I watched the game angry because I have NOT slept, so pardon the negative vibes in this post, because overall, I am thrilled where we are right now.
We beat Leicester 4-2. Our football was scintillating at times. But… our defensive lapses feel like they need to be addressed.
The William Saliba own-goal, on reflection, seems like more of a fluke. I wrongly thought Ramsdale was out of position, I don’t think he was, I doubt that’ll happen again.
My bigger concern was that our lack of experience at the back led to a done and dusted game having something on it.
In two seasons’ time, we’re not going to let Leicester back in. At the moment, you can sense the nerves, and you still feel like there’s a fuck-up in the system.
Our second goal had so many problems. Ben White is clearly injured and he chose to hobble. No one is tracking the overlap. Ramsdale is out of position and lets a shot in from a silly angle.
Basically, two unforced errors. Which is great because you can control those longterm, not great if that is part of who we are as a defensive unit. No doubt Arteta will be dealing with those problems this week.
Ramsdale needs to sharpen up. His nervousness is contagious. I think his rut from last season has carried over and I have to say it: I am worried about him. The goalkeeping coach that has been a problem for everyone helped drive the signing of Ramsdale, it looked like a massive coup because he arrived in great form… now he’s in a rut, we’re struggling to get him out of it. I love the player, we know where his game could go, but right now, he’s not looking like a top 3 goalkeeper and it needs to change.
I also think Gabriel needs to have a think about what his game is all about. He takes too many touches and tries to be a player he’s not. Saliba, White, and Zinchenko are the creative defenders. Gabi is not, he’s a better version of Bob Holding. He needs to be quicker with his passing and give the ball to players who can do damage.
Onto the things that were GREAT: Gabi Jesus.
The man is a total difference-maker. He might be the most consequential signing since Dennis Bergkamp because he is someone that represents a page turned after a decade of not really competitive at the highest level.
His goal was Bergkampesque as well. A moment of genius. A floated chip any of our greats would have been proud to claim. We have such a complete player who has a MASSIVE point to prove. He’s strong, he has great anticipation for opportunity, and he wants to do it all. He could have had 4 goals today.
Gabriel Martinelli should be in a police station right now explaining away the brutality he committed against Wesley Fofana. He treated him the way a rottweiler treats a piece of meat. He was stronger than Wesley, faster, more committed, and it was a joy to watch. I’m glad he was on call for the assist for the Jesus goal as well as getting the pre-assist for his second.
Now let’s give Granit Xhaka his flowers. He isn’t the complete #8, but he had a great game. He scored a goal, created openings, and made some daring runs. The man is in great form, the fans are falling in love with him, and he seems to be falling in love with us. What a great game.
Same for Thomas Partey, the player is focused, and he is doing all the things we hoped he’d do for us in that position.
Odegaard and Saka were a bit quiet, but hey, they must have contributed something, because we exited with 4 goals and a win.
Mikel Arteta didn’t manage the second half particularly well. He has a deep bench, he should have made earlier changes when it was clear his players were suffering in the heat. It seems like a petty point to make, but the bigger picture is that we suffered last year because Mikel didn’t rotate enough. I know subs are not rotation, but they are a showing that he trusts people. If we are going to do damage this year, every player is going to be important.
Some other considerations: Remember we are two games into the season. It takes 5-8 to get match fit. We’ll be far more intense for longer after the break when players are fitter and the temp in the stadiums drops. We should be fully fit by the United game.
Overall though? I fucking love what I am seeing. We got our Arsenal back. The players are committed, the coaching is world class, and the football is really, really sexy.
P.S. Where are my ‘Arsenal should sack Arteta for EtH’ friends today? What a mess they have down there. Getting beaten 4-0 by Brentford in game two of the season. Liverpool up next. Are United trying to copy our opener from last season? You LOVE to see it. What is the learning here? It doesn’t matter how fancy your football, how bald you are, how much of a discipline merchant you are, or how many teenage boys call you elite on Twitter tactico handles… if you don’t have the right players and the workplace is toxic, you are going to need to call what you are doing a project and it is going to take a time to fix. All of that stuff that I was saying to defend Arteta, when people were saying I was on the take, is all true for United. Their CEO should tell the media Ten Hag is staying for 3 years no matter the results and that the players will be exited well before he is. They won’t though. Woudln’t be shocked to see them sack him by Christmas and hire Pochettino or Graham Potter (like they should have done in the first place).