Villainous Ozil : Richarlison’s dive not a dive : Szczesny throws szchade

Morning all. Thankfully the storm yesterday was not as damaging in this part of Ireland as it was elsewhere, but three people lost their lives due to the conditions so it was a pretty serious event elsewhere. The roof of our dodgy extension seems to have stayed on too. Anyway, we’re up and about and the day lies ahead.

As you would expect things from the club point of view are quiet. Media lock-down once more, for the most part, beyond some briefing against Mesut Ozil who is the scapegoat du jour for what happened at Watford. Yes, he should have scored, and yes it would have given us a more comfortable position in the game, but our failure on the day was collective rather than individual.

Some point to his introduction against Watford as a turning point, but in truth it was the penalty that changed the game. Ozil had created a great chance, and missed a great chance, but as soon as Richarlison took that dive and the referee bought it the momentum shifted.

I don’t have any real faith that the German is going to sign a new deal, and to be honest I’m not sure it’d be the right thing for the club at this point or for him as a player, but our issues go far, far deeper than him, and to cast him as the villain of Vicarage Road is missing the point, in my opinion.

Speaking of the Richarilson dive, which was a very obvious dive, the incident was reviewed by the new panel who can make a decision as to whether or not a retrospective punishment should be handed down. They looked at it, from all the angles that we’ve looked at it from and understood it was a piece of gamesmanship, and decided that it wasn’t a dive at all.

At which point you have to ask what is the point of this panel? Ok, it’s not quite an Arjen Robben meets Cristiano Ronaldo meets Gareth Bale meets Didier Drogba meets Luis Suarez and they all have a pint and create a MEGADIVE (perhaps sponsored by Sega), but it was still a dive. The kind of dive that football should be more concerned about getting rid of than the ‘I believe I can fly’ kind which are so ludicrous they speak for themselves.

This the subtle, instinctive kind of cheating that’s very difficult for referees to spot in real time, which is why the creation of a committee who can review incidents with the benefit of multiple replays from different angles should have been something to welcome. Except for the fact they seem unwilling to make any kind of difference.

It’s as clear as day, Richarlison knocked the ball ahead, threw himself forward and onto the ground with almost no contact from Bellerin – and don’t start with the ‘there was contact’ justification because the Watford man threw his hip towards the Arsenal defender thus initiating what little contact there was – making it a dive. A divey dive.

Anyway, that’s not to make any excuses for us on the day. It was a tough one for the referee, but it’s still a bit dispiriting when things that are supposed to make things better just don’t. I am looking forward to an Arsenal player becoming the first one to pick up a retrospective punishment though. That feels inevitable.

Elsewhere, Wojciech Szczesny spoke about how he’s improved as a player since his career took him to Italy, in the main because of the different style of coaching. He says:

I enjoyed working with some great coaches at Arsenal, Roma and here, but the goalkeeping school in Italy is very different, it’s very technical and pays more attention to the details.

Honestly, I couldn’t say from a technical standpoint that I improved in any way from when I became first-choice at Arsenal until the day I left for Roma. However, in the two-and-a-half years since I came to Italy, I’ve improved massively which is thanks to the coaches and the way they work.

Some of it, I believe, will be down to him maturing as a person, perhaps growing up a bit after making a mess of things at Arsenal, but there have long been concerns over the quality of our goalkeeping coaching. There’s the veteran Gerry Peyton who was thought to be retiring this summer, but when Arsene Wenger’s contract was renewed he renewed all of his current coaching staff whose deals are tied to his.

We brought in Jens Lehmann but he’s not working specifically with goalkeepers. Both Szczesny and Fabianski had issues with Peyton, and the latter brought the innovative Tony Roberts from Arsenal to Swansea after he moved there.

Regardless of your feelings towards Szczesny – and I’ll be up front and say I think letting him leave was a mistake and I’d rather have him than David Ospina (who will probably depart next summer) – it’s pretty damning to say that the technical part of your game did not improve during so many years at the club. Perhaps part of that was down to him, but the implication is clear – we require better coaching, and not just for the keepers.

Ask yourself how many players that come to Arsenal improve the way they used to in the past? Rather than make players better, they seem to stagnate – with one or two obvious exceptions.

Right, for more on the weekend’s defeat, where we are, where we’re going, and lots more, check out yesterday’s Arsecast Extra. James and I get right into it, so listen, subscribe, share etc below. Have a good one.


This Arsecast Extra was recorded with ipDTL


  1. Monreal, Koscielny, Sanchez, Iwobi, Giroud. I would say they have all significantly improved since joining Arsenal. Not to reject the point, I agree that there are stagnation issues at Arsenal.

    • Monreal and Koscielny yes. The rest? Not sure. Alexis was kind of always good and, for all the undue criticism he receives, Giroud has been hit and miss from day one…

      • Alexis is better at Arsenal than he was at Barcelona. Not sure how much credit the club or manager takes there but it’s undeniable. Giroud has been a great player for us. Look back over the last five years at the best goals from Arsenal and he’s scored or been heavily involved in most of them. I think he’d be rated a lot higher had he been in Arsenal squads of years gone by or had he been given adequate company up front (I think of Yorke, Cole, Sheringham and Solsjkaer or Bergkamp, Henry, Wiltord, Kanu). The manager has asked too much of him..

    • They have all improved, but with Sanchez that’s mostly down to the premier league suiting his gung-ho style better. With Iwobi and Koscielny that’s just due to them being talented players who arrived as youngsters and have naturally matured, with Montreal it’s mostly down to him having been played at CB in a crisis, rather than a masterplan. That just leaves Giroud who you could say has improved as a result of the training and management at arsenal. The list of players that haven’t kicked on is massive.

    • He’s never been a prolific goal scorer though. After watching his highlight reel when we bought him it was pretty apparent he was an assist master who bagged a few goals here n there.

  2. For Ozil read any number of skilful playmakers who didn’t ,in the medias eyes, “like it up em” – Tony Currie, Hoddle,Matt le Tissier, Chris Waddle et al. Maybe that’s why the national team is so lacking in any creative talent.Lazy punditry for the instant opinion generation which sadly most of the fan base is now falling for. That said his play in the build up to the 2nd goal was soft.

  3. The problem with the retrospective punishment panel is that – for a dive to win a penalty – it opens such a can of worms they’ll almost always bottle it. It directly affects the result; if you concede it was dive, then the club will push for ‘appropriate’ punishment, what ever that is. So best not go there.

    It’s the team, not the player that benefits from that kind of cheating, so punishing the player is useless/pointless.

    Window dressing

    • I think that the point of it may be that if a player gets banned for diving, he will be less inclined to do so next time.
      And then if you know you get a ban for diving (which you apparently don’t), would you really risk it to maybe get a penalty?

      • My point is that if the team profits from the dive – as was the case son Saturday – the consequence to an individual player is a price worth paying.

  4. We practically have no midfueld if yall havent notice. They show up at home and basically go missing at away matches. No steel. Id prefer to go with Wilsh and Coquelin for the rest of our already erroded season if they stay fit. If not id rather play with 8 men which would make absolutley no difference. Xhaka, thanks but no thanks

    • I just gave you an up to reduce the goal deficit!. Yeah, agree.
      And I call IIGBY; Iwobi Is Great, But Ya know …. (Stolen bit from Silicon Valley, yes.)
      Iwobi is fine. He’s a young player. He is no where near the quality of past players like Fabregas, Rosicky, Diaby (I know, I know) and others. And he does not control the attack or pace, move the ball quickly enough (a squad-wide problem, really), and his decision making is okay.

      Perhaps Wenger is bringing Wilshere back slowly. Like he’s bringing Lacaz on slowly. But honestly, these are professional athletes … not 3rd graders! We’re 9 points off first and, in fact, probably not even competing for the league or really a top 4 and its not even fucking November yet!

      I’d love to see Wilshere in the middle partnered with a player like Le Coq.
      This nonsense with El Neny, Xhaka, and Ramsay is just not working at all. Arsenal’s midfield being effective depends not on its quality or dynamism, but instead on failings or fuckups by whom ever Arsenal play. Long gone are the days when Arsenal dominated the middle of the park every game, or close to.

      Wenger has no plan, no coherency, and no idea what to do when his first plan goes south.

  5. Having just watched the replay I don’t think we played as badly as some people are making out.
    The penalty was debatable and the second goal benefitted from a deflection.
    Dedpite the conventional ‘wisdom’ we were not awful in the second half. We were ok and unlucky. Having said that we kack dome serious midfield creativity.
    I am nig saying all is fine and dandy – at all – just I think there has been s bot of an overreaction

  6. Cost of “Big 6” starting XIs at weekend:

    MCFC £403m

    MUFC £297m (without Pogba)
    Chelsea £252m

    LFC £164m
    Arsenal £146m
    Spurs £107m

    Expectations too high? Fucking spurs have done well … Won fuck all but you know… Fuck em

  7. Has Szczesny improved? Who the fuck knows, He doesn’t play much. I am doubting it. I am done with Ozil bashing also, Ozil is class. He is just coming back from an injury. When he came on he immediately created, with a nice ball that could not be finished and shot one on target (yes probably should have finished) but he was in the mix. One of the best footballers in the game . Looking forward to great things from him if he stays.

    • Agree totally on Ozil. He is one of the best creative attacking midfielders in the game. People calling for his head … I just don’t get it.

      Actually Sir Szcez played A LOT at Roma. He was their #1. And he had a couple top-drawer seasons. What he’ll do at Juve (yuck!), who knows. He’s certainly not #1 while Buffon lives – er … plays.

      • True, he did play a lot. I didn’t get to see Roma to much last season. This season he will be watching at Juve I assume, unless injury to the #1. There are not much better than Buffon to watch and learn from.

  8. How come no-one is making mention about the Penalty that wasn’t given against westbrom?? A blatant one that the ref missed, Didn’t that game change after that? If that penalty was given we may have well lost that match. The point is if you benefit from bad decisions know for sure you will fall victim to them at some point, that’s how it works. Arsenal fans have a short memory,as usual

  9. Forest fan coming in peace.

    Arsenal and Wenger right now seem to be in the same position as we were under Brian Clough during the early 1990s, a stagnated team under a manager who, although had done great things fifteen years ago or so, had become more and more out of his depth as the years went by, especially with his rampant alcoholism causing toxicity in our club. We eventually went down with Clough at the end of 93-94.

    The fear right now in Arsenal has got to be following in our steps. This could be as soon as next year – When your stars in Ozil and Sanchez leave after Wenger fails to renew their contracts; When Lacazette follows Perez out of the club because Wenger did not play him in enough games; When Wenger and your board fail to sign the necessary players, because nobody wants to come to Arsenal due to the intensifying toxic club culture, et cetera. And if relegation or close to relegation happened, then I think Wenger would simply be remembered as yet another Brian Clough, a once-great manager whose overstay at a once-great club completely ruined said club.

  10. Remember 2006 and the Champions league final. ARSENAL ONE UP with ten men and Henry’s through on goal not once but twice. Should we then be saying it’s Henry’s fault we lost that final. Or Ozil missed a sitter and now is paying for it. LISTEN WE ARE HUMAN and are not perfect. I am an Arsenal fan but Ozil, or Henry’ or Wenger are not Arsenal. We the fans are Arsenal. And always remember that. These players and Managers will come and go but the fans will be always there.

  11. I have actually heard many commentators speaking about the difference between the Italian coaches and practice sessions. The Italians seem to have a reputation for being more adept/flexible in tactics and the training sessions are more technical at a professional level than they are in England, Germany, France and the US. I heard one pundit, I think it was Ray Hudson, say that it was because of their coaching academy and training philosophy. So coming from Arsenal which is especially laid back going to an Italian club or having an Italian coach would seem to be incredibly more detailed.


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