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Aston Villa 0-0 Arsenal: tired guns left an Arsenal of duds


  1. A collection of weapons and military equipment stored by a country, person, or group: “Britain’s nuclear arsenal”.
  2. A place where weapons and military equipment are stored or made.
  3. A place where one keeps their “powder dry” by not collecting, buying, or making any weapons to be used during the war

The Arsenal went into yesterday’s match against Aston Villa making three changes from the midweek match against Montpellier and four changes from the last Premier League match against Tottenham. The players rotated were Sagna, Vermaelen, Walcott, and Wilshere. And without them, Arsenal looked toothless up front and rudderless all over the pitch.

Ramsey stepped in for Wilshere and had one of his best individual games from a statistical standpoint but Arsenal relied too heavily on Ramsey’s shooting boots and based on yesterday’s performance they are covered over in rust.

Those who like to bash Ramsey for his turnovers and for ball dawdling will be happy to know that he had zero turnovers and was dispossessed zero times as well. He also led the Arsenal in passes attempted and passes completed, in shots, shots on goal, and in number of chances created.

Ramsey did that under enormous pressure from an Aston Villa side who were pressing players all over the pitch and who were given quite the free reign to get bitey in their tackles by referee Lee Mason. Mason didn’t call a single foul on a Villa player when they tackled from behind but called it nearly every time Arsenal did. Once comically when Agbonlahor dived to win a free kick in a dangerous area.

Speaking of which, Jenkinson did fairly well as a replacement for Sagna. No one I know had any complaints about the Corporal. He did provide one accurate cross which is more than can be said for his teammate on the other side.

Gibbs also did fine. He’s a real left back, unlike Vermaelen who was filling in for Gibbs while he was out injured and for Santos who has been completely dropped by Arsene Wenger. In fact, the number of players that Arsene has dropped completely (or mostly) from the team is quite astonishing. At various points this season Arsene has dropped Walcott, Santos, Chamakh, Squillaci, and Arshavin. Can Ramsey be considered dropped? He did start a lot more last season than this. Meanwhile, there were a number of people praising Wenger for his “balls” in dropping Vermaelen but I suspect that Wenger didn’t drop him as much as rotated him to keep the squad fresh.

You see, dropping the captain isn’t something you do lightly and especially not after the captain has one of his best performances for the team in a position his not really suited to play. Dropping a player is something you do to send a message to the player but dropping the captain is a message to the whole team. When you drop the captain it means that the whole team is not good enough.

When a manager drops the captain it throws the team into chaos. Players don’t know whether they can look up to the captain any more. As a result it often makes the players question their own place in the team, question the manager, and really wonder what is going on at the club. You only drop the captain as a last resort and in order to send a message to the whole team that things need to change. You only get to use it once. In that sense it’s a nuclear option.

And dropping the captain after the club have won two consecutive matches with the captain playing well in the last match is fucking retarded. If Arsene Wenger did actually drop Vermaelen after that Montpellier match I would have to join the fans who audibly sang “you don’t know what you’re doing”. Vermaelen wasn’t dropped, he was rested.

But it wasn’t the players Arsene changed that were the problem as much as the players that Arsene didn’t change and can’t change because he doesn’t have options. Arteta has played every minute of Arsenal’s 18 League and Champions League matches this season (1620 minutes) and played them in a role that he is not ideally suited; as Arsenal’s most defensive midfielder in a mostly not defensive setup that seems to be transitioning into a more defensive setup. Arteta has also been put under enormous pressure by Arsenal’s opponents who are now marking him out of games. Aston Villa kept Arteta very quiet and as a result Arsenal’s most common pass combination was Arteta to Mertesacker and Mertesacker to Arteta.

This was perhaps behind the logic of bringing Coquelin on in the last few minutes: bring on a defensive midfielder which would allow Arteta to move forward and provide Arsenal with more attacking impetus. Unfortunately Arteta only had one pass in the Villa final third from the 87th minute on while Coquelin had two. I’m going to go out on a limb and just say that Arteta was tired, the players around him were tired, Villa marked him out of the game, and as a result he finished the game with just 6 passes in the Villa final third.

The other player who has to be suffering somewhat from fatigue is Santi Cazorla. He has played all but 15 minutes of every Premier League and Champions League game for Arsenal. As a comparison, Juan Mata has only played the full 90 seven times for Chelsea. This fatigue showed against Villa. When teams press, you have to pass more quickly. Crisp ball movement and player movement is key to breaking down a pressing team. Instead, Arsenal looked tired and tight.

Arsenal probably could get away with having either of Arteta or Cazorla playing tired but to have both of them in such a state was probably the main reason why Arsenal struggled to break Villa down. That, and Arsenal really missed Theo Walcott. Against a team that will press high up the pitch, Walcott is a huge threat. Not only that but Walcott’s contributions to this Arsenal team should not be discarded. Here is a comparison of Arsenal’s top players in terms of minutes per goal and minutes per goal or assist:

As you can see, Arsenal’s most efficient player is Theo Walcott.

But as I’ve already said, it wasn’t the players Arsene changed that were the problem as much as the players that Arsene didn’t change and can’t change because he doesn’t have options.

Arsenal have two top strikers in Giroud and Podolski. But Arsenal have to play Podolski on the left because they don’t have anyone else who can do it. I know that some people would say that Gervinho could do the left wing role but the thing about Gervinho is that he is utter shit.

That’s something I’ve said privately and publicly I have been circumspect in criticizing him but really, fuck Gervinho. He can’t tackle (in fact he’s a defensive liability), he can’t cross (zero crosses this season, THREE last season), and he’s a one trick pony in that he almost always, always, always dribbles to the by line and plays a drag back to no one. He’s not picking out a teammate with these passes, that’s why he only has 9 key passes in 13 games, he is simply playing the ball into an area and hoping that a teammate will find it. He’s also not a center forward despite being played as a false nine at the start of the season.

So, Arsene has to play Podolski out left. That means that Arsenal are limited to one striker, Giroud. I know that Walcott wants to play centrally but he’s been really fantastic on the right and cutting back in. And he’s injury prone.

In midfield it’s the same story. Arsenal sold Song and there were good reasons for doing so but effectively Arsenal replaced Song with Diaby. Abou Diaby has started 18 Premier League games since signing his bumper new contract in 2009/2010. That’s 18 starts in three years. Arsenal relied on him to replace a player who has started 70 league games in the same time period (64 for Arsenal, 6 for Barcelona). Or maybe Arsenal relied on Jack Wilshere? He’s started 34 games in that same time.

There’s no replacement for Giroud. There’s no replacement for Arteta. There’s no replacement for Cazorla. And that’s a shocking lack of depth for a club like Arsenal. I’m not going to blame the manager or the board, instead, I’m just going to say it’s time to get the powder wet.

Or maybe it’s too late to get the powder wet. That lack of depth means that Arsenal will now go into the Winter programme of games with players who already look tired and who will get no rest until February. Over the next month, teams will have seen what Villa did, what Man U did, and what the prescription is to play this Arsenal side. By that time Arsenal could be well out of the race for 4th place.

We’ll see on Wednesday when the team takes on Everton and tries to move up to 5th and stay within two points of 4th place Chelsea.


57 thoughts on “Aston Villa 0-0 Arsenal: tired guns left an Arsenal of duds

  1. +6 Vote -1 Vote +1Shard

    Time to use some kids I think. Maybe the likes of Yennaris, Coquelin, Eisfeld can provide some rotation options and some energy. I don’t think it’s too late for 4th, but I would look for a striker and a midfielder in January. We’ve been surviving on crumbs till now. Time to make use of the Flying Shieks’ bullion to buy us a proper fulsome meal, and then return to the caviar we once were so used to, withdrawal from which still affects some Arsenal diners.

  2. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1Bunburyist

    I was pleasantly surprised by Ramsey’s performance, but that’s also an indictment of his teammates, who did not emulate or support his efforts.

    I totally agree with you on Gervinho. Utter shit. I’ve never been convinced by him, and I’m really frustrated that Wenger bought him. Sometimes Ligue Un giveth, and sometimes it taketh away. In this case, it’s given us a headache the size of…uh…Gervinho’s forehead.

    I have no idea how to solve this. Do we buy a striker (Huntelaar rumor was planted again yesterday), or do we buy a winger / wide forward allowing Podolski to play centrally?

      1. +3 Vote -1 Vote +1santori

        We buy a striker. Huntelaar may not be the best choice long term which is why Henry is being considered as option. Personally, I think Wenger should shell out in January for someone like Leandro Damiao but we all know his spending habits are tight.

        We buy a winger who is technical and play in Santi’s position if Walcott leaves.

        We need an alternate to Arteta (and Diaby). Otherwise it’s Coquelin for Arteta and Jack for Diaby. Ramsey isn’t convincing enough although he has put in good effort. Then it may be a question of altering our set up a little and taking advantage of existing assets like Arsharvin.

  3. Vote -1 Vote +1arserob

    Reinforcements clearly required (why not LeCoq for Arteta in yesterday’s line-up?) in Jan. Shard’s suggestions are good, but need another striker desperately. We are a Giroud hamstring pull away from disaster. I have a radical suggestion: y not go after super Mario? He is clearly surplus to requirements @ Citeh and none can deny his ability. If Wenger can channel that talent, with a healthy Santi, Jack Theo, Podo, goals will be aplenty.

  4. +4 Vote -1 Vote +1GoonerNC

    I think Gervinho is good when we don’t need him. In other words, when things are clicking and there is danger everywhere, he can come in and throw gas on the fire for a defense that is already ragged and confused. His movement really is not bad and he does know how to beat a man even though he always does the same thing.

    But the thing is, we NEED someone in that position right now. We need an actual threat, not a luxury player. And he’s exactly that. Luxury. Our whole team is so thin. If the first 11 doesn’t get it done, we’re screwed. Simple. United brings someone like Chicharito off the bench. We know about the alternate universe that is City and Chelsea. They have more and more options at the end of the game. We have… Gervinho.

    We need to consistently buy. Hopefully that money we heard about is going straight back into the team every season and we don’t have to sell anymore. Not unless we want to get rid of a useless player.

    Like Gervinho.

  5. +2 Vote -1 Vote +11NilToTheArsenal

    Look, I get it: we are tired, we are thin and need cover, and injuries continue to be our achilles heel. Still, I always expect us to get all 3 points against any team in the relegation zone mainly because I believe we are not that far away. The competition for top 4 is the most ferocious in recent memory, and getting just a few things right will pay huge dividends.

    I don’t expect miracle purchases from our parsimony come the January window, though I admit the idea of Balotelli is interesting – thanks arsebob for floating that one – just be careful what you wish for…

    More important than new signings is to get our house in order. We must sort out contract situations with players (Theo, The Bac, etc), clear out dead wood once and for all, and up the ante without being asked for guys like Cazorla. Spirit and commitment can only improve if we take care of our outstanding business aggressively and ambitiously.

  6. +4 Vote -1 Vote +1Londoncalling12

    Hello everyone

    How was your Super Sunday? ( Sky); boring as dishwater the games. 0-0 draws. West Ham v Spurs had controversy with racist and derogatory chanting of the most dreadful kind.

    I’ve just watched Jenkinson short interview on the re the Villa game. He looks so unhappy about the result, he made me feel sad.

    I know I’ve said this before and I will repeat it again. We need a tall athletic strong fast central midfielder, who in time very few in the EPL would mess with in our game. A type of player not normally associated with The Arsenal. And a Striker. With these two personnel we should be able to match on until the summer when changes are due to be made

    P.S. I rarely diss our players… but… Gervinho is annoying me madly.
    In his second season he should be coming on the field of play and taking control but he just looks weak. ( Okay I’ve had my rant). This is unlike me I know but sometimes……
    Have a great day/night/afternoon xx

  7. +6 Vote -1 Vote +1Ras Dam

    I wouldn’t say we can’t make changes, but that we won’t. At some point we (and more importantly Wenger) are going to have to realise that playing a fully fit decent/average player is more beneficial than playing a half fit/fatigued good one.
    I’m not a big Arshavin fan, but he’s the best crosser of the ball we have on the flanks and so should be getting more game time to make the most of Giroud’s aerial prowess. Also, Ramsey is in my opinion the best suited player to get on the end of Giroud’s knockdowns so should be played instead of Cazorla on occasion. Teams know that they can shutdown our passing game by sitting on Caz and Arteta, so it makes sense to devise a different plan of attack that bypasses them.
    Starting Santos on the left wing may be something we have to do too.
    Yennaris, Angha, Eisfeld, Gnabry, and Chamakh aren’t much of a plan b, but maybe showing some faith in them like that which has been shown in Diaby can help gets us through this period. That’s assuming we don’t give them debuts against the champions or bring them on in the 80th minute hoping that they rescue the game for us, which is what happened last season.

    There’s nothing we can do about transfers to help us over the next 10 games, so we have to look within for solutions. Hoping our first choice XI don’t get injured or collapse from exhaustion is not a good way to go about securing fourth although it has been Wenger’s way in seasons passed.

    1. Vote -1 Vote +1Caribkid

      Agreed 100% with what you are saying mate. We do have people who can be used with a little bit of creative thinking.

      Ramsey in the Cazorla role could work since he is a defensive liability due to lack of pace. Wilshere could also be used there at times.

      Coq in the DM role with Wilshere and Cazorla higher up could also be used to spell Arteta. Shoot, he could even use TV in the holding role as he has all the needed attributes and his silly mistakes might not be as detrimental higher up on the pitch.

      Santos, Arshavin and/or Ox on the left to rest Podolski even switching to a 4-4-2 with any combination of Giroud, Walcott, Poldi and Gervinho up front.

      Where we have no cover whatsoever is for Giroud.

  8. +3 Vote -1 Vote +1Tee Song

    As far as Gervinho is concerned, I was willing to wait for the requisite one year adaptation period but at this point, he’s way closer to dud than astute buy.

    Regarding our midfield, here’s Wenger’s quote when asked about buying M’Villa.

    “No [I am not interested]. We wait on Diaby and Wilshere,” he said. “When you look we have Song, Ramsey, Coquelin, Wilshere, Arteta and Diaby. In defensive midfielders and box-to-box players we are not short if they are all coming back. If we have setbacks in pre-season it could be different.”

    He sold Song, Diaby is injured, Wilshere is being carefully managed, Arteta is close to exhausted, Coq, despite faith shown in other young players who were far less talented (cough-Denilson-cough) isn’t trusted to start against a side in the relegation zone, and Ramsey actually had his best game in a long time. Perhaps Ramsey played well because he’s actually well rested as opposed to Arteta and Cazorla who have to be in danger of falling into the dreaded red zone. Cazorla is being run into the ground because his most natural replacement is Rosicky, who surprise fucking surprise signed a contract extension, got injured over the summer and has yet to play this season. Throwing him on against Everton might be a big step but is a just coming back from injury but fresh Rosicky better than a jaded, needs a break Cazorla? As big a defensive liability as Arshavin is, should Arsene consider bringing him back into the fold for squad rotation purposes? I’m tired of Wenger saying we have a big squad when he steadfastly refuses to use the squad at his disposal.

    Finally, I do have to question the medical staff. I’m sure Wenger’s decision to gamble on Diaby and Rosicky was a result of a positive endorsement from them. My only assessment of their competency is from their ability to evaluate injuries and estimate time to recovery. They were right on Wilshere and Sagna. Diaby, Rosicky, Szczesny, and Gibbs all were or are still out at least double the original estimates of their returns. I am in the medical profession and I would not be proud if four out of six of my original diagnostic assessments were wrong.

    1. +4 Vote -1 Vote +1santori

      I disagree with Gervinho. He is enigmatic yes bbut he also gets into great positions with his off ball running. The thinga bout him is that you have to give him a fair chance to effect things. Putting him on 13 minutes to time does not increase your odds of him doing something out of the ordinary that could turn the game round.

      Goes back to the effectiveness of Wenger’s substitution timing.

      With regards midfield, I think we need to consider Diaby a bonus player. Wenger mucked it up selling Song.

      He did not secure Sahin in advance and we were left dependent on an injury prone liability. He needs to bring in someone to cover. Capoue is a decent option in covering Arteta (no nonsense style) and giving us some of the verve Diaby produces going forward.

      With regard Rosicky, Ramsey is the likely successor although I think Eisfeld will give him stiff competition and both players likely behind Santi in pecking order.

      I don’t see Ramsey as effectively the combative sort that Jack or a fit Diaby can provide to make the added difference for us, as tidy as he is at present.

  9. +6 Vote -1 Vote +1Wang

    The Arsène out club are mad, but the manager did botch his subs yesterday. He had the right idea resting players that Tim rightly points out are fatigued, (and I fear for January when the new signings are without the Winter Break they’re used to and we’re shallower because of the African Cup). Le Boss needed to make a change at 60 minutes because once again we failed to play between the lines and lacked direct-ness.

    The bubble/force-field was back in effect as we failed to make any passes in the semi-circle in front of the 18 yard box:

    This is precisely the area where Poldi’s goal came from a 1-2 with Giroud in a game in which we were largely poor against Montpelier midweek, and it’s an area where we really miss Jack. Wilshere will dribble into this space which causes problems for the defense because the attacking side have plenty of options, particularly the threat of shooting. If Cazorla wasn’t tired he might play in this space and pop off the occasional shot, though he does prefer to play from deep or out wide. Arteta was effective here last year, but it’s outside his duties this year, and Diaby’s permanently broken. And Ramsey, well despite his passing accuracy this game, doesn’t really offer a shooting threat.

    Wenger should have subbed on Wilshere to exploit this space, or replaced Gervihno for Ramsey and dropped Ox into midfield as he’s not afraid to dribble and perhaps stronger in the middle than from the wing.

    As good as he was defensively, Jenks was also part of this problem, with the caveat that he’s improving. When the Corporal has the ball down the wing he’ll either cross or play it back around the arc. Sagna adds a dimension where he’ll dribble towards goal. Though he usually lays it off to another player, it’s one more threat for the defense to cope with and these threats add up, and lead to goals. I did notice Jenks try to play into this space but he’s a work on progress.

    While I think we’re all happy to have the added dimension this year of an aerial threat from Giroud in the box, we have become too reliant on the cross from the wing. It’s a low percentage play. It’s good to have in the locker, but it has too be one tool amongst several in order to unbalance the defense. When we become tired/play the B team/etc. and are relegated to passing around the arc and only whipping in balls from the cross, we are one-dimensional, easier to defend against, and usually don’t win.

    The good news is, bar the depth/quality of player issues, this is something that can be coached, and improved upon.

  10. -9 Vote -1 Vote +1Vintage Gun

    Wenger has already gone. In soul and spirit he’s gone, he’s just there in the visual in my opinion like a moving hologram of Elvis, M.Jackson or John Lennon. It’s them but not the true them, the REAL them.

    Has Wenger fully lost the plot? Who knows? The ability to separate economics from footballing success? maybe. But what i do know for a FACT is that he can no longer motivate his players.

    I noticed this a few seasons ago away to West Brom, We were still in with a shout for the title yet showed nothing of the sort.Over Half of the team has gone from that time yet the Gutless,weak willed lack of drive performances are coming thicker and faster then EVER BEFORE!.

    So fellow gunners you go off and do the maths on this one, Iv’e done mine and it doesn’t take a hologram of Einstein to figure it out…

  11. Vote -1 Vote +1jaymin

    Some very insightful and interesting points in the post and the comments, as usual. For me the whole show was revealed when we sold Song, a player we needed and didn’t have to sell, and failed to replace him. Looks like this will unfortunately cost us.

  12. +9 Vote -1 Vote +1alabamagooner

    I read this blog every day, but never comment, because 1) I don’t feel qualified and 2) y’all scare the crap out of me. But I’m diving in today, and on the most divisive of issues: Aaron Ramsey.

    Can someone seriously explain to me the hate for this kid? I get criticizing his play – I get frustrated at his inconsistency, mostly because I know he can do so much better. But so many fans seem to hate him with such passion, and he’s really such an un-hateable young man. Dedicated, hard-working, responsible, mature, classy, humble; the list of admirable personality traits goes on and on. The kind of guy I’d want my daughter to marry and my son to be (if I had one).

    Yet he gets little credit when he does well, as he did yesterday. I noticed one comment on your numbers column where the commenter called BS on your stats, just because he was sure that Ramsey had made horrible, misplaced passes…he knew because he yelled at his TV. I say he saw what he wanted to see. Others offer back-handed credit, like “He was our best player, which means we must really have been terrible”.

    I know I am biased. I really like this kid, and sometimes I feel compelled to defend him…almost like a lioness defends one of her cubs! (How do mothers do it, by the way? Can’t imagine hearing this kind of vitriol constantly heaped on your son.) But I can see when he plays poorly and deserves to be criticized for it. I just don’t understand why so many refuse to give him credit when he does well, and to try to give him some support instead of so much hate.

    1. Vote -1 Vote +1Teampossible

      I believe that is because he is the tipping point in a long line of players that were average for a longer period of time, keep making similar mistakes and yet Wenger keeps on playing them, and people are venting their disappointment of the Denilsons, Silvestres, Fabianskis and Bendtners through Ramsey.
      I’m also one of the bunch that is really not impressed with anything Ramsey does, and when the best compliment he can get is that he was “tidy in possession” or “sharp in his passing”, and not “a match winning hero”, you could understand why a lot of people are a bit angry with Wenger’s desire to play him.

      1. +6 Vote -1 Vote +1alabamagooner

        “Tidy in possession.” “Sharp in his passing.” Doesn’t that describe Arteta? I mean, I don’t see him as a “match-winning hero”, either. But I hear what you are saying. I just think people forget sometimes how young Ramsey is, as it seems like he has been here forever. Sadly, he was just a couple of inches away from being a “match-winning hero” on Saturday. But close doesn’t count.

    2. +7 Vote -1 Vote +1Londoncalling12

      November 25, 2012 at 1:30 pm • Reply
      Hello silent reader. Welcome. There is nothing wrong in liking Ramsay. He is a classic midfield journey man footballer who will shine as the years go by. He is just 21 years old and his mentor ( Gary Speed) (anniversary of death 27th Nov) demise affected him greatly. But he is mentally very strong and I have great optimism for his future.

      1. +3 Vote -1 Vote +1alabamagooner

        Thanks for the welcome! I haven’t been flamed yet. If I can get away with making positive comments re: Ramsey, maybe I won’t stay so silent in the future.

    3. +4 Vote -1 Vote +1jaymin

      He’s a great player, one whom Manchester United wanted and Arsenal were able to get when he opted to play alongside Cesc Fabregas instead of Darren Fletcher. He always shoots, which we need, and for those who say he is ponderous on the ball, newsflash: this Arsenal team is not the 2007-2010 edition of elegant ball movement and instant interchanging, one-touch passing led by Cesc. we sold that team for $ (team positive gunner!). that’s City and Chelsea now. Ramsey is a perfect player in our labored, british set up now. If Manchester United is still interested in a few seasons though, I think he might just pay back the fans who give him so much grief, by doing a popular Arsenal star thing, and leaving.

    4. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Caribkid

      I liked Ramsey from day 1 and reveled in his play during the early days when he was very creative, quick on the ball, got into scoring positions and was ready to shoot. All one has to do to confirm this is to watch his early days with Arsenal and especially with Wales and some of the fantastic goals he scored.

      Coming back from his injury, he immediately began to show signs of his former self but then totally self destructed last season for reasons I know what why. Even now, he still gets into scoring positions but seems to have lost his shooting boots, ability to go one and one and outside of yesterday, his passing has been rather “Denilson” like.

      And yes, along with BFG he had to be MOTM for me. Still think he has potential if he can regain his previous form along with being used judiciously in suitable positions. His lack of pace and lack of defensive nous needs him to play high up the pitch.

      And yes, would love my son to be like Ramsey or Theo, but this does not mean they are great footballers :)

    5. +3 Vote -1 Vote +1Tee Song

      Ramsey is hated by a section of the support because he isn’t Fabregas or Nasri, the two midfielders he was trying to simultaneously replace last season. Obviously, when faced with bringing in another player vs gambling on an injury prone LANS or letting a youngster sink or swim, Wenger has chosen the latter. It remains to be seen how much of that was from financial constraints or his positive, gambling nature. Last season for the attacking midfield position, he did both, throwing Ramsey to the wolves having just recovered from a broken leg and gambling on LANS Rosicky.

      I think Ramsey’s strengths are his energy, work rate, passing range, and, despite his current slump, an eye for goal. However, he doesn’t possess the extraordinary vision and instantaneous one touch passing control of Cesc nor the close control and dribbling ability of Nasri. Receiving the ball in crowded areas and finding a “solution”, as Wenger puts it, isn’t one of Ramsey’s strong points. So attacking midfield, especially for a team like Arsenal which often squeezes possession to the opposition penalty area, isn’t a great position for him. Maybe for a more direct or counterattacking team, he’d thrive in the hole because he’d get more space to operate in. I think of Ramsey as a scoring box to box midfielder. From deeper positions, he gets more time and space to pick a pass. And he’s good at making late runs to the penalty area for shooting or passing opportunities. With a very technical, skilled striker, he could be a decent false 10, an advanced midfielder who isn’t a playmaker per se but who’s primary function is to make runs beyond a striker who drops deep to receive the ball and can function as a playmaker also. RvP, in other words. Last season, he was sometimes effective when asked to play very close to RvP.

      Obviously, I think Ramsey can be an effective player for us. His offensive game is ahead of his defensive game, but that can be taught. Just look at Arteta. He does need to rediscover his composure in front of goal and hopefully he does that.

      1. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1santori


        Ramsey has better attributes offensively at the moment. Defensively, when he loses the ball, he is not combative enough.

        I think his best position is in Santi’s role where ultimately he will replace Rosicky (but with stiff competition from Eisfeld) both men behind in pecking order to Santi.

        I don’t see him effective in this current second midfield role (at least at the moment) where Jack (and if Diaby is fit) is a better option.

        AND I think we are blinkered playing an unfinished product when we have a Russian with proven vision/assists time and again waiting on the wings. This is also not to say that Ramsey cannot play the second link role in midfield with the Russian playing LW, although another option with Andrei through the middle (Santi RW) should see Coquelin come in with Arteta to provide more watertight insurance behind the Russian.

  13. +3 Vote -1 Vote +1Ras Dam

    If a midfielder or forward isn’t scoring and/or assisting he’s crap in the eyes of the average fan, Arsenal supporting or otherwise. Ramsey hasn’t done either in awhile. Unfortunately, despite not scoring he’s still heavily involved in our play when on the pitch whereas others who can do absolutely nothing for the whole game get overlooked. So when we come away with anything but a win people say he failed to do this and messed up with that. That turns into frustration and anger before long. We’ve seen it happen to so many. He’d get away with it if he was a Gooner or a lovable personality. Being quiet and reserved doesn’t go down too well on camera.

    I’m regularly surrounded by fans that get annoyed with him for failing to control a bad pass from another teammate. It both amuses and annoys me.

    1. Vote -1 Vote +1alabamagooner

      Not a “loveable personality”? Ramsey is adorable, so much so that I think it works against him. Quiet and reserved only impresses the women, and I think many of the guys in the stands hate it. Of course, if you were in his shoes, which one would you take?

      1. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Ras Dam

        By not lovable, I mean he’s not the extrovert character that people want to spend a night on the town drinking with. Those sort of characters get taken to the hearts of fans much quicker than the quiet brooding type.

        He’s no Szczesny, Wilshere, Santos, Frimpong or Eboue who gets fans going.

      2. Vote -1 Vote +1alabamagooner

        Ras, I knew what you meant. (I’ve got to learn how to insert smiley face icons if I’m going to post!) But, you should change “people” to “men” in your comment. Trust me, there are plenty of young women who would spend a “night on the town” with Aaron Ramsey. (Just sayin…I’m too old to be one of those women). Me, I can’t say I would look forward to spending an evening with any of the ones you listed. The arrogant types I don’t find interesting at all. But that just proves my point and yours…I don’t think Ramsey’s personality endears him to male fans. And, jaymin, I’m not a dude…hence my describing Ramsey as “adorable” :-)

  14. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Tim Post author

    I was thinking about doing a column on “match winning goals” I would not be surprised to see Ramsey has a high percentage of match winners in among his goals tally.

    1. -1 Vote -1 Vote +1Teampossible

      I honestly remember only three of his Arsenal goals so far: the one against United, which in fact was a match winning goal, another in a 2:1 loss to the Scum and one a couple of seasons ago, I believe, against Everton, before his injury in a game that ended something like 4:1.
      It was a lovely shot, that one, but other than that, nothing else really springs to mind.
      It’s almost like he didn’t play for a year or two in between.

      1. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1dano328

        Ramsay had that winner against Marseille last year in UCL. It was a goal in injury time of what would have been a nil – nil. Someone famous died that day. He scored this year and we had to dig for a less famous person that died.

        Last year Ramsay started nearly every game. He played way too much. Earlier in the season last year he was much more effective.

        We do have to bite the bullet and rest Santi. I don’t know if he should play against Everton. Any chance of being successful through the Christmas period requires us to rest him & Arteta. I think Arshavin can do a job in that CAM role. I think he will be determined to prove his worth, especially with the window coming up.

        We only gave up 3 set piece goals before Diaby went down. That stubborn gamble (not replacing Song) is costing us and is the biggest source of my frustration. Diaby is a dream if he could only be fit. A physical DM has to be priority #1, IMO

      2. Vote -1 Vote +1santori

        Ramsey is a developing player and improving but he is not effective enough.

        Rather have Arsharvin on. he weighs in with ‘match winning goals’ and combines that with ample assists.

        Song should have been kept (with 3 seasons on contract). I do not see any reason why he should have gone.

        That we were in the hunt for Sahin points to an obvious akowledged capability gap and the reliance on Arteta is a gamble. At very least, Wenger should have secured Sahin before letting Song go so easily.

        Coquelin needs to play (even if in bits here and there). He is the closest we have available to playing the Arteta role (which is scary).

  15. +4 Vote -1 Vote +1Yan

    Well, I don’t get all the fuzz about the Giroud sub. I read that as moving Gervinho more “centrally”, Coq as DM and virtually just bombing everyone else to Villa’s final 3rd. It didn’t pay off, so is football.

    I was just thinking 2 things: 1) Isn’t Gervinho recovering from an injury? Ok, so he doesn’t have a refined final product, but give him a break. He was exposed yesterday because we desperetaly were looking for the winner goal. How many times did that happen?

    2) Giroud’s excellent form of late is due to the team finally playing to his strenghts. I wonder what would’ve happened with him if he was used only as a sub ? No ammount of work rate can offset being played out of position (Bendtner) or sparingly (chamakh).

    1. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1santori

      There should be reason for us sometimes to be able to play a sort of modified 4-3-3 involving Podolski (or Gervinho up top) with Arsharvin @LW or dropping to the middle with Ramsey moving wide.

      Whilst I think Giroud is the most effective for us current set up, up top, I can’t for the life of me see why we are not able to switch things around with some of these quasi-strikers in Gervinho, Podolski or even Walcott as may be dictated by circumstance.

      Particularly if a team such as Villa likes to break forward and risk being caught out by our own pacy counter, we should develop the assets/capability to switch around.

      This whole over reliance on Giroud currently again is Wenger’s making.

      I’m not saying Chamakh is by any means convincing but there may be reason to use the Moroccan for fresh legs.

      1. Vote -1 Vote +1Yan

        I’d just slap Chamakh in the face and send him to play with a kick in the arse “Go play FFS”

        Being over reliant on Giroud and not having a proper back up/competition is what brought us to this position. Bringing in an option to him we risk having another Chamakh, never able to play due to the fantastic form of the main striker.

        On the other hand, watching yesterday Citeh vs. Chavs, and seeing how they can pull a tevez or ballotelli from the bench (not that I like those, simply mentioning the $ involved) one comes to the conclusion that a decent squad is a must if we are to reach the 4th place trophy or beyond.

        The BIGGER question though is: Where are we going in terms of football style?

        I loved the first matches when we seem to ditch the whole possession concept in favor of a much more direct play. Now that we have an in form striker, long balls and crosses must be part of our repertoire.

        Now that the league seems to be embracing possession football (City. Swansea, Liverpool, Chavs come to mind) going against the trend may give us an edge.

        Only the AW new purchases in January (hahaha) will give us a clue.

  16. +5 Vote -1 Vote +1James

    “This horse loves the slop. It’s in his bloodlines. His father was a mudder, his mother was a mudder.” (from Seinfeld)

    Upon rewatching the game (I often rewatch games, as the first viewing is often filled with too much angst/frustration to be remotely objective), I was particularly struck by how sloppy we were. All teams, of course, get affected by poor weather, but our team, with its emphasis on precision passing, seemed to be particularly affected to me.

    We don’t have a team of mudders.

    Cazorla is definitely not a mudder — his threading of the ball is usually a game of inches anyway and it just didn’t come off (I choose to blame the weather). Podolski doesn’t seem to be a mudder — he had a poor game with poor touches/passes when in dangerous positions. Jenko had a rough start. A lot of the passing, especially in the first half, was a touch slower/sloppier than usual, as if the players didn’t appropriately adjust for the water-logged field. Some seemed to overcompensate with overly conservative passing (Arteta in particular seemed to lob more square/backward passes than usual). Some rose to the challenge and made a go of it — Rambo, in particular, seems to be a mudder. Giroud made a go of it as well, but he’s, under the best of conditions, not the tidiest player so the weather and having to come higher up the pitch at times exacerbated his mistakes.

    We’ll be fine.

  17. Vote -1 Vote +1ctpa

    I was pleasantly surprised by Ramsey’s performance yesterday as he was our most dynamic offensive option. Now whether that is down to less minutes than other players had going into the match will remain to be seen. I still say that it takes at least a full season to recover from a serious leg injury and even then the time frame is a variable.

    A lot of 0-0 games in bad weather conditions. There are several parts of England that are experiencing flooding akin to what we saw with Sandy but without the wind damage.

    Too bad there were some Hammers supporters who want their club to lump in with Italians Ultras and some Serbian elements.

    I believe that when I see it. Cup tied and without him, Schalke have no other potent striker.

    1. Vote -1 Vote +1santori

      Ramsey did well but I don’t think we should confuse that with being effective enough.

      Not to say we should not play him as he does add vision and passing and I believe he ultimately will be a candidate to replace Rosicky (albeit young Eisfeld will push him hard for that spot)

      But there should be other ways to configure our team within the present 4-3-3 arrangement that could have us benefit from Arsharvin’s vision and present hunger and yes, even Gervinho.

      With regard Huntelaar, good striker but I’m not sure if he is the best option for us. Personally think we need someone with a bit more pace as an option to Giroud.

      Leandro Damiao should be watched. I don’t think he will come as cheap but he combines pace, technical skills without the sacrifice of Giroud’s aerial presence either. And he’s 23.

      1. Vote -1 Vote +1Caribkid

        Leandro Damiao would certainly be my #1 choice as he has more upside than most others. Falcao and Cavani would be nothing to sneeze at either.

        Odds are we will get none of the above.

    2. Vote -1 Vote +1Yan

      Regarding this cup tied thing: Aren’t clubs allowed to make one or two reinforcements to their squads for the knock out stages?

  18. Vote -1 Vote +1Jop

    When the Coq came on he was high up the pitch, not deep covering for or working in tandem with Arteta. The Coq isn’t a bad player, but he’s not got the raw ability or the experience to really influence things in a big way up there. A waste of an opportunity for Arteta to move forward for a few minutes.

    1. Vote -1 Vote +1santori


      He needs to play as much as possible IMO as he is currently the likely back up to Arteta.

      Having said that, I think it was the right choice to go with Ramsey as he is the more offensive minded (has better vision/distribution in that direction) where as Coquelin is more robust with his play (Albeit he is also more technical and holds the ball well)

      OTOH, there is an option IMO to play Coquelin in concert with Arteta if we play with Arsharvin through as AM. In this case, we benefit from the Russians vision and passing but also keep ourselves slightly more water tight just behind him with the Spaniard and Frenchman linking.

  19. Vote -1 Vote +1Jop

    It seems that Wenger’s substitutions are both later in the game and less effective than the substitutions of other clubs in other matches I watch. I wonder if this is only perception or is actually the case?

    1. Vote -1 Vote +1santori


      Granted Villa have a reputation for conceding goals late, but why are we not affording these players more time to get in the game/stamp their influence on it?

      This talk of a thin squad is partially true (due to injury prone players and Wenger releasing players who should still be on contract), BUT it is also false as we have players who can compete/can contribute but we are not using them effectivelty.

  20. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1Eurazian

    Let me offer a defence of Gervinho, of a sort. I had my eye on him for a while before we signed him, and his purchase pleased me greatly. I knew he was inconsistent, although just how inconsistent he has been for Arsenal has been surprising.
    Ideally, he’s not a starter for our club, but I think he has a role as a squad player who can run at defenders; it’s a skill that really only Arshavin and Ox have at the club. Aside from that we have a team full of medium-paced dudes constantly passing to feet, who don’t run into space enough and can’t beat a man.
    His game has become too predictable though, despite its inherent unpredictability. I can’t fathom why he so seldom crosses the ball, as if he could whip in a few he would make him more dangerous – defenders know he is either going to dribble right or left but don’t have to guard against a cross.

    But this brings me to something that puzzles me greatly about certain players at Arsenal, and by extension the coaching. Some players have arrived here and added new dimensions to their game – RVP and Song, notably. Yet other players have obvious holes in their game that if worked on with proper coaching, could see them progress in leaps and bounds. Eg. Theo’s ball skills, Santos’ defending. Gervinho’s shooting technique is flawed (he tends to lean back too much) and he doesn’t cross. If I was a coach at Arsenal, having all week to work with these guys who are paid megabucks to play football, I would be working on those skills constantly. Yet these flaws are seemingly accepted as just part and parcel of that player. I don’t get it. Gervinho can’t shoot well? Someone drill it into him. Santos can’t defend? Well why the fuck not? I don’t know what’s going on on the training ground. It doesn’t make sense to me that players can be brilliant in certain aspects of the game yet be completely deficient in other basic aspects of it, and that no one is fixing these things.

    1. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1santori

      I’m not sure what all the furor and drama is about Gervinho.

      Seems again an over reaction to a player who is a bit enigmatic but who started very well for us this season then went off injured (coinciding in a rash of poor performances by us through no real fault of him)

      And with tired legs in the squad (particularly Podolski), why aren’t we playing Gervinho then? He only had 13 minutes on the field. Granted he did not score but he got himself almost at the end of a very good punt from Arsharvin.

      Are we using our assets that exists? I put it to you that we are not.

    2. +3 Vote -1 Vote +1Jop

      Wenger (and by association the rest of the staff) likes players to assess their own performances. He will lend advice, etc., but ultimately it is down to the player to be smart enough and dedicated enough to fix the problems in their game. Driven, talented and intelligent players have no problem with this approach (Cesc’s improvement in shooting, RvP’s improvement of his weaker right foot, Walcott’s improvement on taking set-plays, Sagna’s crossing improvement, etc.)

      The less intelligent or driven players either cannot rationalise their own weaknesses or do not have the commitment to improve by themselves. This is where Wenger’s approach falls down, these incomplete players who need their handheld and every step explained to them. E.g. Santos would be a better player if someone told him to stay wider and to jockey the man towards the corner flag, not dive in. Gervinho would be a better player if he stayed behind after training (like Walcott) and practised his crosses and watched tapes of his games compared to similar players (A. Valencia for example) to get a better perspective on effective ways to play wide in the EPL.

      1. -1 Vote -1 Vote +1Eurazian

        This was as I figured – Wenger places a lot of value in players taking responsibility for their own development. But clearly it doesn’t work for everyone – some players need to be pushed in a certain direction and the manager seems reluctant to engage in such micromanagement. Another example of the stubbornness of the Wenger way.

      2. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1Yan

        I totally agree about the incomplete-ness of some of our players. However, these are aspects that are beyond AW. There should be though someone who takes notes and do this job, but I wonder if is this how pro players are at all? Maybe some of them are just like office workers, go through their 5 – 6 hours of work schedule then go to whatever important “meetings” they have.

    3. Vote -1 Vote +1Caribkid

      That is so well demonstrated by the inability of many of our players to use both feet adequately. hardly ever see any of our young uns pass or shoot with their ‘chocolate” leg.

      Conversely, BFG, Koz, Arshavin, Santos, Arteta, Carzola and even Poldi win a pinch, will use their weaker foot. Only walcott of the “home crew” does so.

      As a former youth coach, that is something I taught religiously from the Under 12 platform as it makes them so much more difficult to defend. It also aids a defender in terms of making rushed clearances in and around the box.

  21. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1santori

    not what we were looking for…

    Again, I don’t think Wenger is using his assets efficiently.

    1) Ramsey. He had a decent game and was tidy/offered some outlet going forward. As the more offensive minded of the two young central mids (Coquelin being more defensive in some ways), he was a reasonable choice against Aston Villa.

    But :

    2) We have options we are not using much like when Wenger decided to sideline Walcott in the interest of leverage on contractual issues.

    In this case, we have a perfectly good option in Arsharvin. I’m not saying play him the entire game but the Russian is one who can unlock defenses/create chances with great efficiency.

    Putting him on 13 minutes from time seems an exercise in hope and futility. Give him the extra minutes (say an entire half) to change things around.

    3) You rant on about Gervinho being dismal which to me seems harsh considering the goals he has weighed in and the effect he had on play early in the season when he took his men on outwide and made a difference for us providing width/stretching games.

    Then you go on about no one being able to replace Podolski. Arsharvin could easily slot in LW. Or be played through the middle with perhaps Coquelin coming in to assist Arteta in keeping things slightly tighter with the Russian playing through the middle.

    4) Santi. I don’t think there is an issue with him being jaded or tired rather he is our obvious creative outlet. Shutting him down (particularly if he is slightly off pace) shuts our threat down considerably.

    Again not saying Andrei is the cure to our ills (far from it) but I don’t think it would hurt Santi’s form if we had another creative outlet playing beside him particularly with teams that sit deep and tight waiting for counters.

    Arsharvin next to Santi would at very least allow for some of the attention to come off the Spaniard.

    Simply put, yes we are looking leggy and yes, maybe we are 2-3 players short to compete through full season (particularly in the Arteta position) BUT we are AGAIN not using some assets that have been left to sit around for inexplicable reasons.

    Arsharvin has looked lively this season and shown good appetite to fight for his spot in the squad. Why are we not using him?

    Granted Ramsey has been neat and tidy and augurs well for the future but Arsharvin is the better player when it comes to creating chances. So why are we depending on a developing player instead?

    Simply baffling.

  22. +4 Vote -1 Vote +1Cliffy

    Hey !!! Go easy on the big stupid forehead….

    He was one of the most improved player at the start of the season…and was giving us the option of a real dribbler, who can push the defence back… 5 goals in 7 appearances..and none of them were easy….

    He is just returning from after being out injured for 3 weeks…and was not the ideal condition for him to play..the ball not sticking on the feet. 20 minutes was too small for him to even adjust to that game. You saw the same miscontrol happening with Arshavin…

    He is not utter shit..He is inconsistent..and that is something I would attribute to all Arsenal players at this point of time.. He is annoying and has a stupid salute if he manages to sneak one in…but NOT shit..atleast not yet….

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