Up there with Arsenal’s worst nights of European Football – Only Ospina gets over 5/10

Arsenal 1-2 Ostersund (4-2 agg. win)

Europa League Round of 32 Second Leg, Emirate Stadium.

2 out of 10 DW

I’m in two minds here.

A small part of me (10% or so) is content that we’re through to the next round. At the time of writing, we’re playing AC Milan, and to be fair we’re beaten them on occasion before. It would be a battle between two fallen giants of the global game, and a repeat of our meeting in the 07/08 round of 16 (Champions League) would be sweet.

However, concerning the game just gone, the remainder of me is appalled, shocked, and disappointed at a very poor performance.

I’ve noted that a lot of my reviews are pretty negative. Well, I guess since we’ve had a lot of bad results lately, it’s natural. But the way we played here – and with respect to Ostersund afforded – was woeful. We showed, again, the same errors and mistakes plaguing our domestic form. If we play like this against City, we’re screwed.

The starting line-up was acceptable, with a mix of squad players, prime starters, and youth. However, our attitude as ever was non-existent, and due to bad defending we conceded two goals in ready succession.

The first half saw Ostersund boss us. And, again with respect to them, they are no better than Nottm. Forest (remember the result, we lost that too…) If they were an English club, they may be Championship/League 1 level, or at very best a poor Premier League team. This half showed how ill-discplined we can be at the back, and it cost us big time.

The second half saw us up the tempo somewhat, and we got a quick goal via Kolasinac. Nonetheless, we were bereft of the sharpness and guile needed to win this comprehensively. Moreover, Ostersund exhibited the afore cited qualities that we lacked, and had some key chances to enhance their lead in the latter stages.

Yes, we won the tie. We should be content with this, naturally. But the manner of the second leg performance typifies all that is wrong with our team currently. It’s bittersweet and a mixed bag (but the bag is mostly full of sourness and not sweetness).

Good goal from Kola

Impressions/player ratings

Not much more can be said other than what’s stated in the opening.

We lacked drive, sharpness, and tactical organisation.

Ostersund warrant credit for giving us a scare, and a good game to boot. Maybe we’ll meet them again in the Champions League game, who knows? I doubt they will not qualify for Europe again readily.

As for us, this performance shows that we’re in a near Twilight Zone. We’re stuck in a mire of bad defending, poor positional discipline, and abominable coaching. We’ve become a banter club, and I’m sure the footballing world had a good chuckle at our expense.

Yes, we did proceed to the next round. But we had internationals in nearly every position, and we still displayed limpness over 90 minutes. I think the footballing world, who whilst laughing at us will acknowledge why we moan. There is no real end to this malaise at sight, and a positive is that Milan are not on their game either. Maybe we can get something, but who knows, that is to come.

Not his best game as skipper!

Ospina 6 The goals were not his fault,  but overall looked OK on the night.
Bellerin 3 Defensively and offensively was poor.
Chambers 3 Ditto Bellerin defensively
Holding 3 Ditto Bellerin defensively
Kolasinac 4 Did well to get forward to score, but contributed to the poor defending.
Elneny 5 Got overrun by their midfield, but managed to keep things ticking somewhat
Maitland-Niles 4 He’s still young, but didn’t have the best game.
Wilshere 4 Not Jack’s best game, as he didn’t impose himself enough as the principal creative midfielder
Mkhitaryan 3 He’s still new, but was muted for most of the game.
Iwobi 3 Iwobi needs to reflect and ponder what he wants from Arsenal and his career. He has talent but continually is not excelling.
Welbeck 2 Welbeck is a player who much experience, at club and international level. However, despite his strong work rate, and getting in the right positions, he doesn’t capitalise on this due to inept finishing. Like Iwobi, he needs to consider his career and place, since he has talent but at 27 should have developed better finishing ability by now.
Xhaka 5 Looked to create in the second half.
Nelson 5 Didn’t do much to affect the game
Willock 5 Ditto Nelson


I am glad that we’re through.

And knowing how erratic we are, we may just beat City and aggravate us and the footballing world even more. All the same, whilst the very big guns (Kos, Mustafi, Ramsey, Ozil, PEA) were not there, some of them played (Jack, Bellerin, Xhaka). We had more than enough to beat them on the night, and it represented much of the same failings.

Ozil will be back for Milan

We can still win this competition, but it needs consistent outings from ALL of the big guns from now on. People said Ozil would chicken out of going to sub-zero Celsius Sweden…..he didn’t. Northern Italy is a lot warmer than northern Sweden, and it would be springtime by the time we play them, so we need him and other big guns to be primed and ready to go.  At the least, any pretensions about “playing in the cold” (bar a meteorological freak show of epic proportion…) cannot apply for the San Siro game.

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One Response to Up there with Arsenal’s worst nights of European Football – Only Ospina gets over 5/10

  1. Victor Thompson February 24, 2018 at 11:27 am #

    Absolutely right about all of this. I would add that even in a game against a much weaker team, Arsenal retreated into their sideways/ backwards routine performed at walking speed. We gave away the most simple of passes repeatedly and Mikhitan was the worst culprit. The swedes gained possession mostly from poor passes than physical challenges.

    Time after time we made advances from the back which should have been done at speed, but as soon as we approached the halfway line, the play stopped. Nobody ran into position to make himself available and the guy in possession stalled with the ball, because there were no options to pass to. Caught in indecision, he passed backwards and the advance petered out. That is an indication of poor coaching! Can you honestly see any Guardiola team play like that? They are the best team in the league, not only because of their slick football ( which used to define Arsenal ) but because of their work off the ball. Guardiola is incessant in his coaching and cajoling of his players to analyse where openings in the opposing defence is and to attack them instantly with high pressing and back up from team mates. Nowadays that is an alien prospect for Arsene`s teams.

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