28th March 2016: Ozil talks Pep and purchases

Easter Monday greetings. Some more from Mesut Ozil to begin with today and our assist-maker supreme has been discussing the impending arrival of Pep Guardiola at Manchester City and suggesting Arsenal will need to be active in this summer’s transfer market in order to compete next season.

He said:

We know that it will not be easy and that we need reinforcements if we want next season to be on top here again. It is again interesting to see who invests in who and how much the clubs do during the summer break. In addition, great coaches are coming into the league. I am thinking primarily of Pep Guardiola. Wherever he has been, he had success. I wonder what he will do with Man City. He will be imprinting his football in England and people will be surprised.

Kick and rush proponents will be surprised, sure, but those fans with a less primitive, and more discerning, footballing eye will know exactly what’s coming from Senor Pep – press, pass and move football at a level England has never witnessed from one of it’s own sides before. How long it takes him to form his team to his tastes, is the question.

As Mesut suggests though, what Guardiola’s arrival does almost guarantee, is that sooner or later City will be very difficult to keep up with, so our summer recruitment needs to be spot on.

Personally, I’m just looking forward to Wellington Silva taking the league by storm next year when he’ll have returned from his loan at Bolton, but I wouldn’t say no to a Julian Draxler, a Paulo Dybala, a Mats Hummels or an Ngolo Kante either …

A super short post today but it’s a Bank Holiday, no-one will be reading anyway and I’ve got to try and enjoy the last few hours of my all-too-fleeting, long weekend.


4th November 2015: Champions League Preview – Braced for Bayern, the brilliant ball hogs

Welcome to Wednesday on TremendArse. So it’s Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena tonight, as Arsenal aim to repeat our feat from a fortnight ago by beating the Bavarians.

Brace yourselves Gooners. Because it’s unlikely to be easy viewing later, what with Pep Guardiola’s penchant for creating football teams that hog a football like Frank Lampard does all-you-can-eat buffets.

If Pep’s Barcelona were the epitome of efficiency in possession, he’s fashioned a Bayern side that exhibits similar levels of exhilarating economy, through quick-witted and rapid-fire ball circulation, with a breathtaking killer instinct to top off their domination of the ball.

Frankly, as an opponent, it must be hellish at times trying to stay focused, composed and motivated amidst a blur of opposition ball retention. A bit like those drills you see in training when four or five players form a circle and pass it around, as one poor sod is tasked with trying to intercept from the middle.

If you’ve ever been the piggy in middle in a situation like that, you’d no doubt admit that after a while of having the ball zipped marginally beyond your reach, it’s hard to fight the urge to simply slide in with abandon and clatter into one of your tormentors.

Yet that’s exactly what we have to make sure we do – avoid losing our heads and stay defensively controlled, as Arsene Wenger highlighted at his pre-game press conference last night. And the boss listed this need to stay mentally robust, as part of a three-point plan if we’re to be successful this evening, telling Arsenal Player:

Firstly we need to convince ourselves that we can do it and after that find a strong defensive performance without diminishing our offensive potential. It’s in three steps – the first hurdle is psychological, the second is to be at the right level defensively as a team and the third is try every time we can to attack.

Watching that interview, and remembering Arsene’s comments after the game between the sides at Emirates stadium last month, you get the impression we didn’t expect Bayern to dominate the ball to the extent they did before the game.

Yet once the match kicked-off and it became apparent we’d enjoy a lot less possession than we’re used to, the boss dropped Mesut Ozil deeper and decided to adopt a full-blown counter-attacking set-up during the course of the first-half.

He also attributed the success of our more direct attacking once Olivier Giroud had replaced Theo Walcott up front, to the latter’s contribution in stretching the Bayern defence earlier in the game.

The inference being that not only had Theo tired their back-line by the time Giroud entered the action, but perhaps having to face a very different type of threat in the brute physicality of Giroud later in the game was too much for them to cope with.

In fact, I remember Rio Ferdinand, speaking after the game on BT Sport and from considerable experience of course, saying how hard it would be for a centre-back to have to adapt late in a game from facing the threat of blistering pace to sheer strength and an aerial battle.

Unfortunately, unless say, we unexpectedly start with Joel Campbell at the tip of our attack and leave Giroud in reserve for the later stages again, we don’t have the personnel to do the same tonight.

But perhaps it can work in reverse. Giroud can soften their defence up a little with aggressive hold-up play, before a more pacey, nimble option comes on to run at drained legs. Although the only options we’d be able to call on would be the raw duo of Alex Iwobi and Jeff Reine-Adelaide, Campbell if he doesn’t start, or a defender like Kirean Gibbs.

Time will tell of course but it’s worth remembering that on our two games against Bayern in Germany over the last couple of years, we’ve won one and drawn one despite fielding, for me at least, two inferior starting XI’s to the one we’re likely to boast tonight.

Encouragingly, our midfield terrier Francis Coquelin, seemed in bullish mood when he spoke alongside Wenger at the pre-game press conference, declaring:

We’re up for it and the team is ready.

Let’s hope so.


20th October 2015: Champions League Preview – Can we beat flying Bayern?

Welcome back. In football, there’s ‘in-form’, then there’s Bayern Munich. The German champions, under the stewardship of the creative Catalan coach Pep Guardiola, visit Emirates stadium tonight having won nine out of nine Bundesliga games so far this season.

Whereas we lost at Dinamo Zagreb and at home to Olympiakos in Champions League group F, Bayern beat the latter 3-0 in Greece, before battering the Croatians 5-0 in Germany.

So despite our very encouraging Premier League form heading into tonight’s fixture, and based on the above, you’d probably be forgiven for assuming we have very little chance of a win tonight. Especially when you throw in the fact that on their last two visits to Arsenal, the Bavarians won both games with, if we’re honest, consummate ease.

All that said, we’ll be at full first-team, if not squad, strength this evening and if we play to our potential, can beat any team in Europe in my opinion. Arsene Wenger spoke about a study confirming the importance of scoring the first goal in the Champions League recently, so getting the balance right between keeping it tight at the back and breaching Bayern’s defence will be key.

With that in mind, I wonder if Arsene will set us up tactically more like when we beat Bayern 2-0 at the Allianz Arena in March 2013, when we defended diligently in numbers and broke forward at pace at every opportunity, rather than the more gung-ho attacking whirlwind we were at the start of our last game hosting Bayern and indeed the recent win over Manchester United.

We need to win of course but a winning goal, as Saturday’s victory at Watford reminded us, doesn’t have to be scored early. What’s more important, is that we don’t concede first and Petr Cech’s presence in our side is one big reason I think we have a greater chance of securing a win against Bayern tonight than in previous meetings.

Speaking at his pre-match press conference yesterday, Arsene highlighted his side’s confidence after back-to-back 3-0 successes in the league, bemoaned our two group game losses and spoke about the need to play at our best if we’re to beat Bayern, saying:

The confidence level is there, the needed result is there as well – we know exactly what is required [because] a 0-0 is not even a good result. To score goals, we have to attack. It is true that [we have delivered big results] before, but we want to do it again because we feel a bit that the pain inflicted [in the Champions League] was a bit by ourselves. Maybe subconsciously we thought ‘anyway we will win these [first two games’. Now to correct that we need a great performance. What we want to do is play up to our level – that will be needed because we play against a big team.

I have to say I’m very, very excited about tonight. A lot has been said about perhaps prioritizing the Premier League, having made such a poor start in Europe, by resting players etc but not so much about the possible positive effects on the side a win over such highly-rated opponents would produce confidence and momentum-wise.

I mean, when we host Everton on Saturday, surely it’s better going into that game a little more tired but a lot more confident, than if we’d rested several players tonight and been soundly beaten. As Arsene often points out, belief is easily eroded but very difficult to re-establish.

Meanwhile, Aaron Ramsey, who will have to be typically industrious in getting back to help out Hector Bellerin against one of Bayern’s best attackers this season, the Brazilian Douglas Costa, has been discussing the game and his hope the team can get the home support ‘on our side’, saying:

We’ve done really well away from home [against Bayern Munich]. It’s about starting the game well and getting the momentum and the crowd on our side early on. That’s what we’ll be looking to do to hopefully go on and get the win that we’re looking for. We’ve had some really good performances and results against Bayern, so we’re looking forward to tomorrow. These are the games that you want to be involved in, play in and test yourself in, so we’re looking forward to that. As a professional player you always go into every game wanting to give your absolute best. Unfortunately in the last two Champions League games we were not quite there to get the win, but our focus is now on Bayern and we are really looking forward to playing and going out there to express ourselves.

After scoring his first goal of the season against Watford, tonight would be the ideal time for Aaron to capitalize on the rediscovery of his shooting boots and help fire us back into contention in this group.

See you tomorrow.