A solid win, against a very poor Norwich team, but nonetheless 3 big points.

December 27, 2021

Aaron’s post:

Saka with exceptional moments, a precise shot by Tierney, and well, ESR, what can you can say…

Not playing Wolves is a serious bummer as they are out with a large number or players with covid or injuries, it would have been better to play them on short notice now than later if their team has those players back and ready for game day.

Ode had some very nice passes, our defense had no trouble at the office today, but when ESR came on you can see how much faster he progresses the ball forward than Ode.

Ode actually held up a few counters with a drag backs and missed runners.

Martinelli with his directness is a joy to behold. Thank goodness Arteta is finally playing the kid!

$h*tTy will be a true measure of where we are with regards to our top 4 aspirations as we play them at home, and we have been playing quite well, which is be expected with any top squad!

RC78’s grades:

Ramsdale – 6

White – 6

Holding – 6

Gabs – 7

Tierney – 8

Partey – 7

Xhaka – 6

Saka – 9

Ode – 8

Martinelli – 8

Laca – 8

Super sub: ESR – 7

MOTM: Saka, an amazing display.

Special mention to: Ode who was particularly good yesterday, Tierney who is finding his good form again, Laca who is leading the line well up front and is being a good captain so far and to ESR who is decisive everytime he comes on…


AFC EPL: Top scorers: ESR (8), Saka (5) / Top assists: Saka (4), Laca and Ode (3)


AFC’s Christmas Gift to fans in 2021: Hope?

December 24, 2021
👊 Together | Presenting... The Arsenal 2021/22 | News | Arsenal.com

Heya my dear fellow bloggers – allow me to first of all wish you and your loved ones a Merry Christmas! The past 12 months have not been the easiest for many of us around the globe with Covid-19, economic stress…But here we are about to celebrate another Christmas with our favourite team currently in the Top 4 and qualified for the semi-final in the Carling Cup!

Since the abysmal start of the season, our team has been having some very positive results but also disappointing ones (Everton, Man Utd especially) but overall, it seems that:

  • Arteta has finally opted for a system with his 4-2-3-1
  • Arteta knows his best XI: Ramsdale – Tomy, Gabs, White, Tierney – Partey, Xhaka – Saka, Ode, ESR – Martinelli (or something close to that)
  • AFC finally has a defense that fans do not have to be ashamed of despite the early heavy losses to the big teams
  • AFC has some young hungry talented young players that are exciting to watch
  • Fans are back to the stadium but also for the most part they back to team and the “Edu-Arteta” project
  • Our summer transfer window was one of the best in the last 20 years and somehow, our team topped the budget spent on players…

So for all the disappointment of last season finishing 8 and the lack of silverware, it seems that the last quarter of 2021 under the new 2021-2022 season has offered the fans something nice…a glimmer of hope that we are finally on the right track and that the team assembled could credibly challenge for Top 4 and domestic trophies….

So here it is guys and I know it is not Thanksgiving but for one, I am grateful to finally see an Arsenal team that seems to be on the right path and full of young exciting players. Now if somehow: Auba, Partey, Pepe could have a fantastic second half of the season, I d be very happy too 😛

MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE! Keep safe, keep healthy and enjoy the festive week-end!

Arteta’s First XI vs Arteta’s Current XI…

December 23, 2021
Sokratis – Luiz
Gabriel – White

Arteta celebrates his 2nd anniversary as our Head Coach. A FA Cup and a semi-final in the UEFA Cup have been his major accomplishment with the team so far in terms of result but together with Edu, they have also worked extensively on the squad and two years later, the starting XI is resoundingly different:

  • Arteta’s first evert starting XI: Leno – Maitland-Niles, Luiz, Papastathopoulos, Saka – Xhaka, Torreira – Nelson, Ozil, Aubameyang – Lacazette
    • Where are they now:
      • Luiz, Sokratis, Ozil – OUT
      • Nelson, Torreira – LOANED OUT
      • Auba – unavailable for selection
      • Leno and AMN – Benched
      • Xhaka, Laca – starters
  • Arteta’s current starting XI: Ramsdale – Tomy, White, Gabs, Tierney – Partey, Xhaka – Saka, Odegaard, Martinelli – Laca

Same system though, different players…Quite some new blood arrived this season with Ramsdale, Tomy and White. Some players have lost status like Auba, AMN and others have gained status like Saka…

Plus some other players have left the club like: Martinez, Mustafi, Guendouzi, Willock, and Ceballos and others are about to do so like Kolasinac and most likely Bellerin so a big revamp was done.

Best recruit so far : Ramsdale? Tomy?

Worse recruit so far: Willian? Partey? Cedric? Mari?

Anyways, the team is now full of younger talented players that are hungry for success and that can play as Arteta wants them to do so. I think Sambi will come in good too and now we have one major gap to fill at CF unless we put our trust in Eddie or Balogun to really make that role theirs…Otherwise, it seems that Vlahovic or Calvert-Lewin or even Toney could be welcome at AFC by Edu/Arteta.

Eddie and Pepe lead the show against Sunderland…

December 22, 2021

A comfortable 5-1 home win against Sunderland who came to play rather than to win. Some slick dribbling, passing and scoring. It was a fun game and we were punished when we dropped our level a bit…What did we learn from this game?

  1. Eddie is our go-to striker in Cup ties
  2. Pepe can do really well against lower opposition but he is paid to do that well against the big boys…
  3. Leno will concede goals
  4. Cedric and Tavares are good going forward but really need to sharpen things up defensively
  5. Xhaka can shore things up in our midfield at times
  6. Odegaard finding his feet at AFC
  7. Patino can feature in our team at times and Balogun needs more exposure to first-team games (a loan in the EPL would be beneficial, maybe even in the Championship…)

A lot to ponder for Arteta:

  • What do we do with Auba now? Martinelli, ESR, Saka, Eddie, Martin are scoring and Laca seems to be leading ably…
  • What do we do with Eddie now? AFC and Arteta clearly stated they want him to stay but it s up to Eddie to decide what he wants to do. Would he rather go to Newcastle (or similar_ like Willock for more playing time or does he try to fight for his spot at AFC?
  • Holding can be our CB in the rotation so we have 3 secured CBs for next year already: Gabs, White, Holding. Who will be the 4th and eventual 5th: Chambs? Mari? Saliba? Mavropanos? Other?

Anyways…AMN nor Lokonga featured. Does anybody know why? Covid-19?

AFC – West Ham, a solid win with a solid performance overall

December 16, 2021

Another win at the Emirates, another clean sheet, a win against a side also striving for Top 4 and some good passage of play. A missed PK though by Laca who should not have taken it imho – the player that gets fouled should avoid taking it but this is a very personal view. The team is working well at times together and we are doing relatively well so far against the not so-big teams at home. We need to improve our record against the big teams and our away form but there are some positives. If Martinelli can keep his form, he will make such a difference for us. ESR is slowly establishing himself as a game winner and Saka has now become a regular high-level performer. Tomyasu and Tierney are doing well as full backs and our Ramsdale, White, Gabs is not too shabby either but Gabs really impressing so far. Still some work to do in the middle of the pitch but overall, we did OK. We re in the Top 4 but we ve played more games than the Spurs for example so…Laca captained the side nicely and I felt that he played particularly well (except for the PK miss) by making the team tick together up front but also with his defensive contribution. I hope we extend him for 2 years and in that time, Balogun should be able to grow into the role…Big question mark about Pepe who keeps on being overlooked by Arteta…

Fatgingergooner’s inputs:

“Such a shame we lost those first 3 games of the season. Since then the table has looked like this….

Man City P14 Pts 35
Liverpool P13 Pts 30
Chelsea P13 Pts 29
Arsenal P14 Pts 29

We’ve kept 8 clean sheets in our last 14 PL games. It’s fair to say we haven’t got the balance right yet with our goals record being what it is (not helped by Auba suddenly showing his age) but there is no denying that the defence has been improved and our record against teams outside the top 6 is starting to get back to something like it was under Wenger when we were qualifying every year for the CL. We must get back to being a side that beats the bottom 14 teams on a regular basis before we can even think about looking upwards.

It’s small steps under Arteta and it’s slower than some would like, but the progress is there if you want to look for it. It may not be pretty to watch at times, but I’d much rather we take time to get a solid defensive foundation in place that we can then build a more attractive game around, rather than doing what we have for the last 15 or so years which is to put style over substance by throwing money at attackers whilst having sub-standard defenders/attitude to defending.

Good result and up to 4th. The Emirates starting to become a bit of a fortress. What’s not to like?”

Aaron’s inputs:

“Solid win, clean sheet, deservedly so.

Really enjoyed the teams intensity the first 25 minutes, yet we still did not have a real clear chance on goal. The shot by opposition that curled by was best chance of the game by 35 minutes.

Laca huffed and puffed, but is was Martinelli’s run straight at goal, Mikel are you paying attention, that made a difference.

Neutralized Antonio very well, and thought the red card for Coufal was harsh, and well, Laca telegraphed it and that was that.

ESR comes on, we counter, quickly, Saka plays ESR forward and ESR drives straight to the box, and there you go.

Do not believe those 2 goals are the work of Arteta at all, in fact he has been holding those kids back, but whatever, he forced his hand with Auba, and the youth did what their natural talents allowed them to do.

AFC have an excellent record at home, which is what a team needs to finish in top quartile, can Arteta do it on the road?

We shall see, if Covid allows it to happen”

LB’s inputs:

“Aaron, you have hit upon a very interesting topic of conversation.

Were last night’s goals coached?

The second is easy and I think most people would agree that Smith Rowe simply showed a moment of brilliance to shoot through the legs of the defender finding the corner, leaving Fabiansky flat footed.

But I have spent all morning purring about how the first came straight off the training ground and the key to this is Lacazette, this is what changed last night. Watch where he is when he gets the ball, this is the cue for Martinelli to start his run.

This well rehearsed sequence purposely happened a handful of times, in fact you can follow it further back, that goal is a move that is practised all the way from Ramsdale to the defender to Lacazette to Martinelli.

It was impressive I find it difficult to understand how other Arsenal supporters didn’t notice it”

LB’s follow-up inputs:

Conversation between Edu and Arteta.

Arteta: I have got a problem with Auba, he is slowing down, he is missing sitters but I don’t know what to do, he is the club captain so I can’t really leave him on the bench; he has asked to take a trip what do you think I should do?

Edu: let him go, you know he always arrives back late, when he does take the captaincy away from him, sit him on the bench and start playing more Brazilian football.

Arteta: Brazilian football?

Edu: Martinelli of course.

Arteta: do you think it will work.

Edu: Yes, Auba will fall into the trap as I said he is alway late.”

RC 78’s inputs:

“Ramsdale – 6
Tomy – 6
Ben – 6
Gabs – 7
Tierney – 6
Partey – 5.5
Xhaka – 5.5
Saka – 7
Ode – 5.5
Martinelli – 7.5
Laca – 6

ESR – 6.5
Nketiah – 5.5

A decent win. Could have won with a larger margin really. Laca should not have taken the penalty. Martinelli ws outstandhing during 65 minutes and Saka was really good as well. Still worried about Xhaka-Partey but overall, a deserved win and two well taken goals by Martinelli and ESR. COYG!”

AFC vs West Ham, a game to win

December 15, 2021

We have a big opportunity to dent the Top 4 hopes of a direct opponent in that Top 4 race, namely West Ham. West Ham is a well drilled machine under Moyes and they have both exciting and solid players in Antonio, Rice, Soucek, Zouma, Bowen, Coufal…and our former GK Fabiansky is having a great season…

We know how West Ham plays and I am hoping that somehow Arteta will come up with a way to neutralize Rice, Soucek and Antonio. Rice is having a great season so far too and I think he will be snapped up by a big club in the summer – ideally us 😛

So here is the predicted line-up:

Ramsdale – Tomy, White, Gabs, Tierney – Partey, Xhaka – Sake, Odegaard, Martinelli – Laca

ESR may start on the bench or replace Martinelli in the line up…

Given the current Captaincy saga, it ll be interesting to see who gets the armband but I think that Laca will get it and that is why I think he will start.

Apparently, we have been hard to break in the first 40 minutes at home so far this season. Let us keep it like that and ideally until the end of the game. It will be important not to give too much space for long shots to Rice and also to monitor closely Soucek runs into the box.

If it were up to me, maybe I would even play Lokonga-AMN today ahead of Xhaka just to neutralize Soucek and Rice….

Anyways, let us hope for a Home Win and Allez les Gunners!

Predicted score: 2-1 for us. Most likely result: draw.

Say Bye-Bye to Auba, Pepe and Nketiah at X-Mas?

December 13, 2021
Soccer Football - Premier League - Arsenal v Everton - Emirates Stadium,  London, Britain - February 23, 2020 Arsenal's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang  celebrates scoring their third goal with Nicolas Pepe and Eddie Nketiah

There is clearly something brewing at the club and definitely between Arteta and Auba and then between Arteta and Pepe. Even if on the bench, both players were not used (if used at all) before Nketiah…

I think Arteta wants to keep Nketiah but Nketiah wants to leave but regarding Auba and Pepe, the issue seems to be deeper. On top of it, Auba had a disciplinary breach last week so it just makes me believe that overall, there may be an open door for Auba and Pepe to leave this winter and that the club would sell Nketiah before he enters into the last 6 months of his contract if he refuses to renew with us…As for Laca, I think the club will give him an extension that he wil accept.

So if Auba, Pepe and Nketiah leave, we would need at least 1 forward to join us…Obvious names are Vlahovic, Calvert-Lewin or even Schick, Chiesa, David, Toney, Bamford…

Anyways – what are your tohughts on letting Auba, Pepe and Nketiah go at X-Mas?

AFC score 3 past Southampton despite a shaky start…

December 12, 2021

After a catastrophic starting 20 minutes especially by Partey (once more!), we slowly grew into the game and Laca’s wonderful goal switched the game momentum. After that goal, there was really only one team on the pitch and soon, Odegaard would score his 3rd goal in 3 EPL games and Gabriel would go on to score a third goal with his trademark header…Saka and Martinelli would hit the post and despite a rebellion from Southampton, we would hold on to a clean sheet courtesy of a wonder Ramsdale!

Ramsdale kept us in the game with a multitude of saves in the opening 20 minutes and then he also made tons of saves in the second half. We conceded so many chances and as one of the bloggers was saying, against a better team, we would have conceded at least 3 goals…Southampton was cutting through our midfield and defense like butter even in the second half at times.

Partey was again average at best and mostly worrying with and without the ball. Xhaka needs game time.

Here are the grades:

Ramsdale – 8.5 – MOTM, another fine performance

Tomy – 7 – Resilient but also beaten on his wing a few times by Redmond

White – 7 – Needs to work on his positioning

Gabs – 7.5 – A goal and some good defending.

Tierney – 7.5 – A positive outing capped with another assist but was also struggling at times.

Partey – 4.5. Still struggling despite getting game time. Worrying.

Xhaka – 5. Trying but need rhythm.

Saka – 8 – A great day out for him. Positive play, an assist, plenty of dribbles. What a player!

Odegaard – 7.5 – A good goal, some chances but need to impact the game even more…

Martinelli – 7.5 – A good display and unlucky to finish without a goal or an assist.

Laca – 7.5 – A great goal, good link-up play but if faster could have gotten another goal. Good defensive contribution.

Arteta – 5.5. – He must have lots of faith in Xhaka-Partey and not much in Lokonga – strange…Similarly, Pepe is not even coming on these days – something must be up. Arteta did great in sanctioning Auba if he committed a disciplinary breach and was good in the post-match press conference too.

A shout from Aaron’s heart: Does Arteta have it in him?

December 9, 2021

Here is post based on a comment from Aaron on the previous post:

“Arsenal’s attacking statsGOALS – (13) – 14th in the league
OPEN PLAY GOALS – (7)- 19th in the league
XG – (13.8) – 12th in the league.
BIG CHANCES – (7) – 19th in the league
SHOT CONVERSION – (8.4%) – 16th
POSSESSION – (47%) – 13th in the league

Last goal in the league for our strikers (Laca & Auba) was 7 matches ago.”

What do we do to fix this with our players, maybe another mid or attacker in Jan, or another coach??

Players are in straightjackets…

Going to be watching closely to the next three games, does Arteta have it in him?”

RC78 contribution: A team’s good functioning is also measured by the level of goals actually scored by its strikers and this is why Aaron’s post is so important. Our strikers are not scoring lately…Is it because they are missing big chances, they are not getting enough service or is it because the quality is just not there…? In any case, we need to score more goals and definitely more from open play and misses like Nketiah’s and Auba’s in the last game are not welcome any day but definitely not now when we are struggling for goals…Again, for me, the issue also comes from our midfield: ESR needs to play as our play maker and Saka and Martinelli are to be his wing. Although he is not having a stellar season by any means, let us play Laca up front because he allows ESR and Saka to shine…and while he scored in the last two games, I am not 100% sure of Ode’s actual abilities…Also, Lokonga brings more to the team than Partey and Xhaka these days so why take him out?

Anyways…food for thought…

Everton 2 – 1 AFC, another lame display

December 6, 2021

I do not know about you but the games against Utd and Everton today reminded me (almost) to the end of the Emery area…It was lacking personality, bravery, intensity, pace…It was all very much a structured and safe approach but in the end, it bit us in the back for a few reasons, including (i) missing big chances by Nketiah to take the lead or Auba to tie the game with the last kick of the game; (ii) poor coaching by Arteta, leaving Partey (just struggling with his game) and Xhaka (physically struggling in the last third) on the field.

We got away thanks to the VAR two times but in the end, Everton showed did not steal their victory. Of course, if Nketiah scored, we would have won the game but to be honest, it was not a game where we deserved to win. Everton came back in the second half with intent and we just were too passive.

Here are the grades:

Ramsdale – 6, not at fault

Tomy – 4, a poor game by his standard

White – 5, nothing too good nor too bad

Gabs – 6, our rock

Tierney – 5, an assist but then faded

Partey – 3, another night to forther

Xhaka – 4, gave his all but was tired.

Saka – 6, tried especially in the second half

Ode – 6, a good performance in the last 20 meters but otherwise, not influencial

Martinelli – 5, a quiet night

Laca – 5, anonymous

Nketiah – 4, a big miss and then provides a glorious assist but was full of running but that miss is just criminal.

Auba – 4, a big miss too…

Tavares – 5, brought his energy to the game.

Arteta: 3.

MOTM: D. Gray, Richarlison and A. Doucoure.