GLORIOUSLY BORING POINT!

by .

Arsenal vs. Manchester City lived up to the billing we expected – two teams that play the same style of football, effectively canceling each other out in a game of chess, versus the blow-out festival of football the world was hoping for.

It’s quite odd to read so many people complaining about the way Arsenal approached the game at The Etihad – the same people laughing at us last season for blowing a gasket because we were too emotional are now falling over themselves to whine that we didn’t take it to them. Pundits that laughed at our naievite over the years now falling over themselves to pick holes in a cautious and professional approach.

Let me remind people:

City is the best team on the planet and they are the current treble winners.

Arsenal has the youngest squad in the race for the title; we blew it last year because we lacked maturity.

Away games in title-contending matches rarely throw up massive wins; they are usually draws.

Manchester City were extremely good.

Since when has containing the best team in the league to their first scoreless home game of the season been something to be sniffed at?

The truth here is a lot of people were banking on Arsenal coming unstuck. The prevailing view is that we weren’t going to have enough in a big away game because we haven’t won many big away games this season.

How wrong people were.

Arsenal played a tight and compact game and executed a plan to suffocate angles and block incoming danger. We followed Rodri and KDB around the pitch and prevented them from unlocking themselves and a very quiet Haaland.

The plan looked to be to catch them in transition, but beating the City press was really difficult on a day choked full of nerves.

The job to be done was to escape with a point or more so we could live to fight another day. We also needed a performance that spoke to the serious team we’ve become. City didn’t score, they didn’t register more than 1 xG, David Raya barely had to make a save all game.

Saliba and Gabriel bullied Haaland all game. He looked a shell of a man. That’s one of the most monstrous athletes in the world getting pocketed… again. I thought the Frenchman had quite a junior start to the game. He’s shown nerves on one or two big occasions this season, and he’s looked the lesser of the two centre-backs. He course corrected that hard in the second half with a masterclass for the ages. Hopefully that’ll give him the belief that he belongs at the very peak of world football, and that he should ignore Deschamps slander, always. I’m finding it really difficult not to believe that the better defender this season has been Gabriel who hasn’t put a foot wrong since he was benched for the opening three games of the season. He’s beaten the bozo out of his game, added more ambitious passing, and his leadership and fighting skills have gone through the roof. A man mountain of a player.

Odegaard and Delan Rice were full of energy, awareness, and urgency. Watching them patrol the midfield doing the ugly work players of their talent don’t normally have to engage in was a delight. There was no feeling these guys believed they were inferior. On another day, Odegaard is rewarded with the assist of some of his attacking through balls deserved.

There were beastly duels all over the pitch; we didn’t win them all, but that’s just how it goes. The most important piece of the day was everyone bringing maximum concentration to every phase of the game. It was such a well-coordinated team effort from all involved. The dumb of seasons past has been replaced with a cold professionalism that you could almost describe as boring.

I went hard at the selection of VAR and the ref before the game, but I retract those comments now. The Liverpool fan in VAR kept quiet for the game and the ref let the game be the star. Was it feisty? Yes. Could he have dished out 10 yellow cards? Yes. But he didn’t need to control the game. The tackles were tough but fair, and the lack of yellows kept the game spicy. I also thought the lack of intervention stopped players from rolling around like babies or diving for penalties.

Also, kudos to Arsenal for working on the rotational fouls… everything City threw at us, we threw right back at them.

That was an incredible point; no one expected it. Now we head into the final 9 games with the hardest away day complete.

So what did we learn?

One of the concluding points of last season was that we’d never see the promised land if we didn’t address our inability to beat the biggest teams in the country. Well, we’ve taken 4 points off Liverpool and Manchester City this season. That is astonishing progress in a season that saw big changes to our personnel, our fixture congestion, and our playing style. Arsenal can beat any team in the world now – and that means we can truly consider ourselves contenders for major honors.

We have the best attacking output this season and the best defense, and we’re not getting rolled by anyone. But we’re still third favorites for the title because we’ve not won a big trophy since 2004.

What more could you ask for at this stage of the season?

Arsenal is still in the learning process; every day is a school day. Whatever happened in that game yesterday was going to add to our Arsenal IP that’ll put us in pole position in the post-Klopp/Pep era. The draw was a major lesson. We don’t have to fight the way other teams expect us to fight. We can play a different style, do things that most people think don’t come naturally to us, and we can keep a title fight alive by being smart.

We have 9 games to go. The most important of those 9 could very well be the Luton game. Mikel Arteta is going to have to rotate if we want to survive the run-in in peak physical form. That means we’re going to see Thomas Partey, Tomi, Zinchenko, Jesus, and maybe Fabio Vieira called up to the first team. The question is, can they get results… or scarier, does Arteta have the nerve to change a formula that has been doing bits for him in 2024?

This is going to be an intriguing month. I’m going to be here with blogs and podcasts. So you best be with me every day to enjoy the ride. You read this blog because we always wanted to work out a way Arsenal could get back into the big time, be part of elite conversations, and be a club that boasts relevancy again. Well, after 17 years of writing this blog, I think we’re nearly there, people. Arsenal is a proper club, and we have a magnificent 5 years ahead of us.

Ok, get the latest podcast in your ears, and I’ll see you in the comments. x

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Dissenter

Fabio Viera looks like gold in training. I’m sure he plays on Wednesday.

Madhu

I have been watching Arsenal from late 90s and yesterday’s defensive performance was the best I have seen for a long time. Sure there were earlier performances like the CL run where the makeshift defence containing Cygan took us to finals without conceeding even once, but yesterday the shape and the defensive lines we setup as soon as we lost the ball was amazing. Everytime Man City had the ball out shape was perfect. The reason we had much less attacking was how deep back our wing forwards played. Saka and Jesus assisted white and Kiwior multiple times and never… Read more »

Positive pete

Diss.Sheffield are due at least one unbelievable/ freak result on a season.Let it be at Anfield,this Thursday instead of a cricket score!

Rich

Madhu

The makeshift defence Wenger glued together on our run to the CL final in 2005/06 is legendary.

We still hold the record of 10 consecutive CL clean sheets.

……….…..Lehmann
Eboue Senderos Toure Flamini

Those 5 cost us around £4 million combined.

We were missing Big Sol, Cole, Clichy, Lauren for much of that run.

Shad

Arteta has made this team so adaptable. That was a replica of how Porto played us in the 1st leg. Just lacked that bit of calmness or sharpness to make one chance stick.

The major positive is this gives me confidence for the UCL run in
Boils down to how Arteta rotates the team and keeps it fresh and competitive across both competitions.

P/s. Liverpool will drop a few points away from home. I’m not too worried about them.

Madhu

Rich thanks for correcting me it was Senderos and not Cygan.

Paulinho

The reason that 05/06 team reached the final was due our incredibility ability to deal with that first wave of pressure – something this team struggles with.

Watching Hleb & Fabregas deftly sidestep any attempts to panic them into a mistake was a sight to behold.

jwl

Too funny, my teenage niece discombobulated by yesterday, last second goal by ladies to win a cup and then argy bargy between the managers at the end. My niece big on girl-power stuff and she was shocked with Hayes shoving Jonas and then complaining about male aggression, that was kinda bullshit. And then men pull off great performance that reminded old timers of GG era when crowd sung one nil to arsenal quite a lot so she got a bit of a history lesson after match.

Chris

If I have read it right we have conceded just 4 goals in 9 league games. Thats outstanding.

And leagues are won on defences as they say.

That’s twice we have kept City at arms length, although if we get past Bayern I’d still prefer to play Real, for a few reasons.

Andy

the thing that really struck me reading this, and in particular your comment re. gabriel, is we now have a team of 11 captains on the pitch most weeks. all these guys are top characters and leaders in their own way.

it’s really amazing stuff. it’s also why zinchenko, even though he is a very nice footballer, is now our third choice left back.

Aaron

What a great team defensive display-period! Rich, Arsene should have kept that same lineup into the finals, do not ever change the formula if they are winning, and no one is injured. Oh, and the dark arts, I have been waiting for that for over 15 years, loved all of it against $h*Tty, they do it to everyone all the time and rarely ever get someone sent off! That being said, I saw Gabriel stretching out his calf/achilles late in the game, he and Saka have to be rotated this game! If I remember correctly that field at Luton looked… Read more »

Nigel Tufnel

Pedro,

No need to retract the criticism of the VAR selection. Regardless of what he could have done, there was no advantage for Liverpool in whatever he might have done or course to ignore. He actually got the best result for Liverpool with the way things ended.

Not the same for our other games, as in the one against Newcastle, where he went out of his way to make sure we didn’t win. He got away with that completely. He shouldn’t be involved in our games, or Man City games either.

Guns of SF

I am super impressed with Maghales. Dude is like lightning and thunder combined out there.

Habesha Gooner

That was the most boring game and I loved it. I absolutely loved the fact that people didn’t enjoy watching that game. They wanted an open game. We didn’t. We wanted a result. We have been entertaining for weeks before the break with a ridiculous number of goals. We didn’t need to entertain yesterday. I felt were the more dangerous team despite being pinned back. We went in to it with the clear goal of not losing the game minimum. And we had a few openings and we could have won. Now we have dented City and we will try… Read more »

BacaryisGod

Akanji on complaining about Arsenal’s constant fouling and if it was ‘illegal’:

“Definitely. When we got through sometimes they stopped us with the fouls. If there’s no action to it [from the referee], it’s hard.”

I can’ tell you how much enjoyment I’m getting from Man City moaning about our tactical fouling.

Guns of SF

dark arts is needed sometimes. From the first whistle, we gave them no respect. I did not like our players helping them up off the ground tho. Let them lay there in pain

Nigel Tufnel

Everybody over analysing the oneTrossard chance …. At least he hit the target, as he usually does. On the other hand, we actually got decent moves into their box a few times in the first half, and I recall Jesus ending every chance, or giving the ball away foolishly with his frenetic over dribbling, battling, instead of getting the ball to open teammates… .. The battling destroys our flow, and usually ends with him on the ground with no chance of a penalty… Grimacing. It’s a simple fact.. our players score and combine much more effectively when Jesus is not… Read more »

Dissenter

Nigel
Seems you’ve gone sour on Gabriel Jesus

You’re seeing the obvious now.
People can’t stop from judging Gabriel Jesus based on the honeymoon period between his signing and the WC.

Last edited 11 days ago by Dissenter
Chris

“Akanji on complaining about Arsenal’s constant fouling and if it was ‘illegal’:

“Definitely. When we got through sometimes they stopped us with the fouls. If there’s no action to it [from the referee], it’s hard.””

Pot. Meet Kettle.

Nigel Tufnel

Dissenter you’re right about me with Jesus and I don’t try to hide it. I was here at halftime yesterday pointing out the frustration of the first half. Anybody who disagrees, needs only to look at our production from those periods when Jesus isn’t starting. Just saw some replays of the Trossard chance. Not as easy as people are saying. A pass would have needed perfect execution on both ends to end up in the net.. as it is, he forced the keeper to palm it straight back into the box, the most dangerous area, but unfortunately, City players got… Read more »

raptora

Jesus is class but not top class. I hope he’ll be fine with becoming what he was at City – a fill player across the front line but not a guaranteed starter. A lot of huff and puff but the amount of times he lost the ball falling to the ground asking for a foul no ref will give him, is beyond frustrating. I appreciate the effort a lot, he put in a shift and a half. But how has Arteta not cleaned his game yet? He makes bad decisions so often. He’s got everything in his locker but brain… Read more »

Emiratesstroller

Nigel Tufnel Jesus is a very good footballer, but it has been clear during his entire career that he is never going to be a prolific goalscorer. Centre forward is the one position in our starting eleven which needs an upgrade. Frankly there are very few strikers in the game today who are likely to score 25 goals + on a regular basis. Kane and Mbappe are the obvious choices. Kane will never come to Arsenal because of his Spurs links and Mbappe is now committed to Real Madrid. So it seems to me that Arsenal will need to “speculate… Read more »

Little Mozart

Let the mourners whine, we had a job to do and we did it with a positive result.

raptora

Kai is unorthodox and looks rough, unrefined at times. But he plays like a CF, he’s a handful, tall, tough to play against and doesn’t make many bad decisions. He also has elite mentality. He is very smart on the pitch. It wasn’t hard to predict that he was going to gazump Jesus in the pecking order. I think Arteta is aware of that.

Kai is also very reliable, unlike Jesus and Zina.

Rich

I took bullets during Jesus’s honeymoon period for pointing out these types of players tend not to have longevity attached, and his style was unsustainable.. But if people rightly want to point out that Saka hadn’t trained for 2.5 weeks prior to yesterday’s game.. Then they also have to acknowledge that Jesus has played just 84 minutes across 3 appearances since Jan 30th. Jesus was excellent in pre-season, but then had a complication on his knee just as the season was about to start, and went back in for minor surgery. He then had another injury, then came back again,… Read more »

Dissenter

When we signed Jesus and Zinchenko, the effect was transformational for a young squad, a bit like when we signed Ozil in 2013. Since then the rest of the squad has improved and surpassed whatever they were supposed to offer. For me, Jesus and Zinczenko are like the first phase rockets of a space vehicle, they take you so far in the stratosphere but they aren’t longer term options. Neither of them are starters now, same as they weren’t starters in the successful city teams. You can see why city moved them on, their flaws are evident. The novelty of… Read more »

Last edited 11 days ago by Dissenter
Dissenter

Some people will put a negative on Nigel, even if he just says “Hi”.

Rich

A 30 goal forward doesn’t necessarily make us a better team, or yield more goals. It could do.. But it’s not a guarantee, spreading the goals around eliminates a single point of system failure. The best teams are based on the collective, you get very few Suarez/Benzema types who can do the lot. Who could be the main goal scorers, and also have the ability to facilitate the rest of the attack. I don’t want Arsenal to sign a low touch, low involvement centre forward, who stays central, occupies the penalty box, and who the rest of the team is… Read more »

Paulinho

Jesus has his flaws but he’s one of the few players who consistently looks attuned to the actual pace of the game from the off, it’s just his execution that lets him down.

We have certain other attacking players that start matches as if they have just come out of a deep sleep.

Dissenter

Paulinho,
“it’s just his [Jesus] execution that lets him down.”

True, but that execution is what separates teams that come runner up and teams that inch their way to league titles.
Yesterday, Jesus did God’s work defensively but we can’t execute the full tasks of what the manager wanted offensively because when he gets that one half chande, he slashes at it.

Last edited 11 days ago by Dissenter
JW1

The type of game it was? If Martinelli were healthy and fit enough to start and go deep into the match yesterday– Arteta might have been inclined to start Jesus on the right instead of Saka. Remember, we beat City at home without Saka in October. What Arteta was looking most for was defending from the front and tracking back from the wingers. Jesus did that job really well for 72 minutes. Saka played a bit longer (77′)– as long as he could. Arteta knew what he was going to get from both Jesus and Saka yesterday. If a goal… Read more »

Shad

Have to agree as well with the vast majority here, the tem has outgrown Jesus and Zinchenko, and to some point, Partey. A fit Timber takes away the need to keep Zinny. The other deficiencies are what we are known to be looking for: CDM to sit with/rotate with Rice and a clinical CF. The former is all about an engine and availability with some finesse and the latter is all about burying 3/5 of the chances we create.

It is looking more and more like a fire sale.

Gla

Remember the name Max Dowman 14 years n 3 months playing for the under 18
Arsenal score 5 v Fulham with him getting four assists
Foden type player.. futures bright, futures Arsenal

Spanner

Well that match was a joy to behold. Locking them out home and away in different ways was some serious progress since last year with yesterday’s game the most Atletico type performance I’ve seen since…..? Good to see Arteta is a good learner and has maybe been studying Simeone. Plenty of rotational fouling, obstructions, body checks, time wasting etc. Absolutely loved it I did. A word on Odegaard, is there anyone quicker over the first two or three paces? He pounces from a standing start like he’s been launched. Exceptional performance and I can only say those who found it… Read more »

Rich

Gunnerblog via the Arsecast:

Manchester City had just 4 touches in our penalty box in the first half yesterday, which is the joint fewest they’ve had since Guardiola joined the club in 2016.

Rich

Via Squawka:

Manchester United have faced more shots (197) and allowed more opposition touches inside their own box (394) than any other team in the Premier League in 2024.

Fewest opposition touches allowed in their own penalty box 2024:

1. Arsenal – 122
2. City – 176
3. Liverpool – 181

Shad

Also, as much as the plaudits will go to Saliba, my word, my player of the season has to be Big Gabi.

Collosal. I can’t imagine the backline without him.

Nigel Tufnel

Jesus missing chances at a slightly too high rate would be acceptable to me with his many other positives like pressing and defending… But the misses – combined with too many poor decisions like dribbling into impossible situations when there’s better options to release the ball to teammates….. Along with physical battles drawing fouls which slow our momentum, or diving in the box for which he never gets awarded a penalty. All coming with the grimace…. .. All that was refreshingly absent with our great run from January until his recent return. One last thing nobody mentions.. his pace is… Read more »

TheLegendaryDB10

I think the post sums it up. The way we handled Cheaty defensively was a joy to watch. We kept a tight hold of the midfield, and the back four did an excellent job in shutting the entire Cheaty front line down by closing the spaces. Gabriel needs a special mention. That close-up of him talking down Halland just shows how far the team has progressed mentally. It’s lovely to see this back four rapidly becoming most probably a new addition in the ranks of Arsenal defending graats. I genuinely think we could have won the game had Jesus scored… Read more »

JohnG

Jesus seems to have fluffed his resurrection lines bit there doesn’t appear to be a standout available candidate to take his place. Don’t be to surprised if a striker does not turn up this summer and we go for a wing forward type instead

Les Fogging-Geaux

We were overrun in the corresponding fixture last year, it was grim viewing. What a difference 12 months and some squad depth makes. Plus of course some top coaching. It’s now April, so time for Mute Kandela’s wheels fall off prediction for Liverpool to kick in aaaaany time now. Whoever does better away at Man U may well win the league.

Les Fogging-Geaux

Also Akanji complaining about Arsenal’s rotational fouling ….a bit rich coming from them, but you LOVE to see it.

Canadian Gooner

Anyone else find it mind boggling that there were 8 centre backs and 4 cdms (even if rice wasn’t necessarily supposed to be a 6 to start the game) on the field to start that game yesterday?

Canadian Gooner

Some thoughts after reading the comments : 1) I’m not sure if I was watching a different game but other then the one brilliant pass (which was absolutely brilliant) I was disappointed in Partey’s performance. He looks like a guy who’s still a ways a way from being match fit. When KDB made his slaloming run In the second half I thought surely Partey, who was fresh, is going to chase him down. It looked like he was jogging in a pick up game. There were other times where he just looked a step slower then everyone else as well.… Read more »

Last edited 10 days ago by Canadian Gooner
Dissenter

The mass hysteria amongst so called pundits over the Coty vs Arsenal game borders on mass idiocy
It’s like aliens came away and sucked IQ from this people
You even have one talk sports mouthpiece talking about “Arteta’s lack of courage”
If they want to be entertained go to the animal shelter, adopt an dog and teach that dog how to juggle apples. Arteta’s job is not to entertain you.

Habesha Gooner

Dissenter The narrative when it comes to Arsenal is always boring. We are literally 1 Liverpool draw away from the top. We have a superior GD too. And we have played both our title rivals. If we lose the title, it won’t be because of that game. It will be because we lost to Fulham away and we drew to them at home, we lost to villa away despite being the superior team, we lost to fucking Westham at home too. It was a really good point in the circumstances. And we are still in it. And that is what… Read more »

Dissenter

My last post was written before my phone was shut off before a flight. I didn’t get a chance to review it for errors.
It came out very wrong.

Bkon

Reporter: Man United are eight points behind you, can they challenge for a Champions League spot? 🧐

Ange: Do you see us challenging Manchester City? They’re only eight points ahead of us? 👀

China1

Hahaha dissenter 😄

China1

Jesus is a really good player, I just don’t think he’s the answer to be in our starting 11 when everyone is fit

Would rather Martinelli left wing and havertz up front

In the summer presuming we buy a CF I hope it’s someone physically imposing as then when havertz is returned to left 8 it means we’ll have effectively upgraded Jesus physically for a big guy

Even more height and power in this team pls!

China1

Re that Sportibg striker we are linked to ‘Gyokeres’ or something, he looks like he’s got a good profile Seems powerful, fast, a good dribbler and finisher. His numbers are excellent Only real concern I have is when you watch his highlights reels the quality of defenders he is beasting is embarrassing You can only beat what’s in front of you so it’s not a criticism of him, I’m just wary that any 7/10 striker playing against that caliber of defense is going to look world class. They were like league 1 level at best. Same happened with Nunez who… Read more »

China1

I’m actually pretty proud of arteta right now Anyone saying what we have now is the culmination of all his planning since he joined is both giving him too much credit and also not enough The arteta who joined us did have big ideas and plans. He has overseen this frankly dramatic transformation of the club, but that’s been far more dependent on him transforming himself The guy who came to us had big ideas but quite a lot of flaws – which is not surprising as a rookie. After the FA cup win which was amazing I think he… Read more »

China1

Literally my only real ask pending on arteta now is I want to see next season that he gives the academy a fair chance All the best long term managers in England have done this. Wenger was the king almighty of letting his best kids (even some of his lesser ones) get a chance. Ferguson was never scared to do it throughout his career. Pep does it and klopp does The stage is set perfectly now where a few of our fringe players are leaving this summer and need replacing. We should use our resources on players we expect to… Read more »

Kpankulu

Canadian Gooner: Raya did not distribute, because that was not part of the game plan for Arsenal in the match against Light Blue 115 FC.