by .

Arteta and his squad of inconsistent merry-men saw off a very poor Newcastle United team in a 90 minutes of pure control.

Elneny scored after 5 minutes, burying a mistimed shot from Auba. You can’t knock the Egyptian, he tries his hardest, spent the season practising his shots, and made the difference when he needed to.

Our second goal was a little sexier, Odegaard found Martinelli in space on the left, the Brazilian crossed beautifully to the back post where Auba was on hand to finish acrobatically from 6 yards. A great goal and a perfect piece of delivery from the under-appreciated Brazilian.

It was another game we dominated and the result didn’t really demonstrate the true power of the control we had. 19 shots, only 5 on target… we really should have mauled them, but this current side doesn’t really have that gear within them.

The build-up play was so much better with David Luiz in the side. It’s such a shame he’s ruined his hamstring because he really does add a layer of confidence to a defence lacking crucial pieces. It’s amazing that a player so unreliable can be so important to this process.

Gabriel Martinelli was absolutely exceptional. His direct runs, his movement, and overall energy should always make him a required started. Arteta made an interesting comment about his partnership with Xhaka, claiming his game suits the Brazilian more than Tierney’s. That’s a level of football nerdom I’m not equipped to comment on, what I can say is it’s an abomination that we go into the most important game of the season with him on the bench and ESR in the false 9 role.

Arteta was actually quite tetchy about the criticism of his reticence when it comes to playing him.

‘I can tell you I love him more than all of you’

It wasn’t said as a joke, he was seething underneath. The mask slipped as he reeled off other players he’s been hammered for dropping. I can’t have it. Arteta dropped Gabriel for 12 weeks after half a bad game, yet here we are, watching Willian drop nearly a whole season in the Premier League without a goal. Ruthless standards for kids, not for the seniors he’s invested in.

Another interesting perk of the game was watching Mat Ryan control his box with his hands and with the ball at his feet. He’s a fast mover of the ball, he’s almost thinking about where he’s going to pass as he’s catching the ball. Apparently, he was talking Spanish to communicate with certain players. Arsenal are likely going to lose Bernd Leno this summer, he’s done with the club, and he’s let his bosses know. Apparently, there are big problems in the coaching department. We’ve seen loved coaches leave, new coaches make questionable recommendations, witnessed the shocking dips in form, and now one of our big players is angling for an out this summer. How has it come to this? Who is being held accountable? That’s all on Arteta who seems to have selective non-negotiables when it comes to his staff.

Regardless, it does pose a big question. Who does he start on Thursday? If Leno is looking to exit the club, are we running into the exact issue we had when we rolled with Petr Cech in the Europa League when he was about to take a job at Chelsea? It’s a tough decision the manager has.

Thursday night is absolutely huge. It is a must-win. It is also reputational damage control for Mikel Arteta. His arrogance last week cost us the game in Spain. The decision to play a teenage creative midfielder as a #9 when he had Martinelli at his disposal was all about him. That he didn’t have coaching staff around him strong enough to call bullshit on him is another story.

Villareal is not a great side. Unai Emery knows he is in trouble. We have to take this home game by the scruff of the neck. Simple ideas for the right players. No galaxy brain thinking. No ‘maybe he’s fit’ gambles. No slow start. We need to pull them to pieces and make the final.

Let’s see what Arteta has, this is all on him.

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  1. Davey

    Partey is a top player who needs quality round him especially with him in Midfield, last week at Vill he was the Midfield (on his own) as so often when Caballos plays he occupies the left hand side, another MA over complicated masterstroke.

  2. Almuniasaynomore

    Given= leno????
    Expect an approach from the Arsenal goalkeeping scout asap!

  3. Rich

    You’d have to think that if Leno is pushing for a move, then his agent is telling him he has options

    It’s not like Arsenal are bad payers, and you don’t push for a move from a club that pays well during a pandemic, unless you’re convinced you can get the move you want

    I think we’ll go for Szczesny if Leno goes

  4. Kroenkephobe

    Hi Val

    I’m with Almunia on this. Given was a seriously good all round keeper in his day. The kind that regularly added points to the totals of teams he played for. He played behind many deficient back 4s and performed heroics on many occasions. A little on the small side (I always prefer physically big keepers) but he made up for it with goalkeeping nous and athleticism.

    As much as I wanted Leno to succeed (didn’t we all!) he’s become accident prone. Our back four must be as nervous as we are when Bernie is standing still in the middle of the box while speedy opposition attackers are closing in on him. I’d pick Ryan on Thursday – he looks pretty solid.

  5. Victorious

    Partey would’ve be something very special if he could strike a ball properly, I mean I’ve seen defenders with far more decent shooting technique

    He has the shooting technique of a rapist.

  6. Rich

    The argument for Ryan starting on Thursday is decent

    But a keeper who’s been dropped for Brighton’s third choice keeper for a European semi final

    Doesn’t exactly tell other clubs that we’ve got any real resolve to keep him, that the relationship is in good shape, or that we have much faith in him

    And that leaves us in a weak negotiating position, in what will likely be a weak market

  7. Chris


    At this point If true Leno has already told the club he wants to leave, so our bargaining position wouldn’t be great to begin with.

    Even so, he shouldn’t leave for a penny less than £25 million.

    As far as Thursday goes, Leno’s valuation goes out the window. We have to pick the right keeper who is going to help us win the game above all else, whichever one that may be.

  8. Chris

    I always wanted to keep Martinez over Leno, I think most did and were then disappointed Emi left.

    However I feel most were prepared to get behind Leno as our number 1 keeper as he is still a very good one. This was before the leaks of him having wanted to have left since last summer. If true, I lose a lot of respect for him as this all could have been worked out last summer resulting with Leno getting his wish of moving on and Martinez staying with us.

    Now Leno appears low on confidence and is error prone, morale is probably poor and the rumoured coaching differences don’t help. It’s an unfortunate situation that with perhaps more communication could have been resolved best for everyone. Now seems we will have to enter the market again for a new keeper.

    Just read Mourinho is the new Roma coach.

  9. Valentin

    I also used to highly rate Shay Given until I was told by a scout that the reason why Given never had his chance at a top club was that he was viewed as too short and had a tendency to show off as a shot stopper but not being effective as a catcher especially under high balls.

    Once I was told, I realised that he was right. At Newcastle, it looked like he was performing weekly miracles but the reality was that he conceded a lot of corners from which the opposition scored without him ever looking at fault. As soon as his successor came in (I think it was Tom Krul), the Newcastle defense looked much better. If you concede a lot less corners the number of corners, you are going to concede a lot less goals.

    To be fair those short coming were really visible at Aston Villa and toward the end of his tenure at Newcastle.

  10. Sid

    Partey is Not bad, but he wont be moving us to the next level as it has been suggested, what he does Bissouma/declan/Gueye/kalvin phillips can do some probably better.

  11. Victorious

    How is Mourinho still getting jobs ffs? The Roma execs must be unbelievably very thick! 100% they’ll be anywhere near top of the sierra A now for years! They’re like the arsenal of Italy football,epic bantz

  12. Rich


    What happens if the market for Leno is small, and nobody will give us £25 million?

    Who’s going to give us £25 million for a keeper we’ve publicly demonstrated we don’t want?

    Nobody pays top money for something that they know the seller doesn’t want anymore, and there’s no demand to push the price up further

    Are we really going into next season with Ryan as our No1, and an unhappy Leno earning a reported £100k p/w as our No2, and his contract going into the last 12 months the following summer?

    Keeping an unhappy player, rarely works out well

    Can’t say I’m Leno’s biggest fan, but it’s a problem we could certainly do without, the last thing we need is this drawing this out into a game of cat and mouse, the sooner it comes to a conclusion the better

    I like Ryan’s mobility and distribution, I’m generally not a fan of small keepers though, prefer some size and stature

  13. Tom

    “Now Leno appears low on confidence and is error prone, morale is probably poor and the rumoured coaching differences don’t help. It’s an unfortunate situation that with perhaps more communication could have been resolved best for everyone. “

    Chris, I’m sure “communication” , or lack thereof couldn’t have been the issue because Arteta is a generational communicator.
    No one communicates as loudly as him from the touch lines during games.

    If Leno ends up leaving this summer, selling Emi the last summer should rank at the very top of managerial fuck ups that go well beyond any “expected rookie mistakes “ Arteta’s fan club like to wheel out to explain some of his ineptitude.

  14. Sid

    To get to top 4, quality between the lines creators are more important than DM, We started slipping out of top 4 once our technical quality went down. Before that we achieved top 4 with poor DMs.

  15. Tom

    Is there any discernible difference between a happy Leno and an unhappy one?
    I couldn’t tell.

    If it wasn’t for the interview he gave where he said his mom was his hero I wouldn’t have known he could speak at all.

  16. Rich


    Leno is a tall and good looking chap, who earns good money

    He doesn’t need to work on his personality, or even crack a smile

    At least not until his looks fade, or his money runs out….

  17. Tom

    “At least not until his looks fade, or his money runs out….“

    Ze Germans are usually financially well disciplined so his money is safe.
    He probably drives a volskvagen or an opel with the original factory paint while getting snarky remarks from Auba.

  18. Sid

    ‘Two-thirds(66%) of German women said they were satisfied with the intensity of their climax, compared to 55 percent of British women’

    Leno will be fine

  19. Batistuta

    Mourinho should do well here in Italy. The owners would have to back him though, have to say perfect opportunity too as Juves dominance has finally been broken and all the other teams around are starting to get stronger too

  20. Rich


    Maybe 45% of women in the U.K. were more than “just satisfied” with the intensity of their climax

    While 66% of German women were “just satisfied” with the intensity of their climax

    But 34% of German women were “thoroughly disappointed” with the intensity of their climax

    You’d also have to take into account how many women answered that survey while their partners were watching, which is bound to distort the numbers somewhat…..

  21. Captain Tierney

    Just one thing important to note is that no credible journalist has reported Leno wanting out.

    So before we start dishing out abuse at Leno, lets not forget this is just a rumour.

    I personally dont like the idea of our fans hurling abuse towards Leno days before a semi final.

  22. Captain Tierney

    Dean Jones of Eurosport

    ‘Mikel Arteta’s job at Arsenal remains safe and there is expectation that he will now be given extra funds for the next transfer window. ‘

  23. Valentin


    There has been credible journalists that have reported that Leno wants out. However that does not excuse the morons who abuse him on social media. Last weekend the FA, premiership boycott of the social media companies (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, …) Was not just about racist abuse, it was about abuse in general.

    Like Ugo Monye said that as a person with a blue tick, he is more protected than others. Twitter does not want a controversy involving a celebrity and so is pretty quick banning people who abused them. However it is so quick to defend average Joe or Jane. The girl who was cyberbullied into committing suicide on Instagram was not.

  24. Dissenter

    Of course Arteta’s job is safe at Arsenal

    The dimwits waited 6 weeks too late to sack Emery, then pulled their thumbs for another 6 weeks before hiring a rookie

    Arteta will be gone in 6 months if we don’t win the EL and have that expected poor start to next season.
    The fanbase have caught on .

  25. Chris


    Leno is a German international, is a good age and contrary to some beliefs is still a very good goalkeeper, in my opinion

    It looks like it isn’t going to work out for him here overall, but that shouldn’t diminish his overall value. Think of it the other way, we have already accepted some might say a low ball offer for Emi, the club would be slaughtered again if we sold Leno for anything less than we paid for him.

    But this is for the people in charge at Arsenal to sort out, which I do admit, hasn’t made for good reading in other deals we have done.