New Hope, Old Failings – Olimpiacos Report & Ratings

March 12, 2021
At least the Clown Car Crew have something to smile about this time

Well that was a strange game.

We started on the front foot and looked confident and dangerous. Odegaard had a great opportunity to put us ahead in the third minute but scuffed a first-time shot wide. Three minutes later an Aubameyang header from a Bellerin cross was tipped onto the crossbar by Sa, the Olimpiacos ‘keeper.

You felt it was only a matter of time before our dominance would lead to a goal.

As we all know, however, those are just the kind of occasions when Arsenal are at their most vulnerable.

Clown Car Moment #1: With the Greeks struggling to make any opportunities of their own, we thought we would help them out. Odegaard set up a great chance for the Olimpiacos No 27 Bruma with a perfectly placed ‘no look’ pass into the inside right channel. (By ‘no look’ I mean the Norwegian didn’t bother looking to see if there might be any risk in playing a weak ball across the front of his own penalty area). Fortunately Bruma swept it straight at Leno.

Having failed with our first kamikaze attempt, we finally got the goal our pressure deserved, Odegaard making amends by blasting a rocket of a shot past Sa. I have seen it said that Sa flapped at it, but that shot was hit with vicious power and swerved before dipping right at the end. I don’t think the goalie had a chance.

One nil up away from home, time to start managing the game and taking no risks, right?

Haha – you know what’s coming.

Clown Car Moment #2: A few minutes after we’d taken the lead, David Luiz, deep in his own penalty area, took a heavy touch then inexplicably attempted to play the ball across his own goal with an attacker, Masouras, literally two feet away from him. Fortunately for Arsenal Masouras blasted the ball high over the bar from the edge of the six yard box. With just a modicum of composure he could have passed it into the net.

Half time came with a strange combination of emotions: satisfaction at being ahead and having scored an away goal; disappointment at not having converted more of our opportunities and relief at the fact that our best efforts to gift Olimpiacos a goal had come to nothing.

The Greeks started the second half with more purpose and 12 minutes after the restart you could hear the sound of honking horns and discordant klaxons as a certain vehicle took to the pitch again.

Clown Car Moment #3: Leno received a back pass just outside his area. He had all the time in the world to clear it up field or pass to a safe area. Instead the German played it straight down the middle to Dani Ceballos, who was facing his own goal and had three Olimpiacos players in close attention. Ceballos took a bad touch and was dispossessed, with Leno still miles off his line. El Arabi was able to pass into the empty goal from the edge of the D. The Greeks were level.

By this point most Arsenal supporters could scarcely believe what they were watching. We were bossing the game while at the same time jabbing a sharpened pencil in our eye every chance we got.

I wouldn’t say my heart had sunk, but at this stage it was definitely holed below the waterline and wallowing badly.

But we are nothing if not unpredictable. With 10 minutes of normal time remaining Gabriel, who was having a very good game, rose with power and determination to meet a Willian cross and direct a long, looping header into the goal. There was a nervy moment with the Olimpiacos defender trying to get it disallowed by feigning a head injury, but the goal stood.

Then, five minutes later, the substitute Elneny fired home a third from long range to cement an excellent result and put us in a very strong position for the return leg.

I, for one, was not sure quite what to feel at the final whistle. Certainly I was delighted with the scoreline, but the continued evidence of our shoot-ourselves-in-the-foot tendencies was quite alarming.

After a succession of suicidal unforced mistakes in recent games up to and including last Saturday, you would think the players would be prioritising error elimination above all else. Yet here we were making three truly terrible unforced blunders in just one game. Thank goodness we’re in the EL and not the Champions League, because a decent team would have punished all three of those cock-ups.

I generally approve of what Arteta is doing and I can see improvements in our style of play. But if El Patron does not get on top of this error problem then he has to go, it’s as simple as that. We simply cannot progress when any good work we do at the pointy end is liable to be immediately undermined by stupidity at the blunt end. I have no idea how the problem can be fixed (we have regularly speculated about it hereabouts), but fixed it must be – and urgently.

We have a particularly resonant league fixture coming up on Sunday. If we decide to wheel out the clown car against the Spuds, can you really see Kane, Bale and Son failing to take the chances we give them?

For now, though, let’s celebrate a very good result putting us in pole position to make it through to the last eight of the Europa League.

Player Ratings

Leno – 5

At least partly to blame for the Olimpiacos goal. That’s two in two games where the German has contributed to gifting the opponents a goal. It has to stop.

Bellerin – 6.5

No major errors and made a couple of good opportunities for his team mates at the attacking end. I still feel he could be more adventurous going forward at times.

Luiz – 5

Did his best to gift Olimpiacos a goal but was pretty solid apart from that.

Gabriel – 8 MoTM

Dominant defensively and scored with a terrific header at a time when we really needed a goal.

Tierney – 7

Made some good opportunities with his trademark runs to the byline and crosses, particularly early on.

Partey – 7

Good all-round performance, apart from one rugby conversion of a shot.

Xhaka – 6.5

Left the clown car duties to others in this game and put in a solid shift.

Saka – 6.5

Some good moments but his form has dipped a little in the last couple of games, perhaps through tiredness. But even at sub-par he is still one of our best players.

Odegaard – 7.5

Missed a sitter early on, almost gifted a goal to the opposition and in the first half hour was really slowing down our play. But after scoring an outstanding goal he seemed to grow in confidence and influence and had a great 50+ minutes. Very promising.

Willian – 6

His recent outings have moved from the “abysmal’ category to the “OK” category. That’s progress, I suppose.

Aubameyang – 6.5

A couple of good opportunities for the captain, including a header tipped onto the bar, but he also spent long periods uninvolved.

SUBS

Ceballos – 4.5

Takes too many touches. Gifted a goal to the opposition. No need to extend his loan or consider buying him after this season.

Pepe – 6

Got 13 minutes and did some Pepe stuff.

Elneny – 7

Go Mo Go! Came on to shore up the midfield and protect our 2-1 lead, but ended up making the tie a lot more secure by scoring a belter.

Smith Rowe – 6

I just like watching him on and off the ball.

RockyLives


A Big Four Days For Arsenal

March 11, 2021
A heroic effort will be needed this evening

Olimpiacos tonight, Totteringham on Sunday. How do you think we’ll be feeling by the end of the weekend?

With luck, skill and an absence of self-inflicted wounds we could be sitting in the quarter finals of the Europa League and the relishing the sweet taste of derby victory.

The trouble is, there won’t be many Arsenal supporters feeling confident about either of those outcomes.

We could do it, of course. We could play disciplined, organised football with real attacking verve in both games, but with the current version of Arsenal there’s no way of knowing whether or not we will. We’re just as likely to play really well for 80 minutes then have one of our outfield players pick up the ball with his hands, run down the pitch and chuck it in his own net.

First things first, the Greek side will be no pushover this evening. In the round of 32 last season we won in Athens but threw it away in the home leg, so even a solid result tonight doesn’t make us safe.

They’ll have Sokratis playing, by all accounts. I always liked him when he turned out for us. Not the fastest and certainly not particularly suited to the ‘play-out-from-the-back’ fetish that obsesses modern coaches, but he always gave what he could and was never shy of getting stuck in.

Traditionally we have to assume he’ll have a blinder against us tonight but maybe, just for once, the football gods will have a bit of a giggle and make the irony gun point in the opposite direction: perhaps with Big Sok giving away a penalty and getting red carded, or slicing the ball into his own net. We shall see.

Mikel Arteta’s team selection will be made with one (or both) eyes on Sunday’s game, but surely tonight is the priority. European qualification via the Premier League is a dead duck now so the EL is our only chance of a successful end to the season.

As far as I know we have everyone available, so my guess for the starting line-up is:

Leno

Bellerin – Luiz – Gabriel – Tierney

Partey – Xhaka

Saka – Odegaard – Smith Rowe

Aubameyang

Personally, I would prefer to see:

Leno

Cedric – Holding – Gabriel – Tierney

Partey – Elneny

Saka – Smith Rowe – Aubameyang

Lacazette

Fingers crossed that whatever team takes the field can do the job and come home with a win. An away goal or two and a clean sheet would be just the confidence boost needed before entertaining the Spuds.

Totteringham’s fortunes have been up and down like Zebedee this season, sometimes they look amazing and sometimes laughably bad. Unfortunately they seem to have hit form lately and with Bale, Kane and Son in attack they will really test our defence, but we can concern ourselves with that after we’ve got tonight’s business out of the way.

We have the players and the ability to return from our Greek odyssey in triumph if the gods of Olympus smile kindly on us.

Come on you Gunners!

RockyLives


Seriously, how can Arsenal stop the self inflicted wounds?

March 10, 2021
Tactics session at London Colney

Granit Xhaka’s (mostly) unforced error against Burnley cost us two points and led to a sobering statistic.

If we had avoided blatant individual errors in our last four matches (including Burnley) apparently we would have secured 12 points from those games and risen to fifth in the table at the final whistle on Saturday.

Instead we got four points from those four games and continue to wallow in mid table.

Just think what a difference those eight points would make to our season, to our sense of happiness and to the mood around the club. They would be transformational, but the fact we don’t have them is entirely down to us, not to our opponents. It’s not that we have been outplayed in these four games.

Not everyone will agree, but I feel we are playing some good football and showing signs of progress. With the emergence of young stars like Saka, Smith Rowe and Tierney we can feel excited about the future, but not if we are going to continually sabotage our own best efforts.

We’re like a hunter who buys a new hunting rifle and all the camo gear, heads out into the woods and waits for hours in a carefully constructed hide until, finally, an elk walks into a clearing in the middle distance, perfectly in range and conveniently lit up by a shaft of sunlight.

The hunter carefully raises the gun to his shoulder, holds his breath, takes aim and starts to gently squeeze the trigger… then slips, falls ass over tip and shoots himself in the foot as the elk trots away laughing.

We have good equipment. Our preparation seems to be solid. We know what we want. But in too many games we get the FOOT-GUN-SHOOT moment.

I have written in the past about a self destructive gene that seems to have embedded itself in the Arsenal DNA some time towards the end of the Wenger era and that has never been eradicated.

How many times have we heard an Arsenal manager, after a disappointing result, say “we need to cut out these types of errors”? Whether it’s Wenger, Emery or, now Arteta, it has become a constant refrain with all the annoying familiarity of a bad advertising jingle.

So what do we do about it?

In the past I have wondered whether some players need to have a greater sense of fear (either of their manager tearing them a new one or of a team mate in the Tony Adams mould pinning them up against the wall of the dressing room after the game).

I have speculated that the team needs a specialist psychology coach to work on issues of concentration and confidence.

I realise I have generally avoided the most popular potential solution: get better players. I generally want to give our boys the benefit of the doubt. For example with Xhaka’s latest blunder, my thinking was “well, if the manager wants us to play out from the back at every opportunity, this sort of thing is going to happen once or twice a season. It happens to other teams that adopt this approach as well as to us.”

But, like an Egyptian crocodile, am I in denial?

Is it really as simple as the fact that we just need to ditch the players who, regardless of their good qualities, are prone to making horrendous blunders on a regular basis.

In our current squad the two most obvious candidates for the boot are Xhaka and Luiz. They are both experienced pros, they have both had many good performances for us and some exceptional ones, but they also play football with a ticking time bomb in their back pocket. You never know when it’s going to explode but you know that eventually it will.

However, although Luiz and Xhaka are the most visible culprits, it’s worth noting that many other players have cost us points this season through stupidity, including Leno, Ceballos, Pepe, Mari and probably others I’ve forgotten (or blanked from my traumatised mind).

So if the answer to our malaise is “better players” are we really looking at a massive clear-out? We have already parted ways with previous FOOT-GUN-SHOOT specialists like Mustafi and Kolasinac.

I can’t help feeling that there must be another solution. Is it tactics? Motivation? Coaching? Discipline? Confidence-building?

Why did previous Arsenal teams like the Wenger Invincibles or the George Graham title-winning teams of the 1989 and 1991 seem not to have this problem? (Or did they also make similar mistakes, but we just forget about them when we’re playing well enough that they don’t make the difference in games?).

Help me out.

RockyLives


Who had enough of empty stadiums and the VAR?

March 8, 2021
VAR has stolen our joy - AVFC - Avillafan.com - Aston Villa Fansite, Blog,  & Forum..

A year has gone already since most countries entered into lockdown to limit the spread of Covid-19. The lock-down meant that stadiums could not host home or away fans and that players could finally hear their coach’s instructions on the pitch. No atmosphere, no songs, no noise, no home advantage or hostile stadium…

At the same time, the debate was still raging about the VAR. Some were in favour and some against. Some say that it denatured the game and some said it made if fairer. On my side, I think the VAR is ok but the refs just have too much room to interpret rules as they wish…The lack of consistency cannot be solved by VAR or anything for that matter. Below you will be able to read a passionate plea from LBG about stadium and the VAR. Thanks LBG!

“Today was a bit of a watershed for me, as the Club ask Season ticket holders for confirmation of their personal log in details, presumably in advance of their future request for money.
On another site I offered recently, in a debate whether the 70s/80s/90s players were as good as those of today, my current feelings about the game I have loved all my life.
The best current players, as highly tuned athletes are probably “better”, but the sport is definitely not. Covid has shown us what the sport used to be. It is a shadow of its former self WITHOUT THE PEOPLE THE GAME IS FOR….THE CROWD.! Ordinary people with passion for their team. In their place the new “prima donnas” have have risen up and taken their place on the stage, and I for one am fed up with them – referees, VAR, ” players representatives”, FIFA, UEFA, pundits, newspaper so called experts, are ruining our game as they compete for their 15 minutes.
If we ever get back to full capacity stadiums again, I believe the ordinary supporters are going to rebel if all the “spoilers” are not pushed aside, and the game be allowed to return to relative simplicity. And the Clubs will soon find, if they are not careful, that the rebellion will be led by those ordinary supporters, like me, refusing to pay, no matter how much football and Arsenal is in our blood. Yours truly, LBG”.


Burnley unbeaten vs Arsenal this season…WTF!?!

March 6, 2021
Arsenal's Granit Xhaka produces wild blooper ricocheting ball off Burnley  player and into his own goal - CBSSports.com

So another disappointment in the EPL today. It is becoming a bad habit and within that bad habit, we are now including a new bad habit, which is to give away leads and easy goals right before half-time although we dominate the first half…What a disaster!

A great opening 30 minutes totally thrown away by Xhaka’s howler. We could have scored at least another goal before Xhaka’s mistake. Xhaka has more errors leading to goals than any other EPL players since 2016/7 and amounting to 8 in total. So for all his improvements, there is always an error in him and today, there was the error and a really bad one too. It is going to be the worse EPL mistake of the year by any players…Nowhere to hide, Granit. Nowhere…

The second half was really upsetting, especially the first 15 minutes where Burnley was by far the better team. We were much better once Laca came on and then Pepe also added impetus to our game. We were then robbed of a valid PK by the VAR and then the VAR decided that it was ok to actually do the right thing and not give us the PK for a shoulder clearance from a Burnley defender. But the last 15 minutes of the game were frantic with a sitter missed by Burnley through Wood and another one missed by Pepe: 1-1 also in missed big chances…Yet and in the stoppage time, we were again denied a win by the post after a good shot from Ceballos that had Pope beaten.

So this game kind of summed up our season in the EPL: promising at times, stupid at times and frustrating overall…

Leno – 5.5. A great save vs Woods and some improvements in his aerial abilities but should have just cleared the ball out rather than passing it to Xhaka on the goal.

Chambers – 5.5. A good performance after a long time away.

Luiz – 6.5 – A solid performance overall

Mari – 6. Reliable

Tierney – 6. Not at his best but still one of the ray of lights.

Xhaka – 3.5 – A howler and no revolt in the second half. A game to forget.

Partey – 5. Seems to need more games to get the necessary rhythm back.

Willian – 5.5. A decent performance especially in the first 30 minutes before fading away.

Odegaard – 5. Hardly average. Needs to pass the ball quicker and make more runs.

Saka – 6. Not at his best but still on of the ray of lights.

Auba 5.5. A good goal, a missed chance and then nothing in the second half until that blocked shots in the dying minutes of the game.

Laca – 5. Did add something to our game but did not come to fruition either.

Pepe – 5.5. Should have been awarded a PK, had a great look at goal on his volley but also missed a sitter. Conflicting performance but clearly added a threat.

Arteta – 5 – He will feel like we should have won but could not find a way to win the game. Another draw. Another 2 points dropped.


Artillery vs Cavalry: Burnley Prematch & Predicted Line-Up

March 6, 2021
Incoming! The Burnley squad limber up for today’s visit of The Arsenal

We have five full days before a Europa League away trip to Athens so, even though it is generally agreed around these parts that the EL is our top priority for the rest of the season, we may well see something close a full strength side from Mikel Arteta today.

Our visit to Turf Moor won’t be easy. Despite a recent thrashing at the hands of the Spuds, Burnley have been hard to beat lately (that defeat was the only one in their last six games). On the other hand they’ve been clocking up a lot of draws and struggling to score goals (a 3-0 win over Palace being the exception).

The Clarets’ main threat is in the air. They’re a big team with the likes of Chris Wood and Ashley Barnes dangerous from set pieces. For once, despite our nickname, it’s the opposition who will be providing the artillery (a barrage of long balls into our box) so we’ll need to keep our tin hats on, be brave and hit them with speed and movement when we attack (the cavalry).

This could easily be a draw but, if our recent form continues, I fancy us to take the points provided we avoid any of those self-inflicted wounds which we’ve seen rather too often this season. Let’s not trip over and fall on our sabre today.

The only injury doubt we have is Emile Smith Rowe (hip strain), so my predicted starting eleven is:

Leno

Bellerin – Holding – Luiz – Tierney

Xhaka – Partey

Saka – Odegaard – Aubameyang

Lacazette

If El Patron decides to start with Auba down the middle, then I would expect to see either Pepe or Willian as the wide left attacker with Laca on the bench. There’s a case for Ceballos to play in the spot I’ve allocated to Odegaard, but Arteta seems to really like the young Norwegian.

I’ve gone for Holding and Luiz at the back but, in truth, any combo out of Holding, Luiz, Mari and Gabriel would not surprise me.

The EL may be our priority, but maintaining momentum in the Premier League is also important, if only for the psychological boost it will give us in the European competition.

Come On You Gunners!

RockyLives


Can Arsenal Overhaul Tottenham in the Premier League?

March 5, 2021
No caption needed

The pragmatic among you may answer that headline question by saying: “Who cares? The Europa League is our priority, followed by finishing as high up the league table as we can. If that happens to be above Totnum, great. If not, it doesn’t matter.”

But most football supporters are not pragmatists. We think with our hearts as much as with our heads and I, for one, would love to believe we can finish ahead of the degenerates this season.

Obviously a lot will hinge on the outcome of our home game against them on March 14th. We are five points behind them at the moment so clawing back three points in a head-to-head would really put the pressure on.

What about other grounds for optimism?

Firstly there’s the sense that we are starting to play better, with greater attacking intent and with more of the squad starting to find their form. When we lost in the Swamplands in early December we were in a run of terrible form and playing with the offensive threat of a marshmallow. Now we are scoring goals and making chances.

Secondly, we have a slightly easier run in than the enemy. Here are the respective remaining fixtures for the two sides:

Arsenal

Burnley A 

Spuds H  

W. Ham A  

Liverpool H  

Sheffield Utd A  

Fulham H  

Everton H  

Newcastle A  

WBA H  

Chelsea A  

Palace A  

Brighton H 

Tiny Totts

Palace H  

Arsenal A  

Villa A  

Newcastle A

Man Utd H  

Saints H  

Everton A  

Sheffield Utd H  

Leeds A  

Wolves H   

Villa H  

Leicester A 

Neither team faces the dominant champions-to-be Manchester City again in the campaign, but the Spuds have to play the teams currently sitting at 2nd and 3rd in the EPL (Man Utd and Leicester). The highest currently-placed team that Arsenal will face is Chelsea, now sitting 4th.

The average league position of our opponents (based on the EPL table before this coming weekend’s games) is 12.3, whereas the average league position of the Spuds’ opponents is 10.4. It may not matter a huge amount and league positions will obviously change, but it’s something.

Finally, we have grounds for optimism in the person of Totteringham’s head coach. Jose Mourinho is one of the most successful managers ever in English football, but he also leaves a trail of carnage in his wake. He is capable of alienating key players, dividing the dressing room and turning the squad against him. Let’s hope that pattern continues.

From a Spud perspective, they have managed a few good results after the woeful slump they went on immediately after topping the table for a microsecond.

It’s like they got a brief glimpse of what it looks like to be top of the league and immediately realised that this was not where they belong, like a street urchin peering through the window of a fancy society restaurant. Their results and form soon made sure that they won’t be visiting that pinnacle again any time soon.

Nevertheless, they have – like us – qualified for the last 16 of the Europa League and they’ve won their last two EPL games – a thrashing of Burnley and lucky win over Fulham (they needed an own goal).

So, what do you think? Can we end the season with bragging rights over our neighbours? Does it matter?

RockyLives


Beware the Sides of March: Arsenal’s Challenging Month

March 3, 2021
Julius Caesar faces a tough home fixture during the month of March long ago

By the time we play our first game in April (home versus Liverpool, as it happens) we could be sitting on Cloud Nine or wallowing in a trough of despond.

It all depends on how we do in our five matches during the month of March:

March 6th: Burnley (a).

March 11th: Olimpiacos (a).

March 14th: Tottering Hotspuds (h).

March 18th: Olimpiacos (h).

March 21st: West Ham (a).

We could enter April in the quarter finals of the Europa league, with an improved position in the Premier League (giving us a second shot at European football next season) and having defeated the noisy neighbours.

Alternatively… well, let’s not dwell on the alternative.

The Greek side have given us problems over the years in both the Champions League and the Europa League (they knocked us out of the latter on away goals in February last year). However, I sense that we are in a better place to play them this time round in terms of both personnel and tactics.

A year ago Mikel Arteta was still just getting his feet under the table and trying to fix the mess left by Unai Emery. His first job was to shore up our leaky defence, but it came at the cost of our effectiveness going forward. Against Olimpiacos we did not create enough chances and paid the price.

Fast forward just over a year and we are now playing a much more dynamic brand of attacking football, with multiple forward options emerging.

What’s more of a worry (to me at least) is the fact that we play the Spuds just three days after a long trip to Athens. The Spuds have their own Europa League tie on the Thursday night, but they’re at home against Dinamo Zagreb. Admittedly, when it comes to an environment that’s good for the soul, the Greek capital is a hell of a lot more appealing than the swamplands of N17 but there’s a fair bit of travel involved.

This raises a dilemma: the EL should be our priority for the rest of this season given our current league position. It’s our best chance of getting European football next year and our only chance of getting into the Champions League.

By that logic El Patron should play his strongest possible team against Olimpiacos, which probably means there will have to be some rotation when we play the Tinies.

It’s not an ideal scenario, but the result against Leicester on Sunday showed that if the squad players are in form they can get the job done. Against our neighbours we may well be relying on another good showing from Willian and Pepe. Too much to hope for? I hope not.

As for the other fixtures in March, Burnley will be a tough game and probably quite physical, but if we are truly progressing under Arteta it’s a game we ought to be winning.

That leaves West Ham, which – on paper – is the most challenging game of the lot (what strange times we live in: a pandemic shuts down the world and the Happy Hammers find themselves in the top four: it’s hard to know which of the two is the more unexpected). The Irons are having an excellent season under David Moyes but I suspect they are more vulnerable than their position implies.

They’ve just lost to Manchester City and face Leeds and Manchester United before they meet us. I would not expect them to be in the top four at that point and their confidence may well have taken a bit of a knock.

So what’s the minimum required from March?

On one level you could say it’s just qualifying for the next round of the Europa League. But if our Premier League form goes down the toilet it will have a knock-on effect on our momentum and the mood around the cub, so it’s vital we continue to progress there as well otherwise we’re sure to struggle in the later rounds of the EL.

My delusional, optimistic soul thinks there is at least a chance we’ll win all our games in March, but I’ll settle for knocking out Olimpiacos and taking seven points from our three league games.

What do you think?

RockyLives


Who is the most improved player since Arteta joined?

March 3, 2021
Granit Xhaka identifies Bukayo Saka's three traits that can fire him to key  Arsenal role - football.london

There is a debate about whether Arteta helped develop players since his arrival. I think overall some players have improved – whether it is due to him directly or whether it s through the Academy, assistant coach…we will never really know. We can just look at our players since he arrived and see if they have improved. Here is a list of Most Improved Players since December 2020:

  1. Saka – our club’s gem. From a young player to a leader on the pitch…
  2. Xhaka – from being a less than average player with lots of errors and red cards in him that polarized a lot of negative views to a reliable midfielder, he is proving many critics wrong despite the occasional stupid mistake
  3. Pepe – Still finding his feet but clearly improving some aspects of his game

….

Anyways, what are your thoughts? Do you think that players have improved since Arteta took over and which is the Most Improved One?


Is Ceballos a Cebolla?

March 2, 2021
Types of Onions and How to Use Them - Jessica Gavin

For those that speak a bit of Spanish, Cebolla means onion. Onions are quite an interesting thing:

  • Onions are vegetables, not fruits. Onions are often mistaken as fruits because onion bulbs can be used to grow new onion plants asexually. It is a bit like Ceballos: maybe he is a central midfielder after all who was mistakenly taken for an attacking midfielder until he joined Arsenal?
  • Onions, you either love them or hate them but in any case, you cannot be indifferent to them. Some say, they do not like it because when you cut them, they make you cry. Some say, they don’t like them because of its taste or because they can’t digest them. Some say, that life without onion is a sin because they add so much flavour and fragrance to food and that they also love onion rings. It is a bit like Ceballos: He does not leave anyone indifferent: he can make you cry like the Benfica game or he can make you happy like his first game with us BUT we all recognize his game has flair.
  • Onions have many layers and so does Ceballos’ game. Ceballos is now a more rounded player, he has definitely added defensive ability to his game, he is tackling more, intercepting more but this has come to the detriment of his attacking outputs. I think that everything will tick this season or next season for him. His passing is still on the high-end of the spectrum and he can definitely drive the ball forward.

So, the question is: what do we do with him at the end of the season? We have nurtured him since last season and I feel like he is developing well as a player. He is still only 24 and I think that at 25 Mln EUR, we should try to secure him. It seems that Arteta wants him to play as an 8 so let us do that. I think he is more important than Odegaard and between the 2, I d keep Ceba without any disrespect to Odegaard.

How do you feel about onions and how do you feel about Dani? I am not a fan of onions but I d like to keep Ceballos!