Why Walcott Upfront is The Inevitable Move by Wenger

Walcott played on Monday at Reading and Arsenal won with a convincing 5-2 score. Many people thought the move to play Walcott upfront was related to his contract extension. They thought it might be a move by Wenger to appease Walcott so he would sign the new contract offered. But Wenger rejected that suggestion by saying he took the decision based on what he saw and tried in training. He might not say the whole story behind it but analyzing Arsenal previous Premier League matches, we would understand why playing Walcott upfront is the inevitable move by Wenger.

This is not a comprehensive and in-depth post about football tactics since I’m not capable to do it. This is a simple common sense analysis based on a few graphics of player average positions from whoscored.com.

Let’s start from their 5-2 win of Sp*rs and end it with another 5-2 win of Reading. I excluded the last Champions League and Capital One Cup matches by intention. Check the Arsenal player average positions, especially the forwards on these seven graphics below.

1. Arsenal vs Tottenham

Arsenal 5 - 2 Tottenham

Arsenal 5 – 2 Tottenham

Giroud played as CF flanked by Podolski and Walcott. Look at Walcott average position (he’s so farther into the enemy territory compared to the rest) and compare it with Podolski who played more like a left midfielder. You can compare it again with Bale (11) who played closer to Defoe (18). Giroud average position was also closer to Wilshere and Cazorla than Walcott. Mind you that 43% of Sp*rs 7 shots came from their left flank though Walcott managed to keep Naughton (16) and Verthongen (5) busy at their left flank too. Arsenal finally won after the Adebayor sent off. Against 10 men, Arsenal have more space to exploit than the first twenty minutes when they struggled to create chances.

2. Arsenal vs Montpellier

Arsenal 2-0 Montpellier

Arsenal 2-0 Montpellier

Giroud played upfront flanked by Podolski and Chamberlain. Walcott was injured. Again Giroud average position was not farther upfront than Cazorla. Giroud setup Wilshere (knocking down the ball from the air) and Podolski (beautiful one touch lob ball) for their goals and here are Wenger words after the game:

You always know with Olivier that you will get a guy who fights for the team. Technically it was not one of his best games, but after matches when you measure his performance it is [often] decisive.

He had two assists here. Defensively he is always very reliable.

Giroud is good when he plays completely on the offside line.

Sometimes when he doesn’t get the ball enough he wants to come deep. That is not his game.

When he is a target man and uses his link-up play, he is fantastic because he can win in the air, he can score with his feet and can be a complete striker.

He still has some work to do, but he is getting better.

Wenger’s advice of playing completely on the offside line might not be heard clearly by Giroud as proven in his next few games.

3. Aston Villa vs Arsenal

Aston Villa 0-0 Arsenal

Aston Villa 0-0 Arsenal

Giroud again played upfront with Chambo and Podolski. Wilshere didn’t start (replaced by Ramsey). The average positions are almost similar to the previous game and so are the attempts on goal. No change of Giroud average position despite of Wenger’s advice of playing on the offside line.

4. Everton vs Arsenal

Everton 1-1 Arsenal

Everton 1-1 Arsenal

Walcott played again in this game, surprisingly started as left winger (and scored his goal from that position) instead of his usual right winger position. Ramsey played as right winger but from the average position it’s clear that he tended to play inside. Giroud again started as CF but ended up as not the furthest upfront. The difference in average position of him and Jelavic (7) as CF from both teams is so obvious. From the above graphic it was as if Giroud played as second striker to Walcott. And the lack of width in Arsenal play in this game is so obvious. Ramsey kept going inside and Vermaelen was so comfortable at his own half as if Arsenal were playing with three center backs.

5. Arsenal vs Swansea

Arsenal 0-2 Swansea

Arsenal 0-2 Swansea

Giroud didn’t start this time (injured) and he was replaced by Gervinho. Gervinho supposed to play at the center but he ended up played more to the left flank, seizing Podolski territory. Walcott interestingly played not farther upfront than his previous two games (Tottenham and Everton). From this graphic it looks like no one wanted to play center upfront. Arsenal stretched the game but no one inside the box to convert the chances. Swansea attempted more shots than Arsenal and caught Arsenal twice in their three shots from counter attacks. Sucker punches hurt the flat Arsenal in this game.

6. Arsenal vs WBA

Arsenal 2-0 West Bromwich

Arsenal 2-0 West Bromwich

Giroud returned as CF in this game. His average position is so close to Cazorla that you barely could see his number in above graphic. Gervinho as left winger and Chambo as right winger. Although Arsenal played much much better in this match than previous matches (more attempts on goal), two of the goals came from penalties. And for the first time after a long long time Arsenal managed to shoot after a counterattack. From the average positions, except Giroud who still refused to play farther upfront, the distances between players are better. No coincidence Arsenal played their best football here since the 5-2 win over Tottenham.

7. Reading vs Arsenal

Reading 2-5 Arsenal

Reading 2-5 Arsenal

5 goals, 26 attempts on goal, 4 shots from counterattacks, Walcott played upfront. Looking at the the average position graphic, it’s clear why Arsenal played their best football at Reading. Walcott played so farther upfront than Giroud ever managed and it was followed by Chamberlain and Podolski. Arsenal stretched the game vertically and horizontally better than any of their previous games resulted in Cazorla (playing with free role) scoring a hat-trick.

Walcott stretched Reading team vertically so Arsenal could had 4 shots from counterattacks while they have none at previous 6 matches (except one against WBA). It was like the Arsenal of The Invincible again. Arsenal were also playing with better width with four goals from left flank crosses.

No longer Arsenal players packed in the middle of the pitch because Walcott movement pulled Reading defenders away, provided more space between the lines for Cazorla and Wilshere. Chamberlain said they have been working on this in the training and eventually it was implemented successfully in this game (Gibbs and Podolski each contributed with two assists).


Arsenal play better with Walcott upfront, that’s a fact at least based on these seven games. It’s not because Walcott is a better striker than Giroud, but because he made the whole team playing better with more width and vertical space. Giroud should listen to Wenger’s advice: plays completely on the offside line. With the competition provided by Walcott, surely he will heed the advice of the wise and play like that sooner than later. He can hold up the ball better than Walcott, he has more options with his height and he has scored more goals than Walcott in a competition season. Of course Walcott has more pace than him, but Giroud has also proven that his diagonal run from the offside line could be intelligent like the one (where he missed the target) at Liverpool.

So based on the last few games and I’m sure Wenger also has read these average positions stats (and probably more stats and videos), Wenger might have it enough with Giroud and finally played Walcott upfront to show Giroud how stretching the game vertically will only benefit our game. We can only hope Walcott continues his good performance in the next match against Wigan and eventually signs his new contract (it’s never about the money, isn’t it?). And if he refuses to sign it, hopefully Giroud could perform what Walcott did and I believe he’s capable to. He just needs to restrain his urge to come deep to get the ball. It’s not his game, as Wenger said. Just listen to the boss and you’ll be fine. As proven by many stars made by Le Boss.

Momen Bersejarah bagi Pendukung (Tandang) Arsenal

Reading 5 (Roberts 12, Koscielny 18 (og), Leigertwood 20, Hunt 37, Pogrebnyak 115) – 

Arsenal 7 (Walcott 45, 120, Giroud 64, Koscielny 89, Jenkinson 90, Chamakh 103, 120)

Giroud dan Walcott Inspirator Comeback Historis Arsenal

Siapapun yang menonton pertandingan Capital One Cup babak perdelapan final antara Reading melawan Arsenal di Madejski Stadium tidak akan menyangka hasil akhirnya. Seperti menaiki roller coaster, fans Arsenal dibawa turun-naik, dibalik 180′ dengan jantung yang berdebar-debar. Menonton pertandingan ini lewat televisi saja cukup menegangkan, apalagi yang menonton langsung di stadion. Pendukung tandang Arsenal mengalami momen bersejarah yang tak ayal lagi akan makin menguatkan cinta mereka terhadap the greatest club the world has ever seen ini.

Neraka Babak Pertama

Wenger memainkan starting eleven yang berbeda total dengan yang bermain melawan QPR pekan lalu. Formasi yang dimainkan tetap 4-2-1-3 dengan susunan seperti ini:

Gnabry ——- Chamakh ——– Walcott

—————– Arshavin ——————–

———- Coquelin —- Frimpong ———-

Miquel – Koscielny -Djourou – Jenkinson

—————– Martinez ——————–

Arshavin bermain di posisi yang biasa diisi Santi Cazorla, peran yang juga dimainkannya di pertandingan COC sebelumnya. Cukup mengherankan Wenger memainkan Chamakh daripada Giroud yang duduk di bangku cadangan. Ini pertanda Le Boss masih percaya kepada striker yang sudah lama kehilangan kepercayaan di mata fans. Atau bisa juga karena Giroud diistirahatkan agar punya stamina yang cukup untuk big match melawan MU akhir pekan ini. Atau bisa juga Wenger tidak memprioritaskan kemenangan di partai ini, demikian pikir fans Arsenal kebanyakan di awal pertandingan. Toh League Cup masuk prioritas kelima dalam daftar trofi incaran Wenger.

Reading memainkan setengah pemain intinya dari starting line up di Premier League pekan lalu dan memulai pertandingan dengan cemerlang. Hanya dalam waktu 20 menit, Arsenal sudah kebobolan tiga gol. Gol pertama berawal dari serangan sayap kiri Reading. Jenkinson terlambat menutup gerakan pemain sayap lawan yang melakukan crossing rendah dan Koscielny terlambat mengikuti gerakan Jason Roberts. Gol mudah bagi Reading. Gol kedua juga berasal dari sayap, kali ini dari sayap kanan Reading. Crossing rendah dari Gunter berusaha diblok oleh Koscielny (ke mana Miquel?) dan bola malah memantul ke gawang Martinez. Own goal untuk kesekian kalinya untuk Koscielny. Gaya bermain Koscielny yang gung-ho tidak membantu Arsenal untuk kesekian kalinya. Keputusan yang ceroboh sering dilakukan (bertolak belakang dengan Mertesacker yang kalem) sehingga berakibat pada own goal. Koscielny sangat bagus dalam man marking dan pertandingan satu lawan satu namun lemah dalam mengantisipasi crossing yang cepat dari sayap. Kelemahan ini dimanfaatkan dengan sempurna oleh Reading. Mestinya pemain-pemain Arsenal membaca scouting report yang dibuat Michael Cox (@ZonalMarking) di website Arsenal. Jelas-jelas ia memperingatkan serangan Reading akan dilakukan dengan crossing dari sayap.

Hanya berselang 2 menit kemudian, tembakan Leigertwood hanya bisa dimentahkan Martinez ke gawangnya sendiri. Kesalahan mendasar yang berawal dari kegugupan lini belakang Arsenal. Kiper muda ini tidak terbantu dengan back four yang gugup, gagap dan terlambat mengantisipasi serangan lawan. Mereka juga tidak dibantu oleh lini tengah yang kerap kehilangan bola. Frimpong terutama bermain tidak pada level yang seharusnya dan Coquelin serta Arshavin sering melakukan passing yang salah. Lini tengah terlambat menutup gerakan lawan ketika kehilangan bola. Begitu kontras dengan kesigapan Arteta dan Cazorla dalam tracking lawan sesaat setelah kehilangan bola dan ketenangan Ramsey atau Wilshere saat membawa bola. Akibatnya Gnabry, Walcott dan Chamakh tidak mendapatkan supply bola yang memadai. Arsenal menemukan jalan buntu setiap melewati garis tengah lapangan dan bola segera kembali ke pemain Reading dan menyerang Arsenal. Ketidakhadiran jenderal lapangan tengah sangat terasa di babak pertama ini.

Gol Hunt di menit ke-37 melengkapi neraka babak pertama bagi Arsenal. Dengan mudahnya ia melakukan free header ke gawang Arsenal tanpa kontes berarti dari Djourou. Satu-satunya hal positif dari penampilan pemain Arsenal babak pertama ini adalah di injury time Walcott berhasil mencetak gol lewat counter attack, menyelesaikan through ball manis dari Arshavin. Walcott berhasil menjawab dukungan pendukung tandang Arsenal yang tak henti-hentinya bernyanyi walau Arsenal telah ketinggalan 4-0. Juga menjawab “judgment” saya di twitter yang mengatakan ia tak cukup bagus untuk menjadi striker utama. What did I know?

Twitter Meltdown

Seperti biasa, setiap Arsenal ketinggalan di pertandingan dan bermain buruk, fans Arsenal di twitter pasti akan ngomel, dan sebagian marah-marah. Ada yang melempar joke sarkas, ada yang meragukan komitmen pemain, ada yang menjelek-jelekkan pemain yang memang di matanya selalu jelek, dan sebagian kecil tetap mendukung tim dengan berharap pada mukjizat yang mengubah jalannya pertandingan. Harapan untuk perubahan ini kandas di 2 pertandingan lawan Norwich dan Schalke dan sedikit berhasil di pertandingan melawan QPR. Tentunya saya tidak terkecuali dalam hal twitter meltdown ini. Berikut akan saya copas twit @benhan selama pertandingan berlangsung. Menarik untuk melakuan “psikoanalisis” perubahan mental seorang fans dalam menyaksikan mukjizat ini. Komentar psikoanalisis ini ditulis dalam huruf italic. 🙂

Babak pertama:

  • Boyz bullied by men…. What a shame.
  • Reality check for these players and for the manager: they’re not as good as they perceive. Worse when being put together.
  • WTF. Stapleton won’t play in this game RT @piersmorgan: ‘We sold Van Persie for football reasons’ – #IvanTheTerrible #Arsenal #LaughingStock
  • Rightly deserve RT @feverpitch: This game will be available on DVD at the spurs shop tomorrow morning.
  • Nah, eleven different players RT @ellgalegoy: “@AFCholic: I’m genuinely scared of what’s going to happen at Old Trafford.” (menarik batas antara pertandingan ini dengan pertandingan berikutnya, yang bermain di OT nanti jelas 11 pemain yang berbeda)
  • Walcott’s first touch is too heavy for a striker. He can keep dreaming becoming one this season. Not good enough even for a COC
  • Walcott’s first touch is too heavy for a striker. He can keep dreaming becoming one this season… And he scores! What do I know (setelah Walcott mencetak gol pertama, terpaksa menelan ludah sendiri dan melakukan revisi twit hehe)

Campuran kekecewaan dan pesimisme terlihat di twit-twit di atas dicampur joke-joke sarkas pesimis. Ditambah dengan beberapa twit selama half time:

  • Koscielny’s confidence nose dived after being benched since the start of the season. From world beater to grave digger..
  • Me too. His absence contribute to the abysmal midfield RT @binhaf: I don’t know about the rest of you, but I blame Ramsey.
  • First and second Reading goals: mistake by Koscielny. Not helped by the fullbacks.
  • The third Reading goal put any wishful thinking of Martinez challenging Don Vito for GK spot to bed.
  • LOL RT @binhaf: I think people should be more specific about wanting ‘Arsenal back’. What if we get the 80s?!
  • Wenger should put Giroud 2nd half. Chasing for a draw. This result won’t be good for any fringe players we have.

Terus terang saya tidak percaya Arsenal dapat membalikkan hasil pada babak kedua dan melakukan “New Castle” terhadap Reading. Namun dengan masuknya pemain seperti Giroud, ada harapan Arsenal bisa mencetak 1-2 gol lagi agar tidak kalah memalukan tanpa perlawanan seperti yang ditunjukkan di babak pertama. Twit di babak kedua:

  • 2nd half isn’t better. #COYG
  • Now we can truly appreciate how hard Arteta works for the team… Leading and uniting the bunch of overrated players.
  • Amazing that some fans decide to take cheap shot to the board based on this performance. We see things as what we want to believe. (masih pasrah tapi menolak bereaksi berlebihan)
  • Giroud and Eisfield coming on. Wenger does bother to be back to this game.
  • 4-2. Pull off a Newcastle, please! Great header by Giroud. (optimisme mulai hadir, boleh donk berharap?)
  • Arsenal away fans are amazing. Much better than those pretending to know how to support Gooners on twitter… Including me. (mulai mengakui kesalahan ketidakpercayaan pada tim ini)
  • Away fans know how to SUPPORT the team. Amazing RT@LadyArse: The noise from the Arsenal fans is unreal
  • Giroud is more and more impressive as minutes passing by… Good warming up for the weekend big match.
  • Giroud shows Walcott how to be a center forward. A proper one in the modern game.
  • Now we know why Wenger keeps playing Arshavin at the flank not in the hole. Inconsistency on passing and inability to hold up ball. (geram dengan Arshavin yang kerap kehilangan bola saat menyerang)
  • Koscielny payback! 4-3 now. Come on Arsenal!
  • 4-4! Unbelievable amazing comeback! I love you Arsenal! (hampir tidak percaya, akhirnya Arsenal melakukan New Castle!)
  • Sign da thing, Walcott!!! 😀 (bukti betapa rapuhnya penilaian fans terhadap pemain, sesaat mengatakan ia bukan striker, dua gol dalam comeback mengubah drastis persepsi sebelumnya)

Wenger memasukkan Giroud dan Eisfeld di babak kedua menggantikan Frimpong dan Gnabry yang tidak efektif. Hanya 2 menit berselang, Giroud mencetak gol lewat header jarak cukup jauh di dalam kotak penalti menyambut umpan tendangan sudut Walcott, 4-2. Gol Giroud ini memberikan harapan untuk comeback. Gerakan Giroud di kotak penalti sangat efektif, beberapa peluang dihasilkannya dan juga beberapa tembakan ke gawang. Eisfeld memberikan suntikan baru pada kemampuan penguasaan bola di lapangan tengah dengan operannya yang lebih akurat dari Frimpong, dan lewat penetrasinya yang cerdik ke daerah lawan yang menghasilkan beberapa freekick. Gnabry dipuja-puji media sebelum pertandingan namun Eisfeld adalah pemain Jerman yang bersinar di pertandingan kali ini. Arsenal bermain praktis dengan formasi 4-2-4 dengan 4 striker. Eisfeld dan Arshavin bergantian maju ke depan di saat dibutuhkan dan Coquelin menjadi satu-satunya pivot lapangan tengah.

Menit dan menit berlalu, Arsenal terus menyerang, fans Arsenal terus bernyanyi, Reading semakin kehilangan kepercayaan diri dan akhirnya kita mendapatkan hasil yang diinginkan. Gol Koscielny di menit terakhir dan gol Walcott (yang kemudian dikoreksi dan versi resminya menjadi gol Jenkinson) di injury time menghasilkan comeback dramatis Arsenal pertama musim ini. Tertinggal 4-0 dan membalikkan kedudukan menjadi 4-4, kita resmi melakukan “New Castle” terhadap Reading. Fans tandang Arsenal yang terus bernyanyi tanpa henti sejak ketinggalan sampai menyamakan kedudukan pasti senang luar biasa karena kepercayaannya pada tim ini terbayar tuntas. Simak catatan saksi hidupnya di blog Goonerholic ini.

Di babak kedua ini penampilan Miquel, Jenkinson dan Coquelin mengalami peningkatan drastis. Dengan hadirnya Eisfeld, Arshavin tidak memangku sendiri lagi beban kreativitas lapangan tengah. Passing-passingnya menjadi lebih akurat. Chamakh yang belum menghasilkan peluang di pertandingan ini dengan hadirnya Giroud di depan bisa turun sedikit ke lapangan tengah dan bekerja keras untuk menerima bola, melakukan pressing ke pemain lawan, dan menahan bola selama mungkin untuk pemain depan Arsenal. Chamakh bermain hampir seperti box to box midfielder.

Gol Walcott (Jenkinson) di awal menit ke-6 injury time diprotes pemain Reading karena melewati batas 4 menit injury time yang resmi. Salah sendiri Reading melakukan pergantian pemain dan membuang-buang waktu di injury time. Semangat Jenkinson luar biasa dalam penyamaan kedudukan ini. Tanpa tembakannya menyambut rebound bola Walcott yang sebenarnya telah melewati garis gawang Reading, kemungkinan Arsenal tidak dapat menyamakan kedudukan. Gol terakhir di detik akhir injury time. Buah dukungan tanpa henti fans dan kerja keras tanpa henti pemain. Semuanya berbasis pada Faith. Kepercayaan manager dan fans pada para pemain Arsenal lapis kedua ini akhirnya berbuah manis.

Babak Tambahan, Gol Tambahan

Terus terang di babak tambahan perpanjangan waktu ini saya sudah tidak begitu peduli dengan hasilnya. Optimis Arsenal bisa menang, dan kalaupun sampai kalah tetap bangga dengan perjuangan para pemain di babak kedua. Babak tambahan ini adalah soal siapa yang lebih lelah, namun secara momentum, angin berpihak di Arsenal. Pemain Reading selain lelah fisik juga lelah mental karena terkejar dari posisi yang sudah sangat diuntungkan pasti bikin down pemain setangguh apapun.

  • Now into extra time. Let’s kill the game, Arsenal!
  • RT @Alex_OxChambo: I’m shaking i’m buzzin zoo much!!!
  • Giving up supporting does RT @GoonerboyBlog: Getting upset when your team is 4-0 down obviously means you’re not a proper supporter.
  • A reward for the amazing away fans RT @DarrenArsenal1: WEVE GOT OUR ARSENAL BACK …….
  • Fair RT @WengerBoy1: If you’re going to slate the team for the first half you have to praise them just as much for the second.
  • Chamakh might not score again in his career but he works tirelessly for the team. Maybe its time to convert him to box to box midfielder? 🙂
  • Forgive me Chamakh, what do I know? You score and win the game! From outside the box. 5-4 for Arsenal! 😀 (kembali harus menelan ludah, Chamakh mencetak gol brilliant dari luar kotak penalti, menjawab keraguan semua fans Arsenal)
  • I love when the players keep proving me wrong and that Wenger is right in trusting them. What do I know? #WengerKnows
  • RT @goonerdesi: A Chamakh goal from outside the box would a collector’s item in itself.. but that build-up play..ooh what a goal! pure class
  • I should repeat it this weekend 🙂 RT @ujangw@benhan First Walcott, then Chamakh, what kind of voodoo dolls you got there?
  • Can he walk the talk? 😀 RT @binhaf: (One hour ago) Awkward. RT@LukeHines: If chamakh scores I’ll eat my own shit
  • +1 RT @GeoffArsenal: Gotta say the Arsenal support have been incredible tonight. 4 down singing their hearts out. They deserve to win.
  • Lesson learnt from Arsenal away fans undying support: never stop supporting the team, it would only help the players. #COYG
  • Must be an amazing experience for the Arsenal away fans. This could be once in a lifetime comeback. A moment of truth, indeed.
  • Ouch… Too early to be happy. This could go to penalty shootout. 5-5
  • Walcott hattrick! 6-5. Amazing game. Now sign da thing!
  • Arshavin is much better playing from the left flank. How many assists he has today?
  • Chamakh scores again! 7-5. Really unbelievable.
  • What a classy chip goal from 30 yards by Chamakh. He could restore his confidence again. This what trust can give you.
  • Hell yeah! RT @beautifulgroan: Chamakh finishing the match with an impudent lob is the final nail in the ‘take the piss’ column.

Reaksi di twitter pun berubah 180 derajat. Fans Arsenal di twitter berubah dari kecewa menjadi kagum. Dari meremehkan menjadi setengah tidak percaya menjadi bangga. Apapun yang dilakukan Wenger di dressing room saat half time berdampak besar pada perubahan sikap mental pemain Arsenal. Tim cadangan ini bahkan bereaksi lebih hebat daripada tim utama saat melawan QPR pekan lalu. Sikap yang sama dipertahankan di babak perpanjangan waktu.

Chamakh mencetak gol kelima Arsenal malam itu dari luar kotak penalti. Tendangan terarah dan keras tidak dapat ditahan kiper Reading. Fans Arsenal seluruh jagad raya terperangah tidak percaya. Siapa sangka pemain yang sudah tidak mencetak gol selama berbulan-bulan ini mampu mencetak gol indah seperti ini. 5-4 untuk Arsenal.

Arshavin yang selama ini dicap tidak memiliki stamina yang cukup ternyata bisa menyelesaikan pertandingan 120 menit ini dengan sangat baik. Berkat tembakannya di menit terakhirlah, Walcott akhirnya bisa mencetak gol ketiganya malam ini menyambut bola rebound. Membalas gol Pogrebnyak sebelumnya yang belum mau menyerah. Injury time dari extra time ini dimanfaatkan dengan baik oleh Arsenal. Chamakh berhasil menerima umpan serangan balik dan berhadapan dengan kiper Reading yang siap keluar dari kotak penaltinya, ia melakukan lob jauh yang akurat. Chamakh seperti terlahir kembali menjadi striker tajam yang tidak kita kenal sebelumnya. 7-5, first set for Arsenal (mengutip pertandingan tenis).

Post Match

  • Ready for Old Trafford 🙂 RT @Sagnaofficial: Ahahahahah i’m gonna sleep veeeeeery well looooooooooooool
  • Walcott: It was an unbelievable game. We started sloppy & had to wake up. The boss told us that wasn’t #AFC in the 1st half. via@GoonerTalk
  • Whatever Wenger said at half time, it worked. Proud of the players tonight. Walcott MoTM.
  • RT @LadyArse: “You cannot play for Arsenal and give up, no matter what the score is” Wenger
  • This performance will only inspire the first team to give their best at OT. All watched the game tonite.

Saat post match interview, Jenkinson dan Walcott memberikan petunjuk bahwa Wenger berhasil mengangkat moral pemain di saat istirahat. Kata-kata seperti bermain untuk Arsenal harus pantang menyerah membangunkan para pemain. Terutama pemain seperti Jenkinson yang juga seorang Gooner, tentunya kebanggaan mengenakan baju merah putih akan terusik dengan penampilan melempem di babak pertama.

“I just thought what can I do about that and started to think about my half-time speech,” said Wenger. “I felt sorry for our fans and I would like to give them credit tonight. A big part of them stayed behind and I am happy that we paid them back.” And for those who left? “I give them less credit,” he chirped.

Kredit terbesar tentunya untuk pendukung tandang Arsenal yang tiada henti mendukung, bernyanyi dan menyerukan semangat kepada timnya. Nyanyian seperti “We love you Arsenal, we do!” berkumandang walaupun Arsenal bermain sangat buruk dan ketinggalan 4-0. Seruan seperti “Come on Arsenal!” terus menyemangati pemain untuk mengejar ketinggalan. Kita sering melupakan fans adalah pemain ke-12 dalam pertandingan dan betapa atmosfer stadion bisa mengubah arah pertandingan. Pendukung tandang Arsenal mengajarkan bahwa kesabaran, kesetiaan dan dukungan tanpa henti kepada tim, dalam kondisi apapun pasti akan membuahkan hasil. Paling tidak dukungan itu akan mendorong pemain untuk berupaya lebih keras, apapun hasilnya.

Semoga tim utama Arsenal belajar dari pertandingan ini. Penampilan melempem saat lawan Norwich dan Schalke mesti dilupakan. Memahami ulang apa artinya memakai kostum merah putih tercinta ini, mengulang kata Wenger:

You can not play for Arsenal and give up, no matter what the score is.

Hal yang sama berlaku juga untuk pendukung Arsenal, di mana pun kita berada.

Saya terus terang sedikit iri dengan away fans Arsenal yang berhasil menjadi saksi sejarah comeback cemerlang ini. Peristiwa spesial ini pasti akan membekas di hati mereka. Membuktikan bahwa cinta dan kepercayaan total bisa memiliki happy ending di dunia nyata…

Sedikit dokumentasi dari dua away fans Arsenal yang menyaksikan langsung brilliant comeback ini di blog Goonerholic:


This game taught me two things, first of all NEVER leave game before the final whistle and secondly NEVER sit with the opposition fans ever again. I wanted to shout and scream when those two late goals went. I wanted to celebrate with all the fans in the south stand as they went crazy, Oliver caught my attention:

Daddy I want to sit and sing with the Arsenal fans please….

Next time my boy next time indeed!

Steve T:

My two have again had a ball. Both have returned home exhausted and very hoarse. I have never seen Ben so animated at a game. 4 nil, and you’ve mucked it up he sang from the top of his voice. I am not sure of he is convinced that they were the words but he knows what he can and can’t sing. Emily has also managed to sing herself hoarse.

“Can we do another away game dad?” comes the request as we get back to the car. I am sure that can be arranged, I just hope they do not expect 12 goals next time.

Bisa dibayangkan bocah-bocah ini yang dibawa ayahnya ke pertandingan kemarin adalah bibit-bibit muda fans away Arsenal, dibaptis oleh kelompok pendukung terbaik sepakbola di Liga Inggris, mereka akan menjadi penerusnya. Oh to be a Gooner. 🙂

Victoria Concordia Crescit