In the last few seasons, it is fair to say that we have done poorly against Liverpool away at Anfield and at home at the Emirates…This is a two-legs game and it is important to approach this semi-final as such. We have to make sure that we do not blow all our chances to reach the final already tonight. If we lose 3-0 or 4-1 or by any large margins, it is basically game over and we might as well play the academy boys in the return leg…
I am expecting Arteta to field a decent line up tonight to try to keep keep things tight and keep our hopes for a trophy alive this season but we do not know about Chambers, Xhaka….so in doubt, here is a potential line up
Arteta and Edu have backed the Partey-Xhaka partnership as our double-pivot in our 4231 set-up.
Some of us have our doubts about Xhaka and also about Partey but oh well, if the coach and the technical director are trusting them…what can we do?
We also had a chance to see Sambi play for us and he had done relatively well when called upon. He is quite brave with the ball, has a decent pass in him and a good engine. Clearly, he will be featuring in our squad on a regular basis…
Now Partey, who had his best game with us vs City, is on his way to the AFCON…A real shame to lose him but again, what can we do? On top of that, El Neny will also be playing the AFCON, meaning that we were left with Xhaka, Lokonga and AMN as players that have actually played decently as DM/CM for us in the last few months…
But here is another twist in the story…We are allowing AMN to join Smalling, Mikhy, Abraham and Mourinho in Rome until the end of the season on loan without an option-to-buy…
So we are technically left only with Xhaka and Lokonga as DM/CM…Some will argue that Chambers and White could play there but Arteta never used Chambers there and while White could feature there, why rock the defensive CB partnership of White-Gabs? We need one player to join us during the current transfer window at DM/CM…There is no way around it. With Covid and other potential injuries, it would be hard to rely only on Xhaka-Lokonga…
JM mentioned that he would be pleased to see Tielemans join us and I agree, he is a quality player but I doubt that Leicester will allow him to join us this winter. From other leagues, he has mentionned Nunes, Zubimendi as well – good players too but less proven at the higher level. The press is linking us with Guimares (disaster!) and Douglas Luiz and at one point the names of R. Neves, K. Phillips, D. Rice and M. Merino were also mentionned…Out of them all, I would love for AFC to push for K. Phillips as he wants to leave Leeds and also has a strained relationship with Bielsa – he is young, he is good, knows the EPL and is an English international…
According to multiple media reports in England, France, Germany, Italy and Spain, Arsenal has contacted European clubs (not EPL) to inform them that Auba could be transferred if a mutually acceptable offer was formulated…
In the same time, AFC has offered 55 Mln + L. Torreira to Fiorentina for the services of D. Vlahovic…
Another rumor has indicated that Arsenal is close to reaching an agreement with A. Isak from R. Sociedad for a transfer this summer.
So Vlahovic in for Auba and A. Isak in for A. Lacazette or E. Nketiah?
It is a loss that (i) feels unfair and (ii) comes with a lot of positives…The poor refereeing clearly influenced the game big time even if Xhaka and Gabriel should know better…However, we matched and even outplayed Man City for 88 minutes of this game and it was an overall outstanding performance especially from Tomy, Saka, Odegaard, Tierney and Martinelli…We were all over Man CITY, the best team in the EPL and arguably in Europe at the moment. We were a joy to watch – we were convincing, we were threatening and we were able to smother and nullify City. Make no mistake, this is a game that has defined this team, its potential and the Arteta era…If we are able to play at this level days-in and days-out, we will certainly be challenging for domestic honours in the near future…
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!
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)
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 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
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.
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?
Eddie is our go-to striker in Cup ties
Pepe can do really well against lower opposition but he is paid to do that well against the big boys…
Leno will concede goals
Cedric and Tavares are good going forward but really need to sharpen things up defensively
Xhaka can shore things up in our midfield at times
Odegaard finding his feet at AFC
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?
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…
“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?”
“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”
“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.”
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!”
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 😛
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.