Let us try to finish in the top half of the table at least…

Image result for Arteta

So here we go again, another loss against City in the EPL. The first 15 minutes were rather embarrassing, conceding an early and silly goal, hardly touching the ball and running like headless chickens. After that, City was not very dangerous but always in control and we hardly created a chance. The gap between City and AFC is rather big and it does not seem to get narrower. City exposed our limits but also this game showed that we could, at times, also compete with the best of the best so I suppose there are some positives to take from the game as well, including:

  • Saka is just too good
  • We managed to keep City at bay for quite a while after we conceded the goal.

I thought the line-up was odd and the omission of ESR and Laca really stood out for me for this game.

So another loss and almost the end of our hope to qualify for Europe via the league this year. We have to put in a good shift in the Europa League now. Here are the ratings:

Leno – 6 – Not a bad outing and a good save.

Bellerin – 4 – Another yellow and another average performance

Holding – 5.5 – Not great on the goal but then a steady performance before being substituted by Luiz who brought nothing to the party.

Mari – 6 – Rather solid

Tierney – 4.5 – Torrid first 15 mins and then struggled also going forward.

Xhaka – 6 – Rather solid

El Neny – 5.5 – Rather solid but lacked quality passing or dribbling

Pepe – 4.5 – Not helped by Bellerin and not doing enough overall. A game to forget.

Odegaard – 5 – A mistake to play him in this game. Looked lost, at best.

Saka – 8 – Our shining star

Auba – 4.5 – Even less involved than Pepe…not a good outing

Arteta – 4. Poor team selection and not getting results against big team. I don’t think he will be able to continue on this run of form comes Jan 2022. We need results and improvement, now – also in the EPL!

So let us aim to finish in the top 10, ideally above Tottenham.

27 Responses to Let us try to finish in the top half of the table at least…

  1. jjgsol says:

    We are giving rubbish a bad name.

    But at least we have that great coach and master tactician at the helm. (see Andrea Rosati, Gunnerstown Feb 16th 2021).

    One shot on target and one corner in 90 minutes. Who could ask for more?

  2. RockyLives says:

    Very fair summary RC.

    I would knock a point off Mari for the amount of unforced misplaced passes.

    Odegaard was very poor and lost possession constantly. Bit of a wake up call for him.

    I agree about the team selection. Laca would have given us a better chance of retaining possession when we got forward.

    And ESR would have done much better than Odegaard in the same position.

    But there’s no embarrassment in losing 0-1 to a team that is destroying all opposition this season.

    Onwards and (hopefully) upwards.

    A win over Benfica and a kind draw in the next round would be nice.

  3. LB says:

    My only guess as to why Lacazette and ESR didn’t start was that they would have run themselves into the ground and for what — City simply changed down a gear once they had scored, this way those 2 are fresh for Thursday. And the same goes for David Luiz, fresh as a daisy come Thursday. Rolf (wheres Mickey?)

  4. Aaron says:

    RC,
    Fair ratings.
    At least Ode tries to make a forward pass, unlike some in the squad.

    Mikel was right not to start ESR, read somewhere he did not even practice, probably in the dark red zone.

    Our mid’s are not athletic enough for this type of game every other week.

    Partey coming back healthy and getting a good run of games, staying fit, adapting to the level of the EPL will work wonders.

    Get him back in, rotate Soares and Bel, Soares and Tierney, the cb’s, our mid’s, and keep Pepe on the left or forget about him!

    Mikel best get this squad fired up for Benfica or his time could be running low.

    We are at our level in league, maybe even playing above our level, which is a scary thought.

    Let’s get fired up for another EL outing.

  5. Domhnal says:

    One f**ing loss,one game and you’re all twisted out of shape. UNFAIR ratings, base on your shit coloured glasses……lets look at reality and see that the season is far from over and all your “the sky is falling” BS is painful to behold. Plastic fanboys at best!

  6. jjgsol says:

    Mr. Domhnal, with respect, where have you been in the least 6 months?

    It is not one game. It is 11 league games out of 25. It is out of both cups.

    The reality, with respect, is that we play boring unimaginative, uncreative, football, at best, but otherwise football that would disgrace most National League teams.

    We have scored 31 goals in 25 games and have not scored in too many games to think of.

    If you are jumping up with joy at that, then that is your prerogative.

    However, please do not expect others to think the same.

  7. RC78 says:

    Welcome to the forum Domhnal and thanks for your very valuable and constructive comments

  8. RC78 says:

    I think a fit Partey will solve quite some issues. I also think that a new RB is a priority.

    As for Arteta, his league record may not even reach Emery’s record…scary thought

  9. RC78 says:

    Arteta: 45 games – 19 wins 10 draws 16 losses – 67 points, 1.49/game

    Emery was close to 1.85 I think, no?

  10. VP says:

    I agree with LB – “…run themselves into the ground and for what — City simply changed down a gear once they had scored,…”

    The way I read this is that there was a gentlemans agreement before the game –
    Pep – let us score early and that will do us fine, we wont score anymore, but neither can you ok
    Arteta – thanks boss, I might as well rest Laca and ESR then
    Pep – when I said score early, I meant within the first 5 minutes
    Arteta – I’ll go better then that, lets make it under 2 minutes

  11. Mduduzi says:

    If Arteta continue playing a player like Rob Holding who likes to mark space in the 18 area instead of marking an attacker we still going to concede stupid goals like that and I still don’t understand why the coach still start with Pepe ahead of Smith Rowe,sorry I like Mikel Arteta but can’t take us to greater highest.

  12. Sue says:

    Tbh I expected a defeat, City are where they are for a reason, however, I also expected us to go down with a bang rather than a whimper!!
    Been a tough few days. I didn’t enjoy Thursday and I didn’t enjoy yesterday, sorry to say!
    I’m nervous as hell over this Thursday – it’s all or nothing.. then on Sunday Brenda, Vardy and co at the KP…. no let-up hey?!

  13. RockyLives says:

    Hey Domhnal

    Are you sure you posted your comment on the right blog? There’s plenty of positivity here.

    But on the subject of those of a more negative outlook…

    Let’s get a bit of perspective here.

    We were playing by far the best team in this year’s EPL at a time when they are in their finest form.

    Recent teams who have been beaten by Man City include:
    Everton (3-1)
    Liverpool (4-1)
    WBA (5-0)
    Villa (2-0)
    Palace (4-0)
    Chelsea (3-1)

    By all means judge us on our performances against other teams (and there are both positives and negatives to take from those games) but let’s not try and judge us against the standard currently being set by Man City.

    And yes, I know we are the Arsenal and we should be challenging for the big prizes and competing with the very best, but that’s not where we are right now.

    We have had several years of appalling mismanagement of the club, in particular in relation to transfers and finances. Some of it could be reasonably described as corruption.

    So if Arteta’s record looks less impressive than Emery’s at the moment, that’s because the whole thing was a sh*t show when Arteta took over. He’s starting from a lower base than Emery did and Emery was already starting from a low base because of the mismanagement of the club in the later Wenger years.

    Is Arteta the answer?

    Maybe. I’m inclined to give him more time (i know not everyone agrees). I can see an improvement in our style of play, even though some of our long-term frailties are still there. He has already won a trophy in his short time in charge and he just seems to me to have the character to succeed.

    Do I think he’s the second coming? No. He’s got a long way to go before he can be considered a success.

    Is Jjgsol right that he’s not up to it? Possibly.

    Time will tell and will prove some of us right and some of us wrong.

    In the mean time the mere fact that we can all watch the same movie and come away with so many different opinions about what happened it is one of the joys of watching and discussing football.

  14. RC78 says:

    I thought the City game sent us backwards and also dented a bit on Arteta’s credibility. Our best form came with:

    Leno – Bello, Holding, Luiz, Tierney – Xhaka, El Neny – Saka, ESR, Pepe – Laca

    Let us say that potentially:
    – Bello could be subbed by Soares
    – Pepe could be subbed by Auba
    – El Neny could be subbed by Ceba

    Leno – Soares, Holding, Luiz, Tierney – Xhaka, Ceba – Saka, ESR, Auba – Laca

    In any case, we gotta play Saka, ESR and Laca up front for sure because they link up well.

  15. Pete the Thirst says:

    That wasn’t pleasant to watch. The most annoying thing for me was that we didn’t knock City out of their stride. No long balls, no shots from distance, lots of backwards passing.

    The team started like they had been out late the night before. Too relaxed. Unprofessional.

    Sterling at 5’4″ getting a clean header between 6′ plus Holding and Bellerin hanging in no-man’s land. Simply not good enough at this level.

    Hector had another awful game. Him & Pepe were diabolical on the right.

    Odegard looked rusty and has a long way to go to fulfil his 2nd coming label.

    The only players who really showed up were Tierney and Saka.

    Hopefully the players sort themselves out by Thursday.

  16. RockyLives says:

    RC

    The one factor (mentioned by others) about players like ESR is that we don’t know what their fitness issues are.

    The medical team monitor them constantly and if a previously injury prone player like ESR is approaching the ‘Red Zone’ they would probably err on the side of caution and not put him in the starting line up.

    In principle, however, I agree with your assessment of our optimal team given current personnel.

  17. RC78 says:

    True Rocky but if you pull out ESR, you can put in Odegaard or Ceba, right? But why not play Laca?

  18. RC78 says:

    For the EL, I think we will be OK and I think that a key player for us in this last part of the season will be Ceballos. His passing is rather precise and brave. We need this quality at the moment. I d play him ahead of Odegaard any day.

  19. GoonerB says:

    Thanks RC. As always I feel the reality sits in the middle of many of the polar opposite views like jjgsol’s and Domhnal’s. I think Rocky’s comment at 9.55 most closely reflects where we are.

    Firstly I think the selection reflects that Arteta is prioritising the winnable EL rather than play our strongest line up against a side that are many years development ahead of us regardless, and in a league where we are realistically already unlikely to claw back too many positions. This was entirely the correct decision.

    Secondly look at who we have just lost 1-0 to. They are 25 games undefeated in all competitions and have won all of their last 18 games in all competitions, during which period they have scored 47 goals and conceded 6.

    This means that not only are they one of the worlds most prolific goal scoring teams, they also boast the meanest defence. What did we expect to happen at this time.

    Look at it another way and we are only one of two teams in those last 18 games to have ended the game with a 1 goal difference in the result. We were in essence one of only 2 teams that were in the game right until the end with a chance if getting something from it.

    There must be a positive in that when you consider all the other stats and factors around Man City at the moment. I can see us getting more competitive with them over the next year or so, and therefore will prioritise my expectations and Hope’s into more realistic realms.

    My main criticism of Arteta is that he held on in the wrong formation and set up for too long at the front end of this season and this cost us. I still reflect on that run of 7 very winnable games where we took 2 from 21 points as being the period that will shape our eventual EPL position.

    That is consigned to history though, and we have to accept that period and not dwell on it, or dwell on where we end up in the EPL this season. If our young manager made an error but has learnt from it then move on as there is a lot about him that could indicate we have the right one to redevelop the club back to a top table challenger.

    Remember Arteta is trying to correct faults that stem back to Wengers latter years and nosedived further in the Emery period. It’s not easy to take it back to the drawing board for the longer term gain while still trying to satisfy fans with results.

    A bit like a golfer changing their swing. You sometimes have a period of stepping backwards until the new style becomes more natural and fluid.

    Stick with the old style and you will be consistent but only consistently so so. However the new style you are developing may see you drop for a temporary period but then catch up and go past where you once were to the higher levels again, but this time with a style that can challenge at that higher level.

    Anyone who tracked Nick Faldo’s career will see that he took exactly that path because he was brave enough to take the temporary pain for something better. He wasnt happy with the consistent so so level.

    After the formation changed with the Chelsea game we have been far better, but more importantly I can see the continual development now taking place centred around this right formation.

    Do I expect this to be perfect in all games still? No, not a chance that we can match Man City in consistency of performances and winning runs right now. However, I can see us moving towards this steadily right now even with some of the more recent disappointing results.

    Wolves and Villa were disappointing but even those were not an absolute disaster. We were unlucky with officiating decisions but still weren’t outplayed in those games, particularly the Wolves one.

    Odegaard looks quality but had an off game. Remember he has come to a new league with a lack of playing time and sharpness even before he arrived. He is a new more physical and fast league and just played the inevitable champions. I really hope we get him permanently because I think with the other young players we could develop something special.

    Saka is a gem. ESR and Martinelli are brilliant propositions that can also be the bedrock for years to come. More importantly they, and other young players, are young enough to take in the coaching considerations that Arteta will be trying to impart that can see them play consistently like the De Bruyne’s, Sterling’s, Mahrez’s, Gunogans and Silva’s of the footballing world.

    I don’t see a disaster at all but accept it’s not all rosy right now, but the question is should we expect it to be. Positives where present need to be looked at even with a result against us. Now we need to not slip up in the Benfica tie which is of the utmost importance.

    The City game was a stepping stone, or even a temporary nuisance of a game in its timing, to our more important consideration with the EL. I will be disappointed far more if we exit that.

  20. RC78 says:

    In the EL, I am hoping for a positive outcome on Thursday but I am more dubious about a final win…although I feel like our team has enough in it to make another run to the last 4 and maybe even to the final. Winning it is another story

  21. RC78 says:

    I also think that Arteta’s performance should be assessed next Christmas but if we do not improve our league form, shall we continue with him? Clearly, him and Edu are trying to build a new squad and I think that next summer will be their most important transfer window both for outgoing and incoming players…

    Yes, we are better in a 4231 set-up but we need to pick up wins and trophies. We are AFC!

    Most promising half of football played all season was the first half against Wolves until Luiz got sent off.

  22. RA says:

    Well said, RC,

    I agreed with pretty much all that you said except for two ratings which did not chime.

    You gave Saka the Arsenal MoTM with an 8,

    You gave Tierney a 4.5

    Saka has been carrying the team pretty much since the season started, and he looked really jaded last night, and, based on his own high standards, he made a number of mistakes, including tackling himself and poking the ball out of play for no reason.

    He is still our best player, but an 8 for last night was too much.

    Tierney has missed 5 or 6 games with injury, and looked rusty, again compared with his usual standards he looked like he was struggling on his comeback, and as no one seemed to press City to support him his crossing was a bit wayward, but at least he got up the pitch and tried.

    He can be our second best player, and a 4.5 was far too low.

    Holding did not have his best night, but he was holding the centre of defence, but made a mistake in not looking over his shoulder and checking out Sterling, but he was entitled to think Bellerin could have seen Sterling, as he was behind the 5’7″ winger, and instead of flapping his wing-like arms and blowing out his cheeks as if he was trying (not) he could have stopped Sterling from having a free header.

    The ‘playing out from the back’, malarkey, ensured we had to get through a tightly pressing City team, nearly all of whom were within yards of our penalty area, and we lost the ball far too often as a result, and our slow, slow sideways and backward passing just gave City a break before they attacked us again.

    That has to be Arteta’s fault for not telling the team to change Plan A, which looked a lot like Plan B and Plan C into all out attack.

    If we attacked, we could have drawn (or won) the game – no attack – was therefore pointless, and better to ‘give it a go’ and lose 3:0 than simply give in and lose to a goal scored after the opening 70 seconds.

  23. RA says:

    Hello, I say, Hello,

    Where are you all?

    It makes me sad, and that reminds me of the other sadness re my Gran;

    Grandma got run over by a reindeer
    Walking home from our house Christmas eve
    You can say there’s no such thing as Santa
    But as for me and grandpa we believe

    She’d been drinking too much eggnog
    And we begged her not to go
    But she forgot her medication
    And she staggered out the door into the snow
    When we found her Christmas morning
    At the scene of the attack

    She had hoof-prints on her forehead
    And incriminating Claus marks on her back
    Grandma got run over by a reindeer
    Walking home from our house Christmas eve
    You can say there’s no such thing as Santa
    But as for me and grandpa we believe

    Now we’re all so proud of grandpa
    He’s been taking this so well
    See him in there watching football
    Drinking beer and playing cards with cousin Mel (and GB)

    It’s not Christmas without Grandma
    All the family’s dressed in black
    And we just can’t help but wonder
    Should we open up her gifts
    Or send them back

    Grandma got run over by a reindeer
    Walking home from our house Christmas eve
    You can say there’s no such thing as Santa
    But as for me and grandpa we believe

    Now the goose is on the table
    And the pudding made of fig
    And the blue and silver candles
    That would just have matched the hair on grandma’s wig

    I’ve warned all my friends and neighbors
    Better watch out for yourselves
    They should never give a license
    To a man who drives a sleigh
    And plays with elves

    Grandma got run over by a reindeer
    Walking home from our house Christmas eve
    You can say there’s no such thing as Santa
    But as for me and grandpa we believe

    Singin’ ’bout grandpa
    Grandma got run over by a reindeer
    Walking home from our house Christmas eve
    You can say there’s no such thing as Santa
    But as for me and grandpa we believe

    [walks off sobbing at the lack of comments, and Grandma with an antler up the bum] sob ……

  24. GoonerB says:

    Haha RA, love it. However there is probably someone out there whose grandma genuinely got run over by a reindeer thinking….” you insensitive bastard” 😄

    From my end I’m just glad you didn’t do the one on family members brought to their demise by a camel. That would have cut me to the quick. My aunts 2nd husbands, grandfathers, step sons cousin, twice removed, was a much loved mentor to me.

    That day when 1.25 humps Cedric, as he was commonly known, planted his dromedary hooves into Gregory’s nether regions causing a massive fatal haemorrhage in the gonads will live with me forever.

  25. LBG says:

    “Bellerin eager to make the leap to PSG”
    Usual rubbish speculation from press, but I for one, Hector, am more eager than you ….for you to make the leap!!

  26. RockyLives says:

    New Post

  27. RC78 says:

    I don’t think PSG will invest in Bellerin. PSG is happy with Florenzi and they are looking for a very strong back-up. There may be a swap in the air with Kehrer going to Keipzig and PSG getting Mukiele.

    RB: Florenzi – MUKIELE
    CB: Marquinhos, Kimpembe, Diallo, ROMERO
    LB: Bernat – Kurzawa

    DM: Paredes, Danilo
    CM: Verratti, Herrera, Rafinha, RECRUIT

    RW: Di Maria, RECRUIT
    LW: Neymar, RECRUIT
    FW: Mbappe, Icardi, Kean (?)

    Out: Kehrer, Bakker, Gueye, Sarabia

    I think Pochetinno will bring 5 players and I think PSG will not win 1 trophy with Pochetinno this season

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