Ceballos and Luiz are Key to Beating Liverpool

August 20, 2019

Ceballos has changed my mind regarding the Pool away game. He goes straight on to the team sheet. I believe we can beat Pool away.

They are an excellent team. They press, have pace, energy, physical presence, technical ability, a formidable front 3, and have counter attacking ability – whilst we press, have pace, energy, physical presence, technical ability, a formidable front 3, and have counter attacking ability………. ooh ditto.

Our key is to get our combinations right. I buck the trend in feeling that Willock is slightly ahead of Gouzi for a game like this during to being slightly quicker and more dynamic, and Liverpool play at a very fast pace. Also he is probably ahead of Torreira fitness wise at the moment.

I dont think we can get away with 2 box-to-box type midfielders working out who goes and who covers with Pool at Anfield. Surely this is a game to play Luiz in front of the back 4 at the base of our midfield.

I see it as 2 triangles or pyramids in a mirror image sharing an apex point, that being Luiz. It is a variation on the 4-3-3 but is more a 4-1-2-3:

 

 

I believe we can topple the mighty Pool at Anfield with that. It has everything covered in shape, defence, pace and high energy, ball distribution, and goals.

GoonerB

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Double Pants Dilemma: Newcastle v Arsenal Match Report and Player Ratings

August 11, 2019

The first game of a new season prompts a strange mix of emotions: excitement, anticipation, hope, nervousness. Perhaps fear.

I imagine it’s the way a bride must feel on the morning of her wedding when everything has been planned just the way she wants it but she has a nagging suspicion that she might be marrying the wrong man.

Well, let’s hope Arsenal’s 2019/20 season is a ‘happily ever after’ story and we don’t end up feeling betrayed, abandoned and embittered with only chocolate and cats to console us.

The auguries were not good for yesterday’s season opener against a Newcastle United team led by new coach Mrs Doubtfire.

There were two reasons for concern: firstly, our opening day form has been pants in recent years. And secondly, for the first time in years our opening match was away from home and, as we all know, our away form has also been pants.

So we had a double pants dilemma, like an anxious incontinence sufferer.

First, our opening day form: in the previous four years, starting with last year, we have managed the following: home defeat to Manchester City; scrappy and somewhat lucky home win against Leicester City; home defeat to Liverpool; home defeat to West Ham.

Next, our overall away form: last season and the one before we contrived to lose exactly half of our away games in the Premier League (19 out of 38) and managed to win only 11 out of 38 – a win rate of just 29%.

Yet, with all that in mind, it was impossible not to feel a bit chipper going into the game.

Most of us would probably agree we had a good transfer window and this has helped the mood music around the club to be more upbeat. There’s a cautious feeling that we have started to plant the seeds of recovery after some frustrating years.

There appears to be a bit more of a clear direction at the club and it’s hard not to be excited about new signings like Ceballos, Pepe and Martinelli, and the continuing progress of home-grown talents like Willock and Nelson.

Unai Emery went with a starting line-up that will probably bear little resemblance to our eventual first choice eleven this season (once the broken ones have returned and the new ones have settled). He put his faith in some of the youngsters. Willock, Nelson and Guendouzi started, as did Maitland-Niles and Chambers (does Calum Chambers still count as a youngster?).

Lacazette, rightly, was not risked due to recent injury issues, but was on the bench in case we needed to chase a goal late on. That meant the irrepressible Aubameyang would be carrying most of our attacking hopes.

The first half was a fairly even affair. The Barcodes had a 10 minute spell when they created some half chances, including a shot from noted Nosferatu impersonator Jonjo Shelvey that hit the post (although Leno may just have had it covered).

From our side, we were finding it difficult to break down a well-organised Newcastle defence and whenever it looked like we might find a way through a wayward pass or piece of control would bring an end to things.

But there were promising signs in the way we knocked the ball around at times and it was particularly pleasing to see Willock and Nelson so involved and showing a lot of confidence. Guendouzi, meanwhile, was my stand-out player of the first period. He’s strong, competitive, always makes himself available and is ever keen to get on the front foot: he may look like the dopey sidekick from a 1990s teen movie, but this kid has future leading man written all over him.

In the second half we were the superior team overall, without creating clear cut chances until the breakthrough came courtesy of two men for whom two initials are just not enough: AMN and PEA.

Maitland-Niles showed brilliant anticipation as Newcastle played the ball out from the back. He beat the Newcastle player to the ball around the half way line, took a couple of touches and looked up to see Auba moving into space in the penalty area. Maitland-Niles’s 35-yard* pass to our Gabonese gazelle was beautifully executed. Aubameyang brought it under control and coolly side-footed it past the on-rushing ‘keeper.

Mrs Doubtfire will be fuming at the space given to our striker in the box, but that should not detract from the fact that he found the space or the sublime way in which he finished.

As Auba ran to celebrate with his Number One Best Bro (Lacazette) on the touchline I liked that he turned to beckon Maitland-Niles to join the party.

After that Newcastle huffed and puffed but caused few real scares.

It’s tempting to say that Aubameyang’s quality was the difference, but in truth we displayed superiority in most areas for the majority of the game.

We also got to have a look at Ceballos, Pepe and Martinelli as they came on for Willock, Nelson and Mkhitaryan. There were a couple of nice moments from Pepe in particular, but the main thing was they got their debuts under their belts and they can feel they contributed to a win and a clean sheet.

I think a special word is also merited for our new away kit – and that word is “Yes!” Well done Adidas.

*For younger readers who don’t understand imperial measurements, 35 yards is equivalent to 28 Ells, or 70 Cubits.

Player Ratings

Leno: dealt with everything that came his way. In particular I enjoyed the moment in the second half where he came out of his area to head the ball clear and snuff out a dangerous Newcastle attack. 7.5

Maitland-Niles: excellent overall game from the young fullback and his anticipation and skill directly led to our winning goal. 8

Monreal: solid and unspectacular from Nacho, but he did little wrong. 7

Sokratis: it’s hard to get excited about our Greek colossus, but he is a very dependable defender and had a good game. 7

Chambers: a year on loan playing in midfield has been good for Chambers. I fancy he could be one of the surprise success stories of the season. Like his central defence partner he was solid. 7

Xhaka: seemed more subdued than usual but was tidy and played some very nice attacking passes at times. 6.5

Guendouzi: all energy all the time. I love the way he turns his body as he receives the ball so he is always ready to surge towards the opposition end. 8

Nelson: confident and tidy. It’s very encouraging to have players like him and Willock coming through, not least for the way it can inspire other up-and-coming talents at the club. 7

Willock: this lad’s a class act. 7.5

Mkhitaryan: I know he’s not a fan favourite but I thought he was lively in the first half and helped create some of our better chances. His final ball let him down a couple of times and he faded in the second half. 6

Aubameyang: exuberant, talented and full of energy – what a great player to have wearing the Arsenal shirt. MoTM 8.5.

Subs:

Ceballos: misplaced a few passes as he tried to find his feet, but grew into the game.

Pepe: showed one or two very nice moments of skill. Looking forward to seeing more of him.

Martinelli: a Brazilian forward at the Arsenal? What’s not to like?

RockyLives


The Emirates Hic-Cup … Arsenal 1 Lyon 2 – Match Report and Player Ratings

July 29, 2019

This was the sixth of our preseason games. We fielded a mixed side comprising Leno, AMN, Chambers, Sokratis, Monreal, Willock, Xhaka, Guendouzi, Aubameyang, Mkhitaryan, and Lacazette.

My initial thought was that I was glad to see Willock playing consistently in the first team and that we are moving away from the Mkhitaryan and Mesut combo. In reality, I suspect they were probably rested because of the attack earlier in the week. With Mkhitaryan seemingly playing on the left, I wondered who’s going to be playing the Mesut role?

 

First Half

There was a minute of applause for former Arsenal player Jose Antonio Reyes who was taken from us way to soon, may he rest in peace.

One thing I have noticed is how quickly Arsenal have been starting games in the preseason, and this game was no exception. Monreal hasn’t looked up to it early in preseason, but today he was sharp, on one occasion bursting down the  left flank and crossing but not finding an Arsenal shirt, and then on another being bundled over in penalty box. Sadly the ref wasn’t having any of it.

Lacazette was replaced early on by Nelson. He was seen later wearing a protective boot –   let’s hope this was just for precaution. Aubameyang moved to central striker with Mkhitaryan now playing on the right. Willock looked really bright,  collecting the ball from Guendouzi and smartly turning for a low shot into the keeper, and then soon after was involved in an attacking move in the penalty box. But he was eventually smothered by the  amassed defenders.

Arsenal displayed some great interchanging football. The opening goal came when Mkhitaryan who crossed to Aubamyang who headed the ball home, making it 1 nil to The Arsenal. Lyon had an appeal for hand ball by Chambers turned down, I wondered when I saw it if this would have been given in the EPL this season. Willock was ever present and was our best player in the first half.

 

Second Half

The first change for the second half was Nketiah on for Guendouzi. With this, Aubameyang moved back out to the right, Mkhitaryan was now playing the link between midfield and attack which I think his best position, and with Eddie as striker.

The two sides were going at it second half with Lyon now creating more. Nketiah headed a ball over the bar, and then fluffed his lines again missing a cross from Nelson. Soon after that, Nketiah received a ball in the box and turned sharply but his shot was smothered by the keeper. The chant of Eddie, Eddie, Eddie rang round The Emirates, he really is a fans’ favourite.

Some poor defending by Maitland-Nyles  failing to block a cross led to the equaliser from Dembele. Shortly after, AMN did make a great block on Dembele showing he can play with discipline. Arsenal thought they had restored their lead when Martinelli put the ball in the back of the net but it was ruled as offside. Soon after, we failed to operate the offside trap correctly and Dembele made it 1-2 for Lyon. Arsenal had a few more opportunities but couldn’t take their chances. Lyon were crowned 2019 Emirates Cup Champions – not a big deal, it’s always been a slightly embarrassing competition, but still, it’s better to win than lose.

Conclusion

Arsenal’s second loss in preseason was frustrating. We were in control in both games and yet ended up losing. It was another promising performance by the Arsenal youngsters. Nelson had a good industrious game, although he struggled to get through Lyon’s defense. Willock was amazing once again and Eddie did the hard work by getting into the goal scoring positions but then  lacked the composure he had shown in earlier preseason games.

If only Arsenal could change how they defend. Good to see Chambers back and at least he put in a good defensive performance. There was one occasion when Sokratis brought down Dembele and was lucky not avoid a card. We’ve seen it many times before. Our defenders are too slow to play such a high line.

 

Ratings

Leno 7 – solid game but was left exposed for both goals

Maitland-Nyles 6  – needs to work on his defending

Sokratis 6 – solid today but still reckless when given the chance

Chambers 7 – was solid again nice to see him finally getting his chance

Monreal 6  – looked lively

Wiilock 9 – another great game and shouldn’t have been taken off …  MOTM

Xhaka 5 – Can the crowd please stop telling him to shoot

Guendouzi 5 – Nice to see him back

Mkhitaryan 6 – great assist for the goal

Aubameyang 7 –  took his chance well and caused trouble whole game

Lacazette 5 – let’s hope it nothing serious

 

Subs

Nketiah 7 – impressive as always, unlucky again not to score

Nelson 6  – I’m still waiting for him to impress me

fred1266

 


Maitland-Nyles … The New Vieira?

July 15, 2019

Seems that many bloggers are keen to integrate young players into our team…getting excited about Tierney and Martinelli…others are making the point that we also need experienced players to help grow the younger players.

As mentioned (too) many times, I am a firm believer that some of our younger and home-grown players should be integrated in the first team but they must be played in their best position. Bellerin, Holding, AMN are starters for me and I believe that there is case to be made for Chambers if we get a very strong CM next to him.

I think there is no debate about Bellerin and Holding. I want to make a case for AMN as our new PV4.

AMN

He played 11 games as a starter in the EPL:

  • 5 in defensive midfield (or right full back in a 3-5-2 set up) for 1 assist
  • 3 as right back
  • 1 in right midfield
  • 1 as an attacking midfielder on the right for 1 goal
  • 1 as left full back
  • He also came in 5 games as a sub.

Performance analysis averages:

  • 2.1 tackles per game
  • 1.2 interceptions
  • 0.7 clearances
  • Executes 1.2 dribbles per game
  • Gets dribbled past 0.9 times a game
  • Fouled 0.8 times per game
  • Dispossessed 1.1 times per game
  • 1.6 instances of poor control per game.
  • 0.5 key pass per game
  • 1 cross per game
  • Completes 0.9 long ball passes per game

AMN is 21, he is fast, rather athletic and has demonstrated a good attitude – I think he has all the attributes to develop into our new box-to-box midfielder. He needs to improve but he should be given a chance – he has the engine and the desire to be a strong player for us. He also is rather good at going forward.

He can only develop into our box-to-box midfielder if he is played day-in day-out and I think that in the right set-up, he could do extremely well. Henry said of him that he was the best one-of-one young attacking player he had seen in our team before he took over Monaco so…

Rewind to my first paragraph and project yourself to the beginning of the season and imagine the following line-up:

Leno – Bellerin, Recruit, Holding, Tierney – AMN, Chambers, Vidal – Pepe, Aubameyang – Lacazette

Ages: 27 – 24, ?, 23, 22 – 21, 24, 32 – 24, 30 – 28

We’d need an experienced CB but we can also live with Sokratis although not ideal. Vidal would play the experienced person in middle of the park and up front, we re OK.

So is AMN our next PV4 and can we succeed with a young, yet experienced team? My answer is yes.

Written by RC78

 


William Saliba … Great! … but what about the here and now?

July 10, 2019
There is a mini furore among some Arsenal fans over Leicester’s signing of Youri Tielemans from Monaco for a club record fee believed to be £40m. This takes City’s summer spending to nearly £80m, twice the reported budget Arsenal have to play with. The feeling is that Tielemans is just the sort of player Arsenal need.

Tielemans is 3 months older than Ainsley Maitland Nyles!!!

I’m all for youth, but who are they learning from? I do like the idea of UE snapping up these young players like Martinelli and Saliba, but a club of our size should be doing that whilst at the same time bolstering the first team squad. If UE wants to be around to see these players progress then he better start improving the first team, because the likes of Leicester and Wolves will be catching us at this rate.

The defence has been a shambles for years, yet we seem to do nothing about it. Sure, there’s a world shortage of CB’s, but you’ve got to buy a ticket to win the lottery. The defence won’t improve if we sit back and do nothing (which is what it looked like last season). It’s like we got burnt with Mustafi and so we’ve stopped trying. Cut your losses, get £20m for him, and try again.

There are 2 key areas we failed last season, CB and AM. I don’t doubt Zaha would be exactly what we need in that he’s got that unpredictability that we lack, but if we can’t afford him then why embarrass ourselves? Go buy what you can afford and hope the youngsters can fill the other gaps. There’s far more potential in Nelson, Martinelli and Smith-Rowe than in that CB group. £40-£50m could get us a decent CB.

Sokratis and Koscielny are our best 2 CB’s, so why people want Koscielny to go is a strange one for me. Yes, he’s getting on, but he’s still top 2 in our side. That’s not a compliment to him by the way, more a realisation of just how poor we are in that position. Holding is coming off a serious injury, Chambers has proven himself far better at HM than he’s ever looked at CB (thank god as he was very average at CB!), Monreal is a LB regardless of what anyone says and wouldn’t get anywhere near any other top 10 PL first team playing as a CB, Mavropanos has played a handful of games so it’s far too early to judge him, and the less said about Mustafi the better I think.

You can work on shape and defensive attitude all day, but sometimes you just have to accept the players aren’t good enough and move on. Personally, I’d be selling Mustafi and Monreal. I’d bring in Tierney and look for a big name CB. I’d be using Chambers in midfield, and I’d give cup game opportunities to Mavropanos and Bielik (shame he wants out as he looks one of our more promising CB prospects).

fatgingergooner


Who would you pick in Arsenal’s midfield three? – Poll

February 19, 2019

Time for a poll.

This post has been prompted by various discussions on the site with bloggers stating various individual preferences for our midfield line-up – Guendouzi, Mo Elneny, Xhaka in a double pivot or even Ainsley M-N as a box-to-boxer are among the choices/favourites.

For the purposes of today’s poll let’s assume Unai is playing 4 at the back with his first choice players available. Also assume we have three up front, perhaps in a 2 wide and 1 centre forward formation or alternatively a number 10 behind a striking duo.

Here are the runners and riders for a place in that middle three listed in the order they appear on AFC.com (let’s include Alex Iwobi even though he’s down as a striker).

Mo Elneny

An excellent squad player and perhaps a touch underrated, though rarely gets picked as a first choice starter. Why?

from AFC.com

Henrikh Mkhitaryan

Often used as part of the front three on the right side to provide some width. Could he be better employed just in front of two DMs?

Aaron Ramsey

Perhaps his best position (well according to his new Juve boss) is just behind a front two and it’s difficult to deny that proposition. Could he still be used in the middle three? When tried before, his natural tendency to be looking to make bursts forward into the box has sometimes left us exposed in midfield.

Mesut Özil

Another whose best position appears to be just behind the striker(s) in a front three. Then again, he often plays wherever he feels he can do the most damage which might be the cause of his contretemps with Señor Emery.

Lucas Torreira

When he first came to the Club and was being gently eased in as a sub, it seemed he was being used as the central DM sweeping across the width of the back four. Now he seems to be established on the right side. Where’s his best posititon?

Celebrating his goal against the spuds

Ainsley Maitland-Niles

Mr Versatile means that we’re not sure which is his favoured spot in the team. Could he play in front of a double DM formation where his youth, energy and calmness might be perfect weapons for the position?

Denis Suarez

It’s a bit early in Denis’s Arsenal career to know where he might end up in the team. Does anyone have more of an idea they could share?

Matteo Guendouzi

Still 19, he can’t have imagined he’d play so many games for The Gunners in his first season. Not a natural DM perhaps, but another with a great engine. Maybe he’s also suffered playing in a team which is low on confidence sometimes and others look to him to provide a creative spark.

Granit Xhaka

A marmite player if ever there was one. Usually picked by whatever manager he plays for, so he must be doing something right.  Should Granit get an automatic starting berth?

Alex Iwobi

Another player maybe best suited to a front three position. Has he got the discipline to stay central? Or would he be wasted further back where his dribbling skills might be less useful?

Others

Perhaps one of the Academy lads might be given the opportunity to step up. Smith Rowe and Nelson are on loan, but Joe Willock, in addition to his 2 goals at Blackpool in the FA Cup 3rd round, has had a fine season up to now for Freddie’s u23s .  Robbie Burton and Charlie Gilmour are also getting decent reviews and are names to look out for in the future perhaps.

===================================================================

Now for the poll. Choose the three you would prefer in your midfield three.

They could be in a 1-2 formation, a 2-1 (double pivot 🙂 ) or any other variation you can think of.  Specify your preference in the comments below.

chas 


What are we going to do without Hector?

January 22, 2019

It appears that Hector Bellerin has totally knackered his knee .Minimum 6 months out and most probably 9 months.

In my opinion, an in form Hector is an integral part of our team, he provides something no-one else does … pace on the wing. Not just pace but pace allied to excellent close control and an ability to bring others into the game; for a full back, he is an assist master.

Tackling may not be his strong point but we defend better with him in the team as can be seen by our results when he is missing. Sadly, Catwalk is going to be spending his days traveling between the treatment table, the gym and stupidly expensive designer fashion shops.

images-4.jpeg

Should Mr. Emery buy/loan a replacement or use other members of the squad at right back? Let’s look at the alternatives.

1. Mr Lichtsteiner. As far as I can tell the Swiss Chap has played some role in 17 games, 9 in the PL. Whilst he as been on the pitch we have managed ONE clean sheet (PL). He has yet to perform to the level I expected from a man with his CV and reputation, I like the fellow, he is a master of the Dark Arts, something we have been lacking for many years, but can he really play week in, week out at his age? Does he have the stamina to get forward and back for 90 mins? I doubt it.

2. Mr. Maitland-Niles. Super prospect. Big bloke, strong, energetic, confident, an eye for a pass. In his few games at full back he has yet to make his mark. Let’s face it, the man is a midfielder and is being shoe-horned into a position which he is not qualified for  – yet. I know Flamini managed it a few seasons ago but he was an experienced player, AMN (Cons) is not. However, this is a huge opportunity for Ainsley (who calls their child Ainsley??), one he may well take with both hands.

3. Play a Back 3. I have only one word to say about this …. Mustafi.

4. Sign a loan player. Is there anyone out there who is good enough to immediately fit into our team. If he is, then why would a club allow him a loan loan move in January? Clyne might have worked.

My guess is that Mr. Emery’s solution will be a mixture of all of the above (perhaps not a signing). For him, and for The Arsenal the injury to Bellerin is very unfortunate.

written by BR.