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Everton 2 - Arsenal 2


23rd August 2014 5:30 pm

Attendance: 39,490

Arsenal Chew Hard On Toffees

I guess using Alexis up front was something we needed to try out given Girouds recent form. Giving Ox a chance out on the right seemed a positive attempt to make us a little more direct too. Playing Mertesacker in the less familiar role on the left side of centre defense was a decision that made itself unless we were to test Chambers further by moving him from the right side that he at least had some familiarity with having played there since the start of the season. Leaving Cazorla on the bench to accommodate Ozil seemed straightforward enough and Flamini was the obvious option to replace Arteta. What we were left with though were wholesale changes, whether by design or obligation, that taking a look at the team sheet prior to kick off didn't give the most comfortable feeling against a team that had been very strong at home last season and had turned us over quite comprehensively a few months earlier.

Everton, who haven't won a major trophy for 19 years, at Goodison looked a sterner test than Crystal Palace, who haven't won a major trophy ever, at the Emirates but unfamiliar team or not set up as we were to play on the break, we started brightly enough getting the ball forward quickly. But too many players seemed to want to play in the same areas with Ox particularly coming inside too far and too often off his flank. We seemed to deprive ourselves of space attempting to form triangles that were too narrow and too intricate. Once we'd gone behind and Everton were even more at ease sitting back and playing us on the break the counter attacking strategy became redundant.

The goal came against the run of play but was a classic example of uncertainty as to who should be doing what and where. Ozil has rightly been criticised for not tracking the full back though as much, maybe more responsibility falls onto young Chambers for playing everyone onside. At the same time Wilshere and Flamini should be asked what they were doing posing like statues with their hands behind their backs while offering Barry all the time, space and distance he needed to put a ball into the box. Ramsey making a late attempt to close him down seemed just a token gesture. Barry was probably trying to pick out Lukaku but as it sailed over Lukaku's head Colman met it perfectly.

Thereafter it was a question of whether we would be able to fashion a goal without conceding on the break. We couldn't. With everyone upfield and only Flamini and Debuchy in a position to offer any cover while Chambers, who still has a bit to learn, had gone missing Mertesacker was probably ill advised to try to win the ball deep in the opposition half even if he was fouled. For those who feel Ozil doesn't put in a full shift take a look at the only player busting a gut to get back and try to offer some cover. Naismith's goal may have been offside but even so it seemed punishment for some naive play.

Unable to play on the counter ourselves Wenger was forced to make the change and use Giroud in place of Alexis up front in order to have someone to hold up play and bring others into the game. Unfortunately Ox, Ramsey and Wilshere were all having poor games though, as was pointed out to me during the game, even though Ramsey is playing poorly he still has a habit of producing an assist or a goal while Jack particularly produces very little. Cazorla possesses the technique and ability on the ball and with the ball that enabled him to create as many chances in the limited time he had as Wilshere, Ramsey and Ox combined managed throughout the match. It was the introduction of Cazorla combined with Giroud rediscovering his touch and strength that ultimately earned what had seemed an unlikely point at half time.

Cazorla's ability to take and play the ball on either side created enough space to fire a ball across the penalty area to the far post for the industrious Ramsey to knock into the net. That willingness to put in the effort, to fill the unforgiving minute with 60 seconds worth of distance run, is what presently distances Ramsey from some others when they're struggling to contribute. He doesn't hide when things aren't going his way which somehow increases the chances that at some point they will. It was a poor over hit ball from Ramsey that Monreal retrieved and then fired in a cross that disturbed Giroud's elaborate quiff as he headed home decisively.

So we gained one point this season where we failed to gather any last. An improvement then but at the moment without the fluency of performance that might encourage the belief that we can achieve more than we have in recent years. There's time for us to find that and indeed there were passages of fluent play in this game but we first need to find some stability in defence and midfield. That might take a few weeks yet but the players are there. We just have to decide who they are.

In the meantime we have to find a combination to beat Besiktas, who haven't won a major trophy for 3 years, before our next PL outing against Leicester City, who haven't won a major trophy in 14 years - if the League Cup is a major trophy.

Star Player

Ermmm?? Monreal did ok. Giroud maybe? Cazorla? Ozil? Maybe we didn't have one.

The Journalist

Writer: Amos Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Saturday August 23 2014

Time: 11:56PM

Your Comments (oldest first)

Change to most recent first
Nice wrap up of the game and related issues, Amos. Good spot about how Ozil was the only one acing back to hassle Lukaku when he broke away. Everyone gets carried away with the media orchestrated stereotype of our players/team as 'soft' and lazy or unwilling to do the dirty work with said Ozil a popular target. I thought Monreal did well and the ploy to put Lukaku on him didn't quite as well as the last time. He would get better and maybe start to get the respect he deserves. Finally, I guess you meant the reverse when describing the positioning of both Mertesacker and Chambers, in the 1st part of the article. Merts played from the less familiar left side, while Chambers retained his slot on the right side of central defence.
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24/08/2014 01:08:00

An honest assessment. I was more forgiven of the performance after watching the match a second time without much adrenalin and with the mute button on to muffle the commentators. Time and competitive matches for the players are really the missing ingredients, in my opinion. it was clear that Ozil and Mert needed the run out and Flamini too. For the rest just the usual chemistry and familiarity issues which must be sorted out. So, for the star player award I will go for the point gained.
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24/08/2014 01:28:00

We will click soon enough, I just hope tis not too late in the season then. Like you said, we just need to find the right combination of players every match day. Jack is a wonderful player but maybe he's playing with the wrong group of players or he's played in the wrong position, who knows. To be honest, he put in a good shift today. At a time, I even suggested that Ramsey should be taken off. But then again, that lad has a way of scoring or making an assist even on his bad days. That's more than welcome for me. I don't think Chelsea or City will struggle against the Toffees even at Goodison, and that has me worried if we regard ourselves as contenders. Our attack is still suspect, only God knows how we pulled off a draw cos we were terrible for large parts of the game. I pray for a better performance against Besiktas. COYG!!!!!
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24/08/2014 03:57:00

Excellent and fair match summary Amos. if Giroud isnt fit for the Besiktas game it would be bad news indeed as for all his short comings he remains the focal point of the team in attack and has strengths no one else in the squad has.
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24/08/2014 07:31:00

Good spot on my centre defence confusions Naija. Once spotted I just had to correct it.
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24/08/2014 07:56:00

cfc just played n beat 2 park bus teams n easily with goal difference ....our best defence of ramires matic has not been used so far ... n everton wont be so lucky .... ur team was rough on everton during tackles wenger must have told them to break some ribs it seems ... poor alexis had to work so hard .... ur pivot is weak seriously ... the lower teams throw too much long balls at pivot in the cfc games ... wenger should get ready for it lol if he can that is .....
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24/08/2014 08:24:00

Some really cogent and incisive thoughts there gary.
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24/08/2014 08:40:00

@gary777, i watched the leicester game & they didn't exactly parked the bus as you claimed. in fact could have got in front from one-on-ones a couple of times before you lot scored. on another note, we were only let down by our poor records against the top 4 teams in the last 2 seasons. our point tallies against teams below us were probably the best among top 4
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24/08/2014 08:42:00

gary777 your keyboard appears to be sticking? please rectify and repost, as postings are hard to decipher.
Chippy Brady
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24/08/2014 09:27:00

Can we sign someone who can lead the line, please?
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24/08/2014 10:11:00

Wishful thinking shewore!
Chippy Brady
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24/08/2014 10:16:00

Leicester city outplayed the chavs in the 1st half and most of their fans had their hearts in their mouths in that spell. As a creative force, they were lacking and took a full back in Ivanovic to create the chance for the first goal.
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24/08/2014 13:48:00

Think there may be questions to ask of Everton's pre season having hugely dropped off and conceded last minute equalisers in their first 2 games. Given midweek exertions, we had no right to look fitter and stronger in the second half. Cazorla and Özil swapping over gave us a bit more diversity but I felt we looked better going forward in the second half than we've looked in the first two games. I think the team just aren't used to Alexis' movement yet so it didn't quite work with him upfront. Once Giroud came on they knew what they were dealing with and how to play to his strengths. Felt a draw was fair. My big regret was conceding such a silly goal at 0-0 when we were looking quite comfortable.
Little Dutch
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24/08/2014 14:29:00

Someone call gary777's mum.

Great write-up, Amos. Lots of little changes and a bit of rustiness, a great attitude and an improvement on the result from last season. If we do that all year, we'll be more than fine. I must admit I laughed my head off reading the comments from during the game - "Giroud? Is Arsene mad?" etc. First five and last five games of the season, only the result matters, for me.

LD, funny, I was thinking how like Oli's first season this was - nothing quite coming off, the team struggling to work out how to use him. It's a testament to how well he fills that role that the rest of the team are now struggling to play a different way. It will come for Alexis, of that I am sure.

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24/08/2014 15:15:00

I do not know about you, but these experiments?!? Chelsea have played their best 11 regardless of who they are playing, but AW seems to think it's okay to tinker with the squad by playing Sanchez through the middle. I recall a certain Theo doing a similar thing. When will the gaffer realise we need a striker?
e dubbz
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24/08/2014 16:07:00

1. Chelsea didn't have to play 4 games in 2 weeks, so need some chopping and changing. 2. The game was set up for us to play on the counter, hence the use of Alexis, apart from need to rest Giroud/players. 3. Once that plan to play on the counter was no longer feasible, Wenger was courageous enough to make the right change. Basically, we need to have perspective when looking at these things. I can't speak about the manager's thoughts as to whether we need a striker but I am sure he is best suited to make that call.
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24/08/2014 19:05:00

some observations on wilshere & ramsey. generally, these two players are better than average midfielders. then again, there is nothing particularly special about them. they are not world beaters in their tackle, dribbling ability, passing range etc but they are good in most aspects nevertheless. here is where the problem lies for us. when both of them are on the pitch, they are not particularly defensive to help out the back four. also, they do not possess enough flair like cazorla or rosicky to bring the ball further up and they do not have the pace of walcott or ox to get behind players. when they are playing together, they would just spend most of the time huffing and puffing between the first quarter & the third quarter of pitch, neither offering enough defensive cover nor enough offensive firepower. they are just too similar and kill off each other’s role. at the moment however, ramsey has the edge over wilshere as the later has developed the uncanny ability to scent opportunity & sneak in from the blind side to get the goals, very much like ljungberg at his peak. in fact, they are indeed very much like ljungberg but wilshere is the version without the goals. a ljungberg without the goals is akin to a jack of all trades but master of none. wilshere has to develop a niche to step up into another level, either by improving his passing range, dribbling skill, shooting from outside the box, defensive attributes or whatever. he just has to add something to his game. on the other hand ramsey is most dangerous when the opponent's defence is out of shape. then is when he would transform into our second striker and it is very difficult to mark out him because he sometimes starts his run from 70 yards away. thus, he benefits most when there are enough playmakers like ozil, cazorla & rosicky on the pitch to stretch the opponent’s defence. playing wilshere in the same pitch therefore would sacrifice a spot for one of the playmakers and reducing ramsey’s chance of doing what he does best
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24/08/2014 19:49:00

That's pretty much spot on in my view Joe. Ramsey and Wilshere play the same role in our set up. One or the other I reckon but we lose something on the creative side when we play both.
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24/08/2014 20:13:00

Let's hope that the Ramsey/Wilshere axis is an experiment to expose the shortcomings and work out solutions. It hasn't been promising so far but it may also be too early to conclude that the permutation is doomed to failure given the number of matches they have played together.
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25/08/2014 01:13:00

first fabianski, then mannone, both of our ex-keepers seemed to be extra motivated against man u. please to see them doing well especially against our rival
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25/08/2014 06:05:00

Wilshere definitely needs to step up his game a notch if he wants a first team spot. He's not doing enough offensively or defensively. He didn't have a poor game but I'm struggling to notice anything he did in his time on the pitch. I'm not concerned (yet) by our lack of understanding / fluency. Giroud was excellent when he came on and it looks like he has found his fitness & form.
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25/08/2014 09:26:00

Joe - no idea how you can claim that Ramsey is simply a "better than average" midfielder? Haven't you been watching any of his games over the last 18-24 months??? Insanity.

Jack W, yes is looking more and more like an average player who's been simply over-hyped but Ramsey is moving closer the becoming genuinely world class each week.

Fully agree that the two cant play together and why you'd break up the Ramsey/Ozil partnership from last season simply to accommodate Jack W is beyond me.

Galway Gooner
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25/08/2014 10:06:00

Prits did you really think that Giroud was excellent!!! I acknowledge that he worked hard and we looked better when he came on cause we had a target up front, but have u sees how many opportunities did he waste??? He should have scored a hat-trick really, Having a striker in the class of Aguero, Suarez, Falcao, ... would win us games that we draw or even lose.
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25/08/2014 11:09:00

@Galway Gooner, i dissected their general attributes and concluded that they are "good in most aspects". thus my synonym to "better than average" is good, maybe 7/10. due to ramsey's football intelligence for being in the right place at the right time, that makes him "better than good". in football, if you are better than good, you are actually just a level or two below world class which i dont believe he is at that level, yet
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25/08/2014 13:05:00

That's a good analysis, Joe. Wilshere seems to have lost that acceleration he had when he first came on the scene. I don't know where i read but someone wrote Wilshere's running style don't help him. He also seems to be to bottom heavy in terms of leg size and strength and, if possible, needs to lose that in place for speed and agility. We'll need to see how he does at the end of the season if he can stay injury-free. I agree that Ramsey is very good but to be world-class he needs to do it 2 or 3 seasons running.
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25/08/2014 18:55:00


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