Arsenal Invent New Concept: Bournemouth Report & Ratings

If I had a pound for every time I heard someone say: “How come we’re the only club that doesn’t get a New Manager Bounce?” I’d have… well, a few pounds.

But everyone saying that is missing the point. The Arsenal has always been a club of innovation: first team to use numbers on the back of the players’ shirts (1927); first team to play a match broadcast live on radio (versus Sheffield United, 1927); first team to play in a match broadcast live on TV (versus Arsenal reserves, 1937); first team to play a match broadcast live in 3D (versus Man Utd, January 31st 2010); first team in the modern era to go a whole season unbeaten (2003-4)… I could go on.

And now we’ve done it again. Let the others have their New Manager Bounces, we have something new.

Think about it. What does a “bounce” mean. It means you suddenly rise up, usually by winning games. But keen students of gravity will know that a bounce doesn’t only go in one direction. At a certain point planetary mass enters the equation and the bounce goes into reverse, and this phenomenon is often experienced by clubs with new bosses: a short term improvement followed by a return to previous struggles.

Which is why I am not unhappy that we have taken a different path… indeed, as far as I can tell, a completely new one.

We have had one game with Mikel Arteta fully in charge (yesterday) and one immediately after he was announced as Head Coach and in which he appears to have had at least some input with the players (Everton away).

Taking these two games as a piece, there have been definite signs of improvement, even though both resulted in away draws for us.

So, we did not suddenly start winning (no New Manager Bounce) but nor did we lose and, along the way, we started playing better.

We are the proud inventors of the New Manager Glide: a smooth sense of progress with a gentle uphill trajectory. The good thing about a Glide is that, unlike a Bounce, it is not fated to go into reverse at any moment.

The Glide was in evidence in numerous ways in our Boxing Day trip to trifle with the Cherries: faster passing and an improvement in off-the-ball movement; key players (particularly Torreira and Xhaka) holding their positions much more than usual; an improved effort from Mesut Ozil; and an overall sense of commitment and effort from ALL players, not just the young ones.

Arteta’s first starting 11 was partly dictated by injuries (hence Saka at LB, AMN at RB and no real options outside of Sokratis and Luiz as starting CBs). Further forward he opted more for experience than youth, with Torreira, Xhaka, Ozil, Lacazette and Aubameyang all starting. Reiss Nelson was the only unforced youth option.

Whatever has happened in training in the short period Arteta has had with the squad, it seemed to pay off from the start. The small signs of improvement we were seeing during Freddie’s stewardship took a big step forward.

In the first half hour we could easily have had two or three goals if our strikers had been just a little bit more on their toes and if the ball had broken more kindly for us once or twice.

Ozil was demanding the ball and dictating play; Torreira’s relief at finally being told he could play as a holding midfielder was palpable and he had his best game for at least a year; Nelson also had his best game in an Arsenal shirt and was a threat throughout; if Saka had worn a football boot instead of Daniel Day Lewis’s prosthetic leg from My Left Foot he might have bagged a hatful of assists.

At the back, Luiz and Sokratis were mostly solid and Leno continued his good run of form with a display of German aerial dominance not seen since Dunkirk.

It was genuinely exciting to watch us attacking at pace and creating chances in the Bournemouth penalty area… but just to show that you don’t get rid of bad habits overnight, we inevitably conceded in what was almost the Cherries’ first attack.

Predictably it came from us trying to pass out from our ‘keeper while all our players were being heavily pressed by the opposition. It ended up going to Luiz at the corner flag who managed to get it down the line to Saka, under pressure. He had to play it to a closely marked team mate and we lost the ball. Bournemouth broke fast, no-one tracked the run of Dan Gosling into our six yard box and we were 1-0 down against the run of play.

I did not like seeing Saka doing the “Denilson Jog” back towards our box after giving possession away: he probably would not have caught Gosling but I’d damn well like him to make the effort, because if Gosling’s shot had not gone straight in, Saka’s presence might have been needed to prevent a second chance opportunity.

As far as playing out from the back is concerned, we surely need the players to use some in-game intelligence in these situations. If Leno has the ball and every opportunity to pass it out from the back is cut off, it’s far better to kick it long and lose possession deep in the opposition’s half rather than deep in our own.

After conceding we went into our shell for the remaining 15 minutes of the first half (a clear sign that our confidence levels, so damaged by the mismanagement of the Emery period, will take time to recover).

In the second half we stepped up a gear and got an equaliser through Aubameyang who neatly tucked away a deflected Nelson shot. We had other chances that didn’t quite fall for us (sometimes we were denied by brave defending from Bournemouth). We seemed to tire in the last 10 to 15 minutes and by that stage the draw looked inevitable.

I have mentioned the positives: some signs of green shoots of recovery under the new regime. There were also some negatives which Arteta will have seen and will need to deal with. Some of the lackadaisical concentration that has crept into our play was still there (players attempting stupidly dangerous passes and losing possession, players switching off at crucial moments, some hesitation in passing etc). But these can all be fixed.

This was an encouraging start to Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal reign and something to hopefully build on for two very big games coming up fast.

Player Ratings

Leno 6.5

Didn’t have to make too many saves but commanded his area well. No chance for the goal.

Maitland-Niles 6

We never look fully secure with AMN at right back. This was not his best game but he did OK.

Saka 5

Jogging back for their goal; couldn’t get a cross anywhere near the danger area to save his life; out of position a few times when Bournemouth attacked…  and yet: he was a constant threat down our left flank and if his many crosses had been delivered with accuracy he might have had a couple of assists. Far from a good game but I still like this kid’s potential.

Sokratis 6

Did OK. Bournemouth have some big lads and he coped fairly well. He’ll always have a couple of moments on the ball in every game where he gives me heart palpitations.

Luiz 6.5

Pretty good in defence including some brave blocks. He made one trademark David Luiz pass to set up a good chance after carrying the ball out from the back. More of that please David.

Torreira 7.5 MoTM

Who knew? When you give a natural defensive midfielder the job of being, um, a defensive midfielder, he plays well and improves the whole team. Positional discipline was strong, he was quick to the tackle and broke up numerous Bournemouth moves.

Xhaka 6

Whether or not he’s on his way to Berlin, Granit seemed to enjoy not having to be an out-and-out holding midfielder. Typically tidy on the ball but might have influenced the game a bit more going forward.

Ozil 7

Tailed off in the second half, but in the first half we saw how a committed Ozil at the heart of the team can really make a difference. I could see Arteta starting to build his whole approach around capitalising on Ozil’s abilities (using Ozil in a similar way to that in which Man City have used David Silva).

Nelson 7

I have questioned whether Nelson needs a loan spell, but on this evidence he doesn’t. He had some excellent moments and if he can improve his final ball and decision making he’ll create a lot of goals.

Aubameyang 7

With Ozil pulling the strings and a generally faster style of play, Auba was much more involved than he has been when playing as the lone striker. He had several good attempts which were blocked before grabbing the goal that earned us a point.

Lacazette 7

His touch and finishing seemed a little off, but I’m still giving him 7 for his work rate and for being in those dangerous areas at the right time. On another day he might have bagged a couple.


Willock (for Ozil) 6

Mustafi (for the injured Sokratis) 6

Pepe (for Nelson) 6.5



38 Responses to Arsenal Invent New Concept: Bournemouth Report & Ratings

  1. Thank you Rocky …………. it was a good game, I enjoyed watching it and do feel that in time we should get some semblance of an Arsenal team back.

    As Mikel has been bigging Xhaka up how do others feel about him staying for the rest of the season? The transfer market is not good during January, always smacks of desperation to me, so finding a replacement might be difficult.

  2. Rebo Ehwan says:

    Very good analysis of what transpired. I hope Arteta starts Pepe in place of Nelson in our two upcoming matches.

  3. RockyLives says:

    Thanks Rebo
    Nelson was pretty good yesterday but on balance I agree – I would like to see Pepe starting games.

    His willingness to take on defenders and do something a bit different can make a real difference.

  4. Rasp says:

    Great report Rocky …. let’s hope Mikel can provide the momentum to make us glide up hill.

    Had we taken those chances in the first half we’d probably have won …. but then everyone would be getting carried away predicting top 4 etc.

    I agree Ozil was back to his best. I watched him walk off and felt there wasn’t the air of disgruntlement we’ve seen lately. Maybe because he was happier with his own performance.

    Torreira was a revelation … how is it that managers are sometimes that close to a problem that they can’t see the simple solution.
    We’ve made a very small incremental improvement. We still allowed Bournemouth more chances on our goal than they’ve had in recent games.

    Mikel said he would be analysing the videos and discussing the problems with the players … bloody good! Don’t pull your punches MA, let Saka know he let himself and the team down. I agree about switching off. Twice Mustafi remonstrated with the ref whilst the opposition took a quick free kick … this should never happen. His only thought should be to get back into position to snuff out any danger. When has a ref ever overturned a decision because a player was moaning in his ear?

  5. Toennes Berthelsen says:

    Saka was out of position. Reiss Nelson didn´t contribute at all in first half. Torreia struggled physically. Ozil was excellent. Auba shall play either in front or on the right flank. laca must learn that it is a team play. look for better opportunities and not always shooting.

  6. JM says:

    1. I hope that Bellerin will be 100% fit to start at RB (or on the bench at least) vs Chelsea and Man. United next. Otherwise, we are left with two younger stand-in FBs in Maitland-Niles and Saka (with Kolasinac and Tierney out from injury). Especially worry for Saka, both physically and mentally, who has to play 3 consecutive PL league matches for 90mins each in a week.

    2. I also hope that the return of both Chambers (from suspension) and Holding (from injury) will give us more options at CB.

    3. We need more goals from our midfielders and to a little extent other forwards. Aubameyang, Lacazette and Pepe each, on average, has between 2 to 3 shots at goal per game. The rest have less.

    Aubameyang (12), Lacazette (5), Pepe (2), Martinelli (1)

    Torreira (1)

    Luiz (2), Chambers (1), Sokratis (1)

  7. RockyLives says:

    Good points JM

    Chambers’ return will be timely.

    I wonder why Holding is taking so long to get back to fitness? What’s his injury?

    I’d be surprised to see him start against Chelsea but if he really is finally fit he’s a shoo-in.

  8. Rasp says:

    Rocky … your post has been awarded a ‘Steeden’

  9. RockyLives says:

    The ultimate honour. Thank you Mike.

  10. RA says:

    A truly superb Post, Rocky, and I agree with all the salient points.

    This thing about ‘new manager bounce’ was coined to justify or denigrate the appointment of a new manager, dependent on the views of the person saying it.

    It is a somewhat naïve phrase, and about as useful as the other one used to suggest the pointlessness of something by saying ‘you are flogging a dead horse’ – which brings me to something I have said a couple of times previously, but perhaps has not been understood – and that phrase is ‘the dead cat bounce’ (I’m well into animal phrases today) 😳

    What that means – is that a cat which has met its end will bounce quite nicely, given sufficient height when dropped, and will appear to be alive when it levitates immediately after coming into contact with terra firma, at least to the casual observer, but it is still dead, and will continue being dead, and therefore a pointless expression — as is the phrase about ‘the new manager bounce’– it matters not at all, whether he is going to be a good manager, or a poor one, because if he is dropped from a suitable height, he will bounce equally, whether he is a good manager, or not, and like the cat, he may well become a ‘late’ manager, dependent on the height when Rasper let go of his feet.

    [I have only had a couple of snifters forced on me!] 🙄

  11. RockyLives says:

    Thanks Redders

    I’ve heard of the ‘dead cat bounce’ before – isn’t it something to do with financial markets?

    But it’s not to be confused with the ‘dead cat strategy’ which is way of distracting from a difficult subject by suddenly introducing something shocking. For example, if a company’s board of directors are discussing why sales are declining and the sales director throws a dead cat onto the table… everyone is soon talking about the dead cat, not the bad sales.

    Correct, Redders?

  12. RA says:

    It seems that Henry is acting the goat – altho admitting that one game, and a few days trainin, is too little to judge Arteteta by, he then goes ahead and judges Arteteta, saying that it is still the same old Arsenal ……. blah, blah.

    While TV commentators (ex-professional footballers) trying to justify their huge fees are happy to say controversial things, however risible – doing it to the Arsenal team and manager is a bit shabby.

  13. RA says:

    Rocky @ 1:32

    These phrases (I would not call them aphorisms – altho …. ) 😳 tend to have their origins, inceptions, in specific places, but then become generally accepted, but it is true that stock markets and financial areas, as you say, are associated with the ‘dead cat bounce’ (not sure about cat fricassee being served up at management meetings to distract from depressed sales) 😛

    Stock Exchanges are full of animal phrases and aphorisms, like bear and bull markets etc. and these are in common use financially and politically, as you know, but the phrases we have discussed on the blog – not so much. 🤪

    Do you think we have done them to death? 🙄

  14. RA says:

    Peaches, baby @ 10:35, 😛

    As regards Xhaka, I have been look-warm about him in the last couple of seasons, but, following the bust up with the fans, he is in deep merdre and would have to stop the sideways/backward passes to even have a chance to get back into their good books.

    I think in the last two games he has shown some improvement, but if his agent is to be believed, it is all moot (and perhaps mute) as he/they have made it clear he wants out – and is not prepared to listen to Mikel – so, I do not think many fans will miss him, but January is not a good time to venture into the transfer market as you intimated.

  15. RA says:

    Gawd — I am morphing into Gooner B, or at least his camel – so I will throttle back on the comments. 😉

  16. Thanks for addressing my question RA …….. although it seemed he burnt his bridges a while back he was brought into the squad by both Freddie and Mikel. His range of passing does appear to be limited and I’m sure there’s a better player out there for us.

    The thing is ……. for all his (and our) bluster about him never pulling on the shirt again, he has done …… so I’m a bit confused.

    Ozil also got torn off a strip about his behaviour and played yesterday so it looks to me like the players are in charge ☹️

  17. Aaron says:


    I like that idea-glide…..even if is only .01 in the positive direction.

    Bel and Hold’s injuries are from acl’s remember? They are really nasty and there is no sure thing as a “quick” recovery. Will be lucky to see them at half game fitness and touch in January if the Arsenal are fortunate. Tierney’s injury has poor timing, but thank goodness for Saka’s open mindedness in playing LB. Yes, he is going to make errors, only other option in Medley, and radio silence on that possibility.

    Arteta is intelligent, he knows he is limited with this squad, and if Mesut and Xhaka can get us some points before summer than good, as I do not want the be at the bottom and looking up. They will be done and dusted this summer or earlier if Arteta can get a cb or mid that will make the squad stronger, not holding my breath.

    Regarding pool, yes, they look like “galacticos,” but they are human beings and their schedule will grind them down, especially CL, Only takes one hungry minnow away and an off day with the shooting boots to get a loss.

    Enough on them, more training Mikel, run their a$$es off and get them buying into your team concept!

  18. RA says:


    I am with you as regards the crapulous posturing between the players and the club, and rather than Arsenal reacting to the players’ public demands, or their juvenile misbehaviour when being substituted etc, (and that goes for their agents, too), I think the senior management should think thru what they believe is right for the club, and stick to it.

    But then, I distinctly heard an oink as I typed that.

    You are right, Peaches, that with the £millions wrapped up in the players’ contracts and transfers, who could argue with the premise that the players have the whip hand?

    Even moneybags ManU are being led around by the nose, not for the first time, by Paul Pogba.

  19. GoonerB says:

    Thanks Rocky, great post. In addition to your “Steeden”, I wish to afford you a “GeeBee”, a special award for services to bloggerworld that go over and above the call of duty.

    I like “the glide”, maybe like an albatross taking off. A slightly difficult initial take off that slowly picks up height. Then once at a certain altitude can glide around at rarefied heights (unattainable to others) for ages.

    I was interested in RA’s phrases, especially the dead cat bounce…………must have some strange traditions in Wichita. Sorry to any cat lovers out there, but having a slightly warped mind I started to think about this more scientifically, and began to ask whether the timing after a cat’s demise is important in its bouncability when dropped from a height.

    I would assume that Rigor Mortis would have a say in the impressiveness of its boing, and that the winner of the annual Wichita dead cat bouncing championship is the one that times it just right.

    By the way RA, never try the “almost carked it” Camel bounce. They don’t bounce, more just splat, leaving a big splodgy mess on the floor, kind of like Mourinho taking over your team.

    On that last note I am so pleased we have gone with Mikel over the person formerly self reflected as the special one. Mikel is bound to be similar to Guardiola but with his own way. Guardiola wanted a better style of football that was difficult to perfect initially and not immediately fully effective. But once it became more effective……..Mikel is our Albatross.

  20. LB says:

    Fantastic read with some real Rocky gems in there.

    It’s interesting about Saka, if you judged him just on the attacking side of his game yesterday, it would probably go: could and should have done better and that is not far off the defensive side of is game and yet overall there was something quite good about his performance, maybe it was an improved confidence, I don’t know how to put my finger on it.

  21. RockyLives says:

    Thanks LB
    I think you’ve just crystallized what I was trying to get at in my Saka rating.

  22. oz gunner says:

    With so many awards flying around I’ll hand out mine. Rocky i award you ‘a sausage roll!’ As in you kicked one with this post!

    Good points re: glide/dead cat bounce.

    I have high hopes with Arteta. With young blood you hope they bring more of a modern day approach. Players held accountable for errors, watching over tape, given homework, strict training standards, completing set fitness programs etc. Culture, determination, annd a willingness to work for each other needs to return.

    Positive signs and it’s time to build on that. If Xhaka doesn’t buy in then give him the flick. The spaniard will be back soon. Pair him up with lucas.

  23. GoonerB says:

    I thought Saka was pretty decent overall. I speak with some people who say to me that we should sell Nelson or ESR as they dont believe they are good enough but I am pretty much relaxed about all our youngsters.

    My argument is that I want them to be judged after a period of top class coaching. I believe that in Arteta they will get that and can see all of them making it potentially to varying degrees of importance to the team.

    The slightly unusual one is that Douzi hasn’t featured as much. He will come good but I think Arteta will want him to up the pace of his game in the style of football he wants. I still feel that ESR has the highest potential ceiling.

  24. RockyLives says:

    Anyone who’s keen to sell Saka, ESR or any of the current crop of promising youngsters is off their rocker.

    It doesn’t mean they’ll all make the Arsenal grade, but it’s way too early to be giving up on any of them because all of them have shown great potential.

    Cheers. I’ve never heard of kicking the sausage roll before – is that an Aussie expression?

  25. fred1266 says:

    Wolves city what a game

    If arteta don’t work out I want nuno

  26. Sue says:

    Was a helluva game, Fred. That Traore – what a unit!!! Christ, all that muscle… and speed! Wow!
    Just deciding where to book a one way ticket to in May now…. 😩

  27. RockyLives says:

    Just seen the result. When was the last time a Premiership title race was this one sided?

  28. VP says:

    Hi Rocky, refer below, it was 2 seasons ago –

    2017-18 – Manchester City
    City’s centurions are the only Premier League side this decade to be further ahead at this stage than Liverpool’s 2019-20 class.

    Pep Guardiola’s team approached the halfway point with 55 points from 19 games, 13 points clear of second-placed Manchester United, with Everton the only team to deny them victory.

    The first half of the season featured two 5-0s, a 6-0 and a 7-2, while they added another 5-0 and a 5-1 after Christmas en route to winning the league by a 19-point margin.

  29. LBG says:

    Judge the yoof only ” after a good period of top class coaching.” Spot on, sir. And there’s more unseen talent there as well.

  30. oz gunner says:


    Indeed. Aussie for kicking a great goal.

  31. LBG says:

    Never ever agree with Cascarino, until today! “Worst buy of the season…..David Luiz”

  32. RockyLives says:

    Thanks VP
    I didn’t remember City being that far ahead but obviously they were.

    To be honest I think Liverpool need a massive lead if they’re to win the title because if it was close I suspect their woeful history of choking would come back to haunt them.

    Cheers mate!

  33. Sue says:

    They haven’t got Stevie G to slip this time, Rocky 😂

  34. RockyLives says:

    There’s more than one way to skin a cat Sue, and more than one way for a Scouser to choke 🙂

  35. Sue says:

    I like your way of thinking, Rocky! One can hope! 🙏

  36. Rasp says:

    Morning all …. apologies to Rocky for the delay ….

    …. New post ….

  37. RockyLives says:

    Why do you have such a thing about the Dippers, Sue?

    I used to hate them back in the ’80s but that was because they had had such a long period of dominance and all the media and pundits were so far up the Scousers’ rear ends they could have flossed their teeth.

    So when we beat them at Anfield in ’89 it was glorious.

    But as time wore on and Man Utd became our main rivals in the Wenger years and Liverpool slipped into irrelevance I stopped disliking them so much (and loathed ManUre instead).

    These days I don’t mind them – probably because we’re nowhere near good enough to have a rivalry with them. Same goes for Man City – I can’t really dislike them the way I used to dislike Utd.

  38. Sue says:

    Never really liked them ever since that Fowler hat trick, Rocky. Plus I’m surrounded by their fans and I’m sick to death of all the grief they give me on a regular basis!! You can imagine what it’s like!
    That is how I feel now – with regards to the flossing (nice one, btw 😂) everywhere I look, online, tv.. It’s Salah, Mane or Klopp… talk about a bloody nightmare!! Oh trust me I detest the Mancs just as much, and come to think of it Chelsea and the spuds of course. So there you have it – the 4 teams I loathe with a passion!
    I actually quite like City.. so was gutted last night!!

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