Tag Archives: Sheffield Wednesday

Sheffield Wednesday v Arsenal – Did anyone come out with any credit?

Wow. After nearly 24 hours awake, a 380 mile round journey, seeing us going cross-country twice due to diversions on the A1 and getting home at nearly 3am, the confusion is still within as to how we lost that game.

It was just not good enough. The senior players did not look up for it, and were let down by the younger pro’s who were clearly not up for it. The younger players proved that they were not Arsenal quality, but also let down by the senior pro’s who failed to guide them through the game.

Did anyone get out of the game with any credit?

Petr Cech – 4 shots on target. 3 conceded. Not stats to be proud of. I think he could have done more with the first. He looked flat footed. Was he entirely up for the game? Was the adrenaline pumping? In the Premier League, I think he would save that. The other two, he could not have done any more. I really do not understand why he played?

Mathieu Debuchy – Debuchy has now played 3 games this season. 2 defeats and one win. And even in that win, against Spurs in the League Cup, he was the worst player on the field. Clearly lacking match sharpness, but he is also playing like a player who knows his Arsenal career is over and his international career in jeopardy. He came to us as France’s number 1 right back, he was not called up for the last squad. With Jenkinson doing well at West Ham, I would not be surprised if this was Debucy’s last game in an Arsenal shirt. Jenko return to compete with Hector Bellerin, he will be out on his ear. Was at fault for the first, and offered nothing defensively or going forward.

Calum Chambers – When your team concede from two set pieces, you have to question the centre backs. Per Mertesacker did not do a good job of marshalling his troops (more later), but Chambers once again looked like a rabbit in the headlights. He has gone backwards in the last 12 months. It is nearly a year to the day since he was destroyed against Montero of Swansea. He needs games. He is still just 20. Look at John Stones, the progress he is making. A January loan move (with an option to recall) would do him the world of good.

Per Mertesacker – The senior player on the pitch. The captain. The 100 cap world cup winning international. And he failed to organise the side. You get this with Per sometimes. He will be excellent for a run of games, then through in a pony performance where he looks like Bambi. Last night was one of those. I guess the only thing to be grateful for is that he has chucked in a pony performance in the League Cup, and not in the last few games previous. He let his side down.

Kieran Gibbs – Another senior pro who let his team down. Gibbs is now 26. And yet he still often plays with the timidness of a 20 year old. He offered little in defence, and not much going forward. It did not help his cause that infront of him was a player he had probably only spent a few hours training with previous, meaning his one twos down the line werenot on the same wave length, but it was a piss poor performance and he looked half the play of Nacho Monreal. His career is not at a cross roads.

Mathieu Flamini – I actually felt sorry for Flamini. He is a midfielder destroyed. An engine. And last night, due to injuries and lack of option, he had to become the midfield playmaker with two kids ahead of him. Not an ideal situation. Saying that, he should be good enough to move into that roll against a side such as Sheffield Wednesday, and the fact he was unable to step up shows he is not Arsenal quality. Most wanted him gone in the summer. 2 goals against Spurs hid the fact that he is simple not good enough. Worryingly, due to injuries, he will probably start on Saturday against Swansea.

Glen Kamara – I am always reluctant about criticising kids. It is not far on them. Not fair to destroy their confidence, not fair to attempt to destroy their career before it has even started. And not fair to judge them on one game. But Kamara is 20 (today. Happy Birthday). He will never play for Arsenal again. He perhaps shows how bad of a shape our youth set up is in (they do not play in the top Division remember), if he is the best we have to offer. A competition which saw the likes of Fabregas and Wilshere break through, has probably also seen one of the worst players in recent times pull on an Arsenal shirt.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – He could have made the difference last night. We struggled due to the 3 behind Olivier Giroud not being good enough. Last night was set up for him to dictate the game. To go off after 5 minutes was disappointing. And the disappointment was etched over his face. With Aaron Ramsey out, this was his chance, but he now see;s another spell on the sidelines, and his Arsenal career might be running out of time.

Joel Campbell – I laugh to myself every time I think of “Get out whilst you can Joel” and people rating him highly and saying it is a disgrace that he has not played more. He is just not Arsenal quality. A few lunging tackles aside, he did nothing. Again. This was his 4th game of the season. It has produced 3 defeats. We should have sold him after the World Cup 16 months ago. At 23 and having played over 100 games of top flight football in France, Spain & Greece, he was one of the senior players last night. And he failed to step up to the plate.

Alex Iwobi – Like Kamara, I do not want to be too harsh. But like Kamara, he showed he is not of the quality Arsenal need. 19 years old, he has looked good on youtube. But the fact is, at the same age, the likes of Jermaine Pennant, Ryan Smith & Jay Simpson were better. And where are they now? Like Kamara, he is a poor reflection on a poor youth set up. Something that needs to be addressed.

Olivier Giroud – He played like he did not want to be there. In his mind were Ozil, Sanchez, Cazorla, Coquelin & Bellerin, sitting in their in a jacuzzi, eating pizza. He was on the field on a cold wet Tuesday night in Sheffield. And he could not do it.He is not a game changer on his own. He relies on those around him to create the chances. And last night, those around him were not good enough, and that translated through to his performance. Most dissapointing was when he barracked young Iwobi for delvering a poor cross. Rather than encourage the yougnesters, he looked down at them, letting them know they were not good enough.

Theo Walcott – Had he failed to warm up properly? Would he have made a difference when he came on for Oxlade-Chamberlain? Who knows. On the pitch for 15 minutes. Get’s injured. The worry is how long he is out for, not how he performed last night.

Ismael Bennacer – A summer signing from France. Another kid who showed he is not yet good enough to step up. Let’s be honest. Before last night. None of us knew who he was (same as Kamara), and in 5 years time, none of us will remember who he was.

Krystian Bielik – The only youngster to come out with any credit. Looked tidy on the ball and battled well. On the flip side, by the time he came on with 30 minutes to go, the game was over and Arsenal were simply passing the ball from side to side. disappointed he did not get the start ahead of Kamara.

Arsene Wenger – Did he get it wrong? The starting 11 was what most of us called for, bar Glen Kamara. So not in the 11. The team was clearly demotivated. That is an issue all Wenger sides have had in the last 10 years when playing weaker sides. And you could argue the bench was too weak with only Walcott and Monreal as senior players. But then what are the odds that you lose two senior attacking players in the first 15 minutes? We will only see over the next 10 days if leaving Czorla, Coquelin, Sanchez & Ozil at home was the right thing to do. Beat Swansea, Mnich & Spurs and this defeat will look like a sacrifice well made. Lose, and we will be questioning why he has given up a chance of another trip to Wembley.

You could question his substitutions, After Walcott went down, could he have put on Monreal, pushing Gibbs onto the wing? Or bought on Gabriel, pushing Chambers to right back and Debuchy on the wing? Possibly. But having seen senior players pick up injuries, he bottled it.

 

A poor performance. the senior players need to look at themselves, and Arsenal’s youth academy is clearly not producing. But then we knew that already.

For those who went, get some coffee down your neck and have a good day. Some of you probably have a weekender in Swansea coming up, followed by a Monday flight to Munich. We are glutens for punishment.

Finally, well played to Sheffield Wednesday. You did us good and proper.

Keenos

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The Long Drive to Sheffield Wednesday

Usually I moan about the lack of trains to away games. TV companies changing kick off times without taking into account last train times or engineering works. It is the bane of my life. Up there with ticket prices as a major frustration of being an away fan.

Coming up we already have a nightmare journey to Southampton to come on Boxing Day. There were already no trains due to engineering works, so fans were already having to make alternative arrangements. Matters were then made worse with BT Sports deciding to move the game to a 7.45pm kick off. By the time the game is over and everyone has driven home, it will be gone midnight.

I feel for everyone’s designated driver. Boxing day should be a joyous occasion filled with football and beer. A 3pm kick off would at least mean the designated driver would be home at 8pm and able to get a few in the boozer – paid for by his pals who he has just taken to the game – and have a decent night. Now, he has no chance, unless he decides to drive straight to O’Neill’s in Leytonstone.

Personally, changing the fixture has ruined my chance of doing every league game this season. I was on course for the 38. Had planned holidays away from games. Opting for short midweek breaks (Ibiza & Egypt) to ensure I was back for the weekend (yes, some might call me sad). However, the change in times means I have no chance of making it.

The plan was to spend Christmas in Suffolk, escaping on Boxing Day to Southampton for the game. A 3pm kick off would mean I would be back in Suffolk at about 11pm, enabling myself to continue the full Christmas festivities before handing back to London for Bournemouth at home, and then back to work on Tuesday 29th December. The change of times means it is not far on family for me to arrive in Suffolk on Christmas Day, bugger off early hours of Boxing Day morning, never to be seen again.

So that is my chance of doing the magical 38 ruined.

Also coming up, we have a Tuesday or Wednesday night trip to Liverpool coming up in the 2nd week of January. Great. Just as we all get our holiday reset, we have to take a couple of days off (with no trains) to head up North. This fixture shows that the Premier League are as bad as the TV companies when scheduling games.

Yes, it is a random computer generation, but they do put stipulations in it, such as distance of travel for sides on Boxing Day & New Years Day. Why they can not repeat this for scheduled mid week games I do not know.

Anyway, rant over.

Today I do not mind the lack of trains. A mid week cup tie in a backward northern town. It is what you live for as a football fan.

Anyone going tonight is probably sitting there at work now, reading this, looking at their clock.

A half day booked off. Football gear hidden under the desk. It hits 1, a quick change in the toilet before commuting to wherever you are meeting your mates. In my case, it is the hour and twenty journey from Twickenham to Walthamstow. Meet my pals at Walthamstow Central, before the drive up to Sheffield.

A 3 and a half hour commute. As long as we do not encounter traffic (Everton away last season, adding an extra 2 hours to the journey), or a break down (THAT mini bus trip to Burnley which meant we missed the game and watched it in a pub in Coventry), we should be in a pub near the Leppings Lane end by around 6pm.

The journey will hopefully be swift. We will have some tunes blasting out (Courteeners, Rifles, The Who, Fetty Wap, The Jam, etc). Some Haribo will be eaten. And a couple of cans will be sunk – not by the driver obviously. I am buzzing writing this.

Watch the game, then the reverse journey. Bombing it back down the M1, knowing that we have tomorrow booked off. We will be back in London by about 1pm. Will any pubs be open? Probably might. If the result is good, a cheeky trip into Rainbow’s in Liverpool Street might have to be the plan of action to finish off the night.

I am buzzing for tonight. It is a rode trip. It will be cold, it will be dark, it is up north so will probably be raining.

It is a trek, but for once it is not due to greedy TV companies. It is for the Cup. And if you can’t get up for the Cup, what are you in football for?

Have a safe journey to all my fellow travellers. As I write this we have 5 hours until we can finish work.

Safe driving

Keenos

How seriously should Arsenal take the League Cup?

At the end of September, had you asked me how seriously we should take the League Cup, the answer would have been simple. Very.

Having lost the first 2 Champions League games of the season, and with home and away ties against Bayern Munich coming up, you could, and many did, write off our chances of qualifying for the knockout stages for the Champions League.

We were also sitting 3 points behind Manchester City in the league, a gap which had been reduced from 5 in the last game week of the month.

City looked to be running away with the title and our Champions League hopes were slim to none.

The League Cup, usually bottom of our priorities, was looking to be very important. A winnable trophy in what was looking at a disappointing season on the other two fronts. We had recently beaten Spurs, and a draw against favourable draw against Sheffield Wednesday meant that a Quarter Final place was very much on the cards.

At the time, I would have been happy playing our strongest 11 against Sheffield Wednesday.

Roll on a month and our priorities have changed quickly.

A perfect October has seen us with a 100% record for the month. Add in the victory against Leicester at the end of September and Arsenal are on a run of 4 Premier League wins in a row, sitting top of the league alongside City, and back in the race for qualification for the Champions League after a victory against Bayern Munich.

Suddenly, the tie against Sheffield Wednesday is no longer as important as it was.

Sheffield Wednesday will be our 4th game in 9 days, and is half way through an intensive run of 7 games in 22 days. Add in the International break, it has been a tough schedule for our players.

8 players have started all 3 games so far. And against Everton – the 3rd game in 7 days – we saw some tiredness creeping in towards the last 20 minutes.

We have already lost Aaron Ramsey to a hamstring injury caused, by Wenger’s own admission, to over playing. It is hard for a manager to decide when to rest a player. Wenger admitted that he considered resting Ramsey for Munich. But resting your player who covers the most ground in a match where you plan to not have much possession would have been suicidal. Ramsey had to play, and we paid the price.

With what we have coming up. It is important to shuffle the pack. Give those players who have played all the games so far a mid week break. Recharge their batteries for what are now more important battles ahead. Swansea away, Munich away, and then Spurs at home. We need to make sure our key players do not pick up injuries, that over playing does not cost us a title challenge like it has done in previous years.

Cech, Koscielny, Monreal, Bellerin, Coquelin, Ozil, Cazorla & Sanchez. Those are the 8 who have started every game. They should be no where near the match day squad for Tuesday. (note: I see Wenger has said Cech will play. He is a goal keeper, so doesn’t need as much as a rest).

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Olivier Giroud have also played in all 3 of the last 3 games, but for two of those 3, came off the bench.

Oxlade-Chamberlain looked rusty at the weekend. He needs to get some game time under his belt. A full 90 minutes against Wednesday, will do him the world of good, and rebuild his confidence. He must start.

As must Giroud. With Walcott and himself seemingly rotating depending on the opposition, it is more likely that Walcott will start away to Swansea this weekend and in Munich, that leaves him as being very important over the next few games. So a 10 day rest for Walcott will be him the world of good.

Personally, I would put out the following 11 tomorrow:

Cech

Debuchy Mertesacker Gabriel Gibbs

Flamini Chambers

Iwobi Chamberlain Campbell

Giroud

At the beginning of the month, I would of said play the strongest 11 against Sheffield Wednesday, and shuffle the pack for the Munich game. Now, circumstances of our own creating, means that should be reversed. The League Cup is back to being 4th priority. We must rest the key players for it, giving us the best chance to complete our perfect October and continue our roll into November up until the next international break.

Keenos