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The Good, The Bad and the Downright Ugly – Player Performances at Stoke

POSITIVE

Aaron Ramsey
The Welsh Jesus has returned. Against Stoke, Ramsey showed a glimpse of the player who shone in the 13/14 season. His first touch was sharp, it allowed him to quickly pick out an offensive pass; no more 360′ wide-turns, slowing down our attack. Watching him off the ball was a revelation: his stamina is truly remarkable, box-to-box, late runs, tracking back, assured in defence – and continually raising his hand and asking for more. He may have occasionally taken up the positions you’d have expected Lacazette to be in – but then again, if Ramsey hadn’t been there, who is to say Alexandre would have?

Oxlade-Chamberlain
The one player who looked like he would make something happen, every time he received the ball. Whether playing as an advanced wing back in a Back 3, or as a traditional RB – the Ox once again made a case for his retention. For me, he is streets ahead of Bellerin (I personally don’t get the Hector love-fest) – and I believe there is plenty more to come from the Ox. Pay him the damn money (take it from Theo, ffs) and give him a chance to reach his potential at Arsenal. I love his attitude, I see improvement in his crossing and defending, and I’d love to see him succeed here. He had his faults, but he is certainly our most exciting player with ball at feet, and I love watching him.

Lacazette
I must admit – the transfer hype made me very sceptical. But I have nothing but praise for the diminutive French striker. He was superb with back to goal; he collected, retained and distributed the ball with aplomb. He poached, he made great runs, and he was denied a fantastic Away debut goal (to match last week’s Home debut goal) that on any other day would have been given. I honestly believe that he is going to thrive at Arsenal, especially when Alexis returns.

NEUTRAL

Welbeck

Welbeck
I love dat guy. I get so sad when I see his eagerness short-circuit his efficiency in front of goal. He works tirelessly to drive the team forward; his dribbling skill is unquestionable. However – when faced with a scoring opportunity, he tends to overcomplicate things.

Be The Force, Danny. Stop thinking. Let it flow.

Cech
Had a decent game – made some good decisions – when to come out, when to turn back – and some fine reflexive saves. He was far more commanding in the box, under crosses, unlike last week. Can’t help feeling that he could have done better on the goal conceded. Can’t blame him for our wastefulness at the other end of the pitch though.

NEGATIVE

Xhaka
Needs to find some consistency. Although he fights to win them back, his sloppy passes have proved costly for us. He had had a couple of questionable performances, which I hope will not be indicative of his season to come. Hopefully he can regain his distributive sharpness and return to lasering balls to our strikers and wingbacks.

Ozil

Ozil
Continues to frustrate. There is no denying his positive attributes, however it is his negative attributes that confound. Firstly, his aversion to any kind of physicality, he ducks out of challenges, is bullied too easily off the ball, and won’t even consider competing for a header.

I’m sure his frustration in not having the many chances he creates converted must be mind-numbing. He quite obviously misses Alexis. However, his tendency to drop his shoulders, mutter under his breath, and sulk when things don’t go his way, or when the ref doesn’t offer him protection, are unacceptable. Ozil’s immediate slumpy response to Xhaka’s misplaced pass contributed to their goal: he could very easily have recovered the ball due to the intercepting Stoke player’s poor first touch.

Obviously other factors contributed – Ox not tracking back, Monreal hesitating, Cech beaten too easily – but football is built on many tiny, instantaneous decisions, something Ozil excels at on a skill level, but on a mental level seems to be found wanting.

Wenger
Whereas his substitute decisions were impeccable last week, this week he essentially defused our attack. Walcott offered absolutely nothing. Iwobi was so careful and back-offish that he ended up slowing us down. Giroud possibly could have done better with the one good chance he had, but I still think he performed admirably. (I’m glad we didn’t sell him).

I don’t know how Mustafi ended up being such an integral part of our attack in the dying minutes!? – it wasn’t helpful at all. Hopefully Wenger (or Bould) can cut that part out of his game.

Wenger’s post-match comments about his central defence were classic Wengerismic waffle: he had the opportunity to pick actual centre backs and didn’t. Not sure why. He’d have to ask himself that question…

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Andre Marriner (Referee)
Had a shocking game. Didn’t issue any yellows (as far as I remember) – despite a fairly physical battle. Could have awarded Arsenal at least 2, possibly 3 penalty kicks.

His assistant flagged Lacazette for offsides, disallowing what should have been a cracking equaliser, when the barest sliver of our new striker’s boot was ahead of the last defender. Unlucky? Definitely. Agenda? Probably not. But then again…

Conclusion
A game we should have won, with the amount of possession and chances we had. Questionable refereeing, and an obstinate opposition (with a keeper who played his socks off) means that our terrible opening-2-games-of-the-season record still stands.

Onward and upward. Plenty of ups and downs still to come.

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3 Responses to The Good, The Bad and the Downright Ugly – Player Performances at Stoke

  1. Marble Halls TV August 20, 2017 at 3:21 pm #

    I agree. we need to consider what value ozil brings to us.

  2. Amrut August 22, 2017 at 10:11 am #

    Ramsey at the max is an average performance. People dig Ozil out for not tackling and showing fight. Why exempt Ramsey ? Ramsey plays pivot with Xhaka and assessing the game and adapting should be his primary role. Given that Xhaka doesn’t have intercepting or recovery skills as much as we would need him to have , its expected Ramsey fills up there. The key moment in question against stoke is when Xhaka plays a loose short pass. Ozil stops his run by which time stoke already have the ball , both Ozil and Xhaka recover slowly and Stoke launch an attack through the midfield which is vacant.

    Now , the we could still recover be if the 2nd mid fielder is there in the vacant space or close to recover and defend (tackle or slow down the attack). Ramsey is on the left wing , trying to make a run. Wenger had already once mentioned he expects more than goals from Ramsey. The obvious reference being, he should do some dirty work too. Plus it’s not a role he is not suited to, unlike Ozil. He is known to be someone who intercepts and can tackle if required.

    There is no doubting Ramsey’s timing of runs and his impact . The point being made here is not to say he should sit static in the MF and clean up. But , he has to find a balance between , making runs and staying back. He has to read the game. He is much more than a goal threat. That one season where he scored 10-15 goals has probably changed his own perception of what he should be doing . Plus no one to correct him. If he makes 8 runs and scores zero goals , what does that say. And since it is Asrenal

    Ozil is as guilty as the others. But Ramsey showing some discipline will help tremendously

    • Batmandela August 22, 2017 at 12:49 pm #

      Thanks for your comment, Amrut. Ramsey lead Arsenal in tackles and ball recoveries. He made the most sprints, and I believe he covered the greatest distance.

      At the point that Xhaka’s loose pass initiated Stoke’s goal, Arsenal were on a break and Ramsey was making his usual lung-busting run into their box. We need players that offer what he supplies.

      For me, the onus is on Xhaka to be more disciplined, and to be the deepest midfielder, offering protection in front of the back 3/4. It also suits his ability to (usually) distribute the ball with clinical precision.

      Since Ozil is not going to score goals. (Never has. Never will.) It is vital that we have midfielders contributing to our seasonal goal tally of we are to complete.

      I would rather Ramsey put himself in position to score ten times and missed, than to not have those chances at all.

      Thanks for your comment.

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