A post-match chat from South Africa

Arsenal

I chatted with Jerry (Jezza) Maqasa, one of the members of our Facebook group, Arsenal South Africa, Supporting the Team for better or worse about his impressions of the Liverpool-Arsenal game

Tell us about your history with Arsenal

Aah…. It actually started when Wenger came in and we had a couple of Dutch players – Giovanni van Bronckhorst and Dennis Bergkamp. I used to follow the Netherlands and loved the way they played real footie. I feel in love with Arsenal then.

As an aside, I consider Arsenal to be the English Barcelona. They play similar soccer and I enjoy the way they play. The difference is that Barca has a lot of money. But I am a full-blooded Gunner.

What did you think about this game against Liverpool?

When I saw the lineup I thought… okay, we’re trying something new here. Perhaps it will work. I knew Ozil was sick and I thought perhaps Wenger was showing who’s the boss. Also, I thought it might suit the game, not having one player initiating midfield attacks, but instead having Giroud and Welbeck.

But nothing fell to plan. I think Giroud pulled something, which was unfortunate. I hope it isn’t serious – I love Olivier!

The second half was better, and it looked like it would be a draw. Unfortunately, they caught us on the break.

Who would have been your man of the match, had we won?

Ooh, that is a bit of an unfair question…. Welbeck didn’t get enough support although he and Oxlade-Chamberlain played well, I thought. But none of the guys, for me, would have got more than a 5/10.

Bellerin tried and I felt sorry for Cech – he doesn’t have a good shield. Which is one thing that concerns me when we play big sides: we get exposed on either side of the wing and then the midfield, rather than shifting back, gets caught facing the wrong way; and then the other team is able to poach and score.

Who do you think is the weak link, if there is anyone you would single out?

I don’t think Monreal is currently the Monreal of 18 months ago. I would like to see more of Gibbs. He is fast and attacks better. Do you know he has the third highest assist record in the team? And this, from a guy who hasn’t been getting regular game time.

I feel Bellerin sometimes lets us down. Yes, he is super fast, but sometimes he isn’t solid enough. I actually enjoy Gabriel on that right side – I find him more solid. Do you think I’m reading this accurately…?

Yes, I agree with you, but there is more to it and I’ll come back to it as it’s linked to your next question.

Are you a Wenger in and out guy? And why?

I’ll be honest, I love Arsene Wenger. I have a three-year-old son and if it were possible for him to play under Wenger, that would have been my dream. If he (Wenger) wants to stick around as well, I would be happy. Emirates is Emirates because of Arsenal. He has Arsenal even in his name!

Wenger’s shoes are HUGE to fill, so we cannot get just anyone. I do have someone in mind and that’s Max Allegri, from Juventus. He hasn’t signed his contract there so maybe, just maybe. And this is the fresh blood I think we need.

Which brings me back to what you were saying about Gabriel – that he’s more solid. Well, Max Allegri likes to play a three-five-two game, so he would play with three defenders at back (say Kos, Mustafi and Gabriel) with Bellerin and Gibbs or Monreal on the left and right. This way, if Bellerin were to lose the ball, Gabi would be there to mop up. So we would have a five-man defense in reality.

Sometimes we blame Wenger, but my problem is with the board. If you have an investor, he has to have passion and be a fan of the thing he’s investing in, not just in it to make money. There has to be emotion attached to that investment. Unfortunately, Wenger is an accountant so he is naturally careful – and he doesn’t even come out and say it isn’t his fault, that his hands are tied.

The morale of team is low, this makes me afraid and I don’t know how we’ll get out of this rut. But, I believe things will come right – I don’t know how, but they will come right.

After our defeat to Liverpool, it was a treat to alleviate my pain by talking to a fellow Gunner. Thanks Jezza, for your time and spirit. I enjoyed the chat.

Jezza is a huge sport fanatic. He follows rugby, cricket and football. He especially loves cricket and footie. “You can wake me up in the middle of the night and say let’s play, and I will get up and play” he says.

He chose academics over his sporting career and is a medical diagnostic specialist.

He loves driving cars and test-drives sports cars for companies such as Mercedes Benz.

Jezza lives with his wife Brenda and son Rolihlahla Sachin (named after Nelson Mandela and Sachin Tendulkar) in Johannesburg, South Africa.