Sunday, November 9, 2014

Disappointment, Frustration, Anger.

How the hell is Arsenal losing the lead twice in a week? Enough with excuses of they scoring from the spot, disallowed goal, or lacking of the defender. Last time against Anderlecht, we surrendered THREE goals lead to draw 3-3. Today we surrendered one goal to lost 1-2. Something is wrong with this team, or at least how this team should defend. 

Okay, basically we are back to three years ago where we always conceded a soft goal. In my opinion, some of the goals are preventable, and happened because of our own mistakes. Sigurdsson's goal was great and there's nothing to complain about it but Gomis' goal was our own mistake. Chambers has a bad game so far, being bullied again and again by Montero, yet Wenger did not do anything with it. 

Chambers is not an explosive fullback so he is exposed easily by pacey winger like Montero. We have a quick defender in the name of Hector Bellerin on the bench, but Wenger keep playing Chambers. You can change our right back with Hector Bellerin and shifted Chambers to the middle so that we play 5-4-1 to grind to our lead. I know it is good to believe in our players to show their potential, but how much points we can afford to drop in sake of "developing players"?

Nacho Monreal might be faulted at the goal, but he ain't a central defender who is aerially strong. He is left back in the first place and never played centrally. The criticism for him is unfair when your manager played you out of position.

Wenger also looked static - as always - with his tactical plan. He never had a plan B on his mind. Look at Gary Monk today. He see Arsenal completely nullify Bony and Emnes, and he reacted to bring in Modou Barrow and Bafetimbi Gomis, who directly responsible for two of Swansea's goal. Barrow was fouled for Sigurdsson's freekick and Gomis scored the winning goal. Yes, Wenger might have it done with Anderlecht away win as Podolski scored the winner, but that was a rare example where our substition changes the game.

Wenger might have make Arsenal bigger, but he is ain't Arsenal. He might be a good motivator, but he is not a tactician. He had last year without certain restriction on budget and another good money this year. No excuses on selling our best players any more. 

Aaron Ramsey was another anomaly in this game. Looked like our Saviour last season but this season he did a Bendtner, failed to impress everytime called upon. I didn't know whether this correlates with the injury he had but he looks out-of-form, and Wenger should do something about it. The Welshman seems to be obsessed with scoring goals or making overly-complicated goals. Back to basic please, that's how the midfielder should be. Wilshere was pretty good recently before he was out of the team due to suspension and injury, and I think he should enter the pitch next match in expense of Ramsey. Still, give him like 20 minutes each game so that he can regain his form again.

Conclusion: I felt disappointed, frustrated, and angry with the results. Enough with all the excuses. Scoring from the spot? Do a better defending, try not to do a rough challenge on the box. Lack of defender? It's Wenger's fault not to bring more defender on the transfer windows. Our defensive performance has been abysmal recently. To be honest, with this kind of performance, we are going to be raped by Falcao, Di Maria, and that certain traitor. Well, I do hope Wenger could prove me wrong.

PS: I still support Arsenal, it's just I need to express my frustration and anger towards the game.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Hull Post Match Thought.

One of those worst Arsenal matches I've ever seen. First half was not that bad but second half was completely poor performance, aside from Alexis' brilliance. It would be disrespectful towards the opposition if I didn't give credit to Hull City. They played - and defended - really well, and attacking efficiently, but I would highlight Arsenal's poor display tonight.

I would expect Arsenal to win this game as most of the Gooners, but tonight's story was different. Arsenal, like usual, dominated the ball, and opened the scoreline from Alexis Sanchez, before conceded an equalizer less than 5 mins after they took the lead. On second half they conceded less than 1 minutes after the break, mostly because Per Mertesacker ball-watching the cross sent by Tom Huddlestone. When everything seems to be over for Arsenal, Alexis Sanchez whizzed through Hull's defence to set up Danny Welbeck, who made no mistake to took the equalizer.

On second half, Arsenal barely threaten Hull's goal despite the need to find a goal to level the score. There seems no desire to win this game and no urgency to create a clear cut chances. I can only see Wilshere and Alexis being the main force to bring the team forward but the teams looks toothless.

Offensive-wise there should not any problem individually. Alexis Sanchez, Santi Cazorla, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Danny Welbeck, plus Jack Wilshere is not a bad offensive force, yet they seems can't broke the deadlock when they are needed to. Against Chelsea. Against Sp*rs. Against Hull today. We can't do much about that despite having some quality players. I would say there should be one man responsible for this one, who is no other than the manager, Arsene Wenger.

Sadly, in overall, I don't see this team as a title challenger this season. Yes, we have been plagued with injuries of our first team players, but that's not a reason for a team not to play well. A champions should not look at excuses not to win the game and they can win the game in ugly manner. Arsenal did this - ugly win - last season but this season they seems to revert back to old Arsenal: dominating the match, conceded cheap goals. Until this mentality is fixed, this team would not move forward.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Aston Villa vs Arsenal Post-Match Analysis

Arsenal eased to a 3-0 victory in Villa Park despite a first half-hour struggle against lively Aston Villa. Mesut Ozil opened the scoreline after receiving a sublime through pass by Danny Welbeck and coolly slotted past Brad Guzan. One minute later, Ozil's cross found Danny Welbeck, who applied a simple finish and registered his first goal for the Gunners. Shortly after, Kieran Gibbs' cross forced Aly Cissokho to beat Brad Guzan and gifted Arsenal the third goal. Three goals in three minutes destroyed Aston Villa's confidence and let Arsenal to dominate completely the game.

There are few take outs from this game.
1. 4-2-3-1 and Ozil
Finally Arsene Wenger decided to revert to 4-2-3-1 after a bad game against Dortmund with 4-1-4-1 formation. The change of formation accommodated Ozil back to his favourite position in the number 10 role behind the striker. The German looked very comfortable playing there, linking up with Danny Welbeck very well, as both exchanges assist to one another in this game. Hope this kind of performance can give Ozil more confidence. He has been criticized very heavily in the recent times and I believe he can be great in the correct formation and position. He's definitely not a winger because it gave him more responsibility to track back and he ain't that good in defending. Should Ozil come back to his best, it would be more fascinating to see more Ozil's exquisite passes in the coming week, especially with likes of Welbeck, Chamberlain, Campbell, and Alexis on the wing or upfront.
He's a trequartista, a great no 10, not a Winger
photos from arsenal.com

2. Defence Worry
I believe a good team would start at the back, though Arsenal in 2004 didn't have that concept in mind. Last season, Arsenal were fairly solid at the back at most of the time, except when they choked in away games against big team. However, this season they looked a bit shaky in each games, especially in set pieces. This is also might be caused by injury of Giroud, who often goes back to help defending set pieces. We now only have one towering player  in the Per Mertesacker.

Disregard today's scoreline first and you can see in the first 20 minutes, Aston Villa were getting chances by chances. Ciaran Clark could've easily opened the score when Arsenal went sleeping on defending Tom Cleverley's free kick. Lucky, Wojciech Szczesny were brilliant, throwing his body to deny it. Alan Hutton got a free header on near post which was - luckily - over the bar. Laurent Koscielny was much improved from his three poor display against Leicester, City, and Dortmund respectively. The shaky defence might be also caused by the changes in the back four. For the last three games, Wenger always play different player in the back four due to various reason. After the first team back four is somewhat settled, there are possibility they would be more solid.

3. Ramsey
He hasn't been hitting his best performance this season, but today was his worst form in this season, or even for the past 2 years. I haven't seen Ramsey this frustrating for long time. He misplaced few numbers of passes, and even made a simple pass to a corner for the opposition. He gave a balance when he play deep like today, but it might be a good idea to rest him for a while in the coming weeks, especially Wilshere now is playing quite well and can fill in the gap if Ramsey is rested.

It might be a good idea to rest Ramsey for a while
(photos from dailymail.uk)

Summary: This might sounds a bit pessimistic but those are three things I would like to highlight. There were a lot of positives, mostly because the shift of formation and Ozil back to his natural position. I was hoping Wenger rested Ozil today but it seems that Arsene want the German to have more time in pitch to regain his confidence. Hope Arsenal can bring today's good performance to the next game agains Southampton in Capital One Cup and more importantly, the North London Derby against Sp*rs next week.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Typical Arsenal again.

Arsenal somehow 'escaped' the game with a point after a 2-2 draw with Manchester City. The Gunners look to set to register a win before Manchester City equalized through Demichelis and collapsed towards the end of the game as City created at least 3 great chances that fortunately none of them converted to a goal. Thanks to the goalpost which saved Arsenal twice, Arsenal got draw on their own turf. 

The first half was a typical Arsenal performance: dominated the game, nearly scored a goal, then conceded. This goal was partially Flamini's fault who failed to see Aguero running behind him. Before the goal, Arsenal could've taken the lead had Danny Welbeck's shot not denied by the pole. However, after the goal, Arsenal lost dominance and City comfortably controlled the game, leaving Arsenal disjointed. 

On the second half, it was not better until Jack Wilshere's awesome skill dribbled past Clichy and lobbed Joe Hart to equalize. Arsenal overtook the lead when Wilshere's header volleyed home by Alexis Sanchez. However, City's substitute Kolarov sent a marvellous corner to Martin Demichelis, whose free header beat Szczesny.

There are few positives from this game, like Alexis Sanchez' work rate and Wilshere's majestic performance on the second half, but the worries overshadowed the good take-off from this game. 

The most worrying thing is the tactical approach by Arsene Wenger. After playing most of the time with 4-2-3-1, Wenger suddenly changed its formation to 4-1-4-1, forcing Ozil to play down the left. He looks invisible on the flanks and struggled to make impact. This reminds me of Arshavin who was a great no 10 but forced to play wide before disappears to the bench. I believe Ozil is a quality player who can make a great contribution to the team if he is played in the right position. Pushing him wide to the flanks  give him more responsibility to track back and does not give him freedom to roam. This might be the main reason why Ozil is declining for this year

Another bad effects of 4-1-4-1 is the gap between the attack and the midfield. Danny Welbeck looks so isolated upfront and looks bad - except during the first 15 minutes - on his d├ębut. Looks like Wenger utilized 4-1-4-1 to give place for Ramsey and Wilshere in the team, but that does not make sense to sacrifice the team to accommodate them in the lineup.

Second worrying thing is about the injury. Debuchy looked very bad on his injury after twisting his ankle nearing end of the game. Chambers is more than capable to deputize him but now Arsenal only have 5 senior defenders. It's still September and Arsenal looks very short at the back. This could cost some important points here.

For now, it's a bit hard to imagine our team to sit at the top at the end of season with this kind of performance. Wenger's stubborness might cost us the chance. 4-1-4-1 does not work well, and other formation might suit the Gunners better. Still, I'm hoping for improvement next match.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Post Match Thought on Everton vs Arsenal.


Arsenal grabbed a hard-earned point in the Goodison Park after they scored two late goals via Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud. Everton, for most of the time, was the better of the two teams, but two decisive moments changed the game, especially after Arsene Wenger introduced Santi Cazorla and Joel Campbell in expense of Jack Wilshere and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. 

Few take outs from the game.

1. A striker is needed in the team
Olivier Giroud, we need him 
photos from theguardian.com

Like it or not, Arsenal's current system need Olivier Giroud, or at least a support striker. With Alexis playing upfront in the first half, Arsenal can't really build up the play, as no one waiting in the box to receive the ball. As Everton played tightly at the back, Alexis was forced to drop very deep, leaving empty space on the box, thus every time Arsenal got a decent position on the flanks, they have no one to aim for. It was an easy job for Everton to defend from that kind of attacks. This is however, changed with the presence of Giroud. A pivotal target man, who even like to drop deep, he tends to wait in the box. This unsettled Everton's defence, especially after the introduction of Cazorla and Joel Campbell. Two of the goals for Arsenal came from the crossing and it's no coincidence that the goals came after his introduction.

I'm not saying we don't need more striker. Giroud is a great striker at its best but he often had a day off, while Sanogo is too raw. An addition striker is welcomed but I feel like we need a quality defensive midfielder who can play as a defender more than a striker.


2. Midfield Compositon

I feel strange that Wenger keeps playing Jack Wilshere in the starting line-up despite not playing well recently. Despite playing well in the Community Shield, Jack lost his form on his last three games. Seeing how we play better with Cazorla on the hole, Wenger might want to think to sacrifice the Jack for Santi, even though he's a bit inconsistent. Though I hope Wilshere can do a Ramsey after discovering a great form through serial of criticism in the first team.

In addition, I see Ozil wasn't really comfortable playing down the left wing today. It's true that he was played on the same position in German National Team and he likes to run through flanks when he is played on the hole. However, playing on the wing gave you extra responsibility to track back the winger, and in this game Ozil lost the plot when he let Coleman took the cross that lead to the opening goal. I hope Wenger would put Ozil back to the number 10 role, and give him the freedom he would like to have. I don't want to see Ozil doing an Arshavin who was forced to played out wide and lost his confidence and touch.


3. Inconsistency

It was another inconsistency shown by the squad as they crumbled on Everton's fluid attack on the first half and could've scored more than two goals, but lucky they didn't. It was not only about the team or the strategies, but also the individuals that plays for the team. Each of them can play really well in one game but invisible for the next game. Giroud, Sanogo, Cazorla, Wilshere. These are at least four names I remember playing well in one game and disappears in the next game, or vice versa. This is a vital area Arsene Wenger must think of how to solve as this would be the most critical issues to win the League.


Sunday, August 17, 2014

Post Match Analysis

So the curtain for the Premier League has raised for the new season, and Arsenal started the campaign by defeating Crystal Palace 2-1 in the Emirates Stadium. It was much harder than people would expected, especially after Palace's manager, Tony Pulis resigned just two days before the campaign. Palace even got a lead on their first corner of the game when Brede Hangeland headed the ball to the far corner, 0-1. Laurent Koscielny levelled the scoreline just before the break when he made a great header from Alexis Sanchez' freekick, 1-1. When everyone thinks the game would end in a draw, Aaron Ramsey made an important goal, as he slotted the ball from the close range after Julian Speroni parried Mathieu Debuchy's shot. The final scoreline is 2-1 for Arsenal's victory

There are few points I'd like to highlight from this game.
1. Santi Cazorla didn't have the best game today, though he is much better in the central position after the introduction fo Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Crystal Palace marked Cazorla really tight, not giving him the space he wants, and he struggled throughout the game. He is forced to play deep or wide when he played on the wing. However, he might not playing centrally very often as Ozil is coming back next week.

2. Mathieu Debuchy and Nacho Monreal is quite impressive in this game. Both acts as auxiliary wingers on the match as Arsenal pushed for the goal. Debuchy looks an upgrade for Sagna in terms of attacking and his off-the ball movement is impressive. Nacho Monreal was solid after Kieran Gibbs limped off injury, and combined very well with Alexis and Cazorla, bombing on the left wing and sending few dangerous crosses.

3. It was a bad set piece defending on the conceded goal. No one is lurking on the far post, plus they lost Hangeland on the process. We've been doing zonal marking, but we suffered this when Per Mertesacker and Olivier Giroud not on the pitch.

4. Olivier Giroud was much improved from the pre-season defeat against Monaco. He looked sharper upfront, and held the ball well. Especially against smaller teams who sat deep to defend, I think it's better to play Giroud on the solo striker as we won't be able to see much spaces behind the defender, something that Sanogo is better than Giroud. As the opposition sat deep, Arsenal would need someone who can flick the ball and attack the cross, and in the squad, there's no one better doing that than Giroud now.

5. In the past few years, we've been seeing Arsenal conceded in the final minutes, but from the last year it's more often that we found equalizer or winner on the final minutes, showing that we have that right mentality to challenge for the title. Late at the game is one of the most crucial moment that would differentiate between title challenge and title winner. Credit to Crystal Palace who was very well organized and strong in defence, only to beat by a decisive tap-in by Aaron Ramsey on the second half injury time.

In short, it was not the best performance by Arsenal, but what matters most is the three points. With the trio Germans is yet to come, expect an improvement in coming weeks, especially when Mesut Ozil comes to the team. However, I'd still hope that Wenger brings a world-class, tenacious defensive midfielder, a different type of midfielder from Mikel Arteta, to add steel to the midfield, especially against big team.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Post Community Shield Analysis

Arsenal beat Manchester City 3-0 to start off the season by winning the Community Shield. It was a nice game to watch for the neutral but it was also an encouraging performance by the Gunners. Arsenal was simply too good for City in the first half as they completely dominated the game from the beginning as City threatened mostly from Counter. Santi Cazorla broke the deadlock after a smart finish after a nice team play and a nice dummy before unleashing a fierce shot to the bottom corner of the goal. 1-0. Then, Aaron Ramsey doubled the lead to make it 2-0 after Yaya Sanogo picked a beautiful trhough pass from Alexis Sanchez and sent it to Welshman who coolly feinted one defender before beat Willy Caballero. Substitute Olivier Giroud, who was heavily criticized on Emirates Cup, added the third goal, with a fabulous long drive from outside the box. Manchester City tried to dominate the game at the later stage of the game, but the damage has been done, and Arsenal picked the first trophy this season.

Mikel Arteta lifted the Shield after demolition of City.
Photos from Premier League Official Twitter Account

It's interesting to analyze deeper to this game, as there are few notes we can take from this game.

1. Squad Depth and Competition

This year, Arsenal has a better depth squad upfront and in the middle. Aside from giving the freedom for Wenger to rotate the player, this squad depth gave the players an urgency to compete for the starting line-up. On the lone striker for example, Olivier Giroud and Yaya Sanogo are competing for one slot, and both of them must show their best to grab the position. Two players competing for one slot is ideal, though we can still consider Lukas Podolski, Alexis Sanchez, and Theo Walcott (all of them is naturally a winger) play in the middle also. Last season Sanogo were mostly injured and Giroud might be a bit complacent, remembering that his position in the first XI was safe. This season, Sanogo was given chance first to show his worth and answered it with a tremendous performance against Benfica in Emirates Cup and positive display in this Community Shield. Olivier Giroud also showed that he is not willing to be demoted to the bench by scoring the beautiful goal against City. 

A healthy competition for this position.
Photos from squawka post

We might be a bit short at the back, but maybe Wenger are not planning to buy anyone as he tried Nacho Monreal to play in the central defence. There are still few players yet to back, and looks this squad has that potential to challenge - if there's no big injury crisis. Today, we still haven't played Mertesacker, Ozil, Podolski; but Chambers, Wilshere, and Cazorla perfectly stepped up to play the integral role in this game. Interesting to see how Wenger manage the players to give playing time for everyone but balancing it to keep them fresh.


2. Defence Improvement

I realized there are few numbers of blocks done by Arsenal players, particularly on the second half. It's interesting to see City getting more and more dangerous on the later stage of the game, but despite that, Szczesny wasn't really tested from a shot. He was only forced to rush out from his area few times - and he did brilliantly. The players throwing bodies to stop the opposition to have shot on target - indirectly this will likely to less goal threat to Szczesny. We did brilliantly today in the blocking department - sadly I haven't got any data on this one, I just did a qualitative observation on the game -, while City looks fragile at the back.

We still have things to improve, as our defence still looks a bit nervous against quick attack. (thanks for Aldi Rivaldi from Arsenal Indonesia Supporter facebook group for pointing this one) City's counter attack is always dangerous but I feel there could be few improvement on defending on counter. The backline still looked confused during that situation, particularly seen when Alexander Kolarov marauding the left flank with another City winger, with only Debuchy facing them, leaving 2v1 situation.


3. Players to Step-Up

Last season was Ramsey's season as he went from zero to hero, scoring numerous of important goals. This year I expect few of the players to step up from previous standard.
Now is his time to shine?
Photos taken from Arsenal.com

The biggest expectation would be this guy, Jack Wilshere, who wear the number 10 for the club. He had been good since 2010-2011 season, but he seems stagnated on few years. His bad boy attitude also doesn't help his development. This season, Wilshere is 22, and he is entering the age where he is expected to deliver. On the Community Shield, he showed he has the potential to do that. He is fearless against much physical Yaya Toure, plus playing some improvisation and making few flashy runs to the dangerous area. He was one of the best player on the pitch, but the question now is whether he can do it on consistent basis.

Other players are Yaya Sanogo and Joel Campbell. Sanogo didn't score any single goal but looked very positive on the FA Cup Final against Wigan. On the Emirates Cup he also scored quattrick in one match. Wenger said he won't stop scoring once he score one goals and I hope that would be the case. Meanwhile, Joel Campbell stated he wants to challenge for a place here. He had a great World Cup with Costa Rica, but the problem is the intense competition on the flank. There are Alexis, Walcott, Chamberlain, Cazorla, and Podolski on the wide areas, so he might not get a good playing time, but I hope he can be a supersub like Lukas Podolski. His versatility to play on both flanks and upfront might be a good card for him also.

Conclusion: This win is an excellent start to the opening of the Premier League, though we shouldn't be that complacent for this game. City were unable to field three of their key players: Vincent Kompany, Pablo Zabaleta, and Sergio Aguero. The game might get much more intense and harder, should these key players is picked by Pellegrini. Arsenal's game is far from perfect despite good, as there is a room for improvement at the back, and I still expect one or two new singings - which means more time needed to settle for them. I do believe if they can continue playing like this game, they have the chance to mount the title Challenge

Additional Note: Sorry for not writing for a long time because of being busy in the real life. Hope I can continue writing this season.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Late Goals Seals 3 Points

Arsenal scored two late goals to seal three points in Emirates Stadium against Cardiff City. It was a rather boring first half, as both side failed to threaten, but in the second half, Arsenal created many chances - and wasted it, before Bendtner broke the deadlock as he rebounded the ball saved by David Marshall on Sagna's header, smashing the ball to the top of the goal nearing the end of the game. Walcott sealed three points in the dying minutes of the game as he scored the second goal. With Manchester City won the game 3-2 against Swansea, Arsenal must win to keep the top spot - and ultimately they did. 

Bendtner scored the first goal!
Photos from Premier League Twitter

The match looked likely that the game would end without a goal, despite Arsenal's handful of chances - wasted chances. Per Mertesacker came close twice, while Jack Wilshere's moment of magic was denied by post and Nicklas Bendtner failed to connect with Theo Walcott's cross. However, Arsenal's persistence was paid 2 minutes before the normal time. Cardiff were not expecting the goal from Bendtner, and few minutes later, Theo Walcott made it 2-0 as Cardiff came out to attack, leaving their defence a bit loose and allowing the winger to scored his fifth goal from five games, receiving a beautiful through ball from Jack Wilshere.

It was a tight game for Arsenal, as Cardiff defended very well and gave them little space to create chances. But good thing that they never stop trying to score goals, even though it was a bit frustrating at times where they decided to pass instead of shooting in the nice position. Good determination shown by the team until the final minutes, and they were rewarded by three points. Arsenal might be a bit lucky to escape conceding penalty when the scoreline is 0-0. Nacho Monreal handballed just in the line of the penalty area but the referee seemed not to see it. However, Arsenal had one strong penalty shout in the first half, when Gary Medel brought down Jack Wilshere in the box. Overall, Arsenal deserved three points, they created more chances (28 shots - and Cardiff only 8 shots) and getting more possession.

Impactful Substitution, that's what changed the game for today. Wenger subbed out two of the most uninfluential players today, Flamini and Podolski, replacing him with Rosicky and Nicklas Bendtner. Tomas Rosicky added fluidity to the team, giving them more dynamic movement on attacking phase. Arsenal created more chances after the introduction of the Czech. Nicklas Bendtner showed that he still have something to offer. Wenger might have been wrong not to play him upfront from the start, but ultimately he came in and scored the goal. Good reaction by the striker to take the ball, after he saw Sagna's header was saved - and spilled - by David Marshall. He injured himself on the process, though, and Arsenal now looked short of striker - Giroud was injured too.

Lukas Podolski was not striker, at least he is no a lone striker. He looked very uncomfortable upfront, and looked like he would play much better in the wing. He dropped very deep, leaving Arsenal without target in the penalty box and disrupting the attacking movement of the team. With Bendtner and Giroud out injured, Wenger have few option upfront. Walcott might played upfront also but I think he was much better on the flanks where he gets a lot of space and can cut inside during the game. It is unlikely option, but Chuba Akpom might be given chance in the first team as  he can play in central striker also.

We ended 2013 strongly and started 2014 well. Next game: FA Cup tie against Tottenham Hotsp*rs!  Time to kick them out of the cup and continue the good run! COYG!