Arsenal showed up to Burnley away and put up a fight to be proud of. The oldest team of brutes in the Premier League did exactly what they always do… they battled, threw long balls at our defence, and they worked the second balls like demons. Arsenal were more than a match for them and they showed the sort of character that gets the fans moist at the loins.
The difference on the day was a Martin Odegaard freekick. After 2 seasons of watching David Luiz sky shots into the car park, it was a relief to see the young Norwegian place a freekick over the wall to break the deadlock.
The toughest part of the day was watching the clunkiness in the final third. We’re just not quite there when we break. The positions we’re taking up are good, the distance we’re out isn’t far, but it’s apparent that we’re not a well-oiled machine yet. The players are too good for that to remain the case for much longer. But it needs work.
Burnley don’t make it easy for you. The grass is a bit longer, they don’t water the pitch, and they close down space really well which makes it hard to play behind the lines. That didn’t stop us having a crack, but everything was a little bit off. Our players, when breaking at speed, were playing balls a little bit behind the runners. Some of the decision making in the box was very average. We didn’t make enough of our shots.
The Hale-Enders didn’t have their best day out. I thought ESR was off the pace most of the game and he struggled with the physicality. Saka has been off all season, he’s clearly struggling with a Euros hangover, but it’ll come. Bergkamp came back from the World Cup in 1998 and he was very poor for a while until he broke his duck with goals against Aston Villa. This is our reality though, we have a lot of young players who are going to be in and out with form. What I love is that our fans are on fire this season. Now they understand the path we’re on, they are backing the kids, because getting on their backs isn’t going to help anyone.
Defensively, we were really very good when you consider that 60% of the players are new. The boring droning of fans throwing shade at our summer has been ‘BEN WHITE IS SHORT AND CAN’T HEAD THE BALL HE IS ALSO GOING TO GET BULLIED BECAUSE HE IS PRETTY.’ Well, that didn’t really work out. He won 4 of 7 duels and he made 6/6 headed clearances. That was a better percentage than Gabriel, who was also excellent. Oddly, Ben White’s problem was on the ground, he was caught out a few times and he made a few uncharacteristic erroneous passes.
Gabriel was a man-monster. He matched Burnley’s strikers for brutality all day. He was absolutely dominant. He’s a great counter to Ben White and I’m sure the partnership they are about the form is going to be very exciting. Tomiyasu won 4/4 of his aerial duels. He’s some player. To adapt to the Premier League like he has so fast is a testament to his talent. I think we have a player there. Lots to come from him.
My MoTM award goes to Aaron Ramsdale. The vicious internet stuff that went on before he signed looks even sillier than it did a few months ago. The keeper is vocal, he makes very fast decisions, and he’s dominant in the box. Watching him take responsibility for high balls and catch them was something else. He was a real difference-maker. Moping up for Ben White with the tackle that was nearly given as a penalty was a 3 point saver. I’m not even really fussed about his shot-stopping, it’s all the other bits he has that Bernd doesn’t. It’s early doors, but I really, really like what I see.
Auba wasn’t exactly at his peak from a striking perspective, but he created three chances, he did a lot of dirty work, and I thought he ran like a captain. It’s hard for him, the system we play need a Calvert-Lewin, but regardless, we need to get him more chances in the box. He has to be a 30 goal a season striker this season, so something needs to be amended so we can release him.
A special shout to Martin Odegaard who looks a Rolls Royce of a player. His freekick was the special sauce we’ve been lacking. Stunning stuff. Overall though, I just love what I see. He’s aggressive with his pressing, he’s great at controlling possession, I like that his passing is getting more ambitious, but I really love his leadership. He’s always trying to lift the team. Nothing is more motivating than getting binned off by a mega club, he’s going places with us. A top game from him.
Also, a shout for the subs. I thought they were good today. Tavares did a solid job, his run was so, so powerful. He has it all if he can apply himself. Lokonga and AMN came on a did a good job in midfield. I was particularly impressed with Ainsley. He looked super focused on the job. Bigger picture here, Arteta is learning from past mistakes, he’s brought the player in from the cold and he’s giving him a go after the debacle of the summer. Fans will love that. Player has to do a job, but it’s nice to see him getting minutes.
Arsenal have done the job that was needed. We’re not off track now. There’s a big game midweek in the league cup, we’ll want a win there. Then the big one, the cup final, a North London derby of great significance. Spurs have been ropey this season, Arsenal have also been off colour, this is the first mega test of faith. If Arteta delivers a result, it’ll go a very long way to restoring a bit of faith. Lose? It’s not even on the agenda.
Right, listen to the podcast or watch the video. It’s me and Matt. Johnny has his boys birthday party. IT IS STILL GOOD THO.