Buddy, Can You Spare Me Three Points?

Preview of this evening’s game at the London Stadium

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Remember this? Our interim head coach played for a season at West Ham.

The usual five talking points ahead tonight’s Premier League match away at West Ham.

Death by a thousand draws?
This may well be Arsenal’s worst winless run in all competitions since 1977 (nine games and counting), but one rather strange fact is that, despite their woeful form, the Gunners have at least not lost back-to-back games since April. And the reason is that they seem to draw matches a lot. You would probably have won more backing Arsenal draws than playing in casinos online, if you were the gambling type. Solitary points are probably useful if the club are to avoid relegation, and let’s face it, bad as West Ham might be at the moment, a draw this evening would hardly be a shock. I recall the corresponding December 2017 fixture was 0-0, one of the dullest matches I can recall attending.

West Ham’s Terrible Record Against Arsenal
Home or away, the Hammers have beaten their opponents this evening just twice in their last 24 meetings. Ok, they are on the up, having defeated Arsenal 1-0 in last season’s match at the London Stadium. But before that, they had failed to win any of their previous 12 home games against the Gunners. Those are the kind of stats that would have a punter in the best online casinos usa laying a home win this evening. So the record alone provides some reason for optimism that at least Freddie Ljungberg’s side will take something from this evening’s outing to East London.

Freddie and West Ham have history
Upton Park was often regarded as a bit of a retirement home for Gunners past their best. A lot of Arsenal players have worn the West Ham shirt after leaving the club (albeit not always taking the direct route). Names that come to me off the top of my head are Liam Brady, Ian Wright, Davor Suker, Matthew Upson, Stewart Robson, John Hartson, Nigel Winterburn and more recently Lukas Fabianski and Jack Wilshere (neither of whom will be fit for this evening’s game). And we can add to that list a certain Fredrik Ljungberg, who played in claret and blue for one season after departing Arsenal in the summer of 2007. He appeared 26 times and scored just twice. It’s fair to say he was well on the way out by then, and it was the last time he played for an English side (although there were a handful of games for Celtic about three seasons later after a stint in the States).

Older heads expected to make good
Ljungberg has overseen two poor performances by his players, so will presumably try and mix things up a bit in search of a solution. It doesn’t look at if bringing in youngsters is the plan, as the interim head coach has stated that he expects his experienced players to get themselves out of this hole. The question is, how does he view the likes of Guendouzi (20) and Pepe (24 – but with limited Premier League experience) in that regard? Do they count as experienced or not? We’ll see when the line-ups are announced. It does suggest though that Joe Willock will return to the bench and we certainly can’t expect something as revolutionary at Martinelli starting.

So what are the defensive options?
Ljungberg will need to have a proper look at Kieran Tierney from the start of a match at some time, given his ability to find players from wide when the team attack is far superior to that of Kolasinac who started both games so far. There is a fitness test on Rob Holding, and given the poverty of the defending witnessed from the centre backs selected for the last two matches, it would be useful for Holding to get a run of games and recapture his form. He’s only started a solitary Premier League game all season due to his recovery from long-term injury. Bellerin will surely remain at right back, but there is an option to try Calum Chambers in the middle. Dare Freddie drop David Luiz? Maybe the best solution might be to move Luiz into a midfield with Torreira and Xhaka to add some solidity. Arsenal need to stop conceding goals.

Conclusion
Arsenal need to get back to winning ways. Three points this evening would see them at least in the top half of the table. They currently sit just four points above the relegation zone. With a daunting fixture list ahead, anything but a win tonight will most likely see them remain firmly ensconced in the relegation mire until some slightly less daunting fixtures come along in January. The interim head coach needs to find a solution to start re-building confidence in a team. Frankly, he could use a bit of luck. But most important of all is that his side stop shooting themselves in the foot. Unai Emery is no longer there to take the brunt of fan discontent. And with what Freddie has inherited, the supporters are not going to target him. They might go for the owners, but it’s also possible that some of the players might get some grief – remember Hector Bellerin at Palace in Wenger’s final season? We need to see some conviction, some discipline and some inspiration. A convincing away win would help the team turn the corner, but truth to tell, Freddie is right to say that experience is what is required – and that applies to the dugout as well. One suspects we might not have to wait too long for the name of the next permanent manager to be announced if Arsenal fail to win tonight.

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13
comments

  1. itsRonagain2

    Dec 9, 2019, 23:45 #115777

    Be honest lads, esp you younger guys you’re all loving living the new concept of a basement battle ! Feel it. Learn it and embrace it because at some time in the future, it ll happen again but by then , you ll have yr thoughts of this season to lean on ?. A win s a win. Good goals. No matter how crap we are, we do more often than not score goals to dream about and for the split second it takes to score, we look World beaters !

  2. Pauljames

    Dec 9, 2019, 22:21 #115776

    The phrase much needed 3 points doesn’t really do that justice, hats off to the loyal away support who have endured a hell of a lot of rubbish lately .

  3. markymark

    Dec 9, 2019, 19:41 #115775

    NewPark though admittedly I’ve spoken against Simeone due to language issues . I’ve reconsdered and would have him in a heart beat . Rumours are that Athletico have gone a bit nuts and are thinking of sacking him. It looks like he’s gone a bit Wenger in that he’s failed to push through when Barca and Real have stumbled, plus Athleti they’ve spent big. My thoughts are though, he’s very Latin and by that I mean he seams fixed to the South American / Spanish and probably Italian world. I’m not sure he’s got any interest in the UK. Having said that Arsenal would be mad not to ask the question .

  4. Radfordkennedy

    Dec 9, 2019, 19:38 #115774

    Is Rafa undergoing an interview?...if so he's doing very well

  5. markymark

    Dec 9, 2019, 19:34 #115773

    Ron please predict 3-1 to Westham that way we might just do it . Oh well, I’ll do it , West Ham 3 Arsenal 1 - now, go on Gunners prove my Mystic Meg capabilities to be a complete sham !

  6. itsRonagain2

    Dec 9, 2019, 18:49 #115772

    I keep hearing PV 4 s name thrown about. Can somebody explain to me just what it is about him that he’s ever done as Coach to justify where any faith for him might emerge? I. My view , if that hapless owner and Board ever seriously thought about him becoming a Coach of AFC it would only be so as it would represent another sop to the fans , same as FL is. Arsenal need a proper Coach ffs. One who has pedigree, a track record of building god teams and who s been seen to improve players and also seen to command automatic respect from players because of his track record, not due to who he is. Do you not think Arsenal deserve such an appointment ? Why does the club need another loose fitting gamble ?

  7. Pauljames

    Dec 9, 2019, 17:10 #115771

    Agree with Cornish, I can see Kovacs or Marcelino ( ex Valencia) being in situ by the time we face City on Sunday.We simply cannot afford to sit on our hands right now.

  8. Newpark

    Dec 9, 2019, 16:53 #115770

    We are just awful. The team lacks so much it saddens and frightens me, character, organisation, leadership, heart, creativity, quality, confidence they've got none of the above. Asking Freddie to come in and change things was more in hope than expectation, thats how bad it's got, we can't even get a new manager bounce perfectly demonstrated by Everton at the weekend. Who's next? God knows. It's a diabolical state of affairs for any manager to be put off but a club of Arsenals size is still one to take seriously. For me, its one of three choices. Absolute first choice is Diego Simeone, he's exactly the type of man we need but I can't see him leaving Atletico. Second, Pochettino is the next best thing to Simeone in my opinion, available, a very very good coach regardless of his Tottenham history and not winning anything. Finally, Vieira. There's no other manager out there that carries the weight to compare with the first two managers, and Patrick Vieira could at least inspire the players with his history attached to the club.

  9. CORNISH GOONER

    Dec 9, 2019, 14:55 #115769

    We are rapidly slipping down to the relegation area & as the hard truth is that there are no longer any "easy" games in the PL, It seems likely that our wonderful american owners will have to bring their supermarket trolley dash for a proper new manager to a rapid conclusion. Arteta (high risk), Poch, Allegri still seem to be the favourites but the latter 2 seem unlikely but, never mind, there is a list as long as a typical week's shopping list behind them. The one I had not thought about but who has been mentioned on other sites is Nico Kovac. Sadly, I did the internet search on him & he looks OK plus the facts that his win percentages to date are better than the saintly Klopp & he is younger. OK, I need to get out more & I am a bit depressed at the moment. But I am working on it & am getting a few laughs by revisiting the fantasy world of Untold Arsenal - aren't they just something else?

  10. SPARKSY

    Dec 9, 2019, 14:28 #115768

    "Less daunting fixtures in January"? United, Palace Away, Sheff Utd and Chelsea Away. The way we are playing, does anyone see many points out of those fixtures? 2 months of mayhem............................

  11. itsRonagain2

    Dec 9, 2019, 12:58 #115767

    Kev - i think he should go bold tonight. Play 3 up front inc Pepe and go for a win. West Ham are pretty poor. Could be the type of game to get Pepe going and make him feel he can do it in the PL? I couldnt really care what he does in defence now. Whichever formula he picks will be poor. There are no proper defenders at the club. They all fill me with dread inc the goal keeper.

  12. itsRonagain2

    Dec 9, 2019, 12:54 #115766

    I think 1-1 tonight. Yes, i know, my predictions are naff this season!

  13. Pauljames

    Dec 9, 2019, 11:06 #115765

    It’s pretty difficult to see anything but a comfortable home win, and unless Freddie is replaced very soon we will be spending Christmas Day in the bottom 6 and possibly even the bottom 3.