Date: 20th August 2014 at 12:35am
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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.


50 Replies to “No Champions League Turkish Delight”

  • 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.

  • 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.

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