Resilient performance shows Arteta is building from the back

by & filed under News Review.

via @Arsenal Instagram

Arsenal dropped two points away from home at Crystal Palace. The result was disappointing considering the blistering start, but when you factor the loss of Torreira at half time, and the dismissal of Auba for an awful challenge, it’s hard not to be satisfied with the performance.

Arteta picked the same team as he did for his last outing in Premier League, the first time that’s happened in over a year. We controlled the opening 30 minutes and made Palace look distinctively average. The problem was we did very little with possession outside a goal. We had one attempt in the first 45 minutes, that’s not good enough.

That attempt did lead to a goal, which was nice. David Luiz was the maker in the move, he was brilliant in the first half, Palace didn’t know what to do with him. His pass through the middle found Mesut, he touched to Lacazette who fed Auba for the simple finish. A lovely goal. 18 passes. Arsenal of old.

The more worrying thing was the that there was another noticeable dip in our physical performance, after 30 minutes, we faded again and we let Palace into the game. Hard not to put that down to going big in the FA Cup in the week. Palace rotated and played 5 academy kids, we went big and played a lot of our senior players in a brutal game against a brutal side that will run you off the park.

Events weren’t helped by the loss of Lucas Torreira. He went off injured and we had to introduce Matteo G to the mix, and he’s simply not comparable at the moment. The goal was desperately unlucky, we didn’t close down a shot in our box fast enough (LT probably would have), Ayews strike ricocheted off Luiz’ foot and flew over Leno. A horrible goal.

Hard to think Arteta will be happy with how many players were on hand to defend the threat in our box. Lacazette didn’t track, our midfielders bunched up in the middle, and we weren’t sharp enough.

Auba made things worse after a horrendous challenge on Max Meyer, it looked like a straight-up ankle breaker, crazy that it took 5 minutes for the muppets in VAR to decide that the clearest red card of the year was in fact a red card. Interestingly, the last Arsenal player to score at Palace and see red was… Arteta.

The manager didn’t wet the bed and go for 9 at the back, he brought on Martinelli for Ozil and went for it.

Like peak-Wenger teams of old, we actually looked better with 10 men. We went very close towards the end after Gabriel found Lacazette in the Palace box, the Frenchman fed in Pepe who casually curled a shot at the back post, but Guaita pulled off a miracle double save, tipping the ball onto the post, then being alert to stop the second shot from Lacazette. Desperately unlucky.

Overall, we were pretty poor in the final third, an insight captured perfectly when Pepe picked the ball out on the right late on, he had Xhaka on the overlap (lololol) and he played his simple pass into a Palace full-back.

The points ended up being shared. When you look at the game in all its glory, it was probably fair. Plenty for the manager to work on.


The theme of the day was resilience. The team will have been fatigued after the exerts of the last 3 weeks… and obviously, playing the hardest working team in the country midweek didn’t help. I’d normally expect a flaky performance, we didn’t see that. We had a great opening 30, but couldn’t maintain it.

Additionally, things went against us. We lost one of our best players to injury, our captain was sent off, we conceded an unlucky goal, we hit the inside of the post… but we stayed focused. We didn’t become victims, something I think has been a clear issue over the last 5 years.

We also limited Palace. Say what you will about Hodgson, but he knows how to get at us. They hit the target 4 times and had to make do with a deflection for their equaliser. Arteta is building a defensive foundation and it seems to be working in the main. Xhaka continued to drop into the defence giving him the freedom to pick out passes, but also reducing the exposure Kola has to pressure situations. AMN kept Zaha very, very quiet. David Luiz continued to impress, he leads like a beast, he’s confident on the ball, and he was an attacking threat all game, he made the most attacking passes in the final 3rd, clocking up 13. He was also the architect of our goal with a line breaking pass through the middle.

We’re still compact, everyone seems very calm, roles and responsibilities are clear.

Where we’re lacking is in attack. We aren’t creating a lot in the final 3rd. We hit the target 4 times today, but considering the possession, we should be doing better. I think that’ll come, our ability to score goals hasn’t been a worry, and I think when more players come back to full fitness, we won’t worry so much about that. I also think Auba’s 3 game suspension is a massive, massive opportunity for Gabriel to show the world he’s the man to lead the line next season. He is the embodiment of what Arteta attacking football should be. Aggressive, hardworking, and sublimely talented.

The main goal for Arteta over the next few weeks is extending out how much good football he gets per game. We’re maxing out between 40 and 55 minutes. That’ll be down to fitness and relearning how to give your all in every minute of a game. It’s still exciting, you can see where this is going and though results will be rocky, the squad will be firing on all cylinders when we start next season. Top 4 was never on for us, the most we can hope for this season is a good cup run, when you frame the season a long preseason, it makes results like today easier to stomach.

Let me know YOUR thoughts in the comments. xxx

338 Responses to “Resilient performance shows Arteta is building from the back”

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  1. Rambo

    Some of you really do make me laugh.

    Un na and Charlie for example had daggers for Emery but now act as if the sun shines out of Arteta’s ass.

    For Receding Hairline, its the opposite.

    When will you lads get over this bizarre individual based agendas? Ohhh I like this man so I’ll give him extra points. Try setting your expectations or criticisms from a job perspective, not the person who is doing the job. Like 90% of the normal fans do.

    I could not care less whether its Arteta or Emery, I hold them to the same standards that come from being Arse manager.

  2. Unai

    Freddie, no choice but to keep Ozil and Xhaka.

    Ozil is simply to well paid to move on and Xhaka’s value doesn’t cover a replacement.

    Arteta offered a glimmer of hope but lets be realistic here, the issues at the club started well before him and will probably continue linger after his tenure.

    Still a banter club, still skint, still owned by someone who doesn’t give a fuck.

    Un, i said top 4 was unachievable, wondered if that was now the general consensus.

    What’s more, I don’t see this squad getting top 4 next season either.

  3. Freddie Ljungberg

    Unless Xhaka gest bionic legs he’s never going to be anything more than a midtable level PL midfielder even at his best, that’s not counting his many mistakes.

    Ozil will have 1 year left of his contract in the summer, if we can’t get rid of him then that’ll tell you all you need to know about his level.

    Are you paying for these new players then? Ozil costs 18m a year and we rejected a bid of 25m for Xhaka already this window, if you can contribute that money instead then sure, keep them.

    Torreira has been the only senior midfielder we’ve brought in on a permanent transfer though, the rest are loans and kids, mainly because we stupidly have been holding on to Xhaka and Ozils wages are dragging us down.

  4. Freddie Ljungberg


    We’ve had to sell on average 3-4 players to afford to buy 1 in the last 18 months and then fill in the rest with kids. That was always going to happen. At least with Xhaka we get a fee, for 25m we can absolutely replace him with someone better.

  5. Unai

    It stands to reason that if Xhaka is a £25m player, other players of similar value will be of similar quality, no?

    That sort of money gets you a lower prem to upper championship quality player at best.

  6. Freddie Ljungberg


    That’s a strange way of seeing things.
    Xhaka is 27, in his prime and that’s what someone wants to pay for him, I’m sure he’ll be much better in the Bundesliga or Serie A too, he just can’t keep up in the PL.

    Bruno Guimaraes, Sander Berge, Sangare, all in the 20-22 bracket for similar money that Xhaka is rumoured to be worth, all with vastly more potential and qualities suited to the PL. That’s just what’s available this window off the top of my head, shouldn’t take our scouts more than 5 minutes to find someone better than Xhaka honestly.

  7. Bob N16

    With you Freddie on your last two posts. Our youngsters are playing a lot more games, replacing more experienced, expensive ‘rejects’. We should see the benefits of this exposure either in getting youth team products established into our first team squad or being able to sell them for decent money.

    Successfully replacing Ozil and Xhaka with players that are suitable for Arteta’s/ Edu’s vision will radically benefit our team.

    Much as we like to draw judgement from individual games, if we don’t step back and look for an overall trajectory, it’s a short sighted way of seeing AFC.

  8. PieAFC

    We had 5 kids on the bench yesterday. Over the next few weeks they will get games and play more.

    As aggressive Kolasinac is, he’s useless in the final third, with these diagonal balls and overlapping runs he makes.

    If we’re going to play that way, we need a better left back (I know KT is injured) I’d play Saka there, going forward he’s more of a threat.

    I just hope we don’t get too predictable playing that way.

  9. Un na naai

    Torreira has been the only senior midfielder we’ve brought in on a permanent transfer though, the rest are loans and kids, mainly because we stupidly have been holding on to Xhaka and Ozils wages are dragging us down.

    Doesn’t matter
    What’s martinelli and Saka? They are outperforming Guendouzi and Ceballos.

    Are saliba and upamencano not kids at 20-21? Yet these are expected to come in and immediately command a place in our team and dominate the premier league? Come on. There’s more to football than just throwing money around.

    Either way just selling ozil and xakha isn’t the “truest test” of a manager. Not even close

  10. PieAFC

    I hope the way we play and the style Arteta wants, he must know down the line investment in areas we need and don’t.

    AMN has quietly got on with the job at right back and with coaching is vastly improving. He kept zaha quiet, previous games Zaha toyed with him badly.

  11. Un na naai

    Soumare is 20
    Same age as Guendouzi.

    I don’t understand your argument Freddie
    You’re telling me that we’ve got too many kids and loans in one breath then telling us we need to sign more kids only to then claim we will need senior players to guide them I’m sure.

    Either way I don’t disagree that we will need midfielders. We have Tierney, chambers, holding, bellerin and Saliba coming into defence in the summer alongside AMN, sok, Luiz and kolasinac

    I would also like us to focus our efforts on midfield. Soumare or Kalvin Phillips with Jack Grealish for me would be quality.

    Outside of that anything is a bonus.

  12. China1

    You can’t say you can’t find better folk than xhaka for 25m. That’s roughly what we paid for a far superior player in torreira

    The question is not what you pay but value for money. If 25m is what they’re really worth they won’t be a big upgrade on xhaka, if they’re being undervalued by slipping under the radar, nearing the end of their contract or whatever then it’s another story entirely.

  13. China1

    And yes I’d be all for Phillips. Xhaka our to find Phillips would be a great deal and take some of the heat out of what is likely a 40m player.

    Sell xhaka for 25 and sign him for 40 and net 15 is very solid business imo

  14. Pierre

    It’s all very well saying bring the kids in but surely it’s obvious for anyone with a football brain to see, that Arteta is trying to make us more compact, disciplined and concede fewer goals.

    We could start 4,5 or 6 kids and be back to square one, conceding chances and goals.

    Arteta coming in is completely different to when Emery started .

    Arteta took over a team mid season that were on their knees , their confidence was shot to pieces.

    Emery took over a team that had finished the season scoring over 3 goals a game in their last 5 home league games, he brought in 5 new players , he had a pre season (vital) and the team were not lacking in confidence.

    If we have to draft in a couple of kids then fair enough, but for the moment let him get on with making us a more compact team using predominantly experienced players.

    Expansive will come later.

  15. Pierre

    Phillips is a Leeds lad, a very good player but it will take a lot of money and persuasion to prise him away from elland road.

    Would love to see him st Arsenal but…..

  16. Valentin

    Like China1 said, outside of special circumstances we are unlikely to get an upgrade on Xhaka for less than £35 millions in instalments or £30 millions upfront.

    So selling him for £25 millions in instalments to get an inferior player is an bad move. But selling him for £30 millions and get an immediate replacement at a cost of a £5 millions investment is acceptable.

  17. Valentin

    I wonder if Nkethia will stay with us for January to play in the games that Aubameyang and Lacazette are suspended for.

    Nkethia would really help Aston Villa, but Norwich I am not so sure. He is too similar to Pukki.

  18. The backpass

    How can someone really say that we can’t get players better than xhaka for under £30 million

    Ndidi went to leicester for less, sangare if he moves, will certainly go for less. So this notion that we cant get players is very wrong, and what is the point of scouts if we cant get bargains. We simply need to start spending wisely.

    I refuse to believe that we cant see better players than xhaka without spending much.

  19. Jeff

    I think that we are going to have to face the fact that there are going to be no miracles for Arsenal anytime soon. As long as this owner remains, we will languish somewhere in the top 10. He doesn’t care so long as the share prices remain steady. He’s not interested in selling so I don’t really know what else we are waiting for. An enthusiastic owner is worth his weight in gold but an indifferent one is a curse.

    As things stand, we have to realise that if we continue like this for the foreseeable, there will be no league titles or any kind of European success either. It might be the odd domestic cup but even that is becoming more difficult as previously lesser clubs have now actually caught up and are telling us to move over. I fear for us, I really do.

  20. Un na naai


    Exactly!! I’m happy for the kids to get game time but all this clamour for soumare and upamencano. They are 20 and 21. What makes anyone think they are going to be the answer to all of our problems immediately? They will need to adapt and then work

  21. Jamie

    ”Like the dude whining about a lack of style when the mitigating facts were there for all to see.”

    So weak, dissenter. I didn’t ‘whine about our style’, I said results over style matters most at this point.

    Stick to making wild assessments like how Federer should retire from tennis while he’s playing out a 5-set Wimbledon final, then ask the blog if we’re still laughing at you, you turnip.

  22. Un na naai

    So weak, dissenter. I didn’t ‘whine about our style’, I said results over style matters most at this point.

    Jamie. I’d argue they are both important and by that I mean more our defensive shape before style going forward
    That’s what Arteta seems to be implementing and I’m more than happy with that. His first job was to pick the players up and the next was to improve our shape. Not only has he done that he he’s got these players working for each other as a team.
    A point at palace is better than we managed last season and while it’s disappointing not to carry on winning and to concede such a shitty goal we were still far more compact and energetic than we had been before Christmas.

    We are moving in the right direction. You can’t really expect more from Arteta at this stage. On another day Torreira and aubameyang stay on, that deflection lands I ti the keepers hands and we win.

  23. Pierre

    Martinelli had a great start to his Arsenal career but the fact is he has only scored one goal in his last 15 appearances although many of those were coming on as sub.

    His season has taken a very similar path to Nketiah in that they both started well scoring goals , they both picked up an injury , the goals have dried up somewhat though as I said, they rarely get a full game.

    Martinelli is probably ahead of Nketiah in the pecking order and a decision needs to be made on Nketiah.

    There are 2 things that need to be assessed as to whether Nketiah goes on loan.
    Aubameyang’s suspension and Martinelli playing for Brazil.

    It would be foolhardy to let Nketiah go on loan at this present time as an injury to Lacazette would leave us short.

  24. Jamie

    I agree, Un.

    Style is important (concede fewer chances against us, create more chances, quick passing, etc). We also need to win games to gain some confidence.

    Winning breeds winning and all that.

    No idea why dissenter has his nickers in a twist over me suggesting I’d take an ugly win at palace away.

  25. China1

    Valentin my key point is that 25m is not a lot of money but bargains are out there.

    Martinelli cost 8m. You only need to pay market price for quality if you can’t find quality flying under the radar. I don’t doubt such quality players are out there to replace xhaka well with minimal outlay, but Whether or not we find and complete such transfers is another story

  26. China1

    Pierre I think Leeds would surely be tempted by a 40m offer in the summer for a club that will have a much harder time next year and may want a few new signings, 40m will be more money than the club has ever seen from a player sale.

    And from Arsenal’s side, if we did get 25m for xhaka we’d only be net 15 on the transfer which would be a very decent move imo

    Not saying it would work but on paper it could

  27. China1

    Pierre I’m not necessarily disagreeing on Nketiah but apparently Pepe has filled in at CF before at Lille.

    We could still have Reiss Nelson on one wing and saka on the other with Pepe up front if we didn’t have any of auba laca and martinelli. As imperfect as that may be, is throwing Nketiah in at the deep end any more certain to work out?

    Our decision to loan him or not should be based over what use he brings to us over the rest of the season – auba and laca’s suspensions will both be over before you know it so we don’t want to be stuck with him in the squad but mikes down the pecking order

  28. R.S.P.C.Arsenal

    Marty Guendouzi when he first started was like a breath of fresh air,

    But he has not progressed from that, initially he was quick thinking playing spontaneous passes,
    However now he is trying to think more about what he is doing.

    He needs a bi5 of art 1-2 -1 attention to solve.

    But rumours are that he has an attitude issue.

    Young lad needs to buckle down or he will be buckled in the game.

  29. China1

    Rspc I disagree I just think he’s inconsistent

    When he’s good he’s quite impressive, but his form is patchy. What he needs is consistency

  30. R.S.P.C.Arsenal


    What would improve it.?

    A regular un in team.?
    We can’t afford that luxury,

    Harder work in training. .?

  31. Useroz

    Guen did slightly better (or less bad) than usual yesterday where he wasn’t skinned a lot and make less side/ back passes. Also had less fuss with the ref when it wasn’t his business.

    The team is riddled with problems despite several weeks of Arteta coaching and some players may/would start to plateau in what they’d improve. The infamous ‘non coachable’ remark from G Neville isn’t untrue.

    We have one barely functional mid field set up in which Torreira is key. Other combos aren’t balanced not competent enough to compete even mid table teams let alone one that could help evolve and propel Arsenal to formal glory

    Long long road ahead

    Arteta must have pretty good ideas by now

  32. vickingz

    Dunno why it is difficult for people to call things the way they are. Emery was bad, no need making him up as our saviour cos he went on unbeaten run. Same players he used when he went on those runs were still the bulk of the players he used when his bum got exposed. Arteta has come and to me, he blew up yesterday’s game.

    Against Chelsea, we knew what we were to do and arteta kept ensuring that the players played to instruction, we gave a good account and was on the way to winning that match till mustafi’s ghost entered Leno and we lost. Against man utd, every player knew what he was to do, we didn’t start useless, meaningless and needless back pass training when we went one nil up against man utd, arteta wasn’t lost on the sideline, he was with the players all through. Against leeds United, we didn’t play to instruction and at half-time, arteta did what he was to do shrill crying the game plan into our players’ hearings and they came out a different animal for the second half. Against Crystal palace, for a team that can’t sustain the new tempo for 90 minutes, we got our first goal early enough when CP was still sleeping, Arteta read this from the sideline and instead of instructing our players to go for the kill, he kept mute, watching them as they were back passing, playing in our own half till CP woke up, there were signs we already lost the plot before we went on half-time break and one would have expected Arteta to inject our players with a dosage of shrill cry he used against leeds but nope, he offered them candies and the players came out more weak and purposeless in the second half.

    Arteta has come out to say the players played the way he expected but even the players showed discontent with the way especially our CBs were exchanging passes needlessly. Laca was caught shouting at luiz and papa to play over the top passes to kola who was always free waiting to be initiate attack from his flank. He was the escape route yesterday but our CBs didn’t really use him and our coach did nothing to correct this at half-time.

    Blame the players all you want, if they were urged on the go for the kill yesterday, if they were ear pulled by arteta’s constant urging yesterday, if they weren’t given candies at half-time, we wouldn’t have lost the game. So, while you blame the players, don’t close your eyes to arteta being a culprit too.

  33. London gunner

    I can see chaka being kept on over the summer.

    Arteta is already laying the ground work for this by all the media spin about convincing chaka stay.

    Chaka is like a cat with 9 billion lives.

  34. Toniboy

    Xhaka has improved but still has to go. Arteta being a Spanish Premiership midfielder and coaching in City must know this. He is hyping him up to get the best out of him till sale or wants to get more suitable energy around him like Gio/ Fabinho around Henderson