Arsenal 2 -1 Leeds: Quick Player Ratings

May 9, 2022

Eddie was our Angel yesterday

Well that was a strange experience.

I managed to get a ticket for the game and went with my youngest son (19). After 10 minutes it was like the joy of Christmas morning (including surprise gifts) and the excitement of a day at Alton Towers all rolled into one.

By full time we were mentally exhausted and felt we’d spent too much time on the rollercoaster.

Nevertheless, despite making heavy weather of things in the second half, the crucial thing is that we got all three points and we head to the Armitage Shanks Arena on Thursday night with a lovely four point cushion.

A win there guarantees us top four; a draw sees us almost home and hosed; even a loss still leaves top four qualification in our own hands.

Until squeaky bum time the atmosphere was fantastic at the Emirates (with the Leeds fans contributing plenty of noise of their own). The pre-match singing of Louis Dunford’s song ‘The Angel’ was lovely. I can see that tune catching on as an Arsenal anthem.

Player Ratings

Ramsdale – 6

A low-ish rating for Aaron because (a) he had very little to do until the closing stages and (b) a couple of times in those nervy moments he seemed panicked into bad clearances. It’s not the first time the season he has tried to relieve pressure by booting the ball away only for it to scud along the ground through the centre of the park straight to the feet of an opposition midfielder. Something he needs to work on training.

Cedric – 6.5

I have finally reached an opinion about Soares – I know what I think of him: he is a very hard working, reliable squad member but he is a class below most of his team mates in terms of footballing ability. This is not meant to sound harsh – he does lots of things well and is probably a safer option than Nuno at the moment. But I watched him closely yesterday and it was clear that he just does not have quite the speed of thought and execution that most of his team mates have. It’s absolutely not his fault – you can only be as good as the gifts you’ve been given and many of the players around him are majestically gifted. Basically he’s a solid player who plays to the absolute best of his ability, but on whom we could do with an upgrade next season.

Holding – 7.5

Rob has been excellent this season – in his substitute cameos and in the recent games where he has started. He was 100% alert and committed yesterday and I loved seeing him (on more than one occasion) intervene to pull Arsenal players away when their tempers were getting overheated (I’m looking at you Granit!).

Gabriel – 7.5

Another typically reliable performance. Brings the ball out from the back very well and is comfortable in possession.

Tomiyasu – 7.5

What a player. Drafted in to LB so that we could play Cedric at RB, he looked just as comfortable on his left peg as on his right. Excellent performance. He went into several challenges where it looked like he had no chance and somehow emerged with the ball every time.

Elneny – 8 (MoTM)

Bossed midfield. Late-season Mo has been a great and timely addition to the side for our top four challenge.

Xhaka – 7

Good all-round performance from Granit. His long range goal against Man Utd seems to have given him a taste for more: towards the end yesterday he was sometimes our most advanced attacker and almost got on the scoresheet.

Odegaard – 8

Dreamboat of a player. Whenever the ball is coming to him in an awkward spot I automatically do that quick, split-second thing you do (with any such moment) where you’re trying to see what his options are. With Ode, he has already played the right ball before I have even figured out his options. This boy’s brain was created by God to translate football for mortals.

Martinelli -7.5

An outstanding attacking performance marred only by a little bit of lack of composure in front of goal. He ran Ayling ragged (leading to the latter’s two-footed lunge and red card) and continued to terrorise Leeds until substituted with cramp late on.

Saka – 7

One of the reasons Martinelli could operate so confidently was that – like many teams – Leeds felt they had to put two men on Saka at all times. Such is the fear the young man causes in opposition managers’ hearts. Some typically excellent moments.

Nketiah – 8

His two goals – one based on pure alertness and determinations and one on sharp, clinical finishing – won us the game. Enough said.


Pepe – 5

Had well over 20 minutes to make a mark but never got into the game. Was responsible for one infuriating moment where – with the Leeds ‘keeper still in our half after going up for a corner – he got the ball near the halfway line with a clear run at an empty net. Instead of just pushing the ball ahead and running he turned backwards to try and nutmeg a Leeds defender and lost the ball. Bonkers. Hard to see how he fits in next season.

Smith-Rowe – 7

Full of energy.

Lacazette – N/A

Not on long enough.



Was Arteta a better player or is a better coach for us?

May 5, 2022
Arteta as a player



May 4, 2022
Can Arteta and his team deliver CL qualification?

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!

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

May 2, 2022

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!