Friday, December 1, 2023

Kola and Xhaka hail aggression and team spirit

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 

“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

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… Read more »


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… Read more »


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,… Read more »


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.


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


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


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.… Read more »


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

Lord Bendnter

Any news on Ozil?


You mean on his impending departure?


Even when we win…..

Mesut O'Neill

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

Dean Nkwanko

Good stuff. Comfortable watch.


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… Read more »


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?


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.


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


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

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… Read more »

Evang. Simon

It is good to be back on winning ways


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.


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


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

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


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,… Read more »


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… Read more »


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??… Read more »


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


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.


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


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


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


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.


It gave me a laugh, Jon.


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.


So was it difficult then?


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… Read more »


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.


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… Read more »


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…….


Sorry ……..they were discussing Aubas perfect tackle

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… Read more »


good point.


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,… Read more »


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… Read more »


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.


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… Read more »


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… Read more »

Fart Overjars

Kola a contender for most improved player so far?

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