SAKA ABSENCE COULD SEE THROWBACK TO PRAGMATISM FC

by .

Well people, today is the day when we find out our fate regarding Saka. Arsenal already know the deal with his injury and sadly, it won’t be club that tells us the state of the player. We’ll find out when Gareth Southgate announces his Euros squad.

The one hope we had is that his injury wasn’t a blowout at speed… he was jogging when it happened… that could indicate he has discomfort over a tear. It might be a fluid injury, similar to the one that allowed Tross to come back early.

But let’s game this out.

Pull up a shot glass, pour out a 30-year-old barrel-aged shot of copium, and knock it back.

Manchester City have been beaten twice this season. Newcastle and Wolves. Both teams limited City to less than 1 xG. Both played deep blocks and caught City in transition. That is their weak spot; it always has been.

The last time Arsenal beat City in open play was in the FA Cup semi at Wembley. Those were the pragmatic days under Arteta. Remember when we had a specific dance move to get goals? Bleak football, but we scalped a few big dogs.

The loss of Saka could push Arteta back towards his pragmatic ways… and I think it’d be smart.

Arsenal could go for a double pivot with Partey and Declan. We could opt for Kai Havertz as a #9. We could go for Jesus and Trossard as the wide players… or even Reiss Nelson for the explosive pace and directness.

Not having Saka might feel like a disaster, but it could be the excuse Arteta needs to play something that works for us.

Talking of Saka, I do find some of the conversation around his injury a bit painful. Whether it’s a strain or a full-blown three weeks out… the fact he has an injury at this point of the season points towards mismanagement. If it was a one-off, I’d be kinder, but this is the 4th soft tissue injury of the season and we’re only in October. You could blame the wider footballing world for it, but I think making broad-stroke excuses for soft tissue injuries lets Arteta off the hook for problems we know have historic grounding.

Here’s the basics:

  • 87 consecutive Premier League games
  • 2 injuries in the last two weeks
  • Injured in the first half of an away game against RC Lens

Load management (minutes/intensity) isn’t something you can look at in isolation. Fatigue builds up over time and taking one game off doesn’t solve it. Arteta has played Saka in 87 Premier League games in a row. That is HUGE output for someone so young and it was always going to come at a cost. Hamstrings can happen for a variety of reasons, but Saka didn’t pull up from a sprint, so it looks likely that whatever he was suffering was from wear and tear (fatigue). Clubs can control fatigue by lowering minutes or being gentler to players in training (I’m being very basic here).

Mikel Arteta is brilliant at many things… empathy is not one of them. He can be presented all the data in the world about where a player is fitness-wise, but if they are a good player, he won’t give a shit, because his belief is the best players don’t feel pain, they don’t get fatigued, and they will find a way to power through things. Declan Rice going off with a back injury only for the club to find out there was no problem is not an acceptable outcome for Mikel Arteta. That’s why he said what he said in the media about his surprise at him coming off. It wasn’t sympathy, it was disdain.

Arteta ran Saliba into the ground last season to the point he landed a stress fracture in his back. The season before, he overplayed Tomiyasu, the player broke against Leeds, and Arteta finished him off against City. Thomas Partey was not managed well two seasons ago, he was a fragile player that was loaded off a plane after international duty into a cup game the same day, then later in the season, brought him back after an international break and he broke against Palace.

Arteta is a monster. He likes intense training sessions. He pushes everyone to the edge. It comes at a cost.

If you really don’t believe me, just read his own words from last season.

‘Rest Saka? All world’s best players CAN play 70 games’

Let’s get specific. Out of the top 50 players for minutes last season, only 7 outfield players are from the Premier League. Bruno Fernandes leads with 6000+ minutes, but he doesn’t really press. City have two freaks in there with Bernado and Rodri. Granit Xhaka the only one for Arsenal.

1. Fernandes 6017

4. Rodri 5304

6. Kane 5190

32. Salah 4734

34. Hojberg 4704

38. Granit 4668

42. VVD 4365

Not many players can manage 70 games. Messi and Ronaldo could when they played in Spain because La Liga has about 2 intense games a season to worry about. That’s why the league can support veteran players into their late 30s. The Premier League doesn’t allow it. Look at how bad Ronaldo was when he returned to the Premier League. He caved United and got two managers the sack.

The best players need plans tailored to their needs. You think Messi was training like a dog every week? The badge of world-class or INDISPENDIBLE doesn’t distort the realities of the human body. Arsenal got it wrong with Saka and it looks like whatever is going on at the club ain’t quite right. The biggest advantage of having a young squad is resilience… we can’t have players dropping like flies!

Arteta needs to improve. No one wants to waste a season because of injuries. Let’s see how the week pans out!

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Luteo Guenreira

Back four picks itself, Raya in goal.
Partey Rice Odegaard midfield
Jesus up top, Trossard and Saka wide.

Ernest Reed

Like the set up Luteo, but I am skeptical that Arteta would sincerely risk Saka. I see Eddie in place of Saka from a personnel perspective, but equally can’t see Arteta bypassing Havertz given his experience. Gut feel is that Arteta will play his horses and risk it all, knowing the team will live to fight another day should it fail.

salparadisenyc

Lueteo – I had to continue with that name like a 10 year old

Easily our best lineup with whose available, with all available our best adding GM on left. I’m very suspect on Saka and Partey making it though. Fingers crossed.

Useroz

Playing strategic, we go for a draw; defend and counter

Keep that 1 point gap ,and there’s all to play for as long as we think City is the one block to our PL title.

Now that Saka is named in the England squad he’d start Sunday.and so would Arteta’s xurrent fav such as Zinchenko, and Havertz

Raya
White Saliba Gabriel Zinchenko
Ode Rice Havertz
Saka Jesus Trossard

Ernest Reed

“ Lueteo – I had to continue with that name like a 10 year old‘

And that’s my fault for which I unreservedly apologized and still do. I fault auto-fill but ultimately myself for not double checking it. I am sorry, Luteo.

Ernest Reed

Going to play Devils Advocate…Saka plays and comes up lame again, what’s the reaction going to be on Arteta, given that he can’t be so oblivious that he can’t have realized the danger?

Luteo Guenreira

Cheers Sal very few would be able to resist.

Relax Ernest, it’s nothing to apologize over. I hope you get AIDS though.

Ernest Reed

LOL

Luteo Guenreira

I think Saka will play simply because I think pulling him early against Lens WAS the precaution taken by Arteta to make sure he would be available on Sunday. If Saka is feeling up for it I think he will definitely want to play as well, after that whether it’s completely true or not say he’s got a bit of a knock and keep him benched while on England duty. If Saka truly is unavailable, I don’t think Arteta would do it so suddenly but as others have mentioned I would try Kai at the striker position with Jesus and… Read more »

Luteo Guenreira

Let’s see if Pierre takes the bait.

Zacharse

Havertz w the winner against city. tellin u for free

strangest outcome is the one i get behind right now

Karsa

Saka to play against City then withdraw for internationals, or the other way around.

I’d prefer the former.

Tom

“The Premier League’s Independent Key Match Incidents Panel has ruled Diogo Jota should not have been sent off in Liverpool’s controversial 2-1 defeat at Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday,”
Says ESPN.
So add that one to the Diaz fiasco lol

The panel consists of five members; three former players/managers, one member each from PGMOL, and the league.
According to said panel week seven was the worst in VAR’s history getting an avalanche of calls wrong.

Brighton again in the wrong end with two decisions….. is there a club with worst record of ref mistakes against in football?

Great job mr Webb

Dissenter

No one messes with Liverpool

That club knows how to fight these types of battles.

Chris

I’m a bit late to the party (life) but just listened to the VAR team having to wire conversation over the disallowed Diaz goal. How many memes are going to be spawned over this. The best bit is when one of them says “great process lads!” Then the realisation they have mightily fucked up. The thing is any incorrect VAR call now and every manager and team who suffers as a result will now demand the audio from the incident. I also back Liverpool in what they are doing in not settling for PHMOL’s ‘apology’ and taking it as far… Read more »

Chris

In fact I only wish Arsenal had kicked up as much of a fuss over the Brentford game last season with the lines not being drawn for offside incident.

Milo

If Arteta really had a go at Rice…wow. I wanted Arteta appointed initially. I always admired Wenger’s more human side. Arteta seems very supportive of players returning to fitness, such as Smith Rowe and Martinelli…but he needs to see reason or he will be fully deserving of the consequences. Assholes get what’s coming. Especially managers and coaches who treat their players in such a transactional manner. We don’t need to go full low block against city. Smith Rowe, Nelson and Vieira are capable understudies and bring some tactical variance in to the mix. I would be tempted to try and… Read more »

Dissenter

Chris
We did
That’s why they let Mason leave

TheLegendaryDB10

Great Post Pedro and to the point with Arteta’s biggest achilea heel: this cold belief that players xan last ‘forever’. Granit was an exception. Not all players are going to be like him. That Arteta fails to understand this is worrying. Who is telling him that playing Saka 87 games in a row is insane? Does Arteta not realise that all humans need a break, some longer than for others. Why is he not being TOLD these things? There is an air of yes men in the air and that is definitely not good. A good leader is someone who… Read more »

Chris

Dissenter

Not taken far enough though was it? Certainly not to the extent Liverpool are taking it.

Besides the PGMOL probably took Mason out of their own doing seeing as he fucked it so badly. It wasn’t tenable to keep him on.

TallestTiz

Unai Emery struggling in Europe again

Socrates

I still think Saka’s injury was choreographed.

MidwestGun

If by pragmatic.. Pedro means playing a double pivot of Rice and Partey and starting with Zinchenko on the bench .. Then maybe.

Buy ya we didn’t spend 165 mill to low block anything.. that would be ridiculous and a message sent to the players your not good enough. Only Jose Mourinho does stuff like that.

Nigel Tufnel

Kev makes a good point about other clubs massive injury issues.
We’re tame in comparison, and our worst one was an impact injury, Timber.. like the defenders last season.

“But it’s Arteta’s fault!!”

MG42

Glad to see Nigel you finally had your come to Jesus moment and seen the light.

Goobergooner

In regards to rice and partey on the pitch (in midfield no lb shoe horning) together, people are always saying rice to play further forward. On paper I’d nearly prefer to have rice deepest and partey playing more box to box purely because partey is more adventurous and can play a better ball. In saying that parteys legs are definitely better suited to being the deepest player, and also his ability to make those line splitting passes which rice has yet to really deliver would be very welcome to speed up the transition. So on this I’d agree with rice… Read more »

Goobergooner

RB shoehorning I should say

Nigel Tufnel

Gd4/mg42 doesn’t get sarcasm.

Nigel Tufnel

Goober, Another reason I like Rice playing deeper is that when he carries the ball, he takes out more players, drags loads of defenders out of position. From higher up there’s less space to do that. Last I saw he was leading the league in carries, of all players, not just midfielders. Special player. I remember in early summer – Mesut Pierre and cynic Mysticleaves (cynicleaves) playing down Rice carry stats to me as “not important” when I was justifying all the reasons he was worth 100 mil. I don’t know if they were against the price like a few… Read more »

TeeCee

My team against City

…………………………Raya
White… Saliba,,, Gabriel,,, Zinchenko
Jesus… Partey,,, Big Dec,,,, Ode,,,,Bossard
,,…..,……….. Kai Havoc (false 9)

Siddeeq

Saka should be fine,
a little bite from bedbugs should Not stop him from playing.

kjelli

I would put Ramsdale in goal, he’s a big game personality. ESR in for Kai. I have a neutral feeling
about the game so we might nick it 1-0

Pierre

It’s a good thing that other posters see Nigel for what he is
A BUFFOON

And that’s being quite generous.

Thorough

Because Arteta must do something dumb I’ll go with the attack Pedders hypothesised:
Raya
Ben White. Saliba. Kiwior/Tomiyasu. Zinchenko
Partey. Rice
Odegard/Vieira
Jesus. Kai Havertz. Trossard

Foxy

If we have Zini and Havertz on the left Rico Lewis could cause a lot of trouble with his electric pace and. movement. Time for Tomi at LB again perhaps..

Jamie

“I don’t know if they were against the price like a few other failed grove scouts…(dissenter, WengerEagle) … or if they were just trying to show off their lack of knowledge by disputing me.
I told them back then, that I wasn’t going to forget it.
Now they watch him do it for us, and must feel shame for bad past opinions.”

Only a dickhead of the highest order writes this kind of shit.

GD4

I remember Arsenal Wenger telling Thierry Henry that his two biggest
transfer misses were Cristiano Ronaldo and Ngolo Kante.
Yet when I watch Jude Bellingham,I think he’s an ever bigger miss.
Especially when I see that Chelsea Saboteur shrug, jog and prove to be a shocking waste of space and transfer funds.

Mikel has some explaining to do to Josh Kroenke.

Siddeeq

Havertz should be rested the bedbugs got his longstuff

Mysticleaves

Nigel I remember telling you that our no 6 doesn’t need to carry the ball. That’s not the system we play. Since we started playing a very good player but unsuitable to our style of play like Rice in there, we have become much more lackluster and less fluent. I cannot remember Rice releasing our more attacking players with disguise through balls from deep like Partey does or starting a counter attack with a cute body feint evading the press. Rice runs and carries alright and it’s always going to be reflected in the stats but how has it helped… Read more »

Mysticleaves

Nigel eulogising Rice as a no 6 when every Arsenal fan collectively agrees that our biggest miss this season has been Partey is as funny as anything 😄

Foxy

Rice running forward with ball will be effective against attacking teams who the leave space behind but against more defensive sets ups it is more likely to leave time for them to regroup behind the ball compared to one of Parteys fast vertical line splitting passes. Hopefully he can add the latter to his game as he is gradually weaned off Moyes ball.

Thorough

I’m one of the people who didn’t want Rice, but he’s shut me up easily. Owever we have to know players come with limitations. Rice has played in a very defensive team all his epl life, and those are the kind of games I expect him to help us win. As against Crystal Palace when we needed to defend with our lives. When it comes to unlocking packed busses though expect him to outshine the others. Those are the games where our stars should show eg Partey. Rice is doing just fine. And hell look a lot better when we… Read more »

Thorough

However

Don’t expect him to outahine

Karsa

Rice would be a bigger miss than Partey.

Karsa

Having both Rice and Partey is an ideal situation.

Foxy

Rice & Partey is maybe the closest we will come to replicating Vierra and Petit ! Bring it on!

We just have to be realistic in our expectations of Rice. He is a player we have been needing for years but he is fundamentally a defensive player who I believe started as a CB. Just glad we got him and not Philips.

Foxy

A double Pivot of Rice & Partey may also help cover the gaps left by Zini playing almost like a no 8 at times especially if havertz is not going to fall back to cover the area he vacates

Tikpo

Kjelli,. October 6, 2023 07:11:56

“I would put Ramsdale in goal. He’s a big game personality….”

I recommend @Tim Stillman’s column at Arseblog yesterday, October 5 for a very good analysis of why Raya is, and will continue to be in goal instead of Ramsdale.

It’s reasoned and logical; complete with recent stats without the emotions suggested in being a ‘big game personality ‘!

Marko

Look we all know Saka was going to be back but the point is how hurt and how effective will he be after recently

kenyangunner

If Raya is so good, why did he stay in the championship for so long?

Marko

Nigel eulogising Rice as a no 6 when every Arsenal fan collectively agrees that our biggest miss this season has been Partey is as funny as anything

I completely disagree with this. Our biggest problem this season has been the football and honestly we’ve barely skipped a beat with Rice as a 6 over Partey. If anything given Partey when fit was deployed at RB by Arteta you could argue that he wasn’t a big miss in the slightest.

Marko

If Ramsdale is so good why was he relegated with two different teams? See how that works

Matt B

The point is, yes Raya is better but only slightly. Ramsdale has a higher ceiling, but by the time he reaches it, he won’t be at Arsenal anymore

Samir

Marko

If Thierry Henry was so good; why didn’t he win the CL with Arsenal?
See how that works

Marko

Exactly samir it’s a dumb false equivalency

Marko

He won it with Barcelona thou

Mysticleaves

Marko I have never said that Rice is a bad player. I just wanted to point that out. I think he’s overrated at 106m and I still believe so. However if you look at him play and then yearn for Partey in that position, you are being dishonest. He’s unsuitable to the way we play for now even though he’s added somethings that Partey didn’t have like athleticism. He’s always going to be better defensively. But because of how we are shaped and the fact we hug the call most times against about 90% of the league, the greater qualities… Read more »

TR7

A back 3 of Saliba, Gabriel and White and a double pivot of Rice and Partey is how I think we should set up.

If we play double pivot we don’t need Zinchenko and don’t need to shoehorn Partey at RB.

Allows us to play four attacking players behind the striker.

Marko

Why fuck around with a back 3 double pivot when it clearly doesn’t work for us. Stick with a back 4 and 3 in midfield whether it’s a flat three or a 4-2-3-1

Un

MarkoOctober 6, 2023 14:10:27
Why fuck around with a back 3 double pivot when it clearly doesn’t work for us.

10 games and the resident brainiac has enlightened us all.
You know we played with a back 3 most of last season dont you marko?

allezkev

I think our biggest miss this season has been and is Jurien Timber..,

allezkev

And if Jurien’s small sample size was anything to go on then I would be all in on signing his twin brother from Feyenoord in January or next summer.

Marko

You know we played with a back 3 most of last season dont you marko?

You’re dense and/or you never watched us last season

Mysticleaves

Some serious typos in my last post. I guess we understood it anyways. Cheers

Dissenter

Mystic
I get what you’re saying
I too once wrote that Rice, even though he’s had a terrific start and is s super athlete, is still growling into the Arteta #6 role

Marko put out the same objections.
Partey absence/ repositioning is part of why we are not creating as many chances.
This season. Odegaard has had to go all the way back to the 18 yard line to fetch the ball in many games so something isn’t right with the central midfield. .

Gonsterous

4-2-3-1 definitely the way to go this Sunday. Defensive line up to shore up the defense as well as give us a bit of control in the middle of the park. I’m just worried that arteta always feels he has a lot to prove to pep and always goes very attacking and open against city. Which is why pep is undefeated in the league against us, because in the cup games he tends to field weaker players. Weekend prediction: 2 Nil or 3-1 to city. Arteta won’t ever beat pep in the league only because he’s such a kiss arse… Read more »

jwl

Arteta on Saka –

“He is in contention. Let’s see how he progresses from here to Sunday. Obviously, he had to leave the pitch. That’s never good news. But let’s see how he recovers. In contention! That’s it. I’m not a doctor. That’s what they told me.

“[Thomas Partey] is ahead of schedule that’s for sure. We wanted to have him in the squad [against Lens] and he will be in the squad [against Man City].”

Nigel Tufnel

Mesut Pierre must remember saying that Rice progressive carries is not an important part of his game, because he responded by lashing out. Not your normal tactic. Not really smart either. Mysticleaves on the other hand doesn’t deny the opinion and still holds it….. Respect for that, but I still strongly disagree. (Most grovers hide from past comments). Others who say that’s not a big feature in Rice game are way off the mark. That’s something rare and special that you pay up for. When opponents are crowding the centre of the pitch, a player moving with the ball is… Read more »

Nigel Tufnel

Dissenter, I just heard the stat on Arsenal vision that Arsenal, of all teams in Europe, are facing the lowest of low blocks (I guess they are quantifying it somehow). This is because after last season teams have adjusted. Arteta expected this, and it’s why he began the inverted Partey experiment late last season, and bought Timber and Rice, for example.. And also why Raya… and him sweeping up, coming out more, and standing in the LCB in the build up. These bring risks, but I still feel there will be more reward from it than the danger. We are… Read more »

Bertie Mee

Let’s play a bloke with the next lowest XG last season at 9 against the treble winners and drop Jesus .
Great thinking

TR7

The best football interview I have ever seen – Prince Boetang with Rio Ferdinand. Loved every minute of it !!

https://youtu.be/we1oJMpKvjo?si=rpgyMDWnjRhQsK0z

Luteo Guenreira

Joke Friday A gynaecology doctor had become fed up with malpractice insurance and paperwork and was burned out. Hoping to try another career where skillful hands would be beneficial, he decided to become a mechanic. He went to the local technical college, signed up for evening classes, attended diligently and learned all that he could. When the time of the practical exam approached, the doctor prepared carefully for weeks and completed the exam with tremendous skill. When the results came back, he was surprised to find that he had received a score of 150%! Fearing an error, he called the… Read more »

rollen

Nice one Luteo.
Partey is by far the biggest miss and reason we don’t look as good as last season. Timber probably big miss too. Rice started really well but he will never be Partey. He is more defensive all action hero.

salparadisenyc

Damn Sid I envisioned you leaner.

salparadisenyc

I’m all in the mid field of Partey, Rice and Ødegaard always was, just not into a formational change. Rice has all the ability required to play further up in the Xhaka space of last season with the defensive ability and brain to cover any forward action of our fullback (Zinchenko). Yes that’s Partey in the single pivot if we need to label it but LG gets way to stuck in formation on paper. Reality is its always in flux in game with the overlaps and coverage at times. In sexual terms our boy Sid would call that a fluid… Read more »

Dissenter

Yea, Rice can comfortably play the Xhaka role… and then some

TheLegendaryDB10

I have to say that I am a bit worried with our game vs Cheatty on Sunday. They will be tough as usual.

I think having a midfield of Partey, Rice and Øde is a given. We need control. Lose that and we will be eaten alive.

Up top I think we should have Jesus with Trossard and Nelson on the flanks.

The back four picks itself with Benny, Saliba, Gabriel and Zinky.

Keep Raya in goal as we need some ice cold calmness to weather Cheatty’s Iron Man Haaland.

jwl

Isn’t it more likely Arteta plays Partey at rb, if he fit to play, and drops zinny/Gabriel than tets will be sensible and play Thomas in central mid?

Mysticleaves

Very much likely Jwl. I’m expecting Partey at RB, Rice at 6 and Odegaard and haverts at 8s with Nketiah at 9. Probably be a proper hiding as usual from city. 3-0

Mysticleaves

And a tigh injury for Partey because Doku will tear him a new one.

TheLegendaryDB10

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