Arsenal deliver HUGE performance

by & filed under News Review.

My oh my, did Mikel need that result. Finally, something to show for the all the process talk.

11th versus 12th is never a nice way to wrap a game, but that’s where we are. This was a very, very important 3 points for Mikel for so many reasons, not least, to counter some of the nonsense written about him by people eager for this move to be wrong for Arsenal

Things didn’t look good, the first half was pretty bad, the opening 25 minutes saw us register a miserly 1 shot at Newcastle’s goal. We grew as the half went on, but you sensed the fans in the ground going from deeply frustrated, to kicking themselves with internalised order to support a squad that was clearly trying.

The second half was a totally different beast. The manager clearly went hard at the players to be more aggressive in the final third. Dani Ceballos was put on the ball more, clearly instructed to pick up the tempo, his searching balls looked for openings for the front three, he was quick-witted, bold and he really made a difference.

Nicolas Pepe, a deeply frustrating talent at times really locked onto whatever was said to him, he was more direct, he looked to stretch Newcastle, and he took risks. He made the first goal, beating a man and finding Auba at the back post, that was a huge relief for everyone.

The second goal didn’t take long to land. Auba played Saka in, the left-back of the day beat two players and sent a ball at Mustafi in the box, Pepe took control of that scenario and buried his chance cooly.

I was really hoping we’d keep up the pressure, but we dropped a little, giving Saint-Traore the chance to rattle the post. I know he’s a nightmare to defend against, but he really did cause Bellerin more problems than I hoped he would. Our concentration wasn’t up to scratch in the final 20 minutes, but we did turn the game again, taking back the narrative.

Lacazette came on, he managed a goal and an assist in rapid time. He first set Mesut Ozil up with what looked like a bungled shot. Mesut’s shot was embarrassingly meek, but he scored with the help of a silly mistake from the Newcastle keeper. A goal that had 35 passes in the build-up. The moment eventually fell for Laca though, Willock worked Pepe into the box, allowing him to tee the goal-shy Frenchman up perfectly for a simple finish. A brilliant way to end the game.

So what did we learn?

I think today showed that we have more depth than we thought. Players that we thought were dead are showing up for the new manager, confidence is starting to pay dividends, it’s really great to see. Proper coaching, who’d have thunk it?!

Mesut Ozil had a brilliant game. He created 4 chances, he worked his socks off, and he kept the ball moving forward, something he hasn’t done over the past year or so. The goal was the cherry on top.

Dani Ceballos looked the player we hoped he’d be. Great energy, really good passing (96% pass completion, noting that he made more than anyone on the pitch), 3 chances created, and 9 ball recoveries. Arteta said he was the best player pitch, noting that his behaviour changed, now he trains and plays like an animal.

Lacazette finally delivered, Arteta said the players love him and he was pleased with the reaction. A lot of people asked why he hasn’t been dropped, seems clear he’s huge in the dressing room. Now he’s scored a goal, let’s see if he can go on a run and pay back the faith of the coaching staff.

Nicolas Pepe didn’t bring the heat in the first half, he was slowing play down, and he didn’t have much in the way of guts when it came to creating chances. Second half, he was a different man, he landed 2 assists and goal, he also looked scary. Running defenders ragged.

… come on, admit it, Mustafi looked elite. He was great, his passing was 89% accurate, he made 9 clearances, 5 headed, and he looked solid again. If he can continue to play like that, he’s welcome to be in the squad. Who doesn’t love a turnaround story? His one could be the most whiplash in football history… literally a meme last summer, now he’s playing like a beast.

We also brought some attacking flair to our game. Lots of people making the most out of a small sample of data to skewer the manager. One of the stats doing the round was that we’ve only managed an average of 325 passes per game under Mikel. Well, today, we were at 590. It’s kind of a pointless stat, but when it’s backed by 4 goals, I’ll take it.

I think overall, the second half showed us the type of football the manager wants us to play. We’ve lacked confidence in the final third for a long time, a 4-0 win should go a long way to restoring that. We have a great forward line, we just needed a system to unlock it. Next up… show some consistency. We are on a mini-unbeaten streak, let’s see if the squad can keep that going for the month.

My final shout goes to Saka. What a talent he is. Next season, I’d love to see him further up the pitch, he’s wasted at left-back, but think about it, he’s 18, playing a foreign position and still bossing it. A brilliant game for him.

The fans in the stadium were superb, they are so important to the success of this season and beyond, they’re behind the project and today showed that. I’m excited, you should be too, let’s see if we can bring a similar level to the 90 against Olympiacos this week.

See you in the comments. x

429 Responses to “Arsenal deliver HUGE performance”

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  1. Words on a Blog

    Dissenter/Romford,

    Is Saka better as a left back or as a left winger/attacker?

    Hard to say because he is (almost) as comfortable defending as attacking. His heat map yesterday has him spending most of his time in Newcastle’s half.

    Depending on what formation Arteta plays next year he could equally play as a left/wing back, or ahead of Tierney in a 4-3-3 or as part of the 3 in a 4-2-3-1.

    The guy is so talented that it almost doesn’t matter where he plays on the left. The important thing is that, so long as he is fit, he plays.

  2. CG

    ES

    “””” I suspect that there will be clubs will be willing to pay £40-50 million because he is still 28 and has 2 years on contract.””””

    I suspect you will be wrong,

    One of the consequences of the Manchester City ban- will be the deflating and eventually death of the transfer market as we know it,

    If Man City can not spend and PSG stop spending and other other clubs sailing close to the wind with FFP do the same – what do you think will happen to the prices of players?

    they will drop,
    we are looking at a huge correction in the transfer market
    simple economics.

    I am expecting many clubs to go to the wall in the next few years,

    Manchester City being one of them.

  3. Freddie Ljungberg

    Welcome back Bam, your weird little fanclub has been pining after you this whole time, I’m sure they’re delighted to have you back:)

    Yeah, getting 80-100m for those 2 while only really having to replace Auba would allow us to go big in one of the midfield positions.

    Edoard + Pape + Havertz would be possible then

    or Soumare + Fekir in midfield instead.
    Just gives us a lot more options instead of losing 40-50m for the sake of 1 more year of Auba.

    CB can be funded by other sales and our existing budget.

  4. Dissenter

    The Everton game at home will be a better test of where we’re at.
    It may be costly if we play that poorly in the first half against Everton, Theo Walcott would have punished us in that first half. He’s playing well again.

  5. Words on a Blog

    Bamford,

    Welcome back.

    Sure we should be beating the likes of Newcastle, but that hasn’t exactly been our experience this season.

    We need to remember how to be flat track bullies again.

  6. Wasi

    I would bench for Kola for Saka easy. But maybe in a game where we need defensive security on his side I’ll be inclined to play KT.

    KT’s got great calves too tho 😂

  7. Wasi

    Freddie
    Dont think we stand a chance in the Havertz race.
    Being quoted 100m and all the top clubs want him. We might already be out of the race but maybe just maybe a CL spot and a guarantee of starting week in week out could sway his decision? Im hopelessly optimistic.

  8. Words on a Blog

    Wasi,

    The weird thing about Tierney is that CG really hates him despite the fact that Kieran scores very highly in CG’s calf index.

    I’m 87% confused about this paradox.

  9. Words on a Blog

    It’s even weirder when you take into consideration the fact That Tierney isn’t some shifty Spaniard but a proper Brit!

  10. Bamford10

    If the reports are to be believed, Guendouzi got into an argument with Arteta on the training ground and then again later that night in the hotel, and this was part of the reason he was left out of the squad yesterday. If he doesn’t straighten out his attitude and quick, he too could be on the selling block this summer.

  11. Romford Pele

    If you want to call it papering over the cracks then fair enough but what he’s doing is a process which is going to take a while to come to fruition. What is evident is that in the first 10 games there are discernible patterns you can see:

    Broadly speaking we’re playing a 4231.
    We attack with 5 and defend with 5
    LB pushed in the first line with attackers
    RB inverted so acts as an extra midfielder in build up. Been the same with Bellerin/AMN
    CMs hold positions and look to funnel the ball wide or find Ozil between the lines.
    RW holds the width
    LW is a second striker as he’s stationed inside.

    Players have performed to varying degrees but this is essentially the set up.

    We have looked very solid defensively but the attack has suffered because we don’t have enough creators/dribblers.

    As Newcastle lined up with a 541 yesterday, Arteta decided Torreira wasn’t needed and went with Ceballos to facilitate greater fluidity through the lines. Worked as Newcastle didn’t really press us so we could focus on picking the lock.

    I think we still need more dribblers like Grealish.

  12. Romford Pele

    Havertz gonna go for over £100m so no chance.

    There are quality players in the Championship like Benrahma and Eze who bring creativity and dribbling to unlock deep blocks. Should be looking at them.

  13. Romford Pele

    Also while Newcastle aren’t great they’ve beaten Spurs, Chelsea and United this season. Also took points off City so they’re a dangerous enough outfit. We did well to limit them in transiition.

  14. Freddie Ljungberg

    Wasi

    I don’t think we have much of a chance in getting Havertz either tbh but he hasn’t been as great this season and the 100m price tag is probabky inflated. Will probably be more attractive clubs in for him too, but maybe he feels it’s too much of a step to go to a Barca or Bayern etc this early in his career, that’s our chance then. If not there are other options out there

    Just saying we shouldn’t let sentiment or fear stand in the way of our rebuild. We have to think long term.

    It’s not unreasonable to expect 20 more goal contributions from midfield with proper players in CM and Cam, we have had almost none this season, that takes a lot of the burden of any new striker coming in and would allow him to adapt.
    Martinelli is also knocking on that door but feel it’s too early to expect him to be first choice next season. Eddie is only good enough to be third choice at the moment at best.

  15. Words on a Blog

    Romford,

    I know where you’re coming from when you say you prefer him attacking from LB.

    I disagree, but actually don’t think it’s that important as he’s talented and versatile enough to play anywhere on the left.

  16. Freddie Ljungberg

    RP

    Yeah, we’ve been linked with Said for 15m, wouldn’t mind that at all if we move Martinelli inside to second choice striker next season.

  17. Stew

    Thanks Pedro for giving Saka a strong mention. He had an excellent game, the nutmeg to set up Pepe’s goal brought us all to our feet. It’s vital we keep him, a star of the 2025 Invincibles.

  18. Romford Pele

    Words, so another reason why I don’t want Saka on the LW is that I don’t want two lefties on that side. The way Arteta has us set up, the LW is stationed inside next to the striker to run off and in behind. Saka is more a touchline hugger, similar to Tierney. I don’t think the balance would be the best. Better to have a right footed LW who can come inside and allow for an overlap on the left hand side.

  19. CG

    Arsenal should be patient in the transfer market.

    Forget trolly dashing and continually buying overpriced garbage like Cedric , Mari, Tierney , Pepe and Luiz types,

    Let the Man City case unravel and what with Arteta ‘s Man City connections, be ready take some of their star players off their hands when the inevitable fire sale begins

    keep it simple.
    buy Man City players,

  20. Romford Pele

    Freddie – I think he’ll go for a bit more than that tbh but he’s a quality player. Like a right-footed version of Mahrex. Can play either wing or as a 10. North African ballers are always so blessed technically. Eze at QPR is another huge talent, love the way he plays.

    Personally i’m not overly fussed about getting names. As long as they have the right profile, that’s the most important thing for me. If we don’t get Europe we’ll need to be creative anyway.

    Martinelli I think should defo be a striker. He’s a grater explosive player but he’s not actually a great dribbler in tight spaces.

  21. Freddie Ljungberg

    Soares is on loan and if we give him a contract in the summer he’s a free agent, Mari cost chump change and Luiz was 8m.

    Tierney was a fair price as well.

    Only one who was maybe over priced was Pepe, but that’s what happens when you put up a long term payment plan. Still think he will become an Arsenal great in time, he’s got many years ahead of him to prove his worth.

  22. Words on a Blog

    Romford Pele,

    I agree that it’s better to have a left footed/right footed combo on the left (and vice versa on the right). All that I’d say is that, say in comparison to Pepe, Saka is much better on his weaker foot, and is able to cut in and shoot/score as well as hug the touchline.

  23. Romford Pele

    Words – you might well be right but I don’t see any position to move him right now as he’s productive from there anyway. Just allows us to get another attacker on the pitch.

  24. Thorough

    And talking about discernible patterns,
    1. Am I wrong to assume Arteta sees Xhaka as a sure bet for one of the 2 midfield positions in front of the back 4,and seems to think Guen, Torreira and Ceb are all vying for the second spot?
    2. Arteta actually considers Willock the only replacement for Ozil, a position I think Ceballos can comfortably play.
    I was shocked to see Ceballos starting alongside Xhaka yesterday and was even more shocked that Torreira was brought on in his place.
    And of course, Willock for Ozil reinforces the second assumption.
    If correct, does the above patterns make sense long term?

  25. Nelson

    Newcastle was in good form, six games unbeaten in all competitions, beating Chelsea and tying Everton and Wolves. Beating them is not an easy task.

  26. Bamford10

    Romford

    My skepticism has nothing to do with Arteta or with what Arteta is doing; I like what he is doing, I think he is super smart, and I appreciate your explanation of yesterday’s selection. My skepticism is entirely about this current squad, i.e., I don’t think it’s very good. I think Arteta will do what he can with them, but I don’t really see us moving up from 10th, and I don’t see us advancing past the QF in the Europa. Too weak in midfield, too little real dynamism up front, IMO.

  27. Words on a Blog

    Romford,

    I agree for this season, as Arteta has us set up with Xhaka regularly dropping back to cover when Saka goes forward.

    If Xhaka moves on next season and we get a different kind of central midfielder, and/or if Arteta decides to then go for a 4-3-3, he may choose to move Saka forward.

  28. Romford Pele

    Thorough – to answer your questions:
    1) i think it’s wait and see game. Despite his limitations that we are all aware of, Xhaka is strong, durable and probably the most reliable passer through the lines.
    2) Have you been watching ESR at Huddersfield? That is the natural replacement for Ozil. Would’ve liked him to stay. Rate him above any other youngster in the squad.

    Ceballos isn’t a 10. We’ve seen that quite a few times. He doesn’t operate or give the options through the lines that Ozil does. He’s more a ball-dominant player who likes to dictate the game deeper. Think he’d be best in a 433. We’ve struggled to score goals recently and Newcastle play a 541 so I get going for a more attacking line up. This won’t always be the case though.

    Still not completely sure about Willock but he’s a willing runner which is good to have I guess.

  29. Romford Pele

    Bamford – yes ok fair enough. I don’t think you’ll find anyone disagreeing that the squad isn’t good enough. Think we can all acknowledge we need some new players to add creativity/technique and athleticism.

    That said what a good manager does is find a system that can get the best out of what he has. He should be able to accentuate strengths while hiding weaknesses. Overall we’ve looked more compact since Arteta has been in charge which is why concede less shots on goal and stop attacks better in transition.

  30. Wasi

    Freddie

    Sure. If we get the opportunity to sign we definitely should.

    For those crying it was only Newcastle.
    Newcastle have taken the most points from the top 6 this season from the clubs outside the traditional top 6.

  31. TR7

    Arteta’s imprints on our team is clearly visible. Our preferred formation under him, movement of certain players to provide more defensive stability at the back, tweaking of Xhaka’s role in the team and the way our wingers/full back operate are stuff which are different from what it was under Emery. We may or may not play quality football week in week out but under Arteta the team does the basics right more often than not. So at the very least the team puts in a 5/10 performance every week. Under Emery nobody knew what level of performance would we get out of the team. Under Emery we were disjointed as a team, not anymore. Our performance against Newcastle was not great but as I have said before it’s all about the process for me as far as this season is concerned. Arteta looks on course to build a good side.

    As for Saka, I said months ago he was the most talented youngster in our team, better than even Martinenli. The guy is mature beyond his age and is technically solid. We should persist with him on LWB and Martinennli should play as a left winger.

  32. Romford Pele

    Words, i’ve always thought that Arteta will move to a 433. Maybe at the moment it’s just working with what he as and changing it come next season after a transfer window and chance to work with the players in the off season.

    I really like Papa Gueye at Le Havre. Offers the same qualities Xhaka does but is a much better athlete and can carry it up the pitch. I’ve seen he’s been linked with us for £6m. A no brainer imo as he can play DM and CM. We need that type of profile in the squad.

  33. Bamford10

    Romford

    “fair enough. I don’t think you’ll find anyone disagreeing that the squad isn’t good enough”

    Actually, there are a number of people here who disagree with this assessment and who have disagreed with this assessment clearly and vocally for some time. I don’t really want to get into that, though, as it will bring me into conflict with these people, and I’d like to avoid that. Cheers.

  34. Emiratesstroller

    CG

    First of all Man City have not been banned from buying players. The ban is
    participating in Champions League.

    Second there are now plenty of clubs spending or capable of spending in a transfer window £100 million plus. Real Madrid spent last summer £300 million+ and Barcelona just under that amount.

    You should not forget also that Liverpool and Chelsea spent virtually nothing
    in summer.

    Finally whist I agree that some transfers could be deflated that will not be the
    case with a Centre Forward who scores 25 goals + in a season and has a resale
    value. There is an acute shortage of such players in the market.

  35. Romford Pele

    Bamford – everyone is entitled to their opinion but considering how far Arsenal have fallen in recent times you’d be very silly to believe this squad is a top tier obe.

  36. Thorough

    The FORDS (ROM AND BAM) ARE BACK!
    Good times are here again.

    Thanks, Romford. Sadly I’ve not seen ESR at Huddersfield at all as I barely get to watch Championship here.
    As per Ozil replacement, allow me bring a total curved ball into the equation: What do you think of Saka as a possible number 10?

  37. Bamford10

    Romford

    The problem with your assessment of our midfield at 13:36:38 is that it leaves Ozil as the CAM and proposes (I think?) sticking with Xhaka and Ceballos as the midfield base. This is not workable, in my opinion. Not at all. That’s far too little athleticism, quickness and mobility at the base of midfield, and too little energy, creativity and dynamism at CAM. It worked yesterday against a fairly poor Newcastle, but do you see a midfield three of Xhaka, Ceballos and Ozil working well against better opposition? I don’t know; I don’t think I do.

  38. Emiratesstroller

    CG

    The strongest rumours circulating for leading CFs departing in the Summer
    are Mbappe, Martinez and Werner.

    Martinez does not score 25 goals a season but is being touted at £70 million+
    Martinez and Werner fit in that category. Werner will certainly be sold for
    £70 million + and Mbappe if sold will fetch well in excess of £100 million as
    would be the case if Kane were put on the market.

    The only unexplained mystery for me is how Borussia Dortmund bought Haaland so cheaply albeit that he is a teenager.

  39. Romford Pele

    Bamford – I wasn’t saying that should be the final solution. If you gave me money and a transfer window, they’d all be replaced.

    I totally agree that the midfield trio lacked athleticism and pace. It was incredibly slow. When I saw it yesterday I was concerned even though I understood the logic behind it. It was a game we were trying to control which we started to do after 30 mins or so.

    You could tell in this game the first goal would be crucial. If Newcastle got it we could’ve suffered in transition as they’re very quick breaking through ASM and Almiron. Thankfully we got it and could control the flow of the game better. At home you can generally get away with this.

    You’re right though, against better opposition we’ll need to bring back Torreira. Long term though, they all need upgrading, as while they have good qualities, they are also massively flawed. It’s not worth the trade-off.

  40. Romford Pele

    Thorough – not for me mate, not enough ingenuity or vision to his game to play as a 10 in a possession-based set-up. I think we’ll be looking for a new playmaker in the summer but I hope ESR gets more opportunities. He’s called KDB-lite for a reason.

  41. Bamford10

    Romford

    I think the one thing I might differ with you on is Ceballos. While I agree that he isn’t a genuine #10, I think our best midfield three at the moment might be Ceballos in front of Torreira and Xhaka. I say this not because I think Ceballos is the long-term solution there — like you, I don’t think any of them are — but because he might give us more than Ozil does there. In turn, pairing Torreira with Xhaka helps cover over some of the latter’s lack of mobility. It still wouldn’t be a great midfield, but it might be our best midfield at the moment.

  42. Romford Pele

    Bamford – will respectfully disagree. I think Ceballos does his best work behind the ball. He’s more in the frame of the archetypal Spanish playmaker who gives and goes regularly but doesn’t offer the same presence in the final third as he drops too deep.

    While I think Ozil is finished, he moves across the pitch laterally and is a better mover with and without the ball even if he doesn’t shoot. Offers the passing alternative in between the lines and moves it on quickly to those in the front three. I would like someone who offers that but with a greater goal threat long term, hence the Grealish shouts from me.

  43. TR7

    We do not need a squad overhaul. 2 central midfielders and perhaps one more defender is all we need.

    Leno, Auba, Saka, Martinelli, Torreira, Holding, Pepe, Lacazzete and Bellerin are all good enough for a team fighting for top 4. If we can replace Ozil with Grealish and add one box to box midfielder, we should be good.

  44. azed

    Bamford

    You can’t play Ceballos as a 10 in a 4-2-3-1 as Ceballos is a player drawn to the ball and he’s best attributes are passing between the lines.

    He’s a pre assister.

    As for the Saka argument, I see he moving towards the center. I’ll say he’s similar to Lemar.

  45. Freddie Ljungberg

    Tr7

    Laca really isn’t good enough to lead the line for us, and he’s a sellable asset that’s blocking Martinellis path to more playing time up front.

    With Auba it’s all about his contract, if he doesn’t sign an extension with a reasonable salary he needs sold and replaced, simple as that.

    If we cash in on both of them and move Martinelli to striker we could probably do with another LW too.

    If Auba stays then yes, CB (depending on Mari) CM and Cam is all we really need atm.

  46. Emiratesstroller

    Wasi

    Fair enough.

    However, the reality is that most forwards who are prolific goalscorers and in the right age bracket are going to cost mega bucks.

    The problem for Arsenal is that as usual they have allowed Aubameyang to run down his contract to final year and he will be 31 in the summer.

    Lacazette will be 28 and in his final two years of contract in summer.

    It is illogical to sell two Centre Forwards in same transfer window unless we
    find top class striker that we can afford in same window.

    The question is which off the two you would choose to sell? My personal choice would be Lacazette who is more easily replaceable.

  47. Sid

    ESR is yet to prove his fitness over a season, buendia would be a better ozil replacement,
    Comparing saka vs martinelli is like comparing an SUV to a sports car, ceballos is not a #10

  48. Romford Pele

    Sid – Buendia is another like Ceballos who does his work better deep. He doesn’t play as high up. If he was to play as one of the CMs in a 433 then yes I get it but if we’re gonna continue with this formation I want someone who offers that presence in the final third for dribbling/shooting.

    RE ESR, he’s only 19 but yes it’s important he stays fit. Huddersfield are giving him a platform to show what he can do too.

  49. Marc

    Whilst Arteta is right to discipline Guendozi if he’s getting too big for his boots you have to sympathise a little bit. If I was behind Xhaka in the team selection I’d be pissed off to.

  50. Northbanker

    Ceballos has barely played for us, let alone be moved further upfield. With due respect to all of you naysayers, I don’t think you’ve seen enough or indeed anything at all to make that judgement yet. I would like to see what he can do in the 10 role as Ozil offers little substance

    I am hoping we see ESR push for that role next year – like what he’s doing at Huddersfield and at the moment he seems to be in the right place as he just needs game time – don’t think he is short on confidence though. He is a rival to Saka for me as our most promising youngster but fair to say Saka now has the edge.

  51. Marc

    Emirates

    I’ve been banging this drum for ages now. This clamour to sell Laca and Auba because it will bring in loads of money is bollocks. Auba will certainly cost a lot more to replace than he’d sell for and Laca if he can get some form back would be about neutral.

    If Auba is only going to bring in £40 odd million but his goals could get us into the CL places next season then it makes more financial sense to let him go on a free.

  52. Graham62

    Like most Arsenal supporters, I was delighted by yesterday’s result. However, there are still huge question marks against several of our players, which I’m sure MA is well aware of.

    Leno, despite his shot-stopping abilities, is still, imo, a liability. His distribution and command of the area is flawed. Floating meaningless passes into areas of the pitch, that puts us under unnecessary pressure,is also proving a major problem.

    GX and Oxil, despite yesterday’s displays, will always be a burden. We also know that Mustafi is not reliable and there are still question marks against Luiz. Bellerin has also lost his pace, which basically means we’re stretched even more.

    From what I’ve seen so far, I’m convinced Arteta has all the players on board and the fact that we saw major changes in the structure of the team yesterday, must be seen as a positive if we are going to progress over these next few months.

    I will be the first to admit it has been difficult to shake off all the negatives that have enveloped the club/team over these past few years(decade for me) but wouldn’t it be great to witness the beginning of something new and positive over these coming months under Arteta?

    Seriously, let’s all try to look forward.

    Even me!

  53. Romford Pele

    Northbanker – Ceballos’ first few games for us were in that position. Bar the Burnley game he was very underwhelming. If we’re gonna play with an archetypal #10 he needs to offer presence in the final third. Ceballos doesn’t offer that as he’s too drawn to the ball. Always ends up on the half way line.

    Arteta is very strict in terms of player position’s so he won’t want players wavering and he’s a;ready had a go at Ceballos for that before. Even the player has admitted that he gets drawn to the ball too often when in fact he needs to hold his position better.

  54. Romford Pele

    Only way Auba should stay imo is if we get CL football. That way we have enough revenue to offset the decision to let him go on a free in 2021.

    We’re not plush with cash right now as we have no commercial revenue, have spent loads in recent years and have been out of CL since 2017. If we need to rebuild then he’s one of the first to go as he’s now on the wrong side of 30 and can generate funds for a rebuild.

  55. TR7

    Freddie

    I don’t.understand the clamour to.sell Auba and Laca. We should earnestly try to extended their contracts. In current market, any half decent striker costs north of £60M. Selling the duo and replacing them is easier said than done. As for Maetinelli, he is well suited for a left wing role, so Laca is not blocking his way.

  56. CG

    ES

    “”””First of all Man City have not been banned from buying players. The ban is
    participating in Champions League.””””

    Its the same thing.
    They are finished,
    They are football equivalent of the Lehman Bros .

    Why do you think Arteta jumped ship?

    (Precious Pep and his yellow ribbons will be next out of the door, another flouncey Spaniard typically leaving when the tough gets going.)

    Clubs will be able to buy Aguero, Silva, KDB , Stones, Jesus for nowt soon.

    they need to reduce costs without the forthcoming CL monies.

    I hope our incompetent buffoons are for once are being patient and get Arteta to return to City and get some of their quality players.

    No more Cedrics and Marys, please.

  57. Guns of SF

    CG,
    interesting points about the transfer market correction.
    I still doubt that prices will completely come down.
    All it takes is Madrid or Barca dropping 100M on a player and then agents begin to get greedy and overprice their clients.

    Ive always been of the mind to get transfer biz done early in the window…. like the first week or 2. Otherwise, you run the risk of massive player inflation

    Also, why would Man CIty players come here? They get paid way more handsomely at City.
    Which city players would come here?

  58. GunnerDNA

    Marc,

    “Whilst Arteta is right to discipline Guendozi if he’s getting too big for his boots you have to sympathise a little bit. If I was behind Xhaka in the team selection I’d be pissed off to”

    To be fair Xhaka is useless but he deserves credit for trying. On the other hand if you’re a midfielder at Arsenal and watch Ozil week in week out and he’s one of the first name on the team sheet, its understandable why some will be upset

  59. Dissenter

    Marc
    I can’t believe that you wrote than we take the chance on Auba by letting him run his contract out to get to the CL.
    He’s scored lots of goals already and we are still stuck in the mire. His goals aren’t enough in itself.
    After the debacle of Sanchez, Ramsey and Ozil, how can you still persists with that thinking?

    No player should be allowed to run down their contracts, especially the ones with good sellable value.
    Auba is not the only goal scorer on the planet.

  60. Northbanker

    Romford – re Ceballos – that is where he is now but my point is we, including you, haven’t seen enough of him in that forward role, or any role, to really make that judgement as yet. What we have seen was largely Emery based where chaos reigned.

    TR7 – Auba hasn’t signed so if he doesn’t by early Summer then we must sell him. I see £40m being quoted here but that really has been plucked out of nowhere. If an auction is developing, with Barca, Inter and PSG all so far making noises, then there is a very good chance the final price could be considerably higher if we hold our nerve. That is far too good to turn down and if Real Madrid were to enter the arena then a deal for say Jovic could even be achieved.

  61. Dissenter

    Coutinho seemed to be irreplaceable for Liverpool, once upon a time….then they sold him.
    We can replace Auba’s goals with a system where attacking midfielders actually score goals. That’s an extinct part of our football in recent years.

  62. Romford Pele

    “Coutinho seemed to be irreplaceable for Liverpool, once upon a time….then they sold him.”

    Exactly. There’s always new players.

    Cesc and RVP were much better than recent players that have gone. There’s always new guys to buy, that’s the beauty of the football.#

    Plus, as Liverpool have shown the system > any one individual.

  63. Guns of SF

    Dissenter

    Amen… the lack of midfield scorers on this team makes us very easy to defend against

    We need a speedy, technical player in the middle who can create and score.
    You know the names…

    Remove Ozil and add that type of player and its gives more attacking dimensions clearly…

    But you all know im preaching to the choir

  64. Romford Pele

    Northabnker – seen a lot of Ceballos at Betis, Madrid and for Spain mate. He’s not a 10. More a dictator of the game than someone who’s gonna be giving assists and scoring goals.

  65. Dissenter

    If Auba doesn’t sigh, sell him …end of.

    I can’t even believe people still broach the idea of letting his contract run out.
    I keep dreading people dropping names of players, buy this-by that. Where’s all this money going to come from?

  66. Guns of SF

    I love Auba but the way he constantly gets dispossesed, lacks control on the long balls, and struggles to dribble past his defender is clear for all to see…
    He has a great shot and is a poacher… hence why he would be CF at all times.

    If Saka remains the new LB, then a front line of Gabi, Auba and Pepe would be just fine.

    Add the attacking midfielder in the hole and we have 4 scoring threats up front

  67. Dissenter

    Villa has this central midfielder who has all the makings of a dribbling, good passing, hard tackling ball carrier.
    He can play both central and defensive midfield.

    His name is Douglas Luiz.
    He was at City from 2017 till the sold him to Villa, spent most of it on loan in Serie A

    I suspect that the player we will go for. He can’t cost more than 20 million.

    Douglas Luiz. You heard it here first…..for free.

  68. Paulinho

    Guardiola is probably not too disappointed about this two year Euro ban.

    He won’t have to answer more questions when his teams flunk again in the latter stages, and he will be held up as a hero for staying on at City. He’s been a domestic beast since he last won the CL at Barca so the situation plays right into his hands.

  69. Northbanker

    Saka would be wasted at LB and I think once we have seen a run in from Tierney we will soon be dropping that idea. Saka must be a LW and I doubt he would want different. He has done well there but we are only salivating because of his LW qualities. We are then heavily reliant on someone else tracking back for him. Heat maps aside, a couple of occasions he looked lost defending in our box yesterday and looked like someone whose heart wasn’t in it

    We have a phenomenal prospect in KT and I’m looking forward to his tenure.

  70. Paulinho

    Romford – Yep, he was quality wasn’t he? Love the way he draws players towards him, and then releases at the perfect moment. We have a team full of players that would fit into the ‘supporting’ category at the Oscars, we need some leading players and Grealish would elevate everyone else by being the complete opposite to what we have at the moment: an actual player that thrives in congestion in the final third.

  71. Guns of SF

    Grealish is a robust attacker… not afraid of challenges or to put one in…
    same for Maddison
    Prem tested
    only issue is the $$$$$

    Grealish might the more available… if Leicester get CL, tie down Maddison…

  72. Wasi

    ET

    If we sell both of them we have to get in a proven goal scorer or at least someone who while having a high ceiling is still way ahead of his peers and can be genuinely relied upon.

    If we quality CL then we might even tie down Auba. In that situation we can sell Laca granted we find a Striker that can perform the Firmino esque role Arteta wants. And honestly I cant think of many strikers who are good at that. Laca when Playing with confidence is a top drawer striker imo. Just 1 tier below world class. Also Laca is very much suited to how Arteta wants to play. He’s also got the ability to win matches on his own which is Super rare. If he can show before the end of the season that he can be again relied upon to score goals ill be happy to have him here for at least 1 more season as we sort out the problem positions before moving on to upgrade elsewhere.

    If we fail to qualify for CL Auba will most definitely leave. In that case we keep Laca anyways.

    If you ask me I’ll say theres a genuine possibility that Laca stays on beyond this season.I just hope he can improve his goalscoring numbers. Ill be happy if he can get around 20-25 goals in all competitions per season while contributions in the all round game.

    In the slightest chance we sell both. Haland has a release clause of 75m. But we don’t stand a chance with him do we?

  73. Romford Pele

    Paulinho – fully agreed.

    I like how he affects all phases of play, compared to Maddison who is more purely for the final third.

    Villa play him in a front three because they have nobody who can deliver end product, hence why his stats are so good this season but i’d love to sign him and return him back to CM as the furthest midfielder forward in a midfield trio, similar to how Iniesta was used at Barca.

  74. Paulinho

    Dissenter – It’s funny how whenever its discussed what we miss from not having Ramsey in the team, you’re on patrol shutting the conversation down, apparently its a ‘closed chapter’ and we need to move on (despite mentioning our problem of goals from midfield), and yet you positively salivate at discussing his current situation at Juve.

    You were coming out with similar bollocks about him this time last year and made you look silly. You’re doing the same thing this year out of bitterness in the hope you get lucky this time.

    How did Coutinho get on at Barca(or Inter before that), how did Emre Can get on at Juve, what about Rabiot? What about Henry at Juve?

    I said when he left how he gets on there makes no difference to the fact we are fucked without him. Which we have been.

  75. Paulinho

    “We can replace Auba’s goals with a system where attacking midfielders actually score goals. That’s an extinct part of our football in recent years.”

    Keep gorging at his voodoo doll while bemoaning our lack of goals from midfield………..

  76. Words on a Blog

    Really not sure how much there is in it, but IF Guendouzi doesn’t apologise and buckle down and the situation between him and Arteta hardens then he’s likely to be on the departure list this summer.

    Then we’ll see whether some of the valuations bandied around in websites like Transfermarket.com bear any resemblance to reality.

  77. Paulinho

    “Villa play him in a front three because they have nobody who can deliver end product,”

    Yeah, the issue is he doesn’t seem to be much of a goal threat at all when deployed deeper. I suppose it would still be worth it just for the ball-carrying.

  78. Wasi

    Grealish’s best position imo is the left sided free 8 in a 4-3-3. The left half space is where most of his best work is done.

    Maddison more close to a traditional 10 . Great player to provide the final ball/pre-assist or even finish a move. + Great set piece ability.

    Grealish ahead of Maddison is a no brainer for me tho.
    Top quality player with great Leadership skills.
    Him and Arsenal are a perfect match.

  79. DigitalBob

    Sad that Dozi is the first to lose his discipline under Arteta, I expected it to be one of the more senior players so for a youth prospect to have fallen out with Mikel already doesn’t look good at all for his future. Hopefully he sorts it out pronto as the unity shown by this team at the moment cannot/should not be disrupted by an upset 20 year old.

  80. Romford Pele

    Paulinho – i think it depends on who you think should shoulder the burden of scoring in an Arteta system. My first thought would be that onus falls on the front three with a midfielder chipping in as well.

    I always thought when Wenger got the balance right we nominally had two creators and two primary goalscorers.

  81. Wasi

    We miss Cazorla in the midfield more than we miss Ramsey.

    True that. Ceballos closest to what he have to Santi rn. Also has a clear shot at claiming the starting position given he becomes robust while defending.
    Could be key to helping Ozil perform to his full ability. Which in turn can help solve our chance creation problem.

  82. Paulinho

    Romford – With our current personnel – limited forwards that have an eye for goal – then we should be able to accommodate Grealish and prosper even if he doesn’t score often.

    If the team flows and we have teams on the backfoot then the goals will generally come from all quarters at the right times. Remember Sagna scoring at Everton simply due to our fluid play with Nasri creating openings just in front of him.

  83. DigitalBob

    It was lovely to see Ceballos in the middle again, against 70% of teams in this league he can produce like that, and that for me is key to him staying on after this season.

  84. Jim Lahey

    @Wasi –

    Our midfield fell apart once Cazorla got injured. We have been in desperate need for a player of his ilk since he left.

  85. Romford Pele

    Paulinho – yeah I agree. The main thing for me is that the system creates chances. After that anyone should be able to score theoretically.

    Obviouly under Arteta it’s a bit more structured than it was under Wenger. We’re quite rigid in the first two-thirds of the pitch and then the forwards have space to freestyle in the final third.

    That said, we need more press-resistant midfielders and line breakers who can dribble. When you have low block teams like Newcastle who defend narrow and compact, having Grealish types is an absolute necessity imo.

  86. Wasi

    Our midfield fell apart once Cazorla got injured. We have been in desperate need for a player of his ilk since he left.

    Very true. True genius. Most underrated player in the Prem ever .

  87. WengerEagle

    Citeh’s Euro ban is pretty significant, easy to see the likes of Sterling, Bernardo Silva, Jesus and Laporte staying on but you’d seriously question the likes of KDB [will be 31 by end of ban] and Aguero as it essentially rules out him ever winning the CL while playing at his peak.

    I didn’t see it before but can seriously see it paving the way for Aguero’s exit this summer. Wouldn’t surprise us to see them go after Haaland or Werner as a replacement.

  88. Northbanker

    I would love to see Grealish here but can’t se us paying £60m or so for him. Far too many interested clubs and it will be an auction – which is only good news if you’re the seller

  89. WengerEagle

    As for this summer, would love us to phase out the likes of Xhaka, Kola, Mustafi and bring in a couple of midfielders, centrally and out wide.

    We really ought to be selling Lacazette at this stage as he’s just stunting the growth of Martinelli who has unbelievable potential and ceiling. Reinvest the 25-30m we’d still get for him into the midfield.

  90. TR7

    Countinho was never irreplaceable for Liverpool. Except for his last season at Liverpool, he was little more than a dead ball player. Barca massively overpaid for him. I always thought Mane was a more important figure for Liverpool than Coutinho.

  91. Paulinho

    “That said, we need more press-resistant midfielders and line breakers who can dribble.”

    Yep, that’s why our whole midfield needs to be binned off. I like Torreira but he needs to find another gear to if doesn’t want to keep getting dropped for games like yesterday against lower blocks.

    City don’t need to do that type of chopping and changing. Multi-dimensional players that can adapt in-game to different challenges.

  92. WengerEagle

    Tomorrow is bound to be blockbuster in Dortmund.

    The two best youngsters on the planet in M’Bappe and Sancho. Both teams have the potential to put 3-4 goals past each other so expect a tepid 0-0!

    In all seriousness should be exciting, Neymar for all his characters faults is must not miss viewing and he’s pretty much in top form again after his injury. Dortmund’s frontline look scary with the added edge that Haland gives them up top.

  93. Romford Pele

    “Yep, that’s why our whole midfield needs to be binned off. I like Torreira but he needs to find another gear to if doesn’t want to keep getting dropped for games like yesterday against lower blocks.”

    Yes while I love him defensively, he needs to be more progressive with the ball at his feet. ultimately his lack of size and adaptability might cost him.

    “City don’t need to do that type of chopping and changing. Multi-dimensional players that can adapt in-game to different challenges.”

    This is true. You see Gundogan, Bernardo, Fernandinho, Rodri, KDB, Foden etc. They all do a bit of everything.

  94. Romford Pele

    Need a Neymar masterclass tomorrow. That PSG move was the dumbest career choice. MSN was virtually indestructible and his move broke that up. Barca would have at least one more CL if not for that move. He’s 28 now so needs to get back on his bike asap.

  95. Emiratesstroller

    CG

    I think that you are entirely wrong if you think that Manchester City is a busted flush, because FIFA believe that a large chunk of the sponsorship money is just a front for the Abu Dhabi Sovereign Fund or Royal Family.

    For a start Abu Dhabi has made a massive investment not just in the Football
    Club but in Manchester as well. They are not going to walk away from their investment.

    Second you are not talking about Russian Gangsters. Abu Dhabi Sovereign
    Fund and Royal Family are serious global investors and will cause FIFA a lot of grief if they take them on in the Courts. They are considerably more powerful than either Real Madrid or Barcelona who have got away with blue murder.

    Most likely they will come to a compromise with Man City sitting out from Champions League for a year. Guardiola and most of the players are not going
    to leave. They are under contract.

  96. WengerEagle

    RP

    Yeah agree and the funny thing is that he’ll probably end up back there either this summer or the next, they’ll have missed 3-4 years of his prime.

    Barcelona are absolutely dreadful to watch these days, saw the Getafe match at the weekend and they were fortunate to edge it. Messi is working with practically nothing as Griezmann is a pale imitation of his Atleti form and Fati is literally a child.

    As soon as Suarez went down their season was KO’d. Real will win the league and they’ll get brutalised in the CL by a Liverpool/PSG/Citeh.

    They’re in a terrible state, since they won the treble in 2015 they’ve done basically everything wrong and haphazardly. Sold their elite future in Neymar and have outspent literally everyone in Europe barring Citeh including nearly 300m on two players in Coutinho and Dembele that don’t even contribute and are still on the books.

    La Masia is looking dystopic and Messi’s clock just keeps ticking on, panic stations ought to be kicking in soon enough.

  97. WengerEagle

    Shoutout to Nic Pepe, was quality yesterday. Still blows too hot and cold but if we can extract that kind of showing from him more regularly, he’s such a dangerous weapon to have with his directness and nose for goal to go with his athleticism.

    He’s very much a confidence player, generally this type is liable to making you want to speed up the balding process.

    Opposite of Martinelli who will back himself against any opponent at age 18, invaluable that self-belief to go with natural ability. Bendtner 2.0 he is not lol.

  98. Paulinho

    WE – Interesting how the La Masia academy production line has dried up. Shows you can have whatever philosophy or coaching you want, without talent it means nothing.

    They’ve been forced to draft in the likes of FDJ and Arthur to bring some flair.

  99. WengerEagle

    Paulinho

    It is strange alright, I mean they had an amazing decade or so of production there with Xavi, Puyol and Iniesta emerging just before Messi and Pique/Fabregas the same age-group before Pedro and Busquets.

    You’d be hard-pushed to name a single top level player they have produced in well over 10 years aside from Sergi Roberto and even he’s marginal compared to those previous names.

    Just goes to show you that La Masia was never this mythical breeding ground for honing up and coming football elites, like many other clubs [Ajax, Manchester United, Bayern Munich at club level, Germany , Belgium and France at NT level in recent years] they just hit the goldmine with an extraordinary generation of talent with 3 of the best footballers of the last quarter century in their positions.

    As you say all that ethos, philosophy and coaching means nothing without the talent to take it all on board and reproduce it.

  100. WengerEagle

    Jadon Sancho in 20 Bundesliga apps this season:

    -13 goals [3rd]
    -13 assists. [2nd]
    -7.96 Whoscored rating [2nd in the entire league to only Lewandowski at 8.12], 3rd on list is Werner and Kostic with 7.67.
    -Joint top of key passes league wide [2.5 per game], 3rd for dribbles [2.7 per game].

    Guy is 19 years old, ridiculous ceiling.

  101. Northbanker

    General view on here that not a great performance v Newcastle even though great score. In some ways I take the opposite view as the fact was that Newcastle played really well in the first half and showed why they have taken so many points from the ‘big 6’

    That actually enhances the performance of Arsenal to have finished with a 4-0 win at the end. Newcastle were no mugs for long periods even though they’ll be disappointed with their defending (isn’t everyone who concedes?)

    Very rarely these days can you dominate a game for 90 minutes, considering the amount of spending by EPL clubs all the way down the league. Every club has danger players that can cause damage to anyone. We could not relax against the power of Saint Maxim even after 2-0 up and he very nearly pegged one back at that stage which would then most likely have changed the remainder of the game

    So all told the fact that we did struggle in the early game only makes the performance overall that much better knowing we’ve had a decent test out there – compared with a 4-0 cruise throughout, when quite simply you’d have been questioning the quality of the opposition and dismissing the result as an aberration.

  102. Highbury Upper East Block A

    Laca is pony. He offers nothing, if we can get 30m + for him it would be astonishing. The goal was comical, a Park player could have swept that home with the correct foot. It seems he is very popular though, so that is his one benefit to the team….team cohesion. As others have said on here Eddie offers far smarter movement and opens space up for others. That’s what football is about….and the result is 2 Eddie starts 2 wins. Pepe / Ozil, dani C all playing better. Auba doesn’t offer the same type of movement, he is more off the last man, so isn’t offering the same space opportunities to bring other players into affect the game.

  103. Highbury Upper East Block A

    In addition, as I’ve mentioned before Guen shouldn’t be anywhere near this team, his attitude, pace and technique aren’t all that, and this seems have played out now with the news coming out from Dubai, those that think a team can be built around him are sorely mistaken, I’d sell him for a decent bid for all day long long. Buendia is the player I’d move heaven and earth to sign.

  104. CG

    ES

    Man City are cheats.
    Everything they have done or from now on do will be associated with cheating.

    (Its a stain that cant be erased )

    They have lied, threatened and intimidated the authorities as well as their systematic financial doping.

    They will loose their case.
    Then there will be a fire sale of their best players.

    The consequence of them getting thrown out of the CL – will mean PSG will also turn off the spending taps.

    The transfer market will then stall, then ultimately collapse.
    It will just be Bosmans signings

    It’s a simple economic reality.

    We had the banking crisis.
    We will soon be witnessing the soccer transfer market crisis.

    (And to think our Dopes spent £100 000 000 on Pepe and Tierney last summer.)

    Absolute financial incompetence.

    (Our Wenger could see all this coming all along years ago.)

  105. Chris

    Would be amazing to see Saka and Tierney own our left side for years to come, Martinelli can then be the long term centre forward.

    It is far too simplistic to say sell Aubamyang and replace his output with goals form the midfield. Arsenal have a decision to make in the summer but the simple fact is replacing him directly will not be cheap, and bringing in players who can add goals from the midfield possibly not much cheaper.