The Pleasure in Disappointment: Leicester Report & Ratings

 

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                                                        Reddie Eddie Go

Disappointment is a single word but it can have many nuances.

In the second half of Unai Emery’s tenure at Arsenal I became increasingly disappointed with him, with our team, with the results and with the way we were playing.

Last night, as our tired players trooped off the park following the 1-1 home draw with Leicester City, I was also disappointed.

But they were different forms of disappointment. The clue is in the dictionary definition of the word:

disappointment

/dɪsəˈpɔɪntm(ə)nt/

noun

sadness or displeasure caused by the non-fulfilment of one’s hopes or expectations.

In the former example (during the Emery era), my disappointment stemmed from the fact that my ‘expectations’ in the broader sense were most certainly being non-fulfilled.

Those expectations were that, notwithstanding issues of finances or of starting from a weak position, Arsenal should be demonstrating an ability to improve, to learn, to plan and to make progress. In short, we should be competing for the big prizes or showing that we are building towards being able to compete for them. Under Emery we were getting further and further away from being able to do that.

So, the disappointment at emphatically failing to come anywhere near those expectations was overwhelming: there was just nothing to be positive about: not even a glimmer at the end of the proverbial tunnel.

Now contrast that with the disappointment from last night’s game. After 98 minutes of play I was disappointed because we had not managed to get all three points against the team sitting third in the league before the start of play. That’s a pleasurable form of disappointment because it sits in an overall context of positivity.

It’s the disappointment that says: “We really could have won that, but for some unlucky breaks,” not the kind that says: “So we failed to win again – what did we expect?”

All of which is a long-winded way of saying that there are clear and visible signs of progress under Mikel Arteta and last night’s performance was another piece of evidence in support of that notion.

We have a plan; the players seem to understand the plan; they give their utmost to enact the plan.

The game was going very much like the recent match at Wolves until Eddie Nketieh’s sending off: we dominated the first half, scored a good goal and could (should) have scored a couple more.

The opposition came out more determinedly in the second half and gave us trouble for 15 to 20 minutes. As in the game at Molineux, El Patron responded with sensible substitutions… but that’s when our ‘lucky horseshoe’ ran out of luck.

In almost his first action on the pitch Nketieh, showing his usual commitment, over-reached for a ball and nicked a Leicester player on the knee. Slow motion replays made it look worse than it probably was but when the referee upgraded his yellow to a red after reviewing the replay, we couldn’t have too many arguments. There was no malicious intent on Nketieh’s part and he will no doubt learn from this, but it means he misses three big games coming up.

After that it was backs-against-the-wall time and, as we tried to soak up the pressure, our regular nemesis Jamie Vardy snuck in to grab a goal.

We held on to the 90th minute at which point the ‘8 minutes of extra time’ sign was a bit alarming, but we managed to kill the game off with clever time wasting and stalwart defending.

I would like to think that, but for the red card, this match would have continued to resemble the Wolves game and Arteta’s substitutions would have led to us grabbing a second goal and securing the three points. We’ll never know, but I feel there’s a good chance that’s exactly what would have happened.

PLAYER RATINGS

Martinez         8

If he keeps this up, Bernt Leno is going to have a tough time getting back in the first team. Made a couple of great stops and could do nothing about Vardy’s goal. He’s becoming a large and reassuring presence at the base of our defence.

Bellerin           7

A solid outing from Hector. He made some good contributions going forward (he would have had an assist if Lacazette had steered his open-goal header away from Schmeichel) and was switched on at the back.

Mustafi           7

Another reliable outing. I don’t want to tempt fate but he seems to have reduced the silly mistakes and the back three clearly suits him.

Luiz                  7.5

The back three really suits Luiz too. Good defending and some excellent distribution. Played a full part in our ‘Alamo’ defending after we went down to 10 men.

Kolasinac        7

I’m sounding like a stuck record, but he also seems more secure in a back three. Took some knocks but battled well.

Tierney            8 (MoTM)

This lad gets better every time you watch him. Determined defending, great energy and boy can he cross.

Xhaka              7.5

Our metronome kept things ticking over in midfield until we went down to 10 men, at which point he put in a full shift defensively and wasted time by falling over a lot to win free kicks.

Ceballos          7.5

The Spaniard is really settling into this role and system. A good and disciplined performance with a superb defence-splitting pass for our goal.

Saka                7

More involved than he had been against Wolves and, just as in that game, made a crucial contribution, in this case setting up Aubameyang for our goal.

Lacazette        7

Unlucky not to be on the scoresheet. He should have done better with the header from Bellerin’s cross but was industrious and hard working as ever.

Aubameyang  7.5

Tireless outing from the captain, who was in the right place at the right time to grab our goal.

SUBS

 

Willock (71 mins)       7

Nketieh (71 mins)      N/A

Torreira (80 mins)      7

Maitland-Niles (93 mins)       6

  

RockyLives

 

 

16 Responses to The Pleasure in Disappointment: Leicester Report & Ratings

  1. Pete the Thirst says:

    Nice post Rocky.

    The sending off changed the game. Eddie stays on we win the game. Still, we held on for the draw when 6 months ago we would have folded.

    That slow-down speed-up move from Saka for the goal was great to watch leaving Evans on his backside. That takes some composure to carry off. And the ball from Ceballos was perfect.

    Martinez looking better with each game.

  2. RA says:

    What a brilliant Post, Rocket, thank you. 😁

    I agree with you in all main regards, and the only area in which I might cavil with you involves the player ratings — but today is not the day to be petty, and anyway, the players I might mark down a bit are well known to anyone who has read my comments.

    I was disappointed too in last night’s result which you splendidly explained in the Post, but I was also somewhat disappointed in the regretful way a school master might be if a pupil seemed to have learned a lesson, but unexpectedly had a lapse and and needed further coaching.

    In the broader sense, the neat horseshoe defensive set up, which you have no doubt trademarked, disappeared at important times in the game, but a swift session with a blackboard diagram, and possibly a short growl, would soon fix that.

    Unfortunately, the ‘horseshoe’ would not protect us from an underlying fault that continues to bedevil our teams over the years, and led to the Foxes levelling the game, and it is the tendency to allow opponents to get us tied in knots with careful crosses into our box, be it from in field free kicks or from corners.

    Frankly, Mustafi did not cover himself in glory in the action leading up to Vardy’s equaliser. Instead of holding onto his shirt, or blocking his space, or insisting our defensive line should be closer to the Keeper, he was complicit in allowing a too high defensive line, and allowed a very sharp player to win an easy race in to a clear space to convert a cross that should have been stopped or hit high into the stand.

    Preaching over – but we must — absolutely must — get better quality and bigger CB’s, or that defence will continue to cost us as time goes by.

  3. oz gunnner says:

    cheers Rocky.

    Last night’s outcome has summed up the last 13 years: yeah…nah.

    VARdy strikes again (I’ll grab my coat).

    A lot of promising performances and the structure has really brought out the best in some players. I’m really glad Mustafi has pulled his finger out. Decent CB’s are almost the most expensive transfers these days so we needed someone at his age bracket to step up and not only stop us from losing money on his transfer, but also stop us from needing to spend 50+ million to bring in another. The talent has always been there, just between the ears with him.

    Tierney really is a ripper. His crossing is a thing of beauty. Almost wish we had a Giroud type back to get full use out of them.

    Martinez is really grabbing this opportunity with both hands.

    I like Saka playing…just not on the right. The cross was great on his opposite foot but the shot he had later really showed it was his weak side. Can’t complain I suppose given the goal he scored the other day and like Martinelli has the youthful exuberance and a willingness to drive forward which makes things happen and defences panic.

    Ceballos is surprising me. I thought he couldn’t leave fast enough but he’s really put in recently. Given his age, I’d be happy if we grabbed him for 35/40 million. We could do with a midfielder that wants the ball all the time and to keep things ticking.

  4. oz gunner says:

    Dier suspended for tottenham. That helps.

  5. Las says:

    Thanks Rocky, excellent summary.
    However, I do not share the disappointment. I always knew that if there were a chance to help Leicester to gain something from this game the VAR and the ref will be there…. Leicester is the actual ‘liebling’ like ManU was during Fergie times.
    The send off was really harsh on Keitha especially in the light of Vardys reckless challenge on Mustafi which was not even a yellow card?!? C’mmon.
    But the fact that we could and should have won this match by the first half performamce must give us self belief for the coming games.
    The only thing that we might missed we could use the subs earlier. Leicester came out fighting in the second half and though the score stayed in our favour I felt we should have reacted earlier.

  6. GoonerB says:

    Thanks Rocky for a marvelous post. Also a big thank-you to yourself and the other stalwarts like LB and RC78 for keeping the posts going. I wish to implore you guys that, if you can, to keep at it. I still really enjoy everything from you guys and always read the stuff but often belatedly at the moment. The situation will hopefully change and I can contribute more in the future and I also think the comments will increase again as we move into next season, so keep up the good work.

    I concur almost exactly with your feelings Rocky with this game and my feelings under Emery. I am disappointed too but really enjoyed much of our play last night and that was a long 8 minutes where I think we would have succumbed to a 2nd goal before but now we have the organisation and resilience.

    We didn’t win the game because of 2 factors. Kasper Schmeichel and the officials. I actually think Lacazette was really unlucky to just find Schmeichel in fine form otherwise that period of 1st half dominance after our 1st goal would have probably given us that 2 goal cushion to get us the win despite the officials. Moving into next season the performance and goal threat with a more solid backbone bodes well though.

    I can see the argument about Nketiehs red but also see how other refs would have left it at yellow. It is the lack of consistency that is frighteningly bad. This ref and the VAR ref didn’t balance that decision with Vardy’s kick out so that shows extreme bias. Also the ref took such a short time to look at one angle on the monitor that it literally tells us he wanted to reduce Arsenal to 10. He didn’t look at it long enough to make me feel comfortable in feeling he was making an impartial decision.

    Another angle indicates that Nketieh wasn’t trying to go through the challenge studs showing but was more trying to get a toe to the ball to lift it over the opponent, but again it is the lack of consistency. Leicester put in more fouls than us I believe but had zilch while we got a red and a yellow.

  7. Mikel A says:

    Excellent post, Rocky. We care again and hope again and so this draw hurts. But it means also that we are on our way up. Shocking refereeing, but all boys did us proud and fought for their lives and the shirt. Keep this team together and we will be going places.

  8. LB says:

    3 posts in a row Rocky, you will burn out.

    Another excellent read, my care is selfish I want to read many more.

    In the mean time there are a few words in drafts, to give you a day off.

    Best.
    Lee

  9. Rasp says:

    Thank you Rocky, like you I had a feeling of disappointment after the game. Your post and all the subsequent comments have reflected my view that it was yet more evidence of organisation, application and general improvement. I hope Auba is content with EL football and signs a new contract because CL football is now beyond our grasp.

  10. RA says:

    I have sometimes been a little glib using FIFA phraseology, particularly where VAR is concerned, and afterwards realising that others may have different understandings of what is meant.

    “A clear and obvious error” Wozzat?

    The definition is not really a definition at all, but simply a restatement of what VAR can be used for to overturn a subjective decision if a “clear and obvious error” has been identified.

    Umm – referees are human and they call things as they see them from one perspective only. This is why it is called ‘subjective’, and then they have to decide if any rules have been broken, or not, and if so what punishment is appropriate.

    So what is the ‘clear and obvious etc’ aimed at. Is it his eyesight, view, perspective, or is it his interpretation of the rules, or the punishment levied for any breach thereof?

    If it is because the singular view a human being — (and we must allow that a ref is human) — gets at any one time, then he may make multiple decisions that he would not make if he had AI (artificial Intelligence) and could ‘see” multiple angles from which to make a decision as to whether or not a foul had occurred.

    Solution: Pension of referees, and introduce “Bots” and rely on AI to administer individual games.

    But hold on — FIFA have accepted that referees make subjective decisions, and always have, so the FIFA definition is suspect.

    We fans watch games from different points in stadia, and that means we all have subjective opinions about what happened when there is an ‘incident’ – that applies to TV images too, no matter how many times they are replayed.
    As a result, referees get it in the neck at times because we think he is wrong from where we are watching, and we cannot see what he does from the position he is in. It has always been so, since football started. So VAR is never going to convince us it has a place in sport because we (including the ref) are not Bots with AI.

    If, finally, VAR is making sure the ref has done his homework, and has not botched up the awarding of a foul, and has levied the correct punishment, then we are taking a game played and adjudicated by humans, and governed by technology using software which cannot deal with ‘subjectivity’, and demoted humans to gormless bystanders.

    VAR only kicks in when another obscure human/quasi referee squints at a TV screen, perhaps miles away, and decides – subjectively – that the on-field ref was probably wrong, and puts pressure on him to change his decision in front of thousands at the game or millions world wide.

    That does not sit well with me. Bah Humbug.

  11. LBG says:

    Thanks Rocky
    My disappointment is confined exclusively to VAR.
    Love Mustafi’s three word response to pictures of the stud Mark’s on the side of his face – ” Var still checking”!

  12. Pat7 says:

    In agreement with you all above :-).
    I also noted, not mentioned above, the number of times Evans assaulted Laca’s Achilles, raking or crashing him from behind and not getting a yellow for those I have in my memory…..

  13. Aaron says:

    Rocky,

    A top class choice of words and post, echoing my sentiments on how this game came and went.

    Believe vaR to be absolute garbage until there is some consensus on how the refereere’s are to use it, how long it should take, how many angles to view.

    Side note- 4 red cards during Arteta’s short reign, irregular, me thinks so.

    I totally support Eddie, and hope he does not back off from what Arteta is instructing the players to do.

    What I do not support is the bs on the other side, there is another blog that goes into this aspect. When johnny boy raked Laca’s achilles that is when the team needs to go into fouling mode immediately, yes retaliation, if the ref’s do not provide protection to our players. 12 fouls on leicester and not even a yellow, utter crap.

    Maybe the Arsenal will get Eddie’s red card ban reduced. probably not, should try to though, especially given the vardy maneuver as I shall now call it.

    Just know that moaninho will have his squad of hacks ready to go and will be instructing his team how to get under our skin, literally and squeeze out a death defying boring victory.

    Yet, I still harbor the expectation that our new coach will have our team ready to go, and give as good as we get.

    Damn the torpedoes.

  14. RockyLives says:

    Evening all – thanks for the comments.

    LB – nice one! Will look forward to reading it.

  15. RockyLives says:

    We have a splendid new Post from LB.

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    visiting this web site dailly and obtain good facts from here all the time.

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