Arsenal keep West Ham in their place.

March 8, 2020

So our Champions League hopes remain narrowly alive; as the saying goes, we have to take one game at a time and win them as they come along and that is exactly what we did, not pretty, but another important three points on the score board.

It took, what seemed to be an eternity, for VAR to realise that it is our god given right to beat the lesser teams of our shared capital. West Ham will always be in our shadows, a lesser team and a lesser club, their supporters spent most of the game vocalising where they thought best another, lesser, club stick their blue flag, funnily enough I found myself agreeing.

The team selection wasn’t that much of a surprise, although, Socratis keeping his place over Bellerin suggests that it is not just we the fans who can see that Hector is taking slightly longer than perhaps was expected to regain his former effectiveness; still, I am a big Bellerin fan and hope that he regains his former respect sooner rather than later.

We also had Mari making his debut for what must have been an injured Mustafi. You can never be sure which category a tall centre back is going to fall into; we all hope for another in the Big Tone mould but Stepanovs still haunts us. Mari started poorly giving the ball away and being caught out of position but it has to be said that he grew in confidence and became more effective as the game went on.

The first half was pretty dull with a near miss from Socratis who headed just over from a corner; a couple of good chances fell to West Ham who should have been ahead but hey ho. The second half started as usual with greater purpose; Arteta slowly increased the intensity with the inclusion of Nelson for Pepe and just before that Lacazette for Nketiah who added a lot more drive to our play before getting the all important winner.

Player Ratings

Leno: great save in the second half, clean sheet; all in all a very good day at the office. 9

Socratis: I suppose he was included to give Hector a bit more recovery time, he certainly helped aerially, didn’t do too much wrong and came close to scoring which would have been the second game on the trot. 7

Luiz: the thing to realise here is imagine he wasn’t an Arsenal player and we had to make do with Socratis and Mustafi at the back and you start to see why we should be grateful for his presence, well I am anyway. A superb performance today, so obviously an Arsenal player it makes me wonder how and why he ever played anywhere else. 8

Mari: got better as the game went on, gave us a lot more authority in the air and left me feeling quite good that he is on our books. 7

Saka: why does Saka play every game, is it because of other injuries, no it is not, it is because of his contract. The powers that be are making sure that he gets everything he wants as an enticement to stay and what he wants most of all is to play, and play he did. It is clearly not an accident that he has got the amount of assists that he has; he is the most potent threat from either wing by some considerable distance. 7

Xhaka: I want to scream at him, just give the ball to Saka but far too often he missed the opportunity; he didn’t play that badly, no silly mistakes and a game without a yellow, whatever next. 6

Ceballos: MOTM: the guy was everywhere, driving us forward and mopping up when it was inevitably needed. 9

Ozil: Mesut put in a decent shift without setting the place on fire. 7

Pepe: as I have said before there is an interesting little duel going on between Pepe and Nelson I have to admit I much prefer Nelson’s more direct approach. 6

Aubamayang: it’s like putting a racehorse in with a team of horses pulling a tractor – a complete waste. 6

Nketiah: didn’t get any service and unsurprisingly wasn’t able to flourish. 5

Not a game that will stay long in the memory but three valuable points should never be stiffed at.

LB


Pablo Mari: AA’s verdict on Arsenal’s new man

January 30, 2020

Pablo Mari has finally been signed by Arsenal after an on-again-off-again courtship.

Given that our central defenders are dropping like Totteringham hopes in May, any addition to the back line seems welcome to me.

But how good is Mari? What type of player is he? What will he bring to our team in what promises to be a fascinating second half of the season?

PM

Here is what Arsenal Arsenal regulars have had to say about him in recent days, kicking off with Fred, who was kind enough to share a brief bio of the new man:

Fred

Mari joined Manchester City in 2016 but never played for the first team, leaving for Flamengo last July after loan stints at Girona, NAC Breda and Deportivo La Coruna. The 26-year-old was a key figure under Jorge Jesus, who led the Rio de Janeiro giants to the Campeonato Brasileiro and Copa Libertadores titles.

RC78

Mari was regarded to be in the top three CBs last season in Brazil and during the Copa Libertadores. Big bloke, good feet but slow. I suppose it’s a good back up plan to have him. He may be a slower and less aggressive version of Sokratis. Not sure we will keep him beyond the end of the season. Let’s see.

I think Mari is the cheap back up. If it works out good, if not we don’t have to keep him. Smart move by Arteta.

Rasp

Mari has to be good business even if only until the end of the season. He’s 26, 6ft 3in, left footed and particularly noted for his ball playing skills and his ability to bring the ball out from the back. He would appear to be exactly what we need… a very decent signing.

Tim Vickery (south American football expert) speaks very highly of him and says it would be a major coup if we manage to sign him.

Aaron

Watched him against ‘Pool, he was solid! Another BFG in speed and ability to read the game?

GoonerB

I had a look at clips of Mari and he looks decent, although I wondered if he was a tad on the slow side, and he did seem to go to ground a lot with his tackling. He won all of those in the clips, obviously, but I would be unsure how many he may mistime.

The premier league is faster so I hope it doesn’t turn out that he finds the sliding tackles he was making, he suddenly is just slightly late with, otherwise that would make him a slightly bigger version of Mustaffi.

That said, Arteta will already know him from his time at City so will have seen him on the training ground and, if he feels he is good enough, so be it.

RA

Too slow? He will fit in brilliantly with the other CBs and Xhaka, and will form part of our brilliant Invincible Snails!!

Allezkev

Mari reminds me of BFG, reads the game with no frills defending, so are we in the process of signing a Big Flippin’ Spaniard?

LBG

My “Scousers with the mouthers” say he’s an upgrade on what we have, but slow.
I say wait until the new bigger and better Virgil van Dijk arrives in the Summer…S..A..L..I..B..A..

Mari? Hope he settles in quick.

LB

I don’t quite get the need for another central defender, don’t we have enough to get us to the end of the season? And then we have the addition of Saliba…

So, good business? Or an unnecessary move when we might have been better coping with what we have and waiting for Saliba to arrive in the summer?

My take, without having ever seen him play, is that I’m encouraged by his size, by the good reports that have come out of South America about him and by the fact that he is well known to Mikel Arteta.

Like RC78, it seems a decent risk to take him on loan. If he blows us away with his performances we have the option to buy him at the end of the season.

Time will tell.

RockyLives