Happy New Era! Man Utd Report & Ratings

Football’s a simple game, isn’t it?

Have your defenders defend; have your holding midfielders hold; have your most creative player create…

How strange then that it has taken so long for this rudimentary prescription to be swallowed by Arsenal.

What mad chemists and quack doctors have we had attending to our club’s body for the last year and a half? How have we have wasted so much time on our death bed when it turns out our remedy was so straightforward?

Last night we beat Manchester United by out-playing, out-fighting and out-working them. When Rio Ferdinand on BT Sport said after the game that we had bullied his old team I shed a tear of joy.

In fact, but for a rush of claret to Bernd Leno’s conk, we could be sitting here with six points from our last two games and convincing wins over both Chelsea and United. Still, no use crying over spilled crosses.

At the risk of getting more ahead of myself than Doc Brown in Back to the Future, I am going to suggest that we have turned a corner.

Not that it’s all going to be perfect from here on (no doubt we will have defeats and disappointing performances ahead), but that there is a new sense of belief and purpose at The Arsenal.

The man responsible for this new dawn, Mikel Arteta, made three changes from the Chelsea game to face a resurgent United who have been on a strong run of form: Sokratis was recalled to the defence after suspension, Kolasinac returned as left back after a recent ankle injury and Pepe was preferred in attack to Nelson.

The mood on this blog and others before kick-off was not universally positive, with some fearing that a combination of United’s good run, our woeful luck with injuries and the fragile confidence of our squad all pointed to a win for the Mancs.

I was among the “glass half full” contingent, having seen enough encouraging signs in Arteta’s first two games against Bournemouth and Chelsea to at least feel hopeful.

And so it turned out. After weathering a fast United start for five minutes (including a long range Rashford shot that went straight to Leno) we quickly settled into a rhythm and looked just as composed and dynamic as we did against the Chavs.

Our defense knew its job and held its position, Lucas Torreira and Granit Xhaka performed outstandingly as double pivots in the holding midfield roles, Ozil was given licence to create and our front three ran and ran and harried and harried.

We earned our reward quickly. In the 9th minute Aubameyang received the ball from the impressive Kolasinac on the left; Kola carried on his run and got the ball back from Auba, then played a low cross into the near post area. It caught a defender’s boot and span out to Pepe who was loitering near the penalty spot. Pepe’s finish was classy (and did not get enough credit from the TV commentary team and pundits if you ask me, although Robin van Persie did say “that was a really good goal, you know”). I say this because the low cross was a little behind our expensive Ivorian ornament and it took real skill to get his body position right and to guide the shot perfectly beyond De Gea’s dive.

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From there we went from strength to strength. United didn’t seem to know what was hitting them and we could easily have scored a couple more, but the chances didn’t fall our way. Even so, we were completely dominant and, more importantly, our play showed a clear continuation from Sunday’s game in terms of style, organisation and commitment.

At this point I, at least, was starting to get a worrying sense of déjà vu. Is this going to be Chelsea all over again? An outstanding half, a one-nil lead, then lose it at the death because our players are knackered?

We really needed that second goal that we never managed against Lampard’s team… and up popped Sokratis to oblige. Pepe drilled in a lethal corner to the near post; Lacazette got the flick on which prevented De Gea from gathering the ball cleanly and as it bounced off the ‘keeper United forgot to beware of Greeks putting in a shift as our big centre half volleyed into the roof of the net.

From watching on the TV the response in the stadium seemed volcanic. You realised we had not been dead this past year, just dormant.

Unsurprisingly, United came out with more commitment in the second half and carried the game to us without ever really seeming to threaten. With our two-goal cushion we were happy to sit back more but we still kept our shape.

Pepe, who’d had a good first half, faded in the second and was replaced on 62 minutes by Nelson. Kolasinac was forced to go off shortly afterwards with what looked like a recurrence of his ankle injury. Saka replaced him.

By this stage the fitness issues that became apparent in the Chelsea game were starting to show again. Arteta clearly wants his players to play a high intensity style of football with more running and effort than they were used to under Emery and they’re just not up to it at the moment.

It was evident in the struggles some players had to keep going and in the growing collection of injuries we were picking up (tired players are more likely to get crocked than fresh ones).

Improving our fitness can be added to Arteta’s long “To Do” list.

Just when Torreira was hobbling late in the game and looked likely to be taken off, Lacazette also broke down, forcing Arteta to remove the Frenchman instead (replacing him with Guendouzi). Encouragingly, Torreira had signalled the bench that he was happy to battle through.

There was one good late chance for United, but we saw out the game relatively comfortably in the end and could even have added a third if a couple of second-half breakaway attacks had been executed more efficiently.

At the final whistle, and following on from the performance against Chelsea, it really did feel like the start of a new year and new era at Arsenal.

A few things I loved:

  • Luiz and Xhaka especially (but also some of the other players) shouting and organising and cajoling their team mates throughout – but always in an encouraging and supportive way.
  • Torreira and Xhaka’s positional discipline.
  • Luiz looking like a world class centre half for the second game running.
  • Ozil being Ozil.
  • Lacazette, whose finishing boots are still the subject of “Lost and Found” notices in grocery shop windows all up and down the Holloway Road, nevertheless working his socks off, playing really well with his back to goal and pressing the United defenders throughout.
  • Pepe slowly emerging into an asset.

Two things I didn’t love:

  • Wan-Bissaka’s outrageous dive to try and win a penalty not getting penalised with a card.
  • Yet another ref who was happy to brandish cards at anyone in a red shirt while ignoring our opponents. Kolasinac was booked for his very first foul because it was deliberately intended to unsportingly break up a United attack. Seconds later Matic did exactly the same thing… no card. We have started to get used to this abuse, but I hope the club are addressing this with the PGMOL (using Untold Arsenal’s research that shows we receive more yellows per fouls than virtually any other team).

RockyLives

Ratings from LBG

Leno 7

Generally good performance. Fine save coming out and smothering. Still one or two occasions when he doesn’t seem himself convinced about short passing out from the back… and yet plays the pass and we all cringe with concern.

Maitland Niles 6

Needs too much thinking time on the ball to make a pass and is closed down. Commits too many times totally out wide and if beaten massive gap appears behind. Jockey, jockey, jockey. And stop making low percentage passes with the outside of your foot, inevitably cut out.

Sokratis  7.5

Solid, committed, very little wrong. Scored the all-important second.

Luiz 8

Got to admit, near perfect. Committed. Leading by example. Where have you been Daviid?

Kolasinac  6.5

Fine if you don’t want much intelligent defensive work. For God’s sake Kola, sure press the winger hard and fast and aggressively, BUT stop before you get to him!!
Fine marauding wing back going forward and even some successful final passes.

Xhaka  7

Another of my betes noirs who turned up, produced some solid disciplined positional shape. Usual handful of successful wide diagonals and very little of his normal sh** shovelling and back and side passes.

Torreira  9 MoTM

What a player! Committed, intelligent defending especially reading and cutting out passes. But also gritty solid tackling, refusing to be knocked off the ball. And could easily have scored with a beautiful drop of the shoulder dummy.

Ozil  8

The nonchalant genius is finding his feet, working hard, creating panic in the opposition and looking like he will soon score himself.

Pepe  7.5

Thank you for the goal, thank you for some clever passes into space and feet. Slowly believing, but I think needs to take on his fullback more. Generally happy but tired as you would expect from a 19 year old.

Aubameyang  7.5

Work rate in defence, pure quality. Attempted to play a number of final passes to team mates when he should have been selfish and taken goals for himself.

Lacazette  7.5

Excellent work rate. Fantastic turn in box. Only criticism has lost his shooting boots.

Substitutes

Saka 6.5

Guendouzi 6

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

46 Responses to Happy New Era! Man Utd Report & Ratings

  1. RockyLives says:

    I’ve taken the liberty of re-posting this comment from Kelsey because it doesn’t deserved to be left as a “dangler” at the end of yesterday’s Post….

    KELSEY
    The euphoria and relief last night was felt by us all and not one person could have predicted that every single player gave their all though as already mentioned it is pretty clear that a number of them had downed tools whilst playing under Emery and it was allowed to continue for far too long .That should have been addressed much quicker but nevertheless it’s great to enjoy one of our games something we haven’t witnessed for far too long .That was Ozil and Xhaka playing, wasn’t it.

  2. VCC says:

    Great write up Rocky, as usual.

    Lacazette headed on at the near post from the pepe corner for Sokratis to score our second.

    Lovely feeling waking up this morning after a fine win against one of our old rivals.

    OOh to be.

    COYG

  3. LB says:

    What a difference a win makes.
    I am sure there is a song in there.
    Great report and excellent ratings.
    Thank you for the read.

  4. RockyLives says:

    Thanks VCC

    You’re right – it was Laca (it wasn’t clear from the clip I’ve been reviewing because Luiz goes in front of Laca right beforehand).

    I’ll amend the Post.

  5. Rasp says:

    Brilliant work Rocky … especially loved …

    “Lacazette, whose finishing boots are still the subject of “Lost and Found” notices in grocery shop windows all up and down the Holloway Road”

    Now I asked for everyone to be patient when Mikel was announced …. but f%$k it … we’re back and Arteta is the messiah 😂 … bloody love it.

    Things I noted:

    The huddle before the game set the scene (and it must piss the opposition off)

    The energy lasted a bit longer.

    Every player worked their socks off

    We weren’t scared to play football

    Our movement off the ball was excellent

    The game management when we were tiring was better.

    No square pegs in round holes.

    The way the whole team got together after the game and applauded the supporters – I always thought that when only one or two did it, it merely highlighted the disconnect with those players who didn’t.

    My love of football has returned. The refs and VAR can continue to persecute us, but we’re now a team of fighters.

  6. RockyLives says:

    Thanks Rasp

    Agree with your list – particularly the game management one. As we got tired we did not over commit for a third goal.

  7. Rasp says:

    I know you covered that point and most of the others in the post Rocky – I just wanted to reinforce my appreciation of those qualities

  8. Thank you Rocky. It was an amazing night at The Emirates, a pinch yourself moment because it’s been such a long time since The Emirates was rocking and we’ve won.

    All those games I’ve sat through recently wondering how on earth we had forgotten how to play football. A complete dereliction of duty from the owners to allow us to fall so far.

    Fingers crossed that the players really have bought into playing the Arteta way and going to football will be a pleasure rather than a bind.

    They all played out of their shirts and I’m delighted I was there to cheer them on 😁

  9. RC78 says:

    A good night of football indeed. Belief is being restored among the players and the fanbase. Seems that Arteta’s words are resonating with the players and that they players are putting on a good shift with a clear game plan.

    Xhaka will stay. I thought he had a decent game but was still was suspect at times and while Ozil had a decent game, he is not creating enough chances nor is he setting the tempo of our game yet.

    The most impressive players last night for me were:
    Torreira, Luiz and Lacazette. Their workrate was impressive and their attitude as well. I can’t wait for Laca to find his scoring boots again but what a player he is.

    Pepe was good in the first half but as LBG mentioned, he could have had even more of a go at Shaw. Scored goal and delivered a good corner kick leading to Sok’s goal.

    There is belief and there is hope and I am also crossing fingers for Kolasinac and also…Chambers.

    If Chambers is done for the season, I think Arteta will go out and get a CB and even if Xhaka stays, I can see Arteta try to get a CM type of midfielder.

    COYG! Arsenal Arsenal Arsenal!

    And thanks for the post and ratings to Rocky and LBG

  10. RA says:

    A lovely Post, Rocket, altho it took me all morning to read — you and GB are not the same peeps are you? 🥺

    As my man, VCC, said above, it is great to wake up after a win, and break out into song – “ain’t it a bootiful morn_ing – ain’t it a bootiful day – it gives us a wonderful feel_ing a bit like ‘aving it away.”

    On a more sober note, I feel like a desperate man about to drown who is rescued by an iceberg – no, no that won’t do – it’s more like a man dying of thirst in the desert, who stumbles into a cool, ice clear, life saving oasis – nope, not that either – I know – it felt like I was your Auntie Mary’s cheeky canary climbing the leg of her drawers – tweet, tweet. 👀

    Once the new assistant coaches get the squad up to the required fitness levels, we will frighten a few of those who are so gleeful of our spiral into mediocrity.

    Torreira was absolutely phenomenal, with so much determination I think he would have refused to come off with a broken leg, and he was everywhere rescuing other team mates when they were in difficulties – well done that man.

    David Luiz — where the hell has he been? Great performance, and he looked like the captain we have been missing – yelling encouragement/anger at team mates, demanding the fans step up the cheering (I certainly did in front of the TV – tooth bemusement of my friends not used to yells of “Yeeeesss” and “Yahooooo”.

    Only ‘one game’ – yes OK – but there are many more to come, just you wait and see!

    Arteta – at last, we are being coached by an ex- skilful, central (defensive) midfielder who knows the value of defence as well as attack, and the discipline necessary to forge a cohesive unit of both defenders and attackers. 9/10.

    You can all relax now – I’m going!! 😳😛

  11. RockyLives says:

    Redders

    Thank you for commenting on my longevity with such brevity. Are you GB in disguise? 😀

    To be honest I think I got carried away because, having written reports for quite a few draws and losses lately, it was such a nice feeling to be writing about a win.

  12. seedeee says:

    Incredible, such a good feeling to be getting 3points against a ‘big’ rival. No one is mentioning Auba specifically tho. I think he is one of the stand out hard workers since Arteta joined – he was playing left back as well as a forward for large majority of both games against chelsea and utd and sprinting to both ends of the pitch. If he wants to leave, he sure is not making it obvious with that work rate, well done that man.

  13. GoonerB says:

    Thanks Rocky, great post. I think RA is suggesting that you have a touch of GBitis. It’s quite contagious, and after all there is a lot of illness going about, and it is that time of year when this debilitating condition is most prevalent.

    The main signs and symptoms to look out for are what is commonly referred to as waffling syndrome. Having said that, there is a lot to say on Arsenal right now, and your post is still quite concise on each point, so I only think you have contracted the milder form of the virus.

    I hope you recover soon. There is a great over the counter remedy called Succinctacillin that normally takes the waffling syndrome fever down a notch or two. I have run out of it so conciseness currently eludes me…..as you are about to find out.

    Anyway, I also don’t wish to get totally carried away just yet, but can’t help having emotions of extreme hopefulness. I recognise that some quality additions will likely be required to this team, as I am sure Mikel does, but one of the things I have constantly said is that, even before any additions, this team has been operating at about 65% of its potential before you even add anything too it.

    What is the difference between a manager and a coach,or are both descriptions morphing into one where the man at the helm has to be both?

    Mikel’s coaching skills, both on a 1-1 basis and team basis, have been universally praised by all who have witnessed them, even from the highest level. I personally believe we have one of the finest modern young coaches out there, and that bodes well, particularly for the development of the young players.

    The doubt many had was how would he shape up as a manager without having any prior experience as a number 1. Well it is still early days, but even those doubts must be slowly dwindling. I will genuinely stick my neck out here and suggest that we may have just secured the next generations premier coach / manager, and in taking that slight risk (in his inexperience) we will reap huge benefits over the next few years.

    I just wonder now whether everything will be turned on its head with this team, and players that looked on the verge of exit or that we (the fan base) felt weren’t good enough will both stay and also prove that they were far better than we realised, now that they are being coached and instructed properly.

    That modern coaching and instructing is something we have been missing for a number of years now. If that has finally arrived (and this doesn’t turn out to be a false dawn) then we need to see what the players we already have can become with that top level modern coaching, then decide where to strengthen.

    On yesterdays form if another top club like Barca wanted an industrious DM then who has played better (anywhere) in the last 2 games than Torreira? Xhaka also just looked a different animal as well, and there must be a reason why managers like him. I am fully prepared to change my tune.

    I always have a strong opinion on who we may need to bring in to fix problem areas, but for once I don’t feel as certain and will bow to our manager. That uncertainty is a positive uncertainty though, rather than a negative one, in the sense that we may have misjudged some players and some departments in the team as not being of the required quality, but that this may be proven wrong with progressive higher level coaching and management.

    It is Arteta’s gig so let him decide how he sees it shaping up. I am putting my faith in him, and haven’t felt as much optimistic faith in a manager since the Wenger era of the late 90’s and early 2000’s.

    I told you I wasn’t getting too carried away just yet 🙂

  14. LBG says:

    Today’s press conference!
    This man is a Messiah on the road to a revolution……..and he is anything but a very naughty boy.
    Hail Mikel!

  15. RA says:

    Rocky/GB,

    There is one major and very discernible difference between our very different styles of corresponding, and that is this – you both give a lot of thought as to what you are writing, which is based on a deep knowledge of football in general, and Arsenal in particular, copiously leavened by humour which is noticeably unique, one from the other, but as a result the whole smorgasbord is an absolute treat for anyone reading your Posts/comments.

    I am one of those and I am a big fan.

    On the other hand, I too am unique in my writing, whether a lengthy screed, or a short ‘hit and run’, and that uniqueness is summarised as having little or nothing to add to other bloggers’ knowledge or enjoyment and can rightly be classified as turgid and boring.

    I am, of course, aware of this lamentable state of affairs and have tried to cut back on my nonsense, but to take notice of the New Year traditions, I will increase my efforts to reduce (a nice juxtaposition of contradictory words) my irritating and pointless comments, and you will soon note that I have faded into the distant background, where I undoubtedly belong.

    Cheers, 🙄

  16. LBG says:

    GoonerB
    A considered bit of …..GBitis
    “Players far better than we realised.” Mustafi to prove he was/is a genuine World Cup winner!
    Revolutionary! Hope so!

  17. RA …… don’t go changing …… we love you just the way you are!

  18. GoonerB says:

    RA, utter tosh sir, that you spout off stuff that is of no relevance. Much of it is positively Pythonesque which, as a massive personal fan, appeals to me.

    Sometimes you go off into an even different stratosphere in a kind of William Shakespeare / Lewis Carroll / dead poets society, cocktail mix.

    At those times I try really hard to pretend to be intelligent enough to decipher the hidden meaning but always arrive at the conclusion “no, I haven’t got a scooby”. Doesn’t mean I enjoy it any less, just that LSD helps out a bit at those times.

    So from now on if I refer to you as a very naughty boy or biggus dickus (don’t get your hopes up and take that the wrong way), you will know that you have pitched your comment at the first level. If I call you “captain my captain”, start referencing talking white Rabbits, or spouting on about swapping my kingdom for a horse (I don’t have a kingdom by the way), then you will know you have lost me, and that I am reaching for the LSD.

    And if anyone out there wants to purchase “GB’s beginners guide to blogging with RA” it is now available in all high street stores. Hope that helps, and a happy new year to you and all my other giant Wichitarian friends (I have loads you know).

  19. RockyLives says:

    Redders 😀

    “…based on a deep knowledge of football in general…”

    Haha – now I know you’re taking the piddle.

    As for your own contributions, I hope you realise that if Arsenal Arsenal is a symposium of sorts, then you are its Socrates.

    No, not the volley-scoring centre half, before you ask…

  20. RockyLives says:

    GoonerB
    Long (and I use the word advisedly) may the symptoms continue…

    Seedee
    Good point about Auba – I should have mentioned him in my report. His work rate and tracking back to help the defence was incredible, just as it was against Chelsea.

  21. Sue says:

    6-9 months without Chambers – what a bummer……

  22. RockyLives says:

    That’s sad Sue.

    What an unlucky chap. Fans were really starting to appreciate him this year.

  23. Sue says:

    Such a long time… ☹
    Great post, btw, Rocky 👍

  24. RockyLives says:

    Why thank you Sue.

    I will hopefully get to see some of the AA crowd at a game before too long.

  25. Rasp says:

    Really bad luck for Chambers. We may decide to bring in a first team ready CD now and that could mean that poor Callum never gets the chance to realise his potential with Arsenal. For a game, football can be so unfair.

    I’ve read several comments from bloggers and on twitter saying how squeezing so many games into such a short period has caused numerous injuries like hamstring pulls and joint problems … maybe the |EPL should rethink it’s schedule next year … oh but I forgot … it’s all about the money!

  26. fred1266 says:

    Calum Chambers required surgery on the knee injury he sustained against Chelsea and Mikel Arteta suggested that may push Arsenal into the January transfer market.

    Defender Chambers was forced off after an awkward fall in the 23rd minute of Arsenal’s 2-1 Premier League loss to the Blues at Emirates Stadium on December 29, reportedly damaging his anterior cruciate ligament.

    Arteta was unable to provide a timescale for when the 24-year-old may return to action and hinted bolstering his squad may be more of a priority in January.

    The Gunners have been heavily linked with a move for Dayot Upamecano, though RB Leipzig are said to be demanding £80million for the centre-back.

    “[Chambers] is in London, having surgery…It’s not looking good,” said the Arsenal coach.

    “We’re going to be in the market to see for options that can strengthen the team. That’s for sure, that’s our obligation. We’re going to be working on that.

    “Obviously, we had a bad injury with Calum, that’s going to change our plans at the back. But the reality at the moment is we’re not going to be able to do much.

    “I’m more concerned at the moment to get people back from injuries than signings, and trying to improve the players we have here, get everybody on board with what we’re trying to do.

    “If something extra comes up and we think it’s the right opportunity, let’s do it.”

    Arteta claimed his first win at the helm by overseeing a 2-0 victory over Manchester United at Emirates Stadium on Wednesday, but he welcomed a short break in the wake of the festive period.

    The Gunners are not in action again until Monday, when they host Leeds United in the FA Cup third round.

    “At the moment we’re managing a lot of injuries, we haven’t been able to rotate the team a lot. We survived. I was a little bit scared [against United], we could expose a few players and get some injuries,” said Arteta.

    “We went through the game and we suffered but I think all the teams in the Premier League at the moment are in the same position. We went through it, we suffered together and now we have a few days to recover.”

  27. LBG says:

    Chambers out for six to nine months. Bad luck sir, we will await your return.

  28. RC78 says:

    Just when Chambers was getting some game time and putting good performances with us. So sad.

    We ll go for a defender now… They talk about Upamecano but I doubt he ll leave Leipzig before the summer…Arteta will let Mustafi go this winter and go for a CB… Who? Is it time for Tarkowski or Dunk or Long or will he go for a player like Rugani or Ake? I think if will be Ake

  29. Sue says:

    I’d like Mings!

  30. fred1266 says:

    Calum Chambers is facing six to nine months out after he ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, Arsenal have confirmed.

    Chambers, who spent last season on loan at Fulham, sustained the injury in the first half of Sunday’s Premier League loss to Chelsea when he fell awkwardly.

    The 24-year-old defender will miss the rest of the 2019-20 campaign after undergoing surgery in London on Thursday and is set for a long period of rehabilitation.

    “Everyone at the club will be supporting Calum to ensure he is back on the pitch as soon as possible,” a club statement read.

    Chambers has made 14 appearances for Arsenal this season, helping to fill in for injured defenders including right-back Hector Bellerin.

    Arsenal also confirmed Scotland left-back Kieran Tierney will be out for around three months after undergoing surgery on the shoulder he dislocated against West Ham on December 9.

    Arsenal

    @Arsenal
    A setback. But we know you’ll come back stronger.

    We’re with you all the way, @CalumChambers95 ❤️

    View image on Twitter
    19.9K
    12:11 PM – Jan 2, 2020
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    2,243 people are talking about this
    New Gunners boss Mikel Arteta indicated at a news conference on Thursday he may have to dip into the transfer market to address the loss of Chambers.

    “We’re going to be in the market to see for options that can strengthen the team. That’s for sure, that’s our obligation. We’re going to be working on that,” Arteta said.

    “Obviously, we had a bad injury with Calum, that’s going to change our plans at the back. But the reality at the moment is we’re not going to be able to do much.

    “I’m more concerned at the moment to get people back from injuries than signings, and trying to improve the players we have here, get everybody on board with what we’re trying to do.

    “If something extra comes up and we think it’s the right opportunity, let’s do it.”

    Arteta could also be without Bellerin and promising forward Gabriel Martinelli for Monday’s FA Cup tie against Leeds United, with both players being assessed due to tight hamstrings.

  31. Aaron says:

    Rocky,
    Fair review and appreciate your glass half full.
    Thought AMN played better than your ranking, and Auba ran his socks of too, but no big deal.

    That is our 3rd defender down to a torn ACL in 14 months, dang, dang, dang!

    Excited to watch the game, and the team did not fail in their mission to achieve a victory as a team.

    Let’s get a few more defenders in the transfer window or call someone up!

    A great week it will be to be an AFC fan.

  32. RC78 says:

    Some names to replace Chambers:

    Serie A: Izzo, Rugani, Manolas and the dream Koulibaly
    Liga: Martinez, Torres and Djene
    Liga Portugal: Dias
    Bundesliga: Upamecano, Konate, Bender

    Let s c…but Arteta s gonna get someone for sure and I think he ll also get a CM

  33. LBG says:

    Aaron 7.26
    Just to keep Rocky’s top of the shop status in tact, they were my rankings .I dont retract my view of AM-Ns game. I think as a character he is a bit lackadaisical and to some extent this has come about from being played at full back. In that position a ” clumsy” pass or refusal to take on the wide defenders has more dramatic consequences if the ball is lost than in central midfield. A M-N has tricks and pace to go passed players which is what I wanted him to do if played in central midfield as a 10. All that said, I now believe Smith-Rowe row has more potential in that role when the genius that is Mesut finally hangs up his boots.

    I have also made a point of marvelling at Auba’s defensive work for the last two games

    RC From my research, Koulibaly would truly be the dream buy, but I see this morning we have joined the battle for Nathan Ake. All speculation of course, but Mikel does need a CB buy.

  34. LBG says:

    Aaron
    Funny how things happen together.
    Dont know if you can get the Football London site where you are….dont even know where you are! Very interesting detailed article on A M-N there this morning. Still stand by beliefs of course.
    Dont know if Rasp or Peaches could copy that article onto our site. Not competent myself.

  35. GoonerB says:

    LBG, I would like to read that article about AMN. I know he is a player that you and I have slightly differed opinions on.

    My view is that we have too many options ahead of him (both senior and emerging) in the CM areas and that he won’t make it there. I think that situation has been on the cards for some time now.

    When he first played at FB as a utility fill in player, (it may have been LFB), I actually liked what I saw and thought he had all the attributes to become an excellent FB.

    He was actually tackling and tracking his player better then than he has done subsequently. My view is that the club and himself have not invested psychologically in him becoming a top FB, with both sides considering it a temporary role, so his development in the role has stifled.

    I hope that Arteta gets into his head and convinces him to make that position his, get him to invest in becoming the best he can in that position and abandon the CM dream, and then provide him the specialist coaching required to polish up his weaker areas. He still retains many of the key attributes to be a modern top FB.

  36. While we’re plugging other people’s articles, there are two brilliant articles in The Athletic. One goes into great detail about how Mikel has transformed our play by morphing into 2-3-5 when we have the ball, allowing Kolasinac ( against Man U but would also include Saka) to be part of a front five and bringing Maitland-Niles into a mid three.

    The other is by one of my favourites James McNicholas who winessed the warm up before the Man U game and says we should all make an effort to watch it. Pepe’s goal which came from Kolasinac driving into the box and exchanging passes with Auba was a well practised routine ………… we actually could have had a couple more goals with the same play.

  37. I’m not sure if there’s a paywall for all Athletic articles ………… I’ll have a look.

  38. If someone could tell me if they can read it please?

  39. Rasp says:

    Morning peaches … you can start reading the article then it fades and you are invited to enter into a free trial period to read more …

  40. I thought that might be the case Rasp ………. maybe we can have a new page and I can copy and paste the whole article?

  41. There’s a New Post ……………

    I’ll try and create a New Page for other articles …………..

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