Previous names: Dial Square, Royal Arsenal, Woolwich Arsenal

Monday, December 19, 2016

It was interesting to practice 10 Vs 11 against City

By 1970's Gooner

It's not very often that a team gets the chance to practice, in real life conditions, a 10 against 11. It of course happens when a player is sent off and then the rest of the players have to play that extra hard and with determination to get a result.

Arsenal were indeed playing with 10 men against the 11 of City. But this was from the beginning of the match, for dozy Ozil was (not) at it again. He went missing as he often does in the big games. He doesn't fight, is not determined, does not mark, does not tackle and his passing is inaccurate.

Mezut Ozil is Arsenal's engine and like for every machinery if that engine is for whatever reason short circuited then the rest do not and cannot work.

This is what happens when Ozil is not at the races as the rest of the players are not that creative to take up that role. Xhaka and Coquelin are mainly defensive players. Walcott and Iwobi are wide players and Cazorla who would have offered some creativeness is of course missing.

He is missing because Wenger selected him to play against Ludogorets at the Emirates, a tie that we were odds on favourites to win. It was a mistake of course taking into account his injury record.

The other player that could have offered some creativity is Ramsey but he has been burnt out due to the curious decision by Wenger to start him in the first game of the season after his heroics in the Euros. For some reason he rested Koscienly and Giroud but not Ramsey....

The absence of Ozil in the City game meant that the only creative player left on the pitch was Sanchez who was finding himself coming back to play the role of playmaker.

Ozil has no divine right to start let alone not being substituted. He has been letting the team down more often than not this season and his attitude is unacceptable.

Wenger should have taken him off when he put the Ox on and kept Iwobi on. Iwobi could have moved in the number 10 role instead. He would have had a much bigger impact on the game for the remaining minutes than what Ozil offered for three quarters of the game.

But no, Ozil is irreplaceable! Well he isn't.

And if he doesn't want to sign a new contract then he can hop off to China.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

The three improvements Wenger needs to bring about to win against Man City

By 1970's Gooner

Arsene Wenger did not rest the key players for the midweek game against Basle in the CL. The performance was very good and the result meant that we toped our group (which didn't help in the end).

However the team which was already showing signs of tiredness even before that game got even more jaded.

Almost the same players that played against West Ham on the Saturday traveled to Basle for the Tuesday game and then on to the home Saturday game against Stoke. Three days later those same players were lining up against Everton at Goodison Park.

The performances prior to the Everton game were beginning to show some tiredness and some slack play. Yet the results were of course as expected. The opponents were not after all that good as to worry us tremendously.

Everton away was a different game of course. Although we didn't play that well in the first 20 minutes we got a deflected goal. But we did not kick on from there and in my opinion tiredness coupled with overconfidence resulted in a below par performance.

Could Mustafi have prevented those two goals? Nobody knows. Wenger said it wasn't Gabriel's fault. Whose was it then? It was the whole team's because no one closed down the cross for the first goal and no one played that well to prevent Everton's overall drive in the second half.

Wenger had a bad game too. His substitutions were ineffective and inappropriate. He made two subs on 71, Iwobi and Giroud for Walcott and the Ox. He was going for the game but it was obvious the subs were not affecting the game enough and Everton were overrunning us in midfield.

His next substitution should have been a defensive one in order to safeguard a point. He should have taken dozy Ozil off and put Elneny on to make sure that 'if you can't win a game then at least do not loose it'.

He didn't.

Now he has to get his finger out as well as the players. He has to re energise them, give them belief and a game plan to beat City. A victory which will send a statement across the land that Arsenal are up for it and gunning for the title.

Otherwise let someone else take it on.

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Sanchez drags his luggage from the plane. Forget him for at least 2 weeks

By 1970's Gooner

Alexis Sanchez ever the optimist considers that the injury he has suffered during training with the Chile national squad is a minor one and will only keep him out of the game against Colombia. He expects to play next Tuesday against Uruguay.

Sanchez was driven from the clinic straight to the airport where he literally had to drag his luggage out of the plane because he was advised to stay behind and begin treatment. 

The ultrasound was performed immediately after Sanchez felt the pain and the doctors said that, although it is a mild strain, in this type of lesions, you have to wait 24 hours to determine the recovery time, because the tear evolves.

It is not clear how long this tear takes to heal but it could take at least 2 maybe 3 weeks. This is the view of the more conservative doctors that passed their opinion on his injury in Chile who maintain that if he does play next Tuesday then there is the possibility of aggravating the injury further.

Arsene Wenger will be hoping that Sanchez sits out both games but even if this advice is followed I doubt if he will risk him in the upcoming games against United and PSG. 

Wenger will remember last season prior to the Norwich game that he was considering not starting him as he was in the grey zone. He did start him and of course picked up a strain which kept him out for a very long time.

He will not want to repeat the same mistake.

So even if Sanchez does not play for Chile it looks as though he will not be risked when he returns.

Sanchez drags his luggage from the plane. Forget him for at least 2 weeks

By 1970's Gooner

Alexis Sanchez ever the optimist considers that the injury he has suffered during training with the Chile national squad is a minor one and will only keep him out of the game against Colombia. He expects to play next Tuesday against Uruguay.

Sanchez was driven from the clinic straight to the airport where he literally had to drag his luggage out of the plane because he was advised to stay behind and begin treatment. 

The ultrasound was performed immediately after Sanchez felt the pain and the doctors said that, although it is a mild strain, in this type of lesions, you have to wait 24 hours to determine the recovery time, because the tear evolves.

It is not clear how long this tear takes to heal but it could take at least 2 maybe 3 weeks. This is the view of the more conservative doctors that passed their opinion on his injury in Chile who maintain that if he does play next Tuesday then there is the possibility of aggravating the injury further.

Arsene Wenger will be hoping that Sanchez sits out both games but even if this advice is followed I doubt if he will risk him in the upcoming games against United and PSG. 

Wenger will remember last season prior to the Norwich game that he was considering not starting him as he was in the grey zone. He did start him and of course picked up a strain which kept him out for a very long time.

He will not want to repeat the same mistake.

So even if Sanchez does not play for Chile it looks as though he will not be risked when he returns.

Monday, November 07, 2016

And I thought Arsenal had the more mature team

By 1970's Gooner

Arsene Wenger has been telling us for a long time now that he has a more mature team these days. Certainly the average age of the Arsenal players is a few years more than that of Spurs who by the way is considered to be the youngest team in the Premier League.

And you would have expected that maturity would bring calmness, non anxiety and methodical play. Yet we did not witness this during the North London derby.

In fact it was the Spurs players who played without fear and calmness. They passed the ball accurately and were disciplined enough to hold their positions and carry out their game plan even with a 3 5 2 formation they were trying for the first time.

In contrast the Arsenal players were misplacing their passes and did not have the patience to carry out their attacks calmly. They were anxious and nervous.

I am afraid to say so but we have seen this kind of performance before, especially last season where whenever we needed to win a game to go top of the League we failed miserably. When the pressure was off we would revert to our more scintillating nature.

This is the biggest obstacle that has to be overcome if we are to actually WIN the title.

And I expect Wenger to put this right.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Arsene gets selection and substitutions wrong and teams have sussed Monreal out

By 1970's Gooner

The unexpected draw against Boro could have been very different if it weren't for the wrong team selection and the unhelpful substitutions.

It was obvious from the start that a midfield consisting of two defensively minded midfielders would be desperately short of imagination, creativity and forward passing.

Elneny and Coquelin are fine central midfielders that you would use in tandem if you didn't want to lose a game. But, I believe, it was wrong to start with these two.

It shows that Wenger himself underestimated the opponents and gave also the message to the rest of the team that this game is going to be relatively easy.

As the game was progressing it was becoming obvious that Monreal was becoming targeted as Gray was continuously getting the better of him. At the same time it was also obvious that Iwobi has not yet learned that he has to track back as speedily and effectively as Walcott.

The obvious substitution should have been to take Elneny off, move Iwobi in the middle next to Coquelin and bring the Ox on the left wing who would have added more dynamism and forward thrust.

Importantly he would have been fast and wily enough to track back and offer Monreal help and Iwobi would have added some much needed creativity in the middle.

Instead Wenger waited and waited and then brought on 67 Perez for Iwobi and on 74 the Ox in the middle for Elneny with no real effect.

The most worrying issue to come to the fore in the last few games is Monreal's lack of pace. This was heavily exposed in the game against Swansea where Barrow ran rings around him and almost single handedly brought his team back into the game from 3 1 down.

Just as Brendan Rodgers showed everyone how to play against Man City by pressing from the front so have Swansea's tactics showed how to get the better of Arsenal.

It seems that now teams facing Arsenal have sussed this out and will be placing their fast wingers on the left trying to get at Arsenal on the break. Boro had 25% possession but had 7 attempts on target!

Solving this problem however will be difficult. Firstly it is not sure that Monreal has lost pace or that simply he is tired. If it is the former however then Iwobi's presence on the left wing does not help.

The obvious and first solution is for Iwobi to shape up and improve his tracking back and defending significantly.

Other solutions will eventually include using Gibbs there and/or utilizing the Ox on the wing. Walcott is much more effective on the right so that cannot be a solution.

Similarly Burnley played the pressing game from the front against Arsenal at Turf Moor with much success. Arsenal had no outlet with Sanchez not that good when the ball is played high from the back.

Thankfully Giroud's return will offer Wenger a way out of this problem.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Revealed: Photo of the contents inside the package offered to Wenger

By 1970's Gooner

Everyone at the City Ground is perplexed as to why the Forest fan invaded the pitch and offered the  Styrofoam container containing food to Wenger.

On this only the fan himself knows.

But what was inside the container?

Here is the photo that shows.

Looks like a shepherd's pie?

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Deportivo withdraw Perez from their squad for next League game

By 1970's Gooner

Further proof that Perez is heading for his medical at Arsenal after it has been reported that Deportivo had agreed to sell as Arsenal met the player's buy out clause.

Perez has been withdrawn from their squad travelling to their next game in the La Liga. He is not injured and this is further proof that Arsenal have at last landed a new forward.

Wenger bid for Vardy for 20m but it seems that now he has landed a player that is quite similar in his style of play.

Sky reports Perez due for a medical!

By 1970's Gooner

It never rains but it pours.

Wenger has left all the deals till the last moments again. And all he has achieved is to end up paying more than he planned for.

Mustafi will come for 35m and Perez for 17m but again who cares.

Sky are reporting that Deportivo have agreed to let the player go after Arsenal met the buy out clause. The player is due to get a wage hike to 70,000 per week, more than Everton could pay.

Perez is due in London probably tomorrow for a medical.

Transfer business completed?

Sky report agreement reached for Mustafi deal

By 1970's Gooner

Sky News are currently reporting that Arsenal have finally agreed a fee with Valencia for the transfer of Mustafi for 35m pounds.

It seems that Wenger had to reluctantly agree a higher fee than originally planned but hey what do we care, better late than never.

He is of the right age (24) and has plenty of experience in the Spanish League. He has also played most of the games for Germany in the recent Euro where he impressed.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Wenger walks away from Mustafi deal

By 1970's Gooner

Dick Law has been to Spain and now he is back empty handed.

Gulliem Balague, the Spanish journalist, has reported that Valencia are not really that cash strapped as they will unload other players to meet the FFP rules.

This makes sense as one would have expected that Valencia would agree a reasonable fee for Mustafi if they really wanted to sell and get their roster sorted before the commencement of La Liga. Yet they do the opposite.

They raise the price even further. They sense that Wenger is desperate, really desperate. And they aim to take advantage.

In the meantime West Brom hack up the price for their average ex man Utd central defender Evans to 25m!!!

I am laughing out loud as I write this. I really am. For Wenger's tactics for negotiating transfers have come back to haunt him. CLUBS DO NOT NEED TO SELL THEIR PLAYERS.

And if they want to they will do it only for crazy money.

And we all know that Wenger, under no pressure from the owners to win anything (apart from finishing in the top 4), will walk away.

And believe me he WILL WALK AWAY.

There is another real reason he will walk away.

The performances of Rob Holding have been outstanding especially next to a more experienced Koscienly. So Wenger will ask himself. Is a new addition at 30m a better value for money when compared to Holding's capabilities?

Wenger will stay put. He will wing it with Holding and Koscienly until Gabriel comes back and then decide, according to how Holding has been doing till then, who will partner Koscienly.


Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Wenger's transfer strategy is revealed

By 1970's Gooner

Everyone is buffled by Wenger's approach to transfers. And rightly so. Every year he announces that we are active in the market and loking to add to the squad. 

And every year he ends up being right. He buys one player of quality and a few youngsters from the lower leagues of England and France as well as the occasional Japanese or Korean forward.

And everyone gets exasparated...

Yet his aproach to buying a player is so obvious and predictable.

The player or players are scouted for the position that Wenger has identified as needing reinforcement. Thereafter the following criteria have to also be satisfied if the deal is to go ahead:

1. The player has to have the required quality
2. The right personality
3. He must want to play for Arsenal Football Club
4. His age has to be such that at the end of his contract there will be a reasonable resale value
5. The transfer fee inclusive of agent fees and his salary should be value for money

Once the first four above are satisfied Wenger has to convince the  player's club to sell. Here he employs various tactics:

1. An initial low bid is made. It gets out in the media and in this way the player is made aware. This puts extra pressure on the club.They dismiss the offer.

2. A second increased bid is made which is just below where Wenger values the player and which he considers the player's club would probably and reluctuntly accept.

3. Leaks begin to appear in the media that Arsenal are actively looking at other targets in that position. The player and his club may begin to get apprehensive.

4. The deal is left in the balance until the last days of the window. In this way if the club is willing or needs to sell is cornered into accepting a slightly increased offer.

At least the above is supposed to happen in an ideal Wenger world.

It more often than not transpires that either the player is not that hungry to force his way to Arenal or that his club does not need to sell unless it is quoted crazy money. 

The Lacazete transfer saga appears to be a case in mind. It may change of course as we get near the end of the window but it may not....

Which helps explain why Wenger always waits till the dying embers of the window in order to impose the price he considers right. Remember the Ozil and Arshavin transfers (while the xhaka transfer was agreed last season). 

And if the price is not considered right Wenger walks away.

The crux of the matter is that Wenger is under no pressure to win titles which affords him the time horizon to not overextend the club's budget and to promote youth from the academies.

No other top Pl manager would walk away from a player he wants for a few million pounds or even wait till the end of the window to conclude business. Not in this age where clubs are now awash with crazy money. 

Their life span is on average one and a half to two years and they need to make an almost immediate impact otherwise they are out.

Wenger's has far longer than that.

And even if he is going to walk away from his post at the end of this season he will not change.

Unless of course there is a new contract for him to sign which, considering his dithering in the transfer market, is my prediction.

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Wenger finds perfect new striker only few considered. Now for a centre back

By 1970's Gooner

Gabriel's injury, which will keep him out for up to 8 weeks, coupled with the long term injury suffered in another pre season game by the BFG have forced Wenger to concentrate on getting at least one new central defender asap.

As analysed in a previous post on this site the available money will now be utilised for a new defender. There is no money left for a new forward and we all should be ready to come to terms with it.

BUT there is another very good reason as to why Wenger will not be buying a new forward.

The answer has been staring us in the face for a long time. 

Alexis Sanchez is the perfect number 9. He played the role so well against Man City. He ran their defenders rugged making those darting runs in between the lines as well as being very mobile around the dangerous areas. 

Such a player is a perfect compliment to the big but not so mobile Giroud allowing Wenger to choose one of them according to the needs of the game in front of him or indeed play them together in the front positions if he so chooses.

Playing Sanchez up front will also allow Wenger more flexibility in giving more games on the wings to Iwobi, Walcott who was very good against City, the Ox and even Ramsey and Wilshere. 

There will be no new centre forward bought this window.

This is my prediction.

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Dutch fitness coach rates Arsenal injury record the worst in Europe

By 1970's Gooner

Dutch fitness coach Raymond Verheijen speaking on Talksport radio station has criticised the way English and foreign clubs carry out their pre season training.

He insists that almost all teams compress fitness training before friendlies begin in the opening 2 week period. This puts too much pressure on player's bodies resulting in muscle and related injuries.

He recommends that this type of training be spread over the 6 week preseason period so as to relieve the burden on the players.

Mourinio's sides, he said, suffer much less injuries than others becaucse Mourinho aspises this philosophy and incorporates it in the preseason schedule.

In contrast to Arsenal who do not and as a result have suffered the worst rate of injuries in Europe!

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Wenger has another option for a new centre back

By 1970's Gooner

The press has been publishing lists of central defenders that Wenger is including on his wish list now that the BFG will be out for the next 5 months.

But  I fear that if he spends good money to get a top defender then there will be that less money to get a top striker.

For you shouldn't be fooled by what Arsene is saying publicly that we can now enter the market for the top players. I prefer to believe Gazides when he says we can't compete with the big clubs. He holds the purse strings and he is speaking the truth in my opinion.

It seems that Arsenal have enough cash to make a big buy a year, more or less. And by paying top money on a new central defender there will be no funds left to buy a top forward which imo is more urgent.

The answer that he is likely to turn to is to move Monreal to the centre back position as he has played there before and performed quite well. In this way Gibbs will come into the side in his position at left back.

Koscienly is likely to be back to training by the 10th August and probably ready to play soon after.

Up to then Gabriel and Monreal will form the central defensive pairing. And Wenger will save the money to get a new striker that the team is crying out for.

All this can happen IF AND ONLY IF the money that is saved is properly utilised to get in a top top striker.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Bookies slash odds on Mahrez joining Arsenal

By 1970's Gooner

It's not a surprise that as soon as Higuaín finished a medical pending his move to Juventus Arsenal have moved at lightning speed to bring Mahrez to the Emirates. It seems that Wenger has been waiting to see the outcome of the Higuaín saga and then reassess his options.

We have looked at the original source of the Mahrez rumour, Eurosport France, and all they say about their source is ' according to our information'. Now does this carry the same weight of authenticity as say 'Sky Sports understands'? 

Or is it another attempt by Mahrez's agent to extract a better contract from Leicester. Just as Vardy did with Arsenal....

Eurosport France do say that they contacted Mahrez's agent who was at Arsenal's friendly at Lens last night but he declined to comment....

In any case Ladbrokes has slashed the odds on this deal going through from evens to 8/13.

I am a skeptic with these rumours appearing in the press without any real authenticity behind them.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Juventus distance themselves from Higuain transfer

By 1970's Gooner

It's beginning to feel like one of those rare occasions that Arsenal are closing in on a huge transfer. It now looks as though Juventus, who had supposedly entered the race for Higuaín's signature, are now ruling themselves out of it.

The Sporting Director of Juve, Fabio Paratici, has been commenting on the issue and said:

'Higuain for us is a distant thing.  I hear that Naples likes most of our players but I guarantee that at the moment there are no requests and there are no negotiations.... But the thing about Higuain I see it far away. "

This comes after it transpired that Napoli is not willing to let one of their best players strengthen their biggest rival. They would rather sell him outside Serie A.

And this leaves the field open for Arsenal and Wenger to zoom in on the negotiating table and finally agree a reasonable price for the player.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Napoli paper narrows it down to two obstacles for Higuain transfer

By 1970's Gooner

Local Napoli newspaper Il Matino is reporting that Higuaín will take stock of the situation re Arsenal's offer after his holidays along with his father Jorge and brother Nicolas.

However the paper puts it down to two things being satisfied if the deal is to go ahead. The first of course is the asking price. The release clause, which has now expired, is put at 94m euros. However De Laurentiis, the owner, is not budging from it. I think that it is expected that since this is his asking price he is bound to negotiate downwards. If he is willing to negotiate that is.

Because there is another issue which hasn't been picked up yet and Il Matino is highlighting. Napoli has to replace such a prolific goal scorer and finding someone who can come close to scoring 36 goals in 35 games is not really easy. And takes time of course.

This transfer has a long way to go obviously. But let's hope Wenger sticks to it and carries it through for this is the player Arsenal needs TO WIN THE LEAGUE.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

It seems the national papers are taking notice of this blog!

By 1970's Gooner

It was a whole week ago that we here at 'Arsenal Analysis' published a list of all the Arsenal squad players involved in the Euro and Copa America. We also calculated their likely return dates for preseason taking into account the holiday time that Wenger normally gives to his players after such events.

Have a look here: This article was published a whole week ago but only now have the national papers began publishing similar conclusions as ours.

It was clear form the analysis that at least Arsenal's major players like Ozil, Giroud, Koscienly and Ramsey will be out for the first game against Liverpool.

The national papers are sensationalising of course when they suggest that Apkom will be the only available striker for this game.

He has been told that he will not go out on loan in August but as you will realise Walcott will be fit and available.

Not a satisfactory state of affairs but hopefully Higuaín may be on board by then!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Wenger's pursuit of Higuain moving fast according to RaiSport

By 1970's Gooner

At last Arsene Wenger is getting his finger out. He has realised that he will soon be left behind by the new coaches/managers in the PL.

They have already started recruiting for key positions which will make them far stronger than last season. And if Arsenal are left behind then he runs the risk of leaving the club in shatters in his last season and thus tarnishing his legacy.

At least I hope that this is what he is thinking as the apparent generous offer for the transfer of Higuaín to Arsenal indicates so.

Arsenal are offering £42.2m plus Olivier Giroud to the Serie A side, but they are willing to go as high as £50m without the Frenchman. This is what journalist Ciro Venerato said at RaiSport. Higuain's  salary will be £6.8m-a-year for a four year contract. 

And Wenger has asked for a meeting next Thursday with Napoli to finalise the transfer... Things are indeed moving fast.

If this deal is concluded then it will be a major major statement by Arsene Wenger. He will have brought to the club a prolific goal scorer in a position that we were clearly proved weak. He has scored 36 goals in 35 League appearances for Napoli last season, a one to one ratio!

And the title challenge for the coming season will be the strongest in the last decade.

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Key players already out of first League game (Vs Liverpool)

By 1970's Gooner

If we take a look at the Arsenal players involved in the Euro we quickly surmise that Arsenal's key players in defence, midfield and attack will definitely be missing from the opening game against Liverpool (currently set for August 13).

Players such as Ozil, Koscienly, Ramsey, Giroud, Sanchez, and Xhaka are likely to be missing from the starting line up.

And we all know that a winning start to a League campaign is so important for what is to follow.

We have here at 'Arsenal Analysis' looked at the Arsenal players that have been involved or are currently involved in the Euro at France and Coppa America. We have then given to most of them a four week holiday as is the norm under these circumstances as Wenger has done in the past.

Here is a list of the players and the date each departed or is likely to depart from the relevant competition. We then looked at if they can make it to the first team squad and make themselves available for the game on 13th of August.

The first item is the date of last game played. The second the date they return to Arsenal and the third the time left for preseason prior to 1st game.

                       Date of last game     Return to Arsenal     Time left for preseason prior to 1st game

Ospina                   23.6.2016               23.7.2016                    3 wks               Will be ok

Cech                      21.6.2016                21.7.2016                   3 wks 2 days    Wenger may play him

Bellerin                  27.6.2016                27.7.2016                   2 wks 3days    Did not start a game

Koscienly               7.7.2016                  7.8.2016                     3 days!!!         If France lose semi!

Xhaka                     25.6.2016                25.7.2016                   2wks 5 days    Unlikely to be risked?

Ramsey                   7.7.2016                  7.8.2016                     3 days!!!          If Wales lose semi!

Wilshere                  27.6.2016               27.7.2016                   2 wks 3days    Will not be risked?

Sanchez                   26.6.2016                26.7.2016                   2wks 4 days   Will not be risked?

Ozil                          7.7.2016                  7.8.2016                     3 days!!!         If Germany lose semi!

Giroud                      7.7.2016                  7.8.2016                     3 days!!!         If France lose semi!

Campell                   11.6.2016                 11.7.2016                  4 wks 5 days    Will be ok

Other players not involved in tournaments:

Debuchy :Is he coming back?
Jenkinson: Still injured
Monreal: Available
Ox: Now back training from long term injury but unlikely to be risked by Wenger
Welbeck: Long term injury
Gnarby: Theoretically available. Was very sharp for the Under 21s last season
Iwobi: Dissuaded from playing in the Olympic tournament (no wonder)
Sanogo: Available?

So there you have it. The key players who are likely to be missing from the first game are Koscienly, Xhaka, Ozil, Giroud, Wilshere, Ramsey and Sanchez.

Koscienly, Ozil, Giroud and Ramsey are definitely out. Even if they lose their respective semis and assuming a 4 week holiday they will only have 3 days of training before the first game.

Worse still they will only return in early September!! Can you imagine a line up for the first month of the new league that will be missing these key players?

Surely Wenger will give them a 4 week holiday so as to avoid injuries and burn out later on in the season.

If Wenger fails to sign a new forward then expect Walcott to be our main striker! Surely Wenger will not let it come to that.

Sanchez will have had 2 weeks and 4 days of pre season. But looking at what happened to his hamstring last season when he returned from the Coppa Wenger is unlikely to make the same mistake and rush him back. 

The same applies for Wilshere for obvious reasons. Wenger will take it easy with him.

Xhaka with a 2 weeks and 5 days of preseason will pose a dilemma for Wenger, but I think he will not risk him, not for the first game.

The players that featured with their national teams but are likely to start are Cech and Bellerin.

So here is the probable line up against Liverpool assuming of course that any new signings (if there will be any) will not be ready by the 13th of August.


Bellerin  Gabriel  BFG  Monreal

Elneny Coquelin

Campel Cazorla Iwobi


It looks really weak to me which makes it imperative for Wenger to sign that forward and defender as soon as possible so that they can be utilised during this early period in the league when most needed.

Otherwise we may be playing catch up form as early as August!!!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Wenger and Arsenal fall for the same tranfer trick again

By 1970's Gooner

It was obvious to me that something very fishy and smelly was going on. When Arsenal tabled a bid for 20m triggering Vardy's release clause I had this feeling that this transfer didn't sound right.

Just like the famous 40m plus one pound offer for Liverpool's Suarez. And we ended up being humiliated with the player staying at Liverpool and getting a substantial rise in wages in the process. Maybe that's why Suarez's agent alerted Wenger to the release clause after all.

Well Wenger has been duped again. It is obvious that the whole Vardy saga was well staged by the player's agent so that Leicester would up Vardy's wages from the 80,000 per week agreed a few months ago to 100,000.

Vardy had probably no intention of joining Arsenal. He has just won the PL with Leicester, will play in the CL with Leicester, is the hero of Leicester and it was profoundly obvious he would never leave Leicester.

Apparently the only person that was not aware of it was Arsene Wenger.

He makes a habit for falling for such tricks.

Or did he? Surely he will not use it as an excuse to show that he tried but couldn't find a top top player to join us.

Thursday, June 02, 2016

Arsene can steal a march on Guardiola et al

By 1970's Gooner

This is Arsene's last season on his three year contract. He needs to win something big if he is to either retire in glory (like Sir Alec) or indeed win a new contract. What ever his aim is there is ample motivation for him to pull out all the stops to ensure success. I expect him to do so.

And the fact that he has signed Xhaka who is a midfielder to add to the already existing Coquelin,  Elneny, Ramsey, Wilshere and Cazorla is proof that he wants the best he can get in these positions. Previously he would have made do with the existing midfielders and see the season out finishing in the top four. But this season he knows that he has to be more competitive.

Following the same reasoning I expect him to sign a big name centre forward and probably another centre back who will be groomed to replace Mertesacker when he leaves next season.

Arsene will also be readying himself to take advantage of the tentativeness that is bound to engulf the new big name coaches due to arrive in the PL.

Guardiola will only be arriving in July, is new to the PL and has a mini rebuilding job on his hands. I expect him to need half the season to bed himself and the new arrivals in. By that time Wenger will be planning to be ahead by a number of points.

The same goes for Conte at Chelsea. New to the PL, rebuilding job and will probably be exhausted managing the expectations of the whole of Italy in the Euro.

Klopp is not new to the PL but he has to buy new players and bed them in. I expect Liverpool to fare a little bit better than Chelsea and Man City but not better than Arsenal.

The more dangerous of the lot is Mourinho. He knows the PL well and will probably manage the Man Utd fan expectations satisfactorily. He does however need to surgically rebuild the team with a lot of new additions. He will therefore need time to bed them in ( some will need to get used to the PL) and more importantly to get them to play his way.

The only team that is almost ready to go compared to this lot is Arsenal.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Arsenal make contact for Benfica striker

By 1970's Gooner

Image result for mitroglou benfica

Kostas Mitroglou is going through a terrific season on loan to Benfica. He has certainly been amongst the goals scoring 19 in only 28 appearances. That's 0.7 goals per game which is considered high.

The player belongs to Fulham having signed a lucrative contract back in January 2014. He has since been loaned back to his old club in Greece, Olympiakos and at the start of this season he went to Benfica where it seems has found form again having overcome several niggly injuries.

According to the Greek press Arsenal are showing interest. They have already contacted Fulham to begin the process of negotiating the player's transfer. It is believed that Fulham are asking for a minimum of 6m euros (4.7m pounds).

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Is the unthinkable happening?

By 1970's Gooner

At this stage of the season I was expecting to write about Arsenal's run in for the battle to the League title, the first in the post Highbury era. I would have been predicting the results of the remaining games for both contenders and we would have been coming out on top by winning at home our final game against an already relegated Aston Villa.

But now not only this is definitely not happening we are locked in a battle for fourth place with Man City, Man Utd and West Ham!

In fact the nightmare scenario is beginning to unfold.

Leicester drop further points now that Vardy is out and their confidence begins to diminish.

Spurs gain momentum winning all their remaining games.

They also gain the press's favour which influences referee decisions with adverse effects on Leicester.

Spurs sprint over the finishing line winning the title.

Man City with newfound confidence from the win against PSG and Chelsea continue their good form. They easily finish third and reach the finals of the CL (they get thrashed by Bayern in the final).

Meantime Arsenal stumble over the line like a drunken sailor trying to return to his ship without getting noticed.

But so spectacular is their lack of form they fail to beat Villa at the Emirates in the final game of the season in front of a half full Emirates.

Manchester United continue their good form and spectacularly gain fourth spot from Arsenal.

This proves to be the last straw for the much maligned Arsenal supporters who stage a demonstration outside the Emirates on the last match day of the season venting their anger with unprecedented venomous ferocity.

The Board is shaken but not stirred. They stick by Wenger and he sticks by them. He always sees his contracts out.

In the meantime Liverpool reach the final of the Europa League and under the invigorating tutelage of Klopp win the final on penalties (against Sevilla).

Preseason arrives and Wenger announces that he will be signing outfield players this summer if the right top top top players become available who will be better than what we've already got (England do well in the Euros going out in the Semi Finals on penalties against the Germans).

In the meantime Ospina is sold back to Lyon and Szczesny stays at Roma. Martinez is brought back from Wolves and promoted to second choice goalkeeper behind the ageing Cech (who repeatedly fails to get across his goal to stop shots from outside the box).

In order to bolster his central defensive options and to offer an alternative to the fast ageing Mertesacker Wenger opts to promote Bielik rather than buy. The supporters are getting really worried now.

Higuaín becomes available at 80m and Wenger balks at the asking price biding his time hoping to reduce the price to what he considers as reasonable, judging by the player's age.

In the meantime Benzema wants out of Real but is till embroiled in his dispute with the law.

In early August Wenger and Arsenal announce at last the signing of a player. He is another midfielder in the 20m bracket.

Apart from releasing Rosicky, Arteta and Flamini as their contracts run out Wenger lets Gibbs and Walcott leave the club.

As the first day of the season arrives Wenger announces that we are still looking for that top top top striker and if he becomes available we have the funds to push it through.

I will leave you to write or imagine the rest.....

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Wenger will splash the cash next season but not for the reasons you think

By 1970's Gooner

Wenger's reluctance to buy big in the last windows has come back to haunt him and us of course. Maybe he thought that with the addition of Cech it would prove enough to win the League. He was deluded of course.

But imo the major reason he did not buy was a financial one. And the major reason he will splash the cash next season big time will be for financial reasons again.

Let me explain.

The major reason he did not buy big this season is because Arsenal's profit and loss is at break even point. This means that all the revenue that the stadium earns (about 3m per game, the biggest of all stadiums in England) and all the revenue that commercial and other sales bring in just about cover the players wages and all the other expenses.

In fact Arsenal's revenues are quite high up the European League (around seventh). But for all that revenue NO PROFITS (or losses) are made. This is because no profits were made from the sale of players as was happening in previous years. as we all know. And this is because Wenger no longer sells star players. He has been buying them instead which bloats the wages bill and eats away at the revenue earned.

But this season, with the wages bill so high and no profits made, Wenger could not add any major stars on the wages bill as the club would have started making losses. Especially when there is a lot of dead wood around earning quite high wages whilst not playing. And losses are anathema to the shareholders like Stan Kroenke who are not in it to win trophies necessarily but to make profits.

Next season however the situation will change and Wenger will splash the cash.

One reason as explained above is that a substantial amount of wages will be saved from not renewing Rosicky's , Arteta's and Flamini's contracts.

The other reason is that next season there will be an even more competitive scramble for the top 4 places. This is of course because Man Utd, Man City, Chelsea as well as Spurs and West Ham will get stronger. Simply standing still may mean you go backwards.

But another equally significant reason is that if Arsenal is to make significant profits (and satisfy the shareholders) it has to substantially increase commercial, rather than stadium revenues which are anyway at their maximum. This is what the top German teams are doing and the Manchester clubs are achieving which are all quite above Arsenal when their commercial revenues are compared (some are twice as much as Arsenal's).

But in order to increase commercial revenues Arsenal have to become successful on the pitch. They have to win trophies both domestically but more so in Europe so as to tap in to the huge world wide commercial market that is there to be exploited.

Wenger and Arsenal can no longer buy enough quality players just to finish in the CL places. With the finances being at near break even point that is just not enough. It will also not be enough with the increased revenue teams will be getting next season from the sale of the Premier League rights.

Arsenal will get about 45m a year plus another 10m that will be saved from the release of Flamini, Arteta and Rosicky. But out of that a lot will have to be paid out for increases in players salaries (eg Ozil's and Sanchez's, if they agree to renew and for others) as well for the salaries of any new signings.

And more importantly the shareholders will be demanding that the club shows a profit. They are not in it to break even every year are they? The 3m paid out to Kroenke's company every year for services rendered without  going to tender may indeed be a way of appeasing him for the lack of significant profits and dividends.

The more profitable but of course more risky solution is for Arsenal to buy enough big players, win the Premier League and compete at the top of Europe. Only then will Arsenal upgrade its international profile, boost commercial revenues and make the business model profitable earning a high enough return on the shareholders' initial investment.

In other words taking into account Arsenal's cost base structure it will pay to think and act big. 

And this is why the Arsenal Board will be pushing and have been pushing Wenger to spend big next season.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Gilberto Silva back at Arsenal?

By 1970's Gooner

The Greek sports press is reporting that Gilberto Silva is considering two offers for his return to Europe.  Both offers are for a management post.

His former club in Greece, Panathinaikos, has put in a firm offer for Gilberto to take up the post of Technical Director. Five years after he left Greece he is still very well liked among both the management of Panathinaikos as well as the fans having played for them for a number of years after departing Arsenal.  

The press is however reporting that Arsenal are also considering making a move to bring him back to the Emirates in a management capacity.

Gilberto is currently considering his options. Apparently he has to consider his family having previously spent a combined nine years away from Brazil.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

I don't sleep when I score but Ramsey's absence unbalances the team

By 1970's Gooner

Maybe Wenger should have a good look at himself. One of the worst things in life is not when we make mistakes but when we repeat them.

And Wenger certainly did repeat the same mistake he made when he summoned Theo Walcott to come on as a sub in the League Cup against Sheffield Wed. I was watching that game and I when I saw Theo getting stripped to come on it was obvious to me that he had not warmed up.

From my own experiences when playing football lack of a proper warm up was a very dangerous way to go. I was worried for Theo and then of course a few minutes later he was off, out for a couple of months or so.

Funnily enough I had the same thoughts when I saw Ramsey getting stripped to come on against Hull. It was obvious he had not had a proper warm up. And of course he was subed 16 minutes later.

His absence is much more important than you think.

This is because his contribution in central midfield had began to waver recently especially in the crunch games where Arsenal had to keep it tight and be resilient. This was especially true against Man Utd and even Swansea, games which we lost.

Wenger then made a tactical switch for the game against Spurs by deploying Ramsey on the right side of midfield just as he had deployed him when Cazorla was fit and playing.

This move had two beneficial outcomes for the tactical set up of the team.

Firstly Ramsey's position in central midfield was taken by a more defensively minded midfielder in Elneny (who greatly impressed). Playing Elneny and Coquelin together at Spurs was stunningly effective blunting their forwards and attacking midfielders and provided the platform to control the game. Where it not for the red card, Arsenal would have run out winners and back in the title race, big time.

It was not a surprise therefore that Wenger chose to play the same formation in central midfield at Hull by choosing Elneny and Flamini to start. This imo means that this is the way Wenger will go for the rest of the remaining games and so it should be. And this is why I have still hope that we will go undefeated for the rest of the season.

Secondly Ramsey's contribution from the wide midfield position proved very beneficial against Spurs. This is because he usually dropped into the midfield areas to help the more central players in keeping possession and also provided a goal threat, something which he is very capable of doing as we were so delighted to see.

This impact now will be sadly missed for the next few weeks at least (the prognosis is still not out yet). If Cazorla was fit he could have taken over duties in this position but he is not back yet till the 2nd of April.

So Wenger will now have to choose who to play in the wide right midfield position. It will be one of Welbeck, Campbell and Walcott. He could of course play Giroud at centre forward and Welbeck on the right which I would prefer.

Whatever he chooses to do it seems that we have missed a great chance to deploy a formation which would have given the team the perfect balance between attack, midfield dominance and defensive protection.

I am glad Sanchez cannot sleep when he doesn't score. It means that he is deeply troubled when he is not helping the team win games.

For my part when I score I don't sleep at all.....if you see what I mean. But Ramsey's absence does unbalance the team which may keep me awake.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Forget what the national papers are saying. This is the way to beat Leicester

By 1970's Gooner

Leicester have to be given respect. They have a counterattacking mentality which has been practised, finessed and executed to near perfection.

They always keep Vardy and Okazaki up front. They allow you to have the ball and when you move forward in front of their packed two banks of four they spring into action trying to win the ball. They then release it early to their forwards and at the same time their midfielders rush into the opponent's area waiting to do the damage.

This tactic works because they have two very good ball winners in their midfield in Kante and Drinkwater and two very fast forwards in Vardy and Okazaki who stay up front. It's not a surprise that Leicester do very well against the top teams. And there is a reason for this.

Top teams play attacking football based on ball possession, pushing their opponent in their half. Top teams do also something that more often than not turns badly against them. They push both their full backs high up the pitch. This means that Leicester's counter attackers find the space to run into and the presence of their midfielders coming up to support them provides for a very potent attacking threat.

Arsenal and City were outdone in this way. In the previous game between the two teams Arsenal's Ramsey ventured in Leicester's box to take a shot and from his dispossession they counter attacked by passing to Vardy where Bellerin should have been who run on and scored their first goal.

Similarly City's Zaboleta was caught up field while Kante released Mahrez into the space vacated and he scored the killer second goal of course.

So ideally Ramsey has to sit tight in midfield like he diligently did against City and, alongside Coquelin, provide the cover for Arsenal's overlapping full backs.

But imo the three wingers that Arsenal can play on the right of midfield are out of form. Walcott is way below himself that's for sure. Cambpell has lost form probably tired from playing too many games and the Ox is still trying to find confidence. Even if he did score the goal at Bournemouth his overall display was still below what is required to play against Leicester.

Arsene Wenger will, I know, be tempted to start with the Ox hoping that the goal will have given him a boost to carry him through the game against Leicester. I think he should resist that temptation.

Instead Arsenal can line up on Sunday by playing both Coquelin AND Flamini in central midfield. This way they will sit in a disciplined way in the middle of the pitch and put a stop to the Leicester counter attacks by covering the space vacated by Arsenal's full backs (especially Bellerin).

Ramsey would then revert back to his previous position on the right wing (when Cazorla was playing in midfield). In this way he will be able to come in from the right and help in the play making interchanging positions with Ozil and also drop back to assist Bellerin when we haven't got the ball.

In this formation a balance will be created where Arsenal will still maintain their attacking mentality and ball possession but will be more robust and defensively minded in midfield.

And for a change Arsenal will have adopted their tactics to fit the opponent.

This is the way to beat Leicester.

Monday, February 08, 2016

The best way to hand Leicester or indeed Spurs the League title

By 1970's Gooner

There is something that keeps niggling me all the time. It started way back during this crazy season on the occasions all Arsenal had to do was win the game in front of them to go top of the League. They always failed.

Their performances were nervy, edgy and tentative. The only saving grace was that the direct opponents were faltering too. Leicester and Tottenham were drawing more than they were winning and City were suffering due to key absences of Company and Aguero.

In the meantime Arsenal's jitters continued with poor performances against Spurs at home when we snatched a draw, lost to WBA away with a shambolic display and drew away at Norwich where everyone is winning. Leicester and Spurs on the other hand kept winning.

Then Arsenal pulled a fantastic performance out of the bag against City winning at home 2 1. But when in the next game they needed to win so as to consolidate the advantage they gained and prove to everyone that this year is their year, they see the dizzy heights of the summit and of course get nervy again! They put in probably the worst performance of the season that far and get thumped by Southampton 4 0!!!

So don't tell me Mr Wenger that the players are not scared of the top. They are shit scared. They haven't got the bottle. It is obvious.

And the best way to hand Leicester or indeed the Spuds the League title is to repeat the display at Bournemouth in the next game against Leicester.

For don't be fooled by the 2 0 away victory at the south coast. The display was again nervy especially at the back with Gabriel adopting what I would call an agricultural display and slack marking especially on the occasion when he naively let Pugh slip past him and run clear on goal.  It is sad that our alternative is to start with the ageing Mertesacker.

Flamini was far from his best. He tends to mark only space and as a result gets by passed as he lacks pace. He surely has to be either replaced by Coquelin or indeed play alongside him.

And the Ox got a great goal but he is far below what we would need to beat Leicester. The out of form Walcott or the tiring Campell are not the answer either!

Wenger has to get his finger out and instill competitiveness and above all confidence. He also has to adapt his team selection and tactics to match Leicester. More on this will follow.

Thursday, February 04, 2016

The reasons behind Arsenal's slump

By 1970's Gooner

Arsenal have only collected 3 points from the last four games. Draws against Liverpool, Stoke and Soton plus a defeat at home against Chelsea. Its not the form a title winning team is it? There are three main reasons that can explain the recent loss of form. I consider the last one as the most important.

Key players loose form

Where do you start. Mertesacker has been shaky for a long time and this was well exploited by a clever Chelsea tactic of getting Costa to run on his shoulder . In fact the whole team was underperforming up to the sending off.

This loss of form has been evident even in the games we won prior to the Liverpool game. Newcastle were outplaying us at the Emirates but couldn't convert their many chances until Koscienly popped up to rescue us. Bournemouth were only outdone from corners otherwise they were competitive alright.

Flamini, Ramsey and now Walcott have been way below par. The first two in particular have been very poor during this period. Flamini has not been closing down the spaces in midfield and Ramsey has neither been as mobile or accurate with his passing. This significant area of the pitch has been our Achilles heel. Let's hope Coquelin will return as strong as he was before he got injured.

The absence of Sanchez

Sanchez has been sorely missed as much as Coquelin. His runs and dribbles unsettle opponents as they don't know which way he will go. He offers something out of the ordinary but his mobility also offers an outlet for Ozil's innovative passing. And this should not be underestimated.

Lack of confidence in themselves

This lack of confidence has been very evident every time Arsenal have to win a game to keep themselves in contention or even to go top. It has been evident when say City or Leicester have dropped points and Arsenal only have to win to take advantage. They invariably failed every time.

There is an aura of uncertainty in their passing, crossing or in taking chances. It is also evident in their slow starts to games as though they wait to see what the opponent has to offer rather than imposing themselves irrespective of the opponent. This was very evident at Liverpool where they went one down relatively early in the game and also against Chelsea where they were so tentative in the early stages with Chelsea dominating possession and threatening. It was evident against Soton where we wasted a whole half to get into the game! And this was at home!

The players better start shaping up otherwise its goodbye to the title ( to possibly Spurs heaven forbid) and probably goodbye to fourth place.

Now that Coquelin and Sanchez are back we expect better days to come. Let's start at Bournemouth.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Debuchy is going nowhere

By 1970's Gooner

Arsene Wenger was until today ready to release Debuchy to go out on loan. This was so that he could get the necessary games and fitness levels required to maximise his chances of being selected for the Euro 2016 tournament. The possible destinations were Aston Villa and recently Sunderland.

Now with the sad news that Jenkinson has suffered a significant, possibly a season ending, injury during West Ham's game against Man City, this loan transfer for Debuchy is bound to be scrapped.

Surely Wenger will not take the chance and release Debuchy now he cannot use Jenkinson as a back up for the impressive Bellerin. The plan was that Debuchy would go to, most probably, Aston Villa and Jenkinson was to be recalled from West Ham.

The alternatives for Wenger will be Chambers, who is too slow, Gabriel who is a centre back and now needed in this position anyway as the BFG is out for 3 games and Flamini who has played in this position some years ago when he could run. Now he is not up to it.

Gibbs does not come into consideration as he is very left footed. Wenger could of course play Gibbs at left back and move Monreal at right back, if the need arises of course, but this would be placing square pegs in round holes. Unacceptable for a team chasing the title.

So Debuchy is going nowhere.

Monday, January 25, 2016

The reasons Wenger didn't play Elneny

By 1970's Gooner

There are three reasons Wenger didn't play Elneny against Chelsea.

The first is that he has just got together with the team only 10 days or so. He has not yet adapted to the way Arsenal play their football, what his position entails within the overall game plan and he has not yet got to know his fellow players.

Secondly Wenger got his man early this season because he knows that if he had waited for the summer then his price would have risen disproportionately. Why? because as everyone knows the much increased PL money for next season is bound to create large inflation in transfer prices adhering to the age old theory of too much money chasing the too few good players around.

And thirdly Elneny is going to be like Gabriel. Wenger will treat him the same. He will hold him back if he has Coquelin fit. Just like Gabriel is considered by Wenger to be an understudy to Mertesacker.

He is wrong of course. The BFG is on his last legs. he has no pace and no distribution capabilities. He has experience and is good in the air but these attributes are not enough in the PL.

As for the game against Chelsea Wenger was wrong to start with the BFG. He has been wrong starting him all season. I have said this in previous posts. His lack of pace cost us the game. The BFG should not have attempted the tackle thus would have kept himself and the team alive.

Ramsey had one of his worse games. He kept passing the ball to the opponents most of the time. Ozil gave up after we let the goal in. He didn't rise to the occasion, didn't lead the team. He became peripheral. The team as a whole became peripheral. They did not have any belief that they could come back which does not augur well for the run in.

Koscienly was as much at fault for the goal as the BFG imo. He is supposed to stay behind the BFG so as to cover for his lack of pace. On this occasion he was square. WHY?

Wenger got the tactics wrong again. We started slowly and gave them space to play about. WRONG. We should have blitzed them like we did Man Utd.

Nobody picked Cesc and Willian up in those first 15 minutes. They were free to run the game. WHAT WAS FLAMINI AND RAMSEY DOING?

The two positives were: When we finally decided to have a go in the second half we were decent which shows to me that we would have won the game if we had 11 players on the pitch.

The return of Sanchez was invigorating. He can advance with the ball leaving opponents behind and out of the game. He lifted the whole team up. He reminded us how we will be demoralising teams in the coming games. He will take the place of Walcott who is much below his best.

And when Coquelin comes back (which will be soon) and Cazorla too we will be real challengers again.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Victory at Anfield a doddle if not for these mistakes. Analysis

By 1970's Gooner

I call it as I see it and what I saw was a team capable of winning this game easily but I am afraid Wenger's tactics and crucially his substitutions conspired to allow Liverpool to score three goals against us and snatch 2 crucial points away.

Firstly it was obvious that Klopp would have adopted the same tactics employed recently when they faced the bigger teams. High tempo and hard pressing from the front and especially the opponent's key players in midfield thus cutting the supply to the front men. That is how they knocked four against Man City and three against Chelsea (both away).

Wenger and the Arsenal players seemed unprepared to counter this tactic. Mertesacker was continually harassed and forced to make hasty clearances. More importantly Ozil was closed down immediately by at least two, sometimes three men, as soon as he came anywhere near the ball.

This meant that there was no significant ball possession resulting in reacting to the moves of the Liverpool players rather than dictating the game.

This absence of a player like Ozil capable of putting his foot on the ball and calming things down meant that there was no real outlet when the ball was cleared from the defence.

Ramsey partly but inadequately compensated for this by making those box to box runs which did bring the equaliser. But this forward thinking approach resulted in the game becoming an end to end affair rather than Ramsey playing the role of the stabilising player that could calm things down and help keep possession.

That is why I knew then that even if we did equalise their first goal we could not keep it up.

Secondly once we got ahead in the second half (around the 55 mark) we surrendered even more possession. Wenger then made two mistakes.

The first was failing to restrict Ramsey from continuing to play box to box. Ramsey kept going forward all the time, even in the last five minutes he was doing this. This meant that when we lost possession we had one less player defending in the midfield areas. And with Ozil running out of gas we were desperately short in that area. This put undue pressure on our defence.

The second had to do with the substitutions.

Wenger brought on Gibbs and The Ox for Cambpell and  Walcott at the 75 mark. However Cambpell should have been kept on, he was very diligent and reliable in his defending.

The Ox was, as it was proven, not. He predictably kept giving the ball away and with Ozil nowhere and Ramsey too often far up the field meant that we were desperately short of numbers defending the resulting attack.

It was Ozil that should also have been substituted at that juncture and not Cambpell! Ozil cannot defend in situations like these, it's obvious.  And Chambers was the man to bring on not the Ox!

These two substitutions (Gibbs and Chambers for Walcott and Ozil) would have made us more solid especially since the opponents were not really attacking with any particular plan or method and their passing  and crosses were imprecise.

And in the closing stages Wenger could have brought Gabriel on and not Arteta as he did on 87. This may have prevented Benteke's header on 90 .....

If we had won the game the confidence levels would have been sky high going into the Stoke game. Still we didn't lose and we nearly snatched it with City also failing to capitalise (although Leicester did).

There is still a long way to go yet but this title race is crying out for a contender to grab the bull by the horns and lead a forceful charge with confidence. The worrying aspect of this is that whenever we are presented with a chance of proving our credentials (to everybody including ourselves) we fail to do so.

Hopefully Sanchez may return against Stoke. He will add more thrust and fervour in our attacks which will be needed.

If he does start (which I doubt) it will be for Walcott.