Wolves rip Gunners apart

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There is not much positive to take from our performance but I will try to not be too defeatist…

A third home-defeat in a row. A 14th place in the EPL. Another game without a goal in open play. Another game without Auba scoring. Another game with toothless attacks and sterile possession. Another game where Arteta and his players could not find an opening to score one more goal than the opposition. Another game where we waited to be down to finally show some intent…Just another game in a very poor EPL start by our team. Some people are already calling for Arteta’s head and asking questions about his tactics and team selections.

That said:

  1. Saka has been dangerous as always
  2. Tierney was combative and Willock also tried
  3. Ceballos managed a few good passes (too few) that created a bit of danger
  4. Willian had another assist and Gabriel another goal
  5. Leno was not a disaster

Leno – 6

Bellerin – 5.5

Holding/Luiz – 5.5

Gabriel – 6

Tierney 6

Xhaka – 5.5

Willock – 5.5

Ceballos – 5.5

Willian – 5.5

Auba – 4

Saka – 7

Nelson: 6.5

Laca: N/A

Probably the grades are a bit inflated given our defeat but then again, I did not want to be too negative…


40 Responses to Wolves rip Gunners apart

  1. RC78 says:

    As some of you said, the team seems average with a few highlights (Saka, Tierney, Gabriel)

  2. DomArsenal says:

    I think you described it very fittingly when calling it toothless attacks. Yes the box was always full of wolves players when we’ve had possesion on the wings, but for the amount of crosses whipped in, it was just an almost embarrasing low percentage of dangerous ones. Its just these basics that can rightfully be demanded from a winger we somehow can’t manage to perform. As for Auba, lets just hope he gets back to his best asap, but he seems like a beaten man atm. Interested in your opinions, especially on our lack in creativity and danger in offense.

  3. 1979Gunner says:

    From invincibles to frightened rabbits.

  4. fatgingergooner says:

    Such a strange season. Home and away is totally irrelevant…..players will soon be dropping like flies with injury…..and the league is soooo tight. Would be nice to hit some form

  5. RC78 says:

    Hi Dom – I was very worried about our defensive stability but it seems that we re still letting some goals in and that the players we bought in Partey and Gabriel are OK so I will have to review my position on our team set-up and agree with many that maybe our best line-up is based on a back 4.

    Our most potent/creative player is Saka and by a mile too. Tierney is also very good at crossing and Partey will come in handy with his long passing range and his drive forward to here is my idea to increase our creativity:

    Leno – AMN, Luiz, Gabriel, Tierney – Partey, El Neny, Saka – ? – Nketiah, Auba

    The last player is to be decided and even though I m not a huge fan of his…maybe we should play Ceba further up the pitch. Otherwise, let us play Willian, Pepe, Willock, Nelson, ESR in that position. We need more presence in the box and Nketiah would offer us that. Partey and Saka would offer us with some more ability to drive the ball from midfield. I am not sure what else we can do really and have no better idea at this stage after this tasteless game.

  6. 1979Gunner says:

    Once were invincibles, now are frightened rabbits.


  7. LB says:

    “Frightened Rabbits” is quite good.

  8. LB says:

    “PS on Ozil, why does his off ball work rate matter? I have to ask”

    You are not allowed to ask this question, it makes too much sense.

  9. LB says:

    Saka may be the bright light of the future but he was average today and by way of justification, every single one of the Wolves front line was more effective.

    Not trying to pick on Saka, the rest were worse but he should not get a pass today.

  10. Las says:

    I don’t doubt Arteta though I reserve my opinion until the end of the season. I hope he will with us still. Our play is somehow too coutious, kind of lets not make a stupid mistake which is good but clearly not enough. Willian is collecting pension, Xhaka always been slow with both of them on the pitch we are pedestrian. We need energy and the cavalry from the youngsters. Nelson and Willock and Nkethia might not proven successes but they are always give a good go. I know it is tempting to choose the big names but it is not working. So we might as well try someting different. Yes Nelson missed a really good chance but at least he made it happen.
    And yes Arteta is still learning …. and I beleive learning on the job 😉

  11. Aaron says:

    “You’re never as good as you think you are when you win; and you’re never as bad as you feel when you lose.”

    When Partey and Martinelli come back, and Mikel figures out how to attack more efficiently in the midfield this will be more true than ever.

  12. Sue says:

    Apparently Partey’s injury is worse than first thought, so heaven knows when he’ll return..
    I’m shocked that was our 3rd straight home defeat… Wolves last beat us at home in 1979…
    It’s all gone pete tong (big time) and although I’m trying to find positives, I’m not having much joy and am beginning to wonder if we’ll pick up another point this year!! 🥺
    Dreading next week….

  13. RockyLives says:

    Thanks for the Post RC

    It’s hard to know where to start.

    Is it that too many of our players are just not up to standard? Well, they managed to beat Liverpool, Man City and Chelsea to win the FA Cup just five months ago.

    Much as I like the way Arteta has gone about his work in the early part of his time in charge, I have to point the finger at him.

    There is something about the way we are setting up (so, presumably also the way we are training) that has turned us into arguably the most ineffectual team in the league.

    For a while we had at least made ourselves hard to beat.

    We could stomach the lack of chance creation when we were so difficult to score against. Now we don’t even look secure at the back.

    Both Leeds and now Wolves had way more attempts on goal and shots on target than is acceptable for a team whose motto has been “first, be hard to beat.”

    This has to be sorted out with tactics and player selection, so it falls on Arteta.

    I’m afraid saying that he needs two more transfer windows is poppycock. Every manager of a struggling side is “two more windows away from having the team I want.”

    He needs to find an answer soon or it could be a short-lived tenure as boss of Arsenal.

  14. Hlanganani Thodlana says:

    Leno – 4

    Bellerin – 3

    Holding/Luiz – 3

    Gabriel – 4

    Tierney 3

    Xhaka – 3

    Willock – 3

    Ceballos – 3

    Willian – 1.5

    Auba – 3

    Saka – 4

    Nelson: 3

    Laca: N/A

  15. Missed this going up last night so me and GoonerB continued the discussion at the end of that post, thank goodness you are all saying 🙂 I will try and move the comments over to this post as I think GB has some interesting views on our starting line up.

  16. GoonerB says:

    by GoonerB

    Fgg, I’m certain we need upgrades in some areas but also I’m fairly certain we are not getting anywhere near the performances that we are capable of, so Mikel is massively under the spotlight here.

    Arteta did a great job in stabilising us and making us less porous than we were before he arrived. We have needed a better structure for years. Even under Arsene we were more free in our play but lacked the discipline in our game to ever be a challenger across the season.

    The team that wins the league is generally balanced and strong in all parts. We weren’t that with Arsene (in latter years) and certainly not with Emery but I really felt that Mikel might be that best of both worlds. Despite championing him for the job I am now having major doubts.

    We are more defensively sound now, so credit to Mikel. However the top teams only are a challenger if they have a massive goal threat, the ability to put that ball in the back of the net.

    I have to say it again but we are not a big goal threat by overloading our left flank with left footers and our right flank with right footers, especially if we don’t have the type of strikers that thrive on whipped in out swinging balls into the box.

    Watch the game again and see both Tierney and Saka on the left and Bellerin and Willian on the right feeling their main option being to whip in a ball…..but to who exactly? What is the point of this without that right striker or two who thrive of that kind of delivery? It’s a bit mid table, old school British type football for me.

    Liverpool don’t have any more or less threat through the number 9 than us, but utilise the wide players as goal scorers, as most of the top teams do with that inverted wide player. We have the players to play that system and develop that way but are choosing something different. Why?

    I’m sorry but this rests with our manager and that comes from someone who massively touted him as the right person for us. His history, especially recently with City, spoke volumes for me despite his young years.

    He is credited with developing the young wide players at city but they were all, more or less, that modern inverted winger. Why the hell has he come to Arsenal and decided to go the other way round with us when there is the opportunity to develop the team in that other way.

    We can cry out for Ooear and the fellow from Salzburg or wherever but until we get that line up right this is all a load of rubbish. Mikel needs to change this now. He is starting to develop that habit of playing the same old same old and hope it gets a different result.

  17. GoonerB

    Whilst I get where you are coming from regarding inverted wingers and your criticism of Mikel I have a question for you.

    Which foot is Pepe, and where does Arteta play him? What foot is PEA and before he played centrally where did Arteta play him?

    The issue we have is that we don’t have a Firmino who can take central defenders away from a central position because they offer a goal threat from outside and inside the box.

    So what do we have when we play inverted wingers? We have PEA and Pepe running into mobs of defenders because the central defenders don’t go anywhere because Laca or Nketiah offer zero goal threat from outside the box.

    We also only have the opportunity to play on the counter when other teams are prepared to press us, so we end up only being able to try and play through the midfield and centrally we just don’t have the personnel for that either.

    That is the reason I believe Mikel has come to this 4-2-3-1/4-5-1 formation, we can move the balls down the flanks whist not having to worry about our middle getting overrun. Having said that when available Pepe has continued to be picked on the right, Saka on left this reminds me of City more than Liverpool.

    Fact is we either have to rebuild or continue to drift, for me I’ve said all along since Arsene left that both Emery and Arteta should give the youth a chance, there has never been a better time with empty stadiums.

  18. GoonerB says:

    by GoonerB

    I get your argument GIE but feel there are considerations that still massively challenge the formation Arteta is using. I always maintain that, for the most part, you need the balance to be right all across the team for each part to look effective, else one part that is in fact right doesn’t look as right if another part isn’t, and if we keep subsequently righting a wrong part but at the same time changing a right part for a wrong part nothing still looks right and we start to question even the bits that might be right……still with me 🙂

    The thing is if you get the right side right but the left side wrong then one negates the effect of the other. Kind of like, after a puncture, putting one of those thinner spare wheels on the front right side of your car. It runs but not in a great way, but then change it and put the better tyre on the front right side and shift the thin not quite right one to the left and the cars still dysfunctional.

    If it were a Rally car then you also need the right driver (number 9) and right co driver (number 10 / ACM) as well as the right balanced front tyres to make it all effective.

    My question is, when have we had 2 balanced front tyres with the right driver and co-driver all at the same time? This is why it is difficult to analyse Pepe on the right as he hasn’t often played the role with the rest of the car balanced. In fact he hasn’t played the role that much at all really with any consistency, largely in preference of Willian mostly who is one of those thinner spare tyres on the right.

    We’ve seen today what happens when you overload the left side with left footers and the right with right footers all just looking to put a ball in. We put in quite a few dangerous balls but lack the type of front man / men to make that game effective, therefore why do it?

    I can’t remember a time when we have played (or at least played a couple of times in succession) a 4-3-3 with a left footed attacker from the right of the 9 and a right footer from the left with a number 10 type operating centrally behind. It perplexes me because City, where Arteta has served his apprenticeship, largely play that system with wide attacking players credited to Arteta for their development.

    Somehow though he now is trying the opposite with us. Do you think Klopp would allow Mane to play from the right and Salah from the left? Would Mahrez be shifted to the left or Sterling to the right? That pattern continues with all the top clubs and all their wing forwards….bar us.

  19. RC78 I don’t think there is much to quibble with there we were what we have been over the last few weeks and there is clearly something not right amongst the camp, either in terms of the players performances or the manger and coaches not getting their message across or unfortunately maybe another breakdown between players and coach. I do hope it is not the latter, and if it is then the club need to back the manager and let him get the bad eggs out. The culture at the club is wrong, we haven’t got the right people up top deciding on players to bring in and when we do bring them in we pay top price for average players. I am still getting over the £72m paid for Pepe, we have equally inconsistent players in our youth ranks that may have saved some money to spend elsewhere.

    As I mentioned above I admire Nuno and Wolves , just look at those players that tore into us last night.

    Neto age 20, cost £16m
    Podence age 24 cost £20m
    Dendoncker 25 cost £12.5m

    Moutinho signed for £5m in 18/19 when we were signing Mikhataryian.

    I know many of the players and squad Nuno has built are from his Portuguese connections and bringing players he had worked with at Porto to Wolves, always a good sign when players follow managers in my view.

  20. meaner says:

    with xhaker, arsenal was playing with 10 men

  21. fatgingergooner says:

    The really worrying thing is that the number of squads that are equal to or better than ours is gradually increasing each season. Whilst we piss about looking for the right combination of manager and players, teams like Leicester, Wolves and Everton have found some stability and improved their teams.

    We are now nothing more than a mid-table side, and unless Arteta can find the right balance in the squad, then we will slip even further behind with the likes of Southampton, Villa and Leeds looking more stable than currently do.

  22. GoonerB says:

    Thanks RC, hard to disagree with your analysis for the most part.

    I’m with LB that Saka wasn’t that stand out last night, but he did what a left footed left winger is supposed to do and put balls into the and across the danger area. I can’t fully blame him if we then don’t have the right players to convert those balls.

    We played a lot of out-swinging balls across the box yesterday and quite frankly I think Wolves were quite calm about that realising we don’t have the right forward men for that style of play. The dealt with those crosses with minimal fuss or threat of someone getting on the end of them.

    I felt it was kind of like watching a 1970’s type of game with wide players putting in a lot of ball from wide, just minus that 1970’s type of striker that thrived off that.

    I’m going to stick my neck out on Saka and state that we will largely waste his talents if we stick with him on that left flank. He can play that position quite well but I think it stifles much more of his game and he will end up another one that we will end up thinking “I thought he was going to be much more”.

    He has goals and creativity in him as well so he should play centrally between the 9 and 2 DM’s or to the attacking right to truly see if he can develop into a world class player. At the moment he is still just a very promising young player but will soon be considered behind other young English players at other clubs who are being given a more influential role.

    LB, why does Ozils work rate off the ball matter? Why indeed. I was never that hung up on this point. If played with 2 DM’s behind him and an attacking front 3 ahead and overlapping FB’s, then his job is to find the right ball to that contingent, and whallop goal. Lung busting, incandescent purple veined facial expressions (Rooney style) with aggressive 50m runs backwards resulting in a scything down of the player who had the cheek to nick the ball off him don’t come into it.

  23. fatgingergooner says:

    There is a huge lack of confidence within some key players at the club. Willian, Auba, Pepe, Lacazette all seem to have lost their way at the same time and they form most of our attack! I personally do t believe we are at a stage where there is disruption in the squad, as the effort is still there to win these games, but if the form doesn’t pick up then you can guarantee the finger pointing will start and we will be back to square one needing a new manager. I’d like to see these players given a run out against Dundalk and the like to see if they can find the net and build some momentum. I also think sticking the likes of AMN, Nelson, ESR, and Martinelli into the team could inject some much needed confidence.

  24. GoonerB says:

    GIE, you are spot on with your analysis of players that other teams, like Wolves, have secured compared to us.

    There could be one other worrying factor because it seems that most coveted players that have suddenly stepped up a couple of levels and come to big teams notice seem to be at other clubs, not ours.

    It appears to me that, for a number of years now, we are producing the unpolished diamonds but failing to polish them. It is almost as if the 1st team environment isn’t refined enough for them to achieve that final stage of development.

    I hate to say it but this was the case in Arsene’s latter years then Emery. Please god don’t let it be the same with Mikel because it feels that way at the moment, even with Saka.

  25. Pete the Thirst says:

    Poor performance.

    I’ve always said give Mik time, but he ain’t doing himself any favours starting Luiz, Xhaka & Willian.

    The midfield needs more bodies, especially in the centre. Xhaka & Ceballos are never going to dominate a midfield. Willock at least made a few attacking dribbles.

    We need to let a few shots go, get earlier crosses in. There was a point where Bellerin & Nelson played the ball back and forwards on the right of attack but didn’t get a cross in or a shot. They gave the ball away in the end. That was Us all game long.

  26. Pete the Thirst says:


    It must be clear that Jorge Mendes is fronting a money laundering operation at Wolves with some Chinese backers? Bring in half the Portuguese national squad get exposure and sell them to another Premier league team for a large fee. Agent fee disguised as club money.

    Take Jota. Bought for E10m sold to Liverpool for E50m. E40 million pocketed by Mendes and Fosun. Wolves will never see this money. When Mendes leaves they will go bust. I am certain.

    But I’m sure the Premier league did a fit & proper test on the club??

    ‘As I mentioned above I admire Nuno and Wolves , just look at those players that tore into us last night.

    Neto age 20, cost £16m
    Podence age 24 cost £20m
    Dendoncker 25 cost £12.5m

    Moutinho signed for £5m in 18/19 when we were signing Mikhataryian.

    I know many of the players and squad Nuno has built are from his Portuguese connections and bringing players he had worked with at Porto to Wolves, always a good sign when players follow managers in my view.’

  27. Pete the Thirst says:

    And Jorge Mendes worked closely with Raul to bring in Pepe for £72 million from Lille. From where we have also signed Gabriel…

    Shady to say the least.

  28. VP says:

    Hi everyone. How’s it going?
    All I can say about the last few games is that I am looking forward to a long gravel bike ride this weekend.
    My youngest daughter just got her learners licence so hoping I am still around for the next Arsenal win.
    Stay safe and cheers

  29. GoonerB says:

    I hope more than anyone that Mikel turns into the gem of a manager that he could be. I championed him as being the one for us. Yes I have doubts right now but I hope they prove to be unfounded.

    Its just the little things like Auba looking isolated up top against Villa and then we do the same thing and he looks isolated again. I feel the attacking left is his best position in this team in this league and it doesn’t suit him to be that forward player that sees less of the ball and has to operate back to goal.

    Other little things like Willian looking totally wrong on the right side in many games now, but again Mikel went with this.

    It opens up the debate for me about the difference between a coach and a manager. The best of the best seem to be good at both parts. Mikels coaching abilities and his coaching insight seem to be highly regarded and endorsed by the likes of Guardiola, but can he translate his skills to match day in an effective way on a consistent basis?

    Was he given a free coaching rein by Guardiola and excelled at this but the matchday set up and formation was mostly down to Guardiola and his vision? I ask this because we don’t know what goes on in training but we can see what happens on match day and Mikel seems to have moved away from a winning formula that he had been a big part of.

    Is that final matchday decision going to prove too much and in essence he is an excellent coach but lacks something as a manager? It could be a psychological aspect that makes him go for an overly cautious and reserved approach when it comes to the games. I so hope he is both the coach and manager we need, but the evidence right now seems to suggest that he is calling it wrong on matchday.

  30. jjgsol says:

    Just out of interest, How do we know that Arteta is an excellent coach?

    People keep on saying that, but how do we know, what is the evidence for that statement?

    How do we know that, even if he is a good coach, that he is capable of transferring that to a whole team playing regular league and cup games?

    How do we know that he has the man-management skills to be able to relate to and manage a disparate group of foreign and home-born players, speaking a variety of different languages and have a variety of different cultural backgrounds?

    Let us say that the decision to sideline Ozil was entirely his. What does that say about his coaching and man-management skills, especially in the light of the awful performances that the team have been giving this season?

    How long before the reality of the crisis that is unfurling before our very eyes, is going to hit us in the face?

    Answers on a postcard please, addressed to Arsenal Football Club, Emirates Stadium, London, because clearly, they have no idea what the answers to these questions are.

  31. GoonerB says:

    Well good question jj but there have been quite a few of his peers that have touted him as being an excellent coach, the most high profile of course being Guardiola. Most of the players at City spoke highly of his coaching.

    From an Arsenal end I feel he has certainly added a resilience and better understanding to our players that we have needed for years and that should provide a solid foundation.

    My main concern is how he is approaching matchday management. I feel he has got himself stuck in a system that was used out of necessity towards the latter part of last season, but we should have now transitioned out of this to a system more becoming of one of the top sides. We look like we set up with fear rather than a confidence that we can take the game to them and attack and provide a goal threat from multiple points

    The current matchdays feel like they are more about containment of the opposition. That was fine with those better sides at the end of last season but I feel we are now setting up in a way that is inviting even the traditional lesser sides like Wolves and Villa to dictate the play against us.

    I feel we are not getting on the front foot as the bigger club and are actually looking like the inferior smaller club in how we approach games at the moment.

    It only takes a few tweaks and a slightly different focus and mind-set to kick us on but this has to be accepted by Arteta and implemented by him. So far he has looked concerned about moving from one to the other but he needs to quickly. There is one thing losing a game you’ve largely dominated and another losing a game while looking inferior to the other team, especially when you consider which teams we have looked 2nd best to recently.

  32. Gööner In Exile says:

    I guess the reality is that if you focus on defence every day you will lose the ability in attack. And maybe that’s Arteta’s fault, if they are being drilled on how to play without the ball maybe they forget how to play with it? In that scenario the reserves are probably doing most of the attacking in any given session.

    But that is pure guess work on my part.

    We shouldn’t be worrying about the opposition you are half beaten by that point as you should be thinking about how you hurt the opposition. Teams have decided not to press us, those that do will become unstuck with pace on the counter. This was always the case under Arsene last 6/7 seasons, its why cups became easier to win than leagues.

  33. GoonerB says:

    Good points GIE. I still think we have all the tools to be both a counter attacking side and a team that can overcome a deeper sitting side.

    I haven’t changed my mind that the best system for is is a variant of the 4-3-3 but more of a 4-2-1-3 system with those inverted wide players. This gives us what I would call a 4 point goal threat from the number 9, the 2 inverted wide attackers, and the 1 in the hole behind. Sitting behind them are any 2 of our DM’s

    You could literally pick 3 completely different but still dangerous looking teams and stick to the principle set up I mentioned above, although the wide attacking left footers are a rarer commodity which is why we should still look to develop Pepe and Saka in that role.

    Will go and think what could be our strongest line up.

  34. RC78 says:

    As I was saying in a previous post, we do miss the “Firmino/Muller/Werner/Kane/Dybala” 9 1/2 factor up front but I think we will have it once Martinelli will be back from injury and I think he will be a massive difference in our attacking plays and I think we could then play as a 4411 or 4231:

    Leno – AMN, Luiz, Gabriel, Tierney – Pepe, Partey, El Neny, Saka – Martinelli, Auba

  35. GoonerB says:

    Not a bad team that RC. Auba has stated that he will happily play any position for us but that “everyone knows he has a preferred position”. What do we think that position is?

    Last season he played mostly off to the left of the number 9 and narrowly missed out on the golden boot. That means he is normally prolific in that position.

    I also think he enjoys getting on the ball more which happens less when he plays number 9. I would have thought his preference was that attacking left position but could it be he still prefers being the number 9 after all.

  36. Sue says:

    Home to Newcastle in the fa cup

  37. RC78 says:

    GoonerB – I think Auba’s main strengths are his runs and his speed. He has of course delivered a lot of goals as a left forward for us and Dortmund but my feeling is that, he would do really well as part of a front two with a player that can both create goals and also hold up the ball. I hoped it would be Lacazette but he is struggling so far this season and while Nketiah is a good player, I believe Martinelli brings more to the party. Martinelli is a better dribbler, passer and shooter and he is also better at holding up the ball so for me, I am quite excited to have him back in the team and maybe he can be our “Firmino”.

  38. LB says:

    Talking about Firmino it’s all about close control and Lacazette, Nketiah, Aubamayang and Pepe are not fit to clean his boots in that department.

    We have, as you say RC, one hope, the only attacker who can bring the skill that is glaringly missing from our attack is — Martinelli.

    I can think of another German who has incredible close control but hey ho……….

  39. RC78 says:

    The other player that may help us a bit would be…Grealish.

    Over the summer transfer window, my “fantasy wish list” included Fofana, Partey and Grealish. One out of three is not bad I suppose…

    But imagine:

    Leno – AMN, Fofana, Gabriel, Tierney – Saka, Partey, El Neny, Grealish – Auba, Martinelli

    Not bad…

    I also think that Grealish will be devastating playing from deeper in the midfield. He has got such ability on the ball that it is a shame to play him too high on the pitch. He could influence the game so much from a LCM position, imho.

  40. RockyLives says:

    New Post

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