NICE BOYS FC

by .

Arsenal vs Porto didn’t go the way we expected, but it kind of went the way we knew it could because we’ve been there in the past against teams like Milan who would always take advantage of Wenger naivete.

You can’t sugarcoat this one; we didn’t perform to the level of post-Dubai 2024. We didn’t move the ball fast enough, our attacking offering was limp, and we got pulled into a drunken street fight.

The Champions League is unique in the sense that good European teams are very honest about their weaknesses and they’ll counter them by doing things they are good at. ‘Don’t play ball against Arsenal, don’t let them have their way at corners, and take advantage of their youth’ was the brief and it was executed masterfully.

Porto were very good at what they needed to be good at – and they capped a Champions League masterclass with a stunning goal from about 25 yards out.

The ball was in play for 51% of the game – the Bayern vs Lazio game had a 66% figure. I think the Premier League changed the rules when the number was hovering around 57% at the start of the season. Porto has Jose Mourinho dark arts DNA. They slowed the game down with theatrics that were on telenovela levels of cheap drama. Every tackle resulted in a twisted fall, every corner saw about 6 players hit the deck like a dark episode of Band of Brothers, and the ref fell for it all. What was masterful about it was the amount of players participating – when you only have Ben White pinching hips, a ref can contain it. Porto created pure chaos around corners forcing the ref to blow the whistle time and time again. They needed an NFL setup to work out if something real was happening… most of the time, it wasn’t. 37 fouls were called, Arsenal games average about 26, Burnley was 21.

This was a game that really struggled with the lack of a Zinchenko and Gabriel Jesus – our very own chaos merchants. Porto was relaxed in a very structured deep block. They closed off passing lanes to our 10s, their keeper did a brilliant job commanding his box, nullifying our corner advantages, and they had the luck of our wide players having really poor days in the office.

The cherry on top of a rough evening was tasting the finish line only to watch us lose control in the 94th minute. Saliba dithered, Gabriel miscontroled, Declan didn’t close down, David Raya jumped too early and let a 25-yard screamer lob him.

It was a stinger – but if there’s any game for that to happen imn, it’s the first leg against a weaker team at their place.

A painful loss like that can sometimes be exactly what the doctor ordered. Fan hype that we’re good enough to win the Champions League looked silly. Players will now know the levels required. Arteta will know the limitations of his players to make in-game shifts in how they play. We can take them back to a fiery atmosphere in North London and hopefully decapitate them… a little like we did against RC Lens.

As fans, we’ll look for deeper meaning in a bad day at the office, but I wouldn’t ferret around too hard. Teams lose games. We don’t lose many of them. All this talk of a lack of a plan b doesn’t really work for me. We smashed our CL group and we’re within a point of the league leaders. Plan Bs are like insurance, you only notice them when there’s an accident. There haven’t been many accidents this season because we’ve been winning under a multitude of circumstances. Plan B wasn’t the issue – getting tactically controlled was.

If there’s anything that needs further consideration its the Nice Guy FC attitude the clubs has carried over from the old days. I’m watching that new fighter pilot drama on Apple. Our boys are like the pilots from the 50s. High levels of morality, doing things by the book, would get drawn into a bar fight, knock the other guy out, pick him up off the floor, and buy him a pint.

Sometimes you need to pack some guerilla warfare thinking if you want to win games. We weren’t ready for people jumping out of bushes or hiding mousetraps in bowls of fruit. Maybe that’s because we don’t have those types of players at Arsenal. There is no Diego Costa in our team or an Ivan Toney. To reach the next level, we might need to train people up, or hire people in. Because to win at the highest level in 2024, you need a Mane who can discreetly weaponize elbows, a Chiellini who could turn a game with his tricks, or… a Pepe, who at 40 years old nullified kids half his age with his wisdom and dirty trickster tone setting.

The deeper concern for me is how it impacts our momentum. Players will feel tired in the Newcastle game this weekend – Eddie Howe has had a whole week to practice strategems on the training field. Playing one of the most athletic teams in the league with fresher legs is a daunting task after a loss like that.

The game went from a sure fire win to smelling a little like a bore draw – but that’s the difference between title challengers and pretenders. The players have to shake off the doubts, they have to power through the first 20 minutes of heavy legs, and they have to deliver. If they don’t, they’ll exit the season with nothing.

So to wrap it up – this Porto loss is either a mental sharpener or it’s the start of a mini-unravelling.

Let’s see what Arteta has in the locker.

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Guns of SF

First

Guns of SF

CL champs

Obuche Achiel

1st

TallestTiz

Trophy 🏆

Obuche Achiel

What do we need to qualify? Penalties maybe 🤔

raptora

Pedro: “their keeper did a brilliant job commanding his box” Glad you’ve also noticed it. Diogo Costa will probably be the next keeper to show Alisson/Ederson levels. Still 24 yo, at perfect age to make the big step up and join a top club. I can’t hide my disappointment we’re going to settle for Raya, who is a capable keeper, but with Diogo Costa we’re looking at a world class keeper that we’ll basically not need to touch our GK position in the next decade. Something that City and Liverpool are in the midst of with their Brazilian keepers. Porto… Read more »

RAY in LA

Raptors…Don’t know enough to challenge your assessment of the Porto keeper, but we didn’t test him

Guns of SF

we have the firepower to kill em

Marko

Porto has Jose Mourinho dark arts DNA.

Has to be said at nearly 5 years now of Arteta at arsenal he’s more Mourinho than Pep.

Guns of SF

Im looking forward to having that rat face Gordon get kicked all over. Cunt face

Marko

Diogo is a good keeper for sure. They’ve also got some decent players like Pepe and Galeno and that Evanilson has been linked to us too in the past

Rich

Arsenal are an incredibly well coached team, with some of the best players in the world. We’ll get plenty of results… The most likely thing to completely derail us is the same injury prone players, not just through their own absence, but through the increased workload of the rest. There’s areas of our squad where it certainly might weaken us, but we can adapt and still get results. But there’s a few players who we just can’t live without, because we don’t have what’s required to adapt, our bench is looking incredibly light at the minute… And as the schedule… Read more »

RAY in LA

there’s been a lot of praise for our set-play coach… how the team reacts to Newcastle will tell us whether the praise was hype or deserved

I like the thought of a shit-housery coach 🙂

TheLegendaryDB10

Great post Pedro. Yeah, it’s true that having Jesus and Zinky could have introduced some chaos, but it is what is now. Hopefully they will part of the line-up in the return leg. “So to wrap it up – this Porto loss is either a mental sharpener or it’s the start of a mini-unravelling.” That is basically my thinking. If the team are serious about competing in the CL, they absolutely must learn from this game that we cannot get sucked into whatever the opposition does. We need to impose our game at all times. I think the team will… Read more »

DMDM (formerly DM)

This is the thing with our team. Before the match I genuinely said that anything winning 3-0 to losing 2-0 would not be a surprise. Outside of those parameters I would’ve been surprised. There’s no doubt we’ve come on massively in the past couple of years but we’re still always capable of dropping those sort of performances. In a way we’re lucky it was in the CL because we have another leg to put it right, and hopefully we will; in the Prem, that would be 3 points lost forever (as we’re all too aware).

redbro14

Did not like the game from the start. Very slow, extremely cautious from us, not the same level of performance we have seen in the last bunch of games. I guess to be expected away from home in CL but still nearly 0 shots on target and quite a few below par players. Seeing Rice booked in the first couple of minutes told it’s own story. A bit of nervousness and lack of belief. Anyway, Gaby very silly hopeful cross-field pass was a big mistake instead of closing the game at 0-0. Made me sick seeing that strike nestle in… Read more »

Greg

Arteta has been at it for a long time now as a player and a manager. The team should be prepared for a parked bus and liberal quantities of sh!thousery in CL or Euro league away matches.

Pierre

Everyone seems to think that reaching the champions league is the holy grail ….not for me, I find 80 % of the games tedious and ruined by gamesmanship , especially when it gets to the knockout stages when more is at stake. The group stages are overrated, the home games are normally little better than the europa league and the away games are almost unwatchable as there is rarely any tempo in the games. Give me a good run in the fa cup any day, just good football with 2 teams having a good go at eachother trying to qualify… Read more »

Northbanker

The attack lost their nerve and this ultimately spread elsewhere
Saka and Martinelli needed to threaten more. Kai and Tross did little
This is where we needed a CF of consequence and I remain convinced it’s our transfer priority this summer.

rollen

Good post. I agree with everything said.
Only part missing was paragraph describing how Arteta delivered generational changes at the HT, changed the way we play and we won the game….oh wait it never happens.

Second leg wil be the most important game in last 4 years.

rollen

Pierre there is a lot of play acting and cheating in PL too on the top of the super corrupted Pgmol and FA.

Pierre

I’m not sure why Martinelli is getting the blame for the crossfield pass as Odegaard called for the ball and if you watch it you wonder why he didn’t chest the ball down to Havertz who was no more than 3 yards away and in his eyeline. I would also question why Odegaard was making that run so late in the game as saka and Havertz were already in that area of the pitch and by failing to deal with the pass from Martinelli it left us short in midfield with 3 players out of the game with 30 seconds… Read more »

Hermes

We should return to Dubai the soonest, even if it a video call.
Yesterday’s performance is unacceptable regardless its 1-0 or 0-0

Last edited 1 month ago by Hermes
Emiratesstroller

Pierre

The Champions League IS the Holy Grail, because of the revenues it generates to clubs involved in this tournament.

Also the leading clubs who compete in this tournament attract the best
players in world football.

I don’t disagree with your evaluation of entertainment value, but that is
not the major concern for the owners of clubs involved.

Arsenal need to learn how to manage these games if they are to ptrogress.

Muroro

What Porto did tactically was maintain a compact mid-block on us that negated our ability to play our progressive patterns through the middle in Kai and Martin as our 8’s. They allowed us to have the ball in our third but would high press the moment we progressed through Rice and White in the middle third. We tend to stuggle with breaking down a low block in the league but this mid-block tactic was a nightmare and made us totally ineffective. I suspect we will have to deal with a similar mid-block from Newcastle because it was as clear as… Read more »

Stevenz

Wow another day, another Odegaard beat down by Pierre. Forgetting his favourite player stopped playing football seriously because of a video game and ended up a road-man.
Dull

Nigel Tufnel

Cheers to Pos Pete for those stats on fouls and possession time. Keep in mind how many of those fouls were their players falling over, not even touched. I was angry about it early on, not just after the result. Andrew from Arsecast covered it well .. reminded me that the Trossard miss that he blazed over the goal was even blown dead.. the commentators talking about how he missed the shot… but it wouldn’t have counted even if it went in, because Pepe fell down, and the ref fell for it again…. The fouls committed stats are not even… Read more »

Snowman

It looked like porto had done homework and won the game mostly by flawlessly executed tactics.

But that doesnt count arsenal out.

Arteta has demonstrated it very well in the past year that he learns from his failures and usually the next time when he clashes the same team again the tables have turned. So im no worried despite the poor result.

Bkon

Not gonna lie, we were properly cooked on Twitter last night.

Bookmarked a lot of tweets. The turn around in the 2nd league will be fun to watch. All Arsenal have to do is progress to the QF, and allow us to handle the rest.

Pierre

Steven zzzzzzźz So it’s ok to put the blame on Martinelli or Raya but Odegaard should get a pass for making an unnecessary run with 30 seconds on the clock , leaving his area exposed which ultimately was the exact position where Porto scored from.. I’m sure Odegaard is questioning himself as to why he decided to make such a crucial error of judgement with such little time on the clock .. Anyone who understands the game would know that there was no need for Odegaard to be so far up the pitch as all he did was confuse the… Read more »

Madhu

Pedro Porto never played deep block. They squeezed space between defensive line and midfield. They infact played a high line.
You have to invoke Wenger again to defend Arteta. Not sure why would you need to disrespect Wenger when he is nowhere close to the club. Well he was the last manager to win league for Arsenal and take us to a CL final.

Stevenz

Pierre. Ive rewatched that a few times and have no idea how/why Odegaard is being singled out. There are three players stood in the line trying to create an overload on imaginary space. Raya tried and failed to work it out there in the play previous and invited more pressure. He then as a consequence was in the wrong position to stop the shot. But hey in a world where a footballer is popular with you for working on his “brand” trying to down managers and being good at Fortnite I can see why you might hate on our captain… Read more »

Stevenz

F*ck it while we are at it let’s blame Saka, as ultimately that is who everyone was foolishly trying to force the ball to.

David Smith

Very difficult conditions, appalling officiating, and our best player booked on 65 seconds, easy to read what was coming. Need some players back and we win the home leg easily

Pierre

Stevenzzźzzz ” Raya tried and failed to work it out there in the play previous and invited more pressure.” He didn’t actually, at least get something as minor as that right….. he rolled the ball out to Rice in oceans of space and under no pressure, and on any other day we would have passed the ball about for the last minute or so to see the game out but Gabriel was too casual and mis controlled the ball which was the start of a number of errors in a 30 second period.. It’s fine if you and others want… Read more »

China1

A coach for not only doing shit housery but dealing with it is definitely useful I’ve said in the past whites fucking with players on opposition corners can be useful but he’s way too obvious about it sometimes and makes it easy for some of them to be given as a foul. If I was his shit housery coach I’d be making him look at more subtle ways to be a dick – especially when playing against a defense that will dive at any contact and a ref who will gladly reward that. Harry Kane the cunt is a master… Read more »

RAY in LA

my take…Porto was pressing — as their last best hope of scoring was at home — with a well-delivered ball there is the possibility of us breaking away and potentially scoring, if not at least relieving pressure and moving the game back up the pitch

sure, 0-0 is much better than losing 1-0, but winning 0-1 is so much better than either

I don’t blame anyone, although I feel we still could have done better with gallon’s [sic] shot

Nigel Tufnel

China1, Exactly. We saw how Burnley tasked a guy to stick to White, the new tactic is to do that, and then fall down because refs are programmed to blow for a foul even when they don’t see it… any time a defender flops on a set piece. The answer is to use White as a decoy most of the time, then, have someone else do the job Ben used to do. It can even be a smaller player, because it’s just about taking up space near the keeper to keep him from moving freely. Height doesn’t matter in this… Read more »

RAY in LA

there may be a positive aspect to the loss, but only if we learn from the lessons…move the ball forward faster, be less predictable with our corners, adapt to the shithousery, play a two-game challenge as a two-game challenge, etc.

Siddeeq

Galeno scored when Rice did not pressure him

Cecsisgod

I also noticed Porto’s high line and our failure to take advantage of it. Martinelli was poised to run down any ball sent behind the Porto defense but unlike our previous games, our defenders chose to cycle the ball around endlessly on our side of centre. I don’t understand how we go from breaking with speed in our best games to forgetting that it works in this one. That’s what pressure will do to a young team I guess. If we go back to the ponderous, predictable Arsenal from December we will not advance.

Nigel Tufnel

Cesc I did wonder early in the game, why we didn’t attempt to go over the top to Martinelli, when they were pressing mid and high effectively. There did seem to be openings. Gabriel did it so well against Liverpool …. he could have done the same here. He has that pass in his locker. So does Kiwior.

Madhu

White being deployed what he does so blatantly on corners doesn’t behove for a team like Arsenal. It’s ok to do it once as a novelty but to repeatedly do at all corners leads to finishing returns. Now it’s observed by all the and refs. Why do we need to deploy a 50M defender not to play the ball but to impeded the GK and then we have the temerity to talk about Porto players falling to the ground all the time. We keep complaining other lesser team for playing anti football but yet deploy a 50M defender to do… Read more »

Madhu

Diminishing return I mean not ‘Finishing returns’

zomber

“Stunning goal”, “screamer lob” that is sugarcoating. A collective brainfart should be the only expression to describe it. We made the goal both possible and looking good

Davey

Ramsdale would have saved that, he has his faults but shot stopping is not one of them, he also has very long arms in relation to his body.

Marbellaron

There is being positive, negative and realistic. We were awful at Porto and don’t expect them to play any different in the Home leg. Only Rice and to an extent White had a good game. 12 corners not a direct header nor a direct shot at goal and we should have altered the way the corners were taken(as it was a tug of war each time) and Arteta should have made more subs earlier in my opinion but now on to Newcastle at the ridiculous time of 8PM on a Saturday where I hope we continue our great recent PL… Read more »

Rich

Via Charles Watts:

Arteta on whether Partey will feature this weekend:

“Let’s see. We have another session today, obviously he has been out for many months and we need to nail the timing.

The same with Gabby, he’s done a few things, Alex is not far away. Tomiyasu is still a bit more.”

Arteta on whether Timber will play this season:

“I really hope so. He’s doing really well. He’s going to start doing some bits with us in the next week or so. We’ll see how that evolves.”

benkind

Still banned?

benkind

People complaining about Porto and fouls. Like matt said on the Pod, the referee was consistent. He might have given some soft fouls but he gave both teams. I don’t remember a foul he missed for us (unless he was playing advantage). They had 2 yellows we had 3 yellow cards. Maybe the Havertz one was debatable but rice and kiwor deserved theirs. Porto had the best chances in the game. Asides trossad attempt who remembers any significant chance that we had. For a team that has scored so much in our previous 3 games that was a terrible performance… Read more »

Eboues Bank Account

Ramsdale would have saved that shot for sure but that would only have restricted the scoreline to 3-0

Last edited 1 month ago by Eboues Bank Account
Tom

Madhu, until the governing bodies decide players wrestling each other in the penalty area at corners isn’t the best advert for the sport, designating someone with a physical presence of White to obstruct ( foul) the keeper will continue to happen.

Rodri has done it for City and he’s twice the player White is valuation wise (transfermarkt), not to mention an eye for goal.

Benkind, after a disappointing result and performance some fans will look to blame someone.
Refs are usually a safe bet.

benkind

https://twitter.com/ChrisWheatley/status/1760623525671436499?t=lWCXgS5prBKYIt8R2b0_fg&s=19

This is so true but we really need to beat them and shut them up

Davey

That is not a great statement to make from their manager at Half time.

raptora

“They think that the best way to beat their opponents is to have more possession of the ball, but that depends on the team and the performers they have.”

Their manager is correct here obviously. If we had Timber, Partey, Fabio etc, we’d have been a different team, a better one.

But it is what it is and we should have done more in attack with the players that have been scoring for fun in our recent games. There’s no question about that.

raptora

Forgot to add Jesus and Zinchenko to the list but yeah… we should start planning for a future without either of the two. Their availability is a massive problem.

Positive Pete

For the muppets defending that ref.You are having a 😹.Check out the report on him from a fellow Dutch journalist if u want a neutral view.He stank.Dont come on here defending the indefensible trying to be contrarian.Check the stats out I posted earlier to get the truth & then just f ** k off.

Guns of Hackney

Arsenal in Europe is like a Jew having a holiday in Iran. Not ending well. Were shit. Pass.

Olumide

Pedro

Once I get to the comments, I find it difficult scrolling. It’s been happening for at least 3 days.

Please fix it.

Bill Kitson

Oh look, Hackney’s back. We must have lost.

Le Groove

Initially didn’t like the introduction of the voting system but I’m starting to come around to it now I see we can downvote Pierre when he posts utter nonsense

Dissenter

The United vs Fulham game is one classic that makes your heart glow