On The Move: Six Differences Arteta has Brought to the Home of Football

Arteta’s early impact is starting to make a difference and what fun it is to take part in this journey. Where will it lead this season, and then beyond August? Nobody knows but we are on the move, and there is a lot of earthly happiness in the sensation of moving forward again.

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Here are my six early Arteta-reign observations:

  1. There is balance in our game again: no longer a shooting range for opposition but we are mostly in control now. Cleans sheets. Like in those eighties washing powder adverts in which a massive white sheet was lifted in the air by a helicopter, we now know what they look like again. Our game v Everton saw us slip back a bit but this is probably due to fatigue and having to overcome the setback of that first minute, freakish Toffees’ opener that should have been ruled out for dangerous play. We are no longer sitting back and absorb pressure (badly) to then pounce on the break… we want to make play in the opposition’s half… hallelujah!
  2. Playing the ball out from the back is so much better now. We are calm, have players using the available space very effectively and pass much better to each other. This can be further improved, and when facing a strong midfield, as we did v Everton, we still can be a bit wobbly, but it is so much better than during the Emery mini-era. We do miss a target in attack for Leno and the CBs to aim their long balls at. I liked the way Arteta used Big Sok in Athens last week, but we need more from our attackers of whom none have the Giroudesque qualities of owning the air and laying off the ball so well once it has been won.
  3. Players who were low on confidence are now much more calm, focussed and confident. Mustafi, Luiz, Xhaka and Ozil have become major players again, and that is soooo important a ‘quality’ to have as a manager. Gone are the days when players are being substituted at half time or in front of the vying-for-blood home fans. This led to low confidence and decreasing form of those players. Luckily, Arteta has the modern man-management skills suitable for the Millennials: listen, encourage, set targets and boundaries and offer help to deal with technical and emotional issues. Be there for them and they will be there for you, is the simple but veracious mantra.
  4. Arteta manages expectations and does not put too much weight on (young) players’ shoulders. For example, Martinelli had a very good spell but Arteta did not exploit him and pile further on the very high expectations of him. He sees Marti as a work in progress and wants to gradually get him ready for first team football and that is very mature. Another example is Guendouzi… Overused by Emery, he is now being people-managed into a quality player over time.
  5. There is once again camaraderie and togetherness and there is fight in this team. The team have purpose and belief again and want to do well for each other: that is at least 50% of the job. Arteta is recreating the Wenger era atmosphere amongst the group of players and it is great to witness. Who did not love captain Auba’s, lively Leno’s and monster Mustafi’s never say die attitude for the entire game yesterday? Arteta connects with the fans and has made it a priority for the team to connect with the fans, and the starting point is that our players work for each other and the shirt…. yes victory through harmony.
  6. He brought in a few loan players rather than demanding loads of change/money: work with what you have got and see where it will get you. The squad is a good one, and I reckon that Arteta will only let a couple of the main players go, if any, and will only buy a couple this summer. A confident manager is capable of this and does not need the waving of check books to establish themselves. We have a fab squad with great talent coming through and Arteta knows he is lucky with this (and he will ignore those fans that want a clear out this summer). A lot of money was spent on this squad and we finally have a manager who will get the best out of it.

Arsenal together

By TotalArsenal.

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Arsenal Player Ratings: Not 1 nor 2 but 3 MOTM, Right Wing Weakest

Arteta’s Arsenal 3 – 2 Ancelotti’s Everton

A very hard fought for win and three very precious points at the end of a week of three games in which we were victorious – two at the home of football and one at the home of ancient sports – is leaving us feeling upbeat and proud to be a Gooner. This was anything but straightforward, and we rode our luck at times, but a combination of excellent finishing, stout defending and team spirit got us to the end.

More game-analyses will follow but here are my player ratings:

Leno: 8.5 MOTM  – At fault for the second goal but a very powerful performance in the second half with top-notch saves. Mistakes are human and the best make them, but to get over it so quicky and then put in that performance show us all what a great goalie we have.

Kola/Saka: 6/6 – Kola did not have a great start of the game and then he got injured. Saka needed a rest, so much was clear when he had to come on for the injured Kola, but he put in a shift. Defensively the 18 year old made a few poor decisions, but he was very important once again by producing an absolute peach of a cross for his mate Eddie.

Luiz: 7 – at fault for the first Toffees’ goal but recovered well after that. The whole defence struggled with having a grip on the game and both in the air and on the groud we were vulnerable. Luiz did not get the best full back support today and the midfield was less solid as well, but he did well to guide us to victory.

Mustafi: 8.5 MOTM – massive presence in defence with a large number of clearances and interceptions, also good involvement in our forward passing, out from defence. Not sure about the hair, though. 🙂

Bellerin: 5 – Hector is still finding his feet and offered little in attack today. I also found him wanting in defence. Big fan but he needs to up his game, especially after being rested on Thursday.

Xhaka: 8 – How many passes did he make today? It makes you wonder why some still doubt him – three games in a row; the first on the team sheet for every manager. He did not get the much needed support in midfield today, but he compensated for this all by himself. Always tried to aid the attack from deep, and support the defence as much as possible.

Ceballos: 5.5 – Like his fellow Emery-chosen-one Guendouzi, Ceballos likes to aid the attack and offer tonnes of positive energy, but positionally he is limited and he does not form a shield enough with his fellow deeper midfielder (Xhaka). As a result, our defence was exposed, especially on our right side and it could have cost us dearly.

Ozil: 6.5 – quite isolated in a strong Everton midfield, but came for the ball a lot and moved our game forward whenever he could do so.

Pepe: 6 – good assist for the goal but often isolated in attack and not did not offer enough support in defence, hence leaving Bellerin exposed. We need to see more ‘presence’ from him on the pitch: more physicality, more energy, more thrust, more balls.

Eddie: 6.5 – took his goal well: made the right run and did not fluff his opportunity. His back-to-the-goal footie remains a work in progress, and his involvement in the game was often inconsequential. But he scored and that goes a long way for a young CF.

Auba: 8.5 MOTM – a powerful and passionate performance. Scored two fine goals and worked his socks off to support the below-par Saka right till the end. Pepe needs to learn from Auba.. and fast. PEA is not just a cheque collector: he has intrinsic motivation to do well for the fans, the manager and his team mates and I love him.

By TotalArsenal


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Arsenal v Everton Preview/ Line-up: Young Dog Arteta Faces Up to Wiley Fox Ancelotti

Arsenal v Everton – February 23, 2020

This is part of an article by David Hughes published by the Liverpool Echo.

There’s been a lot to like about Everton since the arrival of Carlo Ancelotti in late December. Since the Italian joined the club, the Blues have picked up the second-highest number of Premier League points and have closed the gap on the top five to just four points. This is significant given Manchester City’s two-year ban from all UEFA competitions for breaching FFP regulations, as this season’s fifth-placed team will likely secure a spot in next season’s Champions League.

Whilst there have been only slight adjustments at this stage by Ancelotti, they have still had a significant impact on various areas of Everton’s game – most notably perhaps their improvement in attack. There has been a stark increase in attacking threat in the seven weeks since Ancelotti’s arrival when compared to the same period before he joined the club. Under the Italian, the Toffees are scoring notably more goals on average per game. They are also attempting a higher number of shots per match too. These attempts are clearly of a much higher quality than before, which is highlighted by the boost in both.

These things are not always easy to quantify in numbers and can quite often be down to a multitude of factors such as tactical changes, improving confidence and form of players.

However, one facet does stand out when considering comments made by Ancelotti early on into his tenure as the Everton boss.

“At this moment we are not playing vertical, we are playing a lot of balls back, instead of playing forward – that is how we can improve. We can play more vertically” said the Italian after Everton’s 1-1 draw with West Ham in early January.

“We want to build up but when you have the possibility to play forward you must play forward quickly. If you are slow at the back you have less possibility to find space in the opponent’s half and that is something we have to improve.”

In light of the above, it’s worth noting Everton have increased their vertical passing from an average of 88.11 passes per game to a much higher 144.13 passes per game. This indicates we are seeing Everton move the ball from back to front much quicker, therein exploiting more spaces in the opposition set up and creating more high-quality goal-scoring chances. The beneficiaries of this improvement have been Everton’s two key forwards, Richarlison and Dominic Calvert-Lewin who have scored nine goals between them across Ancelotti’s eight league games in charge.

Now, thanks to these subtle adjustments made by Ancelotti, Everton look to be firing on all cylinders and are lining up a grandstand finish in the race for Champions League football next season.

Frankly that sounds just like the problem Arsenal had under Unai Emery.

Emery Rain

Arsenal has owned Everton in our Premier League home games, they have only beaten us once in twenty-seven games and that was back on January 20th, 1996. We have won the last five consecutive games and have outscored them fourteen to three.

This will be an interesting game from the managers point of view as both were hired just prior to the way game against Everton on December 19th, 2019 which ended in a 0-0 stalemate. Ancelotti has a record of W5, D3, L2, and Arteta’s record is W4, D6, L1 – so both managers appear to have stabilized their respective ships.

Arsenal v Everton – EPL Home Results
# Date W D L GF GA GD
1 24-Oct-92 1     2 0 2
2 28-Aug-93 1     2 0 2
3 14-Jan-95   1   1 1 0
4 20-Jan-96     1 1 2 -1
5 19-Jan-97 1     3 1 2
6 03-May-98 1     4 0 4
7 08-Nov-98 1     1 0 1
8 16-Oct-99 1     4 1 3
9 21-Apr-01 1     4 1 3
10 11-May-02 1     4 3 1
11 23-Mar-03 1     2 1 1
12 16-Aug-03 1     2 1 1
13 11-May-05 1     7 0 7
14 19-Sep-05 1     2 0 2
15 28-Oct-06   1   1 1 0
16 04-May-08 1     1 0 1
17 18-Oct-08 1     3 1 2
18 09-Jan-10   1   2 2 0
19 01-Feb-11 1     2 1 1
20 10-Dec-11 1     1 0 1
21 16-Apr-13   1   0 0 0
22 08-Dec-13   1   1 1 0
23 01-Mar-15 1     2 0 2
24 24-Oct-15 1     2 1 1
25 21-May-17 1     3 1 2
26 03-Feb-18 1     5 1 4
27 23-Sep-18 1     2 0 2
28 23-Feb-20            
Totals: 21 5 1 64 20 44


Arsenal v Everton – All Home Results
Division 1 44 11 15 132 77 55
Premier 21 5 1 64 20 44
Total 65 16 16 196 97 99

Overall we have dominated Everton in our home games and have outscored them by almost one hundred goals.


TA’s Predicted Line-Up:


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Arsenal Player Ratings: Two MOTM, Big Sok is a True Gunner, Auba Impresses

Solid, predictable, tidy and yes a bit boring, but an attack of sheer beauty gave us the away goal at the Greek cauldron and Leno and co kept a well-earned clean sheet. So what do we sing? Yes one-nil to the Arsenal – one-nil to the Arsenal! The Arteta train is gaining momentum but we are still far from what this team is capable of, and that is not bad but flipping good. We are on the road to somewhere and Arteta is building something solid, mature and enduring, and this takes time of course.

Alexandre Lacazette

Player Ratings

Leno: 8 – energetic and fully focussed. A tat lucky with the rebounds of his saves but the the pitch was wet and the ball slippery and he was always in control. Better distributions during this game, partly due to Big Sok being a good outlet for his long balls.

Big Sok: 7.5 – It was a surprise to see him play at RB but it worked a treat. Yes he was less effective going forward than say Bellerin, but he helped strengthening our midfield and was a good outlet for Leno’s long balls. Sokkie fought like a lion – a true Gunner – and this made a real difference tonight.

Mustafi: 8.5 – MOTM (joined) –  energetic and very, very present. Arteta has made Mustafi purring again and his confidence is back. But what I really like is that he is no longer ‘chancing it’; he is doing his job and he is doing it intelligently and that way Arteta will pick him time and again. He also started the move that led to the goal with a courageous diagonal cross to Auba. And in the air he was simply formidable.

Luiz: 8 – calm and experienced, he is now bringing the leadership the team needs, and he was worth his weight in gold today. A Brazo-Greek god on the pitch.

Saka: 8.5 – MOTM – yes joined MOTM with Mustafi. A full extra point for the only real moment of attacking quality: the cross for Laca’s tap-in goal. I have said it on a number of occasions, Saka delivers superb final balls into the box that win us matches, and this one was  once again priceless. Bukayo is quality. I also loved the way he used his body to push attackers out of the way. He is so calm and composed and loves his football.

Xhaka: 7.5 – kept it simple and was always present in midfield, and good protection of our defence all game long. Another unnecessary yellow card, but I think Granit just loves to see the colour yellow. 🙂

Guendouzi: 7 – similar to Xhaka, kept it simple and was always present in midfield. A little less effective in supporting the attackers in making things happen.

Willock: 7 – took a while to get into the game and seemed to tire midway through the second half, but some good midfield football and attacking passes. A work in progress but I can see a really good footballer in Joe that I like to watch.

Martinelli: 6 – worked hard but struggled to get a hold on the game, probably due to rustiness. A few bad first touches and disconnections with his fellow players. Needs to play again on Sunday imo.

Auba: 7.5 – worked hard for the team and had the pre-assist for the goal. His in-field game is okay but not great and we really wanted Auba to be receiving the balls he put into the box for his fellow attackers. Arteta is still looking for the ideal balance in attack.

Laca: 6.5 – an extra point for his excellent movement and finishing for our only goal. There were a lot of bad first touches and passes and he had a golden opportunity to score the second goal but squandered it. Love the work rate though, and in the end he scored the all important away goal.

Subs worth mentioning:

Ceballos: 7 – he brings something different to the other midfielders and that is where his value is. Defensively and in attack a work in progress but his enthusiasm to get stuck in and passing ability do make a slight difference and the team warm to him quickly on the pitch (unlike with Guendouzi).

By TotalArsenal




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Olympiakos v Arsenal Preview/ Line-up: No Ozil but two Youngsters are chomping at the bit

Arsenal v Olympiakos – February 20, 2020

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Founded on 10 March 1925, Olympiakos is the most successful club in Greek football history, having won 44 League titles, 27 Cups (17 Doubles) and 4 Super Cups, all records. Totalling 75 national trophies, Olympiakos is 9th in the world in total titles won by a football club. The club’s dominating success can be further evidenced by the fact that all other Greek clubs have won a combined total of 39 League titles, while Olympiakos also holds the record for the most consecutive Greek League titles won, with seven in a row in two occasions (1997–2003 and 2011–2017), breaking their own previous record of six consecutive wins in the 1950s (1954–1959), when Olympiakos was unequivocally nicknamed Thrylos (Greek: Θρύλος, “The Legend”).

Having won the 2014–15 league title, Olympiakos became the only football club in the world to have won a series of five or more consecutive championships for five times in their history, a record that was praised by FIFA with a congratulatory letter of its president, Sepp Blatter. They are also the only Greek club to have won five consecutive national Cups (1957–1961), as well as six League titles undefeated (1937, 1938, 1948, 1951, 1954, 1955). Olympiakos are one of only three clubs to have never been relegated from the top flight of Greek football, and by winning the 2012–13 title, their 40th in total, they added a fourth star above their crest, each one representing 10 League titles.

Olympiakos fans are renowned for their passionate and fervent support to the team, with the atmosphere at home matches regarded as intimidating. When they played Newcastle United at home in the 2004–05 UEFA Cup, the match was televised in the United Kingdom on Channel 5 and the guest commentator was former England international Tony Cottee, who was constantly mentioning how great the atmosphere was. During the game he was asked whether it was the most atmospheric stadium he had been to and replied: “I’d have to say it probably is. You hear a lot about various places and the atmosphere there but when you go you realise it’s not all that… But this place is the real deal.” The experienced Czech international winger Jaroslav Plašil paid further testament to the hostile atmosphere created by Olympiakos fans at home before his team Bordeaux visit the Karaiskakis Stadium, where he had played during his time with Monaco and stated, “It was one of the most intense atmospheres I’ve ever experienced in a stadium, so I expect it will be a bit like hell for us. Their supporters really can help their team.” Former Paris Saint-Germain superstar striker Zlatan Ibrahimović spoke of his admiration for Olympiacos supporters after an Olympiakos–Paris Saint-Germain match on 17 September 2013: “They played in front of their fantastic public. Olympiakos supporters were amazing. My friend Olof Mellberg played here and he talked to me about the supporters. I never saw it live, but now I understand. It’s amazing. It’s a big advantage for Olympiakos.” PSG billionaire owner Nasser Al-Khelaifi stated, “I have big respect for the fans here. I’ve never seen fans like Olympiakos’ fans in my life. “PSG and Brazil international winger Lucas Moura in an interview with goal.com stated that Olympiakos home ground was the most intense and heated stadium he’s ever played in.

We are all square having won four game and lost four, as mentioned the Olympiakos fans are among the most intimidating in the World so this will be a very difficult game.

Arsenal v Olympiakos – Champions League
29-Sep-09 Arsenal v Olympiakos W 2 0 CL
09-Dec-09 Olympiakos v Arsenal L 1 0 CL
28-Sep-11 Arsenal v Olympiakos W 2 1 CL
06-Dec-11 Olympiakos v Arsenal L 3 1 CL
03-Oct-12 Arsenal v Olympiakos W 3 1 CL
04-Dec-12 Olympiakos v Arsenal L 2 1 CL
29-Sep-15 Arsenal v Olympiakos L 2 3 CL
09-Dec-15 Olympiakos v Arsenal W 0 3 CL

By GunnerN5

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TA’s Predicted Preferred Line-Up (probably not far from actual line-up, I reckon):

Ozil stayed back and Arteta will have to keep a few players fit for the Sunday game v the Toffees. So I expect Big Sok to come in for Mustafi (who would deny him a home coming?!). I expect starts for Martinelli and Willock and Auba or Laca up-front. I went for Auba as we just need his cool-blooded finishing in the Greek cauldron tomorrow. Xhaka-Torro axis is essential too, I reckon.

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Ozil Loves Ceballos, Saka Great but NOT MOTM, Happy Laca: 8 Observations

Arsenal 4 – 0 Newcastle United: It is 16 February and hurrah we have a positive goal difference!

Peperdure Pepe staat eindelijk op bij Arsenal

8 observations/positives:

1. We were passing slowly in the first half, and the barcodes were making use of their manhandling and speed to try and break us.
2. Leno. Saved us from a first half implosion, and Mustafi and Luiz saved us from conceding.
3. Xhaka. Some iffy passes in the first half, when they were tighter at the back. When the game opened up the whole team exploited the gaps in midfield and defence.
4. Ceballos. Took his starting spot with both hands. And feet. His quicker passes allowed the team to find spaces quickly and enabled us to breach their defence better. My motm.
5. Auba. Could not find the rhythm in the first half. Not much improvement in the second but due to the team pressing high in the second half he got involved more.
6. Nketiah. Not a good day individually for him. His tactical awareness was lacking and his age showed his lack of plan B after he could not get past the defence in the first half. Missed a sitter in the second.
7. Ozil. Ceballos and Ozil need to be on the same pitch more regularly. Ozil thrives with more spaces, and feeds the forwards constantly when he had ample space. Ceballos creates space by moving the ball quickly and efficiently.
8. Laca. I wanted to say the summary with the last point, but something I want to say about Laca. He is holding up play better than Nketiah, and if Nketiah learns more from Laca the way that he plays will also be better too, given that he is pacier and has a better eye for the goal.

The team changed after the first goal. Right before that we were managing their attackers well, but we were sitting in the middle of the pitch. After that we were higher up the pitch and the barcodes were absolutely torn up by us, caught between putting players up front or defending. They chose putting players up front, thus causing the back to be exposed horribly.

Saka played ok defensively yesterday, and he was not that comfortable with the ball in the first half and during the start of the second, missing a few passes. He turned up the heat at the same time as Ceballos, and everyone got involved in the 4 goals. It came when we passed faster and found spaces better. That was our trick and it came in a crushing fashion. Maybe they read my previous post about how to play better? Using the 4:2:2:2 formation with 2 wide strikers?

The players that tried hard to create was Ozil and Pepe. Pepe is now finding his foot in the team, with more precise crosses. In the first half his crosses all found the head of barcodes. Ozil was mostly ok last night, and tried hard to create chances for the team.

Thus, it seemed harsh to give the MoTM to Saka. Ceballos, Ozil and Pepe deserved it more.


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Arsenal v Magpies Preview/ Preferred Line-up – Time for Willock to Shine?

Arsenal v Newcastle – February 16, 2020

Newcastle United Football Club (based in Newcastle upon Tyne) was founded in 1892 by the merger of Newcastle East End and Newcastle West End. Their home ground has been St James’ Park since the club’s foundation the ground was developed into an all-seater stadium in the mid-1990s and has a capacity of 52,354. The club has been owned by, the controversial, Mike Ashley since 2007, succeeding long term chairman and owner Sir John Hall.

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The club is the 17th-highest revenue producing club in the world in terms of annual revenue, generating €169.3 million in 2015. Newcastle’s highest placing was in 1999, when they were the fifth-highest revenue producing football club in the world, and second in England only behind Manchester United.

Newcastle has been a member of the Premier League for all but three years of the competition’s history and has been in the top four on five occasions.

The club’s top goal scorer is Alan Shearer, who scored 206 goals in all competitions between 1996 and 2006. Andy Cole holds the record for the most goals scored in a season (1993-34) with 34 in the Premier League) 41 overall. Shay Given is the most capped international for the club, with 134 appearances for Republic of Ireland.

Newcastle Club Honours

Football League First Division: Winners (4) – 1904–05, 1906–07, 1908–09, 1926–27

Second Division / Championship: Winners (4) – 1964–65, 1992–93, 2009–10, 2016–17

FA Cup: Winners (6) – 1910, 1924, 1932, 1951, 1952, 1955

FA Charity Shield: Winners (1) – 1909

European – Inter-Cities Fairs Cup: Winners (1) − 1969

UEFA Intertoto Cup: Winners (1) − 2006 (Outright Winner)

Woolwich Arsenal’s inaugural Football League appearance was played before a crowd of 10,000 at the club’s “new” ground, the Manor Field in a Division 2 game against Newcastle United on September 2nd 1983 and ended in a 2-2 draw.

Arsenal has won 18 of our 24 home games against Newcastle with the last loss on November 10, 2010.

EPL Home Games v Newcastle
Date W D L GF GA
27-Nov-93 1 2 1
18-Sep-94 1 2 3
23-Mar-96 1 2 0
03-May-97 1 0 1
11-Apr-98 1 3 1
04-Oct-98 1 3 0
30-Oct-99 1 0 0
09-Dec-00 1 5 0
18-Dec-01 1 1 3
09-Nov-02 1 1 0
26-Sep-03 1 3 2
23-Jan-05 1 1 0
14-Aug-05 1 2 0
18-Nov-06 1 1 1
29-Jan-08 1 3 0
30-Aug-08 1 3 0
07-Nov-10 1 0 1
12-Mar-12 1 2 1
29-Dec-12 1 7 3
28-Apr-14 1 3 0
13-Dec-14 1 4 1
02-Jan-16 1 1 0
16-Dec-17 1 1 0
01-Apr-19 1 2 0
Total : 18 2 4 52 18

Arteta used the winter break in Dubai as a mini training camp and used the camp as an opportunity to work on his playing methodology and to help in galvanizing team spirit.

Now with three of our next four games being played at home it is a perfect opportunity to gain some wins and move up the table.

We have beaten Newcastle in our last seven home games and outscored them twenty goals to five.

Onwards and Upwards 


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Preferred Line-Up (TA)


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