Arteta’s the man

January 7, 2020

A win is a win is a win but boy that first half was hard to watch. From being a team that delighted us against Man U to a team that was cringe-worthy all over the pitch. No wonder Arteta shouted at them at half time, they’d gone back into their collective shell and decided that showing up was all that was required.

Luckily for us, Leeds didn’t manage to score in the first half when they were all over us. We couldn’t string any passes together or manage to win the ball back. Leeds were working like demons but that wasn’t a surprise. They play like that ………… as Arteta mentioned in his post match interview ‘they kill teams every three days’.

It’s well reported that Arteta was furious at half time. He’d told them what to expect and they hadn’t listened. Hopefully they’ll listen in the future. It’s one thing being up for a game against Premier League rivals but quite another being up for a game in general. Maybe Arteta knows a bit more now about where their heads are at.

Still, we are rewarded with an away tie against Bournemouth in the next round …… should be fun.

Here are some views of last night’s game from some of our bloggers.

Gooner B

Well, however this game ends up I think it bodes well for the future that we have a manager capable of changing the tactics and dynamic even before making subs and using the same players.

Martinelli is so exciting and portrays danger every time he gets on the ball.

Think we have been a bit lucky with Xhaka and Lacazette with the kick out.

RC78

A moment of brilliance from Pepe leading to a fluke goal by Nelson. A good second half after a horrible second half. A tale of two halves. Lucky we didn’t concede in the first half but in the end, we created chances in the second half and we put one in the back of the net – a small yet a big difference when the referee blows the end of the game.

Martinez – 7
Sok – 6
Holding – 3
Luiz – 5
Kola – 5
Douzi – 5
Xhaka – 5
Pepe – 6
Ozil – 4
Nelson – 6
LACA – 7, captain that led by example

Martinelli – 6
Willock, Saka – N/A

Gooner-in-Exile

Interesting that Laca said Arteta shouted a lot at half time. And Arteta didn’t look that happy in interview post match.

“I saw how they reacted after Chelsea, and then I saw how they reacted after a United and one win, I have to be on them”.

Got to love that comment. He told them, they didn’t listen, he told them a little more forcefully.

The biggest difference was how much further up the pitch we were at the start of the second half. Big difference.

Fatgingergooner

Regardless of any shouting or Mikel Miracles at half time, the fact is GiE is exactly right in that the shift of the back line 20 yards further up the field was all that was really needed for us to change the game in our favour. It congested the midfield area, put them under pressure, and allowed our talent to shine through in the tighter spaces (which is exactly what Pepe did for the goal). These last few games have shown that we are a far better side when we are compact and the defence, midfield and attack are close to each other. When we get strung out and there are gaps on the field we don’t seem to have the energy or intelligence to cover the ground both in attack and defence. Leeds made us look daft in the first half and it was like looking at an Emery team again. How refreshing it is though to have a manager who is capable of getting his message across to the players and who may finally make them understand that a compact team who work hard for each other is a difficult team to beat.

LBG

Mikel shouted because only one thing was required in this situation – more effort and determination than the opposition who had absolutely nothing to lose. If professional footballers don’t understand that about Cup games against lower league opponents they don’t have the brains to play at this level.

Enjoy your day ……… we go again on Saturday.

peachesgooner


Arsenal v Leeds pre-match

January 6, 2020

A cup for Arsenal this year?

Arteta mentioned that: “We have to be challenging for the cups and we’ll try to do that again this season. Obviously it is a competition that is very attached to this football club in recent years and we have to take it very seriously. I follow [Leeds] coach [Marcelo Bielsa] for a long time and I know how tough it will be to play against them. He makes them fight and challenge and run and compete, and never give up in any game or any circumstances.”

So from his little quote, you can expect him to take the FA and UEFA Cups seriously and to also take Leeds seriously. Leeds’ major aim is to win (ideally) automatic promotion to the EPL after missing out on it last year. They have not lost in 15 games but only won 1 of their last 5 matches.

Leeds are winless against us in their last 6 games (losing 5 times) against us since their unprobably 3-2 victory at Highbury in 2003 and we have progressed to the 3rd round of the FA Cup 22 times in the last 23 years (only hick up happening in 2017-2018).

Statistics are with us and I think that Bielsa may not play his strongest Leeds squad so with the wind in our back from our first half vs Chelsea, our win vs Utd, I expect Arteta to put in a good side out there and secure a win. It will not be easy but we will get a win.

Chambers, Tierney are out, Bellerin and Martinelli are a doubt so here is my expected line up:

Martinez

 AMN   Mustafi (or Holding)   Mavropanos   Saka

 Guendouzi   Torreira

 Pepe   Willock    Nelsson

 Lacazette

I can also see Smith-Rowe, Jules, Ceballos join the team on the pitch at some point, depending on the score.

I would say that we will secure a 2-1 win, courtsey of goals from…Lacazette and Willock. Leeds to score through Harrison assisted by their star man Bamford (he is a good player).

COYG!

Leeds won the FA Cup for the only time in 1972 by beating Arsenal 1-0 in the final.

This is a seventh successive away tie for Leeds – they’ve lost the last three, including at National League side Sutton United and Newport County of League Two.

The Whites have only lost once in 15 league games – but won just one of their past five.

Since being relegated from the Premier League in 2004, Leeds have played nine away FA Cup matches against top-flight opponents and won just once: 1-0 at Manchester United in January 2010

RC78


Who is Bielsa, the coach known as “El Loco” – the Crazy one?

January 5, 2020

Before joining Leeds, the Argentine coached, amongst others,  Argentina, Chile, Bilbao, Lille, Marseille and Lazio (2 days only…lol) with mixed results. His trophy cabinet may be a bit light but he is still considered as one of the most influential coach in the last 20 years. Guardiola and Pochetinno often referred to him as “The best coach in the world – but why is this the case?

 

A) Deep-dive research

Bielsa is maniac about scouting the opposition. So much so that when in his earlier coaching days and before the internet was widely available, he would ask his players to read at least 3 newspapers about the opposition…He asks his players to devour videos of themselves and the opposition. B.Mendy said that “Bielsa is too good” in letting the players get interested by themselves in watching the videos.

Some will recall the “little scandal” last year where he had some of his people spy on Lampard’s Derby training session. Bielsa later apologized for it. He is obsessed…

B) Thrilling and intensive football

Bielsa is basically the “Guru” of “pressing high up the pitch” football. He requires his players to play intensive football and hence his pre-season is usually very much based on building fitness levels of his players. He likes to play agressive, attacking and fun football that excites the players and the crowd. He also expects his players to suffer for each other and to help each other out on the pitch like a family in real life. At Lille, he had 20 bungalows built in pre-season next to the training grounds so that the players could live there to instil this “family bond” within the team.

C) Developing young players

Bielsa is also recognized for his ability to spot and develop talent. He went to Pochetinno’s parents house at 2AM and asked if he could see their son’s legs. After seeing them, he said that he would like to sign him up at Newell’s Old Boys (one of the biggest club in Argentina) because Poch “looked like he was a footballer”. At Lille, he put some experienced players and captains aside to give the ounger players a chance and same in Marseille.

Conclusion:

His trophy cabinet is quite empty but he basically is the Guru of the football approach adopted by Guardiola, Klopp, Pochetinno and has been one of the pioneers for opposition analysis and youth development set-ups. He is very temperamental (left Lazio after 2 days, left Marseille after a year…) and he is definitely obsessed by details, he lives and breathes football. So is Bielsa “The Crazy One” or is he “The torch holder”…The jury is still out it seems but all of them agree that he has influenced modern football to a great extent…

So what is your take on this very interesting coach?

RC78


Arsenal’s Best FA Cup Final Goal

January 4, 2020

It’s the third round of the FA Cup this weekend, the occasion when the big boys enter the competition, upsets can happen and unlikely heroes are made.

The Arsenal has always had a special relationship with this particular trophy, having won it more times than any other club (13 times).

Given that we have to wait until Monday night for our part of the fun this time round, how about a little FA Cup nostalgia to keep us going?

What would you say is our greatest ever FA Cup Final goal?

Here are some contenders (unfortunately the film quality for the pre-1971 finals is not good enough to really consider them here):

Aaron Ramsey 2014

Great flick by Giroud and stellar outside-of-the-boot first time strike by the Welsh wizard.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L7KxlMIdiMc

Charlie George, 1971

An epic winning strike bringing Arsenal our first Double – and an epic celebration by one of our own. Charlie says he knew it was in from the moment it left his boot, but I’ve always thought it was at a good height for the Liverpool ‘keeper who might have done better.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=so_QY7IkYFc

Frank Stapleton 1979

Liam Brady had the best left boot in football, but his right wasn’t bad either as she showed with a perfect cross after a wonderful run to set up his fellow Irishman for our second against Man Utd. (The goal is at 4.58 in this clip). 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aTpB-D0j-pY

Alan Sunderland 1979

Less the quality of the goal than its significance. United had just come from 0-2 down to level the game yet instead of Arsenal heads going down we caught them instantly on the rebound. (Goal at 8.30 in the clip above)

Santi Cazorla 2014

Down 0-2 and reeling against unfancied Hull City, Santi got us back in the game with a terrific free kick goal.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NoeuXBej-8I

Ray Parlour 2002

Briliant length-of-the-pitch move by Arsenal rounded off with a top corner belter from the Romford Pele.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_0HDcaM7yYE

Ian Wright 1993

Having scored in the 1-1 draw at Wembley, Wright got on the scoresheet in the replay. This goal is sheer quality from Smith, with a beautiful first time flick on, to Wrighty’s deadly finish. (3.20 in the clip below).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RLCbv5a6yZ8

Andy Linighan 1993

If you want the definition of a towering header, this is it: Linighan soars to meet Merson’s corner and win the Cup for Arsenal in stoppage time at the end of the replay, breaking Sheffield Wednesday hearts. (5.20 in the clip above).

Freddie Ljungberg 2002

Strength, speed, determination and a sublime finish to shatter Chelsea dreams… classic Freddie.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TVEJj4ypvC8

Alexis Sanchez 2015

On a day when everything went right for Arsenal against Aston Villa, Sanchez hit home with a screamer. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PvIeJaB7AS0

Aaron Ramsey 2017 

It’s always a delight to beat Chelsea in a big game and Ramsey proved to be the right man at the right time again with this match winning header.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rpyppkrx3aU

 

RockyLives


Redemption Songs: Which Arsenal write-offs will be rescued by Arteta?

January 3, 2020

Hate to say I told you so, but during some of the darker days in recent times when many supporters were happy to write off most of our first team squad as not good enough, I repeatedly maintained that they weren’t as bad as they looked.

When a team is lacking in confidence and badly managed it’s easy for just about any player to look distinctly average.

Before Unai Emery was shown the door (and then invited to use it) I saw people on social media saying we should even get rid of Aubameyang and Lacazette.

And of course Luiz was a has-been, Xhaka a disaster, Torreira a lightweight, Mustafi a clown, Sokratis a liability etc etc.

So it’s interesting to see at least some of these players starting to find redemption under the new improved regime of Mikel Arteta.

Luiz looked like a world class centre half in our last two games against Chelsea and Manchester United. Torreira has been a mini man mountain. Xhaka suddenly looks like he belongs in an Arsenal shirt. Sokratis scored with a volley, for heaven’s sake.

So… which players who formerly failed to convince us fans do you think are most likely to be rehabilitated under Arteta and become fan favourites?

Cast your vote below and give your reasons in comments.

RockyLives


Happy New Era! Man Utd Report & Ratings

January 2, 2020

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.

Unknown-2

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Arsenal Pre-match ……… we go again.

January 1, 2020

Happy New Year everyone. It seems crazy to be playing another game so soon ……. the guys who fought so hard on Sunday have to find the energy and inspiration to go again.

I’m pretty certain Arteta will be inspired but does he have enough willing bodies to carry out his instructions.

It’s not healthy to feel so sorry for ones football team but honestly when are we gonna get a break? The injury to Callum Chambers has piled on the pressure. Saka may also be missing and so we’ll need to juggle someone else into the left-back position …… who is there left?

The defence is a walking disaster now, where’s Flamini when you need him? Forgot to mention him yesterday 😉

Torreira will have tired legs but boy do I want to see him play and Xhaka was in training so maybe he’ll play.

Up front maybe Pepe will get a start with Martinelli returning and Aubameyang in the middle. Ozil behind probably.

All this angst for Manchester United at home. We’re not the old Arsenal and they’re not the old Man U but even so we’d like to get the better of them. There have been some great games between the two sides over the years, Arteta and Solskjaer will know how much a win will mean to both sides.

Performance over points? I’d be happy to watch more of the same, as in the opening 30 minutes v Chelsea, it was brilliant to watch us play fast moving football again. But 30 minutes won’t win us the game unless we score 2 or 3 goals ……. let it be so.

Happy New Year to you and all of yours.

peachesgooner