Kola and Xhaka hail aggression and team spirit

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Sead Kolasinac says Arsenal’s aggression made the difference as Unai Emery’s men kept their chances of a top four finish alive with a 2-0 win over London rivals Chelsea. 

First half goals from Alex Lacazette and Laurent Koscielny put the home side in a commanding position at the break and although the Blues finished the game having made nearly twice as many passes, the Gunners held firm to secure an unusual clean sheet.

“I think our aggression [made the difference] – we were very strong in the duels and had two really good chances in the first 10 minutes,” Kolasinac told Arsenal.com. 

“We didn’t take them, and that pushed us on further, along with the fans’ support. We really deserved to go in front and what was so important was that we scored the second before half-time too.

“That brought us stability, and then in the second half we had to defend, which we did. I’m pleased we kept a clean sheet too and that, together with the three points, made it a very satisfying evening.

He added: “A clean sheet like that is important for us, especially for the back four and Bernd. It pushes us on and stabilises us ahead of the next game.

“I think we worked really well as a back four today, but you can’t forget the work of the midfielders who were excellent – Matteo [Guendouzi] on my side, Lucas [Torreira] and Granit [Xhaka] in the middle.

“They had to run a lot and they did that for the team. That made it easier for us.”

Granit Xhaka was equally pleased with the character shown and the three points.

Having anchored a midfield diamond that worked their socks off, the Swiss said: “It’s unbelievable.

“We had a [difficult] game against West Ham away and we knew that if we did’t win today it would be difficult, but we showed amazing character and team spirit. They also didn’t score against us, so we are happy to take the three points. 

“We said before the game that if you don’t fight and you don’t win the duels then it will be difficult because Chelsea have a good team. They have quality on the ball so we’re happy today.”

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Tim Miller
Tim Miller

Great game by Granit, I was really impressed. When his teammates play well and work hard, he flourishes. In games where the energy around him is lower, he finds himself in situations where he has to do too many things and his limits are exposed. His ability to pick a pass is really something to appreciate, some of the stuff he pulls off is high on the difficulty scale!

About the “aggression” factor, it is paramount, and I wish that it will become something we incorporate in our game more consistently. Sarri was extremely pissed off that we “out-aggressed” his players yesterday, he knows how important it is, especially for teams like Chelsea and Arsenal that haven’t quite found the right balance yet, new managers and all.

All in all, a great display and, most important, an essential improvement and a lesson in team spirit.

COYG!

Comedian
Comedian

I thought those two kola and xhaka were guilty for concentration lapses in the game. Pedro got through because of kola and there was a passage in the game where kola had lost concentration for a bit, think that was for the cross to hazard in the first half. Xhaka again did well to get close to the opponent and did win the ball but what frustrates me with him is not just his concentration lapses but he takes too much time to pick out a pass. I don’t know if anyone else notices this but when he receives the ball he just turns and twist his body too much to pick out a pass and at times they don’t come through. Guendouzi is a natural but even he needs to now concentrate and be in positions assigned to him. I love that kid but if he is going to feature for us in majority number of games I think the discipline needs to come in for the same and it’s the coaches job to make them aware of the same.

loose_cannon
loose_cannon

Agree that Kola, Xhaka and Guendouzi all had some defensive lapses yesterday but tbf Chelsea are a good team when they’re able to keep the ball so that can happen. Nobody was beaten too easily on the dribble and we mostly restricted to Chelsea to deep crosses to a 5″8 munchkin so can’t really complain too much.

Overall they all played well and I’d like to single out Xhaka because he was absolute bobbins against West Ham but really stepped up against Chelsea and some of his passing was exquisite. The more bodies there are around him, especially mobile ones, the better he is. It’ll be interesting to see if Emery persists with a diamond or maybe even moves to a 4-3-3 to accommodate him more.

SharpasFc
SharpasFc

Well said. Last week was easily Xhaka’s worst game that I have witnessed. Even with his limitations I would have taken Elneny over him. I think the point about energy and aggression is a good one. In all the games we have played with intensity, albeit at home, we have looked extremely dangerous.

martin
martin

What limitations? Yes like most of the team he had a bad match but he has had a great partnership with Torreira and he wouldn’t be picked every match if he was so bad.Elneny is a useful player but is nowhere near the class of Xhaka who has constantly been one of the creative passers in the Premier League as shown in the official stats. I can assure you he would be missed if he didn’t play

db10s

An argument can be made that Elneny might not be so bad if he’s played and played in his position.

clins
clins

it is an amazing turnaround by arsenal who were known not known to be aggressive just a few years ago. When playing against teams like chelsea i often felt that it was boys against men. Terry, ivanovic and costa maybe pricks but i would’ve loved some of them in my team. And wenger or whoever was doing the transfer might’ve realized this in his latter years. Because since there was a real focus on bringing in players with character, known for their leadership aggression rather than their playmaaking skills. xhaka, kolasinac, cech, sokratis , torreira are all examples of this. And now we have a amazing squad known for their battling strength. I got a real positive feeling about where we are heading. A few more quality additions “and departures” and this team would be as good to challenge the title.

Billymac
Billymac

Arsenal bossed Chelsea in the cup final not that long ago with Per and Holding

Lord Bendnter
Lord Bendnter

Any news on Ozil?

Akkimaniac

You mean on his impending departure?

Dobby
Dobby

Even when we win…..

Mesut O'Neill
Mesut O'Neill

He’ll be out for a while, the new Fortnite pack just got released.

Dean Nkwanko
Dean Nkwanko

Good stuff. Comfortable watch.

midgunner
midgunner

I thought Kola was brilliant again yesterday. Really pleased that he’s shut up those who were writing him off after he came back from injury.

Xhaka had a great game as well and I think he looks much more comfortable in a midfield three. I’m hoping that Kos has turned a corner in terms of fitness and we can revert to a back four now with him and Papa at the centre.

I know he divides opinion but Ramsey’s hustle was intrinsic to our first half dominance yesterday. How we can even be thinking of getting rid of him is beyond me. I can only assume we’re broke and have to look for cheaper options.

SharpasFc
SharpasFc

We’re not broke in the true sense of the word, but we definitely have to cut our suit to fit our cloth and the ridiculous wage bill means we can’t afford to keep Ramsey and Ozil. Talent wise we probably won’t replace Ramsey but the idea that there aren’t players out there that can’t do the job Emery asked him to do yesterday, seems a bit curious to me. But hey what do I know?

db10s

I’ve read up on our wage limitations. What I would like to know is whether other clubs have similar issues and whether the penalties for breaching the wage bill limitation is just a mere slap on the wrist.

Mpls
Mpls

Other clubs cheat the rules. Owners put their own shadow money into sponsorship deals, etc. to inflate the club’s revenues.

Dex
Dex

That was a really good Team performance. I was really proud seeing that even though we lost west ham that do not hindrance us. More of this against Man united will also make us proud. Coyg💪💪💪💪

Norman House
Norman House

A couple of games after a lengthy absence, many people on here were writing Koscielny off. Those people who did clearly know very little about football and how long it takes to get back to match fitness after such an injury. He may never be the player he was at 28 years old, but he more than makes up for it, with his positional play, experience and courage – particularly when he is match fit!

Great result and performance yesterday by all the team. Home games against Liverpool, Tottenham and now Chelsea show we can play an effective high energy game. We won’t need quite that level against all teams, but as Emery said we need to find the balance, at least that’s what I think he meant 😉

Evang. Simon
Evang. Simon

It is good to be back on winning ways

Possession
Possession

4.4.2 diamond suits the players we have and suited playing against the opposition we faced, a team with no striker and a deep lying playmaker. Not sure it will work v United but I’d like to see it being used more often.
COYG

karl
karl

Having a real three in midfield makes a huge difference and compensates for the odd Xhaka loss of concentration.

Lion
Lion

How long will this aggressive continues? I hope every single game until the end of the season

Jack gunner
Jack gunner

What about the Alonso incident.According to a former ref,he would have seen red
if seen by the mo.Sometimes easier said than done.
That’s why I cant wait for var to take retrospective action against such culprits.
Then these guys would be deterred. The punishment for such unsavory incident
shd be more stringent . Instead of the std 3 game ban ,make it 5 or even more
and we would really have a real game of football

Ronny
Ronny

I loved Ozil at one time and still love those days when he is on fire but they have, over time, been few and far in between. He is a match winner. I hope that Emery has a plan with him. I like to think Emery is making the whole team believe in themselves first. That they can do it without Ozil, so that when he is finally put in the middle, everyone doesn’t just pass to him and hope for some miracle. The whole team is playing close to his level and he is a cog in the machine,
an important cog but not the whole damn machine.

If you see Madrid and Germany, he was more consistent, cause players around him, backed their ownselves to come out good even without him. We have slightly over-relied on him and Ozil doesn’t do too well that way.

Besides that, we need a Dribbling winger to give us more options going forward and secondly a box to box midfielder for now.
That’s my two piece. What do you all say?

Dan
Dan

Honestly I know some people will disagree with me on this but I really dont agree with the way Emery is treating ozil especially after the Germany issue. The man has been and is still going through a lot and the club instead of shunning him should be embracing him. He is still our player and whatever amount he is earning doesnt make him less human. We should support our players both on and off the pitch. He is one of us and form is temporary, class is permanent. If he is out of form or there are any other problems it should be dealt with in house

Red-Sky
Red-Sky

don’t convince yourselves that it’s a personal problem between him and his coach. Because the coach stood by him at first, recognized his importance and even gave him the armband. From there you need to take a closer look to his performances and commitment to the new system. Is he pushing the cart with same effort as his team mates? or is he not giving 100% like it is required.
I think we can all agree that now we need different things from him. Take yesterday’s performance in mind and ask yourself, is he up to that style of play?? Will he chase the ball, apply pressure, man-mark opp key players, help make us better at defending by doing his bit? because that is what’s required to improve our defending, you know, no simple measures will solve that shambles.
I hope he can live up to the challenge. He’s very talented indeed at certain things.

martin
martin

Ozil was just as consistent with Arsenal o his first few years as he was top of the stats for assists and chances created. I think so many supporters have short memories

Ronny
Ronny

There is that other thing. I genuinely think Ozil has lost a lot of motivation to play at his best. I get the feeling he takes things for granted but must be made to fight for his place in the team.

Alex
Alex

Thus is what he’s done after his injuries. And still does.

jon

I’m worried about Xhaka. He didn’t get booked! Is he sick or something?

martin
martin

I’m worried about fans who somehow find it hard to give Xhaka any credit.

jon

Xhaka was pivotal in the clean sheet, throwing sand in Chelsea’s normally well oiled midfield machine, making it easier for the outstanding Sokratis and Kocielny to absorbe the rest.

Mpls
Mpls

It gave me a laugh, Jon.

Dobby
Dobby

I enjoyed Sarri’s comments after the game that his side is impossible to motivate or whatever. Our manager didn’t seem to have any trouble getting the team up for this game and we adapted tactically to nullify them whilst Sarri seems to refuse to change anything. I’m really hoping that this game and, in particular, Sarri’s public calling out of his players is the start of a rough period for them because they’re definitely catchable.

Wengerballz
Wengerballz

So was it difficult then?

The_Golden_Wrigglesworth
The_Golden_Wrigglesworth

Arsenal’s best defensive performance of the season?

Fun stat, in light of all the aggression talk: Arsenal completed 33 successful tackles yesterday (yes THIRTY-THREE), which is 20 more than Chelsea managed (just 13 – no wonder Sarri was raging about his team’s lack of aggression in the post-match presser). For context, that’s nearly twice the amount of tackles as our p/game season average so far (17.4).

Torreira alone made 9(!) tackles & Guendouzi completed 5. Weirdly, while Auba had 3 successful tackles, both Ramsey & Lacazette had 0 tackles (although it looked to me as though they did excellent work as part of the co-ordinated high press, especially in the first half, which is partly reflected in the 3 interceptions by Laca, with 1 by Ramsey).

More of this, please!

Some other statsy reasons for optimism:

While Arsenal are taking fewer shots p/game this season than was typical under Wenger (12.6 p/game vs +/- 15 p/game), we have 33 goals from open play, which is behind City (47), but comfortably ahead of Liverpool (28) & Sp*rs (28), as well as Man United (29) & Chelsea (29).

So, as depressing as the performances against Brighton & West Ham were, some of the offensive numbers do look pretty good. Also, on the defensive side of things: Arsenal are leading all the other sides in the top 6 in terms of successful tackles (17.4) & interceptions (10.6) p/game (for comparison, Sp*rs average 16.3 & 9.3, with Liverpool at 15.4 & 7.9 – very nice to see the team leading two sides often praised for their defensive aggression on these particular measures).

Obviously, these stats alone don’t tell the whole story of the season so far, but hopefully they’re a good indication that Emery is getting closer achieving what he wants from the team in terms of both its defensive & attacking play.

Mpls
Mpls

I like the goals from open play stat. Damn good thing too, because we all know the officials are biased 😉 and we’re not a bunch of divey cheats in the box like just about every other team in the top 6.

The tackles & interceptions up is great to see – I wonder how much of that is due to not controlling possession and matches as well as the others we’re comparing to? But regardless it shows more work on it which is welcome. It also probably shows the impact of Torreira, and Guendouzi’s work rate.

The_Golden_Wrigglesworth
The_Golden_Wrigglesworth

Too true! Judging from the response to Moura’s footbreaker on Mkhi, it looks as though refs are under instructions not to award penalties to Arsenal unless one of our players gets attacked with an axe or loses a limb ( – __ -).

Good point – that’s probably a factor here. City have the best p/game possession stats (63.9%) & some of the lowest numbers for tackles (13.1 pg) and interceptions (9.5 pg) in the top 6, so they look like a good example of a team that defends primarily by controlling possession, even though they execute the press really well.

Interestingly, 7amKickOff has been saying recently that high possession seems to be the only stat that tends to have any clear correlation with low shots & goals conceded numbers.

Agree about Torreira & Guendouzi. If we stick with the 4-3-1-2, it would be useful to have one or two more similar CMs in the squad, since Emery seems not to fancy Elneny & prefers not to use Ramsey in a deeper role for league fixtures. Good thing the club have pledged to back the manager in the January window! Oh. Wait. ( ; __ 😉

Shank

If it was one of ours …..I’d say off!
David Luz was a definite red………..6 inches to the left and Ramsey’s standing leg is gone.
No discussion on BT or MOTD……..although BT were analysing (albeit quite positively) perfect challenge in the box.
Luiz , over the ball and violent…….no discussion…….

Shank

Sorry ……..they were discussing Aubas perfect tackle

Tanned arse
Tanned arse

Maybe he didn’t mean it this way but taking that last paragraph literally, from xhaka, is a concern for me. Having to win the duels because chelsea can hurt us as they have quality. It’s the kind of attitude that has bred inconsistency for years. It still suggests that the application and mindset of players is determined by who they play against. Taking certain teams more seriously and thus working harder. Too many players turn up giving different levels of intensity from one week to the next. Those players can’t be relied on. Consistency can never be achieved. Torreria is such an obvious example of what a winning mentality looks like. Same application regardless of opposition every week. Xhaka, like many other players we have are very good when they’re ‘on it’. Sadly that doesn’t happen enough.

Red-Sky
Red-Sky

good point.

N10
N10

If people want to see Emery’s vision for the team (“Emeryball”), look at the games when the guys have stepped up with passion and intensity like last night, and play “team” ball. Everyone going after every ball, strikers tackling, CB’s threatening strikes, and so forth. Honestly it seems exhausting and I’m sure it’s been a huge huge adjustment for them all.

The big question seems to be, how do you prevent burnout and injury, how do you sustain this kind of intensity over an entire season? The answer seems to be this: 1) coach needs more players available for subbing, so, more depth, 2) better conditioning, obviously, 3) everyone increasing their pitch awareness and tactical nous, and 4) everyone more aggressively engaging their opponents.

When you watch the game last night, it should be crystal clear to you why Emery doesn’t really rate Ozil for his system. Even though his off-the ball play and pitch awareness are second to none, he is all about conserving energy and finesse. I don’t really think, at 30, he has any real interest in becoming part of a “team defense” type of squad, game in/game out.

Mpls
Mpls

Sounds fair to me to say if the tactic is to set aside the creativity and turn your AM into a man marker for the match, Ozil isn’t the first choice. And in some matches, like this one with a deep playmaker that carries so much weight for the opponent, that’s a very effective tactic.

But (yes, of course there’s a but) we’ve seen that Emery tunes tactics somewhat to the opposition. And in some matches, including a few recent ones, we could have used even more of the focus on creativity. Whether or not that means Ozil is up to Emery, but he is now a fit and available tool we already have in the box ready to go.

So we either need options, or the Goldilocks player. Unfortunately with Ramsey leaving so goes our most Goldilocks-ish AM. There are a few of them out there at the level desired – game-changers if we must, but they’re mostly at the top teams already and they’re not letting them go anywhere. If the club wants to improve on Ramsey for that kind of profile it will be difficult.

N10
N10

I do think he likes Ramsey quite a lot for some of the reasons you mention. I think his attitude above all but also his ability to be aggressive and smart on both sides of the ball. After yesterday it’s clearer to see. Ozil still has a place in the squad I’m sure and you make a good point that it will depend, as we’ve seen a lot with Emery, on what the opposition requires. But years of being spoiled are hard to undo.

santori
santori

Several things conspire to suggest we should not get carried away with the clean sheet just yet :

1) Taking our chances cannot be over stated enough.

It helped tremendously.

2) Chelsea came out flat second half which also helped.

3) We had dodgy moments still at the back. Lets not forget they hit the post bc we did not mark up well and had that gone in, it would have been a very different second half.

4) Also we did not control the game enough second half. True we did not need to take risk going forward and with AMN in particular, it was better to be conservative with our efforts but we need in future to be able to keep the ball away from our defense as much as possible.

5) We flooded midfield which provided the defense with the vital screen necessary. In that, we blocked all the efforts in front of goal and we tracked runners into our box.

Cbacks have not solely been the issue with our defensive lapses.

BUT to suggest the diamond 4 in midfield or Koscielny/Sokratis pairing will be the answer from here on in is naive to say the least.

We won’t face teams all the time which will afford the space for us to come at them like Chelsea. Most teams we face prove a different proposition as they sit deep and tight constricting our movement.

Also as good as Koscielny was, he will have durability issues which suggest we will still need to find solution rotating through our other defense options.

So good win and something to build on.

BUT we;ve been here before after the even more impressive Spurts win and thrown it all away.

If we consider we should have won at Brighton, Soton and WestHam at very least, that would be 9 points additional from the 44 we have now which would put us at 53pts.

We need to not throw away this vital win we’ve achieved.

santori
santori

Kolasinac struggled up till 20 minute mark then made one massive no nonsense clearance. From then on, he was a beast for us.

Tracked back to nudge off Pedro on the break.

Provided plenty of attacking verve going forward on the left particularly the sumptious cross to Auba for his overhead effort.

Granit was discipline through out.

I don’t think we have a player who can switch play from deep as well as he does at the moment.

Together with Torreira, they put in some very good balls into the box.

Too many people want to believe their own narratives on certain players.

Sure there is still issues with the two of them but you can say that for all players in the squad.

Fart Overjars
Fart Overjars

Kola a contender for most improved player so far?