Feeling Blue at the Etihad: Report & Player Ratings

Dark blue blues

This wasn’t the FA Cup and this time the apprentice did not get one over on the master.

We went down to a 1-0 defeat at Manchester City in which our lads put in a creditable performance, but you’d be hard pushed to say that City did not deserve the points.

We had good spells, created a few decent chances and might even have had a penalty if the VAR bloke had not gone off for a pee at the crucial moment, but overall we were second best.

The positives were that (a) we looked – as usual under Arteta – like a well-organised team whose players all knew their jobs and did their best to carry them out, (b) we limited a very talented team to only one goal and (c) we were still in it right to the end.

The negatives: that there is still a quality gap between our players and theirs and that we caused them so little trouble in the last half hour despite needing to chase the game.

We probably should have had a penalty at the end of the first half when Kyle Walker’s boot reached low earth orbit altitude and almost smacked Gabriel in the hooter. The fact that VAR did not even take a look makes you wonder…

And for all City’s superb close passing and movement, they also gave a masterclass in cynical rotational fouling, breaking up all our break-out attacks with trips, pulls and obstructions. Some (though far from all) were penalised, but the fact that the ref never really made them pay for what was obviously a deliberate tactic is frustrating.

With our next two league games being Leicester at home and Manchester United away, a result yesterday would have taken some of the pressure off those upcoming fixtures. Now you’d have to say we need to be looking for four points from those two tough fixtures. Let’s just hope that Ole is still in the hot seat at Old Toilet when we play United.

RockyLives

Player Ratings

Leno                6

Has a habit of deflecting shots into danger areas. Perhaps there was little he could have done, but I’m not sure. The Martinez discussion (as Redders pointed out in comments) is redundant but I like a ‘keeper who prioritises catching over deflecting or punching. Apart from the City goal, there was another moment when Leno deflected a shot right into the danger area late on (although in that case the shot came from much closer in so he probably had less chance to adjust). On the positive side his footwork was good as we tried to play through City’s high press and his willingness to come out of his box as a sweeper was important on a couple of occasions.

Bellerin           6

Struggled with the City attackers but had some decent moments getting forward. He was criticised by the TV pundits for letting the City attacker cut inside him and shoot for City’s goal.

Luiz                  6

Mostly solid game from the Brazilian mophead, with one almost-classic Luiz moment when he tried to slice a clearance into his own net. His ball usage coming out of defence was pretty good overall.

Gabriel            6

Defensively strong and imposing (he definitely adds solidity to our back line). On a few occasions he lost possession with sloppy passing, which is really bad news in a game where we struggled to keep hold of the ball.

Tierney            6.5

Generally defended well and also got forward well at time. Was on the end of some rough treatment from the City players, mostly ignored by the ref.

Xhaka              6.5

I actually think Granit was an important part of the reason why we stayed in this game. He was always available in midfield and kept possession really well. The problem is he is just not a particularly progressive player so, most of the time, he took safe options with his passing.

Ceballos          6

Dani was relatively uninvolved in the first half. Towards the end of the game as we were chasing a goal he got into the game a bit more, but overall this was not his best performance. It must be hard chasing City players all game long and I can’t fault his work rate, but he wasn’t able to impose himself.

Saka                7 MoTM

Was involved in all our brightest moments and was unlucky not to have bagged a goal when one-on-one with the ‘keeper. Kept trying and looked like our most dangerous outlet.

Pepe                6

I had high hopes for Pepe in this one but he struggled to make an impression. I did notice him tracking back well and taking his defensive duties seriously, which is a positive.

Willian            4

Made virtually no impact on the game at all and the decision to play him centrally in attack was a mistake. He was too lightweight to contend with City’s strong defenders and he just didn’t do enough on the ball to cause them any problems.

Aubameyang  6

Had very little opportunity to get on the scoresheet. One chance (incorrectly flagged for offside) was saved by City’s ‘keeper and he almost got on the end of a good Luiz cross late on. He still looked like class whenever he had the ball but just could not make anything happen.

Subs

Lacazette        5

Ran around a lot but spoiled a couple of our better opportunities late on by making bad passes.

Partey             N/A

Nice to see him make his debut, but there was to be no ‘dream start’ to his Arsenal career.

Nketieh           N/A

147 Responses to Feeling Blue at the Etihad: Report & Player Ratings

  1. Sue says:

    Nice one, Rocky. Couldn’t even bring myself to watch MOTD, had seen enough and couldn’t believe United were awarded yet another penalty, albeit missed… VAR/officials have definitely deserted Liverpool and are back with the Mancs!
    I’m still frustrated… agree about Saka, he was MOTM by a mile. Oh well, time to put this behind us and think ahead to Vienna on Thursday.. a rapid first half destruction will do 😉
    Oh and the thought of going to OT, on top of playing against 12 men, possibly more, when was the last time we were victorious up there in the league, yep 2003!!! 😳

  2. LBG says:

    Rocky
    First of all thanks for all the effort in the post.
    As always, unlike other blog commentators, pundits, ex footballers, always feel I watched the same game as you.
    Your reasonable analysis of Shitty “deserving” the points is, again as always, the considered opinion that someone like me never achieves immediately after a game, but (sometimes) comes around with a nights/two days of stewing sleep!
    Will be interested in views on two things for as me. Firstly GiE’s, as an ex-goalkeeper, view on Leno for their goal. Felt his positioning was firstly slightly too far right, and, unusually to far forward, as the first shot came consequently very quickly to him and resulted in the push into dangerous area. Very picky, of course, and I personally believe we will not regret making him No 1.
    Secondly, although I will soon need to wash my mouth out with soap and water, think X is most improved player of this season so far!! (Give him time!!)
    Happy Sunday all. Stay safe.

  3. Rasp says:

    Thanks Rocky …. all very fair observations. Based on dangerous possession they deserved to win, but I always felt we could score.

    For me, the big question is … do we need to develop the same skill at cynical fouling (not on the edge of our box but high up the pitch) to be able to beat the likes of city and pool?

    I’m not sure I believe that their players are that much better than ours. There were several times when city players the same size or even smaller than ours knocked us off the ball, that shouldn’t happen. We still need beefing up in certain areas … maybe Partey playing centre midfield will provide that. He made a couple of impressive runs through the midfield yesterday so maybe he will be box-to-box. I think he has to start against manure.

  4. fred1266 says:

    Nice to see pepe start yesterday, I hope he watch mahrez and add some of his stuff to his game

  5. jjgsol says:

    I see solution to some of our problems is to foul more, but only if it can be done cynically and, even better, without the officials noticing.

    Good stuff.

    Yes, a lot more fouling will make our team play better football, create more chances and, most importantly of all, get more of those newly created chances actually in the right direction.

    Would you not agree that the major problem in football nowadays, and this starts at the top of the league and ends at the bottom, is that the primary and secondary imperatives are to stop the opponent from playing.

    Actually playing football themselves seems to be everyone’s after thought only.

    So when it comes to actually playing football Arsenal are pretty low down the league.

    I wonder how many season ticket holders are happy that they do not gave to waste their time going to games when the fare on offer is so awful.

  6. Sue says:

    It’s the NLD for the women this afternoon. Hopefully that’ll put a smile on my face 🤞

  7. RockyLives says:

    LBG
    You’re right that it would be good to get GiE’s input on my criticism of Leno’s shot-deflecting.

    Am I asking too much of the ‘keeper GiE? The shot that led to City’s goal was from well within the penalty area so maybe it was just too fast for Leno to have controlled the deflection better (or even attempt a catch).

    The later shot that Leno deflected back into the six yard box was from even closer in, so I don’t think he can be too harshly judged for that one.

    Meanwhile his ability to be way off his line and well outside his box at times to snuff out dangerous moments is close to genius level!

  8. RockyLives says:

    LBG (and LB)

    Puglia is my favourite part of Italy (which is my favourite country). I’ve spent a lot of time there. The local food is good beyond description.

  9. RC78 says:

    – Rocky – where r u in Puglia?
    – Thanks for the post and the ratings.

    I am also of the opinion that Leno overall had a decent game but that he is partly to blame for the goal. We could see the difference between him and Ederson. A top GK wins you points or keeps you in games. Leno is a good GK but he is not a top GK yet. Martinez was on fire when he took over at the end of last year and he was key to us winning Cups. Will Leno help us land silverware?

  10. RC78 says:

    Leno – 5.5 – see my comments above
    Bellerin – 5.5 – at fault for the goal
    Luiz – 6.5 – a good outing
    Gabriel – 6 – some poor passing but solid overall
    Tierney – 6 – a good outing but also struggled to contain Mahrez
    Saka – 7 – good going forward but struggled with Mahrez too
    Ceba – 6.5 – industrious but did not do enough with the ball
    Xhaka – 6 – nothing good nor bad.
    Pepe – 6 – good defensive work, missed a chance with his header but we expect a lot more from him this year.
    Willian – 5 – Why was he played as a false 9?
    Auba – 5.5 – A good chance and nothing. Had an off-day.

    Laca – 5 – did not add anything to our game and did miss a few passes.
    Partey – too little time to judge.

    Arteta – 5. His first tactical mishap.

  11. sheila says:

    Yes that is my one big difference between Leno & Emi. ( except for size advantage) Leno does tend to punch the ball out much more than Emi did. Emi used to catch them or land on them with his whole body. But Leno did make a few good saves , hopefully he will learn to try to punch the ball into less dangerous situations even if it means giving a corner away. I am happy with Leno he is a good GK ( perhaps he has to punch them out more as he does have a slight height disadvantage over a lot of GK . I stood beside him once & was surprised at his height,

  12. LBG says:

    So back to tactics! Willian a false nine??
    Surely he was playing further forward than usual and CENTRALLY. If he has to have a number, its 10.
    I believe he can be “creative” there but one, whoever is playing the other two “forwards” must squeeze in closer and CONNECT with him. Aubang and Pepe had no more than than moderate games because they were isolated wide, and in Aubang’s case had the quickest right/centre back sweeping up behind and dominating him! This cant be all Willian’s fault!
    And two, because Aubang and Pepe play (very) wide, the forwards to play with Willian in this tactical formation are Laca and Eddie!!!
    And what did we do? Took Willian off and asked Laca to drop off/back and play the role. Result, he came even further back and got in the way of midfield on our few attacks in the second half.
    I believe the position for Willian could work with different players. I also believe Aubang, as captain has an obligation to force his involvement in games and not wait, lonely as a cloud, so wide he could go off for a Dier p*** break and noone would notice, bemoaning no delivery forward into his path! Rant over!

  13. RA says:

    Hi Rock Meister,

    Well played, sir, a good report and a very fair summary to boot.

    Overall, I saw the game pretty much as you describe with one additional personal observation. You see, I found the game a little stolid, with both sides somewhat cancelling out the other, which I thought reflected well on Arteta’s/Arsenal’s consistent improvement, and given City’s status as one of the top 2 teams that pleases me.

    To be candid, like all of you, I was disappointed by losing to a soft goal, at least it was in my opinion, altho it is a given that even one of the top four teams can do that and still go on to win.

    I think we deserved at least a draw, and dare I say it it, I think we could have won on another day.

    Let’s be bold, and say that Walker’s boot crashing high into Gabriel’s head when he attacked the ball in City’s penalty area just before half time deserved at least a yellow card, and the award of a penalty.

    That would have been a game changer.

    In addition our MOTM, Saka, had two attempts on goal that would not have surprised anyone if they had hit the back of the net, but for the excellent goalkeeping by Ederson.

    So, their goalkeeper saved them and we lost, so what, you might say? but again there was nothing much in it, and we could have scored both of them, and won 1 : 3, with the wind in the right direction.

    It’s a fact that we lost – OK – but this was not one of our collapses, as in previous years, and altho I am disappointed, there were a lot of positives to come from that game.

    And we deserved at least that draw – whatever anyone says!

  14. fred1266 says:

    Well I hope Leno helps us get the fa cup so I can say goodbye to him

    Never understand the decision to let emi go

  15. Sue says:

    Women 5-0 up, not even half time yet! Sweet 👌

  16. RA says:

    Sue,

    😁. 👍

  17. fred1266 says:

    Is that a league game

  18. Sue says:

    Yes, it was in the league, Fred… finished 6-1 👍

  19. Aaron says:

    Rocky,
    An evenly applied metric.
    Thought Leno was partly culpable for the goal, but he did make up for it later. Some of his passing was horrendous, he needs to work on under pressure in practice.

    With RA on this one though, against the grain. Our 2 chances were huge chances, and 1 should have been put to bed.

    Going back into pup’s instructions, 15 fouls, 4 yellows, 3 extreme shirt pulls on the counter, the ref did not have control of the game, pup’s players did. Yes, it should come from the top of the league to play futbol, but we know it does not against the bigger clubs.
    Some of the rakes down the backs of our players legs needed to be accounted for, they were not, and those players that committed those fouls should be played very physically in return if tour players are not protected by the ref’s. This can be done in equal measure to keep things in balance or a least to gain respect from your opponent. This goes on from pee wee league all the way up to the EPL.

    Thank goodness for a game on Wednesday as I am still simmering from that L, and Mikel has a chance to work on things for the next few games in these matches as they are rough.

    Are you ready?

  20. LBG says:

    Aaron
    As usual, liked your initial thoughts but personally, the point at which you suggest we might have to match dark arts with dark arts, I diverse.
    My 23 years of coaching kids, the right way to play our game, prevents me from commending such an approach. Would prefer my Club to lose occasionally than to match cheats.

  21. fred1266 says:

    When the last time the woman has when the league sue and what our current standing

  22. Aaron says:

    LBG as usual I like what you say, yet I diverge from some of your thoughts, but we are more in alignment that you think.

    I too have coached for years and won trophies out in CA.

    I said play the opposition “physically” which means tighter, closer, and play through the tackles if going to ground. Yet, in CA, we have so many artificial turf fields it is not pleasant to go to ground, and I hate them to no end. I did not say injure someone.

    But, a real question is what is the right way to play? Is one shirt tug up field one too many? When does it become to passive and your players are all limping off or can’t play the next few games because of those injuries.
    My teams and players will not get walked over ever, but at the same time I do not condone UFC style orc type games. I prefer artful style of play, if you have the players to achieve it, and as we can see right now AFC does not have have enough of those players to play that way all the time.

  23. Sue says:

    Fred.. They last won the league 2018-19… and are currently top after 5 games…..

  24. fred1266 says:

    Nice

    I remember when I came to England last year I want to go watch a game but tickets were imposible to find

  25. RA says:

    Aaron/LBG,

    We all have ways of expressing ourselves and occasionally this can cause people in broad agreement with each other thinking that the other party is diametrically opposed to an opinion.

    You Guys seem to be in agreement.

    I agree with you both, as well, but there is no doubt that life, especially football, is not always fair or full of integrity.

    It rankles me to hear football players – both current and ex – expressing so called tough guy comments about their games with Arsenal, such as “We got in their faces — they never liked that, because they are soft”, or, “we threw some tough tackles into them at the start of the game — and they always pulled out of tackles after that”.

    Just machismo? or gloating in cheating?

    You have to learn to stand up for yourself — being a ‘nice guy’ while someone cracks your ankles, or accidentally elbows you in the face, is asking too much, either for kids or professional footballers.

    Cheating? No. Just giving as good as you get – isn’t that what most Gooners have been crying out for when demanding a ‘hard man’ in midfield – not a cheat – just someone the opposition did not try it on with.

    Just different ways of expressing an opinion. 😜

  26. Rasp says:

    I love you Lanzini … what a goal … and maureen’s face 😂 … chorus … “three nil up and you f*+^#d it up” … repeat

  27. Rasp says:

    Bale came on when they were 3 nil up…. talisman my arse

  28. fred1266 says:

    Lol who as a screenshot of the special ones face

  29. fred1266 says:

    Bale probably thought he was playing golf rasp

  30. Rasp says:

    😂 Fred …. Declan Rice just made a good point – there has been an extraordinary number of goals in these first 5 games, he thinks the negative effect of the fans is to make players more cautious … could be true!

  31. Sue says:

    Loved Moyes’ reaction.. he did a Klopp!! Brilliant!!
    Ooh VVD requires surgery on his knee – Pickford really did a job on him!!

  32. fred1266 says:

    Yea

    Wonder how that affect pool now, both vvd and Alison out

  33. Sue says:

    Not going their way this season, Fred…

  34. LB says:

    Oh, wow, spuds 3-3 I zoned out at 3-0

  35. LB says:

    Fellow Puglia lovers, I went to Bari, stayed in the old town, ate fantastic sea food as you would imagine, took day trips by train up to Trani and down to Polignano both very pretty little costal ports, flew on Ryan air for the outrageous sum of £9.98 each way.

    I am thinking Brindisi next………

  36. Aaron says:

    Many people banging on here and there about how our club is not playing with electricity like attacking, and here is Leicester and Villa putting up an amazing 5 shots total at half.

    Maybe Mikel has it right, right?

  37. Sue says:

    3 – West Ham are the first team in Premier League history to avoid defeat in a game having been 0-3 down as late as the 81st minute. Comeback. #TOTWHU
    Nice 😁

  38. RockyLives says:

    LB
    I can suggest Martina Franca and/or Cisternino (both small towns with lovely ‘centro istoricos’). They’re only about 15 minutes apart in countryside dotted with those amazing ‘trulli’ (cone shaped houses made out of dry stone wall). It’s a magical landscape (on the way to Brindisi).

    If you decide to go there LMK and I can give you some restaurant suggestions.

    Main thing in Puglia is to order the antipasti wherever you go: they’ll bring you plate after plate of local veg, cheeses, meat and fish. Pure heaven.

  39. Gööner In Exile says:

    Thanks for the write up Rocky.

    Having given the game more thought and spurred by your ratings on Xhaka and Ceballos, it reminded me of the positions they seemed to be taking Ceballos was deeper than Xhaka it seemed for much of the game, Xhaka’s strength is in his long game, and Ceballos is a better short passer. As you say Chaka has a tendency to go backwards/sideways if the long ball over the top is not on and I wonder if this positioning was Mikels by design. I assume so as he is normally very animated to reshuffle when players are not in the right place. That goes for William and Lacazette too neither of them appeared to go and play on the centre backs instead trying to occupy a space 10-20yards deeper than expected.

    When you think about it it makes sense, City we’re going to press but their defenders do not push right up so if you can get the ball to these men deeper they have the opportunity to get the ball to the wide men. That part wasn’t necessarily the issue but we didn’t have anyone to finish the moves with those starting positions meaning wide men had to cut inside across full backs and centre backs to try and make a goal threat.

    As you say it was a well organised team but we lacked the creativity to threaten regularly enough.

    After 18months of Emery I am still more positive that Arteta can get a tune out of the current squad, they at least seem to trust more in what he is asking them to do despite there being not a massive change in some of the organisation and setup.

  40. Gööner In Exile says:

    Thoughts on Leno:

    I think he anticipated the ball going further to his left, he almost over dives and then his hand position is wrong to push the ball further away. Hence why it bounces into the penalty area.

    But as a keeper I would be asking why my defenders were not on the follow up quicker.

    You will also see Leno slip as he tries to recover after the initial save and I think he gives up on it which is not good to see, he had a chance to throw himself from his knees at the shot from Sterling.

    Overall the only reason I can see as to why he got the position over Martinez is his ability with ball at feet, he is ultra confident in passing the ball around at the back and that is the modern way it would seem. Pure goalkeeping Martinez appears stronger in every area especially handling from corners and set pieces.

    A friend of mine is a Villa fan he is absolutely made up with Martinez.

    That said Leno has proven on more than one occasion that he is a very capable shot stopper, and like others I prefer a keeper who tries to hold shots, but again I am probably outdated in that view, when I played you only parried when you couldn’t catch, in today’s world the ball moves so much that preparing to catch could be your undoing, a catch requires soft hands, soft hands mean if you don’t catch it the ball will end up close to the goal, more often than not a parry will mean strong hands and arms and should result in the ball travelling away from goal.

    I am not sure again but I’ve always preferred helping it round the post (think fingertip saves) with a flick of the wrist or hand against a strong parry. But it really does depend where the ball is in relation to your body.

    I’ll always say it as Arsenal fans we were spoilt…..

    Kelsey, Wilson, Jennings, Lukic, Seaman all top class keepers. Seaman probably the epitome of keeping, positioning, footwork and calmness under pressure meant that he didn’t have to pull of many spectacular saves, but he was always able to when called upon. Lehman probably deserves to be in that list but I just never really liked the mad German, maybe because he replaced my idol and maybe because he just didn’t have the same presence/calmness, he was more Schmeichel in attitude and I never liked that.

    So from 1940’s to 2008 we had some of the best keepers to ever play the game. And since then ….. we’ll it’s been rough.

  41. LBG says:

    GiE
    Having pushed for your views, thanks for your “masterpost” on goalkeeping.
    Still marvel at some of the expertise on this site, (especially the travel writers), it is a pleasure to start the week with intelligent discourse.

  42. Gööner In Exile says:

    LBG I would be intrigued to spend time with a present day FA qualified GK coach and see what they focus on.

    Being able to play ball with feet came in during my time as a keeper (the back pass rule) but then it was receive the ball from defender and hoof it back up pitch, now they are encouraged to find another pass and keep position. Adds a huge layer to the modern keepers skillset.

    Watched a few Arsenal Training vids on ArsenalTV and watched some of the goalkeeper routines, it’s completely alien.

  43. Pete the Thirst says:

    We’re not a million miles away. City away is one of the toughest fixtures of the season.

    We created 2 very decent chances and should have had a pen for a high foot.

    Adding Partey to starting line up will make us better.

    The goal was a bit of a mess. Bellerin & Luiz didn’t do great but Leno has to carry the can for pushing the ball straight back in front of the goal. He needs to adapt his style to push the ball wide.

  44. LBG says:

    GiE
    Agree absolutely. A different World! I was lucky enough to see two keepers who went through my school PE teacher hands and went on to sign professional forms. One for Chelsea and one for Palace. Needless to say, my coaching had very little to do with their success. Academy coaching in the eighties required big, muscular keepers who were shot stoppers and had a hoof on them that could put the ball a long way down the pitch.
    Nowadays, they need a first touch of Robert Pires.
    I was interested in your hero keeper. My all timer, in my Arse team I have seen live, has always been Pat Jennings. Probably something to do with his time for my Club in my impressionable years!! Same with Liam’s status in my psyche.
    Interesting discussion. Thanks.

  45. LBG says:

    What a class footballing team Leeds are! And how did we let Ayling go?

  46. Sue says:

    👍 LBG.. he’s been superb once again… and look at the ground he’s covered, never stops running!

  47. LB says:

    Big day for Mesut’s fan club tomorrow, if he is not included in the squad I think that even the most loyal of us will have to concede that he will never play again.

    But today however he remains an Arsenal player and so possibly for the last time I give you.

    Mesuuuuuuuuuuuut.

  48. LBG says:

    Morning LB
    Certainly another final final watershed moment for Mesut. If it is accepted that Sue’s lover’s versatility( if not ability, as a player not lover!) wins in a choice, I predict Mustafi may be left out with the Sok.

  49. LBG says:

    Rapid Vienna won 5-1 at the weekend but I’m hoping they were playing the local blind school and we can start with a handsome win.
    Likewise PSG!

  50. RC78 says:

    Tonight PSG hosts Man Utd and we have a revenge to take…especially Kimpembe. The way we lost to Utd a few years back in the CL was ridiculous when the ref awarded a PK…anyways…

    PSG’s squad is decimated but we will be able to field a good team and we will most likely play:

    Navas – Florenzi, Marquinhos, Kimpembe, Bakker – Herrera, Danilo, Gueye – Di Maria, Mbappe, Neymar

    Florenzi has been a good recruit for us so far and I think that Rafinha will come in handy. We are gonna have a first look at Danilo – will be interesting. Allez Paris!

  51. R R says:

    RC

    Any team with Neymar, Di Maria and Mbappe should be tough to beat.

  52. R R says:

    LB,

    I do not think Mesut was included in Arsenal’s Europa squad.

    “Mesut Ozil: Arsenal omit Germany midfielder from Europa League squad. Midfielder Mesut Ozil has been left out of Arsenal’s Europa League squad for the forthcoming campaign. The 31-year-old’s future at the club remains uncertain after being persistently left out of the side by manager Mikel Arteta. 8 Oct 2020”

    I think he is a Goner not a Gooner.

  53. R R says:

    LBG,

    Sok is not included in the Europa Squad either, and Mustafi is still recovering from injury.

  54. Sue says:

    LBG.. 😄

    RC.. Should be a belter tonight! Di Maria to score – please!! Neymar and Mbappe to run riot also… the only disappointment from a PSG perspective is Slab-head (Maguire) isn’t playing..

  55. R R says:

    Arsenal’s Europa League squad in full

    Goalkeepers: Bernd Leno, Runar Runarsson, Matt Macey, James Hillson, Dejan Iliev

    Defenders: Hector Bellerin, Gabriel, Rob Holding, Cedric Soares, Shkodran Mustafi, Calum Chambers, Pablo Mari, David Luiz, Sead Kolasinac, Kieran Tierney

    Midfielders: Dani Ceballos, Willian, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Thomas Partey, Mohamed Elneny, Granit Xhaka

    Forwards: Alexandre Lacazette, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Nicolas Pepe

    Reiss Nelson, Bukayo Saka, Joe Willock and Emile Smith Rowe are all included as homegrown players.

  56. R R says:

    Saliba not included in Europa squad, and Holding out injured for at least a month (maybe).

    I guess your bored with this — me too.

    Sorry the Mesut dispute could not have been resolved — but none of us have all the details.

  57. LBG says:

    RR
    The Europa squad is gone and settled. It is now the Premier League squad we are debating!

  58. R R says:

    It is rumoured that Sok will go in January 2021, so it looks like we won’t play with any Soks on after that.

  59. R R says:

    LB says:
    October 19, 2020 at 10:56 pm

    Big day for Mesut’s fan club tomorrow, if he is not included in the squad I think that even the most loyal of us will have to concede that he will never play again.

    LBG says:
    October 20, 2020 at 8:02 am

    Morning LB

    Certainly another final final watershed moment for Mesut. If it is accepted that Sue’s lover’s versatility( if not ability, as a player not lover!) wins in a choice, I predict Mustafi may be left out with the Sok.

    LBG says:
    October 20, 2020 at 8:06 am

    Rapid Vienna won 5-1 at the weekend but I’m hoping they were playing the local blind school and we can start with a handsome win.
    Likewise PSG!

    Yes, of course you were discussing the Premiership, LBG??

    Silly me! I was talking about Xmas, of course.

  60. LBG says:

    Napoli bid £85m for Pepe excluding performance bonuses, according to “agents”!😯
    I was always prepared to give him this “full” season to settle into Premier League work. We need some end product sooner rather than later, Pepe, so Mikel has to select you! Finger out!

  61. LBG says:

    R R
    Anyone can make a mistake ( including Gary Lineker).
    Welcome to the best Arsenal blogging site in the land!

  62. RA says:

    That is very kind of you LBG, altho of course I do not give a stuff about Gary Line Acher, and your welcome to AA, altho very nice — is slightly belated as I have been blogging on here for approx 10 years – not long after the site first took flight.

    I appear to have got my Rs in a pickle, today, but you may know me better as RA, and in future I will remember that when you are talking about PSG, and Rapid Vienna, who play Arsenal in the Europa League tomorrow, and whether that will be Mesut’s last game for Arsenal, or not, you actually mean the Premier League.

    I am sure RC, Sue, and LB already know all that, of course.

  63. LBG says:

    Sorry RA, I didnt recognise your Rs in line or otherwise! Would never challenge your superior ‘age’ (or expertise) in terms of blogging here.

  64. RA says:

    LBG,

    I was enjoying your comment about the non-Premier League discussion, and was rather expecting your “keep up” rejoinder too.

    I was actually in my ‘water carrier’ mode earlier supplying information, to be helpful, about who was or was not included in the squad for tomorrow night’s game, and also was about to tell anyone who did not know, why the game was played on a Wednesday rather than the usual Spursday night – but I thought ‘sod it’. 😜

    I was mystified by your ‘welcome’ and only then did I twig I was using another of my emails and another nom de plume – so blog ‘seniority’ did not come into it, but the welcome was amusing, and I had to own up to my unusual pseudonym ‘R R’.

  65. Sue says:

    RA’s after a little R and R 😉

  66. LBG says:

    So ESPN announcing Mesut out of 25 men squad, but no official RA announcement as yet!!

  67. RA says:

    Hi Sue,

    😉

  68. RA says:

    They, ESPN, will just have to keep up, LBG, because we all know already.
    That clever clogs, R R, already told us earlier.

    Mesut is not in the Premiership squad either, but we already know that too. 😜

  69. Sue says:

    No Mesut 🥺 Never did I think whilst sat at the Emirates back in March, watching him assist for Laca, it’d be the last time I’d ever see him in the famous red and white….off for a lil wail…

    I guess money really is being saved by not playing him then….

  70. Aaron says:

    Topic worth mentioning.
    AFC to new super league- will you still follow your club.

    I won’t!

  71. LBG says:

    Aaron
    Would have to…..but very much against.
    Surprised at knowledgeable supporters of top six teams in my extended family who are “all in favour”. Hate the phrase, but without the “grass roots” we would never had acquired Ian W….or Vardy ( sorry, swear word!!)……Ian Wright, Wright, Wright.

  72. Aaron says:

    LBG,
    Then people would never get the sheer joy of watching a last placed club like Villa smash Liverpool, the EPL Champions 7-2 or a team like Leicester winning the EPL on 5500-1 odds in their lifetime.

    Me, what would be the point of watching us play the same teams we faced in CL for 21 years under Arsene, except spuds..

  73. Aaron says:

    Read further, looks like another $ grubbing tournament not separate league.
    AFC back in:-)

  74. RA says:

    Aaron,

    We have heard all that bollix about Super Leagues years ago, and eventually the penny drops, that most fans just would not be assed.

    Let’s face it, wealthy owners just want to become wealthier.

    Costs for watching on TV would sky rocket, and cost of a seat would also go up.

    Can’t see it happening.

  75. RA says:

    Aaron,

    I think the ‘project’ is called “The European Premier League”.

    Other than Manure and ‘Pool, no other clubs have signed up yet, and anyway, we might not be invited as there are only 5 clubs wanted from each league, and as we have been so poor in the premiership in recent years I cannot see us being automatically added to, Citeh, Manure, Pool and Chelsea.

    The last place will go to one of the following; —- Spuds, Leicester, Arsenal — and maybe Everton, Leeds or Wolves. Who knows?

  76. LBG says:

    “Billionaire owners of Clubs are out of control”.

  77. Sue says:

    What the hell are the Mancs wearing??!!! 😆

  78. Sue says:

    Bloody hell, RC, another penalty for Penandes!!!
    Every game…..

  79. LBG says:

    Morata on fire for Juve! Poor old Simeone, fro bad to worse.

  80. Sue says:

    Disappointing, RC, especially Neymar….☹

  81. RC78 says:

    PSG was crap: tactically, technically and physically. Outmuscled, outsmarted and outplayed. Fair victory for Man Utd. Man Utd has some quality players and the gem is clearly Rashford. This kid is phenomenal. I d go as far as we should buy Rashford once Auba leaves 😛

  82. fred1266 says:

    Neymar hasn’t been playing to his ability at all since I watched him in CL finals last year

  83. RA says:

    Good Morning, Tadpoles,

    This torrential downpour has given me a brainwave, either that or my hair is so sodden it is causing short circuits — quite pleasant really.

    Anyway, the brainwave — I was quietly ruminating – not to be confused with a cow’s ruminant stomach you understand, and frankly, as you will have deduced, I have many cow friends in Wichita – yes cows do make friends too – but back to my rumination – I suddenly remembered a film where a group of Bandidos wanted to break into a bank, or break someone’s leg, or rob a rival gang – well the film was crap and who cares – but they put on dark clothes, heavy boots and painted their faces to make themselves look scary, and they succeeded, especially the one who painted red circles around his eyes, blue paint on his nose and pouty pink on his lips.

    I thought, we need to come up with a plan for a similar scary disguise for our team – which will frighten the opposition — and probably me — so I ask all AA bloggers, on the best site in blossom blogdom, to come up with suggestions so that we can launch ourselves into infinity and beyond – and back (Rocky likes to ponder on verbal contradictions) and to do it in time to frighten the bejasus out of the Tottering Spuds when we next meet.

    I can already feel the Premier League slip sliding into our welcoming, sneaky hands.

    It’s either that, or someone had better write a new Post, pronto. 🤪

  84. LBG says:

    RC
    Oh please no! We have goalscorers who will do the job in the future……Eddie, Martinelli, Saka (let alone John Jules and a few other Academy players) and Laca, for a few years anyway.

    I am interested in AAers opinion regarding the suggestion over the weekend that, since his signing of a new contract, Aubang’s intensity has dropped! My opinion is, certainly the goals are not flying in from Aubang, and as I commented, I have often felt that there is a degree of “wait until something happens” in Aubang’s character. Certainly he is not an Ian Wright or Thierry even, who when things weren’t quite right, often grabbed the game by the neck and made things happen.

  85. fatgingergooner says:

    Shame we’ll never get to see Özil play at his best again but on the bright side we won’t have to watch him sulking and walking around.

    Every cloud…

  86. RA says:

    Is the game on TV? If so – which channel?

  87. Sue says:

    It’s tomorrow, RA, on BT….

  88. Aaron says:

    Who are we talking about fgg?

    Enjoy that madrid and their overrated coach are getting owned.

    LBG, Auba will come good, just needs service and the team to gel a bit.

    Looking forward to the next game to get back on track!

  89. Aaron says:

    Well, I guess this might be a reaL comeback, still like to see anyone beating them except the spuds..

  90. RA says:

    Thank you, Sue. 😁

  91. LBG says:

    Happy Birthday Arsene. Thanks for the memories!

  92. RA says:

    If Arsenal are to continue to recover ground lost to the other Top Six clubs recently, then Arteta needs to start using some of the younger academy players who were so helpful towards the end of last season, and the earlier weeks of this season in much more competitive European games.

    Perhaps that sounds easier than it actually is, as the tension of playing in a very competitive competition can take a toll on young nerves, but the payback could be well worth the gamble.

    A start on the bench and introduction later, depending on how the game is going, would be my advise – not suggesting that Arts needs any advise from me.

  93. Sue says:

    Dennis Bergkamp’s son, Mitchel, has been at London Colney working with the Arsenal U23s. He is currently a free agent.

  94. RA says:

    Sign him up, Sue. 😳

  95. LBG says:

    Does Sue have a role at the Arse that we are unaware of?

  96. LBG says:

    Like that team selection. Very attacking. Yoof to the fore!

  97. Sue says:

    I wish, LBG 🙂

  98. Sue says:

    Love Partey
    The ref is the European equivalent of Mike Dean
    Cech’s love child is in goal for Rapid
    We need to wake up in the 2nd half!! COYG

  99. RA says:

    I agree with you Sue, Partey has had a really strong game.

    Leno has made that type of mistake before, and he will again ……. sheesh.

    The defence are pretty good..

    The front three, Pepe, Nketiah and Laca not so much.

    And the ref is a t***

  100. RA says:

    Well done, David. We needed that.

  101. RA says:

    You’ve brought us luck, Sue!!

  102. Sue says:

    Boom! Great header..

  103. Sue says:

    😄 RA…
    Great pass from Elneny… thank heavens for Auba!!!

  104. RA says:

    The referee is out of his depth.

  105. RA says:

    I agree, Elneny has had a good game, Sue.

  106. RA says:

    Luiz could have given away a penalty for that dive.

    The rubbish ref fell for it luckily.

  107. LBG says:

    So apparently (unable to watch game) Bernd will want to forget this game! My plea, before the Emi lovers come out to play, is give the man a break, please.
    He is playing the way he is told……Edison, Allison, let alone Kepa A have all done similar…….as, in different form did Seaman, Lukic and Uncle Tom Cobbley!

  108. LBG says:

    It’s all about the result…and Thomas Partey!

  109. RA says:

    Really pleased with Thomas P.

    Great game, with some brilliant interceptions.

  110. Sue says:

    Nice one, LBG… sick of hearing about how we sold the wrong keeper..🤪

    Partey MOTM… so glad Auba’s back on the scoresheet… not the greatest of games, but job done!! Phew, now to wipe my brow 😂

  111. LB says:

    The Partey love in is going to continue for a while and I am not going to spoil it.

    TP allows us to play higher up the field enabling us to finally connect the midfield with the attack with less fear of being caught on the break.

    The problem with Ceballos who is principally responsible for the connection is his lack of speed, when play breaks down high up we are exposed to a swift counter attack.

    Tonight Partey was able to stride back Vieiraesque and deal with the issue. Oh, how I enjoyed writing that sentence.

    Elneny played particularly well, the through ball to Bellerin was classy he and Partey combined well, the thing that bothers me is that everything that Elneny can do Torreira can do better, and so much more.

    Is Elneny effective in the oppos penalty box? No, Torreira is, does Elneny score goals? No, but Torreira does, and here we are wetting ourselves because he played a though ball…….I can only guess that Elneny remains in the shop window and when he is finally sold to balance the books we can get a real talent worthy of Arsenal’s stature.

    As for Leno, he made a school boy error and should suffer the humiliation for doing so. How can anyone write an honest match report without pointing out the good and importantly the bad. We are one short step away from censorship on this site…….

    Lastly, I put this to you, if people can sit next to each other in the confined space of a tube why on earth can’t we go to football and watch our team in the open air?

  112. RockyLives says:

    Ooh – not often I get to disagree (a little bit) with LB.

    I was never convinced by Torreira and I can’t think of him scoring that many goals for us (I haven’t looked it up so could be wrong).

    Most of all the Ninny gives us much greater physicality in the middle compared with Terrier. The amount of times Torreira would just get brushed off the ball… it used to drive me mad.

    In fact – and I realise this is a punt – I wouldn’t be totally surprised if Arteta’s first choice MF pair becomes Partey and Ninny.

  113. LB says:

    Probably is going to be that combo Rocky, Arteta was almost certainly trying it out tonight, he knows he has to change things to keep us moving forward.

    The Tierney ball over the top for Auba to run onto has run its course. We need something new and the arrival of Partey couldn’t have come sooner.

    Oh and just to jog your memory, think of the Torreira goal against Tottenham……I loved it then and I love it now.

  114. RockyLives says:

    Fair point LB – great goal

  115. LB says:

    Interesting to think about Torreira getting knocked off the ball easily. I always had the idea that he did so to draw the foul and slow play down, all completely contrived. Coming to us from Italy the impression I got was that I was watching a master class in the dark arts, the Italians of course are second to none at such things, the home of Macchievelli and all that.

    But anyway, Torreira is at Atleti and Elneny is at THOF, so get behind him I will.

  116. RA says:

    Morning, LB.

    I particularly liked your comment at 8:42 and the personal views you expressed.

    The whole point of blogging is to do just that, and bollix to censorship.

    We have titles at the top of the Blog, one of which is “Room 101” which highlights words and phrases that have become tired and possibly offensive to other bloggers with differing views, and are unacceptable.

    I think we have done the Emi views to death and as I previously said – he is history – so you are correct, there is nothing wrong with saying that Leno could have cost us two goals. On the other hand he has pulled off some super saves in the past and helped us win games, and hopefully will do so in the future.

    Your view on Elneny is probably shared by many others, and why not? But, I was puzzled when we (Arsenal) decided to ship him out on loan, as I thought he was OK at the time.

    He has a good motor, is tireless, covers every blade of grass and supports the attack very well — well that’s my opinion, anyway.

    He is never going to be a Vieira type of player, of course, but I still think he is OK now he is back.

    I also rated Torero – cape and all – hai bull – but once he was injured he seemed to lose his va va voom so it came as no surprise when we off loaded him.

    Your comment is the type of thing fans might discuss in a pub — so keep on — I liked it.

  117. LBG says:

    Leno made at least three schoolboy errors …….but “suffer the humiliation”!
    Mikel’s approach is likely to get a better future response ” Bernd has the courage to do it. And I will keep encouraging them (to play this way).”

  118. LB says:

    LGB

    I am in no doubt that Mikel’s approach will get better results for Leno and the team but on a blog?…………Surely people should state things the way they see them; he made a school boy error and he should suffer the humiliation.

    It’s not censorship of course but it is a bit controlling to suggest that people give the man a break……….don’t you think?

  119. LBG says:

    LB
    Perhaps I dont understand blogs! No!

  120. RA says:

    LB,

    You have got my knees knocking — I have made so many schoolboy errors I could not wave a stick at them — dread to think what humiliation I would suffer if anyone found out!!

    Bugger – now I have told the whole blog population. 🙄

    “Humiliate” might be a bit strong – maybe; chide, chastise or berate – because we all learn from our mistakes, and I am writing to Leno today and telling him you have your eye on him – so I bet he won’t make the same mistakes in the future. 😁

    Anyway, we are all happy with the three points.

  121. LB says:

    We certainly are happy with the 3 points RA

  122. LB says:

    Has anyone got any suggestions as to how we can watch the Leicester game?

    Apart from suddenly finding a vaccine for covid, that is……

  123. Sue says:

    LB.. Hesgoal is where I’ll be heading..

  124. Sue says:

    What a performance from Leeds! Not sure if I’m excited or anxious about heading to Elland Road next month!

  125. LBG says:

    Last comment from me on Mesut. ( Although wonder if all the debate will be resurrected if he is selected for Carrier Bag or FA Cup games!)

    Mesut is/was the only player to have topped the assists charts in the Bundesliga, La Liga and Premier leagues.

  126. RA says:

    Mesut is probably one of the best players, in his position, that we have ever had.

    I have enjoyed watching him play and am very disappointed at whatever has gone on, leading to his exclusion.

    It looks like “Bye Mesut” sadly.

  127. RA says:

    LB,

    There is an alternative, and legal way, of watching the game at 7:15 tomorrow night.

    Pay Sky £14:95 for the one-off viewing.

  128. Sue says:

    Lots of fans are boycotting ppv and donating the money to local food banks instead. Newcastle, Leeds, Villa and others have already done so and we’re being urged to do the same tomorrow.

  129. RA says:

    Good idea, Sue. 👍

  130. Sue says:

    Hello RA.. 🙂

    It’s being reported that we’ll save 35k – RA’s pocket change 😜 – every game for not playing Ozil. Tbh I’ll be glad when it’s all over, although I’ll be sorry to see him go.It’s funny whenever I’ve been at the Emirates, there was always so much love for him … but online is a different kettle of fish! Some horrible things have been said and I find it all exhausting!! Sue, stop waffling! 🤪

    A few good games today….Mancs and Chavs – battle of the penalty skip – Fernandes v Jorginho… Come on Sheff Utd… And will Benrahma play for the hammers?!

  131. RA says:

    You are right, Sue, on both counts.

    There are many fans who regret that we have not benefitted as a team from Mesut in the last couple of years. And at the Ems everyone I know has been willing him on.

    I read a while back that he is supporting kids’ meals at Brent.

    Those who appear to hate him do say terrible things that make little sense. I don’t understand why, but it is all coming to an end — then there will be someone else to pick on, I guess.

    The start of this season has made some fascinating and surprising results, with the premier League top three clubs are absolutely gob smacking, frankly, but well worth it.

    By the way, you were not waffling. 😁

  132. RA says:

    Dreadful tackle in the Watford v B/Mouth game and VAR says it’s OK that Sar (Watford) has been felled.

    An absolute Red Card – but only a yellow apparently.

    Now the tackles by Watford are flying in — revenge?

  133. fred1266 says:

    Now see the constant fouling you all suggest city do and day don’t even get carded

  134. Sue says:

    Unfortunately there will always be a scapegoat, RA… ☹

    Great goal by that beast, aka Antonio. Where the bloody hell is Benrahma though?!
    Good news for tomorrow – no, they’ve not scrapped ppv – the paella man is back! He’s fit 👍

  135. Sue says:

    My man Zaha is on fire this season! 👌

  136. LB says:

    Thanks RA, didn’t know that. I rationalise it by telling myself that normally I would pay a small fortune to attend the game so, £14 is bearable.

  137. VP says:

    One of my favourites, The Scapegoat, by Daphne Du Maurier.
    With all the focus on Austen, Bronte, Shelley, Woolf, Christie and Rowling, I would say that Du Maurier was the Ozil of literature.

  138. LB says:

    Ooooooh VP are you watching the Giro?

  139. Sue says:

    An extra hour in bed.. the sun is shining…and it’s matchday…..🙂 COYG

  140. LBG says:

    15 year career ref Mario van der Ende a Dutchman regarded as one of the best officials that saw him go to two world Cups, believes Prem refs “make up their own rules”😱😯😱😯.
    Ref like, Anthony Taylor and Michael Oliver, he says.

    Well Mario, we could have told you that a long, long time ago…….and you can add Atkinson, Friend, Riley……….and Uncle Tom Cobbley to the list (although he is the best we’ve go!!)

  141. VP says:

    Brilliant!!!
    Australian cyclist Jai Hindley is going into the final stage of the Giro d’Italia as the race leader, with a lead of less than one second. After taking the lead of the race during stage 20 overnight, Hindley goes into Sunday’s time trial with just a 0.86 second gap to British rider Tao Geoghegan Hart.
    It is the first time a Grand Tour will be decided in the final stage with less than a second between the leader and second-placed rider.

    But LB, let’s focus on bearing LFC, COYG!!!
    Also, great 100km ride. I think it’s time i did one as well. I’m jealous😂

  142. VP says:

    Damn. I’ll be sleeping in about 10mins
    16:09:00
    132 Tao Geoghegan Hart (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers
    16:012:00
    133 Jai Hindley (Aus) Team Sunweb

    I’ll be awake and back on before kick-off
    COYG!

  143. RockyLives says:

    New Post

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