(Rob) Holding on…a scrappy but welcome win :-)

Well well well…3 wins in a row against: Chelsea, Utd and now West Ham! Well done to our team and it makes it all the more painful that we could not get a point against Palace, Brighton and Southampton. A win against Southampton would have been sufficient to put us safely into the 4th place and actually challenge for 3rd given Chelsea’s woes…but the past is the past…and at this stage, we are just holding on to our Top 4 spot.

We did not play well. We did not control the game at all, especially the first 15 and the last 15 mins of the game. We gave away the ball and some chances easily and in the first half, we were lethargic. Rob Holding scored a goal on a set piece before half-time but not late enough in the half as 6 minutes later, West Ham levelled due to poor defending from Tavares and a good cross and finish from our opponents. The first 25 mins of the second half we did play better and with intent and a bit of urgency. Gabriel scored an almost identical goal than his CB partner in the second half and then we just tried not to conceded but at the same time, we did have some chances to put the game to bed but Nketiah did not have his accurate shooting boots on yesterday…

So we will take the game and three points, the goals from our CBs and our ability to win despite playing like a team fighting for relegation at times…

Ramsdale – 7 – some good saves

Tomy – 6 – good to see him back in action

Rob – 8.5 – deputized for White and definitely my MOTM. Played well in both boxes. Ramsdale credites Rob Holding’s first ever goal in the EPL to his new hairline – he is a funny bloke this Ramsdale

Gabs – 7.5 – a well taken goal, could have done a bit more on the goal we conceded

Nuno – 4.5 – at fault for the goal, decent going forward but too often exposed defensively

El Neny – 6 – a fighter but some unusual reckless passes

Xhaka – 6 – a fighter, some odd passing as well

Saka – 7 – unusually quite for his standards but did create some chances nevertheless

Ode – 6 – A day off.

Gabi – 6 – A day off as well.

Nketiah – 7.5 – Adding some pace and pressing to our game up front. Unlucky not to score, had some decent chances but overall, did well. What if he stayed and Laca left?…He is definitely in a good moment…

Next up, Leeds – another final, another must win! COYG!


15 Responses to (Rob) Holding on…a scrappy but welcome win :-)

  1. LBG says:

    Close to spot on for me RC.
    Although I agree with your player ratings, think your comment re bOdeguard is a little harsh. Rice roughed him up, but he still found enough space to be the out let ball most of the time when we were in possession against a team that played 11 behind the ball on those occasions. Sometimes the quality of the opposition players precludes an “on” day.
    Certainly we gave the ball away too much to West Ham pressing, and one or two “odd” passes from my favourite!😉
    Tavares was subject of stares throughout for positioning for there goal( I’m inclined to feel he is best as a wing back with back three in place – but still learning) and it was a rare recent bit of bad luck, given Ramsdale would probably have saved the shot without deflection.
    Overall, a scruffy win, but all the better for that!

  2. JM says:

    From The Guardian, “Mikel Arteta hopes Arsenal can stay off rollercoaster during run-in.” – Manager wants his side to be in control in their remaining fixtures as they hold pole position in the race for fourth place. (Note: This was written before the West Ham game)


    Arteta’s quotes in the article.

    Question: “Would he(Arteta) sign up for five equivalent white-knuckle rides over the remainder of their run-in?

    Answer: “Hopefully not,” he replied after the minor theatrics, which preempted his point, had subsided. “But the last games of the season tend to go a little bit like that, [because of] the fatigue of the players, the stress of different elements. It’s possible. So we have to handle that chaos as well if it happens.”

    Arteta, a touchline micromanager who would pre-ordain every one of his side’s movements if he could, has a natural aversion to disorder but knows his team must develop coping mechanisms for any loss of control.
    “It’s something that is part of our training, part of the plan we have in every game,” he said. “How we control a situation, how we take a situation into our favour. But in football a lot of things are unpredictable and we need to know how to react to them.”

  3. pbarany says:

    RC I also more or less agree with the ratings and most of the assessments too, but I think you – among many fans – were too harsh on Tavares this time, due to the incompetent matchday commentators I guess.

    Nuno might have been at fault to West Ham’s equalizer, but his mistake must have been far less than other factors. He covered a big part of the box to prevent an expected cross, and we shouldn’t blame the goal on him for Coufal’s backpass.
    In my subjective evaluation Nuno’s ‘contribution’ to the goal would be 20% at maximum, Gabriel had at least 40%, Ramsdale had another 15%, and there were at least 25% sheer bad luck.

    Don’t take me wrong, Tavares has a lot to improve defensively – his awareness, his positioning, his overall concentration, his tackling – but implying that Nuno has given away a goal per match is just plain unfair.

  4. JM says:

    From Sky Sports, “Mikel Arteta exclusive interview: Why Arsenal can’t copy Liverpool’s route to the top as they chase top-four finish.” – Mikel Arteta tells Sky Sports about his plans to improve his Arsenal squad
    and explains why the club must plot their own route back to the top.
    (Note: This was written before the West Ham game).



    “You have to be ahead of the game,” Mikel Arteta tells Sky Sports
    with a smile. “You have to try to understand what can happen next,
    and how you are going to be first to make that decision and take advantage of it.”

    “There are things you can try to compare, and you can acknowledge how other clubs have been through these processes and these
    phases of a project, like Liverpool,” says Arteta.

    “But what the league was six years ago and what the league is today
    is completely different. Those leagues were won with 83, 84, 86
    points. Now you need 95, 96 or 100 points to win the league.

    “The context is completely different, so what was good three or five years ago is not good anymore, because the standards are so high.
    We need to focus on what we want to do and how we are going to execute it, and not look too far ahead.”

    Alisson and Van Dijk transformed Liverpool. But they also came at a combined cost of £142m. “I don’t think we are in a position where we can do that, so we have to find other ways to do it,” says Arteta.

    “Liverpool, as well, have improved their players immensely, which is
    as important as bringing players in. And then, the ones that you buy,
    [it’s important] that they can have an impact straight away.

    “That’s a big decision they have to make in recruitment, and then they are human beings as well. They have to adapt, and sometimes that’s
    a tricky question to answer before they are actually here.”

    “We want to make the squad stronger, we want to make the starting
    XI stronger, we want to make the specificity and the personality of our players stronger, and that’s what we are going to be seeking to do,” says Arteta.

    It will depend on many factors… How many players are back from
    their loans, with the commitments we still have with them; our
    financial position in relation to where we finish; the clubs’ demands when we want to buy players or sell players.

    “There are a lot of question marks there, but this is football.” Arteta smiles. “We’ve been through a lot in the last two seasons and we are going to try to manage it in the best possible way.

    “The good thing is that the plan is clear, but the plan is just the plan
    until you start to work through that plan. Then, every decision and
    every situation is going to allow you – or not allow you – to be as close as possible to that plan, which is our aim.”

    Nketiah, Elneny and adapting to injuries.

    “We have a really short squad and we knew that in the beginning, especially after what happened in the January transfer window, so we have had to adapt,” says Arteta.

    “Obviously, we didn’t expect those long-term injuries to come at the same time, but the team has now found a way to try to compete, play well and win football matches, and it is all about that.”

    “We didn’t concede a lot of chances in the three games that we lost,”
    he says. “We conceded a little bit more in the other two, which I
    wasn’t happy with because we want to control the games better, but
    it’s true that going forward, we have been a real threat.

    “It’s about finding the balance and that is what we are trying to

    “More efficient, I would say, especially in the final third,” replies Arteta.

    “We got into so many situations, we had so many shots and we
    weren’t efficient enough in the final third or in and around the box to
    find the right pass and hit the target much more often than we did.

    “It’s something that we’ve been working on a lot and in the last two games we’ve been better.”

    “The pathway of a young player is so unpredictable,” says Arteta.
    “What they need for sure is support and clarity all the time and I think Nuno has had both of those things – in the good moments and in the difficult ones.

    “The line is really thin when you make a decision to protect the player, and when you make a decision to protect the team,” he adds. “It’s inevitable at some stages that one has to happen in favour of the

    “It shows the respect the players have between each other, with the coaching staff and the club, then the honesty that we have to try to
    look after each other and tell things as they are, whether they like
    them or not, or whether we like them or not.

    “The role of every player in the team has to be very clear. Then the
    aim, all the time, is to challenge the player in that position, to
    challenge the manager, and to get better.

    “That’s what they have been doing when they haven’t been playing
    and that’s why they are performing when they have the chance to play.

    “Of course, I would like to give more minutes to the players that
    haven’t had enough, that’s for sure, independently of who they are,
    but the reality is that if someone else is playing, it is for a reason,
    and the players need to understand that.

    “This is football, it is not tennis. It is not an individual sport. You know that you are going to go through these periods. Then it’s about how
    you go about them and how you try to change them.”

    Handling pressure and using Invincibles.

    “It is to try to keep doing what we are doing better every single day,”
    he says. “Our aim to improve in every single training session, to learn more, to be more efficient.

    “That doesn’t change and that’s going to give us the opportunity to
    fight right until the end to get what we want. Doing something that
    we’ve never done before would probably make us go backwards.

    “We know where we want to go and how we want to do it.”

    That means being able to deal with setbacks too. “A bad result
    cannot influence what happens in the next game,” adds Arteta, “because we don’t want to be changing too many things.

    “We want to continue to do what we want, and then be critical in the right way, to try to keep improving, because there are still a lot of
    things that we can do – and have to do – better to win football matches more comfortably.”

    “I always said they(The Invincibles) are all welcome here,” he says. “The experiences they had together, what they transmitted as a team, and what they actually achieved was phenomenal.

    “That’s for the history and the legacy of the Premier League, so for us
    to have contact, for them to feel welcome here, and for them to be supportive with what we want to do, I think it’s something really
    valuable and important.

    “I was really pleased to see them back here with smiles on their faces, feeling relaxed and doing something that is natural, and that should happen in a natural way because it’s their club. The way Arsenal is viewed today is because of players and people like them.”

    “We are where we are,” he says with a smile when asked if Arsenal’s top-four challenge has come sooner than he anticipated.

    “For me, we are always behind where we should be because we are always seeking to improve and to do things better.

    “We are always looking ahead.”

  5. fred1266 says:

  6. VP says:

    wishing Unai the very best of success in his next game

  7. RC78 says:

    Spain is producing a lot of good coaches with Guardiola, Lopetegui, Emery…but only Guardiola really made it with big teams, no?

  8. RC78 says:

    Italy too with Ancelotti, Conte

  9. Mike M says:

    Fantastic result on Sunday!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I didn’t watch it but watched the entire game last night. We are learning to win. I believe Chelsea was a watershed moment for this group because they threw off the shackles of the previous three games and played to win. I don’t remember an Arsenal team looking like they’re having this much fun since maybe the 2012 team of RVP’s last season. Since then it’s been a grind, always a few players in the squad that weren’t quite willing to do the necessary. I really believe Arteta has identified the “cancer” in the organization and taken action. That’s not a slight on anyone as a person but sometimes people just disagree on the path forward. Seems like Arteta has set his stall out and you’re either in or out. What I find remarkable is that he’s got more out of the existing squad, compared to Pep and Klopp who although have done that too, have supplemented with expensive signings. Looking at Chavs, Manure and Spuds, we seem way ahead of them in terms of academy development and improving existing players.
    So on to our last 4 games. I really think this squad and manager are comfortable and relaxed about whatever the outcome. If they stick together and to their philosophies, I think Arteta has told them that’s enough for him and whatever happens is the way it goes. As a fan, I think I am too. And I’m pretty excited about it !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  10. JM says:

    @RC78 10:35am and 10:36am

    Spain (active managers/coaches) – Pep Guardiola (of Man City), Luis Enrique (of Spain national team; who won La Liga and Champions League with Barcelona) and Rafael Benítez (currently unemployed; who won La Liga and Europa League with Valencia, Champions League with Liverpool, Europa League with Chelsea).

    Then followed by Unai Emery (of Villarreal; who won Europa League with Sevilla and Villarreal; Ligue 1 with PSG), Julen Lopetegui (of Sevilla; who won Europa League with Sevilla), Quique Sánchez Flores (of Getafe, who won Europa League with Atlético Madrid) and further down, Roberto Martínez (of Belgium national team), Marcelino García Toral (of Athletic Bilbao) and Imanol Alguacil (of Real Sociedad).

    Italy (active managers/coaches) – Carlo Ancelotti (of Real Madrid), Roberto Mancini (of Italy national team; who won Serie A with Inter, Premier League with Man City, European Championship with Italy), Antonio Conte (of Tottenham; won Serie A with Juventus and Inter, won Premier League with Chelsea) and Massimiliano Allegri (of Juventus; who won Serie A with Juventus and Milan).

    Then followed by Maurizio Sarri (of Lazio; who won Serie A with Juventus and Europa League with Chelsea), Claudio Ranieri (currently unemployed; who won Premier League with Leicester) and further down, Luciano Spalletti (of Napoli), Stefano Pioli (of Milan) and Gian Piero Gasperini (of Atalanta).

  11. JM says:

    Arsenal remaining games (Full focus, discipline and best of luck):

    vs Leeds and Everton (both battling against relegation)
    vs Tottenham (fighting for Champions League place next season)
    vs Newcastle (building momentum and pride to become a challenger in the coming seasons with their new owners and management)

  12. LBG says:

    Well JM,
    Just about the most comprehensive put down, I’ve ever read!

  13. VP says:

    So I hear that Abro has changed his mind and wants his $2.8bil. This could result in the sale being scrapped and Chelsea 100+ year history ending.
    Sad? I’m not attached to their history so would love to see it happen. Imagine they become like a Rangers and get relegated to the lowest division.

    COYG!!! 🙂

  14. RC78 says:

    Liverpool’s recruiters are just too good, no? L. Diaz, what an impact signing…He transformed the team overall and yesterday he basically got them out of the hole…What a player…

  15. Maxwell says:


    At least, that’s what most of us said back in August, even before the three-loss start to the season. Happy if we struggle to sixth. There are too many better squads than ours.

    Well, now we have a chance of making fourth, and can’t finish lower than sixth. So will we now be satisfied with fifth (probable) or sixth (possible, but unlikely)? Of course not. It will be called a failure, forgetting what we expected at the beginning. Come on, all you online supporters, give Arteta’s boys a break. They’ve done really well. I can conceive they have even exceeded Arteta’s expectations.

    I am astounded at the negativity that still prevails in parts of the blogosphere towards Mikel. I have thought from the outset that he is a truly impressive person, with an astonishing football brain. When there was muttering of an early sacking, I wrote on here that you could forget it – KSE had committed to the long haul, seduced by Arteta’s long-term vision. I have so enjoyed that plan. First he set about making us harder to beat, which meant that for a while we were impossible to watch, so turgid was the football, as he tried to get square pegs to defend round holes. He set out to bring referees more on board, with limited success, but you can see from watching his interactions with the officials that he’s determined to remain positive with them. He has worked tirelessly to bring the supporters onside, and it has been a great success. You only have to listen to both home and away supporters’ vociferous and relentless involvement.

    He has steadily shifted out players not committed to his vision, and brought in youthful, energetic replacements. Step by step, the squad is being rebuilt, and the style of play evolving. We have a raft of players just starting their careers, who should only get better, and with every game, should deepen their mutual understanding. We have one or two gaps to fill with astute signings (another area where Edu/Arteta show their mettle). We have an outrageously talented group of Academy players striving to join the seniors.

    If you don’t subscribe to this being the most exciting time to be an Arsenal fan for absolutely years, what is the matter with you?

    Oh, and on the subject of excitement, please leave Nuno Tavares alone. I love him. You don’t know from one minute to the next whether he’s going to block a shot or drift out of position; give the ball away in midfield with no cover behind him, or hurtle past six perplexed defenders before unleashing a shot into Row Z, or possibly even the net; cross threateningly, or to no-one in particular. Re-watching the last two games, I actually think he did more good things defensively than bad. And he’s so much fun!

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