Auba/Laca Like Cole and Yorke, No debate about MOTM, Almost in Top-4: Six Observations

Arsenal 2 – 0 Everton. Joint fifth in the league now.

To summarise our game v Everton today: we are a work in progress and have frailties but have quality AND character all over the pitch to win, and that is what we did. 


Six observations from a mad, frantic, table-football kind of game:

  1. Cech was MOTM – that one is easy for us all to agree on, no? Petr is a winner and rather than relax and be Arsenal’s number 2, he is fighting tooth and nail to be first choice for Emery. He has won us games before and he did so again today. His positioning was strong and his interventions were decisive; he still frightens opponents when they face him and that is half the chance saved time and again;
  2. The Laca-Auba combo paid dividend once again. We now have the sort of quality up-front that will win us games and it is important there are two quality attackers from the start. This makes it hard for defenders to eliminate our attacking threat for 90 minutes. At some point, they will get chances and before you know the net bulges; it did twice and the three point are ours. It reminds me a bit about Cole and Yorke for Manure in what now seems a lifetime ago;
  3. Torreira-Xhaka gave us better shape, especially in the second half, but they will have to work together a lot more to become fully effective: a work in progress. Emery did a good job in instructing them during the second half, as they increased the tempo and their passing was more crispy; and they pushed a bit higher as well and started to play the ball towards the Everton ‘D’ area rather than play it wide time and again;
  4. Ozil and Rambo on the pitch just does not seem to work. I know Rambo had technically two assists but the first goals was all about a superb finish and the second one was technically offsite as Rambo miscued his effort on goal. Ozil tried as hard as Rambo but the game was very frantic and he struggled to get a grip on it. It also feels that the German and Welshman run into each other space but with different intentions (and technical qualities) and this does not help the attackers as in what to expect and to do next;
  5. Our team spirit and energy levels are good, if not very good. The game was played at a high pace and right till the end we tried to score goals. Technically and tactically Arsenal remain a work in progress but we are winning games because of the hard work and individual quality of players (Cech, Laca and Auba especially);
  6. Mustafi’s kamikaze style caused Sokratis an injury (and yellow card) and the Greek did not look too pleased with the German. The good news is that Holding did a good job replacing Sokratis and even brought a bit of calm into our defence. Rather than making progress this season it looks like Mustafi is our weakest link in defence right now (and he should thank Cech for saving us/him a few times in the first 15 minutes alone). How long before Emery opts for a different CB pairing in our key games?

Up next in the PL are Watford at home and a win would see us enter the Top-Four for the first time (on points at least). It might not be pretty or for the purists at this stage, we remain vulnerable at the back and our midfield still lacks shape and domination, but we fight as a team for ninety minutes and keep scoring goals (two PL goals per game) and just had our first clean sheet. So let’s keep OGAAT-ing and growing and who knows where it all ends this season?

By TotalArsenal.

19 thoughts on “Auba/Laca Like Cole and Yorke, No debate about MOTM, Almost in Top-4: Six Observations

  • Brentford next Total, an intriguing line-up for that game, Leno in goal or maybe Martinez?

    Interesting that Marco Silva has called for VAR following our 2nd goal, won’t be long before that bandwagon gets underway following an offside goal for Arsenal (Riley must be furious), although if it had gone against us I suspect nobody would have cared.
    Yes I’m also for VAR,that way we may have had two penalties and won 3-0 – suck it up Toffees.

  • Yes Total, some good points, agree with you on 1 to 5.

    As for Holding, he did look composed and confident in the short highlights I saw, where as Mustafi was as cool as a boiling kettle, diving about like a nutcase, I certainly didn’t miss his antics against the Ukrainians last Thursday evening.
    I hope that Sokratis will recover by next weekend and eventually Emery drops Mustafi.

  • Kev, no VAR in the PL is a farce but yes we would have had at least one pen which would have decided the game earlier. Like you, I like the idea of Sok and Holding playing some more games together going forward.

  • On The Tin Man’s refrain.

    I had a very smart dog for 13 years (adopted in 1990). His name was Highway. Highway would accompany me to every Ultimate (frisbee) practice we held. We played 3-4 times every week almost year-round, for almost all of those thirteen years. Once his harness jangled, he sit still to don it. Then wait, attuned, by my packed gear near the door. Even from very young, upon exiting the car, he went straight to the sidewalk and waited for instruction. Regardless of where I had to park, he recalled the layout of the many fields at the university. Highway knew whom to approach among the 15 to 20 players that would arrive– as well as to be thoughtful toward newcomers or even strangers nearby– who might be wary of a big dog. He knew he had freedom to wander on-field during warmups. But when we started playing the game he understood that dogs remained off– on the sidelines. He understood the dimensions of the playing surface (almost the size of a football pitch). Never once recall him interfering with play. And before and after practices– that dog could run down a long-thrown disc– and almost invariably catch it. I’m told that dogs do not have depth perception– but this one seemed to be able to follow the wide-curving parabola of a thrown disc at distance. It’s also said that dogs cannot reason. That they cannot make decisions based on circumstances– just from learned rote behavior. Highway was a dog that seemed to question that conventional wisdom. Seemingly leaning on experiences in applying them to situations. Do not recall him making the same mistake over again. Why I always had patience with Highway when one occurred.

    On the last thread, HT had alluded to some of us having ‘hate’ for players within our team. Moving on, I decided not to post a witty-bit-of-reparte. Instead, to make my point, I tell you this tale at-length about my dog. A reliable boy in nearly every situation.

    All I am asking from the one player I’ve railed-on about for well over a year?
    Is for him to show as much intelligence and ability to reason as my (once) very smart dog.
    Sadly, I’ve not noted any progress in this respect.

    Softly humming — The Tin Man’s refrain.


  • Nice one, JW… I see progress…but I have to look very hard sometimes…

    Comparing Mustafi to a dog might be seen as a fairly harsh statement…but I never should have said “hate.” That’s dropping to the level of the “supporter” I don’t wish to become… Both you and Retsub are right about that…

    That said, I’m wondering if you mean the Scare-Crow?… The Tin Man lacks a heart… Here’s some country music for y’all…

    Your dog sounds like a great one. They’re not all like that, I fear, but how much do we blame the trainer/owner…and how much do we put on the puppy himself? How much patience should we have with a puppy before we take him back to the adoption center/shelter? I guess if you pay a breeder (who gives a guarantee) you try and get your money back. And, maybe if you cannot get anything for the player you feel bad at first (unless you’re the Tin Man…) when he gets hit by a car, but then you get over it and get yourself a new (and hopefully better) one…

    Me not letting this go mostly (probably…) suggests that I’m not cut out for too much Arsenal (football) blogging… Apologies…

  • On the post itself, I too (like Kev) can’t quite bring myself to agree with the last one. Holding made some loose plays, I thought and I saw most of our defensive troubles coming down our left side (the one manned by Sok, then Holding). We just have to hope Mustafi learns from the mistake that cost us the Greek fellow’s yellow and that his substitution was mostly precautionary. I believe that’s a talented dog that just needs more training… (And maybe needs to outgrow his puppy-hood, something my current pooch has only started doing recently…at about 2 and 1/4 years old…)

    The energy level seems fine, the players are working together as best they can and there’s a bit of bite and cynicism in the team that feels different. Sure Ozil isn’t gonna go in all Lee Dixon-esque (studs up? trying to break a leg?–the actual quote was, “I’m embarrassed by Ozil’s effort…,” hardly a neutral observation, and one that rather evaporated when we scored 2 minutes later…) BUT we’re giving a solid 90+ minutes every match, despite lapses in concentration… And today we finally got the clean sheet as a reward…

    I think we (as supporters) have to come to grips with this new style of football where possession for possession’s sake isn’t fancied. Try to make things happen, ideally while keeping your shape (in case of turnover) then try again. It takes more work AND it’s more nerve wracking for the fans. Still, it seems to work (in terms of results, against the lower teams at least…) and there seems to be buy in from the players. Look at the goals. LT intercepts, boom boom and we’re in… Laca loses it, gets it back and one touches to Ozil and it’s so quick the linesman forgets his job… The celebrations suggested a confidence that the players knew the goals were coming…another good thing (and they may not always come…) Anyhow, for better or worse, that seems to be the new normal, IMO…

  • See then HT? (first, correct on title/character- Scarecrow it is! 😉 )
    After Highway departed, we couldn’t possibly go right out and ‘get another’.

    It was five long years– before I ‘heard the word’ — “Go find the Dog” As a puppy, ‘Runway’ physically resembled Highway. Could not have been the 8 weeks the shelter claimed. Runway is going to be our last ‘big dog’.

    Where Highway was a (still don’t know how) cross between — a Beagle and a Rotweiler? The sweetest/smartest mix I’ve ever known? Runway was a German Shepard/Hound mix (I’ve posted his pic here previously).

    I had to that point raised and trained two (‘Freeway’ being Highway’s predecessor) very good, smart, well-heeled dogs over 20 years time. But Runway, while quiet and attentive was, well, an idiot at times. Animal-loving Mrs jw1 simply could not accept him as she did our first two. I would dutifully (even during periods where I was nearly physically unable: staving off cancer, then rehabbing dual hip replacements) drive a distance to meet a foursome of dog owners at an enormous dog park every Sat/Sun at 7am. Rain, shine, cold, heat (mostly shine and heat here). We walked the mile-long loop twice most days. The socializing with dogs was my one hope for Runway to mature.

    As I was sitting on a park bench one Sunday morning waiting for the others to arrive; a pair of women walked by with two adult German Shepards. One asked if Runway had Shepard in him too. I said “Yes.” She then asked “How old is he?” “About 18 months” says me. Then she asked if he seemed somewhat slow in his ability to learn (Runway’s behavior in her presence to that point had been quite normal.) “Yes!, I replied. How would you know that?”

    She said: “Because all German Shepards are idiots until they turn two (years-old).” I said “Really?” with a palpable level of excitement (and hope!). She said “Yes– they are”, as they walked off.

    When Runway turned 2-years-old a switch-flipped and he’s become a very good dog too (right now at my knee coyly begging for his 3-a-night GummyBears). Not quite on the pedestal as Highway sits. But a really good dog in his own right. Even Mrs jw1 has come to love him too. He turns 10 in January.

    So HT? I’ve questioned myself for a long period– and realized it wasn’t me (the coach). Just how Runway’s brain was wired.

    This situation has been going on for a lot longer than 2 years. Ask Joachim Low.


  • 17, I thought Kev was agreeing with me re point six too… but maybe I read it wrong. 🙂

    Like you, I remain hopeful that he will come good but time is running out…. and once Koz returns his playing time is likely to be limited. Holding is also still learning but he uses his head a lot (especially figuratively) and that is a good sign for a CB imo.

  • Guys, i think most of us forgot about our friend. Torreira the terror played well the whole game and without him we would not be able to turn over some passes and be static at the back.

    He is very much like Santi, except that most of his area of activity is at the centre of the field. First full game and much more to come from him.

  • TA … tidy and I agree totally with Nos. 1-5. No. 6 am not so sure off. All the one on one with Cech came from the left side of our defense. On the right side I felt Richarlison had it too easy with Bellerin. Having said these, Mustafi is rather too hesitant with the ball. Which is a huge weakness in these days of intense pressing by opponents and the requirement of playing out from the back.

    While Mustafi looks too agitated, Holding is calm and passes his ball very well. But Mustafi is such a goal threat for us in set pieces. In these days of 11 defenders and 11 attackers, when all his assets and liabilities are taken into account he has his head well above waters.

  • I wouldn’t play Ozil and Ramsey together. Obviously Emery is trying to reap the energy of Ramsey as well as the creativity of Ozil. But it’s almost like he’s ending up having neither. If they have to be played together, as somebody suggested (kev?) Rambo should be at wide right and Ozil at #10.

  • Er, I was agreeing with you Total…

    Sorry if my grammar gave you the wrong idea 17tino, I guess it’s my cockney syntax that tripped you up me ol’ china plate, gaud bless ya (all said with a Dick Van Dyke accent 😀)…

  • Ooops… Sorry about that Kev… Rereading what you wrote this morning it’s as plain as day… I think I must’ve inserted the puppy-player’s face where clearly you said, “Holding.” (Also, J-Dub, thanks for continued doggie tales…Our current pup is a Retriever-German Shepherd mix–but also with one blue eye, so maybe some Husky or something… The puppy-forever element seems kinda extreme with her…)

    We’ll have to see about Mustafi in the longer term. Kos getting back is one thing and I’ve yet to hear anything about the severity of injuries to both our Greek guys, Mavro and Sok, hopefully suggesting they’re minor… To me, it seems clear that Skhodran will need to have some very solid outings over this next bunch of matches, so maybe I am coming around to your (TA’s) observation #6…

    Happy Monday everybody…

  • Injuries per

    Henrikh Mkhitaryan
    Right ankle from FC Vorskla match last Thursday. Continuing to be assessed ahead of Wednesday’s match with Brentford.
    Don’t see a reason to push Mkhi for Brentford.

    Right dead leg during Everton match on Sunday. Currently being assessed ahead of Wednesday’s match with Brentford.
    Nothing to do but rest and treatment.

    Dinos Mavropanos
    Groin injury. Expected to return to full training in four weeks.
    Sorry to hear about Mavropanos. Untimely for him with a spate of matches he might have started in Carabao and Europa.

  • Leno (or Martinez), Lichtsteiner, Iwobi, Elneny, Guendouzi, Holding, Nketiah, Willock, Smith Rowe, reserve left back Dominic Thompson (?), Mustafi, Welbeck, Olowu (?), Saka (?) with maybe a couple or three biggies on the bench for an emergency, that lot in whatever combination looks the likely lads for Wednesday imo.

    But with Emery, you never know???

  • I’m sort of expecting PE (or maybe even TA) to do a match preview… I would do one myself…but…with my usual bad attitude (maybe getting even worse)…The headline would have to ask the question: How Fast Can We Get Out of the League Cup?…

    Brentford, tomorrow night, at home, is probably too fast. And the reserves + the underplayed (on the home pitch) *should* be too much for the opponent. Plus, I know that many supporters, esp. local ones, really enjoy watching the kids and speculating on which ones might have what it takes to make the grade. Hopefully, the club is charging reduced prices for tickets as they’ve done in the past. (Is that standard policy or just something that is only done now and again? That’s right, I’m talking to you, Taxi Driver…)

    Getting out of the League Cup might be a good thing for ALL teams but it really seems important for teams trying for, er, promotion (in Europe…) as we are. Come the 2nd half of the season, there’s nothing worse (as we found out last February) with having to play (figuratively) “can’t win” matches in the Europa League before (literally) “can’t win” matches at Wembley (or in those cursed two-legged semi-finals) all the while congesting your league and FA Cup schedule for the run in. Last season it was Eddy vs Norwich who set up those extra matches and (perhaps?) prompted Le Prof to do some deep rotation for our FA cup opener at Not (able-to-get-the-win…or draw) tingham Forest. Four comps is simply too much, as you can ask all the managers who’ve done the quadruple…

    I’ve been reading (elsewhere) about Emery’s (all-too-predictable?) 4-2-3-1 formation. As such, I say Gunnersaurus to lead the line, Sven, Raul and Vinai as the three tucked in behind… (You guys will have to pick the MF two and the back four…) With Gazidis gone the Kroenkes will have to fight it out to see who plays at keeper. I give the nod to young Josh even if nobody’s quite sure if he’s as stingy as his father…

    🙂 😦 😉

    Happy Tuesday…

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