by .

Arsenal finally matched a good performance with a full 3 points. Mikel Arteta put on a well-choreographed win against a Leeds team that comfortably beat Leicester 3-1 a few weeks ago.

We pressed better than Leeds, boxing them in, forcing mistakes.

We controlled their attacking game with excellent off the ball work, closing down passing lanes and making it generally difficult for them to break against us.

We also took our chances, something we’ve been terrible with over the past month.

The game was mostly about the return of Auba. We’ve been waiting for a game like that from him for a while. He’s been off from a confidence level all season. He was then rocked by issues with his mother’s health. Yesterday, he seemed to shake all of that off with a really, really good game of football.

Arteta seemed to find a formula that works for his star striker. He built pace and creativity around him. Saka, ESR and Odegaard buzzed around him all game and gave him the freedom to do what he does best… score goals.

His first one was all him. He was found by Xhaka on the left, he dropped some Cristiano stepovers and dropped his shot into the bottom corner. His second was a penalty after Saka was fouled by the Leeds keeper. His third came from excellent ESR box work with a 6-yard cross he found. He also hit the bar with a first time shot.

There was also a fourth goal from Hector Bellerin. Dani Ceballos threaded a pass into him in a crowded box, Hector finished with a smashed low shot.

The first half was inch-perfect. We controlled the pace of the game, limited Leeds strengths, and played to ours.

The second half was always going to be tougher. Leeds didn’t ever stop. They came at us, they scored 2 within 11 minutes. We didn’t control the game in the way you’d have liked. Let’s be hoenst, most of us were watching that game through the lens of ‘TIOTE SCOOOOOOORES.’ It was unpleasant to say the least.

What also didn’t help the optics was seeing Mikel Arteta roll-on Willian as his ‘let’s control the game’ sub. The narrative of the game wasn’t on the Brazilian’s shoulders, but the sub just stuck in the throat for a number of reasons.

  1. You don’t control a relentless team of attacking kamikaze pilots with a player that doesn’t have legs, energy, or desire.
  2. Nicolas Pepe could have done with the confidence boost after putting on a show in his last few games.
  3. Martinelli could have done with the minutes after being dropped post-Villa after a drab performance

Willian didn’t ruin the game, I think we were on the way to that anyway… but he didn’t do anything to improve it. I read a stat that he lost the ball 5 times from 10 touches. If he was brought on for control, it didn’t arrive. Where was the value? Why does Arteta keep doing it?

The value should be in giving Martinelli and Pepe chances, not Willian, who is so obviously not part of the ‘non-negotiable’ set of principles everyone else has to abide by. Young players have to have perfect 10s every game to keep landing minutes. Willian? He can drop 6 after 6 after 6 and it just doesn’t change Arteta’s opinion of him. He didn’t even get dropped for going to Dubai unauthorised.

The story shouldn’t be about him. We just beat Leeds with Xhaka and Ceballos in our midfield. No Partey or Tierney. That SHOULD be the story… but we’re still talking about weird in-game management. We’re wondering if Arteta has it in for Martinelli? We’re wondering why the manager wants to die on the Willian hill?

We’re also wondering if the stories about Arsenal giving David Luiz a new deal are real? What could possibly justify that? His experience has us in 10th position in the league. Whatever he’s bringing to the table, it hasn’t worked, so why don’t we just cut our losses and give his place to a young player?

Dishing out deals to £160k a week Luiz as you cull jobs behind the scenes is why they fans get annoyed. Time to move on. It hasn’t worked for 2 years, this shouldn’t even be an agenda item. It might not be. It might be Kia PR trying to force a question in his next presser… the point is, it’s believable which shows there’s work to do.

Anyway. I hate that we have to talk about this.

Saka. What a fucking star. Once again, he was a difference-maker. His decision making was superb again, he was hard to mark, he won two penalties. We are a different beast with him in the side. He looks like he’s really enjoying his game.

Smith Rowe added another assist to his name with a world-class cross to Auba at the back post. I love how he passes around corners. He’s highly efficient, he puts numbers on the board, and he’s going to be a vital part of keeping Auba in the goals this season.

Martin Odegaard looks top-class. He was fairly quiet today, but I love the way he probes and searches the game out. He moves really well, his passing is fast and sharp, and I think he’ll be decisive when he finds his role in the league.

Big shout out to Granit and Ceballos as well. I thought they’d be in big trouble today. They weren’t. They were smart in possession, both had an assist, they were ZERO drama which is what we wanted.

Arteta still has a lot of work to do. We didn’t manage the second half as well as we could have. But overall, let’s look at the positives. The football was really good at times, our front 4 looks exciting, we kept the most productive team in the league to under 10 shots, and we continued our good form with chance creation clocking 13 shots.

We have a rough month of games coming, but we’re more than capable of delivering some good results. City is a write-off, but Leicester, Spurs, West Ham, and Liverpool are gettable.

It is ridiculous, but we’re 6 points off top 4. Liverpool lost. Everton lost. Spurs lost. Villa drew. I don’t think we have much of a chance, but a good run out of this batch of games, who knows. At least we’re in the mixer.

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Jump to comment form ↓

  1. Ben

    Arteta keeps playing Willian ahead of Pepe/Martinelli despite those two being infinitely better options because Arteta is desperate to avoid another Ozil situation. He knows he won’t be able to sell him on because he earns 10x more than what he offers – no-one will buy him or offer him a two year contract on wages more than 50k.
    Sad thing is, it’s already done. He won’t improve. Ozil mark II is already here and the saga continues.

  2. Grouvillegooner

    Yes unfortunately the Willian substitution spoilt the game for me. if I was Pepe I would be well pissed off. I can only assume that his contract perversely has a clause saying that he must play if fit! Given some of the contracts that we have entered in to in the last few years this is quite likely!

  3. Guns of SF


    The difference is that I think Willian would not sit on his fat contract like Ozil did for nothing.

    Willian will do what he can. I just fear he is “done” now, and reduced to a sub, who is NOT a game changer as Pedro alluded to.

    SO what is he? A cup player mostly I think now.

    Mike needs to explain why he continues with him…. he is actually hurting the team by doing this over and over. At least Xhaka, has stepped it up for the most part and cut out his errors quite a bit.

    Willian? who knows.

    I fear Martin will want to leave, and God knows there are teams who would take him in a heartbeat.

  4. Thank you and goodnight

    @Guns of SF

    Not just Martinelli though is it. I can’t see Saliba wanting to play for him, and by all accounts is doing a good job at Nice. Arteta is definitely a bad judge of talent. He only played ESR because he’d exhausted every other avenue, suspensions, injuries etc. Yet how many months on here were people asking for ESR to be played.

  5. RockyRoe

    Great 50 mins and then willian came on. No one except arteta knows why the fuck he gets to play before pepe an martinelli. Especially when we would one of these to start soon with the fixture congestion. Arteta is not very bright.

    In other news saw the nice vs psg match. Saliba did well agsinst mbappe and company but Isint ready to get into the europa squad people would have you believe. Staft the potential wonderkids to give a new contract to Luiz.

  6. Ben

    @Guns of SF

    I’m guessing you haven’t looked at Willian’s stats then. In footballing terms – he’s sitting on his arse even worse than Ozil. Goals, assists, chances created, dribbles, interceptions, tackles, lost possession…. his stats are near the bottom
    in every category. I’d speculate that a player plucked from League 1 and dropped into the Prem would have better stats. Given Willian’s undoubted ability, that means he isn’t trying.

    He runs a little so he can’t be fired (although personally I reckon Arsenal would have a case to unilaterally terminate his contract – it certainly appears on the balance of probabilities that he acted in bad faith when he signed it. He shows no intention to play at the levels he has done in the past).

    You can’t suggest it’s because he’s a sub either – he’s had so many starts this season.

    I didn’t want Ozil at the club but I think Willian is worse because Arteta actually signed him. He won’t give up on him because he’s worried what that will say about his judgement. Either way, it’s bad news.

  7. Dissenter

    You want us to celebrate that we beat a newly promoted team with a squad filled with championship players.
    You want us to forget that Arteta is incapable of learning from his mistakes and is denying the younger squad members of opportunities to move ahead by persisting with Willian.
    We are firmly in the midtable and have tougher games ahead of us so lets just keep the Champagne on ice for now.

  8. Dissenter

    Why is city a write-off for us
    Didn’t Brom get a result against them

    What’s the fun in having sauce when to doesn’t make things better

  9. englandsbest

    Great result, super first half

    So far Willian is a misfit. i hope Arteta plays him because he thinks he’ll come good and not because the guy is wildly overpaid.

  10. salparadisenyc

    Nice to see Auba thru the middle put in two form open play.

    Can’t put a number on how many were slating Xhaka’s potential inclusion yesterday against Leeds active attack on here. Again he’ quietly put down another solid overall performance putting Auba thru to open scoring and maintained throughout balancing it out.

    Auba gets the glory with hat trick but the trio behind him in ESR, Ø and Saka were electric with an average age of what 20? Add Tierney and Partey to that lineup could quite a fun run in.

    Interesting in Bielsa’s post match he said… “You could see it clearly, the opposing manager prepared the game better than I did.” Shipping three in the first 45 speaks to that, would of gotten dicey if that Bamford pen was awarded, quite harsh as well.

  11. Nelson

    We have seen that even Fulham, WBA and Sheffield can take points from the top half teams. Let’s celebrate this win. I am realistic. I would put higher priority in the two Europa cup games than the game against MC.

  12. Rich

    City isn’t a write off, they’re favourites


    We’re capable of getting a result against anyone on our day

    Particularly when we get our best players on the pitch, hopefully Tierney + Partey will be back for it.

    I’d go for mass rotation against Benfica

    Saka has played a lot of football, hopefully we can see off Benfica without him

  13. bacaryisgod

    Pedro-the David Luiz new deal rumors actually make sense. Not to you or me but maybe to Edu and Arteta. This doesn’t even have anything to do with Kia.

    Right now, we have 3 locked down CBs for next season in Holding, Gabriel and Mari. We probably need five to cover for the schedule and injuries. Here are our other options:

    Chambers, Saliba, Mavrapanos.

    1) Chambers made the bench today but with his deal up in 2022, it makes sense for us to try to sell him in the summer as there’s way too much risk in renewing him and he’s not valuable enough to us to keep him for his final season and let him leave on a free. Maybe we can get an incentive-laden offer from one of his former loan teams like Boro or Fulham. He’s only 26 years old and I was at the Chelsea game a little over a year ago when he started at the back and got injured. Regardless, I can’t see him making the five-man CB rotation with us.

    2) Saliba: Much like Guendouzi, this is mainly on Arteta. He either doesn’t fancy his playing style or his attitude. If Arteta stays then Saliba goes. Although I wouldn’t put a second loan year out of the question, I’m not sure politically Arteta/Edu will do that because it means we paid 28m for a player we wouldn’t have used for 3 years out of his 5 year contract.

    3) Mavrapanos: He can be our 5th option at CB. He’s got heaps more experience now.

    This leaves one spot available. When Arsenal are looking at their needs, I’m almost certain that spending a lot of money on a new CB is not going to be on our list of priorities. Arteta and Edu will look around and think who can they get on a short-term basis that they won’t have to pay a hefty loan or transfer fee for? David Luiz could easily be their answer.

  14. MD-Gunner

    When things like bringing on Willian happening over and over again despite his inadequacies in playing football then there are only 2 reasons, first he has dirt on Arteta OR he is giving the mos fantastic blow job nothing else fits as Arteta can read and is not blind. Is Arteta still Arsenal’s manager should be trending 😆

  15. bacaryisgod


    I think this might be Arteta’s masterpiece moving forward. Bring on Willian when we’re up 3 goals and we might find a team that can take some of his salary of our hands for the last two years of his contract.

    Eternal optimism!

  16. Matt

    I am struggling to remember a player in recent times who has made less of an impact when they come on than Willian. He literally does nothing. I am actually starting to feel embarrassed for him.

  17. Roaaary

    The frustration with willian is that for 60mins we saw perfect football from arsenal.

    We could all see it was calling out for pepe or martinelli. Willian comes on and stinks the place out half running around aimlessly.

    They nearly scored a 3rd when he lost his man.

    This is why there’s frustration – we were so close to a great 90 mins but we lost it due to that switch

  18. Saladin

    Arteta’s refusal to show same kind of ruthlessness for Willian’s shit performance and lack of discipline off the pitch is annoying as hell when he fucked over Matteo and Mesut over similar issues.

  19. MD-Gunner

    With the Willian show continuing it is now crystal clear that the whole Ozil dropping for footballing reasons was a farce, unless Arteta can’t tell the difference between good flowing football and a hatchet job which of course judging by today’s last 30 minutes performance is a real possibility.

  20. Matt

    Just seen some of the comments that sourness made about us. He’s not wrong. He has. A soft spot for arsenal, you can tell he realises how frustrated most arsenal fans are.

  21. Aussie+Gooner

    Once again Arteta shits on his own parade. I just don’t understand it any more. A fantastic opening half full of attacking verve then Willian is introduced and the rest is history! And Luiz being out muscled in the headed goal – lets give him a new contract! Does Arteta have shares in the restaurant? Arteta gives with one hand and takes with the other. Is he actually capable of managing a whole game from start to finish?

    The first half was almost vintage Arsenal with a fast, buzzing attack and pressing to induce mistakes; Abu ‘repaying the love’ with interest. If you attack at pace you don’t have to worry too much about defending. Second half we revert to type and allow Leeds back in the game thus exposing the frailties in our defence. The 4-4 comeback by Newcastle still haunts me!

    Changing the subject: Zaha, an international team mate of Pepe, reports that he can not share a room with him because of his ‘motorbike snoring’. While this may just appear an amusing aside, it could also be indicative of Pepe suffering from sleep apnoea. This is a serious condition, potentially fatal in which the subject can suffer from a lack of sleep and energy. Trust me I know first hand! I would hope that the club would be on to this as Pepe often appears lethargic and lacks awareness. Only a thought!

  22. Nelson

    According to spotrac, Luiz’s annual salary is £5,250,000. The weekly salary comes to £100,962. Of course, that doesn’t include bonus which will not be much if we doesn’t get Europa football next year.
    I have the feeling that Luiz is supporting Arteta when there is question in defense. I wouldn’t mind offering him an one year extension with Pablo Mari’s salary, £85,000 per week, take it or leave it.

  23. Pedro

    Diss, sometimes, there’s not a both sides argument… give it a rest today.

    Arteta has learned plenty of lessons. Willian is his weakness, but outside that, I’m struggling with the lessons thing.

    > Too defensive > now we attack
    > boring football > now it’s fun
    > relying on seniors > now it’s kids leading the charge
    > overcoached > he’s giving players time off and beating teams

    We’re 6 points off 4th. Suck it up man, that agenda you were running is over. There’s something simmering at Arsenal and you can’t stop it now.

    Rich, true… I’m just bracing for impact. City have been so impressive.

  24. Pedro

    Aussie, it wasn’t that bad… shaky, sure, but let’s be real, by Leeds standards, we kept them quiet.

    4-2 is a beating.

  25. Anonymous Commentator

    The Willian sub has soured what was otherwise a fantastic performance from the lads.
    Will arteta learn the lesson this time or will he still pay Willian at every opportunity?
    The guy has free reign to do as he wants with the team, he has more rope than Wenger had cause Wenger wouldn’t have survived what arteta has survived this season.
    What is forcing him to play Willian?
    Arteta could even play omari Hutchinson instead and even if the lad was woefully out of his depth we would be far more patient than we are with the most experienced project player ever.

    At this point I’m sure every single arsenal fan is desperate for this arteta thing to work, hence the criticisms of obvious mistakes, and defending of obvious mistakes.
    Arteta isn’t making it easy though.

  26. MD-Gunner

    Arteta would either have been forced to deviate from his present stubbornness or would be out of a job IF there were FANS in the STADIUM. I can already see and imagine the banners and choruses.

  27. Nelson

    Just a word on Martin Ødegaard. He played his first game with the team. The players didn’t know his game yet. Midfield is the most difficult position to play. There are opponents all around you. I have to give him credit that he managed to find his teammate every time he got the ball. We can see that he has good technique with the ball. I am sure that we can benefit from his game once he is fully integrated in the team.

  28. MD-Gunner

    Add to that the media always in search of a headline story his press conferences plus the camera panning away over stadium crowds would have been a devastating PR debacle.

  29. Guns of SF


    He won’t give up on him because he’s worried what that will say about his judgement. Either way, it’s bad news.

    I agree with this…. he feels like he needs to play willian at all costs since it was he who wanted him… another stubborn issue that he has.

    The fans will praise him rather, for playing Martin and benching Willian…. he just is out of touch with the fan base… or does not care

  30. Dissenter

    Re Odegaard
    Is it possible that by the time he’s in tune with his team mates, the loan deal will be almost over.
    That’s why I just see these 5-6 months loan deals as a bit silly. The duration is so short and whatever good comes out of him, it doesn’t translate to next season
    …unless he wins us the EL [which is highly unlikely]

  31. Guns of SF

    Madrid want 22M for dani
    I mean, I like him but he will not be a starter if we pick up another DM like Bissouma or similar.
    I say send him back.
    If Ode works out, they would want at least 35 for him… not sure we need that or have that.
    If we do win the EL, which I hope, then lets see…..

  32. Nelson


    You are right. But we manage to keep Ceballos for another year. Edu probably is counting on keeping Ødegaard for one more year. The plan would be getting top4. next year. After that, we could sign players instead of getting players on loan.

  33. China1

    Xhaka was mostly good yesterday but he was also asleep at the wheel for their second goal and had another one or two moments in the first half where he was not paying attention and got let off by good cover from the defense

    As with any good xhaka performance there was an asterisk attached so it depends if you wanna acknowledge that

  34. Aussie+Gooner

    We need players like Ceballos and Ødegaard to complement the likes of ESR and Saka. They are all ballers and these are the types of players that will thrive in a sucessful EPL team.Unfortunately we appear unable to purchase players of this calibre out right so we will be loaning them for some time to come. False economy, but that is our position for now.

  35. Captain Tierney

    Who else believes Willian is putting in a 6/10 every week.
    I certainly don’t.

    Its understandable Arteta wants Willian to find form and he just might given the number of chances he is getting.

    But is it worth it playing him above Gabi and Pepe ?
    Definitely not.

    Willian is finished. There’s no value to be found there.
    Gabi and Pepe have a world class ceiling, especially gabi.
    Willian’s best bet now is to be a good rotation option.

    Its a no-brainer.

  36. Emiratesstroller


    As you quite rightly suggest we were missing yesterday Partey and Tierney who are most definitely an upgrade on Ceballos and Cedric in Central Midfield and Left Back positions.

    I agree 10% with your analysis of Willian. It beggars belief that we are bringing on this player
    when we needed to “control” end game.

    At the end of this season we need to beef up our squad.
    a] We need to replace Lacazette. Nketiah is not the replacement.
    b] Willian needs to be offloaded. His performance level even as bench player is subpar.
    c] We need a quality “Central Midfielder” to rotate with Partey and Xhaka.
    d] We need a specialist second string left back
    e] Do we keep Saliba or replace him?
    f] Do we replace Ryan and Runarsson as second and third string goalkeepers?

  37. Tony

    ‘He can drop 6 after 6 after 6 and it just doesn’t change Arteta’s opinion of him”

    Not meaning to be disrespectful, Pedro, but that’s the first post I’ve read in detail for some time, which is a shame because previously I pretty much always looked forward to your posts.

    I’d go further to say Willian drops 3 after 3 after 3.

    Not buying into that we were going to drop our excellent levels in the 2nd half, it was Willian that created the regression.

    Arteta’s in-game management is still very, very poor although the team selection improved for the Leeds game. That needs to be Willian’s last game time or even time on the bench.

    Really happy Auba is back to his old scoring ways. I was hoping to see Pepe to have the support group of players pulling defenders out of position while he received quick balls to his feet in enough space to wriggle past defenders and assist or score.

    We’ve been saying play the kids for so long now it’s seriously gotten boring. Many of us are still wanting more kids to be given minutes: Azeez, Martinelli, Balogun, Moller to name a few.

    The Mirror this morning is saying Arteta doesn’t trust Laca, so more reason to give more kids time.

    AMN showed yesterday why Arteta should have sold Him last summer. Same playing issues just for a different team.

    So the cynic in me wonders what’s next from Arteta? We’ve had the bad in copious amounts and ditto the ugly – yesterday was the good part from Arteta.

    False impression again? Or are we going to witness more fired up teams on the starting grid and into the action like a formula 1 race start belting ahead of the starting pack and staying there bossing teams as per our first half display.

    Regardless if I/we like Arteta or see Him for the future of our club, I/we can’t deny Arteta got it right yesterday for the first half forcing Leeds to be poorer than their usual gung ho speedy free passing attacks.

    They were more like stifled whimpers such was our brilliant play without the ball until Willian came on.

    With KT back for the Benfica game we should be able to play a solid back 4 where the conundrum is whether to play Bellerin or Cedric at right back, as Bellerin answered his critics against Leeds. On Cedric’s last 2 games at left I feel Bellerin shades it although maybe not a fair comparison with Cedric having to play out of position.

    Arteta took a step forward for me yesterday and then 2 steps backwards playing Willian. Until He can vastly improve his in-game management and man management, especially exercising tolerance in giving more youth players minutes because it’s the kids who are saving Arteta going forward.

    I’d be much more inclined to really get behind Arteta warts and all if he had Rangnick as his boss who has final decisions on all aspects of player acquisition and player sales and who can teach Arteta about substitutions rather than Arteta fumbling though games making wholly wrong in-game management.

    In sum, an excellent first half reminiscent of early Wenger’s years best in some ways.

    When we are served that kind of high collective pressing and quick transitions it leaves me salivating for the next game; something of a rarity under Arteta that I’m hoping to be more regular going forward.

    Loved what MO can do and did. His still game rusty having not played for a few months according to the press this morning. Although I’ve been a fan of MO prior to his RM signing.

    Luckily Arteta really rates the kid, so we should see far more of Him to, I believe, devastating effect.

    Caballos looks to be fired up now having to prove himself with RM offering Him to us for 25 million Euros. For me no competition with our limited finances it’s Mo all the way if we get the chance to buy him, which will cost a lot more than the 25 million Euros being bandied about for Ceballos.

  38. Nelson

    China1 “Xhaka was mostly good yesterday but he was also asleep at the wheel for their second goal”

    Xhaka was not asleep. He is just too slow letting opponents run past him. I find that he can now make accurate short passes with his left foot also. That’s why he is less liable when he has the ball. He’ll make long passes with his left foot when he has time and space. Defensively, he is always a liability when facing fast and athletic opponents.

  39. Dissenter

    I disagree with the notion that we cannot buy these players.
    If your idea of “buying” is repeatedly seeking to shop at Harrods then we damn well will fail.
    With good scouting we can sign players with a high ceiling for affordable fees. Villa signed Sanson for about £14 million this January, They signed McGinn fir less than ™2 million from Hibernian in 2018.

    These loans have their downsides too. They create an artificial “high” or false sense of achievement because big clubs don’t behave like shop windows.
    This season is all but gone in the league and I wish we could use the rest of it to give the younger players more opportunities.

  40. Time Up

    We’re 6 points from safety not 6 points from fourth. Our next 6 games with this generational manger are…..
    City lose
    Leicester lose
    Burnley win
    Spud draw
    Westham lose
    Pool. LoseWe would be lucky to collect 5 points. After that we’ll need 1 point to stay up..

  41. Gonsterous

    Great win, but in spite of arteta. The smooth play definitely down to player quality and nothing else. Saka is a baller, odegaard looks a great signing and xhaka had a good game for once.

    Edu showing once again that he is the right man to keep after getting partey and ode in, as well as martinelli.
    Willian (before anyone brings it up) sounded great on paper before the start of the season but has backfired. Can’t get everything right.

  42. Time Up

    What’s Artetas excuse for not playing Martinelli and basically wanting another young player out of the club, he can say…..

    Lazy like Ozil!.
    He can’t say homesick like LT!.
    He can’t say trouble maker like Guen!.
    He can’t say up to the standard like Saliba!.
    He can’t say he won’t sign a contract like Balogun!.

    I’m sure he might say, he mentioned he wants number 14 and that’s disrespectful to Auba while his mom sick!. Or he said Fxxxxxx Hell to the Newcastle donkey for elbowing him!.

    Maybe Arteta’s young teen daughter told him she fancies Martinelli.

  43. Time Up

    Luiz is signing another year extension to his contract. Just by studying Arteta’s personality, you know Saliba is not coming back, Chambers out, Balogun out and maybe Martinelli will ask for a move. Ramsey could be coming back in a season long loan.

    I actually dislike Arteta more than Wenger.

  44. Guns of SF

    Lots of our youth will want to move this summer. Shame.
    WIth a shitty season, they are not seeing minutes at all. Its a terrible place to be in for a young player ( at arsenal)
    His love in with vets is really going to backfire…
    I am sure he thinks he has fixed auba after today’s win.

    Klopp called martinelli a generational talent I believe.
    If this is true, its a simple decision for him….
    and a shame for us

  45. DivineSherlock

    Quite possibly the worst signing of the decade , Willian . On paper it seemed like a good idea , on pitch its terrible. Andre Santos contributed more than him . I would even give minutes to Reiss Nelson over Willian .

  46. Sid

    “Arteta has learned plenty of lessons. Willian is his weakness, but outside that, I’m struggling with the lessons thing.”

    The point is, the lessons he has learnt is basic stuff obvious to most and an experienced coach would know. We have wasted opportunities and its likely we will be playing catch up as Diet Pep learns his lessons.

  47. China1

    Yeah yesterday was on balance a really fun game to watch and there were loads of positives we should enjoy. Full credit where it’s due for that.

    On the negative side Luiz must not be humored any more as a first choice player let alone with a new contract. This obsession with picking him does us no favors and has no long term value. He’s our 4th best CB. He should only be getting minutes to keep our other 3 fresh which I hope (but doubt) was the case yesterday

    And yeah arteta really does have a hard on for shitting on players who’s faces he doesn’t like. Martinelli can seemingly go fuck himself as far as Mikel is concerned. He has no urgency about developing him despite the fact he’s widely understood to be one of our best young talents who has already delivered performances at this level

  48. Socrates

    that second goal from Leeds signifies everything wrong about Arsenal. Both Bellerin and Xhaka are complete balls watching fakwits.

    And one has to feel for Pepe especially the way he has been playing that last month. Arteta is one frustrating noob.

  49. China1

    For the record I’m all for easing martinelli in. He doesn’t need to play every week etc

    But for him to be constantly overlooked for the abject misery that is Willian on a weekly basis is miles off being a logical decision and is clearly based on non-footballing reasons – something which arteta seems to be particularly influenced by

  50. Sid

    Let Xhakalson Not fool anyone, one assist and a couple of games of regular performances doesnt redeem him.
    Our aim for CM should be the skillset of Carzola, Diaby, Silva, Gundogan, Toure

  51. China1

    Well said Sid and people will be absolutely shocked and outraged when he next drops a howler, gets a red card or costs us a game. Never underestimate his ability to wipe people’s memories with a few ok performances

  52. Socrates

    I would have thought Emil Smith would have been rested for the Leeds game as MO was playing centrally.. It actually boggles the mind at some of Arteta’s decision making.

    When have Arteta’s in-game decisions won us a game? his subs are amateurish at best, at worst they are downright sackable.

    Where was Martinelli?

  53. China1

    Socrates yeah if we were resting players we should’ve not played ESR and saka should’ve come off at half time

    Instead we have these guys busting a gut deep into the second half when we have a significant lead in an unimportant league game with a critically important EL game in the week

  54. Captain Tierney


    The benching of Pepe was definitely not for him to get a rest.
    Although the starting 11 was very positive thinking so cant be any qualms there.

    Even tho I think Arteta is a superb coach and can go to the very top, some of his decisions are just mind boggling.

    Old, slow, dumb players keep getting chance after chance. Luiz has again become a starter after a little spell out of the first team. He is not the future. He is a poor defender especially in the air. Lost the aerial fuel for the first goal which someone like Holding or Gabriel would have cleared out of the box. If you think he is a good influence, keep him at 50k a week as a 4th choice CB. Not a 100k a week 1st choice.

    Willian is one of the poorest signings Arsenal have made. He was a good player at Chelsea but he is 32 now and his only motivation in signing for Arsenal was to stay in London for a year or two longer. What makes it worse is that the whole world knew he wanted to stay in London no matter what. Even after that we end up paying him 100k a week + whatever bonuses and signing on fees. We’re stuck with him for more 2 and half years.
    Just need Arteta to stop giving chances to this player. He is not IT.

  55. Receding Hairline

    “We’re 6 points off 4th. Suck it up man, that agenda you were running is over. There’s something simmering at Arsenal and you can’t stop it now.”

    We won a football match against newly promoted Leeds united, good game of football and that’s just about it. All this “something simmering” narrative whenever we string four passes together is tiresome. Fulham just comprehensively decimated Everton at home, is something simmering there too?

    You also keep contradicting yourself, one minute the league is a total write off, the next we are six points off fourth and are in the mixer, which exactly is it? Should we write off the season to admire Arteta or should be be held accountable if we have no European football next season? Make your mind up.

    If something is indeed “simmering” you wouldn’t write off a home game against City even while still celebrating the “superbly choreographed win against Leeds”.

  56. Receding Hairline

    It took 24 eague games to find a formular that works for Aubameyang by Arteta and this should be celebrated. Leeds are a wildly inconsistent team so sighting their win against Leicester as some sort of yard stick to show how awesome and unexpected yesterday was isn’t on. This season is an abnormal season for all, everyone is struggling for consistency and the empty stadiums don’t help, but that doesn’t in anyway mask the fact Arteta is at best an average coach, we are not going to hit any new levels under him. He has too many character flaws as a person to be a great leader of men and is a below average tactician

  57. QqUseroz

    The whole world kinda heard Arteta praising Willian before his signing. It’s practically a face saving exercise that Willian plays ahead of Pepe and Martinelli.

    Arteta could dish out his favorite excuse that Willian is hungry (thought he owns a restaurant ! ) and works so fuckimg hard in training etc.. Yeah right. …so Willian left everything in training and he has nothing more to bring to real games. What a disgrace.

  58. Socrates

    Receding Hairline,

    100% spot on. What with all the contradictions one could think Pedro was just as confused as Arteta.

    I find it astonishing that Arsenal fans think Arteta is going to be a top’ manager, based on what?

    In-game decisions are poor
    tactics are poor
    subs are poor
    Player management is poor

    What is it that Arsenal fans think Arteta is good at? I can’t think of a single thing.

    You give any of the PL managers the Arsenal job and they’d all be around the same position in the table at worst.

  59. MD-Gunner

    “It is ridiculous, but we’re 6 points off top 4.”
    Not quiet spot on. Later on Monday Arsenal will be 8 points of top 4 and if Everton win their 2 games in hand it will be 9 points. As it was already posted in this thread “Eternal Optimism!”

  60. Nelson


    You have missed my correction to my typo. I meant to say that for short passes, he can now use both his feet. He use his left foot only for long passes. That’s why he can pass the ball faster when being pressed. In the past, he had to adjust the ball to his left foot and gave the opponent time to take the ball away.

  61. The Bard

    We have just beaten Leeds,comfortably and all posters can do is moan about Willian and Saliba. Everything that could be said about Willian has been said a million times. Drop it and focus on the positives. There is the nucleus of a very good side there but it’s going to need a couple more transfer windows to get there. Yesterday was the best first half I’ve seen in a while.

  62. Receding Hairline

    “We have just beaten Leeds,comfortably ”

    Leeds have lost 11 league games and conceded 40 goals, beating them at home isn’t cause for a national holiday

    “Yesterday was the best first half I’ve seen in a while.”

    What happened in the second half and why should it be ignored while we focus on the first?

  63. gunnerman

    At risk of jumping the gun here but what’s the plan with Odegaard? He looked solid today and I’d like us to sign him but Arsenal didn’t include a buy-in option in the contract. Madrid apparently want him back so it’s just a loan for 6 months?
    Quite disappointing to have someone come in and develop with us to leave. Guess we have really fallen as a club

  64. Radio Raheem

    Our best run of form in the last year have been with Xhaka and Ceballos in midfield. I’m not sure why their performance yesterday is a surprise.

    Arsenal fans are indeed a special breed.

  65. Radio Raheem

    Leeds are that team that are just as likely to be thumped as they to dishing out the thumping. Didn’t manure put 7 past them? You catch them on their off day and this can happen.

    Nevertheless, we were proactive in forcing them to make mistakes and took advantage of those mistakes. For that Arteta and the boys deserve credit.

    Criticism can rightfully be aimed at Arteta and the boys for not maintaining those standards all through the match. But it’s got to tempered as we did win after all.

  66. TeeCee

    6 points off 4th……6 points off 15th.
    Arteta is a poor, inexperienced coach, out of his depth at a ‘big club’ with big expectations.
    He’s dangerous, because just like Wenger, he is, and will continue to, make decisions that are detrimental to the club to satisfy his own ego. There are no excuses for Willian, there are no excuses for wanting to give Luiz 100k+ a week for another year. The treatment of Martinelli is strange to say the least and rather than give Saliba a chance, he shipped him out and continued to play older and proven unreliable players in that position. He’s given Nkethia way too many minutes and Balogun virtually nothing. Then he sits in front of the cameras and embarrassingly (is that you Arsene)? tells everyone how well we played when we were shit.

    Arteta should be somewhere like Fulham, guiding them to 15th or 16th place, learning how to manage players, learning how to manage ‘in-game’, learning how to make sensible fucking substitutions that bring value not destroy any good work up to that point. He is Wenger-lite and he is a big problem for Arsenal. He is already is too powerful and he knows there is no-one at the club who will put him in his place as Edu has been reduced to a ‘poster boy’ who looks good for the cameras. Lower-Mid table beckons this season and quite frankly it doesn’t look like it will get any better than that in the future under this incompetent fool.

  67. Moray

    Leeds were poor, Arsenal looked good with some nice movement: just what we’ve been lacking this season.

    I turned off when William came on, so I can’t comment on the part meltdown. It just depresses me to see him doing 50% for 200% of what he used to be paid. And then rumours about Luiz being extended. He should have been cut years ago. Political moves or not I don’t think many supporters trust Arteta and Edu’s decision making, which is a real shame and undercuts any goodwill he might otherwise have. Willian and Luiz I don’t see in any colour other than blue, and that says it all for me.

  68. Tom

    Leeds market value is a third of Arsenal’s , so this entire most people believed we were underdogs for this clash narrative is super weird to say the least.
    Who would we even want at Arsenal from their starting eleven on the day is a question worth asking.
    Personally, I can’t think of anyone.
    We played well and deserved to win but if Leno had the type of performance their pre-pubescent keeper had we all would’ve said he cost us the game.

  69. Habesha Gooner

    I can see Arteta giving luiz another one year deal. There will never be progress with 30 something players unless they have been class for you and their level never drops. Even then there is an upside to young players.

    The frustrating thing for me is Arteta thinks kids should make an instant impact and seniors need patience. It is in fact the other way around. If you played Nelson or Martinelli instead of Willian you would see a rise in performances game from game. Pepe being inform and being benched for willian is also a disgrace. I don’t think he should even be in the bench unless we have an injury crisis. I would want Eddie to be there instead of him too. It is already proven kids when given time produce. Arteta chooses to use them when his hands are forced. And that is infuriating to me.

  70. The Bard

    Receding hairline I’ve no problem with tempered criticism of our second half performance but to keep on moaning about Willian and Saliba to the exclusion of all else is blinkered. Anyone would think we are Man City. We are a midtable outfit at best this year so suck it up like we had to for most of the 60’s some of the 70s. I suspect most on here have only been supporting Arsenal since Wenger arrived. If you’ve followed them for as long as I have ( 1st match 1955 ) you get used to the ebb and flow of teams.

  71. Pierre

    I’m hoping that Holding was just rested for yesterday’s game as he is our most reliable, dependable, solid centre back

    Also hoping that putting Smith Rowe out wide is not the first step to him being demoted to the bench..
    Smith Rowe has been pivotal in improving our attacking play , he is a better CAM than wide player.
    Playing him out wide regularly will ultimately see a dip in performance from him.

    I like the look of Odegaard but he must earn the right to replace ESR at CAM.
    Odegaard played OK yesterday , nothing special , but you could see the potential in his game as he looks an intelligent unselfish player.

    Ultimately, it was a good decision to play both Smith Rowe and Odegaard, though it should be taken into consideration that Leeds were very unorganised defensively .

    Gabriel had a good solid game and Ceballos looked lively and drive the team forward.

    Good performance all round though it looks like we now have a blog full of Willian obsessives….i suppose they have to obsess over someone.

  72. AFC Forever

    Brilliant Arsenal performance, especially in the first half. As Bielsa admitted, Arteta did a job on him tactically.. The fluidity & interchanging was similar to how City move the ball, albeit they have been doing it together a lot longer & with serious investment. You could see our players had been coached to beat the Leeds press, we were getting between the lines at will. This video’s really well because last year although defensively sound, we were struggling to create. Fact it, we have also been carrying Aubameyang who we all now know had personal issues going on. Xhaka was superb again as too was Saka, ESR & Ceballos. The team is still evolving.

    This was a big 3 points & a very good performance. We hunted the ball down in packs and in that first half in particular we were very aggressive without the ball. Odegaard was perfect in that role he was asked to play because of his technical ability & quick feet, linking well & interchanging with those around him. Some idiot was questioning the Odegaard loan deal, unable to understand about rotation with ESR or tactical situations. Against a team that press like Leeds do, you need players like him who are comfortable receiving the ball.

    I agree with Pedro. Arteta should be praised for his team selection, tactics and those big 3 points. I don’t agree with the Willian sub but that’s a minor nag in what was overall an impressive win. Saka lust his man for the corner but he had a superb game & Bellerin was caught on his heels for the second, It saddens me that some people don’t want to acknowledge or celebrate the win, yet are the most vociferous when we lose. Yes William was poor again but it is desperate stuff to use Willian as a reason to sidestep the performance & slag off Arteta because of an agenda. We are going to be a very good team under him.

  73. Goobergooner

    Arteta has this squad under achieving. He has a golden boot winner under achieving. Despite the claims we have improved defensively we have still lost 10 games with 14 left to play.
    13 losses and we are going backwards from Wenger’s last season.
    We may well have conceded less having 11 men behind the ball but we were shocking going forward.
    Now we are opening up again to play more attacking and our defence reverts to type.
    We have progressed in terms of how we press. But that’s about it for me.

  74. bacaryisgod

    Not sure why everyone is worried about Pepe and Holding not playing yesterday. Along with Laca, they’ve both played a lot of minutes recently and getting all three of them 10 days rest is great. We couldn’t afford to rest Saka too but I don’t mind Arteta making dodgy in-game decisions if we’re going 4-0 up in 47 minutes.

  75. Double Double

    That game swung on the subs, Leeds brought on 2 regular starters. If they had started I should imagine that game would have been very different in the first half. I thought the first Leeds goal was a towering header, I don’t think Luiz could be blamed for that, because whatever you say about him he is as strong as an ox and he was flattened by that defender. Also Helda was ran rings round Bellerin as soon as he came on.

  76. AFC Forever


    Yes. Arteta isn’t playing a computer simulation game. This is reality. He will have to use medical science and advice from his team to ensure players are not overplayed & have recovered physically This is key but some people don’t understand thus. Every manager this season has been complaining about fixture congestion damaging players etc. Overplaying & lack of recovery time are important parts of player management. These are fine tuned athletes, they break under stress.

    He needs to rotate players for the run in and Europa League. These 2 weeks coming up are a nightmare because we have two “Away’ Europa games on Thursdays & our players won’t arrived home til early hours Friday. What makes this worse is the 2 Sunday games are against Man City & Leicester. Tough enough games without the fact there will be no recovery time. This is not just a fatigue/energy issue but a serious risk of injury. The question for him is priority. Europa or PL?

  77. Kenyangunner

    Lui did Ok yesterday but that doesn’t mean he deserves an extension. He should have an assist and made a crucial block which prevented Bamford from scoring to make it 4-3. Had that one gone in it would have been panic stations all over

  78. Sid

    Y’all moaners dont know Auba was grieving, his best position is on the wings,
    at CF he cant bring the playmakers into play. Y’all full of agendas

  79. Emiratesstroller

    Arsenal’s major weaknesses are poor leadership and control particularly when the team is
    under pressure.

    That has been blindingly obvious in far too many games this season and leads far too often to ill discipline on the field of play.

    The recruitment of Partey should have improved our control in midfield but sadly he has suffered too many injuries this season to make a real impact in that department.

    Our defence may have improved slightly since Arteta took over but it remains brittle as we
    saw yesterday when Leeds put us under pressure. There is a general reluctance to invest in
    proven quality in this department.

    Above all else Arsenal have not recruited a “proven” leader who manages the team “onfield”
    when we are under threat.

    Overall our first X1 is perhaps two to three players short of a “top four team”, but we are well
    short in bench department particularly when we see Arsenal resorting to bringing on Willian and Elneny.

  80. AFC Forever

    Radio Rahee.

    Me too. It is physically impossible for the starting 11 on Thursday to play Sunday. In the past, we have been caught stretching ourselves too thinly. It is a different balancing act because you want your best players to play whenever possible. It will be interesting to see the team selected Thursday. Lacazette, Martinelli, Pepe will all start I suspect but if they play 90 they won’t be playing against City

  81. Nelson

    One thing I would like to mention is that Leeds didn’t have their captain and their most important player, Kalvin Phillips, yesterday. They play a 4 1 4 1 formation. Losing that “1” in the heart of the team hurted them more than us losing Partey.

  82. Olis

    An exciting attacking performance against a tricky aggressive team that we swatted aside in the first half and killed off in the first 5 mins of the 2nd was what we were asking for.

    But call me shocked that out of all the positives from that performance certain cretins are focusing on the William substitution. Absolutely no shame.

    He was brought on to give ESR a rest and let me guess save Pepe for Thursday night. Don’t think people realise Martinelli has come back from a serious knee injury so WILL NOT be rushed back.

    We have shit loads of games to play everyone will get minutes.

    Some people need to seriously look in the mirror…have a mental breakdown when we lose yet can find anything positive when we win or if there is a slight hint of positivity it come with some irrelevant caveat.

    RR was arsenal ‘fans’ are a special breed alright.

  83. Time Up

    I just hope Pierre doesn’t start see in Willian something that, he and Arteta can see. We just closed the door of 7 years of Oziliogy and only him and same as him 70 year old Arsen.

    I think with age people start seeing things!.

  84. Time Up

    As I said Benfica is a poor side, we should have no problem to beat a team that came second in their group to Rangers!. Generational has to win simple as.

  85. Rich

    Yesterday we had Aubameyang up front, we surrounded him with 4 technicians, in Odegaard, Smith-Rowe, Saka + Ceballos

    Against a team of inferior quality, who press all over the pitch, and leave space in behind

    We won a game, we should be winning

    Before Chelsea on Boxing Day, only Saka was creating

    The emergence of Smith Rowe, and loaning Odegaard, now makes us much more dangerous

    Rodgers showed the blueprint on how to stifle us in the second half against Leicester, Luiz went off, they man market Xhaka, and then let us have the ball

    Villa, Wolves, Spurs, Burnley, Everton all pulled a similar trick

    The more of the ball we had, the less dangerous we were, and the more dangerous our opponent became

    Opposing teams might still try similar tactics, but they’ll be less comfortable ceding possession to us, with real technicians on the pitch.

    The other thing that’s hurt us has been individual errors, and a lack of composure/poor temperament

    The league is really competitive, and in fine margin games, we can’t afford to brain fart as often as we do

    Top of our shopping list this summer, should be genuine competition for Tierney, and either signing Odegaard, or buying a player in a similar mould

    Cedric got in good positions yesterday, as did Bellerin, but a right footer on the left, meant good opportunities fizzled out

    Sometimes too much importance gets placed on coaches influence, it’s the players on the pitch who win and lose football games

    Going into the season with no fit or registered attacking midfielder, was negligent

    Our lack of goals + creativity early on, wasn’t down to poor coaching

    It was down to poor squad management and squad planning

    Fans praising Edu for the clear out in January, when really he just did what he should have done 6 months earlier

    Some fans praise Rodgers, and I think he’s a good coach, but Leicester’s recruitment, scouting and squad planning, is exemplary

    We’re desperate for someone competent, who has a strong track record in identifying talent, adding value rather than subtracting it, and a strong understanding of economics, to come in, and take the reigns

    We should go and get Rangnick

    Our problems this season haven’t necessarily been down to tactics or coaching

    They’ve been down to mismanagement, poor recruitment, poor decision making, and poor squad planning

    Our attacking play has improved because Smith-Rowe has qualities, none of our other midfielders possess

    Odegaard makes us less reliant on a single player

    Aubameyang won’t start scoring again because he’s been in or out of form, it’ll be because he needs creative types around him to function

    The more he scores, the higher his confidence, the higher up his confidence, the more he’ll score….

  86. Olis

    Benfica aren’t actually that good. We’ll have lots of space on the counter as they bomb forward and their defenders are slow and always left isolated (otamendi and vertonghan).

    UEFA are jokers though why two legs and why away goal when both venues are neutral?

  87. Mb

    Bring Guen next season and partner him with Partey. He can learn and grow, he got potential and we have seen him playing good under Emery. If you are better than Emery, he will do better.

    Bring in Saliba, let david luiz leave.

    Loan/sell Willian if possible. Don’t wait for Ozil-esque situation. He is a bit older and misfit everyday.

    Develop a combination between ESR, Saka, Ø and Martinelli. They are the future and that future can be next season!

    Sell Laca, Xhaka, Bellerin.

  88. AFC Forever


    “UEFA are jokers though why two legs and why away goal when both venues are neutral?”

    They always have been clowns.
    We are in the middle of a pandemic and they decide to send an entire squad & all the support staff on planes halfway around Europe. Absolute madness. They had the opportunity to make it a one-off game somewhere.

  89. Emiratesstroller

    AFC Forever

    Arsenal’s squad has frankly limited options when we need to play two games a week in EPL
    and/or knockout stages of Europa Cup.

    As you point out we are playing Benefica and Man City next week. There is no question that
    Arsenal need to turn out our best starting X1 against Man City if we want to compete with them, which frankly we must do.

    So that poses the question how we manage the game against Benefica. Are our second X1
    good enough to start against them?

    Do we play Ryan, Soares, Holding, Mari, Ceballos, Elneny, Pepe, Lacazette, Martinelli and Willian in starting X1 against Benefica and who plays Left Back?

  90. China1

    What I like about Odegaard and ESR is these are both highly, highly technical sorts who are all about seeing things nobody else does, or seeing it sooner and having the technique to make it count, often very quickly

    We’ve had Özil in the past with that kind of skill set but what makes these two so much more exciting to see is that they do not skimp on work rate and are ready to throw themselves about to get involved, win tackles and make things happen

    ESR is particularly impressive because he’s English. The reason that’s a big deal is because England always has several top quality or even world class players – but we almost never have players who actually have culture about their play. The British game is all about athleticism. So yes we do produce some quality players but they’re normally pretty (or very) direct. It’s very unusual for England to be producing this kind of player who floats across the pitch and plays with that kind of deftness. He is one of extremely few from this country that has that Özil type culture about his game but unlike mesut he has all the work ethic and street smarts to do any dirty work needed as well. Fabulous young player

    You really must say England’s current crop of players and those coming through is pretty amazing. They have the realistic *potential* to actually win something at some point

  91. Mb

    The fact that Chelsea went for Rangnick and not us sums up everything at Arsenal.

    May be Arteta is on right path, build from the defence. Concentrate at one point of time.

    But he is poor in man management. Willian, Luiz – IN. Saliba, Guen – Frozen out.

    Torreira – loaned, market valuation depreciated when he was one of the good ones under Emery.

  92. andy1886

    Nothing sadder than a ‘superfan’ on a blog telling others what their views should be. What a dick.

    Overall good performance yesterday (would have been very good had the second half matched the first). The best bit was Auba getting back to his old self. Saka continues to excel and to be fair Xhaka and Ceballos were better than many of us expected.

    The initial line up was excellent, the only reason people get pissed about Willian is because this isn’t a new develpment, he manages to get game time despite being awful for months not just a few games.

  93. Bergkamp63

    I think it actually suits Arsenal better to play Benfica over two legs, over 90 mins anything could happen, extra time or penalties, over two legs, we should have enough to see them off.

  94. China1

    If Pepe is finally kicking on as we have hoped, i would very much like to see us build our offensive unit around rotating combinations of saka esr ode pepe martinelli auba

    Behind them it should be partey and a new Cm

    Defense should be built out of Tierney Mari Gabriel holding saliba and a new RB

    Leno as keeper and a long term backup

    My hope this summer is:

    Bring in:
    New CM/DM

    Ode and a new CM may cost up to 70m so not sure how much we can get from sales and how much is already available, but you would hope we can flog a handful of our deadwood and fringe to make up 45+m and maybe we can outright afford the rest

  95. China1

    Nelson yeah we haven’t had a good English keeper since Seaman. I really don’t know why we struggle so much in this position but have churned our some serious quality in most other positions semi regularly

  96. Crabregas

    There are definite positives from yesterday. 60-70% of the game we controlled, really imposed ourselves and didn’t look in any trouble. We still had issues in the second half and both the players and manager are responsible for that.

    We need to enhance the positives whilst reducing/removing the negatives.

    Their first goal was a great header which can happen, Saka lost his man and Luiz as a zonal player will often lose the 50/50 with a guy making a run on him. We were collectively poor on the second goal as they opened us up.

    However, if we can made 5 changes and look pretty fluid across the pitch that is great, especially from where we have been this season.
    This can only bode well for the remainder of the season and beyond.

    Still a lot of work to do, especially with our next set of games.

  97. Emiratesstroller

    Andy 1886

    Willian came on effectively as a second half midfield replacement primarily because our
    options in that department are exceedingly limited since we offloaded both Willock and

    Xhaka can play 90 minutes without substitution, but can the others do so even when match

  98. China1

    ET why on earth should we be putting out our second string against Benfica in our most important game of the season so far just to rest players for the City game which is highly unlikely to make a difference to our season regardless of the outcome?

    Win the EL and this season has been completely resurrected from the dead and turned into a success. Frankly if we get a few scalps in the league en route to coming 5th or 6th and lose in the EL due to not treating it as a priority then that would be a disaster

  99. China1

    ET we had Pepe martinelli el Neny Nelson all available and superior to Willian. Willian was picked because arteta loves him and nothing to do with footballing reasons

  100. Kroenkephobe

    Olis and AFCF

    I reckon the neutral ground fiasco is because Uefa want to be seen to be fair to all teams. Others may see an unfair advantage in letting a team through to the next round if they only play a single game.

    But over the coming weeks it’ll just about affect all other teams that progress. Plus there’s 2 games bringing revenue rather than one, and I daresay some tough contractual issues.

    It harms Benfica and Arsenal but they (Uefa) won’t give a fuck about that.

    Looking on the bright side, we hopefully see a resurgent Arsenal twice instead of once.

  101. Emiratesstroller

    China 1

    Martinez will have lived and played in England continuously 10 years in June so he is unquestionably qualified to take out UK Nationality.

    Do you not think that he is good enough to play for our National Team. Let’s face it the Argentinians have not been chasing him and their current options are not exactly outstanding.

  102. China1

    ET we’re still in the frame to qualify for the CL next season via EL

    Why would league qualification for EL be a higher priority?

  103. Danny+S

    I wonder what Martinelli, Nelson and Saliba have that Arteta doesn’t like.

    The only thing I can think of is youthful arrogance maybe. Nelson and Martinelli also both like to get around a lot, maybe they struggle to work to Artetas specific instructions.

    Nelson, Saliba, Martinelli and Guendouzi could all be getting their values pumped this season but instead we persist with Willian, Luiz and Elneny at times.

    I know Guen is a bit renegade but a good manager could have got something out of him, Emery did for a while.

  104. AFC Forever


    “Do we play Ryan, Soares, Holding, Mari, Ceballos, Elneny, Pepe, Lacazette, Martinelli and Willian in starting X1 against Benefica and who plays Left Back?”

    To answer this question I suspect we need to decide which game Arteta is going to prioritise. We all know Man City are on fire at the moment and the best team in the Country, so that’s an awkward game. Factor in the fact we won’t be coming home until Friday, then it’s even tougher. He has Mari, Holding and Chambers, Mari can play right back depending on how Arteta sets us up. Chambers can play right back and Holding can partner Gabriel or Luiz. Lacazette, Pepe and Martinelli are probably going to start so the real issue will be the midfield with Elneny certain to start.

  105. AFC Forever

    “My optimism has somewhat diminished now that I know Leeds had missing several key players missing”

    So did we. I think the stats show what a loss Tierney has been to us the last few games, especially offensively. Getting him back will improve us, so too will getting Partey back.

  106. BlackStock

    Lots of unwanted records broken which tells me the empty stadiums are a major factor in teams like Fulham beating Everton in the league at Goodison for the first time in their history

  107. andy1886

    ES – If Mikel had no intention of playing Martinelli or Pepe (rather than Willian) why were they even on the bench? There must be five or six players who deserve minutes more than him.

  108. alexanderhenry

    Great stuff yesterday.

    Saka in particular looks like the real deal . If he could add a few more goals to his game , he’d give something we’ve been sorely lacking for the past two seasons- a goal threat from midfield.

  109. Samir

    Arteta needs to get his shit together.
    Once the fans come back into the stadium he will get a lot of stick for his terrible substitutes. Willian should be training with the U23s on current form. Where is Nelson?

    David Luiz new deal? No thank you. Yes he’s experienced but he’s also more trouble than he’s worth.

  110. AFC Forever


    They were on the bench in case he needed them. I’m sure if we needed a goal they would have been bought on but we didn’t. His first 11 selection was spot on, personnel-wise and tactically did a job on Leeds. Bit of squeaky bum time in some parts of the second half but it is a massive benefit that we will have fresh players for Thursday because that has a knock-on effect for Sunday. Hopefully, those on the bench yesterday feel they have something to prove and that competition for places, as we know, is very important.

  111. Jamie

    We still have far too many CBs on the books.

    Mav (loan)
    Saliba (loan)
    Ballard? (loan)

    Extending Luiz would be criminal. Good that he’s probably helped both Gabs settle, but he plays with nowhere near the required consistency needed for a top team. And he’s turning 34 in two months.

    Let him retire with Benfica.