Arsenal Player Ratings: Obvious MOTM, Mustafi and Guendo’s Best Games, Eddie Eddie Eddie!

A great, dominant and cool-blooded first half was followed by a less dominant second half, but Arsenal totally deserved the win and are now in the last 16 of the FA. A trip to Portsmouth will follow in February and the Arsenal are on course for a record 14th FA CUP win!

The first half we were that good that it seemed Arsenal were playing a second division team at home at times. That was all down to Arteta’s game plan and instructions. Very, very impressive.

happy arsenal v bournemouth

Player Ratings:

Martinez: 6.5 – not that much to do in the first half but quite involved after the break. He tried hard to make up for the lack of height/ aerial power of the defenders but was not very convincing with his one fisted clearances.

Saka: 9 – what can you say? Bukayo has it all and was clearly the man of the match with a superb goal and quality assist. He is so strong, fast, calm and intelligent. Love him.

Big Sok: 7.5 – what a warrior and seemed to enjoy playing next to Mustafi and (when he sat deep-left) Xhaka. He was our leader today.

Mustafi: 7.5 – worked his socks off and his interceptions and reading of the game were good. Also some quality distribution from the back. Shame he got injured; it does not look good I am sorry to say.

Captain Hector: 7.5 – this was a big battle for him and he seemed to have enjoyed himself. The Pepe/Bellerin combo is a work in progress, but at the back Hector put in a good shift. I bet he feels great after coming through the Cherries’ physical onslaught.

Xhaka: 7 – very effective in this hybrid role of half DM/ half LB but a few poor passes for which he was not solely to blame. Battled hard in the end with some good interceptions.

Guendouzi: 8 – possibly his best game in an Arsenal shirt. Played much more with his back towards our goal when helping out defence and his reading of the game and interceptions were good. Guendo also moved the ball forward well and was a  thorn among the Cherries all game long.

Willock: 7 – Strong first half (8) but seemed to struggle with Bournemouth when they upped the tempo and intensity in the second half (6). I wanted him to support Guendouzi and Xhaka more in midfield, but some of his attacking play in and around the hole was very promising. Good to have him back on the pitch.

Martinelli: 7.5 – Good assist for Saka’s roof-of-the-net-screamer and worked very hard both in attack and defence. Marti and Saka – Sakarti – are developing a very fine relationship and this time it is Saka who gets the goal. Martinelli has such a pressence on the pitch and every opponent will suffer by him; that’s a guarantee.

Eddie: 7 – Good first half and finished his chance well. Loved his play and anticipation in the box and general involvement in the game. But just like Willock and Pepe, I felt he eased off too much in the second half.

Pepe: 6.5 – Had his moments and was effective in the first half but I wanted more from him in the second half. He remains a work in progress (and is lucky that Nelson is not fit to play imho).

Ceballos: 6.5 – Helped with taking the game back to the Bournemouth half and a few good interventions in our box. But still looks like a duck out of water on the pitch at times. Really needs more game time but competition is big…

By TotalArsenal.

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The FA Cup Kings v Bournemouth Preview: Strongest Line-Up / Eddie Start?

Arsenal v Bournemouth – January 27, 2020

See the source image 

This will be the first time we have met Bournemouth in the FA Cup in fact it will only be the 12th time we have met them.

Our EPL away record

Bournemouth v Arsenal EPL Away Record
07-Feb-16 1     2 0 2
03-Jan-17   1   3 3 0
14-Jan-18     1 1 2 -1
25-Nov-18 1     2 1 1
26-Dec-19   1   1 1 0
Total 2 2 1 9 7 2

Our Home Record

Arsenal v Bournemouth EPL Home Record
28-Dec-15 1     2 0 2
27-Nov-16 1     3 1 2
09-Sep-17 1     3 0 3
27-Feb-19 1     5 1 4
06-Oct-19 1     1 0 1
Total 5 0 0 14 2 12


Arsenal v Bournemouth – League Cup – Home Games
27-Oct-87 1     3 0 3


Bournemouth have a home record of W3, D3, L5, GF12, GA18.


Manchester City Lost 1-3
Sheffield United Draw 1-1
West Ham Draw 2-2
Everton Won 3-1
Norwich Draw 0-0
Wolves Lost 1-2
Manchester United Won 1-0
Burnley Lost 0-1
Liverpool Lost 0-3
Watford Lost 0-3
Brighton Won 3-1

Arsenal has a long and proud record in the FA Cup with 20 Cup Final appearances and a record 13 victories.

Arsenal FA Cup Final Appearances
  Winner GF GA Loser Year Venue
1 Cardiff City 0 1 Arsenal 1927 Wembley Stadium
2 Arsenal 2 0 Huddersfield 1930 Wembley Stadium
3 Newcastle 1 2 Arsenal 1932 Wembley Stadium
4 Arsenal 1 0 Sheffield United 1936 Wembley Stadium
5 Arsenal 2 0 Liverpool 1950 Wembley Stadium
6 Newcastle 0 1 Arsenal 1952 Wembley Stadium
7 Arsenal 2 1 Liverpool 1971 Wembley Stadium
8 Leeds 1 0 Arsenal 1972 Wembley Stadium
9 Ipswich 1 0 Arsenal 1978 Wembley Stadium
10 Arsenal 3 2 Manchester United 1979 Wembley Stadium
11 West Ham 1 0 Arsenal 1980 Wembley Stadium
12 Arsenal 2 1 Sheffield Wednesday 1993 Wembley Stadium
13 Arsenal 2 0 Newcastle 1998 Wembley Stadium
14 Liverpool 2 1 Arsenal 2001 Wembley Stadium
15 Arsenal 2 0 Chelsea 2002 Millennium Stadium
16 Arsenal 2 0 Southampton 2003 Millennium Stadium
17 Arsenal* 0 0 Manchester United 2005 Millennium Stadium
18 Arsenal 3 2 Hull City 2014 The New Wembley Stadium
19 Arsenal 4 0 Aston Villa 2015 The New Wembley Stadium
20 Arsenal 2 1 Chelsea 2017 The New Wembley Stadium

The FA Cup Final was first televised on 30 April 1938. The match at Wembley was between Preston North End and Huddersfield. With fewer than 10,000 sets in the country at the time and 93,000 people in attendance, many more people saw the game in the ground than at home. But it started something that is now a major part of television output, fought over by broadcasters and worth millions of pounds to the teams.

The Cup Final was only the second complete football match shown, after the England v Scotland game earlier that month, which was viewed as a test run for the bigger event. The BBC’s outside broadcast unit of two vans relayed the action to Alexandra Palace via an aerial set up between the famous domes of the stadium.

Preston’s team featured the legendary Bill Shankly, but the match was goalless until the final minute of extra time, when George Mutch scored to make Preston the winners. The late goal caused a problem for commentator Thomas Woodrooffe, who rashly said “If there’s a goal scored now, I’ll eat my hat!” Woodrooffe was later held to his word, though his hat was made of cake for the occasion.

Watching football on television has become an essential part of many football fans lives. The FA Cup remains a cornerstone of the BBC’s sport output.

GN5 watched his first FA Cup Final in 1950 on my Uncles 9” black and white TV set that had a large magnifying glass position in front of the screen – it seemed like a good idea but you had to sit directly in front to get a reasonable picture. This year I’ll watch the game in my son’s home theatre, complete with surround sound and projected on to a 120” screen.

I’ve watched 69 FA Cup Finals in all, including 16 of Arsenal’s – with 11 being victories.

In 1980 I was on a work contract in Coeur D’Alene, Idaho and US TV did not cover the FA Cup so I phoned a hotel in Cranbrook B.C. Canada and they confirmed the game was being shown. I booked a room and drove 200 plus miles through the mountains to watch us lose 1- 0 to West Ham – it was a very lonely (yet beautiful) drive back to Idaho the next morning.

Let’s see if we can win number fourteen for Mikel.


Predicted line-up by TotalArsenal:

I predict a strongest possible starting 11 tonight. After all, Arsenal are the Kings of the FA Cup, we need momentum, Bournemouth away is always hard, the nation will be watching, we just love this competition, etc. 

If Sok is fit enough, expect a CB duo of Holding and Sok. If not we may see Xhaka play in the LCB position of suspended Luiz and Holding move to his much preferred RCB position. If Xhaka is needed in midfield, expect Mustafi to get another chance as CB (if Sok is not fit enough).

I expect a start for hard-working Laca with Pepe, Ozil and Martinelli behind him, but for freshness, and just 60 minutes or so, Arteta could give Eddie a start. In fact, I have a feeling that may well happen, with Laca to come on late to score a glorious winner!


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Rumour is Ceballos Starts: Bournemouth v Arsenal Line-Up / Preview

See the source image

The importance or non importance of the FA competition is not the issue. Even if it were a mere friendly, which it is far from, Arsenal need a win so as not to jeopardize the good work Arteta is doing. Nobody knows this better than Arteta himself, therefore it is expected that he will field a strong team.

Martinez should start at goal. That’s like a contract signed, sealed, delivered. MA might not want returning Bellerin exposed so soon after the gruelling 10-men heroics of less than a week ago. It will be a decision made easy for him by the fact that Maitland-Niles is a good replacement. Sokratis will be back, likely partnered  by another returning player Holding. Brave and impressive 18 year old Saka might be rested for the Tank. Oh, just learnt the Tank is out, so Saka is in. Come to think of it, at 18 his turnaround maintainable time should be much shorter.

Xhaka usually has the most touches of the ball in the team but somehow at the end of every game the impression is that he has expended the least energy. He must be a jogging. Not so Torreira who uses up every ounce of his energy even before the 90 minutes but somehow is able to dig deep into a special reservoir that leaves him totally exhausted by the final whistle. Arteta might deem it necessary to give him a rest on the bench in place of Guendouzi.

Martinelli starts in spite of the 26 sprints he did against Chelsea, 11 more sprints than any of his mates. Arteta, quick on the uptake already knows Pepe for what he is. An unpolished gem. He knows that not long from now, after forging him in his crucibles, he will be glittering. Pepe is likely to start but feeling the flame of Arteta’s burning eyes fixed on him all of the 90 minutes.

He might rest Ozil and use the opportunity to test out his conviction that Ceballos’ creativity can be very useful in the more forward areas. His playing style is not in any book of tactics and defenders might find that unsettling.

Does Lacazette need a rest? He’s been working his socks off. I don’t think MA would be in the frame to start Nketiah. He’d rather have him come off the bench.

Predicted line up:

Subs: Leno, Bellerin, Mustafi, Torreira, Willock, Ozil, Nketiah.

Eddie Howe the Bournemouth manager has even tougher decisions to battle with. He has eight men out. He is in the relegation dog-fight. He is playing in front of the home crowd. What team will he send out? Something tells me he’d be brave. We must expect a tough Monday night.



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With Just 1.3 PL Goals per Game Re-signing This Former Gunner Would Make Sense

Is it too late to re-sign Ollie Giroud?

Exactly 101 weeks ago, Oliver Giroud, L’Handsome, signed for the Chavs. We got Auba, Dortmund needed a replacement which they got from Chelsea and they wanted Giroud to fill the hole. OG worked well with Eden Hazard and played a pivotal role in the French national team that won the world cup in 2018. The move to the Chavs had worked out for him, even though he would rather have stayed at Arsenal by all accounts.

Wenger convinced him to make the move and Auba has been a success for us in terms of goals, so everybody should be happy, right?

Now he is even being linked with a ‘surprise’ move to the Catalonian gods of Barca to replace the shoulder muncher, who is out till the end of the season.

The point I tried to make for many years is that Giroud was a very important player for us. He had his limitations, just like his fellow world championship winning teammate, the BFG, but boy did he milk his qualities to the full and was he an asset to the team. I am really pleased to see that Ollie is getting the recognition for this from both Gooners and non-Gooners, and finishing his football career at Barcelona would surely be the icing on the club-cake?!

He made others better, more effective players by giving them options and making space for them. Very few attackers were better than him in finding the balance between playing with his back towards goal to enable others time and space with the ball, and yet scoring enough goals himself in the team set-up. Now look at Laca: he is trying hard to play with his back towards goal, for which he does not really have the body mass, but his goals have dried out. It really is an art and an unthankful role to play and OG12 simply excelled in it.

Ollie made Ozil and Sanchez the stars of the show without much appreciation it seems, especially from the Chilean firecracker.

Sanchez scored 8 goals in 20 Arsenal matches in the first half of the 2017-18 season; after that he managed just 5 in 45 games for Manchester United (in 1.5 season). MU did not have an Ozil, but they also did not have a Giroud to make space for him and connect with (although Lukaku could have been such a player, he was not used like that).

Over the last two seasons, Ozil’s assists have dried up. He is still our king of the key pass but very few are leading to goals these days, and it was all quite different when he was working with both Giroud and Alexis.

Many Gooners wanted an improvement on Giroud and they finally thought they got one when Auba signed.

However, we should be concerned about our lack of goals and dependency on Auba. PEA is the superior attacker to Giroud as his personal stats show, but there is more to football than individual goal tallies. Have we become too dependent on Auba? Our goals have dried up this season that is for sure and Auba is our only prolific striker, especially in the PL.

In 5.5 seasons Giroud managed to play a whopping 253 games for us,  46 games on average per season. He scored 105 goals, an average of 19 goals per season. OG was a work horse and his lack of athleticism and raw speed – to which the British football fans are totally addicted – never made him a favourite for all, but boy was he important to the team.

The biggest question to ask is have we actually become better as a team in terms of scoring goals since Giroud left and Auba arrived? GunnerN5 kindly did some statistical analysis for us and it turns out we have gone backwards: in the ‘Giroud era’ Arsenal scored on average 1.87 PL goals per game (in OG’s last two seasons at the home of football it was even higher at 1.99!). In the ‘Auba era’ it is just 1.63 goals per game (with just 1.33 goals per game this season).

Could Ollie return? Should he return to Arsenal for one or two seasons?

It is not inconceivable but looking for a similar type would probably make more sense. Having an attacker who can play with their back to the goal suits Arsenal’s passing game, and it looks like Arteta is very keen on it. We surely need to do something up-front as the goals have dried up this season, and although we are playing much better football under Arteta, it is vital that we start to turn draws into wins by getting our goal per game average back to the 1.9/2 mark.

So, it may not be a stupid move at all to re-sign Ollie for 18 months and I am sure he would jump at the opportunity.

By TotalArsenal.


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What To Do with Ozil and Laca? Near-Future Starting 11 Without Them

To my view, the game has moved backwards… I don’t mean that in terms of some sort of grand cultural statement, but as a tactical/strategic one…

If I had the heat maps or screen captures (or any diagrams at all…) I could probably illustrate things very simply. Alas, I only have my words (and those, I know, put people to sleep)…

Surely, high back lines have been played since the offside rule came in–GN5, history lesson please–and this must’ve increased with the 3 points for a win rule as better teams pushed further and further forward to compress the field. Now with VAR and computer diagramming (linesman/woman is really just a jobs program, isn’t it?…) teams can compress their opponent, that much further.

This, of course, means that there are many times in a match when a team has the ball and all (or maybe nearly all) of the players are in their own half… Counter attack heaven if the other team hasn’t retreated just a bit… So, coaches like Mourinho and Emery say lure ’em forward and then we’ll spring on the break…

(In reference to 10 men maybe being better than 11 for Arsenal, at least against a “top” opponent, like Chelsea, who maybe thought, “OK, up a goal, at home, time to run up a tally,”maybe it IS true, as what is a bigger lure than that sort of hubris?…)

But where does this leave the traditional creative attacker types, esp. those who play central (where turnovers are most damaging for teams as they try to break on us)?…

They are only going to persist at the top, top teams…and, they’ll need to punctuate their “head’s up” passing play (assist making) with plenty of selfishness and head down/magical individual goals. At Arsenal, we’ve got two very fine players (IMO) in Lacazette and Ozil, who are actually working really (really) hard, but are struggling with Arsenal’s downward trajectory as a club (we’re hardly a “top” team, let alone, “top, top” team).

Traditionalists will say, well then let ’em feck off to where the game is for softies (i.e., the rest of Europe) and ALWAYS complain about their lack of defensive abilities/willingness to risk injury and the like.

And, so, maybe Arsenal *should* get rid of them (and their high salaries, etc.)…

I disagree (of course, which, if you’re still reading this probably comes as no surprise) and I would (continue to) counsel patience. As the group grows in self-belief, and we recover from the negative tactics of the Emer-periment, I think those guys will “come good.” It may not be enough to outscore all the opponents all of the time, but I have some genuine hope…

(…Which, of course, will be the thing that kills me…)

In the meantime, indulging in fantasy ideas for a split second, move AMN to left Back, Saka to #10, Mustafi into DM–at least until we replace the curly boys (see below) and move Xhaka to CB…

We can sell Ozil, Lacazette (and, of course, PEA)… And then buy ourselves a real keeper who can save like Leno AND come off his line and (actually) get to the ball (which, btw, might’ve kept us better than level in BOTH matches against the Chavs…) not to mention (the next, if not the guy himself) Virgil Van Dyke. Personally, I’d also sell on the curly duo (Luiz and Guendouzi) and buy the most awesome deep-sitting mid in the world (names, please_…

The team thus looks like this…

What do you think fellow BKers?!

By 17HT

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Arsenal Player Ratings: Bellerin is Back, Xhaka Leads, Two MOTMs

Chelsea 2 – 2 Arsenal.

10 Gunners win the battle of Stamford Bridge, well at least mentally!

Tiental Arsenal doet Chelsea op miraculeuze wijze pijn

We will analyse this game over the next few days as I have been too busy typing comments with Seventeenho, and a cool, focused head I had not!

Player Ratings:

Leno: 8 – Very present and fought like a lion with some fab saves.

Saka: 7.5 – stood like a man and never looked his age. Tried hard to support the attack but was solid in defence which was his main task (especially after sending off).

Luiz: 4 – you cannot foul as the last man, especially in the box. He should know better.

Mustafi: 5 – dreadful back-pass that led to sending off and goal but, fair is fair, he did not hide and gave everything in the remainder of the game. Well done Arteta for keeping him on the pitch… it took a brave man.

Hector Bellerin: 8 – rusty start but led the team by example and never gave up. Superb goal that means so much to the team.

Xhaka: 8 – superb replacement for Luiz, bringing calm and quality positional awareness, leadership and character to the team. I hope all Arsenal fans will embrace him now.

Torreira: 8.5 – what a warrior. MOTM with Martinelli. Held that midfield on his own at times.

Martinelli: 8.5 – what a warrior. MOTM with Torreira. A superb goal that very few 18 year olds have scored at the highest level! To be so cool after such a run… class.

Ozil: 6 – difficult game for him, especially after we went down to 10 men.

Laca: 7 – worked hard and kept defenders occupied, but I would love to see more anticpation and composure. At times too static when there is space to run into to give the midfielders an option. In short, tons of quantity but not enough quality when it matters.

Pepe: 7.5 – worked well with Hector and was keen and able to burst through the Chavs’ defence, which was vital when we were with just 10 men on the pitch.

Guendouzi: 6 – he is not a defensive midfielder and that is what we needed. But he does not hide and offered something going forward.

By TotalArsenal.

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Chelsea-Arsenal. A 6-Pointer for Top 4 Positions, but Only if the Gunners Can Win It. Arteta Makes

Just one change from the team that drew on Saturday vs Sheffield United, Hector Bellerin coming in at right back for Ainsley Maitland-Niles.

Here are your full line-ups:

Arsenal: Leno, Bellerin, Mustafi, Luiz, Saka, Torreira, Xhaka, Pepe, Ozil, Martinelli, Lacazette. Subs: Ceballos, Maitland-Niles, Holding, Martinez, Willock, Guendouzi, Nketiah.

Chelsea: Arrizabalaga, Azpilicueta, Christensen, Rudiger, Emerson Palmieri, Kante, Jorginho, Kovacic, Hudson-Odoi, Abraham, Willian. Subs: Alonso, Barkley, Pedro, Caballero, Zouma, Mount, Batshuayi.

Referee: Stuart Attwell.

Most Gooners believe that things look and feel better under new manager Arteta, but they also are starting to itch for better results, the 2-nil win over Manchester United on New Years day already feeling rather distant.  This one is against another traditional rival who haven’t been turning in consistent results themselves.  Chelsea are coming off a 1-nil loss at Newcastle, but they were similarly beaten (at home by Southampton, 0-2) before they last played us, just some 24 days ago.  In that one, Arteta’s debut match, Arsenal nursed an early 1-nil lead but succumbed to two late goals to allow Chelsea to sneak the full points.  The effort was strong early, but a tactical substitution by Chelsea manager Frank Lampard plus poor fitness from the Gunners, saw us fade as the game went on.  Has Arsenal improved enough to better that result?

We shall see…but I’d love to hear from other Gooners about how they feel heading towards kick-off.

Consider me excited but also wary of the challenge at hand.  I fear a lot of destructive forces were unleashed during Unai Emery’s time in charge and both team and individual confidence dropped considerably.  We’re only beginning to raise our heads again and I counsel patience.   Today’s match is all the more difficult because our leading goal-scorer Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang serves the 2nd of a 3 match ban for a red card picked up at Crystal Palace.

Once the ball gets rolling, I’ll be trying to describe the action as best I can in the comment section.  Regulars will know that I’ve been unable to watch much Arsenal, so I’d be grateful for others to chime in with their views and thoughts.  Thanks in advance.

This is a tough one, but I sense a new unity in the group.  Let’s get behind those guys.  Few things could beat bringing back the points from South London.

Go on then…

by 17highburyterrace



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