I think I have now had it with Dick not just for sticking with those two calamities but because he actually stated that we lost confidence for goodness sake!! It was only bloody Bournemouth not Liverpool. This is not warrior mentality but Wenger Mk.2.

  21. ArsenalMagna

    Oct 07, 2019, 11:28 #115087

    Looking at the state that United and Spurs are in, it really backs up what I've been saying about the lack of top quality players available across Europe. Heck, even Real, Barca and Bayern are undergoing major rebuilding and struggling. I actually think our squad is very near to being complete. You could add a CB and maybe a DM but not much else that could be improved on in terms of who's available and at a reasonable price. Think Emery really could get us top 4 thanks to the struggles of others this year. Again though, he should be let go even if he does that as he can't optimise the players he's got.

  22. ArsenalMagna

    Oct 07, 2019, 10:51 #115086

    Only saw the highlights on MOTD but the second half had some really calamitous defending by us. I mean, even in the last minutes we had 5 or 6 players forward! It's sad because being 1-0 up should be enough to give confidence if your a team good enough at defence and counterattack. Since we can do neither very well, it's always panicky. Agree with Gooner Ron that we do seem to be very 'either/or' in terms of defence attack, though maybe the Newcastle game was the one time we got the balance right? I was thinking that Emery actually seems to want us to be a high pressing team, and we seemed to do that well in the first half. Not sure if bar Luiz we have any CBs really fast enough to optimise a high line in a press? Obviously the whole team has to press otherwise you drop off so it shouldn't matter, but why can't Arsenal press for most or all of the game like Liverpool do? Most players seem to dislike doing it even though it's so effective. How do Liverpool manage most of every game and not get fatigued? Would genuinely appreciate any answers other posters might have on that one as I can't see why Arsenal aren't doing this.

  23. GoonerRon

    Oct 07, 2019, 9:54 #115085

    Great to get 3 points and nice to feel the heady heights of 3rd. We just can’t seem to get the balance right - it’s seems we only look potent when we’re open at the back and look toothless up front when we look relatively solid at the back. Whether it’s personnel, coaching or both I’m not sure but let’s hope the extended international break helps Emery find the balance we need. My feeling is we rarely control games with possession of the ball anymore, so we can be easily exposed at the back and struggle to sustain attacks with any intensity.

  24. Sarflunden

    Oct 07, 2019, 8:47 #115084

    Nearly went to sleep in the second half. All the joy and passion we saw on Thursday ninght seems to be sucked out of the team by Sunday. Ponderous sums it up. Still three points is three points but its not hard to see why so many fans swerved the game.

  25. Dick Dastardly

    Oct 07, 2019, 8:40 #115083

    A hard fought but good 1-0 To The Arsenal. 1st half was good second half not so good with them on the front foot chasing the game and several balls rolling across our six yard box. However not a bad weekend all in all, with Citeh and our esteemed neighbours both being humiliated.