Wannabes Win On A Spursday Evening in Belarus

By Charlie Ashmore

Online Ed: Three points v Bate Borisov secured

(Ed’s note – I was unable to catch the game yesterday evening, so my thanks to Charlie Ashmore for writing today’s piece on the match)

I really don’t know how seriously I should be taking this competition. On the one hand, it is a European competition which we have every right to expect to be able to have a decent tilt at winning. On the other it feels a bit like the League Cup has felt since probably around the turn of the century – a bit of a nuisance in the fixture list, an opportunity to play teams we don’t play very often and an opportunity to give fringe players a kick about.

On balance I think at this stage we have to treat it as a bit of fun, a chance to see unfamiliar line ups and what they can do and if we progress further as we should then all get a bit more serious about it.

Certainly the youngsters around the club must love it as a competition as it seems that Wenger treats it as a licence to chuck in any 18 year olds who happen to walk past him when he is picking the squad. To be fair the ones who started did not look particularly out of place and clearly have potential - but they are probably some distance off yet being able to make a real contribution in the more serious business that is the Premier League.

But what of the players who might be looking to show their talents sufficiently to force their way into the starting eleven in important games? The obvious place to start is Walcott, scorer of two goals and you would think therefore an obvious candidate for player of the match. And yet. This was such a typically Walcott performance. In all respects other than the goals, he was generally poor, repeatedly caught offside (and those bemoaning the wrong ruling out of Wilshere’s goal for offside should look at Walcott’s position when the ball was pushed out to him to cross), repeatedly overhitting set pieces, repeatedly making infuriatingly bad decisions (look at Wilshere’s reaction when he failed to roll the ball to an unmarked Wilshere, a reaction which would have been equalled for the same reason by Willock late in the game had Willock had a few more games under his belt). What do we do about a problem like Walcott? His goals suggest she has something to offer. His all round play does not.

Wilshere on the other hand is a player we really need to come good. Every time he gets the ball you can see him trying to find a positive move he can make, looking for that pass that opens things up or a gap to run into and through. Before he tired the best bits of our forward play involved him. His contribution to Walcott’s first goal was delightful as were a number of his contributions. If only we could get him fit and crucially keep him fit, there is no doubt in my mind the team could benefit from the spark he provides.

As for the others, well Cech won’t feel threatened by Ospina, who had an average game. Holding, who I feel has been mistreated this season, enjoyed his first goal but had a mixed game defensively and that of course is his job. Mustafi still overcommits for me but appears to have forced his way back to the starting eleven despite the transfer window shenanigans. Mertesacker will never let us down but seems to have adapted to his elder statesman role and is happy being in the background as he winds down his playing career. Elneny remains a fine back up and did nothing last night to suggest he will force his way past Ramsey or Xhaka in the current midfield line up. Giroud finally got his 100th goal, confidently converting the soft penalty we were given. I like his attitude and the fact that he has stayed to fight for his place. He is a fine player but did not have his greatest game last night, drifting in and out. He will however as he has always done make a valuable contribution to our season – he has goals in him and continues to offer a different option which we will need at times.

Overall, a reasonably entertaining night. I like watching us going forward. I hate watching us defending. How we can look so solid against Chelsea and then so fragile against West Brom and Bate Borisov, God only knows and the roller coaster that is an Arsenal season these days will continue over the coming months. The good bits remain good. The bad bits can be very bad and will ultimately cost us as they always do these days. Last night taught us nothing new but there is I think nothing new to be learned about Wenger’s Arsenal. If, as I have, you resign yourself to that, you can sit back and enjoy the good bits, laugh knowingly at the bad bits and wait for things to change.

In the meantime, it’s roll on to Red Star…

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29th September 2017 06:33:56


Comments and Reaction

User comments on this article are now closed. If you want to continue the debate, why not do so on the Gooner Forum.

The Man From UNCLE  7:54am 29th Sep 2017

A superb, just superb, victory last night. The Arsenal made the ever-difficult trek to the former Soviet Union to play a crack side and silenced a volatile home crowd with their precise free flowing football, the game was over in the first 20 minutes. Just hand us the trophy now. Or, alternatively; Arsenal's not-quite full strength side made the 3-hour plane flight to Belarus to play their fair-to-middling league champions and wasted several opportunties to be 5-0 up at half time, instead letting their opponents back into the game with some typical sloppy defending. When they meet better quality oppostion such slackness will be punished. - Post No. 110027

Badarse  11:56am 29th Sep 2017

"Uncky Badarse, why are those pepples so very, very, very, nasty to you?"-'Well little one, I think they feel threatened by me.'-"They is jus Keystone warriors."-'You mean keyboard, Keystones are those funny people who keep doing silly things, mmm, then again you may have a point, little one.'-"I fink when they want to silence you they is Satanists."-'Well little one, I think you mean Stalinists, but you may be closer to the truth there.'-"Uncky Badarse, they has funny names, like Corny ol' git who does the woofing a lot, Eggman, Allsorts de Tottingham, AckyKackyB, and we knows what the B stands for, equiim, equiod, I fink just e-man should be 'is name coz he also talks a good fight."-'Again little one I bow to your insight in these matters.'-"What about Mark the Nark, where is he defending what is right and properly?"-'Mark of Nark; a nark is a cowardly informer, little one.'-"Den I fink he is Mark the Nark, you has to earn a goodist name."-'Possibly, and I suppose that's true enough.'-"Fing is most knows you loves Highbury, so why dossen theys others speak out? Is they cowardy custards too?"-'Well perhaps they are. Thing is when a clique feel threatened they close ranks and a form of silence underpins that.'-"So is they rank, Uncky Badarse?"-'Perhaps they are.'-"I know what you is doing. You is poking them with a bald egg again."-'Correct little one.'-"Shall we go and throw some more mud at the wall Uncky?"-'Good idea, and perhaps some mud sticks, doesn't it.' - Post No. 110030

Nos89  12:47pm 29th Sep 2017

We should treat this competition like we used to treat the cup winners cup, a European competition we can win. We come over as too arrogant to dismiss this. Mourinho had the right attitude, a trophy we can win, so lets go and win it. We've got that belief in the FA Cup, a trophy we've won 3 times out of 4 years. We used to take the piss out of our players who had won nothing with us, now we dismiss the trophies they've won as mickey mouse competitions. At the end of the season if we haven't been relegated and won one of 3 domestic trophies and the bonus of a European trophy then we should enjoy it and be happy. - Post No. 110031

Exeter Ex  13:03pm 29th Sep 2017

Badarse - are you using that silly voice to try and disguise the paucity of your argument? Again - you reappeared yesterday with an unprovoked comment belittling the comments of others. No one was being nasty to you beforehand because you were on one of your regular 'I am leaving never to return' breaks from this site. So, how do you square what you did yesterday with 'I never cast the first stone' and can you now understand why people responded the way they did to you? And what in what you write do you think we should be feel 'threatened' by? Do you think people are intimidated your towering intellect, by concepts such as 'fuzzy logic'? That you'd think this an appropriate context in which to introduce such a concept shows your feeble understanding of it. Psuedo-intellectual once again. You are easily run off this site on regular intervals as you simply cannot respond to points raised. This is why you revert to silly voices and sketches, to try and obfuscate the sound verbal beatings you take. It is good sport handing them out and will continue for as long as you keep making these 'comebacks'. Why don't you try responding point by point in good English to what I've written above? What are you 'intimidated' by that stops you from doing so? - Post No. 110032

Deighty  13:32pm 29th Sep 2017

WTF is that Badarse on about, can we have our Arsenal fanzine back please. No more frustrated writers more football "bants". Anyway 2 goals for Walcott but stil the same Walnut. Liked the look of Willock though - Post No. 110033

GoonerRon  14:19pm 29th Sep 2017

Wilshere very good in the first half, hopefully his step-by-step journey back to form and fitness can continue. Nice to see 9 homegrown academy players in the squad and 12 Brits overall too. Let's hope we can continue to win these winnable games. - Post No. 110034

John F  14:33pm 29th Sep 2017

Good post Charlie reflected the way I saw the match.I don't mind the Europa cup as it is about Arsenals level and if it was a simple knock out competition I would enjoy it more.Being in the champions league with the current regime that had no ambition in trying to win it was getting boring but as long as Bayern or any really decent tactical side do not drop out of the champions league and draw us in the Europa Arsenal could go far. - Post No. 110035

Bard  14:44pm 29th Sep 2017

Gooneron; it would be a miracle if Jack came through all these injuries and fulfilled some of his potential. The odds against it must be massive. It was funny listening the Wenger talking about the youngsters, saying they had to grasp their opportunity unlike presumably many of the first teamers who have the luxury of endless opportunities, Wally comes to mind. He's had a ten year career of blowing opportunities but still gets in. It does seem as thought he has his favourites. - Post No. 110036

A Cornish Gooner  15:26pm 29th Sep 2017

Baldy, Baldy II, Baldy Balboa, Brian, The Return of Baldy, Creep:Jamerson, The Return of Baldy II, Creep II:TOOAW, The Return of Baldy III, Uncky Baldy : Uncky Baldy II Now available as a box set. The story of the son of a wrestler who thought he could take on the world. In each film he puts his head above the parapet, ends up taking a beating, being trounced intellectually, and storms off in a huff threatening/promising never to return. In all the film sequels he returns to deny he was trounced, or stormed off in a huff, and tries to take on the world again. But as usual the film doesn’t end well for Baldy. The latest film is a sadder story. Having taken so many beatings Baldy has suffered serious brain damage and can only attack in a childlike manner. Despite this he continues to maintain he is a threat to people, who have now begun to feel sorry for him. Coming sooner than you want (probably): Uncky Baldy III. - Post No. 110037

markymark  15:39pm 29th Sep 2017

Badarse - how did that car journey go with the lady who you decided to throw obnoxious insults at? You see it’s the little things like that which make me think you protest a little too much. Still at least you’re not writing ditties about groping woman anymore, so some sort of improvement . Your Parrot ToOaW will no doubt respond. - Post No. 110038

Badarse  16:12pm 29th Sep 2017

The monthly Online Gooner WOR Virtual Reality meeting takes place this week, destination unknown at the moment as the scouting party are still out looking for a phone box in the Swamp area. mugMAYDUP has been delayed in his normal duties as he has been trying to darn some holes in his wellies, and has been fretting over next years abortion vote in Eire, but be assured winkle pizzas will be aplenty. We wants Winkle out! - Post No. 110039

GoonerRon  16:23pm 29th Sep 2017

@ Bard - I don’t know if it even exists as a ‘thing’ but perhaps something going for Jack is his lack of ‘mileage’. He’s obviously done loads of rehab on plenty of occasions but he hasn’t played lots of competitive football - perhaps if he can stay away from injury (big ask) he still might have plenty to offer. - Post No. 110040

markymark  17:08pm 29th Sep 2017

Gooner Ron - he’s got to stop jumping in, ignore the wind-ups and play his game. Then he might have a sporting chance of a really good mid-career revival. I hope for the lad I really do. - Post No. 110041

Jason  17:14pm 29th Sep 2017

So yet more attacking midfield players coming through the youth academy. How come the two positions Wenger neglects most, centre defence and defensive centre midfield, also get neglected at youth level. Who was the last centre defender to come through the ranks?? - Post No. 110042

markymark  17:20pm 29th Sep 2017

Badarse - this seismic shift in your multi social media knowledge is impressive! VR eh? You’ve got your finger on the pulse. Only last year we lost an entire season of your contributions due to some vague server problem you mentioned. I seem to remember you also stating you couldn’t, or didn’t know how to surf the Internet. I suspect you’ve finally managed to turn on the robotic instruction voice on Your Fisher Price “My first Computer” “Brian please press the big red button, I do not understand Brian , what is this Quisling you mention? .... failure to compute Brian.... failure to compute Brian, 000011101010111000 syntax error....” Hard disk is now crashing ...... fatal error..... - Post No. 110043

mbg  18:57pm 29th Sep 2017

A Couple of decent results against teams more to our level and a lot of our players level and worse and as someone has said a comp we have half a chance of winning and we're world class, and the grin is back, xbox jack is a world beater, wally is world clsss, but others aren't being fooled and know better. wenger out. - Post No. 110044

CORNISH GOONER  19:27pm 29th Sep 2017

If ANR's "scoop" today has legs even Mr Badbottom might feel a bit concerned - i.e. Wiggy buying out Fat Alisher so AFC will be totally a private company & Monsieur Hulot has a job for life, literally. Could we persuade Jazzer to nationalise AFC? Thought not. Suicide is pointless so, altogether, "OH Arsene Wenger". - Post No. 110045

mbg  19:58pm 29th Sep 2017

Deighty, don't ask mate, he's one of these half wit wengerites who's constantly getting his arse spanked on here and sent on his way vowing never to return, but always does trying to be smart after a regulation win as if he's been right all along, but it doesn't take long until he's sent on his merry way again. We want wenger out. - Post No. 110046

mbg  22:37pm 29th Sep 2017

Oh and treat it as a bit of fun ? get off your high horse mate it's our f*****g level under wenger as long as he remains, Jesus H is there no end to it, you couldn't make it up. wenger out now. - Post No. 110047

Arseneknewbest  6:40am 30th Sep 2017

Mbg-Agreed. Brom,Borisov and Brighton aint quite Bayern Barca and Borussia is it? A sign that wengo's ship of fools is in the doldrums. Cornish - Nice one. And to think Badarse Molloy coulda been a contender. ... - Post No. 110048

Bard  11:33am 30th Sep 2017

Cornish; I read that piece about Stan buying out Usmanov and the impact on Arsenal becoming a private club. I think that will be the final straw in the destruction of Arsenal as a proper club. No accountability no accounts published, no board. Depressing beyond belief. - Post No. 110049

Seven Kings Gooner1  12:32pm 30th Sep 2017

Cornish Gooner, If that is true about Kronke turning Arsenal into a "closed company" then the coffin lid can be firmly screwed down and the cremation of what was the major part of my life, outside my wonderful family, can begin. What a combination, "Red neck" marketing coupled with the "X Box" football management by Arthur Webster. This afternoon I shall watch "Anfield 892 again with a few beers and tell myself this was the best it ever was with my Arsenal - my dad's Arsenal and my two son's Arsenal. Like my childhood it will never return - nor will my idea of a proper Arsenal team. - Post No. 110050

mbg  14:06pm 30th Sep 2017

CORNISH, and we all know who would just love that, (no doubt hoping for it)this old arrogant excuse for a manager we have now, no pressure to succeed, to win anything, no accountability, for £10,000,000 plus a season, just bumble about and beat Fergies record. wenger out. - Post No. 110051

CORNISH GOONER  20:19pm 30th Sep 2017

I know this football fan stuff is ridiculous & I do understand why Ron is so pissed off with the modern game BUT, when I watch Man City, ManU, Spurs or Chelski on a good day I can still enjoy the artistry of genuine, truly competitive teams. Like others here, I have followed AFC through thick & thin for well over half a century, my 2 sons have followed that path. The thought of snuffing it (because I am older than OGL) with Arthur still at the helm is beyond depressing. Club revenues are at historically high levels, ambition at an historic low. Can Wiggy he be prosecuted under the Trades Description Act for pretending to own a football club? - Post No. 110052

Issue #269 - Out Now!

Gooner Editorial

23rd February 2018

It Is Actually Getting Worse

Online Ed: Arsenal’s largely unmotivated players defeated at home