Kola/Bells Stretch, Iwobi finds the Holes, and Auba does the Rest: 8 Observations

Busy, busy, but still wanted to write something about our narrow win against the Cherries.

Eight observations from an ugly but vital win:

  1. How ordinary did we look at times? It was a game of grinding and sweating: substance over style. The 3-4-3 formation worked well, though. Kola and Bells stretched the game and this created space for Iwobi and Mkhi to strut their stuff in between the lines. Auba had to run a lot as there was space for him too, and in the end he found the opening that won us the game.
  2. Mkhi and Auba had a lot of decent to good chances but both lacked composure when it mattered. It is weird to see Mkhi waste so many opportunities as he is one of the technically more capable midfielders in the PL. But this season he really is struggling taking his chances and surely this cannot go on? Let’s hope he will be able to add deadliness up-front to his work rate and enthusiasm.
  3. Iwobi is a slow starter but once he gets going – usually in the second half – he really can make the difference. Iwobi’s throughballs have really improved and he found Kola regularly in space. Question is: why does it take so long for Alex to warm up and strut his stuff?
  4. It was good to see Kola enjoy himself with strong penetration on the left side. His reward were two assists and being a constant threat and outlet for the ball throughout the game. Unfortunately, we also conceded a goal at a crucial time from the left back area, where King could shoot at goal with all the space and time in the world.
  5. Xhaka-Torreira looked a bit tired but still dominated proceedings for us. Let’s hope they both get a break now and do not travel East this week. Unai took a risk by subbing the Uruguayan for Guendouzi with still ten minutes to go, but he got away with it. It was good to see Torreira penetrate the space in front of midfield time and again, and he got really close to his first goal for the club. What a player!
  6. Leaving Ozil out made us look ordinary. How he would have loved the space and width that were available yesterday. I sincerely hope that Ozil and Unai will work well together going forward, as we need our German maestro to be the centre of this team. I feel that not all is well, though. 😦 TBC.
  7. Kamikaze Mustafi had one of those dramatic, give-it-my-all-and-chance-it-a-bit games we have become used to. We gave away too many chances, and on another day we would have conceded more and not got away with all three points. Is he the only one to blame….? Not sure but I wonder whether he will still be a regular starter after the January transfer window.
  8. This win sets us up very nicely for the Spuds game. A win would really get us close to both the Chavs and Spuds in the top four and let’s hope Unai will get us in the right frame of mind to make it happen. Ugly does it for now.

By TotalArsenal.

45 thoughts on “Kola/Bells Stretch, Iwobi finds the Holes, and Auba does the Rest: 8 Observations

  • Good article. I saw a lot of Mkhi when he was at Man Utd and he looked exactly the same as he did yesterepday; good positioning, loads of energy but absolute rubbish final ball. He really isn’t good enough over the long term.

  • TA, there is very little to disagree with your observations. I don’t mind this kind of winning ugly. The one I mind is the one I call winning lucky. Bournemouth’s intensity in the 1st half disrupted any chance of a pretty game. I was glad we responded correctly to their game. Exactly what they did in that our 3-3 draw with them where they led 3-0 by half time. They tried a repeat. In the 2nd half they couldn’t keep up with that intensity and we started controlling the game.

    Emery was spot on with 3 at the back as Kola appears never keen to track back to defend. Having said that his forward runs and deliveries into the box are the best we’ve got.

  • Cheers Louis. It gets me that Mkhi is not finishing better as he can do it and has the technical skills. Maybe it is an issue of fitness: he has to work hard under Emery and then he is too tired when the chances come to him…

  • 3 at the back vs the Spuds, surely not, certainly not if Ozil starts that game, but with Unai Emery who knows?
    None of his selections are predictable, which I like, but hell, every game has you thinking “what’s he thinking?”
    It’s good…

    Koscielny played for the U23’s this evening – just gone, played 45 minutes.
    Osei Tutu replaced him at half time, prearranged and then got sent off…
    As did Ballard and we lost 5-0 to Derby, albeit with a weakened team.
    No Zach Medley involved or Nketiah or Willock or Pleguezuelo or Smith Rowe, all earmarked for sunny and warm Ukraine I’d guess.

  • Fine observations, TA. You pretty much captured the key events/matters. We needed those 3 points badly and the players simply grafted to the victory. You may have noticed the great many reports on Emery’s reasons for keeping Ozil out of that game (not different from my position under PE’s game preview thread); of course, bloggers and reporters make more of Emery’s response but I feel he was only being pragmatic and protecting his main man, especially as we have the Derby coming up. Ozil May play only a (leadership) part on Thursday night but he will be zoned in for the NLD, for sure. So, in a nutshell, I don’t think there’s a problem with both, even if that decision can go either way for Ozil’s morale: loss of confidence OR a defiant “something to prove” posture whenever he plays. It’s a new style he has to deal with. While Wenger provides diplomatic responses for dropping players, Emery will give a hint as to his true mindset, and the media mis-quote him in headlines (he will learn, I hope).

    The whole Bournemouth approach was to be aggressive in the tackle and block channels, which made it imperative that the wings become our best outlet for getting behind them. Kolasinac was crucial here so the preference for the wing backs is understandable.

    Mkhi needed more composure. I feel he will be sharper if given more game time; I think he doesn’t feel trusted or he will be a useful player to have in some of these tight games. I also thought Sokratis and Mustafi did well. Mustafi isn’t going to be changing his style anytime soon but I find his flying into tackles at times, absolutely necessary. No more ‘soft centre’ tag for us.

  • Useful updates, Kev…….important to mention that we only conceded the penalty goal in the first half, while Kos was on; Derby’s four (more) goals came in the 2nd half. Not much to worry about as it would seem Emery has a good number of the U-21s-U23s lads training with the first team, as we navigate two dead rubber fixtures in the UEL.

    Happy to have Kos fit and playing a role this season under a new manager.

  • Mkhi was dispossessed 4 times and had 5 unsuccessful touches. That’s terrible and it drowned his other numerous high points like that he was amongst our three (Bellerin, Mkhi and Xhaka) who broke the 12 km barrier on ground covered.

  • Hi Eris, it’s a disappointing result, but Derby currently are the form team in our division and we did have a weakened team with a few players returning from injury.
    For me, the positives are Koscielny and Osei-Tutu returning to action, we might well need both of them during a hectic December.

    Our U16’s beat Tottenham 4-2 over the weekend, so we’ve got some more good lads coming through the system below the U18’s.

    Yes, it’s a dead rubber in Ukraine, but let’s keep the unbeaten run going and finish top of the group. Tottenham are at home, but they can’t rest anyone vs Inter so fingers crossed for a really hard physical tie at Wembley.

  • Good point, Kev, about the positives of the U-23s games; and the need to remain unbeaten and top. Hopefully, whatever team we put out will be high on motivation and do the business.

    I read that our U-18s lost 3-2 to Spurs too, moving above us to top the table by that win. The kids are alright, still.

  • Vorskla tie switched from Poltava to Kiev, much shorter journey for us, no 3hour coach trip, from airport to stadium, neutral venue should work in our favour as well.

  • Just seen some training pictures on Arsenal.Com, and pictures of the squad on the plane before departure for sunny Ukraine.

    Lots of young, fresh faces from the Academy on board the plane, I recognised youngsters such as : Smith Rowe, Nketiah, Willock, Zach Medley, Xavier Amaechi, Osei-Tutu and Gilmour.
    Lichtsteiner, Ramsey, Elneny, Guendouzi and Jenkinson were also on the plane.

    In the training pictures I also saw: Cech, Xhaka, Sokratis, Mustafi, Koscielny, Holding, Bellerin, Martinez Aubameyang, Mkhitarayan and Torrieira…
    Pick the bone out of that?

  • Cheers, Kev. Reports also indicate that nine youngsters made the trip. They include Charlie Gilmour, Eddie Nketiah, Tyreece John-Jules, Zech Medley, Emile Smith-Rowe, Joe Willock, Jordi Osei-Tutu, Bukayo Saka and Dominic Thompson. Happy to have Bukayo Saka on the trip. He looks one exciting Nigerian lad.

    We have to first play to win the game before giving game time to some of the fresher kids. Would like to see the likes of ESR, Eddy and Willock start, though. A good mix with the seniors and we should have a fairly straightforward game.

  • Yes Eris, I agree with those sentiments, I’d like to see Nketiah start for sure, let’s see what he can do before the club moves into the January window, although that Nicolas Pepe looks a good player, hope there’s truth to the rumours linking him to Arsenal.

  • Good points by everybody, especially Eris, because I’m a bit worried about the Ozil situation. I just remember him playing in such an inspired fashion a few weeks back as captain. His overall effort and remarkable results had me so high on the situation. Then the following week he was not as effective, and showed anger at his substitution. I just hope the “problem” with him is not the managers being offended at his defiance. I like a guy who wants to stay in and fight, even though I like subbing Ozil more than most. It’s hard to imagine how things were looking so good and now it’s some kind of drama already.

  • From the 20-man squad that travelled we might see this line up,

    Lichs~~ Osei-Tutu~~Holdn~~M-Niles

    Others:-Martinez, Iliev, Gilmour, Jenkinson, Medly, Thompson, Willock, John-Jules, Saka.

    Am suprised Pleguezuelo isn’t in the squad. Kev over to you. Is Osei-Tutu ready to start seeing his just back from injury?

  • Pleguezuelo is injured PE, it’s a real shame as he looked very accomplished in his debut in the League Cup, or I’m sure he would have gone on the trip.

    Osei Tutu is a big, strong lad, who I’m sure is ready to start the game if selected, although I suspect that he’ll be on the bench.

    Medley is an interesting selection, questions surrounding whether he can play or not, something to do with when he signed for us and the two year qualification period for academy players, apparently the club says he can play, but who knows? Hopefully we won’t need to find out…

    Really pleased to see Saka on the trip Eris, he’s only 17 but he has a lot of potential, can play right wing and left back!

    When you look at the probable starting XI, I guess none of them (maybe Holding?) will start in the NLD, but with barely three days between a rip roaring tear up between Us and Them, I wonder if Holding, Ramsey, Mkhitarayan and Guendouzi could all be starters at OT..?

    Where’s Retsub btw?

  • Hi all..
    What a surprise starting line up..Cech; Lichtsteiner, Holding, Jenkinson, Maitland-Niles; Elneny, Guendouzi; Willock, Ramsey, Smith Rowe; Nketiah

    Go young gunners..

  • Confirmed.

    Lichst, Holdn, Jenko, M-M
    –Willock, Ramsey, ERS

  • Steady Eddie on a through pass from Elneny at midfield– shoots low, far post and scores.
    3-0 good guys.


  • Willock takes an elbow back-of-head on a header goes to turf just prior to half– looks OK to continue.

    ESR from inside the 6
    Rambo PEN
    Eddie on a break from 16 at center

    A tidy 3-0.


  • Pity that the 4th goal was chalked off. Offsite my foot.

    Great work by the youngsters, and we should have gotten more. Now for the first teamers turn on Sunday. COYG!!!

  • Hi Retsub, glad you’re well, didn’t the Kids do well?
    So pleased to see so many of them progressing.
    Only seen the briefest of highlights, but the radio gave a very competent commentary.
    Seemed that a Nketiah did a great job leading the attack, being the focal point and linking it all together, shame he didn’t score because people will think he had a poor game if he doesn’t score, but that didn’t seem the case from what I heard.
    5 games, 4 clean sheets in europe!

    I read this Eris/PE, and thought you might enjoy it:


  • Yes Kev.. Nketiah is my MotM..
    His move made it easier..
    And Willock and Smith did well..
    Nketiah should had score one also.. hehehe..

    Agree with you JK.. I don’t see why the goal in disallowed.. it’s a great goal..

    Saka and Medley.. I loved them..
    Very strong and very promising..
    Hope to see them again soon.. in next UEL against Qarabag.. cause I doubt they will be in our Carabao team again Spurs..

  • Good comments before, during and after the game. Yet to watch it properly but looking forward to it. To go out there in freezing conditions and play a passionate game of football is pretty impressive. Unai has them working for each other and we remain unbeaten.

    Big game on Sunday.

  • Morning All,

    I loved the result of last night’s game, but more so, I loved to see the young guys given their chances to impress, as a group who have played together, and know each other’s game, and then took to senior European football like ducklings to water and with equal aplomb.

    The one player I took special interest in was Medley, not seen him play before, and Arsenal have not been great at finding CBs over the years, but this guy looked skilful from the start, did not panic, had pace and in time could become a big time player, either at CB or midfield.

    My view on Medley was really just a gut feeling — he played well last night, and it was the first stepping stone against a rather poor team — but will I be surprised to see him go on and make a big name for himself? Not at all.

  • Happy with this result; played a weakened side, in such cold conditions and still came out unscathed. Commendable. I was about 37,000 feet above the Atlantic during that game and held back the urge to check scores till I landed at my destination, so you can imagine my pleasure. Recall we let them score 2 goals at the Emirates so what were the chances we get a clean sheet?

    Read that Bukayo Saka did well and only missed a good chance to score on his first team debut; Carl Jenkinson starting at centre back was also curious; hope he did well at it. Agreed the substitutions (Holding, Ramsey, Guendouzi) were all with the NLD squad in mind. That will be a telling game.

  • Eris–
    Per Jenkinson at CB? A bit tentative early on with his footwork– but smoother as the match progressed. His pace at that position is a plus. There were a few hopeful balls by Vorskla– over and between he and Holding — which he ran down with ease.

    Kind of wondering too about Young Rob’s ‘strategery’. He started on a YC– and took one in this match– and will miss the last EL Group tilt vs Qarabag. Done with intent? As to be ‘more available’ for PL comps? 😉

    As for the NLD– Gunners are a slight fave. This, though Spurs have won 7-of-8 away matches this season. Do B2B tough matches vs Chelsea and Inter wear on Spurs first XI? Will Dembele, Wanyama, Sanchez listed ‘out’– and Trippier ‘unlikely’ make a difference? Can Arsenal rediscover the intensity shown vs Pool?

    Sunday can’t come soon enough.


  • Hey, thanks jw1. Happy for Jenks then. Hopefully, he’s able to get more opportunities to strut his stuff for another club to come for him in the January window.

    Kev, fine piece about the new gaffer. He does look an embodiment of hard work and has the right dose of paranoia to assure us he craves success.

  • Kev, nice read. I’ve been straining to gain some insight into Emery’s mind (one of my bad habits) and I think am seeing a very clever man. He loads up the players with lots of details (which he has admitted could even be an overload) but which he knows is slowly building up their interest in football tactics and structures. Getting players to develop passion for tactics/structure is the best way of turning a player into a mere element of a team. Being merely part of a whole is what makes great players that then aggregates to great teams.

  • Emery says that he sees tactics more than he sees players. In other words he sees players through the prism of tactics. If a player wants to be in his good books he must understand and respond to his tactics.

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