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Mertesacker and Koscielny this season and this match only served to emphasise how good they’ve been together this season. The affectionately nicknamed BFG successfully completed 14 out of 14 clearances along with 13/13 headed clearances. His French partner in crime also succeeded with 14/14 clearances but faired oh so slightly worse in the air, “only” successfully making 9 out of 9 with his head. That’s a 100% success rate between both centre backs! Unheard-of statistics in recent years.
The only blemish on a near perfect defensive performance was the slight lapses in concentration that allowed Benteke to get free to score a consolation and almost nick an undeserved late equaliser

Oxlade-Chamberlain back to full training and Serge Gnabry putting in an impressive shift against the Spuds, we have two young guns who should be chomping at the bit. Following Walcott’s injury, I’m sure it wouldn’t have gone unnoticed that the position that is open to them is very much a niche position. Of course, Wenger could plump for Rosicky

Walcott fanboys would have had reservations over whether he would be able to perform in this unfamiliar role. Lacking both the physical presence and the hold up play that a lone striker would ordinarily require, one would be forgiven for expressing some concern that we might struggle in attack. Walcott would also be up against Vlad Chiriches who was coming off the back of a man of the match dfensive performance at Old Trafford which is still no mean feat for any defender. Thankfully, that accolade for the Sp*rs man proved something to be a one off and any fears Arsenal fans had were quelled as Walcott


Having spent the entire campaign fielding Olivier Giroud as lone striker, it seemed inevitable that, sooner or later, the Frenchmen would pick up an injury, and so it transpired against Newcastle at the weekend. Bendtner, the only other striker in the squad, already not an entirely convincing option to step in, has now been sidelined too. The need for suitable reinforcements in this department could not be more desperate at this point - especially given the rather ineffectual performance of Lukas Podolski as a makeshift centre forward against Cardiff.

Almost as much as Giroud's goal, Arsenal's resolute, if at times desperate, defensive display was a key factor in securing those three precious points. Returning to the starting line-up after two games on the sideline was Laurent Koscielny who seamlessly slotted back in alongside Per Mertesacker at central back. In the second half, as the defence around them seemed to morph and change shape constantly, the two held their nerve, reorganised and ultimately stood firm to deny the Magpies a would-be equaliser, managing a combined 29 clearances between them. Another stat flying round after the game was that Arsenal haven't lost a league game when the two have been paired (Per-ed?) together for 23 months. Admittedly, I don't know how many matches that actually

Using the most recent game, Manchester City away, I noticed officials going against us early on. There were some early incidents that got the City fans moaning. This led to them booing decisions that went against them and adding pressure on the ref and unfortunately for us, the linesmen. I remember Girod getting the ball in what the home fans thought was an offside position; the home support went insane as if he got away with studs-up challenge a la Toure on Girod later in the same game. The crowd’s reaction put huge pressure on the officials in the game, and it told. In fact, the City fans kept out two goals the City defence could not. So, what do we do? How do we get round this?

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Ok, City boast a fantastic squad of players who, as we have seen, at the top their game simply cannot be beaten. However, as good as they appeared to be, they were ably assisted by abysmal Arsenal defending. City's opener came as a result of some schoolboy-like ball watching from Larent Koscielny who seemed oblivious to the presence of Sergio Ageuro sneaking up behind him to volley home from a corner. I'm yet to put myself through the agony of listen to any pundits' assessment of the game but I imagine our zonal marking set up will come under scrutiny. One of the biggest mistakes people make about this system is that they think players aren't marking and somehow remain static. This is incorrect. Koscielny was tasked with marshalling the 'zone' of the back post area, meaning he should

 

  • 15 Sep 2015
    So let me stop reminiscing of days gone by and let me focus on our Welsh wonder. Let me start off by saying that I think it is quite obvious that Aaron Ramsey is better in central midfield. His partnership with Mesut Özil, his running from deep and his underrated ball winning ability makes him a ...Read more