Big moments against big teams. Don’t knock ’em

by .

Ok, so I can write the post that I wouldn’t have dared if we’d have lost that 5-0.

That was a game I suspect neither manager really wanted to win. This season is jam-packed with games. Players need fresh legs, the League Cup is not a priority for anyone in the Premier League, particularly with the covid-fixture pile-up.

Arteta put out a starting 11 that was uninspired. Lots of players that are struggling for form, some that will be sold, and some that we haven’t seen this season. With that in mind, we weren’t that bad. We put in another fairly dogged defensive performance, we asked different questions of Liverpool tactically, and we eventually ground out a win via shootout.

The second half was more positive than the first. We found the front three a little more often, but they all seemed 0.5 seconds off the pace. Still, you can’t say we didn’t have a go and you also can’t deny that even the second team fights to the death… not something that was true of Wenger’s latter year League Cup sides. Dissenter in the comments made the point that we had a doubleheader against City a few years ago and we couldn’t muster a response in the second game. We found one today. Also worth contrasting that this same game last year was a 10 goal thriller. 0-0 is a sign of the times, it’s the vision of a backroom team that prioritizes defence over attack. I don’t hate that.

As Roy Keane said the other day, the most important statistic is the score. The hero keeping that respectable? Bernd Leno.

I AM SORRY FOR DOUBTING YOU.

He made a thrilling save in the first half from Jota that spilt into the danger area, the bar rattled hard with the Minamino follow-up. Palming the ball into danger seems like a new thing from him this season. I (you as well) was a bit worried about him going into half time.

WHO WERE WE TO SPEAK ILL OF THE GERMAN KING?

His second-half performance was fucking fabulous. His low save from a swept VVD shot was magic. He tipped over a looping header where he switched hands mid-air. He was first to everything. He was a HERO.

I’ll say this aloud: EMI WHO?

One for the records: I don’t think we’ll see a lot of Runar this season.

We also need to have a conversation about Nicolas Pepe. It’s really not working out, is it? There seems to be two things going on, firstly, he’s not at the level you’d expect for a winger in season two. He slows the play. His first instinct is to cut the ball back (remember Wiltord used to do that?). Forward locomotion feels like a rarity. He’s also very weak, which means any sort of tussle leaves him on the floor. Second, he doesn’t look like he really cares. He has the same body language issues as Mesut Ozil. That game yesterday was a disaster class the likes of which you don’t expect of someone with that level of finance behind him. Very worrying. Really, quite unbelievable we gave someone £72m for him, glad that person is no longer here.

Joe Willock had some bright moments, but overall, I’m not sure he moved the needle. Mo Elneny still looking like a starter above him.

Cedric looks quite efficient going forward, I think he likely has the best delivery on the right and he certainly still has pace.

Eddie was fairly quiet, but the service wasn’t really there. Saka had a good game, slotting in all over the pitch. I love that his instinct is always forward, he’s the opposite of Pepe. He really is going to be some player. Again, it’s the players that didn’t start that matter: No Reiss against a team he scored 2 against last season.

The penalties were really good. Mo Elneny missed his. But Bernd managed two super saves denying Wilson and Origi. AMN finished like an ice-cold killer, as per usual. Laca, Cedric and Pepe all finished well. Then Willock finished the game off with a shot that narrowly squeezed under the glove of Adrian.

So the most important stat of the night? A victory at Anfield. The second most important? A clean sheet because of a worldie performance from a keeper under pressure. Get this, Leno is the first Arsenal keeper since 2012 to keep a clean sheet at Anfield. That keeper? Vito Mannone.

So what have we learned?

Well, Arteta is very much aware that we’re in desperate need of a creative midfielder. First or second team, it doesn’t matter the configuration, we’re not creative unless we’re leaking goals. Folk peddling the idea that the club doesn’t know where the squad is weak are waaaay off base. Arsenal are gunning very hard at the problem, so hopefully, we’ll hear good news. My worry is that even if we do land Aouar, is that enough? 5 years ago we had too many creative technicians, now we don’t have a single suitable player that can do the job. What happens if the one signing tears their ACL? Bland. That’s what happens.

It’s worth remembering that we’re still massively hamstrung by the terrible way Arsenal managed transfers over the past decade, the rebuild given the situation and ongoing moment is probably going to be slower than we hoped. The challenge we’re having is that all the clubs in Europe; who also have financial issues, know we want to clear deadwood. They are lowballing us. All of them looking for cut-price deals. Again, this is a legacy issue, not an Edu problem (mostly). At least a chunk of that problem is out of contract next June.

Though our creativity wasn’t elite, there was a clear shift in tactics to give us more opportunity to get the ball in Liverpool’s half, Klopp acknowledged as much after the game. We explored the right as much as the left, our lack of shots on goal felt the result of a lack of killer instinct just as much as our limited ambition with final third passing. There needs to be serious solve though, otherwise, this season is going to be laborious and very imprecise when we attack.

We also learned that William Saliba is not going to be the starting hero everyone had hoped for. Again, I am glad we signed him, he’ll hopefully be a star, but looking back to last summer, our overspending on a player that won’t be ready until next season seems quite mad considering what our squad still lacks (£100m outlay on two players still not ready is so bad). Arteta says he’ll have a transitional year with us to get fit, mentally right, and to adapt to the power and pace of the beastliest league in the world. Also worth remembering that there are about zero 19-year-olds killing it at centre back at top clubs in Europe.

I found some of the bitching about the lack of sexy football a little hard to digest. We have a clear identity with the players we have at the moment, it’s version 1.0, but it’s necessary and it will evolve (switching formations in-game seemed like a new move last night). We don’t have the squad to play expansive football, so we don’t. Arteta wants to win more than he wants to entertain, so we are a side that has been remade to be able to defend and attack in a very structured way. Someone in the comments was reminiscing about the Wenger days mid-game. Incredible that anyone would want to go back to years of Glorious Failure with big teams lining up to spank us with ease. 8 years of being absolutely pathetic, so bad teams would give us the ball so they could bully us off it and score. This season will be about pragmatic football if we don’t land the players Arteta needs to play expansive football. Arteta wants to win games, he’s not here for the purists, he’s here for the Champions League places and he’s built a system that he thinks can nick wins and keep clean sheets. This is a 1-0 to the Arsenal kind of year I’m afraid.

Yesterday wasn’t winning any awards for aesthetics, but that was Liverpool, they are better than us on every level top to bottom, and we delivered the performance needed to beat them. The third time in four games to be precise, even better when you consider the brutality of the weekend. We did it with a team that was less than ideal in a competition that is the lowest on the Arsenal priority list. Majority of the coaching staff focus will have been on winning this Sunday. The club desperately wants to go into the international break in the top 4. That is the #1 focus of this season. Getting back into the Champions League so we can afford a summer richer than Leeds United next year.

Regardless of the focus, that was a GREAT night for the process.

Winning breeds winning. Beating great teams is good for momentum. Crushing penalty shootouts is excellent for team bonding. Last night was a good night. If you can’t enjoy beating the best in the game, why bother?

P.S. Huge LOLz that we drew City in the next round. We are cursed with cup draws at the moment. City, Chelsea, Leicester, Liverpool, now City again. Still, you have to beat the best if you want to bring home trophies. Might as well start early.

1,096 Responses to “Big moments against big teams. Don’t knock ’em”

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  1. Tom

    “You can question James’ mobility and how hard he works at times, but you can’t question his technique “
    said the dude on the tv broadcast…….sound like anyone we might have on Arsenal?!?!

  2. GunnerDNA

    CC,

    “GunnerDNA Are you really going to talk bollocks about match going when you’ve likely never set foot in the fucking city of London?”

    You’re super irrelevant but if you want us to flex, I might just do it. What’s your IG kid? I date more woman and sleep in some of the best hotels in London than you ever did. I’m not the one, because you can’t even keep it real on a faceless blog. Drop that IG because if you know London I can’t lie about flexing in your CIty 🚮

  3. Ishola70

    Everton, Leicester and Chelsea all look like they can outscore Arsenal this season.

    Plenty of goals are important in EPL.

  4. Dissenter

    Marc
    Yes Raul did those things
    …he also spent £100 million on players that aren’t good enough to start
    The good, the bad and then the ugly I guess

  5. Marc

    The scariest and most shocking thing about our management at the moment is that they’ve actually managed to get us in a situation where an injury to Xhaka would be a massive issue.

  6. CG

    22 Everton goals and counting in their last 6 games.

    Unfortunately he smokes and his training regime is to dull for The Arsenal.

    Arteta is the modern trendy type. He gives the players homework

  7. Tom

    “Do you genuinely believe Ozil is out of the team for football reasons or breaching one of the ‘non
    negotiables?”

    No

  8. Batistuta

    Man can Everton not score again and not mess up my ACCA

    Brilliant team they’ve got and still got likes of Delph and Iwobi to call from the bench. They’ve also not got Europe so there’s that too. James is such a beautiful man and footballer too

  9. Ishola70

    Tom
    “You can question James’ mobility and how hard he works at times, but you can’t question his technique “
    said the dude on the tv broadcast…….sound like anyone we might have on Arsenal?!?!

    You forgot the most important aspect.

    Hunger.

    James Rodriguez looks hungry at the beginning of his EPL career.

    Ozil had been prancing around with no real hunger. Half hunger at best.

  10. Dissenter

    Last season it was only Leicester disrupting the top-6
    This season, add Everton to that list.
    They have a world class manager who understands the English game, may have a 20-goal season striker and James Rodriguez.
    They will definitely finish with 15-25 points more that they earned last season. Will that be enough to a CL spot?

  11. Marc

    Dissenter

    Saliba was always one for the future and I have issues with loaning him out when we should be easing him into English football in the Cups. As for Pepe what happened to the amazing sauce that Arteta can coach improvement into players?

  12. Kaz

    Hmmm.

    Arsenal doing an Arsenal this transfer window. Calm down people. You know we’re traditional last day movers.

    We sold a very good keeper but bought a very good defender. Sideways move.

    The rest so far is very poor but to be expected, it is us after all.

    We are all guilty of letting ourselves believe and have hope.

  13. Karsa

    By 2300 Monday if we don’t have a vastly improved midfield the criticism will be fair.

    If we do have a vastly improved midfield there will be many who will look pretty silly.

    It’s two days. Chill out.

    There will be plenty of time for recriminations or apologies next week.

  14. G8

    Merseyside derby would be interesting this year
    Pickfool is the only weak link in Carlo’s first 11
    Dacoure has made big difference to their midfield and James is a joy to watch
    Carabo cup for Walcott now!

  15. Victorious

    Tee

    Calling Arsenal FC banter fc while you were defending the same shit during the reign of Wenger shows the double standard in your reasoning’

    Looks like you’re just another one with a Wenger obsession,very sad for you

    Look here I’m not going to be talking about a manager who made the club one of the greatest in the world and had since bowed out in glory in a summer where we’re been absolutely run ragged and bent over by literally any club we contact for any kind of deal

    We’re having our worse transfer in history and folk wants to talk about Wenger? Goodness me!

  16. Batistuta

    As much as we all love how pragmatism has gotten us results, we’ll be in trouble if we don’t find a way to create more chances moving forward.

    Now that we’re not bringing anyone in I’d hope Arteta finds a way, we can’t keep barely creating any chances and being full on pragmatists, won’t work all season

  17. Bamford10

    DNA

    Love it. Good work, sir. Note that Charlie didn’t even try to deny that he lied about being a season ticket holder.

  18. GunnerDNA

    CC,

    “So Banford is about power rankings and GunnerDNA is about Instagram flexing 😂😂”

    You posting laughing emoji now to cop plea after I’m ready to prove that you’re talking trash. You can’t bully me on the internet, you can try that with RH and Bam but not me. I know you was hot air 😂😂

  19. Marko

    You’re super irrelevant but if you want us to flex, I might just do it. What’s your IG kid? I date more woman and sleep in some of the best hotels in London than you ever did.

    God knows I’ve had my share of arguments with Charles over the years and yeah I’ll admit that I think he’s a bit of a dickhead big whoop but that right there is one of the cringiest most pathetic things I’ve ever read on here.

    Yeah lad drop me your instagram so I can prove something. Fucking embarrassing

  20. TR7

    Let us wait 2 more days before we lose our shit. Both Ornstein and Fabrizio have said we have our back up options to Auoar and Partey.

  21. Champagne charlie

    Banford

    I’m not you, I’ll never be so insecure about myself to duel with strangers on the internet beyond idle football chat.

    You can download Venmo and all other manner of apps to help your journey of self actualisation online however…..I’ll be over here amused by the psychosis 🙋🏻‍♂️

  22. Dissenter

    Marc
    Saliba was one for the future… surely not two years into the future.
    It would have been sheer malpractice for Raul to spend limited resources on players that aren’t premier league ready for TWO seasons at a time when funds were scarce.
    Raul got shafted by Gazidis bu he too shafted his successor.

    Most of the Saliba money as due this summer by the way.:To all those moaning at a lack of spending.

  23. London gunner

    “You’re super irrelevant but if you want us to flex, I might just do it. What’s your IG kid? I date more woman and sleep in some of the best hotels in London than you ever did. I’m not the one, because you can’t even keep it real on a faceless blog. Drop that IG because if you know London I can’t lie about flexing in your CIty”

    This screams of insecurity.

  24. Marko

    Can’t deny it’s content though. I laughed my ass off reading it! It’s golden!

    I would have laughed too only he’s being fucking serious

  25. Pedro

    GunnerDNA, back out of your usual hibernation after we win I see.

    Welcome back. I look forward to hearing more of those worries you were having about Arteta 60 mins into the League Cup game.

  26. Tom

    The inevitable Carlo/Mikel comparison as the season progresses……… both took over at the same time, both clubs in disarray.

  27. Thorough

    Buzzy.
    Rumours that we want Oscar on loan ..well and truly Banter fc if that happens.

    I’ll even prefer Partey and Oscar to Partey and Aouar. Partey’s decisive defensively, Oscar decisive goal wise. We must absolutely get Partey. That’s what I think.

  28. Mics_

    What a very arsenal window. At this point we can’t blame Raul, we can’t blame Emery, we can’t blame this shit on Wenger. This transfer window falls squarely on Arteta, Edu, the Kroenkes. We dithered and made joke bids for Aouar, tried to get them to take a devalued player instead of cash. It’s kind of embarrassing. As someone said above, the wisdom of completely alienating ozil and Guendouzi really has to be questioned. With Guendouzi at least, we’ve gone from having someone who could have brought in a significant amount of money to a toxic asset who’s unmoveable. I like some of what Arteta has done, but he shouldn’t be immune from the same scrutiny Emery and Wenger got.

  29. Useroz

    Norwich defender went for 25m who was at 10k and it’s argued we got no offers because Sok and Mustafi are on 90 and 100k pw. Not enough to explain how shot our negotiator is.

    90 or 100k pw is about 5m pa. or 15m over a 3 year contract. If.defender from a relegated team fetches 25m and he hasn’t been some wild top talent, we should still receive 10m offers for Sok and Mustafi, who are top 8 team defenders assuming no pay rise for them.

    Coupled with other sales some share on here, quite obvious what the problem is at the club. We have naive and inexperienced negotiators. Edu has no fucking track record being at best a Brazil national somebody. No wheeling and dealing. Doubt Arteta was involved in City. And add the kid Vinai who recruited Arteta! Any of us could have accomplished that. What a mess.

    Ultimately it’s still KSE and the Board that put clowns in key management positions. And they look like fucking it up in our first step to revival. Brilliant stuff.

  30. Captain Tierney

    Pedro vouching for Jorginho to not make Arteta look like a fool.
    This is not a step forward for the club. I’d rather Buendia.

    Ceballos is better player to have than Jorginho.