Listen to me real good. Declan Rice, for £105m, was a bargain. The English defensive midfielder is a man mountain and once again he repaid the faith Arteta and Edu placed in him. Last night, against lowly Luton, a team we haven’t beaten in 40 years, he took a leaf out of the Cristiano book, leaping at a last-minute cross and putting his header beyond the Luton keeper.
It was another ridiculously special moment from a player who chose Arsenal because he had a premonition of the greatness he could bring to a squad he deeply admired.
Arsenal made a meal of Luton. We expected a drive-thru 3 points and that appeared to be a massive mistake. Luton Town in their 10,000-seater stadium, put up an incredible fight and made it painfully difficult for us. I can’t have people citing roughhousing tactics. This is a team that plays in the garden of someone’s flat. You can literally sponsor a player on their website like a non-league side. They have a squad of players that are either unknowns or Premier League rejects. They didn’t play like it.
They pressed like survival was on the line and they didn’t fade. It was a Rocky Balboa boxing match. Everytime we landed a punch, they smacked us back with equal heft and just like the film, we didn’t put up a defence.
David Raya was awful. There can be no excuses for what he did last night. We know where his level has been for Brentford. It is not there for Arsenal. His keeping coach has crushed Leno, Martinez, Runarsson, and Ramsdale… Raya is literally the keeper that made him famous, and he was dreadful (again). He played like he’d been hazed on his confidence before the game. The performance was timid, he looked scared, it feels like a textbook case of imposter syndrome.
The man brought in for his ability to claim crosses totally misjudged a corner and let Adebayo nip in front of him for an easy header. Declan didn’t track properly, but Raya should have claimed the cross at a higher point. It was passive, pedestrian, not the move you expect of a keeper who’s been training with Ivan Toney for 5 yrs.
The 3rd goal he let in was even worse.
‘ANDROS TOWNSEND TO ROSS BARKLEY’ is not a combo I want to hear before my upgrade keeper lets a weak shot slide under him.
Aaron Ramsdale was usurped for the top 4 shot-stopping stats of Raya – that was not something I expected to evade him.
Ok, I think we’ve got the negativity out of the way… let’s talk about Arsenal’s goals.
The first one was Jesus chasing a lost cause, forcing the keeper to put the ball out for a throw. Jesus took the throw quickly, Saka saw what Jesus was planning and jolted into life like a mouse evading a cat, he raced into the box, and cut back to Martinelli, who squeezed his shot across the goal into the bottom corner. A very smart goal. Worth noting the front post run by Kai pulled the defender towards him.
The second goal was a work of art. Bukayo serviced the right side with Ben White. White stopped tight to the touchline and cut back to Bukayo. The return ball into White’s path was DELICIOUS. Senor Blanco powered into the box and floated a perfect cross for Jesus to nod into an empty net.
The next goal was all about Le Grove propaganda, once again, turning out to be pure insight… Saka hooked a loop ball at Jesus who backed into his defender, watching the run of Kai. His delicate pass found the German who dinked the ball over the keeper. BANG. Kai with his 4th of the season. What a BIG goal.
The final goal didn’t seem like it was coming, Odegaard struck from long range and the keeper saved. Trossard skied a lovely cut back.
The Zinchenko sub changed things up. He gave us more attacking vigor. His cross to Havertz forced a good save. That was the warm-up. The winner came when he gave the ball to Odegaard and drew a runner, the Norwegian fizzed a cross into the box as a final hail mary, Declan stepped up, the rest is three points history and a MASSIVE Arsenal win.
It was also a yellow card for Arteta for over-celebrating – please, someone tell me how PGMOL didn’t punish Haaland but got the card out for Arteta CELEBRATING a last minute winner? They have no shame.
Anyway, this Arsenal team. What more can you say? We’re in a title-winning mindset with new players. The third gear of the first three stages of the season has been replaced by a 4th gear with new players deciding they’d like to be part of the BIG conversations.
Declan Rice IS a big conversation. He’s a bargain at £105m. He made a mistake for the corner hash-up early on, but he kept the team going, and he did the thing mega players do in tough moments… delivered.
Gabriel Jesus should doubt himself more often. Keep giving us performances like that. An assist and a goal. Aggression, balance, power, and control. Proper Brazilian stuff out there. He looks fit, he’s moving like an figure skater, the man looks like he wants to win.
Bukayo and Martinelli with two G/A between them. They look strong, scary, and focused.
Kai Havertz is starting to show that he is going to be the player Arteta envisaged. Too many people wrote him off early and now they have to pay the consequences and find a new person to bag on.
This video from Chelsea fan Johnny Minerals is all I need on Kai.
My kind of Chelsea tears pic.twitter.com/8Lg9QzUDvG
— LE GROVE (@LeGrove) December 6, 2023
Kai is unorthodox, he’s rangy, and he’s going to to be VERY important to our run-in. There is no reason he can’t get us 15 goals this season. He has his confidence back, the team is learning his game, and he’s showing up like a £65m player.
David Raya. Ugh. My immediate reaction was ‘we have two number two keepers’ but I have to be better than that. Kai Havertz was struggling and he’s coming good now. Raya has a history of being very decent. He’s a Spanish international. He’s just suffering with imposter syndrome. I also think we need to address the elephant in the room again: why does the keeping coach get a pass every time? We seem to churn through a lot of keepers and he gets zero scrutiny despite the hard truth that he’s had problems with most of the people who have worked with him. An Arteta blindspot, no doubt.
But, back to the game.
That was a massive win. There is plenty to work on for the Villa game. We gave up too many sloppy goals against inferior opposition. We weren’t sharp and we didn’t deal with the physical brutality. Arsenal is better than that. There needs to be a response to that defending at the weekend.
Outside that, just lap it up boys and girls, that was a MASSIVE win and we’re still top of the league. If you can’t enjoy late winners, get in the bin, no one wants to hear from you.
Ok, that’s me done. Get on our biggest On The Whistle yet. 1062 people joined us live which was pretty cool. Make sure you like, sub, and give us a 5* rating.
Big love. x