Arsenal creativity found wanting again

by .

Arsenal took a defeat away at the Etihad in the first game back after the international break. There are no two ways about it, the result was disappointing, but probably not the disaster performance many are trying to paint.

Our truth right now is very similar to what it was last season under Mikel Arteta. We are well organized, we are resolute, and we’re tough to beat. We are… good at defending. Arteta wants to build a side based on strong foundations. He’s not far off cracking that code. Before yesterday, under Arteta, we were top 4 for total points since he took over. This is our best start in the league for 7 years.

… we are, however, a little bit shit going forward.

It doesn’t really seem to matter what combination the manager uses, we’re one dimensional. Arteta tried Willian in a false 9 role yesterday and it wasn’t very effective. Our front three weren’t really given much to work from. We tend to deliver one type of move and it’s not that hard to defend against. I think it’s fair to say that we attack with the handbrake on.

The hope was that we’d get runners in behind City’s centre backs yesterday like Leicester did but it didn’t really happen. We lacked ball speed when passing. Our attacking moves seemed almost over-rehearsed. We didn’t possess that extra 5% that comes with confidence. You don’t feel that we have the extra gear to kill a game when there’s blood in the water.

That might be a little unfair. We did have some good chances but we fluffed our lines. Bukayo Saka, having another excellent game, forced a brilliant shouldered save from Ederson. Nicolas Pepe didn’t do well with two pretty sound chances for headers. The opportunities were few and far between, but we really should be doing better with the pace and pedigree we have in the side.

I think Pepe will look back and be disappointed with how he played. He was very meek again. His passivity is infuriating to watch and his pressing is very hit or miss. Quite often, it looks like he’d prefer to be fouled than fight and beat a man. Willian also didn’t seem at the races, not what I was hoping for after dropping such a huge amount on his contract, he looks less settled than Gabriel.

There has to be a way around it. I’d be excited about ESR if he could stay fit for longer than 6 minutes. Having someone that can run with the ball and play in the pockets is what’s needed, but it’s quite a reach to think he’s bailing us out this season. Saka is great out on the left, I’m sure he could play through the middle, but you’d be teaching someone on the job which would require a steep learning curve. It is always tempting to think that Mesut Ozil is saving you here… but be real, our dismal away record isn’t going to be solved by someone that has bottled tough away games for 5 years at Arsenal. Wenger used to let him have days off. If you can’t commit behind the scenes, what makes anyone think he’ll do it on the pitch in a game like yesterday?

I think my biggest worry is that we sold the wrong keeper. The mistake we made for the goal was a catalogue of errors, I don’t doubt that. Bellerin and Luiz both have to do better in that situation. However, I find it difficult to look past Leno palming a shot like that right back into the feet of Sterling. This is now a pattern. He repeated the same thing about 10 minutes later. Emi Martinez was very much a catcher and he mostly palmed shots away from danger. The keeping coaches need to get on top of this issue because it’s starting to look like a tactical opportunity to shoot from distance against him.

Outside the goal, our defence was pretty good. David Luiz was originally dropped, then had to be called upon when Rob Holding tweaked his hamstring in the warm-up. It seemed like he was sulking a little bit. He’s a player that you can’t really drop because he takes it badly. I think this will become apparent as he transitions behind younger models this season. Also… stop indulging the garbage freekicks. He’s not a specialist.

It’s still early days in the so-called process. You can’t fix everything at the same time. We’re solid defensively, it is an objective fact that we did not get battered like we usually do in away games. That is a massive shift forward regardless of how offended your sensibilities are. It is an objective fact that we were still in that game right until the death. It is objective fact that when we were battered by them in June, we conceded 20 shots and yesterday and didn’t hit the target ourselves… yesterday, we limited them to 5 shots on target from 13 attempts. We had 11 attempts and 3 on target.

This is a process and things take time. Let’s see what a difference Thomas Partey will make to our midfield. Let’s see what happens when Willian settles and Saka grows in confidence and experience.

Things will get better. I want to get over the novelty of Arsenal being a competitive team, because we can’t be celebrating failure like this past January. We want to be the best, there’s no glory in losing, Arteta has to learn from these games and push the team forward… because this attacking conundrum has to be addressed with the players we have.

Onwards and upwards… we have a month to fix these problems against two more top teams. Let’s see what the coaching staff can do to make good on this result.

955 Responses to “Arsenal creativity found wanting again”

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  1. Champagne charlie

    Damford

    You claim it’s not you (I know, shocker), but when numerous posters make the same comments about your rhetoric on here what conclusion is more reasonable?

    That you’re a bit a of a pleb and lacking a lot of what makes a fan a fan, or that there’s a gathering of “hyper-tribalist” fans on here – by your personal definition alone no less?

    It’s just another example of your fault-less tendencies on here. ‘No, no, it’s not me, it’s the 15 others’

  2. salparadisenyc

    Agree Calypso Red needs a line of marching powder to hit those previous heights but the trademarks were there, notably his trolling Eagle with the La Liga table.

    Way too much daylight shown there.

  3. Kaz

    Bamford, the issue isn’t you, it’s like you said, you say things a few posters don’t like and they pick on you.

    But Pedro is going to support his boys (he removed all my side of the clash with CC)

    And it is Pedro’s blog. Though what I called CC is accurate and he is the main instigator of most the fights.

  4. Ernest Reed

    “We are all Arsenal fans here”

    There’s that comment of yours again, Bamford. There is absolutely no way in H-E-Double Toothpicks that you are an Arsenal fan, you spend more time maligning them than anything or anyone else. No one goes to the lengths that you do to try and prove what you clearly are not and never have been. Just stop already, it always invariably comes back to being all about you – what a misery you are. And oh yeah, cheers!

  5. WengerEagle

    Sal/Mid

    Must be a comfort to Unai to know that he still has one superfan over in these parts, even if it’s just literally one.

    He’ll never replace the love that man has for Ospina though. Would be almost sweet were he a child, the reality turns much more sinister when you learn Red’s actual age though, lol.

  6. Pedro

    No Kaz, the issue absolutely is Bamford. He gets into fights with everyone on here. I understand that you really like that word, but it’s not very tasteful. I have deleted CCs use of the word as well.

  7. Leftside

    Funny to see posters align with Dariano, car crash waiting to occur.

    If it has to be explained to you why Kaz why Dariano/Bamford/Pete Griffin isn’t flavour of the month here then your likely just as stupid and lacking self awareness as he does.

  8. MidwestGun

    Eagle-
    I knew it was Red 100% when he said “”Midwest just to enlighten you” , Red likes to enlighten me of stuff I already know. 😀 Anyhow.. to be honest I miss Red when he isn’t doing his routine, it doesn’t feel like Le Grove, somehow.

  9. Leftside

    A few posters? Idiotic again.

    Any actual Arsenal fan will take exception to what ever alter ego Bamford’s donning for the day says. It’s only the contrarians like you, Emery lover RH and Spuds are champions elect Dissenter who will come out to defend.

  10. Kaz

    Alright, I’ll stop my bishing.

    But I do like Bamford’s points. I’d never try to get someone else banned just because I clash with them.

    But it’s your blog.

  11. Luteo Guenreira

    “I’d never try to get someone else banned just because I clash with them.”

    Ironic to say this defending Bamford when one of his original calling cards was snitching on everyone and naming who should be banned according to his sensitivities.

  12. raptora

    Saint-Etienne manager Claude Puel is baffled by the treatment of the centre-half, who has been left out of Arsenal’s Europa League squad and may face the same exile from their Premier League squad.

    “It was short-term [thinking], even for a young player,” Puel told L’Equipe. “A superb player like William, to whom I wish the best, has not even made it to Arsenal’s Europa League squad. Where is the logic, if not financial?”

    I guess we’d owe Saint-Etienne money if Saliba was/is to play games this season? No way we are not going to play the boy and tamper his progress just to save a million or two? Right?

  13. Ernest Reed

    “I’d never try to get someone else banned just because I clash with them.”

    No one tries to do that Kaz, its just that he cant even save himself from himself.

  14. Pedro

    Kaz, there’s clashing over whether Ospina is the best keeper in the world… then there’s clashing because people fundamentally don’t believe you are a fan and that your posts are designed to troll the site.

  15. Moe

    Spurs tanked again and Mourinho is pissed as fuck…….all that happened yesterday is forgiven now. Can we all get along and laugh off the Spurs.

  16. Kaz

    Alright, you guys all have history I can only comment on the few months I’ve seen and what I’ve seen isn’t much.

    Back to footie then.

    I think Willian is a good player still despite what’s happening. He was never the sort to score and assist double figures but I think the tactics we are doing are making him lost.

    Let’s forget the Man City debacle, I can’t blame him there.

    He only comes to life when he gets runners around him which is the issue Ozil used to have. I don’t think flooding the flanks is working anymore and we need a lot more central runs from midfield.

    If Partey is right at the base will Arteta still insist on Xhaka? This is not a solution to the team as I say often enough.

    But I feel he will continue to play Xhaka so how are we able to get the best of our attack?

  17. prvhc

    Pedro, it’s time you started selling ‘Make Arsenal Great Again’ hats on the website. Arteta IS the Great Spanish hope.

  18. Marko

    There’s a 22-year-old in Ghana who loves football and who has just decided to become an Arsenal fan because he loves Thomas Partey. If next season he begins to comment here, what are you going to tell him, “hey kid, you’re not a real fan because you didn’t come to be a fan in the same way I did”?

    That lad right off the bat will be a better Arsenal fan than bamford. Easily

  19. MidwestGun

    Great Hope? Maybe, but what is the alternative though? Bin off Arteta now or halfway through season for not playing beautiful football. Bring in some other manager who might not like any of the players we just signed and will want another transfer window and more money and may not have any interest or history whatsoever with Arsenal other then salary. .

    Also making 4 manager tries in less then 2 years? So yeah he is our best hope. And he will get some leniency because he is young.. By definition when you bring in a first time manager you know their will be growing pains.,. part of the deal. Emery was not new and everyone had high expectations because of that , hence why also it is not the the same situation which seems to pass some people by.. although it would seem fairly obvious Arteta has not been here for 20 years and stagnating so the AKB comparisons fall very flat for me.

    Pretty simple we need him to be successful otherwise more misery. Will I support him blindly no but.. . I prefer success..,so don’t give much time to dumb agendas like defending Emery’s honor or Wenger’s for that matter. Or whether our squad quality is this or that in the power rankings. . You can always improve squad quality no matter what it is.

    As for fandom.. All I know is if you went to some other team fan blog and started betting everyone on it against your own team doing well and ranking nearly every other side in the Premier league higher against your own .. I doubt you would last long.

  20. Pedro

    Midwest, the reality is that if we had the players to play like Liverpool or City, that’s how we’d play. No manager has arsenal playing sexy football that is effective

  21. Pedro

    Midwest, the reality is that if we had the players to play like Liverpool or City, that’s how we’d play. No manager has arsenal playing sexy football that is effective

  22. DivineSherlock

    The viewpoint on here oscillates so much on match by match basis , insane. We all can watch the same football match and draw out different conclusions . I guess sport truly is art in a physical form.

  23. Thorough

    AFC Forever.
    That’s exactly my fear – that Arteta may not get us to the promised land. He’s been here all of 1 year and he’s made numerous baffling decisions.
    – Keeping Aubameyang on the wings.
    – Playing Williams everywhere except in the hole behind the striker. (Played him there second half against Sheffield and those were his best minutes in an AFC jersey. Then he reverted back to type by finding an even more ridiculous role for him just 1 game after).
    – Letting Martinelli go. (Surely if we’re paying William 150 we can afford to match Villa’s offer for Martinez and promise him he has the number 1 jersey until he loses it.)
    – Playing Saka in defence. (That boy dribbles well, he’s probably the best crosser of the ball in the whole team, he can spot a pass, etc, Saka has no business playing in defence ffs. We have Tierney, Maitland Niles and the ex Southampton guy to play left back/left wing back ffs)
    – Ignoring Martinelli (He was the player to give way when Luiz got a read at Stamford Bridge, till Xhaka stopped him. This was a match we were going to need players who could counter attack because we were gonna be playing with our backs to the wall for 60 minutes or more. The boy scored a blinder and had an amazing game. But that was his highlight last year. He started putting him on the bench and didn’t even include him in a match day squad before his injury, preferring poorer players like Reece and Nketiah.)
    – Keeping Saliba out of Europa (don’t even get me started on this).

    The list is endless but the underlining fact is he’s getting too many things wrong, he’s overcomplicating simple issues. Look at Ancelloti, bought 3 players that he needed and inserted them into his first 11 from Day 1 and they’re going great. Basic stuffs. Everybody plays in their best position. If James Rodriguez was with Arsenal he probably would be playing False 9 or right wing back.

  24. Receding Hairline

    “No manager has Arsenal playing sexy football that is effective*

    This wasn’t the message a few months ago, when did you realize this? Isn’t this squad poverty pleaded in disguise?

    Besides it’s a false statement, we can play much better football than we have played this season…

  25. Rich

    Pedro

    Ease up, you’re starting to sound like me, recognising we lack the quality, craft, guile, flair and creativity to play anything more expressive, and the issues we face aren’t coaching or tactical ones.

    At this rate, by Xmas lunch time, I’ll have you wearing a MAGA hat, turning on the basket cases De Blasio and Khan, joining the Conservative Party, and cheering on a no deal Brexit.

  26. Ishola70

    Midwest Gun

    “Emery was not new and everyone had high expectations because of that , hence why also it is not the the same situation which seems to pass some people by”

    We are not here Middie to be a guinea pig experiment for a supposedly up and coming manager. It’s Arsenal Football Club.

    This rhetoric is very dangerous. It gives out that Arsenal can continue to be the also rans as far as the top end and CL is concerned for yet more coming seasons just because we have a young manager and things might come good in a few years.

    Arteta knows himself that he wasn’t employed with favours attached relating to his inexperience. He knows he has to succeed and suceed quickly hence his statement that looks a bit ludicrous of being CL winners in three seasons. Still the sentiment is there to suceed at the higher end.

    This isn’t aimed specifically at you Middie but generally the lowering of the bar from so many on here from when Emery took over from Wenger has been quite pathetic. Sad to see really.

  27. Ishola70

    If Arteta is too inexperienced and needs time several seasons to deliver just even CL qualification then he was the wrong hire.

    People have to have confidence that he can deliver top four or there is something seriously wrong.

    It’s gone from expectation of CL qualification when Emery first took over to now just a shrug of the shoulders and almost no expectation of it. In just under one and a half seasons. One and a half seasons.!!!!!

    You won’t to get onto Arsenal FC and asks them what is going on because they are downscaling this club in quick time before your very eyes such is the lowering of the bar now from so many in such a short space of time.

    And there becomes this acceptance of it. Sleepwalking into mediocrity with a domestic cup win here and there as compensation.

  28. SuperRob

    ‘ And you’re apparently willing to pretend that he isn’t a very limited footballer — he definitely is — to defend this dream of yours. That’s weird. Sorry.’

    Damford it’s really really weird that an arsenal supporter wants one of their own to succeed. It’s not like he’s making up the numbers, he’s scored goals at every level and had broke the England u21 scoring record held by Shearer (heard of him?), it’s almost like you think a player is the finished article at 21.

    There’s a thing called development and it takes time. You’re so clueless it’s painful to read and sad at the same time.

  29. Captain Tierney

    Read the latest Martinez interview.
    The club offered him a new contract and Arteta asked him to stay but he had made up his mind and left on his own accord.

    Find something new to moan about now.

  30. Captain Tierney

    Fofana apparently had a great game yesterday.
    And it was widely believed that Saliba was the superior player of the 2 at St. Etienne.
    Surely he should get a chance in the cup games.

  31. Ishola70

    Leno has flaws in his game as well as attributes.

    When fans can come to terms with this we can all move on although this might be difficult as some on here throw the toys out whenever he is criticised.

    He’ll be criticised like any other player and yes a GK came in and deputised that highlighted some of Leno’s weaknesses.

  32. Pierre

    For years , on Le Grove we had so called Arsenal fans slaughtering Wenger and the team on a daily basis , with some even refusing to celebrate our FA cup victories, and those that did would belittle the achievements.

    The insults and abuse that was aimed at anyone who tried to give a positive and balanced view on the manager and players was disgusting ..

    I get it now when I give my opinion on the Ozil situation.

    What Bamford is saying now is nothing in comparison to the filth that was aimed at Wenger…

    Reeks of double standards to me .

    Yes, he’s a bit of a dick..but then so is marc, charlie, luteo, jamie , Tony and the rest who continually mock posters who have a different view to them.

    They need to move on from the school playground mentality and grow up …..

  33. Captain Tierney

    Leno has flaws in his game as well as attributes.

    When fans can come to terms with this we can all move on although this might be difficult as some on here try to find reasons to criticize him whatever he does.

  34. Ishola70

    Captain Tierney

    Leno will be under the microscope more now after Martinez came in and did that good job of deputising for him. More than before. Many fans were happy to see Martinez continue as No.1.

    It’s something you are going to have to deal with I’m afraid.

  35. Ishola70

    I’m beginning to think that the Arteta hire was a very clever move from the Kroenke’s.

    That’s not to say that Arteta won’t succeed in an acceptable time period but what it has undoubtedly done is made many of the fans less demanding.

    Clever move from them.

  36. Tom

    “Fofana apparently had a great game yesterday.
    And it was widely believed that Saliba was the superior player of the 2 at St. Etienne.
    Surely he should get a chance in the cup games.”

    CT
    He played well, I wouldn’t say great but definitely didn’t look out of place against Villa who weren’t too adventurous going forward.
    As someone who hasn’t criticized Arteta on this front I would still give him a pass considering he’s already inserted one new CB into the squad.
    However, I’m beginning to feel the Saliba decision was based more on finances than anything else. Kinda like Ozil’s.

  37. Rich

    Ishola

    We’re not sleepwalking into mediocrity, we’re already there, and have been for a long time.

    Our squad has been poorly constructed, we’ve got 31 first team squad players, 3 out on loan and two we can’t register.

    The only consistent creator we have is Saka, but we have to remember the lad is still only 19.

    Our squad lacks anything resembling dynamism, our centre half’s are bang average, our central midfield outside of Ceballos, who last season was settling in, is below average, it’s so one paced.

    Maybe Partey will address some of that issue? But after the amount of signings we’ve got horribly wrong, Partey simply has to work, he has to be an upgrade that hits the ground running, and adds some energy, drive and dynamism to the middle of the park.

    It’s not just the big 6 now, the PL before the pandemic was awash with cash, and other teams now have brilliantly assembled squads.

    We need to clock more points than last season, and see some progress, but if you think top 4 is a given? Then I think you’re massively overrating the quality and particularly the creativity in our squad, and massively underrating the quality elsewhere in the league.

    Everyone’s criticising Lampard + Chelsea after the money they’ve spent, but building cohesion in a team doesn’t happen overnight, they’ve spent well, but a return on that investment might take half a season.

    Far too many people have no idea how teams are built and assembled.

    2 years ago the narrative was Klopp was he was defensively naive, he then spent £80mill on a PL ready centre half in his peak, £70mill on a goalKeeper, got a couple of midfielders, had time to work with his full backs, and now their one of the two best in Europe.

    Guardiola had months to plan his arrival, inherited the most expensively assembled squad in history, spent £200mill, and finished 3rd, then spent another £180mill, then another €65mill on a centre half in the Jan, to win his first title, he’s spent over £400+ mill on defenders, and he’s still labelled a genius?

    You don’t go from where we where when Arteta took over, and the car crash squad he inherited to playing high octane attacking football within a year.

    A midfield consisting of Xhaka, Torreira, Guendouzi, Ozil, isn’t designed to play that way, maybe a settled Ceballos, and Partey, will give us the quality we’ve lacked? But our defenders are still average, and outside of Saka, nobody creates consistently, that’s not a coaching issue, that’s a squad balance and poor recruitment issue.

  38. Graham62

    Over the past few weeks there has been a great deal of debate on here in respects to our GK situation( predicament) and the consequences of losing a major cog in the workings of our team.

    Some on here see this all as a minor detail, something that is really not that significant in the greater scheme of things “we have more important issues to sort out”.

    Let’s look at Liverpool. Without Allison in goal, they have been leaking goals. They look more vulnerable defensively and the consequences of having an indecisive GK in goal is there for all to see. I’m sure if you went up to Mo Salah or Sadio Mane and asked them who they’d prefer in goal, Adrian or Allison, they’d give a very clear answer.

    The psychological aspect on the team of having a top GK between the sticks is massive. You relax for one thing and you can focus on doing the things that you’re supposed to do. Looking back and seeing a weakness in the ranks is decisive at any level of the game and I’m afraid having Leno in goal is not the way forward.

    Since Martinez has left we have not been the same team, that is obvious to everyone and although we need creativity to progress, we most definitely need a better option than Leno in goal.

    We had someone but unfortunately we let him go.

    Never mind.

  39. Ishola70

    Rich

    “You don’t go from where we where when Arteta took over, and the car crash squad ”

    The car crash squad that finished just a couple of points away from top four just under one and a half seasons ago in Emery’s first season.

    You are going to have to give a more detailed time scale here of when the squad became “car-crash”. Overnight “car-crash” was it?

  40. Francis+Martinos

    I agree with you about Leno being always sloppy with hands. I will say it again, since we bought Leno he has not overcome his inability to grip balls tightly and party away shots safely. This were issues highlighted when we bought him and is still with him. It shows he hasn’t developed or cannot develop beyond this. Let’s not forget he aerial balls.

    Secondly, his distribution is also another issue. He’s not convincing with the ball at his feet. Whether it’s a goal kick, playing from the back to our full backs or passing through the middle, he isn’t confident through the middle and when he goes sideways to Bellerin and Tierney, is always beyond the pitch.

    I watched Martinez yesterday and it’s easy to see that he’s playing balls out of the back – thought the middle, sideways or laughing it to the opposition half. You can see his trajectory is boundless.

    We goofed on the goalkeeping choice and I hope these mistakes don’t repeat itself.

    But I have a suggestion to assist the situation with Leno. Arteta has to instruct all players to always run towards our goal when we have a shot on target. They shouldn’t be in a rush not to put opposition players (the one likely to hit the rebound) onside.

    We have to swallow our pride and implement this game plan.

  41. Francis+Martinos

    I agree with you about Leno being sloppy with hands. I will say it again, since we bought Leno he has not overcome his inability to grip balls tightly and parry away shots to safety. These were issues highlighted when we bought him and is still with him. It shows he hasn’t developed or cannot develop beyond this. Let’s not forget his difficulty with crosses into the box.

    Secondly, his distribution is also another issue. He’s not convincing with the ball at his feet. Whether it’s a goal kick, playing from the back to our full backs or passing through the middle. He isn’t confident through the middle and when he goes sideways to Bellerin and Tierney, is always beyond the pitch.

    I watched Martinez yesterday and it’s easy to see that he’s playing balls out of the back – thought the middle, sideways or launching it to the opposition half. You can see his trajectory is boundless.

    We goofed on the goalkeeping choice and I hope these mistakes don’t repeat itself.

    But I have a suggestion to assist the situation with Leno. Arteta has to instruct all players to always run towards our goal (or towards where Leno parries the shot to) when we have a shot on target. They shouldn’t be in a rush not to put opposition players (the one likely to hit the rebound) onside.

    We have to swallow our pride and implement this game plan.

  42. Graham62

    Our game plan was working with Martinez in goal because he dealt with things positively.

    I have also gave a suggestion to assist the situation with Leno. If he continues to show the frailties you highlight, bin him.

    Get Runarsson in and give him a go.

  43. Captain Tierney

    Tom

    I cant understand how its a financial decisions. He is on relatively lower wages.

    Ish

    Leno is weaker than Martinez in certain areas of his game. Agreed. But some on here (including you I believe) go to great lengths to point out any little mistake he makes while COMPLETELY overlooking the positives he brings to the team.
    For starters- He is probably the best shot stopper in the league and makes world class saves week in week out. Eg. Leno made two top quality saves to keep us in the game yesterday, but I havent seen anyone mention that anywhere. All I see is Leno should have done better with the goal. Maybe he should have but its not like he had even a second to think about the trajectory of the ball after he parries it away. It was a reflex to just keep the ball out of the net.

    The sooner we accept the fact that Martinez has left ( on his own accord) and Leno is going to be our No 1 the better it will be for everyone. Honest criticism is okay but its turning bad now. Id rather root for him than pull him down.