Arsenal 3 Fiorentina 0 Match report and Player ratings

July 21, 2019

This was the fourth game of our pre season and, as expected, we fielded some of our young players.

The team lined up as follows Martinez, Chambers, Jenkinson, Mustafi, Monreal, Kolasinac, Olayinka, Burton, Neslon, Saka, and Nketiah.

At first glance it would seem to be a 343. I didn’t realize we were still changing formation? I thought we would be sticking with the 433. One reason I can say the 343 is a good formation for us to play is because of Monreal as is he is too slow. I would have preferred to see Thompson over Kolasinac and Medley over Mustafi.

First Half

Nothing particularly remarkable from Arsenal in the first 15 minutes, Monreal being sloppy and Mustafi being Mustafi. Florentina were defending really well as a unit and Arsenal were shifting the ball left to right then right to left looking for an opening. Until eventually a brilliant move from Saka (Zaha who steups) playing in Kolasinac who lays on a plate for Eddie who was cool as ever rifling the ball into the net. Some more clumsy defending and more Monreal being sloppy. Olayinka and Burton needed to offer some support to the defense, Nelson to show a bit more probably it was because of Jenkinson Arsenal not getting the same dynamic on the right hand side as they are getting from Saka and Kolasinac on the left. First half ended 1 – 0 and we were fortunate not to have conceded, Martinez really proving to be a great keeper.

I was praying that Mustafi and Monreal would come off for the second half and we would revert to a 433, letting Medley show Mustafi how to defend.

Second Half

Well Emery listened to half of my prayers by reverting to 433 which made us definitely looked much better. Nelson was move to the left flank where he began showing his quality and on one occasion using his smart feet to cut inside and get a shot off but it curled straight at the keeper. Mkhitaryan’s first contribution in the game was to get booked, his second one was to pass the ball to Lacazette who laid it off to Eddie making it two nil, One thing you have to admire about Eddie is his ability to get space in the box. Willock held his own again when brought on and was smartly set up by Lacazette making it 3 goals to nil


One of the Star performer so far for me was Saka, I wouldn’t have any qualms him starting in the opening game. Eddie has a great ability to create space in the box. Mustafi is woeful and I hope he is frozen out just as Emery did with Mesut. We played much better when switching to 433/4231. It was nice to see us continue our fine form and the youngsters taking their chances.


Martinez – Was able to keep clean sheet not matter how hard Mustafi tried … 6

Carl Jenkinson – Struggle in 343, looked better in 433 still can’t cross … 5

Mustafi – Another horrible game from Mustafi … 4

Monreal – Struggle in 343 a lot of silly turn overs, looked better in 433 … 5

Sead Kolasinac – Looked solid again today … 6

Olayinka – Didn’t protect back 3, but was solid when we changed to 433 … 6

Burton– Didn’t protect back 3, but was solid when we changed to 433… 6

Chambers – another solid game … 7

Saka (Zaha who steups) – Another great game … 8

Nelson – Was invisible first half, came alive when he went to left … 6

Eddie Nketiah – great positioning in the box and took his 2 goals wonderfully … 10


Leno – Was able to keep clean sheet not matter how hard Mustafi tried … 6

Lacazette – Much more lively than in the previous game, came up with 2 assists … 7.5

Mkhitaryan – had an ok game but did we really need to see him play … 6.5

Megan Rapinoe – had an ok game but did we really need to see him play …

Willock – is this Ramsey 2.0? … had another great game … 6.5

Xhaka – Gets his customary yellow card and turns the ball over … 3

Thompson – Only a cameo but am really liking the look of him … 6

Other Subs not mentioned …5


Emery – Has the team looking sharp, his 343 experiment failed and he still doesn’t realize mustafi will cost us goals against better teams… 5



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.


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


Liam Brady and me … a personal story

July 13, 2019

A personal tale of my earliest Arsenal experience, and my favourite  player.

“My first game to watch The Arsenal was in season 61-2, and the match programme was presented to me by Chas a good few years ago now. I stood on the South Bank, on my home made wooden stool, and waved enthusiastically to our Dad as he sat in his West Stand seat.

The opposition had two players who played a significant part in North London football in the years that followed. In defence was a big, blonde centre back called Ian Ure, and in attack a tall streak of p*** ( sorry, old habits) called Alan Gilzean.”

My blog initials stand for LiamBradyGod. Needless to say my favourite player of all time.

He signed this black and white photo for my Bros at an Arsenal event, but only if they could name the other players in the picture. They could. Can you?”

I have one other story about Liam that I would share since it also illustrates what a good lad he was/is.

Twenty years ago my son was travelling to Loughborough Uni for an interview and spotted Liam in the queue for a taxi to the University. ( He was going to a conference  himself at the University). Matt plucked up courage to talk to Liam mainly to tell him I was his greatest fan. Liam chatted with Matt about the Arsenal, offered to share his taxi (and paid for it), and wished him good luck with his interview on arrival at the University.

A story Matt relayed to me with glee on his return, almost surpassing for me the news he had been accepted to read a degree at the University.

Written by LBG

What can Arsenal Supporters Reasonably Expect Next Season?

July 11, 2019

Reasonable is a difficult word so I’ve decided to try to look at current elements from an Arsenal perspective related to how we think we can compete next season in the top 4, which is actually the short and easy part of this for me. If you don’t want a really long read, go to the end for that. I’ve also added a historical perspective because we are the Arsenal and hence have historically based expectations. So here it is:

15 Years ago (Boy were we spoiled !!)

Goalkeeper and Defence : Solid, commanding keeper with physical, fast defenders that were well organized, tactically savvy, good in the air and hard as nails. Also a consistent scoring threat at set pieces.

Midfield : Box to box midfielders, strong, physical skillful and hard working, good defensively complimented by fast skillful wide players who could beat a man. All of them were creative and could score for fun.

Forwards : Fast, devastating finishers, confident, creative and hungry.

The last 10 years (steady decline with odd flashes of brilliance)

Goalkeeper and Defence : No real commanding presence or leadership of the back line. Football playing defenders, physically unimposing and generally poor in the air, didn’t tackle very well and unable to hold a cohesive defensive line. Tendency to give away stupid free kicks which we were ill equipped to defend. Let crosses come in far too easily. (Sagna is exempt from all of this except the crossing thing).

Midfield : Defensive Midfielders were generally a bust (including Alex Song) and went missing at the vital moments. The rest were generally small tricky and very creative, held possession extremely effectively due to being technically sound, very good at short passing triangles and give and goes. Some good free kick technicians and ball strikers and generally a threat to score. Lightweight and unable to defend. (Santi – you’re exempt from criticism – what a tragedy. A complete genius).

Forwards : Apart from a very injury prone RVP who left after his only outstanding season, only Alexis managed more than 20 goals in 2017 until Auba got 22 last year (Ade got 24 in 2008). Other than that, a string of inconsistent finishers often with pace but (other than Giroud) unable to score in the air. Most of these players looked a lot better than they were because of outstanding creativity in the midfield and a team built to attack. (Alexis was the real deal).

Today (Oh dear!!)

Goalkeeper : I think Leno can be the new Jens. Not because he’s German but he will command his defence if he has some support. Just what we need.

Defence : Bellerin, Sokratis and Holding are good enough to do what we need to compete in the top 4 race. We need 2 more to step up and a combination of Monreal and Koscielny to play bit part roles. AMN and Mavro look like good prospects.

Defensive Midfield : Torreira is good enough and will get better. He has all the tools but needs to stop falling over to try and win free kicks. Refs are wising up. Guendouzi is a good prospect. I don’t think Xhaka can do it unless he undergoes a major transformation (mostly in mentality but also agility). If anyone can do this, Dick can !! Need a couple of step ups. Unlikely to be Elneny so maybe Bielik or Chambers. The latter is also too slow at the top 4 level I think. Could maybe play a bit part in defence.

Attacking Midfield : I know this will be unpopular but Ozil is a liability, as is Mkhitaryan. But as sick as it is, without these two we have ZERO creativity. As a group,(including these two and Iwobi) we have ZERO midfield goal scoring threat at the top 4 level.  “ZERO” encompasses scoring the odd goal here and there but really means compared to the rest of the top 4 and how our opposition sees us.

Forwards : We have two of the better forwards in European football right now. Such a shame we have such little ability to create chances for them especially against good teams. They will need a little help throughout the season. Hopefully Eddie or Reiss might help a little but they’ll find it hard to compete against almost all of the Premier League.

What we need

Assuming not too many injuries – unlikely but you can’t plan for what you don’t know about – here’s hoping for some divine intervention !!

1) Some Balls !!!  Let Leno, Sok and Holding scream at the slackers. We need a strong captain. I think Sokratis fits the bill, Holding as a back up.

A solid centre back that can head the ball would be great as long as he can defend. Ditto for a left back.

2) Learn to defend properly without the ball !!! Team effort, tactics and desire along with improved fitness levels. Torreira will be good and hopefully inspire everyone else and lead by example.

A solid DM would be great.

3) Meaningful possession when level or behind !!! City had a difficult time last season breaking down a stubborn Leicester defence until Kompany scored “that goal”. For us it’s the norm and we seldom score that goal. It’s hard to see where the creativity will come from but we do have the goal scorers. We need to improve technically with the ball to avoid being beaten by the high press.

A fast, skillful winger and a #10 that’s willing to defend would be great.

4) To kill off games when we’re ahead and playing well !!! A major weakness of Arsenal since the mid 2000’s has been our inability to kill off vulnerable opposition. We haven’t been able to soak up pressure which is an essential element of counter attacking, which takes speed, desire and finishing. Laca and Auba need to be clinical especially against better sides. We need to transition quicker to defence in the event we don’t score.

A good finisher who can also score in the air would be great.

How can we achieve this?

A) Follow a plan designed by Unai.

I’ve read a lot about us not having a “style of play” or “certain way of playing”. Those observations are valid – to a point. I just don’t think we have a good enough squad of players to dictate games and be one thing, which might be the entire point of this extended article. Nor do I believe we have the resources or the reputation in Europe right now to bring in outstanding players. To compete in the top 4 this coming season, we need to deconstruct our opposition and make a fairly rigid plan for each game. That might be to increase possession or play on the counter. It might be different for every game, depending on who or where we play. Hopefully Unai is up to the task. And most of all, that the players, staff and fans respond to his methods.

orB) Change the structure of the club.

Buy everyone we need (see “would be great” above) and start winning immediately. 5 or 6 key 80m signings (and a new manager for some people reading this – but not me!!) would do the trick !! It’s that easy. It’s also never going to happen.

So my answer to the question of what we can reasonably expect next season is, at best we can expect a tough season with a somewhat rugged team playing efficient if not always attractive football. But if we can become hard to beat and score a few goals, it opens our opposition up and often, that’s how you can win games comfortably. I think tactics, game planning and strategy are our only hope of competing effectively this season. But it will be a building block for next season and beyond if we can do it. One thing’s for sure, it won’t be easy.

Mike M

Possession Football with a High Press is Arsenal’s route back to the top … if we can afford it!

July 9, 2019

The champions of 4 out of the 5 Major leagues have the most possession-based football in that league. – City, Barcelona, Bayern Munich and PSG.
Only Juve is behind two rivals, namely Inter and Napoli.

So I would say that at the moment, possession football is winning. The philosophy being that if you have the ball, you can’t be hurt by the opponent and you can hurt your opponent. Now, you have to use the ball effectively and this is the key.

Interestingly in the EPL, the top 5 teams have the highest possession rate in this order: City, Chelsea, Liverpool, Tottenham, Arsenal.

You cannot play possession football all the time – I think all the teams mentioned above (except maybe PSG) are adept also at the high press. Again, if you get the ball in the opponent’s half, you can hurt them quickly because they have less time to react to the loss of the ball and if you do a good use of the ball, you will score or at least create chances. Barcelona is amazing at the doing that and so is City. Bayern and PSG slightly less so.

Basically, I believe Emery is more keen to turn us into a mix between Atletico and maybe Bayern type of team. The team that impressed me the most was the last Bayern Munich team that won the CL with Heinckes. They were lethal on transition and were good at possession but they were so balanced and so cohesive. The wings were very active – the mid was solid – the forward hard working and clinical. The only weak point was Dante who had that year an amazing season. Bayern is trying to recreate such a team now.

Possession football is very popular and effective these days. However, my feeling is that the teams with high possession are also the most effective at getting the ball back (hence the high possession as well). Unsurprisingly they are also among the richest clubs. The players in these squads can also adapt to these demanding systems – look at what De Bruyne, David Silva and Sergio Aguero do at City and what Sane, Wijnaldum do at Liverpool or Rakitic, Verratti…

We don’t have confirmed players like that but I am hopeful over Maitland-Nyles, Lucas Torreira, Guendouzi, Iwobi and Kolasinac within our squad so things are not as gloomy as some may believe. We will only know how strong we will be for sure when the transfer window closes.


Did Unai Emery train the Pep out of the Arsenal players last season?

July 8, 2019

It seems like there’s still very much a verdict out on Unai Emery. Which is justifiable and understandable.

The players needed and probably got a bit of a culture shock. I don’t think he inherited a good enough squad to do it the way he would have liked.

Remember Pep’s first year at the Man City? I distinctly remember people saying he was training them too hard and he was going to burn out his poor millionaire superstars. I think he did too. They didn’t win much.

It appears we hit a wall and burned out too last season. So for me it bodes well. Ask any City fan, Raheem Stirling, David Silva, Fernandino, Kevin De Bruyne and I’m certain a few more how they feel about it now. Alternatively you could ask Joe Hart (learn to pass it Joe or you can’t play for us), Jesus Navas, Eliaquim Malanga, Samir Nasri, John Stones, Bernard Mendy etc. who may see it differently. I hope you get my point.

Obviously the big difference is what to do about it. City just bought better players for a shed load of money. We can’t. So one of our alternatives is to promote the youngsters, which is what recent posts have been about. It’s VERY important that we’re very careful here if we use this strategy. Reiss Nelson will not turn into Ryiad Mahrez in one season, nor Eddie into Sergio Aguero. As a believer in a much needed mentality shift, I can’t see a problem with bringing in a young player to replace some of our current squad who just don’t seem to have a good enough attitude and/or work ethic.

But if we do, just make sure we temper our expectations of the team and manager so we give them a chance to succeed. Because it took City 2 years and Liverpool 3 years to do it and I’m not sure we can compete with either one of them financially (certainly the City, but probably Liverpool now too).

Mike M

Zaha …… the best we can afford?

July 2, 2019

I love our club but why are we offering £40m for a player that is widely valued at £80-£100m? Does his love of Arsenal mean that he’s going to be successful for us or is he just following in the footsteps of other English players who we want to be better than they turn out to be?

I know sometimes you have to take a punt on a player but surely not at that price. I can see this becoming embarrassing while Palace dig their heels in for more and Zaha comes out and says he’ll only play for Arsenal.

Is the desire to buy Zaha (and Tierney to some extent) linked to the Homegrown Rule where in a squad of a maximum of 25 players there have to be 8 homegrown players over the age of 21?

Arsene Wenger (or Gazidis?) always made sure that there were sufficient numbers of Homegrown in the squad to satisfy the rules. Losing Welbeck means we must replace somewhere with homegrown, similarly if we sell Jenkinson and Chambers. Homegrown means that a player has to have been at an English (or Welsh) club for three years before they turn 21 ……… so Bellerin (Spain) counts as homegrown having come through our academy.

One of our bloggers summed it up for me yesterday ………….

I think we could buy Zaha for £45 million plus the likes of one of our lower earners (but half decent players) as Jenks or Elneny etc. but the only reason I see for having him would be that we wouldn’t have to face him again and the increase in our penalty count.

In other news Swiss Ramble put a brilliant thread on Twitter about the state of our finances, have a read if you get a chance, we have really dropped down the pecking order against the other top six sides. Shockingly our income from commercial deals is well below the other clubs ………… and we’re supposed to be a self sustaining model.

I’m sure there’ll be more mad news today ……..