Bayern v Arsenal – Player ratings and learning points for Arsene Wenger

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My feeling today is one of neutrality – the hope of a fan never left me and once I saw the team selection it was clear we had the intent of playing attacking football from both sides with some subtle positional changes. I don’t think Bayern away is the first time to experiment but I applaud the intention.

I will do my normal player by player and analyse the game through the analysis of player performance. The way to judge your team is against the very best.

It becomes clear what we need and what we have and who we relay on under the most pressure

Lukasz Fabianski – 7.5

He has had a great week. Goalkeeping for me is how you feel. I don’t look at Lukasz and worry anymore. His confidence and consistency has improved so much. He is 28yrs old now and deserves to play as number one somewhere but a big part of me hopes he can stay and rotate with Schez. Against Everton a key factor was Fabianski as a second choice was far better than Robles and last night the biggest compliment I can pay Fabianski was I was not surprised he saved the penalty.

Fab – Can you stay a little longer?

'Fab'ulous

‘Fab’ulous

Bacary Sagna – 7In the first leg Sagna closed his side down so well that Pep instructed his team to focus on Arsenal’s left. Robben started left side but soon as he saw Sagna’s determination and belligerence in the tackle he switched sides. In the away leg he was solid against Ribery and obviously he knew him well. Ribery did lay on the cross for Bayern’s goal but it was more of a central midfield tracking issue and a culmination of Bayern possession that was the issue not Sagna.Does Sagna get a contract – I sway on this. I feel fullbacks are the most important position in modern football. It’s the position that defines a team’s attacking philosophy. Barcelona changed the day they signed Alves from Seville for £25m. It’s a young man’s position. When legs go they go and it could impact our development. But we all love Sagna and want him to stay forever and be young forever. My gut says he deserves his payday away from Arsenal. He deserves his retirement fund.But Arsenal don’t have to pay for it – It’s the business of football vs. physical potential of the player.

Per Mertesacker – 9 MOM

His presence in both games huge. Everyone says Bayern is the best team in the world but our BFG would easily get into their side. His calmness in what you call ‘regain – retain’ is perfect. How he takes possession but keeps possession instantly is key for our style. His focus and confidence to show who he really is emotionally on the pitch is growing week on week. I would like to see the image of Mertesacker as an Arsenal Captain and Arsenal moulded around his personality.

Make the BFG Captain already

Clive's Man of the match for AFC

Clive’s Man of the match for AFC

Laurent Koscielny – 7.5

Arsenal is a team that you can read their focus by their faces. Kos has had an excellent 2 games vs. Bayern I hope not too good as from a defender’s attributes perspective, he has them all. I see no reason why a Bayern or Barcelona won’t want to have him in their side going forward. He has a tendency almost to get too tight. Robben has a skill where he drives at players and initiates contact by either stopping when his body is ahead of his opponent or as he did with Santi is to drive directly at him forcing the player to stop and then he dives when he feels the slightest touch. Kos has to be aware of these tricks and calm himself just a little. We are looking for Arsenal to get over the line in the EPL and FA Cup and we don’t need another Birmingham style derailment from Kos. World class and one that HAS to stay.

Best Defender in the Premier League

Thomas Vermaelen – 8

Fair to say Tom was excellent despite being out of position and playing so infrequently. BFG maybe our future captain but it was Vermaelen who led from the front. He was solid spiky and physical in the challenge and controlled in his support going forward. He played with a positional discipline and focus on his man that superseded both Gibbs and Monreal. We are simply better with him in the side. We are reaching crunch time and I’m not sure I want a flaky injury prone Gibbs and a positionally inconsistent  Monreal carrying us over the line or do I want our skipper to be there when it counts. He is too good for our bench and I know fullbacks are very important to offensive balance but the first job is to defend and we saw in the first leg how Bayern exposed us at left back and how we suffered. It cost us the tie.

The four defenders that played in the Allianz Arena are the four best defenders we have at the Arsenal – Simple

Mikel Arteta – 6

A steady game but limited – his game mirrored our offensive limitations. Not quite the go forward of a Schweinsteiger who used to be a winger and retains some of that mobility now using it centrally. Arteta has helped Arsenal overcome the gap left by self-indulgent ex-players in Song, Cesc and Nasri and without him and his direction over the last 3 years Arsenal would not be in this competition.

But we have to make the next step or we will get left behind. Just as Kos and the BFG could grace Bayern’s team Arteta could not and that could be extended to many EPL teams. He has limits that are now being exposed and targeted. But I cannot fault his desire focus and leadership.

In my opinion for Arsenal to move to the Petro Level we need a signing to replace Arteta.

Santi Cazorla – 6.5

I was really pleased to see Santi play central and Ozil higher up wide. It happened a lot vs. Everton where Santi has the ability to run with the ball and go both ways. His influence going forward will be higher than Jack’s but going towards his goal he did let runners run off him on countless occasions. But I would persist with this change. Especially now with Ozil out for a while. I would like to see a middle 3 of Ramsey Santi and Arteta/Flamini for the rest of Mad March. Maybe Flamini’s communication skills deep can help Santi recognise the defensive tracking side of the game, but he is a major talent centrally and like Xavi why not use him there. Arsenal need real wide players. Players who WANT to be on the flank. Santi wants to be central and his game goes up levels when involved and when having lots of touches.

Be brave Wenger – Keep Santi Central

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – 8.5

Different class!

Different class!

I watch Rugby a lot as well as football. Pace and dynamism always gives you hope. You realise this normally when you are playing superior opposition. My son plays Academy football and even at youth level the players that stand out are the players with pace power agility technique and dynamism – Ox has all the attributes to be the next Steven Gerrard. I tweeted before the game is this the night when the Ox becomes world class. I think he showed signs by continuously running directly at Bayern who could only resort to fouling him. Remember he has been out injured for 5 months and normally it takes a month to be anywhere effective. For this Arsenal team and the fact we have a CF who does not run channels we need to simplify and play the Ox wide right to give us the penetration.

How big could he be for us. In these social media times he could go global after the summer he is that good.

The Ox – We have a superstar on our hands

Mesut Ozil & Tomas Rosicky – 5

Marking them together as they shared the game.

Ozil is a player like Arsenal you can see in 2 minutes whether he is at it or not. The first leg was his moment and you can see his mental fragility did carry over to the game last night. After 20 minutes the exertions from his excellent high powered mobile intelligent performance vs. Everton showed when he suffered a hamstring injury. How bad I don’t know at this point but I awoke this morning to this article by Neil Ashton

I don’t think we are even close to understanding the complexity of Ozil’s personality and game. He is educating us in football and its mentality. The price tag does not mean he is perfect but I know Arsenal are better for his presence and I hope so much he will be back in the next 2-3 weeks so he can be there when we cross the line.

Neil Ashton – Cheap shot

Rosicky is a player I find hard to read. He has all the talent yet he has night’s where I am left surprisingly underwhelmed when I least expect it. He has drive and urgency that translates from the pitch to the crowd hence he is popular with those who like to see someone trying visibly. I mean Beckham made £300m doing something similar but then I see some of his decision making – when to pass shoot or cross and some of the execution and I do wonder if he can do better and if Arsenal can use him better.

I see Tom as the Arteta replacement in the squad. He has more energy and can tackle and can speed up play. He should be moved back and allow us to purchase a true wideman and not make do. Another who reflects our developmental stage – good player without ever truly convincing you he can consistently make the difference at the top table.

Rosicky – Should he be the new Arteta?

Olivier Giroud 4.5

This was not a good night for Giroud. Bayern knew he cannot run so they pressed us back and said to Giroud – can you go from halfway – no chance! We then had to rely so much on transition of the Ox. With Ozil hampered and Tom having a clueless night we struggled to connect to Giroud and he was done for.

I see Giroud as the perfect front man for home games where we press teams back and have to play wall passes on the edge of the area to break down stubborn defences – he has no peer at that but he has become so obsessed with back to goal play he limits us if teams press us back. Bayern use a similar CF but they support him better with power runners in Kroos, Gotze, Ribery, Robben and Muller. Away from home we ran out of those options and were forced to bring on 18 year old Gnabry when to me it was obvious in January we needed to add one runner on loan until we can buy Draxler and or Greizmann.

Giroud Header

Giroud Header

Giroud has to do more. He has rocked our season with his extra marital affair. He has held our season together but has the power to crack our season apart. At Stoke he was targeted as he was at OT earlier in the season he must bully his opponents and win those battle, if not our season will implode.

Giroud – He has our season in his hands

Lukas Podolski – 8

Poldi will score

Poldi will score

Pleased to see him start. Not sure why I was pleased as his consistency has not been there previously but we all want him to succeed. With Bayern keeping fullbacks slightly more narrow than at the Emirates Podolski had a man on man game in areas where he was more comfortable. He looked super determined and seemed to be playing for his future either at AFC or in Germany. He was a serious adult footballer who we need to see regularly towards the end of the season. Injuries have surely forced us to simplify our game almost back to last season. Poldolski and the Ox must support Giroud every week we can get them out there with Gnabry sharing the load wide off the bench. In crunch time you need flawless finishing technique and Poldolski has it.

Squeaky bum time – Poldolski will still score

Arsenal are getting closer to the top table even though for the last four years the results are the same. I did not see us fear Bayern but we must learn and use this game as a template for what we need to do going forward.

1. We tired physically, Ox, Arteta, Ozil and Giroud looked shattered.

2. Bayern brought Müller off the bench we brought on Gnabry.

3. Invest in super athletic fullbacks

4. We need a physical DM

5. Pace and agility high – Draxler and Greizmann

6. Manage small details quicker – One for Wenger retain your playing identity. Add pace.

Many thanks one again to Clive Palmer who will be a welcome regular addition to GT.

Clive Palmer

@clivepafc

Get following!

AFC fan of 35 years. Grew up in Luton wishing I grew up in Upper Street and could just not get enough of AFC and the area.

I was a child influenced by Charlie George but it got serious for me was in the Liam Brady, Graham Rix and Paul Davis eras.

Home and Away fan in times gone by – More selective on games today due to prices and middle age.

Priorities –  I now watch my 12 year old son play Academy football which gives me a more holistic view of the coaching aspect of the game. I study players the profile of players in relation to squad and team building. I want Arsenal to be as big as we are.

My Hero – Vieira

Happiest Day – Copenhagen v Parma

Saddest Day – Paris 06 & Cfc in the CL quarter Finals 2004

Biggest wish – Wenger to win again and for the gap between the fans and the club

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3 Responses to Bayern v Arsenal – Player ratings and learning points for Arsene Wenger

  1. GILBO March 12, 2014 at 2:01 pm #

    I totally agree with your Vermaelen remarks, Walcot, Gibbs, Wilshire, they have balsawood legs, alway’s missing really is quite incredible how often they are.

  2. Barndoor Bendtner March 12, 2014 at 2:20 pm #

    Generally agree, but not on Rosicky and Giroud. TR7 in particular worked really hard and really well to try and drive forward when the few opportunities came. OG also lead the line but fluffed his shots when he was tired at the end. They both deserve a higher rating.
    The others are perhaps a bit high, but only through understandable bias.
    Overall I was proud of the whole team who did well against a super side including one diver and the ref.

    • Clive March 12, 2014 at 5:48 pm #

      Thanks for reply – you may have a point on Rosicky. I may have a bias as I am frustrated that we are a notch below top quality in midfield and I have taken it out on him. My point on Giroud is Afc need something maybe he cannot give, the ability to stretch teams and run in on goal.

      Also we are so dependent on his mood. At Stoke he was too easily distracted, even last season at Stoke he was superb.

      He just needs to be rested and we cannot do that.

      Clive.

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