Sometimes, the narrative isn’t about you… it’s about your noisy neighbors.
Arsenal beat AFC Bournemouth. It was so professional and cutting. I’d call it pleasant/boring. You know the afternoons I’m talking about. Invincibles era vs Derby. A surefire three points. Second gear into town to pick up a paper on a Sunday.
… you know who wanted a day like that? Manchester City. They lost 2-1 to Wolves. Their xG was less than 1. Wolves scored two off of 0.5 xG. It was DELICIOUS.
… you know who else wanted a day like ours? Erik Ten Having-a-mare. A manager who definitely took the ketchup out of the player canteen has slumped from crisis to crisis since finishing the season in the top 4 through sheer luck. Now his brand of football is on the struggle bus. His tenure there has entered a death spiral. Players are leaking, journalists are ganging up, his tenure looks dead… and losing his 4th game of the season to Palace really did not help this vibe.
Arsenal didn’t care for drama – they just did the job.
Eddie won a penalty – Odegaard finished with a sputtery Jorginho-style run.
Saka scored the second when he was first to the Jesus header that hit the post.
Odegaard won the next penalty in the second half, but instead of taking it himself, he gave it to Kai Havertz who scored his first goal in something silly like 17 Premier League games.
The fourth came so late in the game I’d already switched over to the City game to see what was going down. Martin Odegaard flew a lovely freekick into the Bournemouth box, the only player who challenged was Ben White who saw his looping header slip into the top corner.
There were some really nice bits.
I loved that the team rallied around Kai Havertz. You saw firsthand how the players feel about him. They know he’s a top pro, they rate him, and they can see he’s in a confidence rut. If you’ve slandered him recently, I hope you felt a pang of guilt. These guys on the pitch are human like you and me… sometimes you just need a bit of support. I loved how good the away fans were to him. All love out there.
David Raya got the nod despite Ramsdale having a sound game in the week. The Spaniard was excellent. His passing went from 66% against Spurs to 87%. Joe Willock doesn’t hit those numbers. He made one really excellent save down low where he held the ball. It just felt like the sort of strike Aaron might have palmed into danger. It was a basic game, but he did well. We need to see him on a run before we can truly judge… perhaps City will tell us more.
Declan Rice had another really good performance. I told you last week Arteta was making pointed comments to the player about flaking out after his back injury that wasn’t a back injury. Arteta expects his players to be beasts. Declan wasn’t last week when he flounced out of the Spurs game. This week, he dominated on every level. He’s just a brilliant player. He controlled the midfield, he was aggressive, he was ballerina-like, he opened the game up, and he didn’t let anything get past him. It was a MONSTER performance.
… now imagine Partey next to him for City?
The star of the day was our defense. We look so solid with our key men fit. Saliba and Gabriel are frightening. They looked scary. They play scary. They are forming such a monster partnership. The big test is Haaland next week – but for me, these two are a Hollywood pairing.
There was only one sour note to speak of – Bukayo Saka hobbling off with an injury
>>>>>>>>>>> COULD IT BE A CONSPIRACY BETWEEN ARTETA AND BUKAYOR TO THROW SENOR PEP INTO BELIEVING THE STARBOY IS OUT NEXT WEEK?
But most likely not.
Arteta should have prioritized resting Saka. He took Eddie off. A player who won’t play much over the next few weeks. Saka’s injury, if it’s serious, is on Mikel. You could say hindsight is a wonderful thing, but I think most Arsenal fans have been calling this injury for weeks. Our best player doesn’t have a legit back-up. That is so problematic for our season.
But let’s lean on hope. Saka is good at taking himself off. We’ve seen this move before. It’s not a bad injury until the .com tells us so.
Still, let’s be positive. We have City next week after they lost to Newcastle and Wolves. Martinelli and Partey COULD be back for that game. Finally, we have a fit squad to choose from against our biggest enemy. We’re also 1 point off City. It is wild to think that just a few weeks ago I was defending Arteta’s right to rotate players – now we could go top if we beat City. Remember the catastrophists who get it wrong over and over again about Arsenal.
Right, that’s me done. I’m writing this after a 19-hour day – it’s not my best work, so I’ll be back with something better a bit later.
Check out the pod below.