Saka MOTM, just brilliant

January 28, 2020

I haven’t written a match report about a win for ages. It’s actually quite a test to not go overboard 😉

Watching Arteta’s controlled post match interview was interesting. His body language is soooo calm and his words are well chosen delivered statesman like from that handsome chiselled face when I’m sure that inside he was jumping up and down with excitement at a plan executed ….. for a while …… to perfection.

Rio Ferdinand and Martin Keown, in the studio for BT Sport, were excited at what they saw. Very young players carrying out the instructions of their new very young coach.

The point they both made about how the belief in Arteta’s system builds confidence in each player is an important one. They are playing to a system now and each time it works they’ll want to do it more.

Saka has been a revelation, he’s a winger, playing as a left-back and Arteta’s system allows him to play as a winger when we have the ball. We don’t have another left back at the moment with injuries to Tierney and Kolasinac and Arteta has persuaded Saka that he can be both. A MOTM performance, a great goal and an assist. Brilliant, just brilliant.

The curse of the ‘centre-back injuries’ struck again and Mustafi’s looked nasty. I don’t wish him any I’ll will but many won’t miss him. Can Luiz, Holding and Sokratis keep us going or will we be able to add a CB before the window closes.

All in all we played the first half brilliantly going in to the break 2 up but knowing that Bournemouth would come at us second half. We did well to stop them scoring until late on. Having a bit of a wobble is part of football but oh how fabulous is the good stuff now 😁

I can’t wait for our next game.

peachesgooner

If anyone wants to write some player ratings I’ll add them on.


Arsenal v Bournemouth pre-match

January 27, 2020

Can I just say something about Monday night football …….. I really don’t like it. Everyone else gets to play over the weekend and Monday night football just feels like an after thought. But, lucky us, we and Bournemouth get to play our FA Cup tie on BT Sport tonight at 8pm.

Bournemouth have lost their way a little this season but I’ve always enjoyed playing against them as they like to play exciting, creative football so it should be a good game.

Arteta has played down any reliance on Martinelli but he has a great opportunity to impress again this evening as I’m sure he’ll be itching to score for us.

This is what Arteta had to say about Martinelli.

“I would like to talk about potential, more than what it is at the moment,” said Arteta.

“For him there is still a long way. The stature of this club, to give him the key to do that straight away is not fair on him.

“We have to bring him down. I want him to train with his head down every day hard, and slowly he will start to earn the praise if he does what he needs to do every day, but it is not about one or two days.”

Arteta isn’t getting carried away but we can be excited.

Lacazette deserves a rest for all his running lately but needs to start scoring again so maybe he’ll play some part tonight. Please find the right boots Laca.

We are without the suspended Luiz and Aubameyang (this is his last game out), Kolasinac and Nelson are unavailable because of injuries. Sokratis should return after a bout of illness. Holding needs to improve his match fitness so maybe we’ll see those two paired together.

Here’s the team that could start ………..

Martinez

Bellerin   Holding   Sokratis   Saka

Guendouzi   Torreira

Ozil

Pepe   Lacazette   Martinelli

I love the FA Cup so I’m hoping we’re going to progress to the next round. The team fought hard for each other at Stamford Bridge last week, if we can see more of that passion and desire to not be beaten I will be very happy.

COYG

peachesgooner


Blues to Lose: Arsenal at Chelsea …….. Pre-Match

January 20, 2020

It’s weird to be playing Chelsea in the Premier League again so soon after meeting them at the Emirates in the same competition.

Just over three weeks ago we were beaten 1-2 at home by Frank Lampard’s side. Many of us felt it was an unlucky defeat because we played well enough for long parts of the game to deserve the win.

But in giving up two goals in the last 10 minutes we also showed that old (bad) habits die hard – a fact that was in evidence again on Saturday against Sheffield United.

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So how will it go in Round Two at Stamford Bridge tonight?

Chelsea’s form has been patchy to say the least and some of the shine has rubbed off of Frank Lampard’s early lustre.

Immediately before beating us in late December they lost 0-2 at home to Southampton. Since playing us they have drawn at Brighton, beaten Burnley at home and lost at Newcastle.

In other words, right now they look pretty similar to us (in fact, a bit worse as far as results go).

I’m feeling optimistic about us bringing home all three points. I recognise this sounds bonkers given the circumstances: we’re still without the suspended Aubameyang, our defenders are picking up injuries as fast as Spuds fans pick up fleas and we’re finding goals very hard to come by.

But I think our players learnt from the last meeting with the Chavs that we can outplay them if we want to; and that if we had applied ourselves a bit harder for a bit longer we would have got the three points that Auba’s first half strike deserved.

Aside from the long-term sick bed squatters we’re also without Reiss Nelson. Sokratis was suffering from “sickness” for the Sheffield match (it’s rumoured he took a wrong turn and ended up in N17 and caught something nasty from the odious miasma), but there’s a good chance he’ll be fit tonight.

This is the team I would go with and also the team I think Arteta will pick:

Leno

Maitland-Niles – Luiz – Sokratis – Saka

Torreira – Xhaka

Ozil

Pepe – Lacazette – Martinelli   

 If Sok is still sick it will be Mustafi instead, to hopefully continue his decent work from Saturday.

We should win – goals from Pepe and Martinelli would be my guess.

My only doubt about us getting the victory is the possibility of a situation like this: one of our players is clean through on goal and the Chelsea bench responds by setting a pack of wolverines and honey badgers on him, quickly bringing him down and devouring the corpse. VAR will say “no penalty.”

Meanwhile at the other end a brisk breeze will ruffle the shirt of Tammy Abraham and the ref will point to the spot (supported by VAR) and send off the entire Arsenal defence for “looking at me a bit funny.”

Barring that, it will be Chelsea with the blues and the Arsenal feeling chipper.

Come on the Mighty Arse!

RockyLives


We need a new Giroud

January 20, 2020

Arsenal are looking less like a sinking ship since Mikel Arteta got his hands on the tiller, but recent performances have highlighted a glaring gap in our crew of jolly sailor boys.

While we have all bored each other half to death complaining about the absence of a proper defensive midfielder or pleading for a totemic centre half, it has been little remarked on that we are completely lacking in another area: we don’t have a big, strong striker.

In other words, we need a new Olivier Giroud.

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The handsome Frenchman was popular during his time at Arsenal, but it would also be fair to say that he was somewhat underappreciated. Fans expressed their fondness for him (especially the ladies, ooh la la) but at the same time they would generally say the club needed to buy that famous “world class striker” of our fantasies.

There have been times in recent games (I’m thinking most recently of the second half against Palace, for part of which we were down to 10 men) when we could really have benefitted from having a big, strong centre forward.

Lacazette does OK with his back to goal and can sometimes hold up the ball, but it’s not the way he likes to play and it’s not the best part of his game.

Yet apart from him there’s no-one who could even begin to take on a Giroud type role. Aubameyang? Saka? Martinelli? Do me a favour. They’re all good in their different ways, but none is built for trading elbows with Neanderthal defenders and winning towering headers in a thicket of thugs like Shawcross, Cahill and Maguire.

At the time of writing, it looks like Eddie Nketieh is going to stay with us for the second half of the season rather than going out on another loan. Perhaps he could fill that role, but he seems more of a Welbeck type of player than a ‘big powerful centre forward’.

I’m not suggesting we need such a player as a regular starter. But Arsenal has almost always had at least one big striker who could be thrown on to destabilise a stubborn opposition defence or act as a target man when we’re chasing the game with not long to go.

We all know what it’s like: there are 10 minutes on the clock, we’re a goal down, or we’re all square but desperately chasing the winner… it’s time to let go of the stylish pass and run and just start hoofing the ball into the danger area.

But unless we have a big attacker in there it’s like trying to play piggy in the middle with a midget when the “piggy” is a 7ft basketball star.

Before we had Giroud, Bendtner performed that central striker role for us, as did the likes of Adebayor, Kanu, Hartson and Smith in earlier Arsenal squads. Some were starters, others were specialists off the bench.

If you accept my argument, then the next obvious question is: who? Who could that target man be? I would have been up for bringing Giroud home to N5. He’s out of favour at Chelsea but it looks like he’s on his way to Inter Milan for somewhere between £5m and £8m. Could we have afforded that? Would it have been money well spent?

Is there a big striker in the youth set-up (outside of Nketieh) who’s ready to be given a chance? And if not, where else should we be looking: in the Championship? Perhaps some readers who follow the European leagues more closely than I do can suggest options from overseas…

Or am I barking up the wrong tree completely? Is the ‘big centre forward’ a symbol and symptom of an outmoded style of play?

RockyLives


Match report – Same old, same old!

January 18, 2020

Arsenal 1 Sheffield United 1

Match Report

Same old, same old!

We drop points again to a team with nothing more than Effort, Commitment and Organisation.

That’s it folks. No amount of team or individual player analysis will, in my opinion, move the debate on, or make me feel more content.

So I have a question for AA’ers around the World ( and my attempt at an answer)

Question :- Why can’t we hold on to a 1-0 lead?

In order to give my answer I am going to use the best proponents of this currently around ie Liverpool FC.

My answer will not include an explanation of why we can’t score TWO goals by the way, just why we can’t hold onto one.

Once we are 1-0 up we know, sooner or later we will drop back ( too far) or, be hit on the break. Let’s start with dropping back as an eleven. The reason I believe we can’t defend for long periods like this – compared to Liverpool – is we have no-one, with the exception of Torreira( my MOM today) who can make a high percentage challenge, in midfield, to hold up, to tackle to stop the advance. Liverpool, professionally have three + who can stop these midfield advances.

Then there is the fast break ………… In that circumstance, Liverpool have VVD and Gomez who can take the ball out of the air, control the ball, pass it off safely. And that even applies to the fullbacks although they don’t really need to and can concentrate on attacking!!

How do we fair in this circumstance? Absolutely useless is my assessment. Daviid you say…..well how many times as last man, has he been ridiculously reckless since he came to us? Mustafi and Sokratis….well, no comment!! If you disagree, my question is would you feel confident with either of them in a one on one against even an averagely good centre forward?

Additionally we had two players today who ARE NOT FULLBACKS.

So in conclusion, Mikel, I feel you are on a loser, unless you can get some large, strong, quick midfielders and defenders in ………… or show us how to score two (or preferably three or four goals).

Sorry very down.

LBG


Arsenal v Sheffield United prematch

January 18, 2020

I have to admit to feeling disconsolate after last weeks draw against Crystal Palace. Not because we played badly or gave the game away but because ‘lady luck’ was definitely against us in the way, Torreira went off at half-time,  Palace scored and how Aubameyang went into a tackle that got him sent off. In all honesty Aubameyang was probably just as disconsolate as me and hopefully he still had some Xmas chocolate too.

So, today we begin a run of three games without our captain and main goal scorer. In yesterday’s post, Rocky discussed how others will need to step up to the plate and start putting the ball in the back of the net. Since playing under Arteta, Aubameyang was also working hard defensively and so we’re going to miss that part of his game too.

But, as others have discussed, the opportunities are there for Martinelli, Nelson, Lacazette and Nketiah to make it hard for Arteta to leave them out. I’m looking forward to seeing them at some point. Last week I suggested that Lacazette would have found his scoring boots, but he hadn’t …….. come on Laca, do it in front of the home crowd.

There will be late tests for Kolasinac and Torreira. Torreira will be a huge miss as was evident in the second half against Palace, no-one else can do what he does as effectively. Pepe or Nelson to start? Arteta has been saying great things about Nelson and that Pepe needs to improve in training.

Sheffield United have a great away record sadly, although they have lost in their last two outings and their record against London teams isn’t good. Clutching at straws there because we need a win and having sent The Emirates into delirium against Man U I’m hoping it’s three points for the good guys today.

Arteta had this to say about Sheffield United

“I’ve been very impressed. Everything they do has a real sense, they are really difficult to break down.

“The solidarity in their team is incredible, how hard they work for each other and they have very clear principles – in attack and in defence.

“So it will be a very difficult test. I already warned the players today.”

Lets hope the players heed the warnings this time and come out ready for a fight. Sheffield United have the least number of shots on goal (71) in the league ……….. I’ll just leave that there 😉

I’m suggesting this team for today …………

Leno

AMN   Sokratis   Luiz   Saka

Xhaka   Torreira (fingers crossed)

Ozil

Nelson   Lacazette   Martinelli

The sun is going to shine all day in North London and our mate chas is coming to the game. Great omens.

COYG

peachesgooner

 


The Princes and the PEA: who will take advantage of Auba’s absence?

January 17, 2020

It’s disappointing news that the club’s appeal against Pierre Emerick Aubameyang’s red card has failed and he will miss the next three matches.

I know I’m in a minority in thinking the ref’s original decision (yellow card) was correct after Auba’s wild tackle on the Crystal Palace midfielder Max Meyer at the weekend. There was no malice, just a combination of over eagerness and bad timing.

But what’s done is done.

Now, as Mikel Arteta says, we have to see the next three games as an opportunity for the understudies to our funky Gabon to step up and be counted.

Auba is our attacking king, which means there are several princes who would love to take his crown. Which of them do we think will thrive while the monarch is missing?

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Lacazette

If Auba is the king, then Laca is the prince-who-once-was-king. His finishing and poaching instincts in and around the box have made him a consistent scorer since he arrived in N5, but his current dry spell makes the Sahara look like a jacuzzi. It’s likely that he will continue to be the central striker, which means his role will not significantly change while Auba’s out. But maybe there’ll be a psychological boost because he’ll know that (a) we’ll be relying on him even more without his strike partner and number one chum and (b) maybe Auba’s clinical record in front of goal has been intimidating Laca and this opportunity to be the main star all on his own might be just what he needs.

Summary: Cometh the hour, cometh the man. The Lion of Lyon will find those long-lost scoring boots at last.

Pepe

I feel we’re still a long way from seeing the best of Pepe. He has shown glimpses of real class and we know he can finish. But his performances are also erratic and he tends to lose the ball more than one would like. Nevertheless, if he gets the game time this could be a chance to show he can make up for Auba’s absence.

Summary: I have a funny feeling Pepe is going to chip in two or three goals in the next few games if – and it’s a big IF – he gets the on-pitch minutes.

Ozil

Obviously Ozil’s role is not directly affected by the lack of Aubameyang, but will he be encouraged to be more aggressive about getting on the scoresheet himself? He is surprisingly patchy in front of goal for a player with such sublime footballing gifts, but we have seen him score some lovely goals over the years.

Summary: Unlikely to be our saviour.

Saka

Aged just 18, Bukayo Saka has been one of the success stories of the season. He has shown energy and ability as a wide attacker, has filled in valiantly at left back when needed and even managed a couple of goals in the Europa League. On the face of it he could come in as a straight replacement for Aubameyang in the left forward role.

Summary: Not a shabby option by any means, but will he get the nod ahead of Martinelli?

Martinelli

For my money the young Brazilian is the most exciting prospect among the emerging talent at Arsenal. Although still raw (he’s also 18) he has shown hints that – if he continues to progress – he could develop into a Ronaldo/Van Persie type of player. He is brave, decisive and can score with both feet and with his head. If he is preferred on the left wing while Auba’s out he could do very well indeed.

Summary: Probably the fans’ favourite to start in place of Auba. If he does, expect him to do well.

Nelson

Reiss Nelson seems further down the conversation surrounding our attacking options when compared with Martinelli, Saka, Pepe or even Nketieh. But there are rumours that Arteta sees something of a Raheem Sterling in him and he has impressed in his recent outings.

Summary: It wouldn’t be a total surprise (to me, anyway) if Nelson got a lot of game time in the coming fixtures.

In conclusion, I expect Lacazette to continue as central striker for the two up-coming league games (Sheffield United and Chelsea). I think Pepe will start on the right for those games with Martinelli on the left.

For the FA Cup tie away at Bournemouth I’m guessing Martinelli as central striker (a rest for Laca), with Nelson on the right and Saka on the left.

But no combination would surprise me as Arteta continues to figure out how to get the most out of his squad.

Who will emerge as our golden booted hero in the next week-and-a-bit? My money is on Lacazette, with a key supporting role from Pepe.

RockyLives