More Turf at Turf Moor? Long Grass Fails to Entangle Gunners (plus Ratings)

The pitch at Burnley

And so we continue to climb slowly out from the trough of despond into which we had descended after the first three games of the season.

A splendid Martin Odegaard free kick was enough to secure the points away at Burnley yesterday in an unspectacular game during which our forward line failed to fire on all cylinders.

Afterwards Mikel Arteta commented on the fact that Burnley had not mown the pitch prior to the game, meaning that the grass was longer than it should be for a typical EPL fixture.

Longer-than-usual grass will play havoc with a team that likes to play the ball on the ground (a team like, er, Arsenal), but will have less of a negative impact on a team that likes to pump long balls into the box (such as, er, Burnley).

If this really was an issue it may go some way to explaining the very obvious failings in our attack.

Numerous times in the game we created lovely moves and opened up Burnley only for the final pass to be overhit or underhit.

We can only assume that our players were trying to navigate the unreliable pace of the ball across the surface, but had a few of those passes found their mark I am confident we would have had at least one extra goal, maybe more.

But while our attackers struggled, our defence turned in an excellent performance as a unit against a tough, physical Burnley side.

Both Gabriel and White stood up really well to the attempted physical intimidation of Burnley’s lumpen strikers Wood (so named because he resembles a wardrobe) and Barnes (so named because he’s built like a barn).

Gabriel in particular looks the sort of powerful defender who is capable of meeting any physical challenge and, at only 23, his career ceiling is very high.

Elsewhere Tomayisu had another good game, winning all his aerial duels and covering his position well and Tierney, although not as emphatic getting forward as he can be, was a solid anchor at left bank.

In midfield Partey did a good job of keeping us secure and helping to start attacks, while Odegaard roamed with menace, although he faded somewhat in the second half.

There were one or two moments when we got ourselves into trouble with mis-hit passes in our own defensive third (again, possibly, connected with the rolling swathes of prairie that billowed the length and breadth of the Turf Moor pitch). The worst moment was an underhit back pass from White to Ramsdale, resulting in referee Anthony Taylor awarding a penalty to Burnley.

For once, the gods of VAR chose to smile on us, as the replay showed Ramsdale had clearly got the ball before the Burnley attacker went over.

I should also mention that Taylor did well to hand out a couple of bookings to Burnley players early in the game, thereby curtailing their obvious tactic of trying get “get stuck into” us. Good refereeing, which is a rarity.

Ramsdale’s overall performance was also noteworthy: for this fan it is always a pleasure to see a goalie who commands his area and comes for crosses. We had it briefly with Emi Martinez when Leno was injured the season before last: we suddenly saw what a difference it makes when a ‘keeper catches rather than punches; when he comes off his line to dominate the box rather than standing glued to the goal line.

And now we have it again with Ramsdale. Leno is a terrific shot stopper but, based on what I have seen so far, I’ll take Ramsdale any day of the week and especially on a Saturday.

Job done. Six points from the last two games. Two clean sheets. Can we keep the run going? Let’s see… who are we playing next weekend? Aha, what a mouthwatering prospect.

A couple of weeks ago the Spuds were celebrating a league table that had them at the top and us at the bottom as if it were an actual trophy.

You can’t blame them – they’re not very familiar with what trophies look like. But even so, it’s possible that at full time next weekend we and they will be on level points. Of course, this depends on the Chavs beating them later today and on us beating them in the derby, but you never know…

Player Ratings

Ramsdale – 8

Tomayisu – 7

White – 7.5

Gabriel – 8.5 (MoTM)

Tierney – 6.5

Partey – 7

Odegaard – 7.5

Saka – 6.5

Smith Rowe – 6.5

Pepe – 6

Aubameyang – 6


Sambi – 7

Maitland-Niles – 6.5

Tavares – N/A



25 Responses to More Turf at Turf Moor? Long Grass Fails to Entangle Gunners (plus Ratings)

  1. RC78 says:

    Hi Rocky – thanks for the post report. Can’t disagree with anything except with the ratings for:
    – Partey who really did not do great in the second half (only half I have seen);
    – Pepe who did better than Auba;
    – AMN who certainly was bossing around the midfield when he came in so for these 4 players I would suggest:

    – Partey: 6.5
    – Pepe: 6.5
    – Auba: 5.5
    – AMN: 7

    Another win, another clean sheet…on wards and up wards

  2. Las says:

    Morning Rocky,
    Excellent report and a well fought 3 points.
    It looks Arteta finally find a reliable back four and midfield formation. (Thanks god no Xhaka). In the second half the Lokonga-Partey pair stopped everything Burnley tried. But this was before Whites unfortunate backpass.
    AMN was also very reliable when he came on.
    It was painful to see those last passes going to ashtray from Pepe, Saka, ESR but I am sure they will be better and better.
    C’mmon Arsenal

  3. RC78 says:

    In any case, it seems that Arteta has identified his starting 11 in a 41221

    Rams – Tomy, White, Gabriel, Tierney – Partey – Ode, ESR – Pepe, Saka – Auba

    As indicated previously, I think that Ode and ESR are more effective higher up the pitch and don’t believe that they should be paired in central midfield…so I would definitely sacrifice Pepe if Arteta insist on playing both ESR and Ode together to make way for a DM/CM. Also, I think that Laca is better at bringing the best out of players like Saka and ESR so he d also be in my starting XI

    Rams – Tomy, White, Gabs, Tierney – Partey, AMN – Saka, Ode, ESR – Laca

    B team:
    Leno – Chambs, Holding, Mari – Cedric, Xhaka, El Neny, Tavares – Pepe, Martinelli, Auba

    Plus: Hein, Sambi, Balogun

    I think it works out…Knowing that Sambi can slot in for El Neny (he might leave in Jan) and that Balogun can come in for Martinelli or Auba…

    Now this is my take in terms of team balance and solidity and I am sure that Arteta knows best 🙂

  4. LBG says:

    Difficult to reconcile your agreement with Rocky on ratings now, given your original efforts, which were, of course, based on the ” only half you saw”!
    RIP Jimmy Greaves, the best goals per game and natural goalscorer, I was fortunate to watch live.

  5. allezkev says:

    Love the picture, good post as well, interesting to see that Ben White, our midget centre back according to some, won the majority of his aerial duels, he’s played only two games with Gabriel as a partner and Tommo on his right hand, so developing a telepathic understanding is still in its infancy, but he’s getting there and will be a big player for us in the future despite all the doomers constantly comparing him unfavourably with Saliba.

  6. fatgingergooner says:

    Who would’ve thought it. 2 wins in 2. 2 scored, 0 conceded. It’s amazing how quickly a ‘crisis’ can be turned around…🙄

    Good early signs for the newbies. Tommy looks exactly the type of dogged defender that we needed. Everything that Bellerin isn’t really. Ramsdale showing that he was actually a good keeper in 2 previously poor, relegated teams. Lokonga already looking capable at a young age. White doing exactly what he’s been bought for.

    Bring on Spurs and another 3 points.

  7. RC78 says:

    Saliba is doing rather well in L1…Very composed and mature performances…and Guendouzi is also playing at a good level.

    When Saliba comes back, he ll be competing with Holding and Mari for sure and may also push to get Ben White’s spot.

    For now, the one locked in at CB is defo Gabriel when fit

  8. Tactical Gunner says:

    We can only assume that our players were trying to navigate the unreliable pace of the ball across the surface, but had a few of those passes found their mark I am confident we would have had at least one extra goal, maybe more.

    Exactly my thoughts when we kept missing chances at their goal post..

    We are coming good definitely..


  9. RA says:

    Loved the report, Rocky, thank you, from one condemned to only being able to follow the match sporadically on a radio.

    I am pleased with your assessment of player ratings, and your judgement will do nicely for me – they give a good impression of how the players are performing now.

  10. LBG says:

    Even after only 35 mins of the Totteringham v Chelski game, as the Spuds attempt to kick the Chavs out of the game, number of red flags
    1. Xhaka must not play, (unless the we want him banned for another three games.)
    2. Totteringham will be looking for “fast” everything. Fast throw ons, fast free kicks, fast corners, fast kicks from Lloris to Son. We must be on our toes from minute one to minute ninety five+.
    3. Son will play right onto White, and this means Tomi or Kierney must be covering close. Ideally, stop the long balls at source.
    4. The Totteringham press will fluster/ make our playing out from the back a potential major liability.

  11. RA says:

    Not wishing to be picky 😁 but I think the way most of us express the players game value (rating) as a whole number out of 10, or a whole number out of 10 +1/2, where appropriate, is fine.

    But I am equally happy to see just whole numbers as the base for a player rating.
    In fact I probably lean towards that method, as sometimes I see a rating (say) 7/10 bing disputed by another blogger offering 7+1/2.

    That is OK, as I said above, but peeps like me see that as ‘spurious accuracy’ because it is impossible to be that precise given all the variables/values that are endemic in football, and that there are no pre-ordained ‘rules’ for calculating the whole figure ratings, never mind apportioning slightly more or less.

    That being said — as far as the ratings are concerned — we should carry on, carrying on.

    [I know Gooner B will ask me what the hell I am talking about] !!! 🙄

  12. RockyLives says:

    Tactical – that was definitely the way I saw it too. Early days, but grounds for optimism.

    Redders – another interesting aspect to the ratings is the ‘median’ bar from which people peg their rating. I tend to think that if a player has a bang average game – no great heroics, no disasters but a generally ‘solid’ performance – that should be a 6. I then deviate above and below that depending on whether they’ve done better or worse than that median level.

    So another supporter might take umbrage with my ratings and take them all down (or up) a notch – but then their idea of the median level might be 5… or 7….

  13. Aaron says:

    Thanks for the analysis and rating Rocky!

    A win is a win.

    Nice free kick!

    According to the eye test the defense still looks shaky, and Arteta is still living a life of fine margins.

    xG still in the toilet, 2 goals from 5 games.

    Arteta should have prepared the team for the “dry tall grass!”

    Would lower all the rating of the midfielders and forwards full stop by 1 full point.

    We just played Burnley and Norwich for goodness sake!
    They are a combined -18 goal difference with 5 goals scored in 10 games.

    Our xG was 1.2 and Burnley’s xG was .78 and the game played out that way.

    Another run of competitive games through December 18th will show our true level, me thinks 10th place is our level.

    The futbol is still boring…

    This thought still passes through my mind every now and then, we chose Xhaka, and chavs got Kante, let that sink in for a while.

  14. RA says:

    Well explained, Rocky. 😁

  15. RockyLives says:

    Good Lord Redders – did you understand it? Because I didn’t!

  16. VP says:

    Player Ratings

    Ramsdale – 8
    Tomayisu – Very Good
    White – 7.5
    Gabriel – A+
    Tierney – B
    Partey – 7
    Odegaard – A
    Saka – 6.5
    Smith Rowe – Slightly above Average
    Pepe – C
    Aubameyang – Average

    Sambi – B
    Maitland-Niles – Slightly above Average

  17. RA says:


    Because you wrote an all encompassing Post and I had nothing to add, I thought a little transgression into how ratings were calculated, and the possibility of spurious accuracy was appropriate – but keeping away from the definition of precision and other tricky ‘theories’. 😜

    As I concluded, it is better to carry on with the way supporters have always done, because there is a well known motto, “Approximate accuracy in stating player ratings is fine, and far better than being precisely wrong”. 🙃 [There is an exception to approximate accuracy — Bellerin 10 is obviously bollix! ] 😳

  18. RockyLives says:


  19. Pete the Thirst says:

    Onwards and upwards. Burnley away is always a tricky fixture. I’m very happy with a scrappy 1-0 to the Arsenal.

  20. Mike says:

    Good morning all. Hope this is a sign of better things to come. The sight of Pepe and Ode sprinting to close Burnley players down (amongst many others to be fair) is a refreshing sight in my eyes. My only other observation (since I was only able to watch the last 30 mins) is how badly we’re still in need of a clinical striker. Auba just doesn’t seem to be up to it any more (although that may be subject to change) but watching Ronaldo against WHU was a little disconcerting. When you look at the top strikers, then the “second tier” strikers in the PL, Auba on form is right up there, but Laca, as much as I love his work rate and effort, is not. If we’re going to try Martinelli or Balogun, then we’d best start soon. If we could get a few more shots off quicker and on target, I’m certain we’d score more goals. But very happy with the 2 wins, the defence looks better and the GK is an upgrade based on the way we defend.

  21. VP says:

    AFC Wimbledon?, all eyes on Sundays game.
    COY(youth team)G!

  22. RockyLives says:

    New Post

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