Tag Archives: Alexis

Buy and Sell – Trimming the Fat in the Transfer Window

This latest transfer window was viewed as a success by the majority, even though the need for a centre-back and a holding midfielder was glaringly overlooked.

Such was the strength of our additions, our paucity for defensive and midfield options didn’t really impact on the optimism in regards to our transfer actions. Bringing in Henrikh Mkhitaryan represented shrewd and much needed purchases, and puts our attack at the very front when it comes to goal threats.

There was another element that made this window a surefire winner though, and it was the fact we cleared our squad of the driftwood that contributed little to our results.

Coquelin in a Valencia shirt
Walcott left for Everton

Managing to cut loose Mathieu Debuchy, Theo Walcott and Francis Coquelin freed up valuable squad space that could be filled with superior options, or a chance for a promising youngster to come through the ranks.

Losing Alexis Sanchez would hurt any side, and the Chilean going to a rival only added to the burn, but having Alexis in the side means we had to play a certain way and limited our options. Plus, Alexis broke the record for amount of times a player has lost possession in one game in United’s 2-0 win over Huddersfield recently. A record he previously held.

It is no coincidence that since he joined, we have lost our regular ability to thrill the crowd and generate moves that draw gasps from the purists and fans alike. The first match we played without Alexis and with our new boys? We played the football that we’re famous for.

Of course it’s early days, we shouldn’t get too carried away, but having our goal threat spread out over Mesut Ozil, Mkhitaryan, Lacazette and Aubameyang is in-keeping with the passing moves we implement. We rely on runners into the box, rather than waiting for one man to produce.

Another loss that could hamper us is Olivier Giroud. The much-loved Frenchman has also departed for a rival, but Giroud’s role was selfless and his introduction into proceedings gave us something different to what we currently possess. We can cope, but having him to call on benefitted us. It would have been selfish to keep him as he needs to play with the World Cup looming, but I fear we may miss Giroud more than we miss the mercurial talents of Alexis.

Mathieu Debuchy and Theo Walcott hadn’t started a league game this season. Francis Coquelin wasn’t playing either. They get first team football, we get a squad place and some cash to reinvest, whether that is through a fee or recouping wages.

Debuchy in a free transfer to St Etienne

Recruiting wisely as we have done, and selling the squad players who were not playing, means we’ve trimmed the fat and not lost any ability to put out a strong side. We still have those players that can come in and do a job and help with rotation, and every man we have in the group can make a difference.

For once, we’ve ticked the majority of boxes and ended a window far stronger than when we started.

Alexis and the possession problem

Published originally on Goonersphere.

This blog is born from a startling stat.

Stay with me. I know some are less than fixated with numbers, but this is quite the eyebrow-raiser.


Our 3-1 loss to Manchester United had many moments of interest. The joint-record high of 14 shots saved by the mercurial David De Gea. The two ironclad penalties denied us by referee Andre Marriner. The red card rightly given to Paul Pogba that was argued by many so-called experts.


The fact that Alexis lost possession of the ball 34 times however, got lost amidst the drama.


34 occasions, our Chilean gave the ball away. More than once every three minutes, the ball was gifted to our opponent.









We all know the talismanic effects that Alexis can have with the ball, he is capable of the unthinkable at times.


At what point though, does the negative outweigh the positive?


At the time of writing, Sanchez has 4 Premier League goals from 12 games. We can all see though, that he is far removed from the impactful player we have had in the past.


We can all surmise the reasons for this, but it is clear that Alexis is not the ‘get out of jail free’ card we had in the past.


Perhaps this was an anomaly though? Maybe this game was just an off day for Alexis? Surely he can’t lose the ball that often all the time?


I’ve delved deep to find out if this is just a one-off, or if it’s endemic of the player. We are a team that is built on possession, so to have a part of the system that frequently breaks plans down, that requires a fix, no?


So I set up a comparison matrix on Squawka. It offers in depth stats on a myriad of things. I used Eden Hazard, David Silva and Dele Alli as comparisons, and I looked at possession score, successful take-ons, tackles lost and pass completion.


This season, Alexis has a negative score for possession. To offer contrast, Alexis registers -11.69, and Eden Hazard and David Silva have a possession score of 75.56 and 272.20 respectively.


Hazard and Silva also have a higher take on percentage. Alexis is taking on players with a success rate of around 70 percent – not that bad really.


It is his passing that seems to lose him possession so frequently though. The Chilean has a 73 percent success rate, the lowest of the quartet of players.


It isn’t just this season either.


Last season, Alexis registered a possession score of minus 243. To offer perspective, Silva had a score of plus 443, and Hazard plus 333. Even Dele Alli had a higher score than our man. 


In fact, Alexis was the worst player in the entire league last season for losing the ball, according to this stat article. 


So, Alexis has a problem with losing the ball. We have to offset this with the fact that Alexis is so often the man to unlock tight defences because he tries something audacious. He crafts the key that opens defences. In order to do this, he is going to lose the ball.


This offers some clarity to proceedings. Alexis needs to have a bit of slack offered to him, as we need players who try different things in order to break down stubborn backline’s. Alexis is exactly this type of player.


Still, the stats and the Manchester United game particularly show him to be – in brutal terms – a liability with the ball.


So often he is our saviour, grabbing the game by the scruff of the neck and changing it in our favour. When he isn’t doing that though, we are left with a player who is trying, but regularly breaking down our attacks and gifting possession back to our opponents.


At what point does a player’s negatives outweigh his positives?


I think in the case of Alexis, this season is the tipping point.


We can get a player who can grab us 15-20 goals and 10 assists without giving the ball away so often. We know this is a byproduct of being a creative player, but the stats show he is losing the ball far more than his artisan brethren.


Alexis is no longer making the difference. 

Time to get rid of Alexis

Alexis Sanchez has been our saviour on many occasions.

That little moment of genius that separates games from the ignominy of the forgotten. The sprinkling of unpredictability that unlocks packed defences and rescues a game from the doldrums.


That has been our Chilean’s speciality since his arrival.


He is no longer our saviour though, he’s just a naughty boy.







This season has been telling in where Alexis’ heart lies, and it is apparent it isn’t at The Emirates.


On some level, we can’t blame him. His signing appeared to be the herald of a continued change of approach, a try at actually acting like the stature of club we purported to be. We had gone big again, one season after breaking our transfer record with the purchase of Mesut Ozil.


It hasn’t transpired. We’re still treading water, still a sizeable gap between us and the glory we should be tussling for each season.


We’ve won silverware, something some of our rivals who are reportedly doing better than us have failed to do for some time. It isn’t enough however.


We’ve dropped out of the Champions League places, we’ve still to rectify the middle of our midfield after so many seasons of inadequecy. Alexis would have joined the club with promises of duking it with the big boys, but it hasn’t materialised.


Still though, there is a big difference in performance from Alexis this season than in his previous campaigns.


Last season we saw a sometimes petulant Alexis. Giving off waves of frustration with every dropped head, every wild arm movement, every scream at his teammates for losing the ball.


He still proved the difference for us on many occasions. He still bagged a hatful of goals and assists though, even if he appeared to be desperately unhappy with things.


At least those small tantrums showed he cared though. The smirking Alexis on the bench we’ve seen on occasion is the direct opposite. 


The Alexis we have this season is a far cry from the one we tried so hard to keep this summer. His poor goal tally, his failure to exert himself on proceedings the way he is capable of, they are all signs that his mind is elsewhere. He is biding his time before going to grass that in his mind – is emerald green.


Six goals in 22 appearances. Only three assists. Those aren’t the figures we have come to expect of Alexis, and the old Alexis would be disgusted with himself with such poor numbers.


We have seen Alexis work his magic this season. His performance against tottenham reminded us that we still have a jewel in our midst. It has also contrasted with his mediocre season thus far.


His performance against Manchester United and then Southampton were awful. He lost the ball on 34 separate occasions against United, and the number was disgustingly similar against the Saints.


Losing possession that many times is unforgivable. He plays in a team that relies on possession, we need it to damage teams. So for him to travel down blind alleyways on the pitch and take on three more players than he needs to is downright irresponsible, and shows he doesn’t care for the team as much as he needs to.


Players of his ilk carry more weight of responsibility as they are looked to by teammates and fans to provide that key that unlocks any defence. When they no longer care for the team though and are just doing things on the pitch to stay in the mind of another manager, then we must look at allowing him to leave.


There are many options for his next club, but we could quite easily find a team that isn’t a domestic rival, and perhaps have a player that could benefit us in a swap? PSG and Julian Draxler srping to mind?


Alexis will leave, without a doubt. We need to get a transfer fee and look elsewhere to fill the void left by Alexis.


Not this season’s version though. This season has allowed us to tailor our play a little more and acclimatise to times without him. 


Last season’s Alexis inigh on impossible to replace, this season there are plenty to choose from. Time to get busy in the market. 

Chelsea Vs Arsenal Semi-Final Carabao Cup 1st Leg Preview

It may not be the best choice of opponent, but any match gives us the opportunity to erase the taste of our embarrassing FA Cup exit to Nottingham Forest.

If we could have chosen a team to face, Chelsea wouldn’t have been one we went for. The Blues are in fine form and we, quite simply, aren’t. Antonio Conte may well be rattled by the constant stream of Jose Mourinho bile, but our draw last week shows that he will take this match very seriously.

Funnily enough, the Italian coach nearly had the same fate befall him and his team in the weekend. Fresh from our 2-2 draw, we both went into our FA Cup matches against Championship opposition. The difference was that we lost convincingly, and Chelsea escaped with a 0-0 draw.

Conte also rested the majority of his big hitters, but his squad is a little stronger than ours. Yet they also put in a sub-par display against the Canaries.

Eden Hazard, Thibaut Courtois, Victor Moses, Cesc Fabregas, N’Golo Kante and Alvaro Morata have all been rested, so will most likely line up against us. Pedro, Michy Batshuayi and Willian will drop to the bench after failing to impress against Norwich.

In terms of our team, Alexis is still with us, for now, so should be back in the team. Mesut Ozil is also back in contention, but if any of the eleven who got humped against Forest make the eleven, they can think themselves very lucky. With our squad looking a little thin, then we might have to have at least one from Holding, Mertesacker, Welbeck and Walcott on the bench.

The whole team should conceivably be changed, but there are doubts hanging over Shkodran Mustafi and Granit Xhaka. The biggest miss would be Mustafi right now, with Koscielny looking dicey on the fitness front, Holding low on confidence and Nacho still a month from fitness. If Xhaka misses out, then Elneny, the perhaps off-to-Valencia-Coquelin or even Ainslie Maitland-Niles could come in.

The Carabao Cup was prioritised by Wenger as we are in the latter stages. This makes sense of course, but if we were to be dumped out by the Blues, then his plan will have backfired, much like his weak bench he named for the Forest debacle. A two-legged affair with Chelsea is a tough hurdle to jump, and with a probable Final against City to come, we may have bet on the wrong horse here.

The Europa League has some big hitters in the draw, and with our Premier League top four spot in serious jeopardy, we are slipping towards the worst season in recent memory.

We have the capacity to defeat Chelsea, our FA Cup final win showed us that, as well as last week’s draw that could have went either way. It all hinges on which Arsenal show up. We were excellent in midfield and attack versus the Blues, but our defence was suspect, letting Morata have three one-on-ones is something we need to rectify.

We will need Koscielny and Mustafi if we are to stay in this tie for the second leg. Home factor may swing this though.

Predicted Lineup – Cech, Mustafi, Chambers, Holding, Bellerin, Kolasinac, Xhaka, Wilshere, Ozil, Alexis, Lacazette.

Predicted Scoreline – 1-1.

Arsenal Vs Chelsea – Match Preview

This game is a return to The Emirates for us, which should see us turn in a decent performance, right?


Currently, we have no idea what version of our side will turn up. Our performance in our last game – the 1-1 draw against West Brom – was slow and contained very little attacking threat. We will need to raise the level well above that if we’re to win this game, as Chelsea come to The Emirates on the back of some good form.


The Blues last game was a 5-0 thrashing of Stoke, and they can afford to rotate their attack and not feel any impact. Pedro, Fabregas and Willian are just three names that can come in after not featuring regularly and freshen up tired legs. Antonio Conte will have had this game in the forefront of his mind, so to see his team win at a canter in their last game would have afforded Conte breathing space with his substitutions and his selection.


We have some real worries on the injury front. The usual suspects – Nacho Monreal, Olivier Giroud and Aaron Ramsey – are still sidelined, but our 1-1 draw against the Baggies hurt more than just our league position.


Laurent Koscielny and Sead Kolasinac both limped off in the game, and Mesut Ozil failed to make the matchday squad. All three are integral to our side, so we will be sweating on them all the way until the eve of the match. Should these three miss out, then Per Mertesacker, Ainslie Maitland-Niles and Alex Iwobi all wait for selection.


Mesut Ozil will be especially missed for this match. His absence in the 1-1 draw against Pardew’s Albion saw us plod and look out of ideas in the final third. It was clear what the German brings to the side during the game, and his brain could prove the difference between victory and defeat.


If we are to make a dent in Chelsea’s team, then it could be in the centre of the park. Tiemoue Bakayoko is a really great player, but the midfielder is struggling to maintain the levels needed for the physicality of a whole Premier League campaign. If Granit Xhaka and Jack Wilshere both press him and have a blinder, we could run the game and keep the ball away from dangermen Eden Hazard and Alvaro Morata.


The ominous facts are that Chelsea haven’t lost in six games, and haven’t conceded in the league for four matches. They have a settled backline and have been lucky enough to avoid key injuries. If Antonio Conte can name a similar side to the one that defeated Stoke, then we may find the going tough.


On the flipside though, we are the home side that needs the points more – in the recent wins we’ve had over Conte’s side we have shown that if we take the game to them from the first whistle, then we can win it – there is no room for the methodical, slow football that we are prone to at times. Chelsea will destroy that tactic quickly.


The league table doesn’t lie. The gap between us and the top of the table is a massive one, and the gap between us and the top 4 is widening. What is clear is that the first half of the season wasn’t good enough, and we need to improve if we are to have any hope of breaking back into the Champions League. That is the aim this season, as well as a decent punt at the Europa League. If 

we fail at either, then this season will have been the worst in Wenger’s tenure.


Time to be ruthless. Win or bust. Mike Dean and co may have a bearing in the future, but if we play well enough, it shouldn’t matter.


Predicted lineup – Cech, Mustafi, Mertesacker, Chambers, Xhaka, Wilshere, Bellerin, Maitland-Niles, Welbeck, Alexis, Lacazette.


Predicted scoreline – 2-1 to The Arsenal

West Brom Vs Arsenal Match Preview

Our 3-2 midweek win over Crystal Palace was only our third away win of our Premier League campaign. Now we have another away game hot on the heels of this victory, as we go to The Hawthorns to take on West Bromwich Albion.

Our recent record at the Baggies is a poor one. We’ve lost the last two visits there, and we’re sure to find the same tactics this time around, despite the change in manager. Alan Pardew doesn’t normally rely on constricting formations to get results, but he is also aware of how to frustrate Arsenal, so we can expect two rigid banks of four standing in front of our attack for the majority.

In terms of our attack, with Olivier Giroud out until at least January, Alexandre Lacazette will most likely lead the line again. Perhaps though, rotation may come into play with another midweek game on the horizon in the shape of a crunch match against Chelsea. If that is the case, then Danny Welbeck may get the nod to play against the baggies and former teammate, Kieran Gibbs.

Midfield shouldn’t see too many changes, but again with the Chelsea game looming, Francis Coquelin and Mohamed Elneny could relieve either Jack Wilshere or Granit Xhaka so they remain fresh for the blues game.

In defence, we’ll again be missing Nacho Monreal. We have a few choices to fill the gap, and Calum Chambers did his chances no harm with his performance in the win over Crystal Palace. He may have been caught out a couple of times by the trickery of Wilfried Zaha, but on the whole he performed well facing the threat.

Alan Pardew has been experimenting in recent games with his attack and has played two up top on occasion, with Jay Rodriguez and Salomon Rondon starting together. This game will see them play on the counter and rely on set plays to trouble us. After all, why mess with a winning formula? That would most likely mean that Rondon will get the nod. Matt Phillips gives them pace on the break, and they will employ either Claudio Yacob, Grzegorz Krychowiak or a combination of both to sit in front of the backline. Craig Dawson has also recently returned to give them an added threat in the air.

Chelsea and Liverpool both won yesterday, keeping the gap between us and them a healthy one. We need to stay primed for when they do stumble, and the only way to do that is to keep winning. The win over Palace midweek was deserved, despite the close scoreline. If we’re honest though, if we failed to pick up maximum points from Crystal Palace and West Brom, do we really deserve a higher spot in the league?

We need to show we are worthy of a top four spot. Just because it was ours for so long, doesn’t mean we automatically qualify for it or we deserve it. The league level has definitely risen this season, and we need to show we have improved with it.

We do have the return to form of Alexis to help us, although how long this particular service is available to us is unknown. I think we should sell him if an offer comes in, but only if a player of the ilk of Riyad Mahrez or Julian Draxler were to come in to fill the gap left by the departing Chilean. We need to use Alexis while we have him, so he should be playing all the games we have in the league. Let’s put him in the shop window, if he can win us some games in the meantime, then fantastic.

West Brom will be a tough cookie, and the result will most likely come down to one goal. We need to stay patient and keep playing the game we normally do. Spread the play, pass fast and our form players will do the rest.

Let’s pick up the points and then we can move onto the Chelsea game. If we lose this game, then the match against Conte’s Blues won’t matter so much anyway. We need to win them all.

Predicted Lineup – Cech, Mustafi, Koscielny, Chambers, Bellerin, Kolasinac, Coquelin, Wilshere, Iwobi, Ozil, Alexis, Welbeck.

Predicted scoreline – 2-1 to The Arsenal

Arsenal 3-3 Liverpool – Match Review

Arsenal failed to turn up in the first half and blew Liverpool away in a devastating second half spell, but had to make do with a share of the points in a whirlwind game at The Emirates.




Arsenal wenger again opted for four at the back and a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Ainslie Maitland-Niles and Alex Iwobi getting nods to start. The changes didn’t have much of an effect though, as Liverpool edged into the game.


The first ten minutes we played with a good intensity, but our moves broke down and we gave Liverpool the initiative they needed to get into the game. Philippe Coutinho started a counter in his own half and continued his run, closely marshalled by Jack Wilshere. The delivery into the box got a crucial deflection, sending the ball skywards and Coutinho got his head on the ball to float it over Petr Cech and into the far corner.


Liverpool were in the ascendancy, as they were catching us cold repeatedly. Mo Salah was looking every inch the dangerman, and Cech pulled off some impressive saves to keep the Egyptian at bay.


Liverpool kept coming, and it was a real wonder how the away side were not stretching their lead, but some basic mistakes in their passing and some good work by Bellerin and Maitland-Niles were keeping the space to a minimum at crucial times.


The Reds were still creating chances quite easily though. We weren’t able to escape the high press, and the pressure was building. 


On the 44th minute, Liverpool missed out on doubling their lead, Salah denied by a wonderful low save from Cech, and Mane acrobatically missing the rebound chance.


The referee’s whistle couldn’t come quickly enough, and the second half had to bring improvement.


It would take a while though.


Before that, Liverpool went two up, as the pattern of the first half continued. Mo Salah got his goal, with a low shot that got a crucial clip off of second half sub Shkodran Mustafi’s leg, sending it just out of the grasp of Petr Cech.


2-0 down, at home, and looking as limp as Donald Trump’s hair. This could have gotten ugly.


Instead, the response was quite terrific.


Within a minute, we had woken up. This is something I’ve gotten used to as a Gooner, seemingly unable to kick into the high gears we’re capable of unless we’re under duress. This was duress indeed, but Hector Bellerin swung in a marvellous cross to the back stick, where Joe Gomez had switched off and let Alexis steal in and plant a header into the net.


The fires were lit, and the crowd could sense a shift. So could the players, as two minutes later, we were level from nowhere.


Granit Xhaka, always implored to shoot by the Gooner faithful, actually did so, and from 25 yards, his shot had plenty of fizz, but Mignolet should’ve parried it over, instead, he let the pace deceive him and the ball smashed into the net.


2-2 and we were on the crest of a big wave. This was a role reversal, Liverpool couldn’t cope with our forward impetus, and Jack, Mesut and Alexis were in their element.


Two minutes later, we were ahead, and it was a beautiful goal. Mesut carried it forward, and played it into the willing Lacazette, who had his back to goal. He held it and Ozil carried his run on. Lacazette scooped the ball behind him and the ball found the German, who finished sublimely.


Where had this come from? This was the Arsenal who had destroyed tottenham and should have destroyed United, this was the Gunners team that most of our opponents can’t deal with.


We didn’t stop there, and we continued to knock on the door, but the two goal advantage didn’t come. We would pay for it too.

It is strange to feel slightly disappointed with a draw after being two goals down, but Roberto Firmino’s 70th minute goal should have been stopped. He received the pass just inside the box and central, but he had space. His markers were nowhere to be found, and he took full advantage, his finish intending to go over Cech, but the keeper got a hand to it, but not enough to keep the ball looping in.


The rest of the game was the perfect advertisement for the craziness of this competition. One attack at one end was swiftly followed by another at the other end. Both teams could have won it, but the game saw no more goals and ended all square.


Wenger has still been unable to beat Klopp in five meetings, but this game could have been so much worse. We showed great resilience in getting back into the game, and our attack spluttered into life, at least for five minutes.


Onwards and upwards, we go to Selhurst Park next week, with three points much needed to close the gap on the top 4. 

Gunners look set to lose their Firepower  

Since The Arsenal played out to a goalless draw against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge during mid-September, they have scored in their next 10 consecutive league games. In all, the Gunners scored 22 goals during those games, averaging 2.2 goals per match, yet

Arsenal find themselves outside of the top four and, more alarmingly, with a lot of unanswered questions that will need to be answered.

Losing Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil looks to be all but a certainty and that will leave the Gunners with a serious shortage of creativity up front. Whether the duo departs in January or next summer, they are the types of players that leave holes that can’t be filled easily.

Arsene Wenger has seen his side score 29 league goals this season, for which Sanchez and Ozil have been responsible for 13 of them, with 7 assists and 6 goals between them.

Alexis Sánchez free kick 1” (CC BY 2.0) by Ronnie Macdonald

Arsenal’s current goal difference is 10 but, without the contribution of these two, it would be -3. Southampton, who currently sit in 11th, enjoy a goal difference of -3, which indicates where the Gunners may possibly be without the influence of these two highly talented playmakers.

With Sanchez and Ozil still at the club, the odds of them finishing in the top 4 remains realistic at 11/4 in the Premier League betting but that won’t remain like that if Arsenal’s creative spark disappears. With them stalling on signing new deals, one has to fear the worst, especially if both leave on a free transfer.

Replacing the likes of Sanchez and Ozil won’t be a cheap task and will carry with it severe financial burdens. Should they let their contracts run down, with Arsenal not getting a penny for either of them, then it seems unlikely they will bring in adequate replacements. Arsenal already had a £92m bid rejected for Thomas Lemar on deadline day and will have to come up with that sort of money again should they want similar successors.

The situation would be a great deal worse if it had not been for the form of Alexandre Lacazette. The Frenchman is the club’s leading goal scorer this season and has looked a class act when given the opportunity. He will score the goals when given the service and so will Giroud, who has 5 goals to his name this season. Losing those players just behind the two Frenchmen may impact both of their goal returns.

When Alex Iwobi came on in the 14th minute for Shkodran Mustafi during the loss against Manchester United, he proved what a star player he is maturing into. His energy, pace, and raw skill caused the United defence all sorts of problems. The young Nigerian international had 6 shots, 3 on target, created three opportunities, and didn’t give the ball away once during his time on the park.

Arsenal Vs Burnley” (CC BY 2.0) by joshjdss

As good a prospect as the young Iwobi is, it still may take a couple of years for him to be turning in performances like that week in and week out. There’s no doubt that, when he does, he will go a long way to replacing either Sanchez or Ozil, which makes sound financial sense as he comes from the academy. Until then, the Gunners need to make sure they have a contingency in place to avoid misfiring in the league.

Arsenal 2-0 tottenham – What Power Shift?

What power shift?

Much of the talk before this game kicked off was centred on how tottenham were now the rulers of North London, but a powerhouse Arsenal performance served a reminder to our neighbours that one season of finishing above us after 21 of being in our shadow doesn’t constitute a shift in power.


Our side were far superior to spurs in every position during the 90, and Pochettino lost his first derby in the process. Wenger went for Lacazette to start alongside Alexis and Ozil in a front three and this attacking trio was key in how we put spurs to the sword. The attacking three were full of intent and running, tracking back and pressing and some really lovely touches.


It was our midfield that really had a point to prove though, and they gave everything to the cause. Aaron Ramsey and Granit Xhaka left it all on the pitch and strangled the life out of their spurs counterparts, Dembele and Sissokho. At both ends of the pitch, our engine room were on the pulse.


Shkodran Mustafi passed a recent fitness test to earn a recall to the side, and the German repelled everything spurs could muster, which wasn’t much. From the opening exchanges, we bossed every area of the pitch and Petr Cech was pretty much untroubled aside from a squirming Eriksen low shot that struck the outside of the near post.


This game didn’t feel like one of those games where we have untold amounts of possession and chances, only to flounder. It was our intensity that was troubling spurs, and they couldn’t keep up.









The deadlock was broken on the 36th minute. Alexis was found, being marked tightly by Davidson Sanchez. The Chilean headed past the spurs man and the defender put his arm across Alexis before having a slight tug of his Arsenal jersey. Mike Dean, rather surprisingly, gave us the decision and from the resulting set-piece, a perfect delivery from Mesut Ozil was met by Mustafi, who jumped higher than anyone to float a wonderful header past Lloris.


We didn’t have to wait long for the second and for our dominance to come to fruition. Alexandre Lacazette was actually given the ball in the channel with space to run into for once, and the Frenchman ate up the yards before finding Alexis with a low square pass. Alexis had plenty to do, but a great first touch allowed him to squeeze a high shot into the net and give Lloris no chance.






Half time came and went and although spurs were afforded more possession, the script was very much the same. Cech was still just as untroubled, we still had our boot firmly on spurs’ neck. Subs came and went around the 60-70th minute, but it changed nothing. No matter what Pochettino tried, our men on the field had the answers.


It was so refreshing to see us reach what is near our capabilities. So often we are bested thanks to our own inefficiencies, but not this time. For the whole game, we were at it all over the pitch. All of our players were on form and wanted this win – if we had failed to win this then a big gap would have been the result, even at this early stage of the season.


We weren’t finished either. Alexis could have grabbed another, and Alex Iwobi shot wide from a good position, sandwiching an Eric Dier header that produced a fingertip save from Cech – and that was the nearest that spurs were to come to registering a goal.


With this sort of display, frustration as well as joy can spring forth. Why can’t we do this more often? If we could do this for even 20 out of the 38 games, then we would be unstoppable. If we think like this though, we will never enjoy any moment. We know what we can do, all we can do though, is hope.


Spurs were bested, we pressed better than they did, we attacked quicker, we defended stouter. Their fans needed a reminder of where they actually stand in football after getting ahead of themselves recently.


We also needed a reminder. We needed to see our team show that not only can we produce displays of this nature still, but we can still want it more than our opponents.


Well played Arsenal – this was so good to see. #UTA

Arsenal Vs tottenham Match Preview

It’s that time in the season again when we battle with our North London neighbours and this season sees a depressingly familiar outlook for the match.




This season and last have seen tottenham enter the respective derby matches as favourites. After over two decades of Gunner domination, spurs can now call themselves favourites to win. Last year was the first time in 21 years that they had finished above Arsenal and the team they now put out is a real equal – or perhaps stronger – than the eleven that Arsene Wenger is capable of assembling.


We do have a strong home record to fall back on and it is this that must fire our boys to a win we so badly need. The last game was a loss to runaway leaders Man City that highlighted the gap now between us and the title challengers.


This game has to spark a revival and a charge up the table if we are to sustain a belief of a Champions League spot.


There will be many tasty battles on display in this game, which can be found in this Arsenal tactical report – and the one that will probably decide the fate of the result will occur right in the centre of the pitch.


Aaron Ramsey and Granit Xhaka have been the preferred duo to marshall the engine room this season, but gelling between the pair has been slow to muster. They have been effective at time, but we will need more if we are to harbour any hopes of victory. Especially if Pochettino goes with Dembele and Winks. This combo is quick to win the ball and just as rapid to offload to a marauding Alli, Eriksen and Kane.


In terms of injuries, Danny Welbeck may be back available for selection if he passes a fitness test and his workrate may give him an instant recall – especially if Alexis’ display in our last game is anything to go by. The Chilean appeared to have already left the club and if selection demanded form, then Sanchez would be out. This probably won’t be the case, but Welbeck could start ahead of Lacazette instead – omitting the Frenchman from our defeat to Man City was something that incensed our support and would likely have the same reaction this time around. Olivier Giroud is out after picking up a thigh injury on international duty, but it isn’t major.


Our defence should have Laurent Koscielny included, but Shkodran Mustafi will likely again be out. With Rob Holding stillnursing an injury, it appears as if Captain Mertesacker will have the job of snuffing out tottenham’s attack – something he has done countless times before. If aided by Koscielny and Nacho Monreal, we could have the perfect platform.


Harry Kane and Dele Alli were not available for England’s recent bout of friendlies and this has given them enough time to recover from injuries. Kane has a frightening record of scoring in derby games, and if he is fed by Eriksen, then Cech could have a busy 90 minutes.


Our team is more than good enough to win this, but what is worrying is that we all know we need to be at our best – and that is something that has been a fleeting occurrence this season. We will need every bit of passion, pressing and stamina to grab three points in this game and stop moods amongst our fanbase from plummeting even lower. November isn’t kind to Wenger – it is statistically his worst month in terms of points per game in his long tenure – but what a game to buck this alarming trend.


Keep the faith, we can do this.


Predicted lineup – Cech, Koscielny, Mertesacker, Monreal, Bellerin, Kolasinac, Xhaka, Ramsey, Ozil, Alexis, Lacazette.

Predicted Scoreline – I have no idea…