Arsenal Lose to Leicester – It Doesn’t Bode Well

Plenty of work to be done…

I said in yesterday’s pre-match that this was a ‘barometer’ fixture for us.

Win, and we could reasonably start expecting good things from this season. Lose or draw… not so much.

Well, it was a painful but entirely deserved defeat, the winning goal coming inevitably from Jamie Vardy, who has joined the likes of Drogba and Rooney as an Arsenal nemesis.

We had a reasonable first half hour without creating many opportunities, just one or two half chances. For the rest of the game we seemed to be bereft of ideas in the attacking third.

I’ll leave it to the better tacticians among our commenters to get into the nitty gritty of what we did wrong, but the big picture was that we lacked creativity, we were slow to the point of glacial in moving into attack and too many players were below par (Aubameyang had to take a tablet part way through the first half – was he fit? He didn’t seem it. Dani Ceballos meanwhile looked like he’d taken a tablet before kick-off – a sleeping tablet).

Taking stock of this season, we had a comfortable opening day win at Fulham which looks less impressive as each week goes by and Fulham’s uselessness is further exposed.

We lost away at Man City and Liverpool. Meanwhile our home wins against West Ham and Sheffield United were both very hard fought and – if we’re honest – a little lucky.

So that’s one really good performance this season out of six, and that was against the worst club in the division.

Before you accuse me of being too negative, let me state that I love the extra organisation and commitment we have gained under Mikel Arteta, but there is something missing.

I back El Patron to find the answer, and I’m sure it will be something to do with the way we set the team up, but we haven’t found it so far.

Leicester deserve credit for their win. They defended well and, once Vardy came on with half an hour to go, they broke with speed and purpose. They showed us how it’s done.

Yes, our early disallowed goal perhaps should have been allowed, but it’s not as if we didn’t still have the best part of 90 minutes to win the game even after that disappointment.

Somehow Arteta has to find a way of releasing our creative potential without undermining the solidity he has brought to the team.

Old Toilet next weekend would be a good place and time to regain our momentum.

RockyLives

Player Ratings From RC78

Leno – 5
Bellerin – 6
Luiz – 6
Gabriel – 6
Tierney – 7
Ceba – 3
Partey – 5.5
Xhaka – 5
Auba – 4
Laca – 5
Saka – 6

Arteta – 4

35 Responses to Arsenal Lose to Leicester – It Doesn’t Bode Well

  1. Pete the Thirst says:

    Familiar failings from familiar failing players. Mustafi & Xhaka miles out of position for the goal. As we know it just takes one moment of sloppy play to lose a game.

  2. Ukeme Udoh says:

    You are right my brother.. What we lacked last night against Leister was creativity.. We need Ozil or player of his calibre in that team.. The board or Mikel should stop playing games with our feelings on Ozil situation… #bringbackOzil

  3. RC78 says:

    Thanks Rocky for the post and sharing my ratings 🙂

    It was a tale of 2 halves yesterday with a very composed and mature display in the first half. Controlled half and ability to create some chances.

    In the second half, the pace was pedestrian and it seemed we could have played another 200h without scoring. Our set pieces were below par and there was a lack of urgency and creativity.

    Mustafi and Xhaka at fault for the goal – seems familiar, no? But Partey could have done better too.

    The biggest disappointment of the night for me was Ceballos. He did not create anything in the first or second half. He struggled the whole game and even gave the ball away cheaply. Auba is having a contract-signing hangover it seems but it will pass.

    Our star player was Tierney for me and I thought Luiz played well until he was subbed – same for Saka. I am enjoying the fact that our full backs are more involved in the game but I am not enjoying the lack of creativity and boldness in the middle of the park. I think that Willian can help us in that respect and I think that, although we are more secure in a 343 set up, I am ready to see Arteta try to play our team with 4 at the back.

    In a 433 set-up, I d play the following 3 in the middle of the park :
    – Willian, Partey, Ceba (or AMN)

    In a 442 set-up, I d play the following:
    Willian, Partey, El Neny, Saka with Partey as the man in charge of driving the ball forward

    In a 4312 set-up, I d play:
    Willian, Partey, Saka – Ceba –

    In any case, Willian, Partey and Saka must start all games for us when fit. I feel the same way about Luiz (strange!), Gabriel, Tierney and Auba. I suppose Bellerin is also better than Cedric so there you go and we do not have a strong back-up for Leno so Leno it is…so here are the 9 starters for me:

    Leno, Bellerin, Luiz,Gabriel,Tierney, Willian, Partey, Saka, Auba

    2 more spots – it would be for an extra defender (Holding, Mari…), a wide player (Pepe, AMN), a midfielder (Ceba, Xhaka, El Neny), a striker (Laca, Nketiah).

    In any case, based on the start of the season, you have my 9 guaranteed starters when they re fit.

  4. LB says:

    “A one legged Ozil walks into this Arsenal team. Not picked for footballing reasons? Please😂😭”

    This made me laugh.

  5. jjgsol says:

    You say that we need to ‘release our creative potential’ ?

    Who do we have I our squad who is likely to be even considered do you imagine has the capability to do so?

    Willian?

    He is and never was a creative player.

    Yes he assisted the 3 goals against Fulham, bit what had he done since?

    Perhaps creativity does not fit into Artetaball.

  6. RockyLives says:

    You can see why we were so keen on trying to sign Aouar in the transfer window.

    With Ozil clearly persona non grata we are very light in the creative playmaker department.

    I thought Ceballos might be the one to bring some of that, but he was clearly out of sorts yesterday and I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that he was ill.

    I haven’t seen enough of Smith-Rowe to know if he could do the job, but someone needs to do it.

  7. LBG says:

    Well Rocky you haven’t exactly cheered me up!
    I am also concerned about “entirely deserved defeat”.
    I except, and stated at the time, the criticism of a number of the players (pills or otherwise), but on another day……Tierney and Bellerin’s contributions alone would have brought goal(s), and one was all that was needed. One that should have been given.
    Reject entirely Keown’s criticisms this morning regarding change players and even systems. Our fullbacks were able to press forward and attack given Leicester’s approach, and, when appropriate that’s what I want.
    X and Mustafi are what they’ve always been. Pepe does not influence games significantly(yet??). Aubang and Laca are not firing on all cylinders- absolutely required against better teams in Premier League. Saka? Tired? Dani? No idea?
    Hope Manure will be shite, wont get a penalty, and we will get a ref content to be “behind the scenes” (and knows the rules)!

  8. RA says:

    Morning, Rocky, and thanks for the post-match analysis.

    The first half was played at a pedestrian pace by both sides, and despite good individual efforts we looked pretty aimless, given we were the home side.

    None the less, the Arteta style of playing compactly, with everyone in position and always linked to their team mates, moving forward and back as one unit gave some reassurance, despite the boring sideways and backward passes of Xhaka and Bellerin, in particular.

    After the break, the team clearly had instructions from Arteta to up the pace and make better use of Tierney and Bellerin overlapping, but had a coupe of flaws.

    First we badly lack pace. Let me try that again. Any pace we put into the game was matched and bettered by Leics.

    Secondly, even our sporadic attacks/counter attacks were rendered pointless, because frankly both Laca and Auba were, not for the first time, totally anonymous and never attacked the box.
    And injury/illness to Saka and Luiz led to substitutions, neither of which helped.

    The goal conceded led to wide praise from the media, and rightly so, but the breakdown of the team unit left Bellerin farting around upfield, and unable to track Vardy because he no longer has the pace. (Yes, that word again).

    In addition, without Luiz to whisper in his shell-like, Gabriel spent more time in Leicester’s half than sitting back, where he should have been, and soaking up the pressure, he left Vardy, on his own, to run, parallel to Gengis Under and his chip to Vardy’s dead could not have possibly been blocked, as, including the fullbacks, there was basically no one at home.

    Not wishing to break ranks — but Arteta has to take some responsibility, as even bloggers such as us, could see that with the arrival of Vardy we would be overrun, unless Gabriel stayed back.

    The midfield was poor, with only Partey holding the fort on his own, because Xhaka is so slow, that he can only tackle by cheating, such as grabbing the Under man, in the last few minutes of the game, and trying to pull his shirt off, and adding that calumny to his sideways/backwards passing that had strangled Arsenal moves throughout the game.

    And although Arteta saw he needed to move Ceballos from the right side of the field to the left, because he and Bellerin together were a disaster, it did not help, because Ceballos continued to be slow, devoid of creativity, and seemed hardly match fit.

    A year or two of post match gloominess to look forward to then, unless we replace Bellerin, Ceballos, Xhaka with youth or quality that Fofana showed at right back for the Foxes.

  9. Sue says:

    Our next 5 league games:
    Mancs A
    Villa H
    Leeds A
    Wolves H
    Spuds A

    😳 Be afraid, be very afraid???

  10. RockyLives says:

    Eek

  11. RockyLives says:

    Amid the air of negativity surrounding things today, let’s not forget that we have become much more defensively secure under Arteta.

    Leicester scored late on with their first attempt on goal. Yes, they had another chance afterwards but that was when we were chasing the game. But for the vast majority of the match we denied them any chances.

    Likewise Man City, for all their slick possession, had barely any chances against us. And that’s Man City, with all their attacking talent.

    Think back to the Emery days, when teams were clocking up 10, 12, 15 even 20 attempts on target against us and Leno was working his socks off as a shot stopper.

    Despite the results and the lack of points, we have improved enormously at that end. If our attacking play had been just a bit better those losses would be draws, possibly victories.

    The hard part is to improve our attacking threat without weakening our newfound defensive solidity.

    It’s a conundrum no doubt. But when Arteta arrived I wasn’t alone in saying “get the defence sorted and let’s build from there.”

    To a great extent he has got the defence sorted: we are yielding very few opportunities for our opponents.

    So, not all doom and gloom today.

  12. fatgingergooner says:

    We are in the middle of a tough run of fixtures and we already look shattered. 6 of the players who started yesterday also played on Thursday in Europe and it showed in the second half. It’s not an excuse, as Leicester are also in Europe these days, but I do think that Arteta needs to utilise the squad for these midweek matches. Hopefully the good result in Vienna will encourage him to play the youngsters a bit more as surely we have enough in our reserve players to beat the likes of Dundalk and Molde.

    There really are no easy PL games this season and with no fans, the home and away part of it is almost inconsequential. Liverpool are showing why they are the best team in the competition right now as they can scrape victories regardless of performance. We are the opposite and still manage to throw points away when on top. We’ve really lost that ruthless edge and whilst the defence looks a lot better, it’s still not good enough to win games to nil. We must start scoring again otherwise it could be a very tough and boring season

  13. RockyLives says:

    Totally agree Slim

    My team versus Dundalk would be a 100% ‘second’ team:

    Runarsson
    Soares – Mustafi – Saliba – Kolasinac
    Willock – Elneny – AMN
    Smith-Rowe
    Nelson – Nketiah

  14. RA says:

    Hi, Slim Ginger, good to see you.

    The defence has been improved, but with the injuries and illnesses still affecting some of the players, or like Mustafi, having to come back from injury in the middle of a tense game, when Luiz was injured, did not help.

    If we had stuck to the new system that Mikel has installed, which enabled the team to play together as a unit, rather than trying to randomly attack, we would probably have managed a draw.

    The moment Vardy came on, it changed the game, and we should have concentrated on defence.
    Sometimes that is necessary.

    Anyway, it was a poor decision to carry on attacking in those circumstances, and it played into Leics’ own counter attacking plan, which with our slo’mo’ midfielders was a self-inflicted mistake.

  15. RockyLives says:

    Redders
    “The moment Vardy came on, it changed the game, and we should have concentrated on defence.
    Sometimes that is necessary.”

    Not what fans usually want to hear, but wise words!

  16. RA says:

    Rocky,

    Your 1:07 brought a memory to mind of a very amusing and pleasant HH blogger who you know well, — Micky-Dun-Did-It, who did not have any interest in tactics, team set-up, or any other such boring nonsense. And never failed to make me smile. 😉

    His only interest was in the Gunners going for all out ‘attack, attack, attack’, rather like a squadron of Japanese Zero fighters in WWII.

    And he convinced me! 😁

    Mind you, any man, like old Did-It, who wears a black surf wetsuit, plays with the dolphins, and engages Big Raddy in betting with the stakes made up of manky fish, just has to be spot on!!

    I miss them both.

  17. LBG says:

    Well, some interesting analysis here.
    Having watched the game again, still disinclined to criticise the overall performance quite as much as some.
    We were denied just rewards in the first half, not the least by the same linesman who flagged for the GOAL. He flagged for a Bellerin offside which was not, and a throw in which did not leave the field of play.
    In that first half we kept our shape both when we lost the ball and in possession. Apart from Bernd’s error, Leicester had nothing.
    As I said previously, Tierney and even Bellerin did just about all could have been asked. Likewise Saka, IMO.
    Aubang was peripheral throughout, and even he produced the cross for Hector.
    Second half saw disruption to shape with departure of Daviid and X and Dani tiring and “avoiding” the ball. I was happy with Partey’s first game involvement. Need Aubang, Laca and Saka to be firing OR play Eddie, Smith- Rowe and Martinelli. I also think Elneny would make a better central partner to Partey as Dani and X were too far away from him.
    All water…….COYG smash the Mancs.

  18. RA says:

    Rocky,

    I did say earlier that Mikel has to accept a portion of the blame for using the wrong tactics against Leics, but I would not like you to think – that I think – he has feet of clay.

    Action Man only has a clay pipe. 😜

  19. Aaron says:

    Some very good points on here today, many are actually making me feel better, really!
    Leicester did not even get a whiff in the 1st half.

    Now, I am going to say it, it is coaching 101. Do not let the oppositions best player beat you, when he has beaten you every time.
    Would have man marked Vardy, with my best defender, and made sure he did not beat us in the last 10 minutes, do not care about shape, do not care about cohesion, just shut that dude down!

    Mustafi was on a birdwalk, when vardy came into action, everyone could see it, and Mikel should have told him to not even give him chance to score no matter what. But, this is for another day.

    Play all the youth in the next Europa game and rest the regulars, AFC starters are going to need it.

  20. Sue says:

    Shkodran Mustafi rejected Arsenal’s offer of a contract extension in the summer & has informed the club he plans to leave at the end of the season..

  21. GoonerB says:

    Hi Rocky. Many thanks for the post. Will be back for briefer comments later but have sent a very long comment in as a potential post discussing the tactical matters if you feel it may be of merit.

  22. RockyLives says:

    Thanks GoonerB – that’s great

  23. Aaron says:

    Sue,
    Best news today!
    Have a feeling Xhaka next to go.

  24. RC78 says:

    I think we are also massively missing Martinelli’s X-factor. He is a handful because of his movement, final ball and finishing touch. Yesterday, he would have helped us a lot. I also think that although we have Auba, Nketiah and Laca, it would not be a bad thing to have a player that is very good in the air. I would not mind welcoming Mandzukic for example.

  25. Sue says:

    Aaron.. 😄 Could that be wishful thinking?! Haha

  26. RockyLives says:

    I wrote a post about this some time ago, but we would be a much better team right now with Ollie Giroud leading the line.

  27. RC78 says:

    Rocky – I am with you on Ollie

  28. LB says:

    Giroud would have had a field day with the crosses coming in, the problem is that we shouldn’t have been playing that way, it was Winterburn and Dixon stuff ffs.

  29. RC78 says:

    Can’t stand Spurs. They got very lucky tonight.

  30. RockyLives says:

    GoonerB – I don’t know where to find your Post/Comment.

    If you just add it in public comments (ie here) then I’ll turn it into a Post and delete it from comments.

  31. RockyLives says:

    Great comment Redders
    Would you mind if I used it as a Post?

  32. RA says:

    You always have my agreement, Rocky. 😁

    It only took 5 minutes and there may be errors?? 😎

  33. Sue says:

    300k has been raised by fans boycotting ppv!!! Wow!!!
    Mike Ashley has now got involved, saying the price should be 4.95, until Christmas anyway..😳 I thought the point of ppv was for games that were ‘otherwise left untelevised’…
    You’re telling me our game v Leicester… Villa v Leeds… Jackers v Sheff Utd wouldn’t have been picked for selection??!!! Hmmm….
    Comes to something when a Sky subscription isn’t enough to watch Sky sports nowadays!!!

  34. RockyLives says:

    New Post from RA

  35. RA says:

    Hi Sue,

    I think the £300K was paid by fans who were not boycotting ppv.

    The number of games is contained in each contract with BT, Sky and Amazon in the UK. So the ppv money is going into the coffers of the Premier League.

    Or —– you can do what I did, and find a friend who wanted to watch Leics on ppv and buy him some booze – which I would have done anyway and Bob’s your uncle. 🥳

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