Arsenal 2 – Real Madrid 2 plus penalties and Player ratings

We started really well. Were deservedly 2-0 up inside 20 mins. First Laca scored from the spot after a clear handball on the line resulting in a Real red card. Auba made it 2 after a sublime flick from Laca and a neat if somewhat fortunate finish in the end.

We won the ball well in midfield, particularly Willock who’s touch sometimes portrayed his youth but his work rate more than made up for it. I remember thinking I wonder if I’m going to report a comfortable win against admittedly not a very good team, or how we managed to blow it. Unfortunately it was the latter as Sokratis got himself sent off with two quick and somewhat ridiculous challenges.

Even if you agree (and I do) that the first yellow was a little harsh, knowing you’re on a yellow should stop you committing a body check on Modric that leaves the ref with no option. Very stupid.

The rest of the half was fairly uneventful and we went in ahead 2-0, 10 against 10. I want to do player ratings for halftime and add that nothing in the time the players rated did in the second half changed their score except Jenko who was probably our best player over the 90 mins, Martinez who was a little unlucky and to be fair, did enough to maintain his overall rating and Xhaka who (apart from one fabulous ball to Eddie that should have won us the game), generally got worse.

Player ratings for the First Half

Martinez 8. Made a couple of smart saves and actually commanded his box on one set piece with a strong punch. Should have done better with the first goal but wasn’t helped by some weak defending.

Jenko 8.5. had a fantastic game overall. I will comment on him a little more at the end. Great effort.

Kola 6.5. Started well especially going forward and was a lot of the reason we dominated early. Faded in the 2nd half but a satisfactory pre season performance.

Chambers 7. Played well, especially in the first half. or at least I don’t remember thinking he was a weak link in any way. I would not be scared to play him in central defence during the season on that performance.

Sokratis 4. Disappointing, especially as my pick for captain. Very unintelligent and we’ve seen a lot of stuff like that over the years, I want to see different.

Xhaka 3.5. I really tried to be objective but I thought he was awful. If this is our captain, God help us. Sorry but that’s how I feel. No Xhaka Mk 2 unfortunately just more of the same. Also more to say about him at the end.

Willock 7. A bright spot for sure. How you could even compare him to his central defensive midfield partner beggars belief. But he got taken off, Puzzling. But he may be ready for the PL.

Ozil 6. I just didn’t think he was very good. Not just by Willock or Jenkinson standards but by $350k/week. Again sorry if I offend but this is all too familiar.

Miki 5.5. See Ozil except for less money. Still overpaid and underproducing.

 Auba 7. Laca 8. I’ll put these two together. What we would hope for and expect from a pre season game from out better players. Both were solid, enthusiastic and worked hard. Also did what they get paid to do.

My son (Liam) has written the 2nd half review so I could make sure this is as objective as possible.

For as good as we were at times in the first half we were equally as poor for much of the second half.

Monreal came on for an unlucky Joe Willock to replace the void left by Sokratis. Unfortunatley, the void left in the center of midfield was glaring and forced Mkhitaryn to move more centrally and pushed Özil out on the wing. We also decided that with a two-goal lead, it would be best to sit deep, soak up pressure and counter. The combination of these two things allowed Marcelo to wreak havoc by attacking Özil and ultimately led to some combinations between he, Isco, and Asencio before Bale tapped in for their first (56th min).

The pressure continued to mount down our right side and it only took three more minutes for Marcelo to again work a ball inside, this time for Asencio to tap home the equalizer (59th min). Shortly after that, Asensio went down injured and their attacking threat dwindled a little as he went off and both teams made late second half changes. Nketiah, Saka, Burton and Nelson all came on in the 75th minute.

Nketiah had a couple of chances to score late but missed both a 1v1 with the keeper after a heavy touch let him down and glanced a fairly open header wide. The aforementioned combined well during their limited time on the pitch and really looked like our only attacking threats. Ultimately, the score ended 2-2 and we went to penalties.

Penalties Summary: Nelson led off and placed a solid strike in the bottom right corner. Bale missed his, before Xhaka passed a tame effort straight to Courtois. Isco converted his and we were tied after two. Saka converted his spot kick next and Real responded to make it two all after three each. We were then 3-2 down after Monreal hit the post and Varane confidently put his away. Robbie Burton then put his effort high and we were handed our first loss this preseason.

Nacho 7 – see Chambers

 Gang of Four youngsters – 7 all looked good especially Saka. Eddie should have scored at least once but still looks good.

Caution to those that think these guys are ready for week in week out premier league. They have a little growing to do.

Just a couple of takes from this (the Old Man !!) To qualify, I still see this as a pre season friendly and don’t want to make too much of it.


However, I feel compelled to say that I would take Carl Jenkinson any minute of any day over Granit Xhaka based on their respective attitudes, leaving aside their performances. Quite what Unai was thinking both tactically and pulling Willock instead of the Pillock is just mystifying to me. That bothers me. The result doesn’t, but the resigned manner of the eventual loss, the inevitability of the lack of execution and the overall lack of committment by some of these players is troubling. But it’s pre season so I’m just going to keep my fingers crossed and hope things change for the better.

 Mike (and Liam) M



34 Responses to Arsenal 2 – Real Madrid 2 plus penalties and Player ratings

  1. Rasp says:

    Comment from Self Righteous, placed on the end of the last post …

    ….. I’m really glad I stayed up to watch this excellent game which we should have won but for two late & glaring misses by Eddie Nketiah. I can see the thinking behind the choice of our penalty takers, make them do it under real match pressure. Our best player again was Willock who was just about everywhere at the same time (and in that heat). From what I saw in this match and read of others I’d say that Nelson still isn’t ready for regular first team selection & would benefit from another loan spell.
    There’s a scare doing the rounds that the loan deal for Madrid’s Cebalos could be now in danger due to the suspected serious injury last night to Asensio.

  2. Rasp says:

    Thanks to Mike and Liam for their perspectives on the game.

    As far as I’m concerned, the game was a draw 🙂

    Once again, the youngsters showed that attitude comes before experience … since Sokratis’ experience got him sent off and Xaka’s nonchalant attitude towards winning games is becoming a serious concern. He’s not captaincy material.

  3. RA says:

    Morning All, and thanks for putting the Post up, Rasper,

    Excellent report, Mike M – and Liam! 😁

  4. Lower east says:

    Looked tactically another shit show from Emery .the guy is a clown.

  5. Sue says:

    Firstly, I’m cream crackered!
    We played really well in the first half.. 2 great goals… then Bale was introduced and did what he always does against us!!
    They were awesome in the 2nd half…what impact will the Assensio injury have??
    Although it was only a friendly, I’m a lil disappointed we didn’t win… with regards to the penalties, I don’t know what I was more afraid of – the storm we were experiencing, or Xhaka & Monreal stepping up to take theirs! –
    Now on to Sunday……

  6. RC78 says:

    Does anyone still want Xhaka in the team and does anyone still think that we do not need another CB?

    Ozil and Mkhy were really annoying too. As always, bright spots from Laca and Auba while Nketiah needs to keep a cool head and keep on working.

  7. RC78 says:

    As for Jenko, attitude is always great but his defending is not really that good

  8. Sue says:

    I think Sokratis got carried away last night, being in the land of WWE and all that 😀 sometimes I wonder who’s worse, him or Shkodran! When is Holding back? 🤣
    Xhaka is just his usual frustrating self… I guess though, it was only a friendly 😳 Eddie etc got more minutes & did well, he was unfortunate not to score… and I did really feel for Burton (poor sod) having to step up & take that penalty, I’d have blasted it too!
    Same sort of line up for Sunday? I hope it’s not going to be this hot, this heat is hateful & I actually think I may melt! And message to Unai & Raul.. sign someone!!!!

  9. allezkev says:

    Cheers Mike and Son, for the write up, as Rasp says, it was a draw, the pens don’t count, but it was all good practice for when it does.

    I didn’t see the game, but the reviews of Xhaka are a bit worrying, he’s going to be an important part of our team/squad for this coming season, whatever we may think of him, so the reported couldn’t – care – less attitude he apparently showed is a concern, especially if he’s wearing the armband. The captain sets the tone and if he gives off a lackadaisical attitude then that’ll rub off on his team mates.

    I bet that Robbie Burton was mortified that he missed the decisive pen, because he’s fighting for his Arsenal future and he cares – credit to him for having the balls to take it…

    It’s been a great tour, great for our American fans, great for our young players and informative, especially when we see some familiar issues in the team, fortunately Raul has a plan….

  10. Burton was almost completely unknown (to me anyway) before these matches, but with his boy band looks and attitude he’ll be OK.

  11. Sorry, Mike & Liam. That was a very professional match review, especially part two. Have you guys done this before?

  12. Akan says:

    I have been sayinging for the longest time. I do not understand how Xhaka is classified as a professional football player, it is a complete mystery how anyone could watch him and come to the conclusion that he is good enough to play for Arsenal football club. I pray that the management can finally see that Xhaka is the problem.

  13. LBG says:

    Thanks Mike and Liam
    Only able to watch highlights on YouTube.
    “XHAKA is ( one of) the problems”( Despite being corrected before,) he does not have a football brain, gives up and on occasions even seems not to care.
    Sokratis has heart, but no brain.
    Micky is spent and Mesut, despite the genius in his head, feet and hair, needs to be the new player I believe he will be next season.
    It was hot, it was pre-season fare. Much is still to be done. Roll on proper games.

  14. jjgsol says:

    Akan, are you or have you ever been a professional footballer?
    If yes, I bow to your greater knowledge, if not, then I will treat your comments with the contempt that they deserve.

    I wonder whether fans of other clubs also continuously latch on to one player or another and bombard him with abuse.

    A few years ago, it was Ramsey and now he is regarded as a modern-day saint.

    Then it is Ozil, solely based on the extent of his alleged salary which none of his critics has any evidence for, other than what they have read in the papers or a blog and we all know how truthful and accurate they are.

    Then there is Mustafi and more and more. I wonder whether people like you are not fed up with being so negative and critical.

    Has it occurred to you that pre-season is a time where the coaches try things out and that Zhaka and Mustafi and others are simply trying out certain suggested combinations or tactics?

    I am going to stop now but I think I really will now give this blog a miss for a while. If I am really going to waste time reading a blog, I think I would prefer one where the contributors think carefully before they say anything, to make sure they are correct or justified.

    Enjoy the season or not, as the case may be.

    Au Revoir

  15. Sue says:

    Happy Birthday to the one & only Martin Keown!
    An Arsenal XI are playing against Barnet tonight.. might be on
    And now to dampen my mood, I’ve just seen that Everton (yes, Everton) have come in for Wilf!

  16. fred1266 says:

  17. RC78 says:

    Emery already saying it will be hard to catch up with City, Liverpool, Spurs and Chelsea…not to mention that Utd is also strengthening (if they get SMS and Pepe, they will be well scary on paper even if they lose Pogba). So I think it is fair to say our objective is 4th place but we shouldn’t be disappointed if we finish 5th or 6th.

    He also said that we may sign 2,3 and up to 4 players but we would only bring players that can add quality to our squad…so meaning that if they can only get 2, it will be 2.

    To improve the first team, we need at least 3: 1 CB, 1 DM, 1 FW/Winger

    To improve the squad, we need another 4: RB, LB, CM, ST

    The least we could do is at least get the first XI improved and I think we can do that without breaking the bank:
    – CB: Tarkowski or Duffy – 30 Mln MAX
    – DM/CM: Vidal or Naingollan – 20 Mln MAX
    – FW/Winger: Bergwin – 35 Mln MAX

    Leno – Bello, Tarkowski, Holding, Kola – AMN, Torreira, Vidal – Bergwin, Laca, Auba

    Martinez – ?, Sokratis, Bielik, Monreal – Guendouzi, Chambers, Willock – RN, Iwobi – Nketiah

    I think that Martinez, Iliev, Tarkowski, Holding, AMN, Bielik, Chambers and Iwobi will help us meet the HG players requirement.

    I d keep Mkhy and ESR in the squad.

    We should try get rid of the players not mentioned: Jenko, Mustafi, Kos, El Neny, Xhaka, Ozil and Asano. I am sure that their sales would bring us enough money to also pay for a RB (salary of Alves), a LB (ideally Grimaldo) and a ST (go for Pavoletti, Llorente or Mitrovic – someone good in the air basically)

  18. RC78 says:

    I think everyone recognizes Ozil’s talent but I think that many are frustrated because he is not creating enough chances, scoring enough goals or getting the ball back as much as many would like given his status in the squad and of course his salary.

    Ozil is a gem of a player but I would be OK with his sale because it is the only time where we could recoup some money for him and also because we have players like Willock, RN, ESR coming through the ranks that can also create chances for others and maybe put in more of a defensive shift although Ozil does run a lot – this is confirmed by stats.

  19. jjgsol’s gone again. I’ve seen him elsewhere, on blogs where it’s sacrosant to criticise an Arsenal player and commenters are sometimes not encouraged to give an honest opinion for fear of being trolled.
    I think you know where I mean.

  20. RC78 says:

    Rasp & Peaches – I owe you a post this week. I will make sure to send you smt.

  21. Mike M says:

    Morning all. Thanks for the comments. SR we haven’t done this before. liam is a 21 yr old American born Gooner because he had no choice (I think he really believed me when he was about 5 and I told him he was welcome to support anyone he chooses – but if it wasn’t Arsenal he’d need to move out !!! – Kidding !!). We just wrote what we saw from our perspective.
    @jjsol – Disappointed you feel that way. You probably won’t read this but I think this is one of the fairest websites to Arsenal players I’ve ever been on. However I also think we should be able to voice our opinion – “right or correct” is subjective, that’s why we have debate and discussion. Maybe a better response would be to illustrate how Xhaka’s performance was a tactical work out and help us figure out what he was really trying to do. I omitted the fact that he gave away 2 fairly obvious (VAR) penalties that weren’t given. I’d be open to that because being honest, I can’t see much positive from him but maybe you’re right and you can give me a better perspective.

  22. Rasp says:

    Thanks RC … we will look forward to seeing that 👍

  23. Rasp says:

    Hi Mike, thanks to you and Liam. It was a great co-match report and fairly portrayed the match and performances IMO.

  24. Rasp says:

    Incidentally Mike (and Liam), your post has received more than 5000 views already, so it wasn’t just me who was impressed.

  25. LBG says:

    I echo your comments on the quality of the blog, Mike, and Rasp’s comment on your match report. Praise be diversity of comment/opinion and may “contempt” of it be never recorded.

  26. Aaron says:

    Thank you Mike and Liam for the write up.

    Were you guys at the game?

    What is to say that has not been said before.

    I want the youngsters to play against Barnet and Lyon.

    Meaning all, not Mustafi, Monreal, Kola, Xhaka, Mesut, Miki and Sok. Not ONE of them.

    Medley, John Jules, Burton, Saka, Willock, Olyinka, Eddi, Thompson, Matinelli, Nelson, AMN. ALL In.

    Why do I say this, noted above it was clear that the authors feel they are not ready for EPL games, and I agree partly, not 38 games in a row, but surely ready for meaningful playing time when the regulars are gassing. And, they will gas with all the games the Arsenal have to play.
    Emery already knows the defense is horrible, but how horrible can it get by trying something different? Will tell you that even when Madrid rotated heavily against our starters, they schooled us. When Emery switched out the youngsters the game became more open and the Arsenal had their moments to win straight up.

    If Emery goes into the season with the midfield and defense as is, it will be a very disappointing season as the Arsenal will wilt under the heat again.

  27. Mike M says:

    @Aaron – no we just watched it on ESPN.

  28. LB says:

    Top read, thanks Mike and son.


    Cheers Mike and son of Mike. There is no son of Terry, but two daughters of Terry. They are beautiful and intelligent, so I suspect they may not be mine?

    I have to defend my countryman Papastathopoulos.

    Firstly, he has a very short Greek surname so was probably ridiculed at school. Secondly he is a Peloponnesian so with his Spartan roots likes a ruck. Phone boxes in that area of Greece had to removed due to middle aged men occupying them and having a fight with themselves

    In addition, people from that region are a bit thick. I myself originate from Crete, home of the Minoan civilisation. We taught the world how to defeat an evil Bull and control a Pen of chickens without the use of a Cock. In the Peloponnese the world learned how to punch someone for no reason and to this day, chickens are unsafe.

    Papa is our best defender and should be made captain. I am a bit disappointed of Emerys handling of the situation. To avoid future sending offs he should temper the Greeks aggression by placing a phone box in the changing room and avoid serving poultry for lunch.

    On a side note, Willock looks ready to me and should start the season. Even it means we get thrashed he and other youngsters should be given chances. I shall be watching Emery very closely this season and if I suspect he is only thinking short term I will personally shove him into that phone box occupied by a very angry Papastathopoulos.

  30. Rasp says:

    Priceless TMHT 😂

  31. fred1266 says:

    Yep willock should start also either one of saka or Nketiah

    And word when torriera returning I would love him and willock as our 2 CDM

  32. Sue says:

    Phone boxes.. chickens.. 🤣🤣🤣 love it, Terry!!

  33. LB says:

    A Terry comment — pure genius as always

  34. Rasp says:

    Morning all ….

    ….. New post ….

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