ARSENAL STUTTER TOWARDS BALANCE

by .

Don’t say it…

Don’t say it…

Don’t say it…

Don’t say it…

Don’t say it…

IT WAS A GAME OF TWO HALVES!

Yes. Yes it was.

A lot of Arsenal fans were furious at half time. We hit the target once from 7 shots. The football was slow and ponderous at times. It looked like the start of an episode of ‘oh wow, how did we botch that.’ I wasn’t too concerned. If we had last seasons Auba, he’d have finished 2 of his three good chances. If we have David Luiz of Chelsea, he’s hitting the target with his header.

The second half saw a different vibe. The passing kicked up a notch, our front four took control of the game and we started finding the target. Our break came shortly after Lacazette was denied by an elite save from Darlow.

Cedric defended a long ball by heading calmly to Lacazette just outside our box, he played in Partey who broke the press, moved left and curled a 40-yard pass into the path of Auba (fast release). Our out of form captain powered into the Newcastle box, he faked right and smashed home from 8 yards into the inside post.

Auba had the assist to the assistor for our second. He gave the ball to ESR who drove at Newcastle’s full-back, turning him inside out before passing to Saka who comfortably blasted across Darlow into the bottom corner. A thing of beauty.

Our third goal saw Saka with the pre-assist. Cedric did well to get on the end of it, he kept the ball in play by a whisker, but found Auba with deadly accuracy for the tap-in.

The game finished with another clean sheet. This time, we were able to finish them off in the 90.

So what did we learn?

Smith Rowe is starting to look like the real deal. There’s obviously a long way to go for him, he’ll still have to prove his fitness, and work his way out of an inevitable slump… but right now. Wow. What a great player he looks. There’s so much to like. His touch is sublime, he can receive the ball on the half-turn, and he has explosive pace combined with tight control. He has been ruthlessly efficient since he started his run and you feel he has the air of a player that is going to be a big deal.

Saka feels like a veteran in our side because he’s so consistent. He had another great game. He’s starting to impose himself in games. He has that weird knack of being a bit of a silent assassin on the pitch, he glides, like Pires… he doesn’t make mistakes, and he’s very patient. His stats are starting to reflect his importance in the side, that’s good news.

Our problems are now squarely sitting in midfield. We’re just never going to be an elite side with Granit Xhaka in the team. Sure, the second half was good, but it’s really difficult for me to get behind the long-term partnership of Partey and Xhaka. We shouldn’t have to have counter-weights for painful weaknesses. Granit did not have a bad game, his second half was nice, but against a proper team, you know he’ll be found wanting, or at least threatening to be found wanting.

That said, Thomas Partey is a fucking dream. I remember working in a factory when I was young. I thought the babes in there were true babes… then I’d head into London town and realise the truth. We’ve been looking at factory babes in midfield. Mo and Xhaka look sexy together when we have injuries, but put them in All Bar One in Fenchurch Street next to Thomas Partey in his Top Shop stilettos and you suddenly realise what you’ve been missing. He’s press resistant, his off the ball movement is elite, he defends, he releases fast, he can drive a team. 36 of his passes were FORWARD. We need to get him a partner like Bissouma so he can truly flourish.

I was starting to worry about Auba. He hasn’t looked the player he was last year. What did spur me on though was that he was missing chances, versus not being the right place to get them. He’s a top pro, he proved that in the second half when we saw a bit of the old Auba. Hopefully he’s found his shooting boots in time for our two HUGE games against United and Southampton. Let’s see…

Finally, a word for the defence. We’re the 4th best in the league now. When we could boast that last time, we weren’t able to attack. Now we have a solid foundation, and we’re having 20 attempts at the opposition goal. This is where we need to move to as a football team. Two or three additional players in the right posisitons that can offer us true quality in the final third and we’re cooking. Shout out to Cedric, he made a cheeky backheel I rated and his delivery was excellent. Also, big high gives to Holdinho, another solid game.

Last word goes to Lacazette who wiped snot off Willian’s face. That was to brotherly love, but also, very grim. Tissues next time.

Ok… now listen to my podcast. Johnny is back. It’s a cracker. Enjoy!

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654 Responses to “ARSENAL STUTTER TOWARDS BALANCE”

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  1. AFC Forever

    Time Up

    The defence is miles better under Arteta. Bringing in Tierney, Gabriel and Mari have been good decisions by the club. So too being patient with Holding he deserves the new contract. I said it before, these defenders stay on their feet, unlike Mustafi & many before them. They are composed on the ball and getting used to playing out at the back takes a bit of time. We arent soft any more and I don’t close my eyes at corners!

    In front of the much-improved defence, we have a better performing Xhaka and the beast that is Partey – plus Elneny doesn’t let us down.

    Our problem has been in the final third. Creativity dried up, there was no movement and Aubamayang lost confidence. This has improved. It drives me mad when you get the predictable blooocks like, ‘it’s only West Brom” (especially as they came off good results against Man City and Liverpool) whenever we win. Fact is, even Stevie Wonder and his dog could see we are playing better.

    We need a few more additions, a second ‘keeper, attacking mid but if we get Aubamayang back winning games who knows what is possible. Confidence is a massive part of the game. Anyway, it’s more fun acknowledging the positives, nom idea why some people are only interested in whining or talking us down. Arteta is doing a decent job, blips along the way, but there has definitely been an improvement.

    Unfortunately, this won’t be a popular comment on here.

  2. Dissenter

    Wenger Eagle
    I saw that…
    My prediction was based on an elite goal scoring partnership with the prospect of Gareth Bale coming from the bench.

    Gareth Bale is semi-retired and is only good for playing pranks on other players these days. That definitely limits their chances are to compete.

  3. Time Up

    The league between City and Liverpool. But, I’ll go for city because of Klopp doing Wenger and refusing to sign minimum of 1 defender, it should be 2.

    Even Papa would do a good short term job for him than the two average youngsters. ManU and Leicester are in false position.

  4. salparadisenyc

    City is a much easier title to swallow than Liverpool or United, Spurs isn’t even an option. No need to go into a hole that dark, thats like waking from a long slumber only to realize the missus was in full revenge mode and cut it right off.

  5. AFC Forever

    Yep man City are the best team in the league.

    Liverpool have proved just what a big miss Van Dijk is, they are a shadow of the team from last season.

    Spuds couldn’t win a raffle. 60 years since their last title; you need to have owned a black and white TV and walk with a stick to remember that phenomena. Not going to happen. They will fall apart, they always do. Maureen will piss someone off or poke the wrong person in the eye.

    Everton, lol. 5 points more than us after their flakey striker went on a bit of a streak and they’re the new Super heroes. Give me a break.

    We will finish top 6, I am sure of that. Top 4 needs a lot of luck along the way but it’s not impossible. Very unlikely, but not impossible.

  6. G8

    Top 4 and the season was already over when we lost at home to Leicester, villa, wolves, and Burnley
    It all started when Arteta celebrated that 1/0 loss away to city.
    That timid performance and lack of desire & fight to attempt or try to equalise or even play football set the tone for those defeats

    The defeats to Liverpool, Everton, spuds and the draws to saints and Leeds not great either, but acceptable!

    Anything we do now is to finish top half of the table!

    Arteta out!

  7. Time Up

    AFC,

    My issue with Arteta giving game time to the likes of Mustafi in the EL and not the future Saliba against some shop keepers part timers and meaningless LC.

    In game management, he has improved, but still not great.

    I like what I see lately and I have more trust with Edu at spotting talent and force them on Arteta.

  8. AFC Forever

    Sal, if Spuds won the Simod Cup again, some of the guys on here would be partying like it was 1999. I mean, they get to the Mickey Mouse Cup Final & all of a sudden Maureen is a genius. Beat Brentford for heavens sake. Man City will steamroll them.

    Dissenter, you need to accept that bigging Spurs up to win things is always going to end in a facepalm. Spuds can’t walk the talk. 60 years is just plain embarrassing.

  9. AFC Forever

    Time Up

    Saliba was a risk. He had a nasty injury and wasn’t able to get the game time he needed due to the pandemic closing down the French season. U20 football is no good, nor is sitting on the bench, he needed a proper run of games, which he will get now. With the emergence of Holding, Gabriel & Mari it’s no big deal. He’ll be ready to fight for a place next season when he will give us serious compertition.

  10. Dissenter

    AFC Forever
    I never “bigged” up spuds to win the title.
    All I said was that a team with two world class finishers [combined with Gareth Bale] would compete for the title in a tipsy-turvy season. I never imagined that Bale was utterly finished as a baller.
    Liverpool and City have been shellacked by lesser teams this season in that crazy environment even a team like spuds would be in the running.

  11. WengerEagle

    Sal

    I’m at half-mast here.

    Add in another wide forward ala a Mattheus Cunha/Oyarzabal type and we’d actually be one of the most entertaining teams to watch once again.

    Anguissa is likely gettable for 35m range if Fulham are relegated and Cunha/Oyarzabal a little more. 80m gets the job done and you could easily recoup that in player sales without even touching our actual budget albeit limited one that it will be.

  12. Dissenter

    Nah, just admit that Arteta got the Saliba decision wrong same way he and Edu effed up by signing Willian.
    Arteta is a manager learning his trade, no shame in admitting that. Every manager makes mistakes so he’s not alone.
    Don’t write epistles to explain away Arteta’s mistakes.

  13. WengerEagle

    Sell:

    Nketiah- 15m
    Nelson- 10m
    Toreirra- 15m
    Chambers- 10m
    Pepe- 25-30m

    That’s 80m in sales right there and we’re being conservative regarding others we should sell in Xhaka, AMN, Willock.

  14. WengerEagle

    Agreed Dissenter.

    Pepe for me has to be sold this summer before he depreciates any more. I reckon we could still snag close to 30m for him from a French or Italian club as of right now.

  15. WengerEagle

    Sal

    You’re a sucker for those Basque lads aren’t ye?

    Can’t blame you to be fair, Imanol has more sauce than Worcestershire HQ and Oyarzabal is one of the lead protagonists along with the ageless Silva.

    Closest you get to rubbing one out during a game is watching peak Imanolball this season in Spain.

  16. Bojanglesi

    AFC

    Me being a pessimist and a cynic, which go hand in hand, I admire your optimism. Just don’t see any way we get top 4 this season though. From where we are now I would take top 6 and call it job well done. Realistically top 8 seems the best we can expect.

    There hasn’t been a lot to cheer about this season. The only thing, other than us moving up the table, that would cheer me up is if un**ed and spuds went on a losing streak similar to the one we just came out of.

  17. AFC Forever

    “Nah, just admit that Arteta got the Saliba decision wrong ”

    Nah,he got it right. Lad needed to get proper match fit, couldn’t do that sitting on our bench. Arteta & his coaches looked at Holding, Gabriel & Mari who were ahead of him in terms of fitness & probably decided not worth the risk. .He had broken his foot but had minimal matches to get fit due to French season ending. If Arteta had played Saliba in our physical league & his injury reacted you would all be calling for Artetas head. I think Saliba will be a hell of a player. But we haven’t needed him, 5 clean sheets & Holding, Gabriel & Mari have been excellent.

    Arteta will have taken advice from the actual coaches and medical people he is surrounded by. No idea why you are so adamant you know better or why it’s even bothering you not having him selected. Unless it’s just a stick to heat Arteta with. I mean, we haven’t missed him, it’s not like he’s a 20 goal a season striker. It’s a weird thing to get hung up about. My opinion is they decided not to gamble, as they didn’t need to. They didn’t.

  18. Dissenter

    AFC Forever
    No one is sticking anything to Arteta.
    We hired an inexperienced coach who’s going tolerant on the job, making mistakes as he goes along.
    You’re the one trying to defend the impossible by presenting Saliba as a gamble. Saliba and Fofana were comparable players raised in the same club. They went for about the dame transfer fee [when adjusted for us letting him remain at Sty Ettiene for one season]
    One has gone on to become a premier league staple fr a club occupying a top-4 position …and you honestly want anyone to take you serious when you suggest the one we bought wasn’t good enough to play Molde and Dunkirk.

    Let me tell you what a “gamble” is
    It is Arteta letting his goal keeping coach bring a crappy goal keeper from Dijon and defying all the data that suggest the lad was shite. Note that he was listening to all his coaches while making that decision too.

    Arteta makes mistakes… period
    It is not an insult to suggest so. My expectations are that he hopefully learns very quickly and never repeats them again.

    How can giving a £29 million club signing a gradual introduction to English football be a “gamble” ?

  19. AFC Forever

    Dissenter

    I don’t need you to tell me anything mate. Have an opinion fine but don’t act like your opinion is fact. It’s not, it’s just what you think or have interpreted.

    Look you don’t like Arteta, I get it. So any excuse to beat him. I notice you did it again with your hoarder comment.

    As for your line about a ‘gradual introduction’, you’re assuming you know better than Arteta and his medical team. A gradual introduction will not give him the minutes they say he needs. Jesus mate, it’s not a big deal.

    Fact is we haven’t needed him and it’s academic anyway. It’s one of those decisions that can go either way. This season he bought Luiz in plus he’s got Holding, Mari, Gabriel. He didn’t need a 5th who needed minutes, he might not get, to get over a nasty injury. Let’s agree to differ because unless we both speak to Arteta we won’t know for definite.

  20. Dissenter

    AFC Forever
    Do you believe that Arteta has made mistakes in his first year in charge.
    I ask because you’re treating that mere insinuation as an attempt to “beat him”.
    Anyway we can agree to not agree.
    Cheers.

  21. AFC Forever

    Dissenter

    Yes Arteta has made many mistakes. I am sure he will he the first to admit that.

    I tend to accept that mistakes are part of life. It’s whether you learn from them that matters. Some things aren’t mistakes, they are good decisions that get interpreted by others as mistakes based on a lack of understanding. Best to he open minded and pragmatic.

  22. Bojanglesi

    When Arteta was appointed there were 4 or 5 here who didn’t want him because of his lack of experience (Did being one, can’t recall the others.) Others were prepared to give him a chance, some (myself included) were swayed by Pedro (not blaming Pedro for that, that’s on me and others for accepting Pedro’s word.) We all knew it was a risk but we also knew that he would make mistakes along the way. We also knew that his remit was to rebuild the squad. There are some signs that this is being done. With the lack of funds at the club the rebuild is not going to happen as quick as some would like.

    In my opinion, the mistake Arsenal made was not bringing in an experienced dof when hiring a novice manager. But it’s easy highlighting mistakes after the fact.

  23. Nelson

    Arteta has our team dropped to 15 place at one time. I still remember his famous saying.

    “If we keep sending in more crosses, we’ll score sooner or later”

    Just like I keep buying lottery tickets and I am still waiting for my big prize.

    The team is doing better now. We should remember the mistakes that have been made.

  24. Guns of SF

    Odorguard lol

    no seriously, I hope that he is not a Denis Suarez…..
    We need cover as CAM, maybe he will end up a starter?

    Dont know much outside his vids… I hope he can help us if we get him

  25. Tony

    If Inter want to swap Torriera for Erikson, I’d be ok with that providing Erikson’s salary was under £100K per week salary with good goal/assist bonuses and the swap didn’t hinder our potential deal with RM for Martin Odegaard or similar quality MF player.

    Torriera isn’t suited to the pace or rigors of the PL, also sounds like Arteta doesn’t want him, so Torriera needs to be sold or loaned out further.

    Right now Torriera is a waste of Arsenal’s resources financially. He’s not improving his resale value and is limited to clubs who want him.

    Erikson cannot hinder ESR’s progress, but equally the Dane’s experience and ability should be a good influence on ESR’s continuing learning curve.

    That said I wouldn’t want Erikson as the only deal for our MF this TW. We need younger players with a higher ceilings for the long term. However, for the short term Erikson can do a job for us on a 2-year contract with an option for us to pick up for a 3rd year.

  26. Pedro

    Bojanglesi, we landed and FA Cup in the first season… this season has been shit, but we’re seeing some good moves. Kids are getting games, football is getting better, the club is moving on the dross and ‘seem’ to be focusing on younger players.

    Could be good next season.

  27. Goobergooner

    AFC
    “Fact is we haven’t needed him and it’s academic anyway”

    But he surely couldn’t have done worse over those 8 losses we have had by the mid season point. You cannot deny that.

    And he definitely could have been part of the squad for Europa. How many keepers did we have?

    Also Mari was injured for the start of the season.

  28. Dark Hei

    Guns of SF

    I agree.

    Odegaard won’t be able to help us much. A guy who needs minutes isn’t going to be much for cover.

    How much minutes will he get here plus he hasn’t have much competitive games recently.

    I think this is more of a long term move. He will only come useful next summer; if he is still here.

  29. Sid

    ‘Kids are getting games, football is getting better, the club is moving on the dross and ‘seem’ to be focusing on younger players.’

    Freddie Ljungberg did this in the few games he was here, it didnt take him half a season and injuries to make him do it.

  30. Bojanglesi

    Pedro

    I wasn’t having a dig at you. I was saying how toxic this place had become half way through our losing streak.

    Also I take responsibilty for being taken in by your hype over Arteta. I still believe that he may get the job done actually but if we finish in the bottom half of the table I may change my mind.

    I may at times rant about the negativity at LG but I rarely post anything negative about the club, manager or players probably why one or two denser posters here refer to me as super fan.

  31. Guns of SF

    Dark Hei,

    If ESR is now a regular starter, I think we need to focus on getting a better CM.
    and especially a back up GK

    This Runarson will ruin us….

    Maybe first priority is the GK….

  32. Bojanglesi

    There is a lot of noise around concerning a loan offer being made for Ødergaarde. Seems we are not the only club interested though.

    I watched an interview with Romano earlier today. He didn’t throw any light on whether the offer had been accepted but did make an interesting point. He suggested that it would be unusual for Madrid to loan two players to the same club at the same time. I guess we could always send Ceballos back.

  33. Northbanker

    So we get this CAM on dear money, then what happens to ESR? you telling me that Odegaard or Buendia happy to come here to sit on the bench? Arteta will not play two CAMs. Seems to me our logic is all the wrong way around.

  34. Crimson

    “Mad love to the factory babes of Cambodia descent who introduced me to their daughters back when i was in college”

    Wow!! Sid likes little girls???????