Tidy Torreira The Difference, Xhaka MOTM, Hector and Nacho very Balanced, Cech Rocks: 8 Observations

Very little time to do a proper blog on yesterday’s fine win against the Magpies, but here are my quick eight observations:

  1. The obvious one: Tidy Torreira makes the difference. Enough said about this already but LT11 gives the team shape and gets the best out of Xhaka….
  2. Xhaka was our MOTM: I watched the highlights and the full second half and Granit was the master of midfield in the second half. The Swiss was were the ball was and the ball came to the Swiss time and again, whether he was in his own half or the Barcodes’ half. That is a sign of a great midfielder. Torreira plays more on a line with Xhaka and his first priority is to keep the midfield tidy, protect the defence and allow Xhaka to play his game properly. The beauty is that Torreira can also support the attack. He is starting to remind me of Edgar Davids, one of the best all-round midfielders ever to grace the grass.
  3. I love Petr Cech. He could be thinking I don’t want to do this anymore and turn my nightmares in to sweet dreams again by leaving us, but the Great Cech is fighting for his place and team and is so willing to adapt. At 36 this is pretty amazing.
  4. Auba, Ozil and Laca are by no means clicking yet, but boy did they work hard for the team all over the pitch. Once they start finding each other better and become sharper in front of goal they will really hurt some teams, but their work rate yesterday was very impressive and made the difference. Laca produced some very fine attacking balls for others and was in constant movement, Auba really supported Monreal on the flank (and it showed when he was substituted as the only danger – and goal – from the Magpies came from their right flank late on in the game), and Ozil just fought and fought – with a fine goal as a reward.
  5. The full backs had a very mature game, really balancing well between attack and defence all game long. The centre-backs were also pretty dominant all game long and the Musti-Sokratis partnership is making progress (need to sort covering space from non-set-piece crosses though).
  6. I loved the way the team kept shape and dominating the game after we scored the second goal. It was important that we pushed on for the second goal, but it was even more important not to sit back after the second. The way we dominated proceedings away from home in the second half was the biggest plus from the game.
  7. Rambo and Guendouzi offer a lot of energy and running and this is important to have in the team. The question is whether we need two of these starting a game: one coming to get the ball and the other moving forwards with the ball. Xhaka can move it forward without having to run too much and Ozil can come and pick the ball up. Our midfield is still a balancing act/ work in progress.
  8. This was Emery’s best game. The way he turned things round at half time and we then dominated the game was very impressive. Shame for the clean sheet, but we looked so much more composed and in control than in our previous matches.

By TotalArsenal.

38 thoughts on “Tidy Torreira The Difference, Xhaka MOTM, Hector and Nacho very Balanced, Cech Rocks: 8 Observations

  • I cannot believe your comments regarding the centre backs being dominant.Socratic was very sound but his partner, Mustafi was as usual anything but dominant.This guy needs to be replaced asap if any progress is to be made in sorting out our defensive weaknesses.

  • Fair observations, for one who didn’t quite see the game, real-time, TA. I also made the observation that our full backs seemed to be in position for direct attacks from the flanks, by the hosts; however, when crosses did go in, our FBs floundered, and were guilty of losing their men on
    occasion; but for good goal keeping and some mis-firing, we may have been punished.

    Sokratis is proving to be no slouch, contrary to an observation I made when one of the Boreham Wood strikers appeared to leave him for dead in pre-season. He had to show some pace when he went after Newcastle’s Murphy, when he had a run on our goal because Mustafi had slipped, inexpicably.

    I also agree Auba was more alive to the defensive aspects of his duties yesterday. More of that and we won’t have to worry about if we should be fielding Mkhitaryan or Iwobi, for that balance. He seemed furious when he was subbed. Next time, score early….

  • Straightforward write-up TA– thanks!
    Just some granular detail to add really. It was Emery’s best game from a tactics perspective. Foremost, the switch at half– LT for MG. As for the attacking trio O/L/A – obviously, Newcastle’s pressing in the first-half limited their effect. Xhaka’s strike sucked the air from that strategy. Like you, felt the guys up front played well enough to support an AWAY WIN(!).

    Though still of the mind we’re living a charmed existence. Based on Cech’s super-save (at 88′). On nearly identical build-up that netted Newcastle their goal a couple of minutes later. Last season we got punished on nearly every error. So far, this year just every-other one. Apparently a difference good enough for two away victories.

    Correct me (anybody) if I’m off-base here. From what I’ve gleaned– it wasn’t Torreira who was tired, but Ramsey. Read it was he– who signaled that he should come off at 80′ (for Danny). Emery mentioned it post-match.

    Bring on Vorskla! 😉


  • Ramsey did signal for a change; whether it was fatigue (does Ramsey ever tire?) or some discomfort is (was?) hard to tell.

  • TA …. a tidy post.

    Just the right word for Torreira. Tidy. To me the sooner we stop equating him to N’golo Kante the quicker we would begin to fully appreciate him. He is his own man. He is probably not as great as Kante without the ball, but superior to Kante with the ball. And that’s saying a lot for him in these days of 11 attackers and 11 defenders.

    His passes are simple. He never takes an unnecessary touch. Despite his simplicity he is very quick to recognize and respond to the slightest of openings. That is, to me, the high point of his strengths. He’s. Pretty good with both feet. Sum them together and a fabulous player jumps out.

    For our double pivot, to me it’s Xhaka or Guendz/Torreira or Elneny which gives
    1st choice as Xhaka/Torreira
    2nd as Guendz/ Torreira
    3rd as Xhaka/Elneny
    4th as Guendz/Elneny.

  • Auba has been helping without the ball, but still at that winger position it looks like a great misuse of his tallent. He is being brave but I fear that his morale would sooner than later drop. He is simply a poacher extraordinaire. A specialist.

    Am not certain that he is any better than Mkhi, Welbz or Iwobi in that role. I have been singing the praises of the Auba/Laca combo but am beginning to wonder, unless Emery comes up with a system that would accomodate the two as strikers. Auba should be playing off the shoulders of defenders.

    If anything Laca looks more at home joining to build up play.

    Again I don’t think #10 brings the best out of Ramsey. He doesn’t make late runs into the box anymore. He makes ‘early’ runs which are easy to defend. He’s numbers have gone down. We have scored 10goals and from Ramsey it has been no goal, no assist. He can pair with Torreira as a double pivot or Xhaka-Torreira-Ramsey 3-man midfield.

    To complicate things further Ozil displaced out wide must drift into that central area leaving poor Bellerin all alone.

  • Nice positive points but the article must be balanced with the bad bits. It appears that I was the only person to see how poor Mustafi is as a defender. Watch the game again but keep an eye on Mustafi’s game. Or it could be that everyone is aware of how poorly he is as a defender that a blind spot on the pitch hovers over his position and as such nothing is said. But it must be said time and time again until he is put right or replaced.
    To fall/ slip once is forgivable but twice is a crime. Change for longer studs. How hard is that. The principle role of a defender is to defend. He was all over the pitch like a headless chicken. Sokratis had a sterling game defending and clearing up the mistakes of Mustafi. My question now is, what does he bring to the game. He can’t jump, he can’t read the game AND he can’t defend.
    Xhaka is another defender who gets pulled on his short falls but unlike Mustafi it is his lack of speed that brings his errors or needless fouls into his game. When the likes of Torreira is introduced, then we see the best of his defending and all round footballing ablities.
    There is no one who can come on to the pitch that will bring the best out of Mustafi other than a new defender. Where was he when their goal went in. Still on his walk abouts.
    The only other player that did not, for me, produce a performance to match his potential was PEA.
    I felt that he did not brung his A game to the match. As a striker you must get the goalkeeper to save at least one of your shots for you to say that you have forfilled your role. He can not say that the service was poor ( could have a case in the first half ) as Laca was my MOTO up front with his all round hard working play which included supporting PEA.
    Other than the inclusion for views as above would have made the artical rounded. It is pleasent to read articles that support our team but its more realistic to have article that report on the events of the game even if its unpleasent and to score it accordingly. Mustafis performance was a 3, poor. I saw scores from 5 to 7. Really !

  • Grandad, Newcastle had four shots, two on target. I reckon that was pretty good in an away game and this was not only due to Sokratis’ fine performance. Mustafi was by no means great but his partnership with the Greek is improving is what I am saying. I would say try and support the German as much as you can, he wears the shirt after all.

  • Eris, agreed on Auba needing to score to avoid the substitution. Having said that, I expect him now to start on Thursday, as it looked like a sub to keep him fresh for the UEFA League game.

  • JW, we did slacken towards the end in defence and paid for it by losing the clean sheet. But we had really good chances to score a couple more in the second half but our attackers just lacked a bit of deadliness when it mattered. With just four shots, two on target, I reckon our defenders (and whole team) did a lot better than in previous games.

  • “TA says:
    September 16, 2018 at 22:36
    Cheers Eris, yes tidy is the word! I like your description of him. 🙂 ”

    TA, that’s my parcel you gave to my bro Eris. You need not worry he’d return it to me.😅

  • Juventus in the weekend used the 4:3:1:2 formation so as to accomodate the two strikers of CR7 and Mandzukic. When we play Auba and Laca together that looks a possible formation. For example.

    ———–Cech ———
    Bel. Musti Sokr Nacho
    –Ramb Torreira Xhaka–
    ———–Ozil —————
    ——Laca.— Auba ———

    Auba as a winger is a waste of his prodigious poachers instinct. Thiery Henry who operated a lot from that position was much more than a poacher.. Remembering Emery likes to push up his full backs and Torreira holding it becomes more of 2:1:4:1:2


    This gives a diamond of Torrira-Ramb-Xhak-Ozil in the midfield with the full backs manning the wide areas. If Rambo can play a disciplined b2b role which his lungs permit then the team won’t lack numbers anywhere the ball is.

  • Nice post, good comments, debate is healthy.

    PE, I only saw brief highlights, but I felt that Aubameyang played more centrally, alongside Lacazette in the 2nd 45, that was certainly the case at Cardiff. This seems to occur when Torrieira joins the party or after Emery does his half time pep talk. I’m not sure if this is deliberate or not, Emery is still learning about his players’ limitations and developing his strategy.

    To me, looking into my glass ball, cross my hand with silver, you are going on a journey etc etc etc, the acid test is November 3rd, two days prior to Guy Fawkes Night in the U.K, it’s when we face Liverpool and have to cope with their 20/25 minutes of intense pressing at the beginning of each half as they try to blow you away. Any mistakes by us will be punished as they have the kind of forwards who who don’t pass up on opportunities to score (an area we need to improve on from our forwards) that’s when we’ll know where we are….

  • Leno, Lichtsteiner, Elneny, Holding or Mavropanos (not both imo) , Mkhitarayan, Welbeck, all need starts this Thursday as they need game time to sharpen up, although going on the recent comment from Emery he won’t be playing a League Cup team but a strong XI in a competition that he must see as a realistic target.

  • I watched the final 20 minutes of the match and we were caught napping on the left back area with a few great crosses coming from that area. We need to work on the defensive cover.

  • Kev ……. click above and click again on player position (average) you’d see Auba’s (No 14) average position very close to Monreal (18). He was faithful to his role but ended up expectedly with a low rating by most. I fear he might not keep his smile on much longer.

    Note that Ozil had drifted away from the wide right position into the centre leaving Bellerin unsupported. Ozil and Laca’s positions actually overlap. Not only has Ozil drifted centrally but Lacazette loves dropping deep. Thus the overlap. These, imo, are things to be tweaked.

  • Pony Eye says:
    September 17, 2018 at 04:03
    “TA says:
    September 16, 2018 at 22:36
    Cheers Eris, yes tidy is the word! I like your description of him. 🙂 ”

    TA, that’s my parcel you gave to my bro Eris. You need not worry he’d return it to me.😅

    TA, PE is spot on there. Indeed, TA has credited me with all 3 posts by PE, so here I am handing your ‘parcels’ to you, PE. 😀

    My guess is TA meant to write PE but got distracted by the number of posts he had to react to. Okay; he’s quite capable of standing up for himself, I know. 😜

  • Kev–
    “…Holding or Mavropanos (not both imo)…”. Would not be surprised if it were both myself.
    Though no doubt It must be Mustafi, if not. As Sokratis must start the Sunday matches. A secondary benefit would be allowing Leno to steel himself for what’s coming.


  • Just catching up over the Monday night (my lunchtime) South Coast derby…Good post, as always, TA and I only have a few quibbles…perhaps starting with your suggestion that it was Emery’s best game. Once again we cannot argue with the result but I don’t like much of what I’ve been watching this season. Fortunately, our (last three) opponents have been just that (significant) bit worse…

    For me, it’s all about trying to figure out what the coach is trying to get his players to do. If there’s a press from the front I don’t see it. Or maybe it’s just really (really) good in training. Our ability to cope with (modest) pressure at the back (right now) is laughable. We try, it looks awful, we pass it back and we punt. Indeed, it looks really bad for Cech, a guy who again did exactly what we needed even when it wasn’t pretty. Before long, we’re going to fritter away not just a first half but a whole game doing this, I fear. The “need” for the coach to use his subs at half-time could bite us too…

    The observations 1, 2, and 7 relate to our MF which, indeed, improved (or maybe “began to actually exist…”) when “our best player” (Guendouzi, or so I keep reading elsewhere…) got subbed. To me, his style of play looks industrious but ultimately pointless even if it might lead to a good stat tally in terms of dribbles and passes completed. This time out my guess (or maybe I read it somewhere) is that Ramsey’s stats weren’t so good even if that’s his game too. (Further forward maybe affects the stats?…) Personally, I’d drop both of them and get Torreira and Mkhi in from the start, players who actually seem to respect ideas about keeping the pitch well-spaced. Again, however, you can’t argue with the result, so what (TF) do I know?…

    There could be a role for (at least one of) those guys as there does seem to be some freedom for the MFs to get forward–including what looks to me like an emphasis of getting the ball to them where the opponent’s 18 yd box hits the end-line. That’s where Xhaka set up the 2nd goal with the pull back to Lacazette, whose blocked shot was put back in by Ozil. That period at Chelsea where we scored two but missed a few more also featured this pattern of play.

    Does it leave us open on the counter? Why yes, yes it does. Toon only converted 1 out of 2 late on so the points come back to North London. Interesting observations (#5 and 6) about our fullbacks and Auba helping out Nacho. My feeling is that we’re playing a high stakes game of trying to force turnovers (and quick attempts at goal) in our opponents’ halves. If those lines are broken, however, we don’t seem to be tracking either the ball or the runners headed towards our goal very well. This was a (very) toothless Newcastle team, stifling them over their final go-for-broke 10 minutes would have gone down a tonic. Maybe, however, getting burnt in that spell will raise some (serious) red flags and keep us more wary about defending better in these situations. We shall see…

    Now it’s onto the Euro league match and Emery’s ideas about rotation. It should be interesting. Maybe. Truth be told, I’m just watching to try and make some sense of what he’s after. As long as the winning continues, it’s a relatively easy chore. Dennis forbid…if it were to end… 😮

  • Official confirmation of Ivan’s departure was announced on the official site.
    So, will we see someone being brought in to cover the gap?

  • I can’t help feeling some anger with Gaz. He has pushed out Wenger, albeit a decision that many saw as overdue, but not stuck around to see through a transition to stability. We will have a totally new top team, which is never a great place in the market. He’s gone with a better offer rather than stay with us. I won’t miss him one iota whatever his talents may be. He has flourished financially on the shoulders of the team Wenger kept going on a shoestring. And now buggered off after stabbing the person he owes most to square in the back. I’m not harking for Wenger back; his time is passed. But the contrast between the two men and their loyalties is a stark one. Feck off Ivan.

  • See AB–
    I’ve got a different take.
    Recall where David Ornstein had all but guaranteed that Gazidis’ choice — Mikel Arteta — was to take the reins from AW? Then UE Newman– completely off the radar, is handed the keys to the fiefdom after a week of whirlwind vetting. Apparently, against Ivan’s wishes.

    Gazidis, who had skillfully managed (IMHO) an accelerated bloodless-coup– in removing the previous ruler? Has his grand vision for the club voted-down by this new stable of usurpers.

    Does anyone see Ivan quickly regaining his footing, status, and former level of control at the club following those events?

    I’ll agree with ‘feck off Ivan’ AB. But for a different reason.
    Because he didn’t make the play required to insist on Arteta coming aboard.
    Arrivederci AND feck off Ivan!


  • JK sez:
    “So, will we see someone being brought in to cover the gap?”

    The comedian in me thinks:
    There must be someone at Borussia Dortmund– no?

    In all seriousness– no matter how unlikely the reality:
    Jeff Luhnow might be the only man on the planet who could be a difference-maker– instead of a placeholder– for the future. If only Josh Kroenke were smart enough.


  • JW. You may well be right about some of the context here. But if you are going to arrange for a coup, then you had better do it well or not at all. A botched coup is a mess. And I’m concerned that this is where we may be now. Beyond the owner, it is now very unclear who is in power and making clear decisions at our club – and in governance, knowledge and time terms the owner cannot perform those functions. There is an almighty vacuum emerging and the potential for power jostling and conflicting visions to get in the way of managing the development of the team with clear purpose. He’d better do an amazing job in Milan, as I wouldn’t touch him otherwise given how he has managed the only real crunch business as CEO at Arsenal. He may be a top accountant. But I’m not impressed by his leadership qualities.

  • My glaring fault, AB? Is eternal optimism (dammit).
    I see this as opportunity– if JoshK ‘goes big’.
    And I’m not kidding about Jeff Luhnow.

    The regulars here at BK have endured my meanderings off-topic with regard to our baseball team (Houston Astros) for the better part of 2 years. (General Manager) Jeff Luhnow is the literal genius behind the club’s video-driven/data analytics/application that have propelled the entire organization to champion status. Houston is/were very Arsenal-like. A mid-market team revenue-wise that have bounded in front of the big-spending major-TV market teams like New York, LA, and Chicago. From worst (in 2012) to best — World Series Champs in 5 years. This is what was being said about the Astros plan when they were a very poor team rebuilding in 2013:

    Prior to being hired into the St Louis Cardinal organization in the mid-00s, Luhnow had had no exposure to baseball since playing in youth leagues at age 12. He took the statistical system of the day (early-00s)– and has revolutionized the depth of analytics as a means of succeeding in Major League Baseball. Probably in ways that could be compared– and IMHO exceed what AW did for football in the late-90s.

    The Kroenkes have admitted they are (baseball economics/analytics) Moneyball admirers. If they have aspirations of being great? This would be the a jumping-off point. The ROI would be forthcoming– to give Luhnow major incentives to make such a move.


  • Guess it is no longer news but Raul Sanllehi has been named Head of Football while Vinai Venkatesham replaces Ivan Gazidis as MD/CEO.

    Not sure what all that was about, but I lean towards the theory put forward by jw1, as to the possible reason for his departure, other than the added £1m that is.

  • JW, I see your point about Holding and Mavropanos, I just wonder if an experienced defence in front of Leno in a big european game, not big in the opposition but big in its importance to our season, is the way to go….

  • Eris, there’s two ways you could look at the clubs’ appointments to replace Gazides – although there may still be room for a CEO…

    Anyway, the first option is that it makes sense to promote from within if you can, these guys know the club and the people, so it’s steady as she goes…

    Alternatively Enos and Son have saved themselves a shed load of dough, saving on Gazides’ salary and not paying out for a replacement.
    (Sorry, but it’s the cynic in me)

  • Hmmmm. Those are, certainly, strong possibilities, as well. But then, under your first option, what if the rash of recruitments we made right before and in Wenger’s last season were geared towards the eventual promotion of these two, anyway? Raul was pretty high up in the Barcelona hierarchy and I was surprised he accepted the role of ‘head of football relations’ (ostensibly, to keep Wenger happy, since he won’t work with a Director of football).

  • That true Eris, it could have been a plan as much as a happy coincidence, I guess it all depends on Ivan and when the AC Milan job was first mooted to him?

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