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


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!”


68 Responses to AFC – West Ham, a solid win with a solid performance overall

  1. LB says:

    Good assessment RC, agree with the ratings.

  2. Aaron says:


    A very good amalgamation of perspectives.

    Do believe I read somewhere that West Ham were missing two starting defenders, I do not know the team well enough to validate that statement.

    Everyone sees things, reality, events differently, and that point is illustrated here too.

    Yes, that event could have been rehearsed on the training ground, but we do not really know as Martinelli has barely gets a look.

    Yes to Brazilian futbol!


    Arteta is one stubborn coach, everyone, including a blind person can see that ESR and Saka click, and you can hear it from the sound of their passes. Yet, Arteta perserveres with Ode on the right and ESR on the left. It is mind numbing.

    Also stated that we had high intensity in the first 30 minutes, notice I did not say press! It is called causing turnovers, at least I felt he moved the players up 10 yards to compress space.

    The team really did not get a solid chance created for so long, and our record of scoring in the second half is abysmal as is Arteta’s record of winning from behind. He does have a good record when scoring first and at home. But, you got to get points on the road or 6-8th here we come.

    The youth carried the day, and I for one, have been saying play the damn youngsters for a very long time, at least they are hungry!

  3. Pete the Thirst says:

    Keep playing the young lads. Martinelli MoM for me.

    If Alex Lazygit gets into one of his sulky moods give Martinelli another run at centre forward.

    The PEA episode could turn out to be very positive…

  4. Pete the Thirst says:

    Btw despite the reports in various media outlets that there were checks of vaccination passports and lateral flow tests on entry to the ground I saw none carried out last night.

    As with a lot being written and reported in the media regarding Covid the truth is somewhat different to what we are being told.

  5. fatgingergooner says:


    I’m a little confused by what you’re saying about ESR and Saka? How do you feel Arteta should be playing them?

    Have you given any thought to the idea that Arteta might like a left footed player from the right and a right footed player from the left, and that’s why he plays them as he does?

    Also, they both seem to be flourishing in their current roles so why would Arteta change it?

  6. Aaron says:


    Ahhh the ole inverted winger theory. Seems to work for man $h*tty as they have Sterling and Mahrez, whom both seem to be wingers. I do not know of a coach that plays his entire offense and midfield as inverted, but I could be way wrong!

    So, let’s start with formation. What is Arteta’s optimum formation? Playing a 4-2-3-1, 4-4-2, 4-3-3, 4-5-1 or some other new/old system with false nine’s and ten’s?

    Believe his preferred is 4-2-3-1, but others out there might know better.

    If you have a true winger, Saka is the closest in this squad that works, plays on the right as he is left footed, in that he wants to cut in and to cross or shoot on his natural foot. Problem is if he is forced wide, and played to his right foot, he has difficulties, yet, the crosses come quicker by a true right footed winger. Having watched many games he likes to cut in and cut back his crosses more often than not. In isolation this is fine, and works for many coaches.

    With ODE on the right, this does not work as ODE is slow as molasses, and likes to cut back too, and generally slows things down on the counter unless he is passing to an open space. Also, his passes and ability to go past defenders in tight spaces is very limited from what he offers right now. Forget about the overlap with this guy.

    However, playing ESR on the left, as he is right footed works too, but he is NOT a winger and does not have the pace to blow by a set defense on one on one’s. His combination play with Saka on the right allows ESR to play on the overlap and cross naturally, and quicker with greater accuracy than Saka, most of the time. They also have a sense of who is going where, where the ball needs to be, what speed it needs to be delivered. Remember distinctly a game they played one-two’s the 3/4 the length of the pitch together in a game and it was a sight to behold. They are the closest we have to telepathic players that do not hesitate or slow things down to make things go.

    Just my observations, others can add or subtract whatever they like.

  7. VP says:

    loving the Arsenal

  8. fatgingergooner says:

    There is no doubt that Saka and ESR link well together, but Odegaard is the one who can link the team together. I’m not sure which Odegaard you’ve been watching but he definitely does have the ability to play and pass in tight spaces. I also believe that ESR does have the speed to go past players and has shown that on many occasion already. Another key point about having the inverted wingers is that it allows the full backs the space to overlap, and Tierney especially has shown just what an important player he is for us in that respect. Playing ESR on the left and letting him drift inside creates loads of space for Tierney, and it’s possible that Arteta sees that as a good enough reason to keep ESR out there.

    Going back to your original statements about Arteta being stubborn and him failing to use the players correctly, I’m still struggling to see how you’ve come to those conclusions given that ESR, Saka, Ode and Martinelli are probably our form players right now and are starting to show signs of clicking. 8 goals and 4 assists between them in the last 5 matches.

    Finally we have some attacking midfielders who can contribute to the goals and assist columns. Just a shame our star striker has gone AWOL at the same time!

  9. Aaron says:


    Mikel did not play ESR, Martinelli, Ode and sometimes Saka in a way that allows them to attack! There have been many articles everywhere which identifies Arteta’s no pressure offense, and turtle up defense when we go a goal up, this is not even worth discussing. Auba has been starting many games when out of form for the last 18 months, yet Mikel insisted playing his captain. We are playing 10 v 11.

    Ode can pass and move in tight spaces agreed, however he ain’t going by anyone from a dead stop, and he often slows up play, this might be trained out of him.

    Part of the problem is whom do you partner up with on the left side with Xhaka? He is not quick nor does he have real pace, putting Ode with him is a death sentence for the left side, and ESR marginally helps, but then he is shackled too, he has no one to work with other than Tierney and that is 2 playing against 4 everyday, unless Martinelli plays with them.

    This has been a problem for Mikel for over 18 months, and he is starting to address it with Martinelli out on the left, with Tavares and Lokanga, but not as a consistent unit, and he is starting over again putting Tierney in.

    I like Ode’s passing but is that enough to substitute the partnership of ESR and Saka, who can terrorize the opposition with their creativity from open play and in tight spaces.

    I know that Arteta will continue with Ode on the right, and I just have to accept it, I just believe the scoring opportunities are greater when attacking from the counter to a packed defense when you pair the free flowing futbol of ESR and Saka on the right.

    Follow up side note: West Ham where without 2-3 of their starting defensive lineup.
    “Fellow center-back Kurt Zouma also remains out for this one. He might be a late inclusion, but with the center-back stocks that the London side has, there is no need to rush him back just yet.

    Speedy full-back pair Ryan Fredericks and Ben Johnson are both unlikely to take part, due to their respective injuries.”

    Takes the sheen off the victory just a bit, as removing 2-3 defenders from any starting lineup would be brutal for any squad.

  10. fatgingergooner says:


    It only ‘takes the sheen off’ if you want it to. Have you tried looking at a performance and result from a positive mindset? I’d recommend it.

  11. Aaron says:


    I did, and stated again it was a good game with a blunted attack for over 35 minutes. Arteta is still struggling with setting up the attack, the defense has been marginally better, but when playing top teams with their first team defenders playing, it will not be so easy.

    Again, lets see if he can get the team to do it on the road. That is what Champions do, win on the road or at least gain a point in the race for top 4.

  12. LB says:

    “Arteta is still struggling with setting up the attack”

    Aaron, hardly through lack of trying wouldn’t you say? Bearing in mind that Aubamayang’s removal was all Arteta’s doing.

  13. Aaron says:


    Seriously, he should have sat Auba months ago, yet here we are.
    Balo, Eddie, Martinelli and Pepe could have been played and could have made a difference. How much is up for debate, but one can see they are hungry and deserved some mintues, and three of them could have been played as “inverted wingers.”

  14. allezkev says:

    I don’t know if I’m imagining it, especially as we’ve just played two home games and I did hear that our home form is up with the best, 2nd best in the EPL I believe, but in those two home games I thought our team looked a tighter unit, a better team.

    Now if we can take that unity into today’s game against an injured Leeds who’ll be looking for redemption in front of their fans after that 7-0 defeat and come out with a positive result then our young team can really push on into 2022 and maybe replicate our form from the 2nd half of last season…

  15. Aaron says:

    2 great chances in 4 minutes, do thy eyes deceive me?

    Let’s go!

    Now, if Mikel does not get the W today against a Leeds team of under 19’s just leave the key under the mat.

  16. Aaron says:

    Yup, Martinelli burying clear chance!

  17. Aaron says:

    Uh huh, that is two now for the youngster!

  18. Aaron says:

    Want to see ESR in the game, unless he has a knock!

  19. LB says:

    ESR will be on around 70

  20. Aaron says:

    Xhaka fortunate to be on!

  21. Aaron says:

    Why are we not pressing?

    This is a practice game for goodness sakes!!

  22. Aaron says:

    Not 1 shot in second half….
    What is going on?

  23. Aaron says:

    About damn time Ode, almost held onto it too long, but ESR, what a player!

  24. Aaron says:

    Another W, much to work on, solidity of 4th, wish we could have worked on goal difference more. Just being greedy, I suppose..

    Really enjoyed seeing the youngsters continue to push on!

  25. fatgingergooner says:

    Fantastic. With games coming thick and fast this time of year (COVID aside) it’s great when you can have the game wrapped up by half time. 4 more goals and 1 assist for our attacking midfield talent. Really glad the game didn’t get cancelled as Leeds away at other times in the season will be far more difficult than that.

    We are starting to add some attacking threat to the solid foundation that’s been laid at the back. Positive results are far easier to come by when you don’t have to score 2 goals just to get a point. Hopefully this gives our away form a bit of a boost.

  26. fatgingergooner says:

    If you’re not excited by Ramsdale, White, Gabriel, Tierney, Tomiyasu, Saka, Martinelli, Odegaard, ESR, then there is something wrong!

    I can’t believe how much the squad has changed from a couple of years ago. I remember looking at the squad and seeing no saleable assets. How times have changed.

    The obvious issues are that we don’t really have a CM or CF in that list of youngsters right now.

  27. Aaron says:


    There is something wrong!

    Arteta is not playing Balo or Eddie at CF and we do need a CM;-)

    Maybe our CM next year is Azeez….

  28. fatgingergooner says:


    I guess there is only so much Arteta can do in each window. I imagine CM and CF will be our next areas of improvement, and if they can buy aswell as they have in other areas then we may once again be able to compete higher up the table. We do have some really talented youngsters in Balogun, Patino and Azeez, but the fact that Nketiah, Elneny, AMN, Geundouzi, Torreira haven’t worked out probably leaves us with a gap between first team and youth.

    Ideally Geundouzi would’ve been that player but I’m not sure there is a space in Arteta’s side for someone with his attitude (as we’ve seen with Auba). Also, I totally forgot about Lokonga who probably deserves to be on the list of future talent to get excited about.

    I’d like to see a more box-to-box type brought in. Some may suggest Willock would’ve been that player but he hasn’t exactly done the business at Newcastle so maybe his sale was justified. Hopefully we can find another gem like Martinelli. Did he really cost £6m!?

  29. LB says:

    It makes sense the Nketiah has been getting minutes recently ahead of Pepe for the obvious reason that if Lacazette gets injured we will need Eddie’s skills as a number 9

    But even that can not just be plan B but plan C, as Martinelli can play number 9 with ESR coming in from the left.

  30. LB says:

    I suppose if you are Josh and you are looking a 70 million loss on the bench in the form of Pepe you cope with it by looking at Saka now being worth 70 million on the pitch.

  31. LB says:

    We are going to learn all we need to know about Pepe on Tuesday; if he swans around uninterested he is a thing of the past but if he puts in a shift there may still be a way back into the first team. He will obviously start.

  32. fatgingergooner says:

    I’m over Pepe. I can understand why we signed him as there is obvious talent in there, but I’ve never been convinced by his attitude, and his demeanour doesn’t strike me as someone who is looking to go to that next level. He doesn’t even seem to enjoy playing football. The money is ridiculous but I remember at the time we were desperate for some creativity in the side, and in hindsight it looks a desperate transfer. When you compare it to the £6m we paid for Martinelli, the mind boggles!

    Fortunately, we now have ESR, Martinelli, Saka, Odegaard for a combined spend of around £40m! So as LB said, it makes the Pepe mess a little easier to swallow for the accountants. I just hope that we don’t get desperate when looking for a new striker and CM, both of which we will need very soon. A top 4
    finish really would make those transfers a lot easier, but I have confidence that Edu and Arteta know the profile of player they want and I expect us to get a couple of talented and hungry signings in the summer.

    On a side note, I also expect Auba to be loaned out in January. Barca have just lost Aguero, so maybe they would be looking for someone short-term to come in.

  33. fred1266 says:

    Arsenal vs Sunderland has always had a special place in my heart, reason being day were the opponent who we played the first time I ever seen arsenal play live. The score ended 3-1 to arsenal that day and I expect something similar in today game

    Unfortunately no one is left from from the first time I seen us play which is quite shocking since it only just 6 years ago

    Predicted line

    Cedric/AMN Holding chambers Tavares

    Elneny Sambi

    Pepe. Odegard ESR


    This is the perfect game for Pepe and Eddie to show the boss what day can do.
    Would also nice to see AMN and sambi back in the starting lineup

    This is one of out best chance of silver wear this season

  34. RC78 says:

    Ramsdale – Ced, Chambs, Holding, Tavares – El Neny, AMN – Pepe, Sambi, Eddie – Balo

  35. LB says:


    If you are busy, my I humbly suggest putting Fred’s comment up there to change the scenery?

  36. LB says:

    Very interesting team

  37. Aaron says:

    Would have liked to see Azeez or Patino, but I get it..

  38. Aaron says:

    I know Azeez is out on loan, but still……

  39. Aaron says:

    As we all know what Elneny brings to us, and improvement at this point is moot.

  40. Aaron says:


  41. Aaron says:

    Nice pass from Cedric and Pepe with a fortunate deflection!

  42. fatgingergooner says:

    I’ve got to say that the signings of White, Gabriel and Ramsdale have been game-changers in the way the team plays under Arteta. When Emery started trying to play from the back with the likes of Leno, Sokratis, Mustafi, Luiz, it was a bit of a disaster, but the progressive passes we now see from the new players give us far more impetus because it allows our midfielders to be in much better situations when receiving the ball.

  43. fatgingergooner says:

    Really enjoying the game. Sunderland have been excellent and played some really good football. Elneny struggling a bit as he’s getting isolated against 2 at times with Pritchard popping up all over.

    Tavares having a shocker so far.

    Pepe has been excellent.

  44. Aaron says:

    Nice goal by Sunderland on the counter, has to be said.

    They are putting the screws to us now, pressing up very high and have had a few chances.

  45. Aaron says:

    Yes, FGG, agree with you. Having a good time.

    Enjoy seeing the youngsters finally get a chance.

    Midfield getting rolled once it gets past Ode, Elneny has no recovery pace, there are gaps in the positional set up.

    Pepe slows things down, and if he loses it while others are on the front foot or making runs, it exacerbates these gaps in the midfield. Same has to be said for a few mistakes the ESR has made as well as Nuno.

    But, hey, I enjoy the the end to end stuff in these cup games!

  46. Aaron says:

    Eddie baby!

    Nice pass from Balo to Nuno and the cross….

  47. Aaron says:

    Ohhhh man, that was sick!

    Pepe doing what he does, and a beautiful move and cross.

  48. fatgingergooner says:

    Lots of talk about Balogun but he needs some more experience in the lower leagues I think. Looked too eager to impress, taking the wrong options. You can see the difference with Nketiah who has done his apprenticeship and isn’t looking to get involved in the build up. He stays between the posts and no doubt he can finish. Let’s not forget though, before we offer him £300k a week, that a couple of weeks ago he was missing a sitter at Everton! 😂

    I appreciate Balogun was playing wide but I still think he looks very raw.

  49. fatgingergooner says:

    Wow! Pepe has just ruined Xmas for that Left Back!

  50. fatgingergooner says:

    Pepe has been absolutely filthy tonight, but I can’t help but think that a Pepe is for life, not just for a Xmas League Cup QF! Wouldn’t surprise me if he’s out in the cold soon enough after a few lacklustre performances against real opposition. I really hope I’m wrong.

    Big shoutout to Odegaard who ran the game. Interesting that some are calling for him to be captain. Captains his country and is always organising on the field. Think I’d prefer a defender but he’s an option.

  51. Aaron says:

    Good to see Patino get a run in…

  52. Aaron says:

    Pepe with the same move on the right and put it on the plate for Patino……

  53. fatgingergooner says:


    Get in. Another Fabregas on our hands if he develops as he should. Has all the talent. Hopefully gets a season or 2 on loan and comes back ready for the first team.

  54. LB says:

    Has anyone got any suggestions as to how we can watch the Norwich game?

  55. fatgingergooner says:

    Pepe was MoTM by a country mile for me. His best game in an Arsenal shirt

  56. LB says:

    The nutmeg from Pepe was so good but the pass from Odegaard was Fabregasesque (seeing as he was mentioned) 🙂

  57. LB says:

    Did anyone hear why AMN wasn’t in the team?

  58. Aaron says:

    AMN is sick, but not covid or so I read.

  59. fred1266 says:

    I have a stream to watch the Norwich game if you want

  60. LB says:

    Yes please Fred

  61. allezkev says:

    Really enjoyed that, Sunderland are a decent side for a third division team and they gave us a few scares but ultimately our quality exposed their defence.

    Xhaka made a difference when he came on because our midfield looked a bit too open for me.

    Fingers crossed for a favourable draw and we might be on for a rerun of 1987 revisited – with the same result of course.

  62. fred1266 says:

    Favorable draw

    It literally going to be a prem team, I didn’t realise that this current round we the got the easiest draw

    Lots hope Liverpool Don take it seriously and get knocked out which improve our chances of winning it

  63. fred1266 says:

    Favorable draw

    It literally going to be a prem team, I didn’t realise that this current round we the got the easiest draw

    Lots hope Liverpool Don take it seriously and get knocked out which improve our chances of winning it

  64. allezkev says:

    Well Fred, I was kinda thinking of Leicester or West Ham in the semis and then the Scousers in the final kind of favourable, if you get my drift amigo.

  65. fred1266 says:

    Not sure if Leicester or west ham are easy opponents, Leicester now a cup team and getting there groove back in the league and West Ham knocked out the Champions

    Regardless who we get we just need to win the next 2 in the competition

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