Author Archives: Tim

About Tim

I'm the gaffer, I gaff things. I also make a lot of gaffs. Follow me on twitter @7amkickoff.

Arsene Wenger waves to the crowd

It’s time to honor Wenger with a Lap of Appreciation

Recently, the frustration with Arsène Wenger at Arsenal has started to boil over. I’ve even seen people publicly wishing death upon the man. But aside from the lunatic fringe asking for him to be taken out of the club “in a body bag” even the calmer heads are starting to wonder if it isn’t time to wind up the old man’s career. But how do you do that with a man who has served for 18 years?

First, let’s deal with the “body bag” people. In my research on Arsène’s career and philosophy I’ve noted that he never really was accepted by a certain population of fans. The moment he walked in the door at Arsenal, Wenger announced himself as an aesthete and an iconoclast and to a certain segment of Arsenal fans this was yet another sign that the world was taking “their Arsenal” away.

The world did take their Arsenal away and in many ways Arsène Wenger was on the front line of the massive change in the Premier League. A change from a mostly English endeavor into what it is now: a sport, owned by foreigners, played on English soil by foreign superstars, and streamed on the laptops of billions of people on every corner of the globe.

Every foreign manager plying his trade in England right now owes Arsene Wenger a debt of gratitude. When Wenger came to England, English fans were skeptical that a foreign manager could prove successful. Thus, Wenger’s success, his instant and repeated success, paved the way for all of these Jose come lately’s in the Premier League. English fans now no longer distrust a manager because he’s foreign. In fact, they want foreign managers.

The same with the players. When Wenger came on as Arsenal manager there were few foreign players in the Premier League.¹ The instant and repeated success of Dennis Bergkamp², Patrick Vieira, and Theirry Henry opened the doors for the foreign players in England — they settled questions over whether foreigner’s “could do it on a cold night in Stoke.” Who is the best player in the history of the Premier League? Ryan Giggs or Thierry Henry? I’m biased toward Henry myself but regardless of whether he is number one or number two, now days, fans don’t just accept foreign players, they demand that their teams buy these players for obscene sums.

And Wenger didn’t just give England successful superstars, he transformed the Premier League into a global spectacle. If I can be a bit personal for a moment, I have admitted many times in the past that it was Arsène Wenger’s beautiful football which attracted me to the sport. I hardly think I’m alone in that. I suspect that the popularity of the Premier League in many parts of the globe is at least partly Wenger’s fault.

Thus, Wenger carries the honor of being the first truly great foreign manager in the Premier League, of bringing the League their first truly great foreign stars, and of ushering in the global era of football in England. That man deserves the respect of every player who draws a massive salary, of every foreign manager who plies his trade in England, and of every fan who enjoys the sport for what it is today. That man does not deserve to be taken out of Arsenal “in a body bag.”

Body bag

“Get him a body bag! LOL!” is what the pimply faced kid from Kobra Kai dojo screams in the final fight scene between Johnny and Tommy Larusso in Karate Kid. The line is so preposterous that Robot Chicken was able to easily make the perfect parody and I’m not sure if art is imitating life but Body Bags are on sale at Amazon (watch the clip to get the reference).

The problem – I find it incredible that people don’t see that there is a problem at Arsenal. I love Arsène Wenger, I think he’s a genius, I respect what he has done for the Premier League and for Arsenal but I can also see that Wenger is no longer able to make the impact on the game that he once was. I can see that players like Luis Gustavo no longer immediately jump at the chance to play for Arsène Wenger. I can see that his own players look to be abandoning him at times on the pitch. I can see that there are injury problems at Arsenal but that Arsenal have been saddled with injuries for years — this cannot simply be bad luck. I can look at the team sheet at the start of the season and see that Arsenal’s balance between attacking players and defenders was tilting at windmills. I can see that Arsenal have all the money they need to buy players and yet players are not purchased when they are badly needed. And worst of all, I can see that Arsène’s tactics are not just naive but have been badly exposed for years now and that glaring problem has not been addressed — they may be perpetually in the Champions League but they are never going to win it, not when a team just needs a single corner to beat them.

I supported Wenger through the good times (that was easy), I supported Wenger through the youth revolution (what’s the frequency, Denilson?), and I supported Wenger in the aimless thrashing around of the post-Cesc era Arsenal. I always said, give him the chance to build the team he wanted when the money ship came in. He’s had that chance and what we’ve gotten are a summer where Arsenal bid on multiple players that they needed and looked like they didn’t know what they were doing. That was followed by a £42m deadline day deal for Özil which looked a lot like they lucked into it. This summer, again, Arsenal looked to lack a clear plan in the transfer market, once again failing to address the crucial need for a center mid who can provide some backbone to this otherwise limp team, and once again landing a lucky deal on the final day of the transfer market — another forward. These are not well planned out summers of spending. These have been bumbling around summers of spending. That the manager told the world he needed a center half and then didn’t buy one is as clear an indication that they didn’t have a plan as I can imagine: it strikes me that perhaps he was saying that publicly as a recruitment tool. “We need to buy a center half” in retrospect looks a lot like “if you’re a center half and you’re unhappy with your situation, send a fax to Arsène Wenger c/o Higbury House, top top top quality inquiries only.”

Most managers run out of ideas after six months: David Moyes ran out of ideas after a few weeks, Luis van Gaal said to give him three months and it’s clear that he is out of ideas, it’s starting to look like Jurgen Klopp is out of ideas at Borussia Dortmund after a few years, and so on. Eventually, all managers even the very best managers, run out of ideas. It looks to me like it’s taken 18 years but finally Arsène Wenger has run out of ideas.

This is nothing to be ashamed of, in fact he should be celebrated for all of the ideas he gave us. All of the players in the Premier League should get a chance to thank him, every fan in the League should give him a standing ovation, and every manager should be given the chance to kiss his ring.

You simply can’t fire a manager who has given so much to the game. It’s too disrespectful because he hasn’t done anything wrong, he’s just run out of ideas. Worse, you can’t just throw the club and the team into that much turmoil by firing a legend. You need to give the fans and the players time to get used to the idea that a new manager is coming on board. And you also need to give this board time to find a real replacement: look what happened with Moyes at United, the cautionary tale of all cautionary tales.

That’s why I think Wenger should call time on his own career. Announce his retirement at the end of the season and give us all a Fergie-style Lap of Appreciation around the Premier League and Europe. I think he will get the most out of the players he has by doing that and I think he will give the board the time they need to hire Frank de Boer (and Dennis Bergkamp as assistant) or Pep Guardiola³. For me, Wenger has to do this himself or risk becoming one of those old coaches clinging to the past, trying the same things over and over, and dragging the club and players down with him. Only to be fired one day after total humiliation.

It’s time we let Wenger bow out with honor and give Wenger the respect he is due, not a body bag.

Qq

¹I don’t have the exact numbers and would appreciate anyone helping to gather this data for me.
²I am aware that Bruce Rioch purchased Bergkamp. However, Wenger made Bergkamp successful.
³Why is it always met with derision whenever someone mentions one of the world’s great managers as Wenger’s successor? People always say “he’d never come to Arsenal”. Shouldn’t we aspire to a Pep Guardiola? When did we lower our expectations?

Over-proofed bread

Arsène bakes up another crust-fallen failure loaf

Every few days I go into my kitchen and pull out a little decomposition notebook, open the book to the same page, and read my notes. Then I grab some bread flour, whole wheat flour, wheat germ, honey, butter, yeast, and salt and place them next to my scale and my bowl on my baking table.

This morning I carefully measured 250g of bread flour, 240g of whole wheat, 10g of wheat germ, and 8g of Kosher salt into my bowl. Then I melted a stick of butter, put 50g of honey into the pot and poured that into a bowl. I filled the bowl with water until the total came to 450g. I poured the liquid into the flour, added a teaspoon of yeast (5g or so) and mixed with my hands.

The dough is warm and sticky at first but as you mix, you stretch the gluten strands and it starts to become more cohesive. I splat the ball of dough on the counter, slide my fingers gently under one side, lift, turn, and flick the dough onto the counter, holding one end and letting the other end go oblong — like Gene Simmons flicking out his tongue. I then stretch the dough in my hands over the top of the part on the counter and wrap it neatly, like swaddling a baby. Repeat this until the dough starts to firm up and become elastic. It will still be oddly wet, but not sticky. Then you know the gluten has worked hard enough and needs a rest.

Home bread baking is often mistaken for a science but it is actually more art than science. Don’t get me wrong, there is a science to it and at the highest level, such as in a professional baker’s kitchen where every aspect like temperature and humidity is rigidly controlled, bread baking is almost pure science. But for us amateurs, we have a set list of ingredients and after that we have to be able to adapt to the conditions. Not all flour is exactly the same, for example. Even two bags labeled “bread flour” might contain different levels of protein (gluten) and require different levels of hydration to open the gluten up.   

Kneading the dough as well is not something I can tell you to do a certain number of times or for some definite period of time. You knead the dough until the gluten tells you it’s ready.

And for me there’s an art to making your own signature loaf. That is what I’m doing with this loaf of bread above. I am perfecting the ingredients, the taste, the texture, the baking time, and all of the aspects of the bread to make my daily bread.

Football is a lot like bread baking. As a manager, you’re trying to make your version of the perfect loaf of bread, except you have a lot of factors that are out of your control. To make a basic football team you have to take 500g of fowards, 700g worth of midfielders, and 1000g of defenders and mix them all up. Sprinkle in a few of your own touches like a dash of Sanchez or a slice of Welbeck and as long as you bought top quality ingredients throughout you have the recipe for a pretty delicious bread.

But whatever you do, don’t forget to add an ingredient or use an ingredient that has gone stale. For example, the one guy on a football team who is crucial to the success of that team is probably your defensive midfielder. He’s the guy who starts your attacks, he takes care of the ball, he wins the ball back, and he covers for the other defenders when they go forward looking for a goal. People used to see this position as the water, pretty much any water will do. But it’s not like that any more. Now days this central midfielder is one of the most important players on the field.

If football is like making yeast bread, I think the defensive midfielder is the yeast. He eats all your sugars, creates the gases that in turn give your bread lightness and texture. Your loaf rises and falls on the strength of that yeast.

And if you go into the season stating that you want to make a recipe for yeast bread then you better damn well have some yeast. Fresh yeast. Good yeast. Yeast that’s ready to take on the challenge of a rather tough loaf. What you don’t do is try to make a loaf of bread with some tired old yeast. You throw that out and get some new yeast.

Right now we all know that Flamini’s old yeast makes for a rather dense, flat, and tasteless loaf. The bottle of Arteta yeast is better but it’s also old and there isn’t much left. You need enough yeast to make 60 loaves. Arteta isn’t going to make more than 25 and probably only 20 good ones.

It’s inconceivable that a baker of Wenger’s stature, a guy who worked with Parlor and Vieira, would think “I guess I’ll just make do with Flamini.” And don’t give me this line about how you can’t just buy yeast. Yes you can. You can buy anything. Arsenal have money in the bank and a surplus of attacking players. If you want yeast, you can buy some yeast. If you have to sell one of the dozen attacking midfielders who are making up squad numbers then do it. Also, sell Podolski, or let him go on a free, he makes £90k a week, money that could be used for a cake of fresh live yeast. Or maybe Stan Kroenke doesn’t need a £3m dividend?

No, this club has the money. They have more money than they have ever had in the history of the club. If they can’t find players who are better than Flamini it’s not because they don’t have the money. Instead what Arsenal have is a baker who wants to gamble with the old yeast. And so far the product is coming out flat.

The other thing you cannot do with bread is make a number of changes to the wheat and expect the same results. If your recipe calls for an 80kg sack of Per and a 70kg sack of Laurent along side a 50kg sack of Gibbs and a 50kg sack of Chambers you cannot just sub in a handful of Nachos, some Bellerin, and sell it to your customers as if it’s the same loaf as before. Yet, that’s exactly what Wenger said after the game, this is the same flour he was using last year:

Last year we had 17 clean sheets with the same defenders but we have not started to do that yet. Our defensive efficiency is not there and we cannot survive at the top level by always conceding two goals.

This response was really worrying. Does Wenger not notice that he has used eight different types of flour to make his first 12 loaves of bread? I don’t even know if Wenger is using flour in his loaves any more. Nacho and Gibbs have been so hit and miss all season that I’m thinking they might be some of that gluten free crap.

For example, in the Hull game Nacho was filling in for Koscielny as Arsenal’s bread flour. On the first Hull goal he is facing up with Diame and makes what could be generously described as a limp challenge. He dangles a leg out, then decides better of it and winces away as Diame strides past him. Bread flour’s gluten provides the structure to your loaf. Limp and lifeless, Nacho isn’t bread flour, he’s gluten free almond flour and you cannot make bread without bread flour, folks. I don’t care what those Glutenfreegan charlatans say, that’s not bread.

And finally, yet another mistake that amateur bread bakers make is that they think they can “switch off” during the rise, the proof, and the baking. Nothing could be worse. It may take time to rise your dough but you cannot simply let a dough rise on the counter and go shopping. If you switch off at this final stage before baking and let the loaf over-proof you get a crust-fallen loaf of bread. I see a loaf like this and I hear the Price is Right loser’s horn. The same horn I hear when an Arsenal midfielder holds his hands up and says “who was supposed to cover that guy? ME? No, I’m an attacking player.”

Over-proofed bread

Unfortunately, Arsenal seem to be switching off so much that I’m not even sure they know where the on button is any more. As I detailed in my post about Arsenal’s set play woes, time and again Arsenal simply relax on set plays. But really, it’s not just set plays, this happens all the time at Arsenal.

Against Hull it happened again, Wilshere was supposed to cover for Gibbs on Hull’s second goal. Tom Hundredstone isn’t the lightest bun in the basket and I doubt he is capable of speeding past anyone down the sideline. Wilshere’s job, as a midfielder, is to cover his midfield runners. He should have been there to challenge Huddlestone on the cross. He wasn’t, they scored.

I could go on with this analogy for another 1000 words, that’s how many problems there are. But what I find most disturbing is that playing football “like Arsenal” used to be something teams aspired to. After today’s 2-2 draw against West Brom, Robbie Earle said that Manchester United are playing football “a little bit like Arsenal.” It was a harsh burn on our loaves.

But it’s no less than Arsenal deserve. Arsenal have been the whipping boys of the top clubs for years and now even the little clubs have figured out how to play against Arsenal. It’s so obvious now how to beat Arsenal that Pep Guardiola authorized the Telegraph to publish an exclusive breakdown on how he prepared his team to beat Arsenal.

Arsenal look like a team which has run out of ideas, lack discipline, are broken with injury, have a crazily cobbled together recipe for making a team, and ultimately already look like we are running out of steam. And it’s only October.

As Arsenal fans we’ve blamed the players (Denilson, Podolski, Arshavin, etc), we’ve blamed the board (no money), we’ve blamed the physios (how did they miss that injury?), we even blame each other (no wonder Gervinho has no confidence what with you slagging him off on that forum). But we change those parts and yet the same problems remain.

Could the problem be with the guy writing the recipe? The guy buying the ingredients? The guy baking the bread?

Could the problem be Arsène Wenger?

Qq

P.S. I baked a nice loaf of bread today. No, I don’t want to be Arsenal’s baker.

bread

photo (21)

Notes from all 20 goals Arsenal have scored this season: surprise Arsenal don’t score off set pieces

Just a quick follow up to yesterday’s post and the post from the day before in which I broke down Arsenal’s troubles staying focused on set plays. Although somewhat controversial in my methodology I provided my notes from each of the 14 goals that Arsenal have conceded so far this season and my opinion is that there is a clear commonality: whenever either Arsenal or the opposition get a break in play and time to set up, Arsenal seem to relax. After that they are playing catch-up either positionally or trying to make up for a defensive mistake and are then caught out for a goal.

Of the 14 goals that Arsenal have conceded this season 10 have come either as a direct result of a set play or in the few seconds aftermath of a set play. Ten of 14 is 70%. Seventy percent of Arsenal’s goals conceded have come from a result of a set play. And that includes several set plays in which Arsenal initially have the ball but take a poor throw or take the free kick too soon and are immediately hurt by the opposition (Chelsea, Spurs, Dortmund).

In order to get a better sense of Arsenal’s playing style (and because I’m a glutton for funishment), I looked at all 20 of the goals Arsenal have scored this season and used the same criteria to judge whether these goals were scored via set plays.

The result is pretty clear; of the 20 goals that Arsenal have scored this season they have scored just 6 times off set pieces. That is a directly inverse relationship. 70% of the goals Arsenal have conceded this season are from set plays and only 30% of the goals that Arsenal have scored are from set plays.

What isn’t clear is exactly why this is happening. The impulse is to suggest that Arsenal are just poor at set plays and there is some evidence to suggest that this is the case. Last season, Arsenal were 16th in the League in set piece goals scored with just 11 — three of which were penalties. However, in the season before that, Arsenal were 7th in the League with 17 — five of which were penalties.

What we do know is that Arsenal are terrible at corner conversion. I have a piece coming up on that on Arseblog news soon so I don’t want to spill any beans but we are pretty bad. We don’t even get the ball into the right zones for attacking on corners. It’s poor.

But other explanations could shed light. For example, Arsenal tend to score more goals than the opposition. This means that we score multiples in some games. If the opposition is looking for just one goal and then not attempting to really score more we could have a situation which distorts their goals tally. In other words, they get one off a corner and they stop trying. We score one off a corner and keep going for a second or third goal.

Regardless (or irregardless as my friend would say) I thought I’d post you some more notes on this topic. Saturday we have the match and Naveen’s match preview should be up on Friday for you all to “banta” about. I think I have something from Les for Saturday and a Man at the Match report from Chary on Sunday.

I also want to give a plug to Jonathan Blaustein’s monthly column the Match Day Photo of the Month. Get out the cameras and start recording your match day experience. Send the photos to matchdayphotofthemonth@gmail.com. This is a fantastic way to share your match day experience with others. And no, you don’t have to be one of the luck few who go to games at Highbury North East, You can just take creative photos from anywhere and send them in. Sure, even a picture of a tortoise. Whatever you want! Send them in!

Anyway, here are the notes as promised.

Qq

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Galatasaray

First goal (Welbz, Alexis assist)

Szczesny passes to Koscielny who passes to Gibbs. Gibbs is completely unmarked and casually slides a ball up to Alexis. The Chilean is also unmarked and allowed to dribble, he turns inside, sees that Welbz has caught Melo napping and slots in a through ball.

Analysis: Galatasaray fell asleep on the goal kick and failed to press the ball at any point. Melo was at fault for letting Welbz get past him on the run. 8 seconds start to finish. Arsenal score on a set play.

Second goal (Welbz, error Melo)

Flamini wins the Gala goal kick with a powerful header but sends the ball back to the Gala right back. He failes to deal with the ball (put under pressure by Alexis) and heads it back to Melo. Melo is asleep again and Welbz beats him to the ball. A nifty little header to himself, Welbzz skips away from Melo and scores past their hapless flappy keeper.

Analysis: another goal coming almost directly off a set play, this time it’s from their own goal kick. Galatasaray caught napping and Welbz takes advantage. Again, Melo largely at fault but Welbeck did show good strength to beat Melo to the ball. 8 seconds again from start to finish. Arsenal score on the opposition set piece.

Third goal (counter attack, Alexis, Ozil assist)

Mertesacker intercepts the attempted through ball to Yilmaz and plays a 40 yard pass to Ox. Interestingly, Arsenal have no one in the actual midfield for this play, Ox, Ozil, Welbz, and Sanchez are all forward with Welbz standing offside. Anyway, Ozil plays in Sanchez, Alexis cuts back and beats his marker and picks out the far post for an easy goal.

Analysis: Galatasaray had 6 men back but Arsenal got in a series of vertical passes which leapfrogged the two defensive mids. Ozil’s pass left Sanchez plenty to do but the Chilean beat his marker deftly. I think that Arsenal overloading the space behind the Gala DMs was a gamble on Arsenal’s part which paid off. Arsenal open play goal

Arsenal 4th goal Gala (Welbz, Ox assist)

Welbeck drops deep to receive Gibbs’ ball in midfield, under pressure he plays to Cazorla who is in even more trouble. Somehow the Spaniard splits two defenders deep in our half and finds Welbz. Welbeck then dribbles forward and passes to… Alexis in midfield. Alexis plays to Ox and Welbeck makes a diagonal run behind the defender. Ox nutmegs his marker and Welbeck ghosts in for a goal.

Analysis: Probably a lack of communication between the two center halves but other than that this was just all around stellar play by Arsenal. There were a few moments where it looked like Arsenal could give up the ball in a bad area but they broke pressure and scored. Arsenal open play goal

Tottenham (Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, 74)

Tottenham fail to clear (Lamela actually plays the ball back into their own box), Sanchez collects at the edge of the area and passes to Cazorla. Cazorla has a shot from outside the box which wasn’t going to bother Lloris but it takes a deflection and pops up to Welbeck. Welbeck dummies (ha!) and the ball comes to Ox in the perfect position to lash it home.

Analysis: Tottenham could have done better to clear the ball but really this is one of those goals which prove that every once in a while the players should just have a go at goal. Good things happen, especially if the ball is hit low and hard and the box is packed. Open play goal.

Southampton (direct free kick, Sanchez)

Arsenal score on a direct free kick. Fonte fouled Alexis leading up to the shot. Keeper couldn’t do anything about it. Arsenal set play goal.

Aston Villa

First goal (Ozil, assist Welbeck)

Fantastic one-touch play between Ramsey, Ox, and Welbz opens Villa’s midfield. Welbeck drives at the defense, Senderos is caught ball watching, the Villa right back is a bit lazy, and Ozil ghosts in behind where Welbeck plays him in.

Anaysis: the speed of this play takes Villa out of the game and Senderos doesn’t see the danger until it is way too late. I think his fullback partner, who could see this develop, probably should have given a shout but just raises his hand instead looking for offside. Open play goal.

Second goal (Welbeck, assist Ozil)

Lovely one-touch from Ozil to Ramsey, Ozil makes a run and the Villa right back doesn’t track. Senderos is pulled over to block Ozil and Clark covers Welbeck. Clark inexplicably stops short of the full run and Welbeck gets behind him.

Analysis: despite the fairly shoddy defending, Ozil still had plenty to do with the cross and puts in one of the best passes he’s made all season.  Welbeck finishes and makes it look easy. Open play goal.

Third goal (own goal Cissoko)

Villa fail to clear, Gibbs pokes in a long shot (or was it a cross?), Cissoko really has to do something about the ball (because Ox is at the far post looking to score) but does the wrong thing. Still, open play goal.

Man City (Wilshere goal, Ramsey assist)

Koscielny presses high up the pitch, Aguero is dispossessed, Arsenal break with five players in a central position. Ramsey is the furthest forward, collects Alexis’ pass, passes to Wilshere on the right. Wilshere skins Clichy and neatly chips Joe Hart.

Analysis: ha ha ha… Gael Clichy. But seriously, Arsenal push a lot of players forward, I think there were four midfielders behind the City defensive mids. It’s kind of crazy actually but it worked out. Open play goal.

Second (Sanchez goal, Wilshere assist)

Another top quality goal from Arsenal. Ramsey clips over a cross that Kompany heads away (little shove from Welbeck). Wilshere heads the ball back in to Sanchez and the Chilean strikes it first time.

Analysis: a goal worked from almost nothing. The chip from Ramsey wasn’t the best and Wilshere’s header back into the box was powerful but a bit lucky. Alexis really made the most of the chance though. Open play goal, Arsenal.

Leicester (Sanchez goal)

Leicester had managed to keep a semblance of a shape until the ball was pinged around several times, then the entire Leicester defense formed a sort of Maginot Line with what I swear is 8 players lined up across the 18 yard box. How do you neat the Maginot Line? Cazorla plays a neat little chip over the top to Sanogo and the Frenchman tries to get a shot off against the onrushing Schmeichel. I don’t know if it’s a shot or a block but the ball comes to Alexis and he blasts it into the back of the next.

Analysis: Leicester were quite sloppy and disorganized but the Cazorla chip was good and Sanogo did OK to get a shot off. Arsenal rewarded by having Sanchez I the box. Arsenal open play goal. One of the few were Arsenal are playing the ball around the 18 yard box.

Besiktas (Sanchez goal, Ozil assist)

Arsenal win a throw but the ensuing cross is cleared out. Monreal wins the second ball and passes to Wilshere. Wilshere passes to Ozil and Ozil plays in a perfect pass. Sanchez runs onto the end of the pass (beating Wilshere) and slots home his first Arsenal goal.

Analysis: Beskitas didn’t switch off on the set play. Instead, the fault lies with #10. He tracked back on the intitial cross and then as the ball was cleared ran back out, past Alexis and Wilshere. I think he was either trying to get an offside or start a break. But either way he leaves the space for Sanchez. Arsenal open play goal.

Everton

First goal (Ramsey goal, Cazorla assist)

Is this a set play goal? This one is stretching the boundaries for sure. Arsenal win a throw. Monreal, Ozil and Cazorla ping the ball around in the Everton final third for few seconds before Cazorla drives at the Everton defense. Cazorla is covered by two defenders and plays a splitting ball into the 6 yard box. Ramsey had made a run and Osman and Baines ran with him but Ramsey just beats both to the ball.

Analysis: Everton looked tired on this play. Lots of lazy clearing and lazy movement. The speed at which Arsenal are able to play is nearly quiescent. Still, the organization was right and both Cazorla and Ramsey were covered by two players. This wasn’t Everton mentally switching off as much as physically faltering.  14 seconds from start to finish, Arsenal open play goal

Second goal (Giroud, header, Monreal assist)

Monreal collects a terrible Ramsey cross, pings a good ball back into the area and Giroud just out-muscles Distan towin the header and score. Flat footed. Open play goal Arsenal.

Crystal Palace

First goal (indirect free kick, header, Koscielny, assist Alexis)

Hangelaand was marking Koscielny but Koz loses him too easily, no one attacks Alexis’ cross, and the result is that Arsenal get an easy headed goal from a set play. Arsenal set play goal.

Second goal (Ramsey)

Arsenal win a corner but Palace clear through Chamakh at the edge of the 6 yard box (first defender). Ball is passed around the box, Ox puts in a poor cross, Koz wins the header back in, Giroud knocks the ball down, Debuchy has a shot saved, Ramsey puts home the rebound.

Analysis: scrappy goal. 14 seconds from start to finish. Arsenal set play goal? Sort of.

Man City Community Shield.

First goal – Cazorla, open play.

Second goal – Aaron Ramsey, counter attack, open play. Arsenal clear to Alexis, he slots a curling ball to Sanogo. Sanogo holds up well and passes to Ramsey. Ramsey skins Clichy and scores.

Third goal – Olivier Giroud, Arsenal set play, assist Ramsey. Szczesny takes a goal kick, Giroud flicks to Ramsey, Ramsey passes back to Giroud and he takes a shot from Downton Abbey, scoring over Caballero.