Friday , 17 November 2017
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Cannon Fodder: R’s Review + FA Cup Quarters Preview

Have you ever fooled around in a garage trying to put together scrap and spare parts cannibalized from various automobiles to create some semblance of a car?

No? Well, maybe you had a life and indulged in better things rather than mechanical engineering related geekery.

Now, for the sake of the argument: let’s assume you put together such a vehicle except instead of scrap; you fit in a Bugatti Veyron’s heart under the hood (engine) , resting on a Radical SR8’s chassis supported by a Koenigsegg’s suspensions powered by a Lamborghini Gallardo’s transmission system encased within a Gumpert Apollo’s body and aerodynamic structure. (and if you are unfamiliar with any of those vehicles, feel free to read about them and have your minds blown!) What would you expect this Dr.Frankensteinesque-automobile to be like?

Aside from it being an engineer’s uncomfortably orgasm inducing nightmare, the resulting vehicle may be a super-car in itself and a far cry from most vehicles on the road; but when tested under extreme conditions or pitted against other super-cars, the monster would certainly be outclassed on multiple counts.

Why? Simply because the individual systems may be world class, but yet aren’t designed to fit together and hence optimum system performance will always elude it.

This seems an almost perfect analogy for the current Arsenal squad. Individual players are world class, but yet the resultants team effort is often underwhelming. Alexis, Cazorla, Ozil in the middle would have most coaches in paroxysm of bliss and render most opposition catatonic with fear… But yet, we continue to labour to narrow victories against poor sides like the Rangers. Luckily, unlike cars teams consist of human components capable of changing and evolving to adapt to situations, which is something I hope will happen slowly but steadily!

Allusions apart, getting down to brass tacks; at first glance the statistics indicate that a certain team’s domination seems obvious: Arsenal with 57% possession obviously saw a great amount of the ball & completed 409 passes to the Ranger’s 269. We also had twice as many shots on goal. From the stats, one would expect that a team languishing in the relegation zone would simply roll over and offer up the jugular in the presence of an apex predator, but I feel that R’s deserve some credit for putting up a fight and making things rather difficult.
Olivier Giroud continued his redemption-run with another goal to open the scoring and Sanchez kept huffing and puffing until the door came off at the hinges and the little piggy’s squealed in fright. On another day, the Chilean would have scored a hat-trick with his eyes closed, but after a boat load of shots gona wrong, his tenacity and tireless Sanchez-ness resulted in a goal that most strikers wouldn’t dare attempt.

Charlie Austin who had looked dangerous all evening finally found some respite when he smashed one past Ospina in the dying minutes of the game, but the effort was simply too little late.

Ozil did everything his detractors were crying to see him do! The man received passes in tight areas, ran at defenders, kept the opposition midfielders on edge and continued to find our forwards and midfielders with unerring consistency. Undoubtedly, this version of his game is a far cry from his previous avatars. The changes to his game play are more than cosmetic; not only has he become more aggressive going forward, the creative midfielder is slowly developing an understanding with Alexis and Giroud. Now if the German can deliver the same performance on Monday, his price tag will be vindicated once and for all. Also as a fun bonus, we can promote Paul Scholes to the same stratospheric level of ‘punditry’ occupied by eminent creatures such as Michael Owen, Jamie Redknapp and Robbie Savage. Forever.

A final word on the game: Somewhere Jenkinson watched the game and probably strangled a POTATO (Edited by AIS Legal team) in frustration while Calum Chambers forlornly wishes that it was September, 2014 again. Hector Ballerin was stupendous: he dominated the wingers and ran their flanks ragged; with a few more performances like these it will be Debuchy who will have to earn his place in the team rather than the youngster. Though, I must confess that I was a little skeptical about the youngster’s inclusion in the first XI, he looks like best young fullback to break into the main team since Ashley Cole. That being said, great players are always measured by their performances against the best of teams, not the fodder; the kid still has a long way to go so I won’t be ordering the banner just yet.

To be fair to the Corporal, he too has made enormous strides at West Ham; looks like Wenger will have a fine full-back conundrum to deal with over the next season.

Now on to that game that has been dominating your RAM space since the final whistle at Loftus Road: The FA cup Quarter-final against Manchester United. At the antediluvian toilet.

Sanchez & Giroud will have to be on point if we are to have any hope of the FA Cup (Image courtesy: www.telegraph.co.uk )

Sanchez & Giroud will have to be on point if we are to have any hope of the FA Cup (Image courtesy: www.telegraph.co.uk )

The Devils have been far from stellar; often relying on favours from generous souls such as Tim Krul (who can consider his World-Cup-Cameo debt to Van Gaal PAID IN FULL) to scrape through games and garner points. But the fact is that in spite of their pitiful lack of quality, they are a team that is hard to beat. The mentality that demands nothing short of victory that has been instilled over the last two decades will not die easily: It is not hard to see the shadow of the Chewing gum knight looming over the squad. Moreover this is a team that is familiar with beating us, yes there may be some unfamiliar faces, but players like Rooney, Smalling and Mata know exactly what it feels like to pull one over the Arsenal. The spectre of repeated losses at their hands hangs like a death shroud over our heads.

Furthermore a normally abysmal United always raise their game against bigger opposition and games don’t get any bigger than this one: Both teams are firmly out of the title race and the league cup while Champions league hopes are non-existent i.e. practically unattainable for Arsenal while United were never in it.

Van Gaal will most certainly open with a midfield of Blind and Herrera with instructions to shield the rear line as much as possible. This season, United have created chances exclusively by utilizing their central midfield partnership of Blind and Herrera to find the wingers or wing-backs who utilize the width provided to ping balls into the box. Failing this, employ Parduiola’s Sanogo Chaos theory except instead of Sanogo, the Dutch genius utilizes Fellainini.

But Van Gaal is nothing if not pragmatic; against the gunners Blind and Herrera will have as much chance of retaining the ball as E.L James has of winning the Pulitzer. Scrapping with Ozil, Cazorla and Coquelin in the midfield would be a task far beyond them even with Rooney (and possibly Falcao too) dropping deep to help out. Such a tactic would bring out their midfielders and effectively leave their defence exposed for Alexis to run at. I expect LVG to employ the stock tactics that almost every club employs against us: sit deep, soak up pressure and wait until Arsenal’s midfielders either tire out or start to get frustrated and commit errors; exploit the opportunity arising from these slip-ups and catch them on the break.

Sadly, those are pretty solid tactics if we are being honest. To combat this, we need to bury our chances early and look to pull them out of their defensive bulwark mentality; an unexpected goal or two would rattle them and ensure that they would have to come out and look for an equalizer rather than stay warm in their defensive cocoon. At similar situations over this season, we have often backed down and looked to defend the lead instead of pressing for the kill (ala White Hart Lane). This let the opposition come at us, which lead to catastrophe; I hope Wenger has learnt from his mistakes and ensures that the onslaught is maintained until we puncture the jugular.

I’m almost certain that the winner of this tie will go on to win the cup. Why? Because the thought of Steven Gerrard helping Pool cross one last hurdle before jetting off to USA annoys me; but on second thought, it would be far more preferable than being subjected to the Ogre planting his face on the cup….. Hope Wenger saves us all the pain of these possibilities and simply wins the damn thing.

Enjoy the weekend & Up the Arse!!

Liked it? Hated it? Want to call me Dim-bulb? Do so in the comments section below!

About Varun Chand

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Full time nothing doer and part-time Engineer (supposedly). I really hate the Arsenal and that's why I spend so much of time writing/talking/discussing/debating about them. I enjoy mocking YOU because it's fun.

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