Arsenal signed off for International duty with a carefully crafted win against a Burnley side I thought were very impressive. Vincent Kompany and Mikel Arteta were cut from the same Pep-G-athleisure-wear material and battled it out with two teams leaning heavily into the DNA of the great one.
It was always going to be a rough afternoon with Vincent Kompany, the gulf in class was deep and wide, he admitted as much after when he said you need to be ‘perfect’ against this Arsenal side.
Mikel Arteta went through the same phase of not having the right bodies to deliver on the vision. It’s really hard for newly promoted teams that want to entertain. They rarely have the players to sustain it in a league as Brutal as the Premier League – and once they realise that, the coach is asked to play deep block football by the masses, and the ownership group sacks them shortly after. I hope that doesn’t happen to Kompany. He simply doesn’t have the players to decide to move back to Dyche-ball.
Arteta has been given the money to get who he wants and the players are delivering the results, even in third gear. It was an odd approach that he took to bury Burnley. He decided that they don’t like looped crosses into the box, so we battered them for 90 minutes with setpieces and diagonal balls. I didn’t like it to look at, but it’s hard to deny the success of it.
Trossard scored our first, putting his body on the line after Saka nodded a deep cross at the back post. The Belgian nodded in but took a knock so nastly, even the adrenaline of a goal couldn’t get him off the floor. Luckily, nothing was broken, and he continued the game.
Our second goal came from a setpiece, but that was right after Burnley equalised. Tomiyasu wasn’t strong enough on the ball in the box, the impressive Koleosho nabbed the ball off him, cut back to Brownhill, who smashed a deflected shot in through sea of legs. Almost immediately, Arsenal equalised. Trossard found Bill Saliba for a goal in his 50th Premier League game. The man is a colossus. It was great to see him on the scoresheet.
There was time for one more goal. A loose ball from a corner kick looped up on the edge of the box, Zinchenko sniffed out the chance to do something saucy and dropped a ‘special occasions’ scissor kick into the top corner. Very, very naughty.
There was still time for a little more drama. Fabio Vieira, who replaced a drab Kai Havertz, managed to get himself a straight red with a studs up challenge. He deserved it. Shame that sort of punishment isn’t dished out consistently for fouls like that. But we can’t expect any favors from VAR or refs after Mikel led a one-man charge against the awfulness of the officials.
A comfortable afternoon, tactical perfection, and some upward movement in a Premier League that saw bad results for Newcastle and Spurs.
Kai Havertz didn’t drop the performance we were hoping for. It was a limp afternoon for him. It’s not that he’s poor, he’s just been bang average all season. What you can’t take from him is we’re doing really well with him on the side. You can’t have 10 players and do what Arsenal are doing. What you can say is he needs to find his confidence and produce more than 1 goal and 1 assist in all comps. He’ll come good, I’ve no doubt, just wish he’d go a little faster.
Jorginho has quietly been doing the business. He had a great game in the week and did another very good job against Burnley. The errors have been concerning over the past year, but it does feel like he’s finding his footing in this Arsenal team. He also landed a call-up to the Italy squad.
There’s still a bit of a feeling that our front three haven’t really clicked this season. It’s not bad, it’s just not at the level we know it can be. Again, this is good, because the fact it feels like third gear but the output is a lot of wins means there’s still more to come from the team. I am increasingly of the mindset that we’re going to have to add a forward player in January. We’re a long way from one-dimensional going forward, but we lack a killer mode. In games like yesterday, you’re kind of begging for a Haaland/Toney/Oshimen-like target man to eat up those crosses. We said something similar last year… we play with our food, City strikes like a Komodo dragon eating a baby goat. There’s only one outcome. We need some of that in our game.
Overall though, I’m very, very happy with Arsenal. We’ve had a very rough 3 months with injuries to key players and we’ve adapted really well. No Partey, no Jesus, Odegaard has been out, we’ve played HUGE games without Bukayo, Martinelli has done his hammy… but the results keep rolling in. After the international break, we’ll have Jesus, Smith Rowe, Odegaard, and hopefully Ben White all ready to go. That’s a very good set of players that’ll give us some extra bang-bang over the December period. No one has noticed that we’ve been shapeshifting and winning. That’ll come in so handy in the backend of the season when we can rotate heavily and still hit the heights with output.
Ok, great. What a lovely day. I’m going to direct you to listen to the latest podcast RIGHT NOW.