Mikel starts with a draw, but lots of positives on show

by & filed under News Review.

The Mikel Arteta era started with a 1-1 draw away from home. The 1 point wasn’t ideal, but I think most fans felt very good about what they saw. It was a first step, but for 5 days work, it’s hard to argue there wasn’t progress on the basics.

We conceded a customary goal, looked shaky at the back on occasions, but the team showed far more fight than they have in a long time. We pressed, the boys looked hungry for the ball, they actually turned up for an away game. I enjoyed myself, which felt weird.

Arteta was fairly happy.

“I’m very pleased with some of the things I’ve seen in terms of attitude, character and the passion we showed, and the fight and the spirit the team showed. Spot on, and probably better than I expected over 90 minutes,” Arteta said. “A lot of things that happened in the game [that] we prepared and I think they [the players] understood them and they tried to take them on board and we liked the final product at the end.

“I did not know how long the players would last at that rhythm with the demands I made of them but the attitude was spot on. There are no negotiables at this club, there are standards that have to be done at this club and they held them.”

Outside the simple basics like effort, we also controlled possession like we used to. Our movement going forward had more purpose to it. We only landed 2 shots on target all game, but we had 17 attempts. I think our poor efforts in front of goal were more down to rusty players, youth, and a lack of confidence over anything else. Our chances were in good places on the pitch, and on another day, we’d have scored 4. I’m still having nightmares about Willock at the end. Just blame the rain and too much vegan turkey.

Our delivery was also really bad, even for us. Saka and AMN are not even full-backs, so to be expecting them to deliver like Liverpool was always a big ask. Had we started Hector and Kola, it might have been different. I also thought we missed the power, drive and confidence of an on form Martinelli.

There were a lot of people grumbling about Pepe not starting. For me, if the Ivorian record signing has been ignored by 3 managers all under huge amounts of pressure, I would suspect he probably trains very badly. If you’re not putting the effort in under Arteta, it’s clear he won’t play you. That said, Nelson is way off the pace. He looked a bit more confident than he usually does but his decision making was woeful and his delivery is nowhere near where it should be considering he went out on loan last season.

I also thought Lacazette was off the pace. He made lots of incorrect decisions and his timing was well off, that one-on-one he blew was nailed on in 2016… but he’s been Emeryfied and it’ll take some time to shake that off.

Things I liked…

Arteta managed to get a performance out of Mesut and he talked about it to the press.

 “He worked and could have been the difference; we could have scored three or four goals from his balls through,”

“To be fair his attitude in training since the day I walked into the building has been incredible. I said I was going to give a clean slate to everybody and I went to give it to him.

The German was instrumental playing between the lines. His quick passing and clever movement off the ball was a real nuisance. I liked that when he was subbed off you could see his face was blotchy from all the effort. He might not be the #10 of the future, but if we can get him firing, he’d be very helpful to our end of season run… and yes, I am aware Bournemouth are very good to players like Mesut.

Full backs tucking in, a City special, was on show yesterday. It seemed to give our defenders more options as they moved forward and made us a bit more resolute when being countered.

I also thought Torreira had a really solid game, he’s gone from being anonymous to an absolute brute in a week. Long may that continue.

… and say it quietly, Xhaka did a very solid job. Bournemouth are perfect opposition for him, but still, his pass completion was 94% and there was some ambition to his play. Shite defensively and not suited to the league, but you have to give praise where deserved. Word has it he still wants to leave to go to Berlin and I really couldn’t care less, as long as we have a replacement lined up.

So overall, a shite result, but plenty that points to a brighter future. This season might be a write-off (I hope it’s not) but we should start winning if we continue creating that many good opportunities… it’s a promising start. The players responded well to the new demands and the early signs are that Arteta has a good vision of what he wants to do, with the authority to get it done.

I went hard on Emery who couldn’t create an identity in his first 4 months (or ever), many thought I was unfair for this. I personally believe any coach worth a sausage will have his players showing serious signs of their ideas within 3 months. I will stand by that view with Arteta. It’ll take longer for results, because we’ll need better players, but this is a good coach who will take us to a far higher level than Emery or latter years Wenger could. I think we’ll see good things this season, even from these players. I am still excited. You should be too.

Onwards and upwards, a very messy Chelsea next, could be a good home debut for Mikel.

See you there!

575 Responses to “Mikel starts with a draw, but lots of positives on show”

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  1. Marko

    It’ll take longer for results, because we’ll need better players

    Better late than never I suppose.

    On yesterday sure there was some good signs but there was also still the usual signs and the most prominent of those is that the squad isn’t good enough and certain players need to go still. All that possession and we created very little despite people saying Ozil had a good game (the Ozil deception continues). Defensively though still very braindead. But there’s a sign of things to come if Mikel’s backed and able to bring in players that can do what he wants and at least that’s something.

  2. Marc

    As we’re being linked with Rabiot on loan getting into long debates about who’s better / worse is a waste of time.

    Clearly Arteta / we’re looking at doing some business in Jan that we’ll help us turn the season around (what that entails is another debate!) whilst keeping some powder dry for the summer.

    On a seriously happier note the stories about Xhaka leaving are getting stronger. If there’s a half decent offer on the table we should grab it.

  3. Dream10

    Paulinho

    Yep. That’s a good summary of their talents. Rabiot is a good footballer, smooth as CC said above. He keeps the game moving in CM without being a defensive monster or being a prolific progressive passer. A player for possession teams at the top of the food chain like City/PSG but not us. Motta was a bit of a bastard who was slow, but quality on the ball I thought, good leader for them. A better version of Jorginho for me

  4. Marc

    Marko

    I agree with you comment to a point – what I will say though is that our back line yesterday was missing any FB and Chambers who has been playing fairly well of late.

    The defence also had Xhaka in front on it. If I was given a choice between selling him in Jan but not getting a replacement or keeping him till the summer I’d still sell. If he’s available he’s an option.

  5. Marko

    Jan – Willock, Nelson, ESR, Saka on loan.Bring in Demaria Gray, Barkley, Can/Rabiot.Ideally spend it all on a Grealish and herald a new era.

    So we’re still just fucking off the defence. Spend it all on Grealish my god. It would be so very Arsenal though wouldn’t

  6. habesha gooner

    CC kondogbia has never really kicked on after the initial hype. Dani Parejo and Francis Coquelin are playing ahead of him at Valencia. He isn’t a bad player but not what everyone was expecting to see from him.

  7. Cesc Appeal

    Interesting links to Kulusevski and Szobolasai for the attacking midfield positions.

    Probably could get both for £40-50 Million and potentially sort our attacking midfield for a long time to come.

    Same with the links to Demiral. My preference would be an EPL player for the CB position but I fully understand what Arsenal might be thinking with Demiral. A big, physical, athletic, young CB who has shown glimpses of real potential. With his situation there they might be thinking of a potential good deal for him.

    With Saliba, Demiral, Holding, Chambers you’ve potentially nailed down your CB situation for years to come as well.

    CDM/CM desperately needs sorting though. It has to be a Partey/Ndidi/Zakaria type buy we can just drop into that position and have it sorted. That will likely improve our attacking play as well as players are free to focus on their roles more as opposed to covering up the innumerable holes in our midfield ‘coverage’.

    If the rumours of Aubameyang to Madrid are true thinking on it we could well ask for money and Hakimi in the summer when his BvB loan ends. Impressive over there and with Bellerin not exactly lighting it up and looking worryingly plain to poor adding incredible pace and physicality at RB could be the way forward.

    Tierney is back in March and in all honesty we should nurse him into the season and if anything tell him to not expect to much and after a summer of fitness work be ready to go as starting LB in August.

  8. Dolomite

    There is no way we can send 4 players out on loan with our current squad depth
    That would require spending huge amounts of money to cover those numbers

  9. habesha gooner

    Marko, I agree any attacking players have to wait till summer. Our defense really needs help. The only reason we are talking about Rabiot is because Xhaka might be leaving and we need a replacement. In order of priority we need A CB, Right Back, Centel Midfielder and left back. LB and CM if we off load our poor players.

  10. Champagne charlie

    Habesha

    What a shame, looked like another Moussa Dembele in the making early on. Maybe he hasn’t married himself with the club that makes him, who knows, be nice to see him fulfil his promise as he’s a fantastic watch when on.

  11. Paulinho

    “There are so many players around the world – why choose to take a player you think is lazy if we’re supposed to be changing to a team that works hard?”

    We are shit and lazy at the moment.

    At least Can has talent. People talk about Klopp walking into a poverty squad but I remember Can scoring bicycle kicks away at places like Watford and we could do with someone has that sort of arrogance and ability.

  12. China1

    I’d like to know how much arteta has to work with assuming no sales

    It would put whatever we do/don’t do into better perspective

    Normally we have Pedro and valentin telling us what they heard the budget is but so far we’re on total guesswork

  13. China1

    I’d like to know how much arteta has to work with assuming no sales

    It would put whatever we do/don’t do into better perspective

    Normally we have Pedro and valentin telling us what they heard the budget is but so far we’re on total guesswork

  14. MuddyGooner

    Good post Pedro

    Not sure why some people have to have an unfair go at him. He’s entitled to his opinions. He tirelessly writes the blog, right or wrong but they are his views. Let’s respect that at least.

    I’m pleased with what I’ve seen under Arteta after a couple of minutes even though I wasn’t keen on him initially taking the job. I got sold on Arteta after Pedro’s posts after Emery got his marching orders.
    I have a gut feeling Arteta’s onto something good.
    We’re all gooners, so let’s all back him !
    Only time will tell if he’s a success or a failure.

  15. Marc

    Cesc

    Bringing in another CB as you mention with talk of Saliba’s loan being cancelled and Holding to come back would also give us the short term option of using Chambers as a DM.

    Not ideal but until we have a summer clear out we could well be operating on a making the best of a bad situation scenario.

  16. Paulinho

    “Lobotka is a good shout. Quite small though but love his ability to dribble away from pressure”

    Got that stature where the only way to survive is have high levels of natural talent.

  17. China1

    I feel a bit sorry for poor saliba!

    He’s still a kid but unless we sign a beast this winter/summer he’s realistically got the weight of the world on his shoulders when he walks in that door next July

    I dearly hope he lives up to his potential so we can finally write off one position as ‘closed’ for the foreseeable future

  18. Dream10

    Cesc Appeal

    Bit wary of Szoboszlai. From minimal YouTube scouting, don’t see him as a player who can make an impact for the level we need. Serie A/maybe a middle LA Liga side better than him. The Kulisevski kid seems more interesting and looks to be the type whose skills will translate to many leagues both slow and fast

  19. KAY Boss

    Paulinho, are u suggesting D.Gray and Ross Barkley? Barkley is a crock.
    Never stays fit and u want him at Arsenal. What’s it with some fans and their fondness of Chelsea non performers.

  20. Marko

    Marc it all just backs up my point we still aren’t good enough and still need replacing certain players. All the positives from the Arteta appointment still aren’t enough to mask over the disappointment of certain players and I feel yesterday was a perfect example of that. Great on the ball up until our lack of creativity and quality from out wide let us down. Defensively was same old same old we gave up chances still and two to three players made errors leading to their goal. Luckily though it seems that the club thanks to the fans who booed Xhaka way back when will be finally addressing one of the most problematic players at the club in Xhaka next month. Couldn’t be happier those fans deserve a medal cause it seems like the club wasn’t inclined to do fuck all and even Arteta seemingly was willing to wait until the summer before binning him.

  21. Paulinho

    Kay – Apply the same scrutiny to the trash we are playing now and you will (or should) realise they are both a step-up in the short-term. I’m talking loans more than permanent big money transfers.

  22. Marko

    CA Kulusevski I’m hearing is Inter bound and Hakimi is going back to Real Zidane is a big fan and for good reason he’s a fantastic fullback capable of playing either side. Szobozlai could be on though.

  23. Pierre

    Surfers
    ” but, in regard to Xhaka, he was at fault for our first goal”

    There are at least 5 players who were more culpable.

    Sokratis pass back to Leno was weak and slow .
    Leno should have recognised this and put his foot through the ball.
    Instead he hit a heavy pass to luiz by the corner flag who found Saka, who should have put his foot through the ball.
    Instead he tried to play a one two with Aubameyang and the move broke down.
    Xhaka was left with a player running at him with the ball and a player on the overlap , a no win situation .

    But yeah, you blame xhaka.

    Xhaka had one of his best games in an Arsenal shirt, his passing to Saka and between the lines throughout the game was spot on.

    Was very astute coaching from Arteta as his use of Xhaka played to his strengths, which is his passing .

    It was a simple but very effective manoeuvre that created space and time .

    Luiz would receive the ball on the halfway line or thereabouts, Saka would advance down the line taking the opposition with him and xhaka would drop into the area vacated by Saka allowing xhaka time and space to pick a pass.
    Simple but effective.

    When we lost possession xhaka would return to partner Torreira in the middle and Saka would drop back in.

  24. Marko

    I dunno if I’d blame Xhaka for their goal yesterday but his lack of defensive awareness lead to it being a goal. Got into a LCB position when the full back was caught out of position and had the vision to spot the overlap but instead simply did nothing. Again we are one of the worst clubs in the league for errors leading to goals and tackle success. That’s the problem

  25. Champagne charlie

    Interesting that reports suggest Juve are to dismiss any approach for Rabiot.

    Sarri commented on him and said ‘he’s had trouble adjusting to our style, but that’s normal’…..‘he’s also very introverted which doesn’t help his adaptation’.

    Strange comment to make about a player publicly like that, maybe some truth to Rabiot not being keen to stay there though so could push for something.

  26. Guns of Hackney

    Rabiot is like Benzema. A unicorn player for us. Always linked, but will never be seen in an Arsenal shirt.

    No thanks. Damaged goods.

  27. Nelson

    Pepe is a specialist. The only time he has shown his skill yesterday was during a counter when he chased the ball against one defender. Then his speed became useful. He has also a good shot. We need a training program to convert him to become a team player. He has to improve his work rate without the ball. During attack he needs to have more fast combination plays with teammates, even if it is a simple side way pass. Currently, every defender knows that he’ll hang on to the ball. EPL defenders like strong tackle. Pepe can get himself hurt if he tries to beat two three defenders each time.

  28. Cesc Appeal

    As others have said Arsenal cannot just allow Saliba to turn up and have tonnes of pressure on his shoulders.

    We could have Van Dijk in our side but with our midfield he would be facing 5 or 6 times the workload he has at Liverpool.

  29. Carts

    Can’t lie, we’re moments during yesterday’s game that told me Arteta is already on job.

    Not going to buss my load just yet cos there’s bigger challenges ahead, yet certain things looked like it had made its way into the player’s psyche.

    I’ll tell you what though, sooner we lose Luiz the better. The guy is a fucking hack. Absolutely joke of a player.

    Pepe has to start imho. There’s not one team out there that can say all players train to *The* standard. If Pepe can turn it on when he enters the pitch then imho, that’s the exception we must make.

  30. Romford Pele

    Would like to see Saka developed as a LB tbh. Don’t think his game is cute enough as a player to be a wide forward for a big team.

    Usually his delivery is actually quite good but yesterday it was off. Hopefully it improves.

  31. TR7

    I think Saka is a technically sound player and he will get better with time. Not sure about his actual position though. We will have to figure that out over time.

    I expected Guen to raise his game this season but he has been below par. Has shown in flashes that he can be more than a ball hogger but he needs to learn to up his tempo and be more confident.

  32. PieAFC

    Perhaps that what MA wants of Pepe, away games impact sub, at home he starts more.

    Some players in their first season respond better to it.

    Against Chelsea I can see a different team to what we used at Bournemouth. IMO I reckon, chambers will be brought back in and so will others.

    Interesting during the Bournemouth game, sometimes xhaka slotted into the left centre back position to form a free, to allow saka to be further up the field, pushing auba in the middle. Happened a lot during the game.

  33. PieAFC

    RP,

    Some players should take Ashley Cole as a stepping stone. He said at times, being winger and a forward at so many levels was tough for competition you never see a way in.

    Once he pinned it down at left back, was never going back.

  34. Cesc Appeal

    Pepe is so frustrating because when he got his first start against Liverpool he looked like everything we have been waiting for.

    He was fast, direct, powerful…he scared Robertson and Van Dijk shitless which is not an easy thing to do.

    Just looked like someone who both lost confidence and was shocked at the pace and physicality of the EPL.

    There’s certainly a player there, work rate needs to be added and also speed of final action. He tends to hold on to the ball and front of several opponents and try to spin his way out of it. Either take them on and speed off or release the ball, don’t stand still and invite numerous markers.

    It is amazing though that a an 18 year old bought from Brasil for £6 Million is arguably our most important forward in a lot of ways.

  35. Cesc Appeal

    Agreed.

    Xhaka looks as good as gone.

    We absolutely must nail down a CDM/CM purchase. a big, physical, athletic player with a tidy all round game.

    Not going to be cheap. But our midfield has been crying out for it for years.

  36. Cesc Appeal

    Marc

    I think Xhaka is gone.

    He’s already agreed terms with Hertha Berlin.

    They are offering £21 Million which apparently doesn’t meet Arsenal’s valuation.

    My guess would be closer to £30 Million and he will be sold.

    Just go and pay Partey’s release clause after that.

  37. Romford Pele

    PieAFC, spot on mate.

    Also FBs are a lot more than that these days. For the top clubs they’re crucial to the way they attack. They are involved so much. They shouldn’t view it as a negative.

  38. SurferX

    @Pierre
    Can’t agree with you there pal: the risk was significantly reduced if he had closed down the ball:
    1. https://postimg.cc/Z0yV9xvJ
    When the ball is turned over, he has sight of all Bournemouth players bar one, with both Luis and Sok in good positions begind him & Torreira in the middle. He needs to go then and aggressively close down the space. Instead,

    2. https://postimg.cc/62Fcjygs
    He allows him to turn and run at him, backing off to the edge of the box. He can still remedy it by closing down the space- but its a more dangerous position as there are two runners. Luis, Sok & Torreira can still cover those- but its harder to defend. But, worse still.. he backs off more;

    3. https://postimg.cc/xJXg3Ksy
    Now we are in a world of shit. He has closed the space between him, Luis & Torreira with two runners and a relatively simple pass the will bypass all 3 of them.

    xhaka has always been a liability defensively- this is a good example of it. For the record, I dont blame him, I blame the two previous managers we have had that couldnt coach defensive play. Backing off when there is no reason to do so has become an issue under Emery- and xhaka is not the worst (Sok is a fucking nightmare at doing it).

    Our transitions were excellent yesterday, a bit of form and luck and we would of won ba a hatful. A defensive press is clealy part of his tactical plan- Torreira was a monster yesteday. For all his good points (his range of passing is second to none in the squad)- my fear is xhaka is neither young enough to learn or mobile enough to carry it out.

  39. Marc

    Cesc

    I said earlier the gossip round Xhaka wasn’t going away and it supposedly includes quotes from his agent now as well.

    The issue I have is getting my head round someone being stupid enough to pay £30 million for him – don’t get me wrong if we get that I’ll be thrilled but having watched him for over 3 years now I wouldn’t pay the cost of the bottle of beer I said I’d buy Serge for him!

    Do Berlin have anyone worth looking at?

  40. Romford Pele

    Pepe will get there. Players can take an age to adapt for a myriad of reasons. It doesn’t always happen straight away. Henry, Pires, Bergkamp are testament to this.

    Needs ore intensity and i’m sure that’ll come but the talent is there without a doubt.

  41. Marko

    5 quid says when Xhaka leaves us he’ll come out with some statement cunting off Arsenal fans and not taking any sort of responsibility for his actions. Be interesting to see who Edu and Arteta target next month

  42. TR7

    Very good news regarding Xhaka. He looked decent against Bournemouth and West Ham but let’s face it he had a lot of space to operate with in the two games. He has never had any problem against teams which do not press hard or are not overly physical. Here’s hoping we find a suitable replacement.

  43. Cesc Appeal

    If we manage to add a physically and athletically imposing CB and CDM/CM and if Arteta can get Pepe going we will look a different side in the second half of the season.

    I do wonder whether Arteta can use some of the techniques City use with Sane to get him going? Sane is a better all round technical player, but he too is a big winger, good dribbler, leggy frame and favours his left foot heavily.

    He plays LW where Pepe plays RW…I do wonder if over time Arteta will ask him to adopt a role more like Sane and take up that LW position to add even more width.

  44. Cesc Appeal

    Marc

    Stupid things happen all the time.

    Who would have thought anyone would be stupid enough to offer Ozil £350 000 a week…but we did it.

    I actually think Xhaka will go back to looking decent in Bundesliga.

    Most of the games will be more like yesterday, lots more time and space in the middle to play a passing game.

    We need to make sure we add someone who has a great engine, athleticism and tidy play.

    Never make the mistake of signing immobile players again.

    This could actually be an exciting time for us. This season may mean much larger changes.

  45. Cesc Appeal

    ‘come out with some statement cunting off Arsenal fans and not taking any sort of responsibility for his actions. ‘

    Of course he will.

    Our team is full of players like that.

    Xhaka, Mustafi, Ozil etc all victim mentality players.

    They aren’t going anything wrong…its hundreds of thousands of supporters who have the wrong idea about things and its them who have the right idea. Ozil isn’t wrong…you’re just looking at football wrong.

  46. Bill

    Marko
    CA Kulusevski I’m hearing is Inter bound and Hakimi is going back to Real Zidane is a big fan and for good reason he’s a fantastic fullback capable of playing either side. Szobozlai could be on though.

    Marko, give us the link where you read this and please don’t start with “from what I’ve heard…”. It implies you have friends/ contacts in high places, not just access to Google.

  47. Ishola70

    TR7

    “He looked decent against Bournemouth and West Ham ”

    The West Ham game when he closed his eyes and turned his back on their CB who scored their goal.

    Truth is he is always on the brink of being a problem defensively.

    It’s understandable why so many are asking for a physcical CM after watching Xhaka at Arsenal all these years.

    But of course this more physical CM will also need certain attributes on the ball as well.

    Xhaka forcing himself out of the club is a funny sight really considering that so many have been wanting him out themselves.

  48. Marko

    It’s a very common knee jerk reaction all Arsenal fans have it never changes. Absolutely nothing wrong with the Pepe signing you’ll see the second we stop being such a disjointed mess and start consistently playing him he’ll kick off. I even predict a proper RB alone will see an improvement from him. As things stand stand so far we’ve had a change in manager and an ever changing mess of a team despite all that he’s got 4 goals and 4 assists on the season. He will come good imo

  49. Marko

    Bill i dunno what to tell you all the reports in Italy have Inter and Napoli negotiating for Kulusevski and Zidane likes Hakimi coupled with Marcelo kicking on and Odriozola not working out Hakimi will be returning to Madrid at the right time

  50. Ishola70

    Don’t understand the previous talk of Rabiot at all.

    Noted for being lazy off the ball.

    Has a prima donna attitude.

    But he looks nice on the ball.

    Surely you don’t sign players just because they look aethestically pleasing on the ball especially when they have so many previous noted weaknesses.

    Just as well as someone else stated that he is a player that is always linked but never signed.

  51. Bamford10

    While I agree there were positives in yesterday’s game — our interplay and movement in the final third was more patient and intelligent, for example — I think people are still being far too sanguine about this group of players and about our situation.Whatever positives we saw yesterday, we still drew 1-1 with a 16th-place, injury-laden Bournemouth.

    Our shape was better in certain ways, our play was more patient and intelligent in certain ways, and certain players, e.g., Torreira, looked better, but in the end we drew with a relatively weak team because our forwards and midfielders are lacking in quality.

    The result says nothing about Arteta, who I think will prove to be a smart manager, but it says a lot about this group of players, namely, that they’re not good enough. This group is short on quality and short on athleticism.

    I mean no offense, but people who are talking about contending for top four this season are delusional. Forget about the point differential — we are 8 points from Chelsea at the moment — the real problem is the gulf in quality between our team and teams like Chelsea, United and Spurs. It’s not that these teams are so very good — they’re not — it’s that they have much more collective quality and athleticism than we do; it’s that, in short, we simply are not very good.

    People will say that I’m being contrarian or pushing an agenda, but this is wrong. I’m not. I’m just saying it how I see it. Two months ago, United were 8 points below us, and watching them, I said here, “United are way better than we are”. Certain people here laughed at this, but where do things stand now? United are four points above us, they walloped Newcastle 4-1 yesterday, and they beat City at the Etihad a few weeks back. Why? Well, one, because Solskjaer does in fact know what he’s doing. Two, because while some of you may not think very highly of their players, they have loads of quality and athleticism, things we are badly lacking.

    The best this group of Arsenal players can be expected to do this season, IMO, is 8th place, and even this will be difficult. Unlike some here, I do not see us getting a result against Chelsea or United. Indeed, I see us losing both games. In fact, I don’t know how anyone watches Chelsea or United and then watches us and says, “Arsenal are just as good as this team / these teams”. No, we’re not. Not even close. If I am right about those two matches, then on January 2nd we will likely be 6 points off of Wolves and 8th place. Let me say that again: there is a decent chance that as of January 2nd, we will be 6 points off of Wolves and 8th place. While some here laugh at the idea that Wolves’ squad might be equal to or even better than ours, Wolves are a sharp, solid, well-organized outfit, and that six point differential with them will be hard to make up in the remaining 17 games. Can we make it up? Maybe. If we have a first-XI-changing January, definitely. But it will be difficult, and that’s just what we need to do to get to 8th place. Forget about 6th or 5th or 4th.

    In addition to it being the correct view, IMO, I think people would be wise to temper expectations for this team this season for Arteta’s sake. The more that people think this group of players is capable of, the more that will be expected of them and of Arteta. While most of us here like and support the Arteta appointment, this is not true throughout the fan base. There are plenty of voices that think hiring him was a mistake, and those voices will grow louder if and when we don’t do as well as some imagine we should. It will be better for Mikel Arteta if people speak the more realistic and accurate truth about this team, namely, that it is a weak and inadequate group of players and the best that can be hoped for this season is 8th place.

  52. TR7

    Arsenal will finish either 7th or 8th but as I said yesterday if improve certain aspects of our game come end of the season, I will be happy.

  53. Bamford10

    Cesc

    “Never make the mistake of signing immobile players again.”

    Exactly. Like I said the other day: to play for Arsenal going forward, you must be quick, athletic, high-energy and high quality. No exceptions.

  54. Marko

    I like Rabiot but if he was the only CM signing next month I don’t think he’d be solving anything really. Him with Sander Berge or Can could work though. There are creative ways to have a good January honestly the likes of Demirel, Can, Rabiot could be available on loan

  55. Ishola70

    We all know the Chelsea game is going to be the real tester of early Arteta sauce.

    Mount will most likely return and he is a real handful with his direct runs into the opposition box.

    Abraham is a very physical CF who is most likely going to cause problems for any Arsenal CB combination.

    Kovacic is likely to return as well after suspension for the Southampton match and he has become an important midfielder for them now.

    And if they play back three again Marcus Alonso is a bigger threat for me at wingback than Emerson.

    Good news is even with three at the back they can be got at.

    But a tester it is going to be.

  56. Cesc Appeal

    It’s a shame though because yesterday I think if you had Martinelli instead of Lacazette we win that by a couple of goals.

  57. Cesc Appeal

    I always liked Can, not saying he’s great but I always felt he was a solid player, good athleticism and general play.

  58. Marko

    the real problem is the gulf in quality between our team and teams like Chelsea, United and Spurs

    I would usually agree with this but the reason I don’t think top 4 is beyond the realms of possibility is because those teams are struggling too. We’ve all conceded similar amounts of goals only we’ve struggled with scoring this season. I feel like a January that brings in players that can help us out defensively until the end of the season will be enough to have a good second half of the season. Offensively building up the confidence should be enough to get us back on track in that regard

  59. Marc

    Achieving top 4 is a big ask this season but there is still 57 points to play for and the one thing we’ve seen so far this season is a huge amount of inconsistency from the teams chasing top 4, Chelsea, the Spud’s and ManU have been all over the place. I also feel that Leicester would struggle with any injuries to a player like Vardy.

    A player or two in Jan, a bit of confidence and better coaching from Arteta could result in a run of wins. With the way the season’s gone so far that could see us looking at a very different situation.

  60. Cesc Appeal

    Said it before but I honestly think if we can buy a very good CB and very good CDM/CM with the right kind of attributes we’ve all been talking about (powerful, athletic, good engine, tenacious, tidy etc) and if Arteta can get Pepe going and possibly tap a so far untapped source of quality in Ceballos then we will look a different side in the second half of the season.

    Chelsea apparently set to blow £120 Million on Sancho is the wrong move for them in my opinion.

  61. Champagne charlie

    Banford

    Arsenal have 1 win 13 games is it? Had our worst start since the 70’s, and are still just 4 points behind your “excellent” OGS and Man United.

    They’re gash, we’re gash. You’re 100% pushing an agenda.

    On the last post you were talking them up for spanking Newcastle 4-1, saying we’d never do that. That same side lost 2-0 to bottom placed Watford like two weeks ago. Spare us your United ramblings.

  62. Marko

    I’ve gone right off Lacazette this season. Poor form very moody and when we’ve needed someone to step up he’s wilted like a load of pansies. Doesn’t help that you see much younger strikers in Europe at the moment impressing and we’ve got an 18 year old impressing as well.

  63. Cesc Appeal

    I’d sooner start Martinelli at ST over Lacazette.

    Always thought he was very overrated and I’ve never really understood this supposed connection he has with Aubameyang…I don’t see it.

    The front 3 was fine to have a go with but I remember having a conversation with Paulinho in the summer and we were saying we’d be back to talking about an unbalanced front line and lack of a LW option.

    One of Aubameyang or Lacazette has to go to fund purchases elsewhere…I know who I’d prefer but don’t know if there’s a market for him.

  64. Guns of Brixton

    One midfielder I really like but seems no one else does is Sergej Milinković-Savić.

    Lazio player. 24 years old, sort of the “complete midfileder” but tbh is best deployed offensively and does quite well in a midfield 3.

    Earned the moniker “serbian pogba”.

    On the topic of Lazio I like Luis Alberto as well as a player.

  65. Bamford10

    Whatever you say, Charlie. But fyi, the only reason United are only four points above us is because of injury woes they had early in the season and a run of matches in which Solskjaer was forced to deploy mostly kids. They will separate from us as the season progresses. I’m sure of it. If I’m wrong, though, results and the table will show that I’m wrong, and I’ll gladly admit it. If you’re wrong, though, will you admit it?

  66. Cesc Appeal

    Guns

    Isn’t he going to cost £70-80 Million though?

    I’d rather spend big money on the CDM/CM we need and then look to a youngster for the CAM position.

  67. Guns of Hackney

    Serbian Pogba.

    Like Chinese AIDS…it’s still fucking AIDS.

    I absolutely hate those “new” labels that everyone gives players. Hate it!!!

  68. Marc

    Bamford

    ManU have been inconsistent under OGS full stop. Started with a great run then had a terrible run, this season beat City one week lose to Watford another.

    Look at their December results, draws at home to Villa and Everton, they beat the Spud’s and City and lose to Watford.

    It screams inconsistency and also a managerial problem where the players seem to be up for the big matches and switch off in the lesser games.

  69. Champagne charlie

    Banford

    What’s the excuse for them being tooled by bottom placed Watford? Player poverty?

    “If I’m wrong, though, results and the table will show that I’m wrong, and I’ll gladly admit it. If you’re wrong, though, will you admit it?“

    What would I be wrong about?

    I’ve said Emery was the issue, after 18 games he’s been replaced by someone and now the work starts to unfuck the side and start down a more prosperous path.

    I’ve set no concrete goals for that development much like I had no concrete goals for Emery’s first season in charge. That season I disregarded top 4 and claimed a discernible new style, defensive improvement, and overall unifying toward what a future Arsenal would be all about as the key ambitions. Same here.

  70. jwl

    Joke Friday –

    Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house everyone felt shitty even the mouse.

    Mom at the whorehouse and dad smoking grass, I settled down for a nice piece of ass.

    When all of a sudden I heard such a clatter, I sprung from my place to see what was the matter.

    When out on the lawn I saw a big dick, I new in a moment it must be Saint Nick.

    He came down the chimney like a bat out of hell, I knew in a moment the f*cker had fell.

    He filled all of our stockings with pretzels and beer and a big rubber dick for my brother the queer.

    He rose up the chimney with a thunderous fart, the son of a b*tch tore the chimney apart.

    He swore and he cursed as he flew out of sight, “piss on you all and have a hell of a night.”

  71. Nelson

    Bamford10

    I think you are poisoned by Emery. Under him, the players lost confidence and became timid and were afraid of opposition. It even poisoned some fans.

    We need to believe in our coach. Our players will improve under him. Win or lose, we have to fight with no fear. Our team chemistry will improve with time and we’ll have our identity back.

  72. Wasi

    Marko
    Maier is a good player. High ceiling imo. And Dilrosun is not bad either.
    Dont know how Berge can help us rn. But looks a good bet for the future.

    Guns
    Milinkovic is very good. But nobody here talks about him because we cannot realistically get him . Not this January anyway .

  73. Bamford10

    Charlie

    “What would I be wrong about?”

    The difference in quality between United’s squad and Arsenal’s squad. It’s pretty clear from my comment above that this is what I was referring to.

  74. Up 4 grabs now

    Evening all,

    We looked better yesterday with the basics, although defensively we wasn’t put under too much pressure.
    There was plenty of blame to go around before it comes to Xhaka and the goal but he was still average yesterday.

    In the first ten minutes he gave away the ball twice which led to a decent cross. His agent has said everything is agreed with hertha, except a transfer fee.
    I’d be shocked if this move doesn’t go through now.

    Torriera had his best game in months, so did ozil.
    Yes it was only Bournemouth but it’s a start.

    I think 4th should be written off now.
    Realistically to get 4th you need 71-75 points.
    Last season with 71 was the lowest total in the last five years.

    We currently have 24 with 57 available. 81 points.
    That means realistically we can drop 10 points. And that’s still no guarantee.
    Does anyone think we win 16 of our last 19 games. No chance.

    I think prioritise the Europa and fa cup, and rotate in the league.
    Still go out to win every game, but I think arteta needs to use the rest of the season to experiment in the league.

  75. Champagne charlie

    Banford

    And you think the conditions are even remotely fair or comparable? Shocker.

    OGS has had how long in charge? Full pre-season etc.

    You want to compare that to our utter shitfest for half a season and then claim whoever ends up on top is conclusive proof of the better squad? Couldn’t think of a more lopsided ‘argument’ if I tried.

    We’ve finished above United 4 out the last 5 seasons, finished above them last term too and all I heard was how we had the 6th best squad in the league.

    Seems you’re utterly selective with what constitutes proof and not at all consistent.

  76. MGooner

    @Nelson,

    This looks like a cock up.

    Before we had a socialist wage structure because we wanted to pay average players more so they would run that extra mile and keep us in top 4.

    Then we spent next year’s transfer budget in the prior year in the hope it will bring us top 4. (Pepe), we also bought many crap players on the cheap.

    And way before we were fed up with being in top 4 and wanted to drop to 10th, so we could bounce back and challenge for the title.

    Is catching Liverpool any closer to us than it has been?

    Or is being in the top 4 any closer now after we dismantled a team which was playing beautiful football, something we are trying to recreate?

    The toxic atmosphere was started 4 years ago by bloggers who were tired of the caviar. I bet you they are loving the sausage now 😉

    Disclaimer: I am an Arsenal fan who does not put his nationality or any other consideration when supporting the team.

  77. Bamford10

    Nelson

    I get why you would say that, but I really don’t think that’s what’s going on here. You might recall that there was a divide here at the end of last season between those who thought Emery was to blame for how we faltered towards the end and those who believed we faltered on account of weaknesses and inadequacies in the squad. I was one of the latter. You will likely reply that my negative assessment of our squad’s quality was then too a reflection of what Emery was doing to or with the squad and not a reflection of the quality of the squad itself. However — and I mean no offense — I think this is complete and utter hooey. I don’t buy this explanation — i.e., Emery turned good players into bad players, Emery destroyed these players’ confidence, etc. — at any level whatsoever. I have watched these players carefully game in and game out for some time now and I have watched other PL teams’ players game in and game out now; our players lack quality — both in terms of their quickness and athleticism and in terms of their technical ability. This was true under late Wenger, this was true under Emery, and this will be true under Arteta.

  78. MGooner

    @Up 4 grabs now

    Lots of good things in your post but I would question the Ozil bit.

    Ozil was good for 20 mins. Once Bournemouth muzzled him in the middle, he went to hide on the wings and that was it.

    He shied away from the fight in the middle, so for me he will never be a player suited to this league – he should go to back to Span or Italy.

  79. Marko

    Whatever you say, Charlie. But fyi, the only reason United are only four points above us is because of injury woes they had early in the season and a run of matches in which Solskjaer was forced to deploy mostly kids

    You’re a supposed Arsenal fan making excuses for Man United. You need to sort yourself out

  80. Bamford10

    Nelson

    “We need to believe in our coach.”

    I do believe in our coach. It’s this group of players I don’t believe in.

    Will Arteta be able to improve them somewhat? Sure, marginally. But ultimately he won’t be able to coach away the limitations and weaknesses of this squad, nor will he be able to coach away the limitations and weaknesses of many of these players. Arteta is a smart, serious, talented guy, but he’s not a miracle worker.

  81. MGooner

    @Bamford

    What you say abour quality is questionable.

    We were in the top 4 year in year out with midfielders like Denilson and Song.

    Compare our current strike force to Eduardo/Bendtner. (top 4)

    Compare Pascal Cygan at CB to Sok.

    We always had average players. But the sum of the parts recently has been quite poor.

  82. Bamford10

    MGooner

    One, the PL is far more competitive today than it was a few years ago. Two, even back then we had a better central midfield and better central defense than we have today.

  83. Marko

    You strip him of the captaincy and humiliate him expect him to seek an exit. He was given the house keys over his older brother for crying out loud

    Oh big whoop we heard about this shite with regards to him being a leader but in reality it’s bullshit and all it does is tend to his ego and make him worse. Shocking player who should never have been given the armband because as we’ve seen by his response to being booed he is no leader. Don’t care that his parents gave him the house keys maybe that speaks more to the older brother than Granit.

  84. Up 4 grabs now

    Mgooner,

    I thought he was better for more than twenty minutes.
    He even won the ball back twice by tackling and chased back.
    Don’t get me wrong he wasn’t man of the match but like torriera it was his best game in months.
    If he can maintain that level he will be useful, if not he may well be gone in the summer.

    I don’t think arteta will settle.for anything less.

  85. Sid

    szoboszlai not technically great just good but very athletic only beats Dozi on athletism.
    Lobotka technically great.
    Rabiot damaged goods same category as balotelli, carlos vela…

  86. MGooner

    @Bamford

    We made a Chamakh look like a world beater. It’s not as if there was no competition.

    If you look at the comparative cost of our midfield back then, you would be surprised.

    Same for our CBs.

    The only difference, is that we hammered into the payers head everyday that they were the best until they believed it. And we gave them proper training on the basics and technique. We were actually criticized for wanting to walk the ball into the back of the net.

    We oozed class.

    But the toxic atmosphere and new management team was largely to blame for what happened after.

    There is only one problem at this club – Kronke!

  87. Sid

    Mo salah didnt do well at chelsea at 24 yrs, Debruyne didnt do well at chelsea at 23 yrs
    Dismissing Pepe will be a mistake of equal proportion
    You heard it here 1st!

  88. shaun

    Hertha are only offering 21 mil if they up that too 27-30 we have to take it as earlier posters have suggested Xhaka played OK against BOURNEMOUTH, i WILL SAY AGAIN BOURNEMOUTH but he was defo at fault for the first goal and how many times have we seen this …. just not good enough and there is a reason he wants to go back to Germany . I must say I am really really pleased Xhaka is upset with ART BECAUSE THAT REALLY REALLY HAD ME WORRIED that said Xhaka is just not for this league and the same can be said for Luiz, Soc and Mustaffi them four should be shipped as soon as possible .Get Saliba in and
    Upamecano , Tierney and a new right back as Bellarin has never been right for me .We are badly in need of speed and aggression at the back

  89. TR7

    Arteta will extract more from the same squad than Emery did and it will validate what many others including myself have been saying about Emery’s ineptitude as a manager.

  90. Up 4 grabs now

    Arsenal with nine draws in 19 league games the joint highest in the league with wolves.

    Defending is where the issue is. Too many dropped points.
    Turn a couple of those draws into wins and we would be sitting in the top four.
    Arteta needs to fix this where Wenger and Emery didn’t.
    It’s been an issue since Campbell left.

  91. MGooner

    @ Sid

    For a player who cost that much, he should focus on doing the basics first.

    The thing with this guy is that he is always showboating . I do not like his smart ass attitude and he will not progress until he changes his mindset.

    Quality wise, there is no photo finish, he is a top player and can be the best winger in the league. But he is far from that atm.

  92. Sid

    We need a minimum of 2 technically great players for this team to Make Arsenal Great Again (MAGA) like we had
    Berg & freddie/pires
    Cesc & rosicky/Nasri/Carzola/ RVP
    Firmino is the most important piece in the liverpool team.
    Im telling you this for free!

  93. Graham62

    MGooner

    You can forget about “catching Liverpool”, our first priority is to remember how to win games again.

    As for your assumptions that other bloggers caused the toxicity over the past 4 years, nothing could be further from the truth.

    2006 marked a change in the tide of opinions on how our club was being run. The swell of negativity increased year in year out as the visible regression and suffocation of the club continued.

    Go back to the 08-09 season and browse through our results. That’s when drastic changes should and could have been made but unfortunately we sat on our backsides and continued to believe in a flawed system.

    Achieving top 4 was irrelevant because we never genuinely believed we could go on and compete with the elite. The winning mentality had been eroded.This was when we started to implode.

    “The caviar” you speak of was not your real beluga. With the infrastructure/resources at our disposal, we should have achieved far more.

    The excuses that were given were embarrassing. Now we are suffering the consequences of these years of neglect.

    Hopefully Arteta can start to lay new foundations so that the fanbase can unite once again.

  94. Marc

    “One, the PL is far more competitive today than it was a few years ago”

    Is it though. We still have two teams who are really the only ones seriously competing for the title (ManU & Arsenal, ManU and Chelsea etc)

    Arsenal are awful and have changed manager twice in 18 months, the Spud’s have just sacked the best manager they’ve had since the age of black and white TV and ManU go through managers quicker than I go through bottles of beer.

    Theoretically with more money the lower teams are better but it’s not that different really.

  95. Receding Hairline

    “it will validate what many others including myself have been saying about Emery’s ineptitude as a manager.”

    Heard you the first one thousand times TR7, getting boring now change the channel

    You don’t also rate Allegri as a manager but you think Pochettino is third best in the world behind Klopp and Pep. Your ratings of football managers competencies leaves a lot to be desired.

    A man failing at a job does not an inept manager make, jobs in football do not work out for a number of reasons.

  96. Marc

    Graham

    I agree with 99% of your response to MGooner. The one point I’d add – blog sites do not have that much influence on fans in the real world. If they did Pedro would have had Wenger out almost a decade earlier.

  97. Receding Hairline

    By the way we do not improve defensively if we replace Xhaka with Rabiot, not at all.

    We may will more effective easy on the eye and press resistant, but we will still lack a shield for the defense and no Torriera isn’t that either. He actually tried to get to the Bournemouth goal scorer yesterday but his physical limitations meant he was always second best.

  98. Champagne charlie

    “Who really gives a sh*t about the quality of United’s squad in relation to ours? We are both crap, give it a rest!!“

    “Heard you the first one thousand times TR7, getting boring now change the channel“

    Calls me the headmaster despite trying to rule the roost as far as what people should be talking about.

    A+

  99. Wasi

    Lille owner on Pepe

    “You mentioned Pepe, it took him a while to get going at Arsenal …

    I think Pepe is a winger who is also a world-class finisher. This is a guy who played goalkeeper until he was 13. He understands them like few others — that’s why his finishes, even from long range, are rarely blasted and always placed. I say this because it’s one of the two factors that, I think, have slowed him a bit. We played Pepe in a 4-3-3 in a very specific position: He was wide, with freedom to come inside and a full-back behind him who always covered for him. Now he’s in a new team, his teammates don’t know him and he has to jell. That takes time; the same thing happened when he joined us and it took about six months for him to be very productive. In fact, we were almost relegated.
    He can’t control that [period of integration at a new club]. What he can control is his confidence. He has to be confident. There is so much pressure on him that sometimes, it gets to him and as a result he’s a less selfish player than he was when he was with us. He’ll pass sometimes when maybe he should have the confidence to finish. But I think he’ll get over both those factors. We’re already seeing glimpses of what he can do.”

    Brilliant interview from Lille owner. And we got the Kroenkes. Get this guy our resources and he will perform miracles.
    Full interview
    https://www.espn.in/football/french-ligue-1/story/4012678/lille-owner-gerard-lopez-is-pushing-the-limits-of-how-techdata-can-influence-a-club?platform=amp

  100. Pierre

    Grabs
    “Realistically to get 4th you need 71-75 points.”

    Not this season ..

    Chelsea are 4th atm , half way through the season with 32 points , 5th have 29 points.

    68 points will do it …maybe less.

    To do it we need to beat Chelsea and United, if not , forget it.

  101. Receding Hairline

    “To do it we need to beat Chelsea and United, if not , forget it.”

    Yep, any designs on fourth then you need six points from both games. Draw or lose both then we can all concentrate on patterns and what not for the rest of the league season while Dissenter serenades us with the possibility of relegation

  102. Eduardo

    “I think most fans felt very good about what they saw”

    Risible narrative-shaping. “I think” most fans who forced themselves to watch felt it was dire. There were a couple of bright points, but this was still a miserable performance.

    Nelson is dogshit and so is AMN. When Willock came on, my wife (who knows nothing about football) said he looked gormless, and she was spot-on. A totally gormless and feckless loser. Lacazette is finished, get rid. Pepe has to be playing, shit teams like us need players like him to carry some kind of goal threat. Why do you think opposition players try to take him out as soon as he steps on the pitch?

    Fortunately Norwich and Watford are nailed-on for relegation so we should be safe provided Aubameyang stays fit. But if he gets injured I can see Arteta getting fired in three month’s time and a desperate call to Allardyce or Hodgson before the end of the season. This team is complete and utter crap.

  103. MGooner

    @ Graham

    I partly agree with your views, I think the turning point for our club was when DD was fired from the board. He shared a lot of responsibilities and would have taken the club forward, especially with Usmanov on board.

    From 2006, as you rightly pointed, the winning mentality was gone, we became a kind of Monaco which was always second and happy to be second behind Bordeaux in the 80’s.

    But saying that top 4 was irrelevant is a bridge too far for me. we stayed in the top pack in spite of serious constraints. I was frustrated as any fan because we would always fail in the quarters of the CL or the wheels would come off in March in the PL.

    Arteta may be a good coach but our issues are bigger than just coaching imo. There is no point addressing part of the problem to just become top 4 material as we were and not compete for the big prizes. that for me would be a big waste of time. We need money to buy some proper players because Project Youth 2.0 will take so much time that we will lose our brand recognition.

  104. Pedro

    Eduardo, it only takes a cursory look around the internet, this comments section or your Arsenal whatsapp groups to see that you’re in the minority on yesterday.

  105. Pierre

    Bamford
    ““One, the PL is far more competitive today than it was a few years ago”

    Last 3 seasons the title was won with

    98 points
    100 points
    93 points.

    That tells me that the premier league is less competitive as the gap at the top is widening compared to a few years ago .

  106. MGooner

    Eduardo

    LegoFace is a breath of fresh air – he has not put a foot wrong so far. I think he has won over the fans and most are willing to give him time.

    I just hope that he is well supported with funds. In fact, I feel they should get Raul off his back and give him full freedom to select what players he wants to buy.

  107. MGooner

    @Pierre

    I would not say that. The PL was competitive before and it is now also. Look at the number of teams which were doing well in the CL before and look at now.

    You may remember the Chavs owner firing managers who would end up without a major trophy, That was competitive.

    Similarly the Liverpool vs Totts final last year.

    The PL has been fiercely competitive for the past 15 yaers at least.

  108. MGooner

    I cannot see us beating Chelsea with that bunch.

    Lampard may be a newbie but he has done well after a shaky start. Remember they are doing it in spite of selling their best player Hazard.

    With Ozil in the team, we already and 10 against 11. The midfield – Xhaka will give away his customary goal. Luiz is a disaster waiting to happen. AMN is always a weak link in that position.

  109. Valentin

    Wasi,

    “We played Pepe in a 4-3-3 in a very specific position: He was wide, with freedom to come inside and a full-back behind him who always covered for him. Now he’s in a new team, his teammates don’t know him and he has to jell. That takes time; the same thing happened when he joined us and it took about six months for him to be very productive. In fact, we were almost relegated.”

    Thanks you for posting the comment.
    I made exactly the same points last summer and was lambasted for it.
    Anybody who had followed Ligue 1 and Lille in particular would have known that.
    Pepe looked very good because he was playing in a system that covered his flaws (no defensive awareness), magnify his strength (strong left foot coming from outside to inside).

    Hopefully the so called Pepe expert posters (most who had never seen played nor heard of him before) here who still think that Pepe will come good quickly start accepting what his past managers and club chairman have said about him. Pepe needs a lot of coaching because he a dribbler, street footballer. You either devise a system to maximise him or you work on the training pitch to improve his overall play. Bielsa tried the first option and Lille nearly got relegated. Christophe Galthier chose the first option. Yet but still took 6 months in a environment he was familiar with to really be successful.
    Against Bournemouth, there was two counter-attacking situations where he looked like his old self. Because those were exactly the situation that Galthier worked on with him. So using him as a counter-attacking threat for the last 20 minutes of games is clearly currently the best use of his talent according to both Freddie and Mikel.

  110. Cesc Appeal

    Both teams are going to want to play like the away team on Sunday.

    I think we’ve got to go with MAP and look to break with pace and directness.

    A solid central midfield is needed with someone who can get at Jorginho and try to steal the ball away from him.

  111. Receding Hairline

    “I cannot see us beating Chelsea with that bunch.”

    Why not?

    Southampton sliced them open at will with some one touch play yesterday. If indeed most saw what they believe they did then Chelsea should be as worried about us as we are about them.

    Be that as it is we will not be afforded anywhere near the space we were yesterday, most seem not to take that into account while praising the obvious improvements.

  112. MGooner

    @ Cesc

    A solid central midfield is needed with someone who can get at Jorginho and try to steal the ball away from him.

    And who would you play in that midfield 😉

  113. Romford Pele

    “Be that as it is we will not be afforded anywhere near the space we were yesterday, most seem not to take that into account while praising the obvious improvements.”

    How do you think we earned the time and space in the first place?

    We found too much space to Ozil in the first 30 mins. That couldn’t continue so they dropped off. That in essence allowed Xhaka more space on the ball. It’s not hard to see.

  114. Up 4 grabs now

    Pierre, receding,

    We might beat utd and Chelsea but it’s the other 13 out of 17 we would also need to win that is the problem.

  115. Ishola70

    Cesc Appeal

    “A solid central midfield is needed with someone who can get at Jorginho and try to steal the ball away from him.”

    If he plays.

    He was dropped for their game at Spurs and though he has improved a bit off the ball he is still a weakness for them when they don’t have the ball.

    Kovacic is seen as a more all round midfielder this season.