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Besiktas 0 - Arsenal 0

Atatürk Olimpiyat Stadı Otopark

19th August 2014 7:45pm

Attendance: 41531

No Champions League Turkish Delight

Wenger felt this would be a testing game flagging up the state of the pitch and blustery conditions before kickoff. Valid enough observations but a gift for cynical pundits (is there any other kind?) who were bound to see it as excuse making.

To what extent these factors inhibited control or not would be difficult to quantify even without the background of a similar poor midfield performance on a perfectly good pitch against Crystal Palace at the weekend. With Alexis looking to play on the right but off a front man the balance of midfield with Ramsey, Cazorla and Wilshere just doesn't work for me. Arteta as the anchor midfield does what he does competently enough but as a creative trio those around him just don't seem to work as balanced unit. One of Wilshere or Ramsey should probably drop out when Ozil is back. For the space left it doesn't seem likely that Jack would get the nod ahead of Ramsey but he seemed the more productive in this game. Ramsey was trying to be too clever at times while the simplicity he credits with his improvement last season seems to have been forgotten. He needs to get that back into his head.

Frustration aside it was an entertaining and open game though we only manged 3 shots on target. Besiktas had their chances and had they been a better team might well have taken one of them. Ba's audacious attempt from the kick off almost caught Szczesny out but he was alert enough to tip the attempt onto the bar. Ba also had a great attempt later in the half meeting a cross on the volley which Szczesny again was alert and positionally sound enough to read and parry.

Giroud had a game he would wish to forget but few will let him unless he shows a dramatic improvement in his control and movement. I've never liked the tactic of trying to bounce the ball off a target man but Giroud has at times shown strength and a deftness of touch that has made it work often enough to justify the tactic but that deftness of touch just hasn't been there in his last couple of outings. Whether the recruitment of Alexis and Campbell offers more tactical options I'm not sure but we may need to find an opportunity to try them out before too long.

On the positive side Chambers continues to impress. He does seem to read the game extraordinarily well for a 19 year old. Mertesacker should be back now which, assuming Kos remains fit, should mean that Calum will be warming the bench for a time. It would be a shame in a way but he's young enough to take the time to watch and allow his ability and reputation to grow as the chances present themselves. We still need a bit more defensive back up but the defenders we have now Debuchy, Mertesacker, Chambers, Koscielny, Gibbs and Monreal form a strong defensive squad with each capable of doing a good job when called upon.

While we didn't inflict any damage in this game we didn't suffer any either. Aside that is, from a red card preventing Ramsey from participating in the second leg and an injury to Arteta the extent of which has still to be diagnosed. We've left ourselves with a job still to do in the return game but perhaps not a mountain to climb. If we can get the midfield/forward combination right that is.

Star Player

Mathieu Debuchy

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The Journalist

Writer: Amos Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Wednesday August 20 2014

Time: 12:35AM

Your Comments

The commentators on this side of the Atlantic made a big deal about the poor quality of the pitch and rightly so. On the match itself I thought it was very entertaining; I also do share the main thrust of the piece especially the disjointed midfield and team-play. Something tells me though that part of the problem can be traced to the truncated preseason preparation, and this part will 'fix' itself as the players work themselves into shape.
till they get to shape u guys will lose point and when the worldcup stars r back it will be the same for atleast few weeks u guys will have to battle or lose the top spot ... this sanogo kid is too much talk n less game ... u should get a striker ... wenger is awesome seriously lol
"I wish Wenger would go out and buy a big goalkeeper, a strong centre back, a big midfielder and a decent striker and go for it.' - Jamie Carragher
if we put aside the club rivalry, i guess carragher was right apart from the goalkeeper. wenger admitted that we are still short of a centre back & everyone else was yearning for a good defensive midfielder and a decent striker for over 2 seasons
Carragher's wish list is pretty much the standard pick for every side. Everyone always wants another decent striker. We're short in numbers defensively but, with Chambers impressing as he has done so far, not in quality. There's room for a Xabi Alonso type sitting midfielder, which may have been what Kallstrom was seen as, but that's a rare bird to find. We've plenty of permutations of forwards and midfielders to play with but we'd have hoped to have resolved those before the season got underway.
wenger just spouts words out n u guys hold onto it ... from a neutral perspective u guys lack a good pivot .... giroud is good but all alone which is bad since u guys have o play uefa wic will rob u of players n injuring them ... if wenger is smart as most think he should make sure ur team gets to top 8 or 4 of uefa until then u cant win epl or uefa since mancity n chelsea r already pushing for top spotsin both competitions ... dont say u got no money to buy these players lol u got loads of it just saved somewhere ....
It seems Wenger isn't alone in just spouting words then Gary. I'm not sure what point you're trying to make but even being smart doesn't make sure you reach the final 8 or 4 in a knockout competition. As for spending money we've done rather a lot of that for the last 4 years now. It'll pay off eventually if others have their financial wings clipped a little by new regulations.
in an ideal world, we could just sign a cd as hinted by wenger, develop chambers as a dm and hope for campbell to step up as our main striker. i always think it's good for a dm to have some cd experience. vieira started as a cd and eventually grown into a complete defensive midfielder
gary777, I find it hard to understand your point in all that babble and mumbo jumbo; but I am guessing you mean well, so fair play to you.
The Ataturk pitch was not in good condition, but this affects both teams and we cannot assume that the Turkish side would not be happy to play in the pristine conditions the Emirates stadium would provide. There is a need to get our boys up to speed on the fitness front, seeing as we have had 3 weeks and some competitive games to do so. It is rather curious that all of the German world cup winners have featured for their respective clubs, in friendlies and competitively (bar Khedira), except ours. Why do we have to pamper them so? How much WC footie did Poldi get that he couldn't cut short his holidays as Jack did, for instance? I think, except for Ozil, neither Poldi nor Mertesacker should be taking the full extended vacation. It smirks of complacency and suggests they expect to get their places as soon as they are back. That shouldn't be the case. Calum Chambers should play till Per earns the right to replace him; same with Ozil. They shouldn't walk right back into the side or we would be sending a wrong signal.
We play the rest of the season with Giroud as our main striker and the most we will win is the FA Cup.

He's as good or as poor as he was last season and its senseless to expect him to be anything more than the average striker that he is.

Galway Gooner
Why's that, Galway? let's use the old Ramsey argument - you could have said, two years ago, "Ramsey is as poor as he was last season and it's senseless to expect him to be anything more than the average player that he is". Unless of course his form improves.
Most of the Germans don't play competitive matches until this weekend. The EPL starts a week before the German or Spanish leagues and 2 weeks before Serie A. The German players are training to get to match level fitness but don't have the luxury of pre-season games to help them. Even though Poldolski and Mertesacker didn't play in the latter stages of the WC they would still have trained to maintain match preparation and then would have taken time off later than say the Spanish or French players and consequently would have less time to get back to basic conditioning. Arguably Per has already earned the right to replace Chambers but in any case how does he do so without playing? What you really mean is wait until a young player like Chambers gets exposed and then drop him. I don't think that's what Calum needs at the moment. Let him revel in the credit he's been getting over the few games he has played and build his experience and reputation carefully. As for sending the wrong signals leaving Ozil out of a side struggling to create chances would most definitely do that.
Real Madrid and Bayern/Dortmund have all played games akin to competitive schedules (super cups, et al). Andre Schurlle returned a week earlier than our Germans and is already playing (and scoring) in the EPL. He also trained to maintain match fitness. There is some greater measure of exertions you undertake in real match situations so, I am sure if our Germans weren't taking advantage, Poldi may have returned earlier, especially as he does have a place to vie for. What I am advocating is to introduce them into the squad gradually; from the bench and then slowly have them take their place. As for Ozil, we may be struggling to create but we all adduce this to "not enough gelling time", so why should we expect him to improve us on the creative front as soon as he is ready to start when he would be using such games to achieve "basic conditioning"? Calum doesn't strike me as one who would be fazed by getting exposed; to be honest, he inspires more confidence in me than the said Per, with all due respect to the BFG, at least in the games we have played so far. He handled Demba Ba in a way an unfit Mertesacker may have struggled to do.
Plenty of players missing from Bayerns line up against Dortmund but it was seen as more competitive for Dortmund than Bayern. As for Schurlle Chelsea can probably afford to rest him more through the season than we could rest Ozil or Mertesacker. I'm not sure we would have used Poldi in these opening games even if he had been back. You need only look at the chances created and assist stats for last season (even without gelling time) to see why a fit Ozil stands a good chance of improving the teams creative capabilities. Basic conditioning is what Mertesacker, Ozil and Poldi are undergoing at the moment in order to be ready for a consistent run of games. Wilshere received much the same acclaim that Chambers is receiving now in his early games. It won't take much for sentiment to turn against a young player like Chambers and the confidence in him with it. Much as it has done in many quarters with Jack. While we're getting to know Chambers strengths you can bet the opposition are looking for his weaknesses. They'll already know Mertesackers strength and weaknesses and he'll know what they know. That's what Chambers and we have yet to find out. He's better doing that as a controlled learning process than simply waiting for him to screw up - which he will do at some point. I'm impressed with Chambers youthful promise but Per's experience gives reason to be more confident in him for much of this season. In some ways this is a strange exchange though. On the one hand you're questioning why the Germans aren't playing and on the other claiming that they shouldn't be playing just yet anyway. Neither Ozil nor Mertesacker should be back until they're in proper condition for a sustained campaign but all things being equal they should be among the first names on the team sheet.
Tough game and not a great result - a 2-0 at home is now required to be a bit safe. For the everton game, Arteta needn't be risked at all and looking at his form and panache for intercepting threatening attacks, Chambers could start as the deepest midfielder and hopefully even pull it off. Mert could slot back with Kos - lets not forget how amazing their pairing was overall last year. About Giroud, he is not at his best but even when he plays well, one gets the feeling that even a striker like Remy offers more in terms of penetration, playing off the shoulder of the last defender and being able to beat his man. Hope we put in a bid for him for another experienced option in attack. Also agree that our midfield balance isnt working currently. Ozil needs to go right back into the team, either at the expense of Wilshere or Cazorla. A player with the qualities of a fit Diaby (when does that ever happen I know!) would be welcome in this midfield.
Amos, what I am on about is a lot to do with your last sentence. They shouldn't just come into the side, just because they are available, but only when they are in the condition to, having first 'earned the right' in training. They would have achieved conditioning had they returned a bit earlier. These are professionals and should know that being a WC year, it comes with the territory to have a shorter holiday. The Germans played against the Argies, whose players returned earlier than our Germans (Higuain even scored last night). It just appears curious that ours needed a longer time off. Anyway, my rant is over. Maybe, I am a bit emotional seeing as the team has been rather grinding out the results except for the Charity shield game.
maybe we should finally give podolski a chance as our main man with consecutive run of games since he would probably be squeezed out for a slot at the flank when ozil and walcott return. surely he can't do worse than giroud & sanogo. apart from technique, i guess his positioning and finishing are not inferior to rvp
Damiano - Giroud is 27/28. He's at an age when really he should be at his peak. Its rare for strikers to make a huge step up at this age. He is certainly not going to get any quicker.

Ramsey was 21 two years ago with relatively little football under his belt coming back for a very serious injury.

Comparing the two is senseless.

Galway Gooner
Think it was reasonably obvious that a few players still aren't quite sharp yet and we have a few still getting to know one another (Debuchy and Alexis on the right have no working relationship yet and it shows). But that will come. One of the symptoms of not being sharp and not quite knowing your teammates yet is a tendency to hang onto the ball a second longer than usual and on a pitch like that, it's not hard to see why both sides struggled for fluency. This is another 90 minutes towards getting sharp and fostering those relationships. With Jack in for Özil, the shape of the midfield has changed slightly and you can tell not everybody is totally familiar with it. Hopefully next week with a couple more players back and a bit more sharpness, at home, we should see a more confident attacking performance.
Little Dutch
Re: ze Germans and their return, I would be inclined to trust the fitness coach that has worked on their fitness all summer in making the call about their readiness. Whilst it'd be great to have them in August, it's important we have them in good shape come March and beyond.
Little Dutch
Agree LD but the problem is that all the other teams are saying the same thing! Unfortunately we won't be the only team to improve as we get used to playing as a unit!
Galway Gooner
GG, in the general scheme of things we should expect all teams to improve as the season progresses. And that is good for the overall competition. For us though I think we should at least return to the level we played at for most part of last season and then stay healthy. My aspiration is that the small margin requires to win it all will tilt our way. Of course it will need convincing to suggest or forecast that we will win it this term. But this is football after all.
Finding a silver lining in the cloud of Ramsey's suspension and Arteta's injury: Ramsey missing the next CL match due to his red card can be seen as a positive, as it is probably the only rest he will get until Wenger runs him into the ground (again). Regarding Arteta's injury, I don't know how long he'll miss but we do have sufficient cover in that 'sort of but not really' defensive midfield position, and for the last year and a half or so I've seen Arteta as the place quick transitions from defenders to attackers go to die.
Actually think Arteta is very good at quickening the transitions, he passes the ball quickly, accurately and with purpose. Especially when Arsenal come nder pressure, you can see him really step up as a calming influence, I think the issue is that the dye is cast, so Arteta and Giroud will always be seen through cynical eyes now because people want new players in those positions, it'll bias them gainst the players we have until such players are bought. GG, yes other teams are saying that, but here's little use in peaking in September or October, as we found last year and in several other years I can think of. (2002-03 we flew out of the traps but came to a halt by March).
Little Dutch
Transitions are probably Arteta's strength, along with spreading the play and keeping our passing rhythm going. His only weakness is a lack of pace, which requires other players to step in to help (like Ramsey or one of the wide mid fielders). Mertesacker has the same issue but Koscielny covers for that. Arteta is 'found out' when no one covers for him in situations where his lack of pace hurts us.
Giroud has been with us for 2 seasons and he doesn't look to have improved in any form. Maybe it's his style but he sluggish, even on a good day, isn't as prolific, and doesn't instil that confidence of a top forward. Teams can risk counter attacks against us knowing that should any fail, a Giroud doesn't pose much of a threat the other way. We had frightening pace in the game against Benfica and it felt like the Gunners we used to know. All players have off days once in a while, but Wenger chooses to stick with one on such a day is baffling. Carzola should have been off earlier and Giroud shouldn't have even started. This team can't win the league with Giroud and we all know this. A million Ozils is pointless if no one is competent enough to convert those chances. Heaven help us when Ramsey burns out.
Arteta is not and never has been good enough for a title-challenging team. He's a good, not great, player, and now he's slow as *****, not that he was ever a speed merchant. I wish him all success as long as he plays for Arsenal, don't get me wrong, I just think he is the single biggest hole in the squad. My opinion, as valid as yours.
What was Arsene thinking when he passed over Fabregas ? You guys are poorer for it & we richer !!
Yeah we thought you might need some help as you haven't won a trophy for a while ZeeNut. Best that you wait until the end of the season before boasting too much though or some might mistake you for a spud.
arteta is not as bad as most people made out. just that he is never meant for the deep lying dm role. wenger changed his preference for physical cm like vieira, petit, edu, gilberto & parlour to technical players like fabregas, hleb, rosicky, nasri etc to attempt the barca-style football in the last decade. it didnt pan out. when fabregas , nasri & song left, we only recruited arteta and we was forced into the dm role. i guess it's more or less gonna be the same had we forced fabregas or rosicky to play as a dm
The performance away against Besiktas wasn't good but it wasnt dire either - this is a team which beat Chelsea in a friendly a few weeks back. Some of the posts here are in my opinion over reactions - the return game is yet to happen and neither has the transfer window closed. The season is long and there is a lot of time for final judgements yet.
I think those playing the sitting midfield role tend to be thought of as slow whether they are or not. It was a criticism often made of Gilberto as well. The speed they need though is as much in their quickness of thought and the ability to read and react to play quickly. Arteta's interception rate is high. He tackles quite well and passes quickly and accurately. He has positive qualities
u can cling onto giroud for as much as u want but jeez he needs a good backup hes not going to last a whole season ... u need a good striker ... if u guys try alexis as a no 9 pretty bad idea wingers rarely r good strikers .... arteta is good but u should get tall pivot there like yaya , matic who can rough other players down ....
I don't recall Gilberto, Makelele, Deschamps, Dunga etc being quick. A good deep lying midfielder doesn't have to be because it's a position for those with positional nous. But I agree with prits' point strongly, it's no coincidence that Arteta's best form with the club came at the back end of 2012-13 when Ramsey played alongside him.
Little Dutch
Arteta does okay, but it's not his natural role to begin with. However, we can do better. So far we have replaced Sagna with a player slightly better, we have replaced Vermaelen with potential, and added Alexis. Hardly the improvement needed to win the league. Without a better main striker we probably won't win the league, although I'd be happy to be proven wrong if the mix of all our attackers can score at will. But who is available, and within our price range, to replace Arteta? Only Kediera, Carvalho, Lars Bender, and Schneiderlin. Take your pick, any of them have the skill, and more importantly, a strength advantage over Arteta. I don't mean to pick on Arteta, I'm just saying that unlike striker, there are a lot of affordable upgrades available, and winners are ruthless. Of course Arteta is better when Ramsey plays beside him, of course Mertesacker is better with Koscielny beside him, but all that says is that both of those players are limited and upgrades should be sought for both. By season's end, Chambers will be the starter over one of those two - which one I don't know. If Wenger wants to be thrifty, we can get Song back for half of what we sold him for. Not the world class player I hope we can get, but he knows the system, and while his passing is not better than Arteta's he is quicker and recovers faster. I have to say that defending Arteta by saying Gilberto wasn't fast is a bit disingenuous. While that fact is true, Gilberto was expert in his role, and trained to play it. He wasn't Everton's attacking midfielder forced to play a deeper role, that was his role throughout his career.
There's a history of players being very successful outside of their 'natural' position - going back decades. In our first double winning side midfield wasn't Storey's natural position, defence not McLintocks, midfield not Graham's. It's much more about finding a balance of abilities and talents that compliments those of others. Hence Mertesacker isn't necessarily more limited than Koscielny if his ability to read the game compliments Kos's speed and determination. Similarly Arteta's abilities can compliment Ramsey's stamina and energy but more wayward passing and decision making - and vice versa. It just comes down to finding the right balance. Lars Bender and Schneiderlin are simply not available according to their clubs. Whether Khedeira is A affordable or B a defensive midfielder isn't clear either. Carvalho is a young player who has had one good season seemingly available for some £35m or so - available perhaps but is he really a worthy buy? It's not really disingenuous to point out that Gilberto and others weren't fast if the only complaint about Arteta is that he isn't quick.
wanyama could be a good option. his is almost unmovable. good in tackle & his passing accuracy is good enough to play for a passing team like us
I think we should have gone for him earlier when he was being touted for a move to the EPL. Now, Southampton may be loath to sell another player, especially as the season is in full swing.
Elbondo, while a transfer or two will happen before August 31, transfers dont guarantee a title anyway, so your expectation that we require "the improvement needed to win the league" is fine in theory but not practice. A club fuelled by financial steroids like Chelsea last won the league in 2010 - thats how competitive the league is. While we can give ourselves a better chance of winning the league by strengthening the team, a belief that some fans have on the lines of "buy this player and that player and we will win this league" takes things to championship manager mode.
It's a point I've made before but worth repeating. Liverpool had a better chance of winning the title last season than they had had for some time. How much of that was due to their transfer signings last season? Not Alberto, Aspas and Illori I'm certain. Toure looked a liability at times and Sakho played less than half a season. Whatever improvement Liverpool managed last season it was due almost entirely to the same resources that finished 7th the season before last.
wanyama is a little low profile compared to schneiderlin. whilst the later has better football brain & the main schemer to southampton game plan, wanyama could be just the right man because we just need an impenetrable shield in front of the back 4. we have enough creative midfielders to do the rest. he is young & have experience playing in epl. he can wrestle it out with the likes of yaya toure, mantic etc
Not sure if Wanyama would be able to make the required step up from Soton/Celtic to us. However he's relatively young and has all the required attributes of a defmid player. Might be an option just maybe not one to get over excited about!
Galway Gooner
Joe_@**, not sure about him being "an impenetrable shield" or S'pton would be league champions. Lol. He is just a good defensive midfield man; hopefully, the excitement of being in a team as Arsenal would result in him giving his all, a la Chambers.
elbondo - 1. Khedira is not a like for like replacement for Arteta. More like Ramsey, a box to box mid fielder. 2. From a skills perspective, there is little evidence to suggest that Lars Bender or Carvalho are better than Arteta. Carvalho has only played 30 times for his club side and is overpriced at 35M. I don't understand how you can make an evaluation of his skills in such a short time span (unless you watch every game in the Portuguese league. In case you do, I apologise and will defer to your better judgement). Benders passing range is poorer (78% last season and never exceeded 85% ever) vs Arteta's 92% last season. Bender is stronger than Arteta, so I'm assuming you're ok with the trade off (stronger vs poorer passer). I'm not sure I am. Arteta is the engine that makes us tick in terms of maintaining passing rhythm and playing out from the back. I don't think we can afford to lose that only for a stronger player.
Naijagunner, "an impenetrable shield" is a bit of an exaggeration, but fits the bill ;)
At the risk of pedantry, I'll point out that Gilberto wasn't at all a specialist defensive midfielder trained to play in that role. He started as a centre half and only moved into midfield about 2 years before Arsenal bought him. When he went back to Brazil, he moved back there too. So he actually spent more of his career as a centre half than as a midfielder.
Little Dutch
vieira started as centre half too in his youth. as i mentioned in another column, it's always good for a defensive midfielder to have some education as a pure defender. wenger may want chambers to go through the same transition
Pass completion percentage can be misleading if you don't factor in length and ambition of passes. My main point is that Arteta can be improved upon, and therefore should be. I here Football Manager referred to often, usually meant as a putdown, but I can assure you I've never played it nor do I base my opinions on player ratings in that game. However, if it makes you feel better about yourself, have at it. I see deficiencies in the squad, I'll throw out a few names. Even if Gilberto started his career as a netball player, it's laughable to compare him to Arteta in the similar but not identical role they play(ed) at Arsenal. As for Liverpool last year, where would they have finished, and where would we have finished, if we'd managed to secure Suarez? Brendan Rodgers transfers have not been that great for the most part, and I can't say I've been impressed with his business this season. So last season I'd say they got lucky. Buying players guarantees nothing but buying players that address your weaknesses certainly increases your odds of winning something. Not addressing areas of weakness means . . . fourth place, at least for Arsenal. Fourth place probably makes the board happy - one more Cat B fixture to reap the gate receipts from - but it's nerve-wracking for supporters. I'm sure we'll win but the scary thought is that we are a score draw away from Europa League. We don't have Ramsey or Arteta, but they don't have Slaven Bilic on the sidelines, so I feel good about the match.

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