ONLY Arsenal could have done what they did last night and an Arsenal Legend says ONLY Ox has what his Invincibles had!

Review, Player ratings and Solutions?

Bayern at home last season. The intensity of our play our focus until we derailed after 30 minutes with the sending off was amazing. We lost 2-0 but it was Arsenal.

It was our team failing with desire purpose and mental focus.

What we saw vs Monaco was unprofessional. We were criminally complacent.

It’s this streak of technical arrogance, lack of mental preparation and multiple repeat impatient tactically naïve capitulations that does most to damage our club, and our manager’s credibility.

After the game Wenger looked shell shocked. His voice was low. His demeanour looked worrying. He is our club and to see its leader so distraught afterwards I found that quite sad.

Wenger called this beforehand he tried to warn us – he called Monaco reptiles, they absorb what you have got  while they lie in wait then they kill you.

In response he picked a fast team by changing from the slow Chambers and Monreal to Bellerin and Gibbs. Made sense – but I said before the game we needed Gabriel also. It was obvious at home we would overload offensively so we could not afford to leave the BFG exposed. But we did. We paid the ultimate price.

Are we as fans able to be mature enough to accept a patient performance? At 0-0 I was saying we are playing with the handbrake on. I was not happy I wanted us to press, speed up our play. Pass quicker up the intensity. But that gung ho approach by which the BPL feeds upon is exactly what Monaco wanted.

As soon as spaces opened up we got killed.

The best way for me to analyse the game is through a player by player. The marks I give are not as important as the comments – they are directional to show my feelings on performance and no doubt clouded by my own structures by which I see football.


Ospina – 4


He took his opportunity after Southampton. He offered us something we lacked. Calm assurance. A presence that was not reckless. But what he lacked was exactly that ‘PRESENCE’

On the last goal he was not set he was moving backwards so he could not extend his dive fully. Small details but crucial. On the deflected goal he was exposed but he seemed to give up on it too soon. He was not set to adjust in any way. His confidence mirrored that of the team and that is a criticism I have of Schez. A keeper must be able to compartmentalise and when his team needs him he must focus on his performance in a selfish way. We have 2 emotional keepers that cannot do this. Hence we get end 2 end flaky team performances.

We needed a big save. We got only one when he closed down quickly on a 1 on 1 but for me if we are serious he is not ‘the’ answer.

It is certainly a position that needs review in the summer. The main requirements for me are experience & presence. Petr Cech.

Bellerin – 5


Another who just went with the flow of the game. He needed passing options but he was let down by his midfield. Welbeck left his station seeking the middle ground. Ozil and Santi could not find the spaces to start passing combinations. Bellerin for me was the right choice. Debuchy is the best choice but we know that. His time will come.


Sometimes I feel he can get narrow when the play is on the opposite side. That’s coaching. He is coached to cover round but maybe taking that too literally.

For him I hope he is not damaged and can move on. He will be a huge Arsenal player in the future.


Gibbs – 4


We can relate to Gibbs. Been at AFC since he was 14, taken from the real Wimbledon when their Academy folded. We so want him to be first choice to succeed and be England’s left back as Ashley Cole was previously. But there is something missing in his game.


It’s called ‘game management’

It’s not a coincidence that when he is on the pitch his distances are wrong. He is not connected to his back four. You are coached to attack from triggers. When we have secure possession and the central midfielder are about to turn out you have to predict the future and go, whilst simultaneously always having that balance in your mind to predict the worst case scenario.

Gibbs just goes.

He plays the moment like many in this team. He and We do not have the level of pragmatism required for top level football.

It’s not playground stuff this is big boy football. The Champions League. You have to manage moments. Not just run off leaving your centre backs exposed.

2 goals came from his side. Enough said.

He was absent as he has been many times in recent years. He needs to add this maturity to his game.


BFG – 3

 I knew this was not his game.


Awful and inexusable

At Palace we sat deep and defended areas. We were compact and sprang from a deep lying platform. Per made the most clearances and was arguably MOM. In a game where we had to press it was never going to be his game. Monaco was a game where we had to press.

We learned a lot about Per some of it is quite disappointing. He has a great character, very likable intelligent. I like how he manages his shortcomings and positions himself to execute his strengths. We know he is not agile or pacey but that mostly does not matter. His distribution and positioning is excellent but it concerns me more and more that his shortcomings are impacting how too many of his team mates have to play.

Kos is used to tailoring his game to cover Per but even he last night cannot be a one man defence. Per on the second goal was shameful. Rather than drop off and risk being embarrassed for pace he abandoned ship and pressed the man risking all. Once he was by passed, his mate and back line was exposed. It’s not all his fault as our midfield balance exposed him also but the action of protecting himself rather than the team – is one I cannot forgive.

I think it’s time to see Gabriel. I want defenders that have all the attributes needed at the top level. Gabriel has them – he lacks game time and experience in this team but he has pace agility and tenacity on the front foot or back foot.

Is it time for change/rotation? – Pick your Centre backs based on the style of your game you want to play and that of your opponent. We have the players but it’s about tactics and selection.

 Kos – 6

 Even he looked despondent by the end. It was not possible for him to cover THAT many gaps. The more they scored the more the immaturity tactically shows.

There is a superb image  @meanlean Arsenal Vision showing in the 53rd minute of a 180 minute Champions League tie only Kos left in our own half. ( His review here.)  Need I say more?

Santi – 5.5

 Arsenal need a number 8. At present we are playing with a 4 and 2 eight and a half’s.

Ozil is not allowed to be or performing like a 10 whilst Santi is adapting to a deeper role as he has more tactical responsibility. He is often left with too much ground to cover and he has not the attributes to do so. I admired his heart and his bravery to drive us forward in the first half but around him he had no partners. We could not connect in the sharp combinations that underpin his game. He springs out from chaos and appears the other side with the ball. Monaco were too big for him.

Brilliant but too small – It has to be him or Mesut

Santi captures our dilemma as fans. The perfect technical 2 footed genius. Wonderful to watch. PFA fans player of the month for 2 months running. But

Harsh as it may sound he is not the answer for us in centre mid. He is too small and not physical enough or fast enough. You know my thoughts.

Ramsey – Tactically poor plays for himself over focussed on goals. Still needs to learn his craft. He could be the answer but won’t be until he realises who he is.

Jack – Needs to work out his base game. Small but with the right partners he has the talent and technically superb but lacks clarity of who he is.

Arsenal need a number 8 – we have to have a pragmatic balance and decide between Santi or Ozil. It cannot be both.

Kondogbia was MOM in the pre-season game and was MOM last night.

Kondogbia is a number 8 –  A reference point who can play and dominate. That is how I see football. Big boy football you can have no weakness or it will be cruelly exposed. Do we want to be big boys or just entertain despite the obvious need for balance? How we play – It works sometimes in the BPL but in Europe and vs the top 4 we need a more forceful option.

Schneiderlin is the obvious answer for this Arsenal team. He is a number 8 who can be in a double pivot or at times a sole DM.


Ozil – 4

 It was almost a meltdown.

Ozil was purchased for nights like last night. Last year vs Bayern he was unlucky. He was majestic early on. Won us the penalty which he then missed and post the sending off he was forced to be an auxiliary left back. In the away leg he was injured early yet the fighter in him made him carry on and was hugely criticised for a sub-standard performance.

Last night I watched him closely. A few early stray passes and the arms started flapping the body language was shocking. Why is he so hard on himself?  So what a bad pass just move on. Something was not right he absolutely looked unhappy on the pitch. It spread almost contagiously. Our £42.5m superstar was having an off night so it’s ok for me too was what I saw.

I talk to my son who plays academy football and I say to him ‘son where do you go mentally when you are having a 5 out of 10 game.’

I tell him you must go back to basics, make sure the next 3 passes hit their target no matter how simple. Tighten your positioning; know who your man is and win the battle. Then you will be a 6 then build on that until your form comes back. We are human, no one can be on point always but it’s how you react.

What you don’t do is what Arsenal do. We chase games immaturely with no patience. We expected to win – so for us a win was what success looked like. In hindsight sometimes you have to take a boring narrow defeat – but our English mentality and naivety drove us blindly on and we conceded a third.

But we are Arsenal – pragmatism is not the Arsenal way.

Well we have a choice to make and soon. Arsenal lack of success in Europe is the biggest black spot in our history.

Constant near misses and failures – I mean Porto has won the CL and Arsenal have not. We have as a club throughout our history not focussed on winning in Europe. Our goals need to be that high and not just qualifying for it. I would say that even if we had won last night.

Even the best team in our history the team we over celebrate failed in Europe when they were the best team in the world for a 2 year period.

Wenger is trying to lift this group – Ozil was his Bergkamp. Something fell apart last night and it was Ozil that epitomises what is missing.


Coquelin – 6.5

 He tried manfully. I won’t focus too much on him but like Kos he was given the impossible job. Too much ground – too many jobs to do. Not possible.

It’s a question of balance. He will do for me and this team needs Coquelin and another like him but better.


Welbeck – 5.5

Danny – Danny – Danny – Loose in his game. He burned the left back easily early then left him. That left back was in his second professional game. His second professional game fur God’s sake!! Danny is our England centre forward. He should have stayed wide and killed his man and bagged a hat-trick.


Danny Danny Danny

What did he do – he crowded the centre. As like Theo he wants to be a centre forward so sod what is right for the team – I will try and do 2 jobs and then fail at both.  Unlucky not to score but even that finish was sloppy. I felt he lost a lot of supporters last night. He has something but I cannot predict when I am going to see it. I can’t read him which means I’m not sure I trust him.


Alexis – 6

Another I won’t dwell on like Coq and Kos he is someone we know is good enough. There is no debate. It just is not happening for him. Concerned that many felt he was tired. We need him to get fresh to re-ignite us.

Giroud – 5

Another pillar of this team that got beat up.


A night to forget for Olly

Giroud since his injury has been brilliant. He has a new robustness in his game. I remember Old Trafford last year when he allowed Jonny Evans to rough him up and put him off his game. We lost 1-0 and Giroud sub-standard timid performance was a key part in that.

This year 2015 he has been massive. So much tougher and more robust and more prepared to fight.

Last night he got one whack from the Monaco centre half (who was excellent) and to me he was done. He looked static and fragile and yet could easily scored 4 goals. His chances were almost too good. His allowed the occasion to impact his mental sharpness and we paid a price. Why always Giroud?

Note: The OX


Keown says Ox has the desire the Invincibles had

Just want to conclude with a mention for the Ox. In my opinion he is an Arsenal great waiting to happen. I heard Keown on the radio and he said when he joined Arsenal he spent time learning the history so he felt like he knew the club, its values. He read books to educate himself as he felt it was important.

He mentioned the Ox was the only current player that turned up to the ‘Invincibles’ premier night. Keown said he could see in his eyes that the Ox wanted the success the Invincibles had. He wants to take this club forward.

I just wanted to say I love that and hope he will be as good as I think he will be and others who need to clarify their game, take a fresh look at what they produce could learn much from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

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8 Responses to ONLY Arsenal could have done what they did last night and an Arsenal Legend says ONLY Ox has what his Invincibles had!

  1. chris February 26, 2015 at 5:55 pm #

    Wenger thinks he knows better than Real Madrid regarding Ozil. They learned he can be wonderful against the lesser teams ONLY … and cannot do 90 minutes. I am not sure he has ever won a tussle for the ball in his life – nor put in a tackle. He is an expensive luxury which Wenger dare not accept. It means Santi has to play too deep. I would rather have Rosicky in and Santi further forward where he can really play. Wenger picked a team exactly as Monaco hoped – NO WIDTH. Alexis and Welbeck always looking in field …. the whole centre field clogged up. I would have played Welbeck as central striker (Giroud on the bench) and Ox or Theo wide right. Speed to make their high line vulnerable. Also our polish smoker might well have saved 2 of the goals.

    • Joe February 27, 2015 at 5:04 pm #

      Lol that is a bit bullshit. He used to be devastating in Clasicos with his throughballs. He just needs proper coaching (not to him, but to his teammates, so that they make the right runs, know how to counter press etc)

  2. Neil Pearce February 26, 2015 at 6:12 pm #

    Probably one of the best reports I have ever read . Sticks to the point doesn’t get personnel .
    There has to be change we can’t go on like this 8 years we’ve learnt nothing.
    I have attended and been a supporter since the sixties

  3. James February 26, 2015 at 9:58 pm #

    What a super piece of analysis. Thoughtful, compulsive, honest and insightful. Utterly superb. Thanks a million.

  4. Clive February 26, 2015 at 11:47 pm #

    Thanks for taking time to reply – tough day but there is always another game to reshape our thoughts.

    Clive P

  5. Doctor February 27, 2015 at 8:18 am #

    When we conceded the first goal against Monaco, Wenger looked like we would score 5 without a problem.Complacent. He was all smiles at the press conference, relaxed, enjoying his questions, but when the shit hit the fan, he stood still like he always does.

    If Wenger is about to respect his contract, that must surely mean he will be here for the next 2 years. I think we would see a great improvement if we only got a professional, proven psychologist. I don’t know about other teams, but the body language of some of our players like Giroud and Ozil is a bad example to all of us connected to a club in either way. Even last year when we lifted the cup, Wenger was behaving like a teenage dirtbag on a school bal. Showing clear signs of anxious behaviour. Besides that he puts too much liberty on every player, let’s them develop in their own way, while we are paying them huge salaries. Diaby wouldn’t be on any club’s payroll for 7 years with 20 good performances in his career. Denilson wouldn’t get 3 seasons to prove he’s not even good enough to play in Europe.

    Right now, I would rather want to lose Wenger, then another solid team (Nasri, Fabregas, van Persie), which could, under the right guidance, fulfill it’s potential.

  6. David Housham February 27, 2015 at 12:10 pm #

    Plenty of people have commented on the fact that Welbeck and Sanchez didn’t stay out on the wings, and crowded the midfield. Nobody has commented on why the players feel they are able to do this: don’t they have their tactical responsibilities hammered into them before the game? shouldn’t they be afraid or embarrassed to sacrifice the team’s best interests for the sake of their own selfish glory-hunting? is there any discipline at all in the dressing room?

    Looking at the European matches this week it is striking how much well organised, well-coordinated strength and speed teams like Monaco, even Young Boys, have in their game: the players seem to have a real understanding of what is expected of them and how they are supposed to play. The players are constantly moving, giving passing options to the man on the ball – and they display a lot of technical insight into how to use space offensively. Southampton have played like this at their best this season. Arsenal’s players too often either seem to not have a collective understanding of how to play together – and/or seem to be competing to play in the same spaces as each other. It seems very narcissistic.

    I really like the point about Oxlade-Chamberlain. In a way the most depressing thing about Arsenal’s big match failures in recent seasons has been the absence of a leader on the pitch, one (or more) player who has the courage and willpower to try and change the course of a game when things have gone against the team – someone who doesn’t hide – and even Sanchez disappeared against Monaco. Chamberlain did immediately attempt to single-handedly rouse a deflated team on Wednesday night – he stood up to be counted and scored – though his lack of experience arguably was critical in the concession of the third goal. However, he does seem to possess more qualities of leadership than any of the current first XI.

    Arsenal are currently not so much the Invincibles, but too much the Untouchables – over-paid, over-praised primma donnas who are not properly managed or held accountable for their lack of commitment to a team-based work ethic.

    • Clive February 27, 2015 at 3:41 pm #

      Arsenal – We are not overly drilled.

      Our trick is based on what I call emotional creativity. Maybe if we have too much structure we would not be as creative and spontaneous. I have a concern about our balance and are we pragmatic enough. Not always but in the big moments small details count and my un-informed opinion is we don’t concentrate enough on details.

      For me small margins are the differentiator in elite sport.

      Example – Surely if we were going to press high we had to have Gabriel play at CB. No sentiment just have a plan and execute.

      But that’s not Arsene !!

      Thanks very much for the feedback.

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