Mikel Arteta has players rocking in stunning victory

by & filed under News Review.

Mikel Arteta and his players launched 2020 by rocking The Emirates to its foundations with a brilliant evening of intense football. Arsenal kept a clean sheet, locked United out of the game for 90 minutes, and scored two brilliant goals to gift us a vitally important 3 points.

The game was so good, I don’t actually know where to start, but the line-up would be handy. We really weren’t in good shape with our starting 11. Kola had to be drafted back lacking fitness, we started Pepe who has been under a lot of criticism, and we had to roll with a group of players that have slugged it out hard over the past 3 games. One thing was for sure, there wasn’t much conservatism, Arteta went for it.

It didn’t make a difference, most considered the Chelsea game a great performance with a poor result. The football was at the right level of intensity, and so it continued. The main difference in this game was United didn’t have the same quality in midfield, so it was a little easier for Arsenal to control the game. I was interested to see how Kola would operate, we know he often leaves the defence exposed with his runs, last night, Granit Xhaka would regularly drop into the left-back role to cover him defensively, or to drop him to give him freedom offensively / allow him time to pick out passes.

Our first goal came from his run. He had a one-two with Auba, pushed into the box, his low cross squirmed out of a melee of 6 United players falling to Pepe who swept home. The lid blew off the stadium, everyone in the ground is so desperate for Pepe to be a thing, that was a great start to the night for him.

The half was dominated by great Arsenal chances. Pepe found Auba at the back post, his bicycle kick was skewed over. Torreira danced through the United defence to squeeze a shot just wide. Lacazette outmuscled Maguire and uncharacteristically pushed his shot wide from 6 yards. The closest came after we’d forced De Gea into an error, Pepe picked up the loose ball on the edge of the area and rattled the post.

We did make the pressure count. Pepe rattled a corner at the front post, Lacazette wasn’t tracked, he nodded the ball on, Sokratis bullied his way to the ball and roofed it.

The pace in the game did start to dip a fraction on 40 minutes again, but I still felt we were in control. My worry was that United had planned for us to start strong and fade, with the hope of picking us off in the second half. We did drop physically in the second half, but it felt like we had more of a plan to absorb the pressure. We sat a little more deep, forcing United to try and play football, and we attempted to pick them off on the counter.

What I loved to see was the compactness of the defence. We were nice and narrow, there was aways two midfielders protecting the back four, and we were aggressive. The players wanted the result, and they wanted the clean sheet.

We had some chances in the second half, Mesut Ozil played a defence-splitting pass that was stunning over to Auba who couldn’t link up well enough with Lacazette. We closed the game out well, limiting United to long shots and diving for penalties. Saka, Nelson and MG gave us some more energy late on to see the game out.

It ended 2-0. The fans stayed behind the congratulate the players who’d gathered in the centre spot with the manager. A brilliant show of unity. The last 18 months have been forgotten, a new decade, a new coach, and a new benchmark for how we play the beautiful game.

So what did we learn?


Arteta has lived up to the coaching hype even after 2 weeks. I don’t think there’s any doubt that he was more than the cone boy at Manchester City now. He’s taken players that most fans had totally written off and turned them into beasts. The squad is a long way from Liverpool’s, no doubt, but too many people let Emery off the hook by stating the players we have at the club couldn’t be moved forward.

David Luiz was an absolute monster, he looked a £50m centre back out there last night. He was everywhere, strong in the challenge, he was coaching the kids, he was actually celebrating good passes between players during the game with fist bumps. He was immense versus Chelsea, even better last night.

Granit Xhaka was right up there with man of the match plaudits. His game was impeccable. He was measured, thoughtful, and disciplined all night. For a man that had one foot out the exit door, he sure didn’t play like it, a total professional.

Mesut Ozil has rightly rubbed a lot of fans the wrong way, but here we are, game 3, and he’s still putting in a dirty shift at the office. He worked like a dog, he ran further than any Arsenal player, and he made a huge difference. He made a 10 ball recoveries, which shows he’s paying attention and engaged. That’s all we ask for, it’s great to see him back enjoying a type of football many said he couldn’t play.

Lacazette didn’t land a goal, but he put in a workman like shift upfront. Auba, considering he’s looking to move, looked very much into the game. Nicolas Pepe showed us a glimpse of his talent. He had an incredibly productive day and banged out a shift. It was a pleasure to watch him.


There was so much debate about how long it’d take a good coach to give a club an identity when Emery was here, but look where we are now, 3 games in and we’re an aggressive possession-based football team that loves to attack. It’s not perfect, but we’re well on our way to unlocking a lethal front line of talented players. The Arsenal way we thought we lost is here, and we didn’t need to spend £400m to get there.


Defence is always about the collective. For too long we’ve focused on it being about individual greatness because there’s never been a collective system. That’s all changed now. Arteta looks to have focused on creating a solid foundation more than anything. Everyone had clear roles and responsibilities, the positioning is absolutely clear, and the whole team works to get the ball back.

The pressing is unbelievable. I can’t believe what I’m seeing. Everyone aggressively hunting the ball down in packs. Lucas Torriera was a machine last night, the guy was literally everywhere. Why? Because he has a system that allows him to be that player.

The Stadium

I’ve not been as much as I used to over the past few years, but I’ve been to big games and felt the misery. That atmosphere last night was something else. The players created a reason for the fans to care. They were brutal, intense and they wanted to win. We reacted to it. We sang all game, stayed until the end, and made The Emirates the sort of place you’d want to sit in on a cold night in January. We finally have something to believe in, and it’s exciting.

Moving forward

I didn’t expect a win, so we’re ahead of schedule in my head. Now we have a bit of breathing space. Unfit players can get some energy back in their legs, injured players can return to stock the bench, and Arteta and his coaching staff can continue to develop their ideas. The next two months are about laying the foundations for an attack on the Europa League, but interestingly, if we can find some form in the Premier League, we might be able to have a crack at the top 4. We’re 9 points off Chelsea who are desperately inconsistent, we’re within 4 points of United, and 3 points of Spurs. I’d rather not be in Europa, but Champions League would give us a tremendous financial opportunity this summer. All very exciting.

The road ahead will be bumpy, there is lots to do, but we can rest assured the club has made a stunning decision to hire Mikel Arteta. Next season is going to be special, but first, let’s see where this one takes us.


629 Responses to “Mikel Arteta has players rocking in stunning victory”

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  1. Habesha Gooner

    Un na naai
    That is more sensible. When liverpool couldn’t sign Van Dijk that summer they waited till January to get him. We should have clear targets and We should wait to get them. We shouldn’t just sign a past it injury prone defender.

  2. Un na naai


    I agree but if it’s a choice between spending £25-£30m on a half measure like Rugani or Demerai and missing out on someone like Upamencano altogether or doing £12m on an experienced former elite cb and getting Upamencano for £30m in the summer then I’m going for the latter.

  3. Left testicle

    Boateng? That’s why we never progress. I’d rather wait until the summer and buy a decent centre back than make do with another ageing player who will only decline and have no resale value.

  4. Un na naai


    So would I but IF they are hell bent on a cb now and RB want silly money then a short term option until the summer and landing Upamencano on the cheap is the best option

  5. Thorough

    No to Boateng.
    The guy who singlehandedly sacked Kovac.
    WE’VE got enough dimplayers for the gaffer to try whip into shape.

  6. DigitalBob

    Un- I’d rather overpay for Upamecano now(anything upto 60 million is fine) than risk waiting till the summer. We may have more appealing rivals for his signature by then.

    If not then lets persevere with Sokaratis, Holding and Luiz (I know but he is transformed!!!) and Dino.

    Spending 12 million on Boateng gives me Mertesacker/Benayoun vibes.

  7. Valentin

    Boating on loan make sense, to buy outright does not. You are then burden with an unsaleable player on high wage whose performance will seriously deteriorate because most of his game was based on the physical aspect.
    To be fair, buying Boateng at £12 millions is a lower risk but the unknowns are his wage and the length of his contract. I doubt that Boateng would move for low wage or a pay as you play contract.

    The fact that Arsenal has to rebuild the squad mid way through the season just emphasize two points:
    1) our so called “strategic” summer transfer window has been so poor that we have to correct it. A CM, a CB is not a little change it is the spine of the team. We can’t afford another mistake.

    2) the academy has been run so poorly for years that none of the U23 central defenders have a chance in hell on making it at Arsenal. Hopefully the new academy scout will fix the recruitment, but recruitment alone cannot help produce decent CBs. Arsenal will also need to fix the horrendous defensive coaching. Arteta is now teaching the basics of passing to Saka. That should have been done before. Per, the BFG need to start taking the right decision and appointment.

  8. Un na naai

    Digital bob

    I guess it all depends on what they are offering Arteta in the summer budget wise for me.
    I think he’s going to wait to see which players respond more positively to his methods and go from there

    2 weeks ago most of you thought xakha, AMN, ozil, Luiz, kolasinac and Sokratis (maybe Torreira too) were goners

    Now it’s not so clear. What does Arteta want? Does he want technical players in wide positions? Does he want a ball playing right back? Does he want a striker who can offer more on the ball than Aubameyang?

    Does he want a ball carrier in cmf?
    Maybe he thinks he can firm what we have into a formidable defensive unit through his coaching and tactical methods and focus our budget on playing the ball forward better ball further up.

    We don’t know.

  9. CG

    This Boateng chap- the Imelda Marcos of world soccer should nowhere be near Arsenal.

    Another Luiz type. Another joker

    Neither should the Barca crock & reject Utimindi.

    (Mind you he could keep Tierney company in the treatment room.)

    12 months on from the Barca/Suarez debacle- lets hope the Spiv has learned his lesson and does not assist his old team- in buying their garbage.

    Plenty of lower league British defenders out there to buy,

    John Stones- formerly of Barnsley will do,

    Arteta could get Stones playing nicely again

  10. Cesc Appeal


    I think that may be what Arteta does eventually.

    Right now it is all about confidence with Pepe, he scored, smashed a great effort against the post and whipped in the corner that led to the goal.

    This is what’s important so it makes sense Arteta is letting him play his natural game right now. But I do think he’s predictable. Against Bournemouth when he came on as soon as he got the ball I could hear the Bournemouth bench shouting ‘inside, inside’.

    I guess it can potentially leave space for the overlapping RB if the defenders all move toward the centre of the area…but it’s too predictable at times.

    Arteta will likely shift him over and create genuine width as his inclination toward the left side of his body will take him to the touch line as opposed to toward goal.

    Sane certainly still knocks them in and creates. Pepe will need to work on his right foot which can be done but also then the midgame switch to RW will give defences something else to think about and might catch them out allowing space for one of those left foot curlers cutting in.

  11. Cesc Appeal

    I’d say no to Boateng.

    Years gone by I would have taken him, but another CB who’s over 30 likely wanting a massive contract. Not really liking that. Likely we pay £12 Million and he’s on £120 000 or something for 2 years.

    If that’s as much money as they are giving Arteta then best just to leave it.

    But with the links to Upamecano, Demiral, Ake, Soumare, Lemar etc it seems there may be money. I’d rather just one Upamecano, Demiral or Soumare than a collection of average type buys.

  12. Aussie Gooner

    A big no to Boateng. 12m for a 31 year old 3rd choice at Bayern – I don’t think so. Do we never learn? Push the boat out for Upamecano now. If we wait until the summer some other big spending clubs will pounce and push the price up still further – that’s what agents are paid to do.

    We will be back to banter status if Glen Kamara and Boateng are incoming this TW.

  13. DigitalBob

    Un – absolutely your right, we don’t know, but I really hope we don’t get a “Mustafi can be great” press conference next though! He’s caused so much hurt!

    As Valentin said, I guess a loan for Boateng makes sense for all parties but if it meant missing out on a player the calibre of Upamecano I’d leave Boateng alone.

  14. CG



    “” CG Trust me I’d rather go british”””””

    The great thing about Arteta’s blockbusting start as Arsenal manager/coach – is he has basically made Raul and Edu redundant.

    Arteta is already total control.

    And only after 18 days- he is the most important person at the club.

    (Like Wenger in his pomp.)
    Whatever Arteta decides to do -he will be allowed to

    If Raul tries his tricks- ( in foisting players on the coach or selling players against their will) – Arteta wont stand for it.

    Just think How far advanced would we be- if Arteta had taken over the reigns 18 months ago?

    Raul must never be forgiven for appointing his Clown.
    Indeed wanted more Clown by dint of wanting to extend his contract post Baku.

  15. Un na naai


    Why would you take away one of our most potent goal threats?
    You don’t have to be able to kick with your right to push and run on the right wing
    I agree he’s predictable and he slows the game down too often in looking to always weave his way infield but putting him on the left is not the answer

    Working on him and getting him used to varying his methods from the right is.
    You want Pepe on that right wing in the same way Messi, Robben, Mahrez and Salah play.
    He needs to learn to show left and go right and when you get the ball on the half way line with space to run into then off you go. Burners on.

  16. Leedsgunner

    For £40m I reckon we can do and should do better than Ake… although age profile he’s in the right ball park.

    Better still if we can fund it by selling off the likes of Mkhitaryan, Mustafi and Elneny? Surely combined they should surely bring in at least £40m?

    Three players we should’ve never bought.

  17. Un na naai


    We will just have to wait and see. All I’m saying is I’d rather Arteta gets his man than a half measure like rugani and if a short term option like boateng brings that about then that’s what we should do. We need to give Arteta everything he asks for to succeed because this guy is going to be magic for us

  18. Valentin


    You are right that putting on the left would kill any shooting threat Pepe has. One thing that was frustrating Arteta was the fact that Pepe never tried to take Shaw on the outside with his pace. The few times he did it was great, but by never offering the possibility of going outside he is easier to defend against.
    Added the fact that clearly AMN has been told to curb his attacking instinct and defend slight inside to help in midfield we have minimal threat on the left outside.
    Pepe need to vary his game and not be afraid of going on the outside to beat the fullback and then to the byline and do a cutback or cross himself. Aubameyang should have done better with his volley attempt from Pepe’s cross.

  19. Bamford10

    I’ve changed my mind on Boateng. As as short-term solution for losing Chambers, it does in fact make sense. At 12m, it will not prevent us from spending money in the summer. And Boateng, while not ideal in some ways, is good with the ball at his feet, which fits the direction in which Arteta is taking us (i.e., possession, possession, possession). As Sanllehi said of the January window, it is for tactical and short term needs, not strategic or long-term needs.

  20. Uwot?

    We need a youngish centre half with huge potential such as Upamencano.This is Leipzig trying to push the price up.we could try to throw in a makeweight?
    I’m sure ARSETETA knows what he wants.& what ARSETETA wants,he gets!

  21. RedHotHornBlower

    Maybe for the first time ever, I agree with every word you’ve written. Arsene Wenger once said “Arsenal need one day to recruit someone like me, only better.” We may have done that. Brilliant start.

  22. Pedro

    Redhot, not that agreement matters, but did you really not agree with me on Wenger? Emery? Freddie not being good enough?

    For this to have been the first time would suggest you’ve been massively off the mark for about 10 years

  23. Bill

    Oh Bamford, you spent so much time trying to rebut my arguments with, in all due respect, an I’ll thought out stream of consciousness.

    I’m well aware of the fallacy of the majority. I don’t think you have used this correctly to undermine my argument. If you read my post you will see that I expose your opinions as just that – opinions. You dont use statistical data, in fact you think evidence is “impossible” to obtain. My view with my academic background, is very different. I believe that data is essential in coming to a conclusion. The data must be filtered to ensure it is reliable and accurate and then needs to be interpreted.
    You dont use this process. You rely on what you see. Fair enough. I point out that what you see in a stadium is more informative than watching on TV. You countered by saying that i imply that TV analysts are downgraded. I rebut this by stating that i know no-one who does not use tv highlights and data to SUPPLEMENT their in -stadium analysis.

    Your inference, as often the case with you, is wrong. I made no such implication. Your distortion of what I clearly stated is a misinterpretation. To be fair, I don’t think you understand the logical argument I set out.

    The reason for my reprise of the debate is that you, by your own words, solely rely on watching tv. Your view differs from the vast majority by using a tiny sub set of available information. So having drawn out what you base your opinions, I then draw out the fallibility of this view by its reliance on an inadequate dataset.

    Your response is to focus on the final limb of the argument and erroneously use the fallacy of the majority assumption to undermine it.
    You then undermine your argument by falling into the same fallacy that you incorrectly attribute to me.

    Laughably you state:
    1. Whether anyone agrees with me on that point — PLENTY OF PEOPLE DO
    2. (KSE) just don’t think they are the problem some people think they are. AND THERE ARE MANY GROVERS WHO THINK THE SAME AS I DO ON THIS POINT.

    You therefore rely SOLELY on the support of (unidentified) others without any logical argument.

  24. Bill

    Bamford, I know I’m labouring the point, but you don’t understand the point of me raising the poor recruitment, which you often write about, and the linking of this to KSE.

    You don’t understand the point of me raising the ineptitude of KSE’s role in continuing to employ Wenger for 6-7 years too long.

    Well, I’m surprised by you not understanding the reason I raise these points.

    I’ll explain. If KSE was run properly and there was a performance culture, then this will not have happened.

    Same with the woeful financial results- even worse when set against out rivals.

    This circles back to the original points I made about evidence and datasets and allies this to financial accountability, in essence a quality assurance process.

    As for your point about attempting to pull seniority on me because you have posted on Le Grove for 7 years is completely irrelevant.

    Not knowing who I am is, again, wholly irrelevant.

    I don’t know why you mention this. Could you please clarify why you feel it relevant to mention your longevity on this board – without recourse to circular arguments. I think it would be illuminating to know.

    Hope this clears up any misunderstanding, Bamford and I look forward to your explanation to the questions asked.