David ‘Koeman’ Luiz, Lucas ‘Aspiradora’ Torreira, Sexy Super Nic, Sok MOTM: 8 Observations Arsenal v MU

The Arteta-train is gaining momentum: Arsenal 2-0 Manchester United

Arsenal together

Eight observations from a thoroughly deserved win at the veritable home of football:

  1. We have now played two rivals for a top four position this season in succession, and in both cases we have controlled the game for large parts. Gone are the days of presenting our defence as a shooting range and stretching ourselves like a curly-wurly all over the pitch; we now play like a snickers bar: compact, solid with togetherness and commitment. Oh how we have longed for this and how Arteta is already delivering it! The Mancs had no way through at all; their triangles were disturbed constantly and our wings were sealed hermetically: they were denied space and thus looked very ordinary. Well done Arteta and team!
  2. The pairing of Torreira and Xhaka was key: they were tidy as the most dedicated house husbands. Torreira was in his elements with his aspiradora sucking up every bit of space and any ‘ball crumbs’ and, next to him, Xhaka mobbed up everything and sprayed round passes as he pleased. Together they were awesome – perfectly suited to do all the dirty work with smiles on their faces!
  3. As a result of this extreme tidiness, our defence were able to stay calm and organised throughout the game. Rather than relying too much on Xhaka to make the forward passes, it was David Luiz aka our new Ronald Koeman who made a number of fine ‘libero’ diagonal passes to our wings, with especially the Kola-Auba partnership profiting from this. Luiz was in his element in this team set-up and played his best game for Arsenal so far.
  4. But David was not the only defender worthy of the highest praise. I also saw a fab performance by Big Sok, possibly his best in an Arsenal shirt, and my MOTM. Sokratis read the game well and made some fine and decisive interceptions in the game, and then there was his goal. The most ‘outwardly calm’ player on the pitch was the first to respond to Lacazette’s fast flick-on ball from Pepe’s corner; the ball pinballed in the box and Big Sok’s boot was first to make a decisive connection… and the net took the full blow!! To get that second goal before half time was priceless and vital for our victory.
  5. A good team starts with eleven hard workers, especially in the Premier League – and we indeed had 11 hard ‘slaving’ Gunners against those ‘black devils’ on the pitch yesterday. But cunning and guile are also required and for that we need players like Auba, Laca, Ozil and Pepe. Don’t get me wrong: they worked very hard to support the midfield and deny the Mancs’ midfielders any space, but they also added the extra dimension: Ozil glided over the pitch with close ball control and sharp link-up passes; Laca was a thorn in Macquire’s site and created space for others all game long, and; Auba gave us a very strong left wing (together with the rejuvenated Kola).
  6. But extra praise has to go to Pepe who imposed himself on the game with a strong and determined performance, much benefiting from the support of both Ozil and the quietly impressive AMN on the right wing. I would like him to burst through the defensive line along a the flank a bit more, but Sexy Super Nic was a constant threat for us and added that much needed extra dimension to our attacking play. He was at the right place at the right time for his first goal – and he seemed to anticipate this – and he was very close to a second with only the post denying his very well placed shot from outside the ‘D’. I also like his energetic self-pumping-up exercise before he takes corners.
  7. We came under a bit more pressure in the second half but the boys worked hard for that clean sheet and deserved it. I think it was also important to keep Ozil on the pitch and add two other players who can keep hold of the ball in tight areas: Saka and Nelson. Kola and Pepe had done very well for us but got tired in the second half, so bringing on our finest youngsters made sense: they both helped with releasing the pressure and see out the game with relative calm.
  8. My final observation is for our Bernd. Leno denied the Mancs any space behind our defenders and made some vital interceptions, but I also liked his fist-clearances from set-pieces; after his painful mistake against the Chavs it was important to overcome his fears and that is just what he did. Leno’s ball-distributions are a work in progress but his in and around box-presence was very impressive.

By TotalArsenal.

20 thoughts on “David ‘Koeman’ Luiz, Lucas ‘Aspiradora’ Torreira, Sexy Super Nic, Sok MOTM: 8 Observations Arsenal v MU

  • Morning all.

    Yet another fine summation TA, it must be so much easier for you on the back of yesterday’s super performance.

  • Observations well captured; Lovely take(s) too. I couldn’t see the game as I had to drive to West Toronto with the family while the game was on; maybe, I needed that as the pressure felt the last game, vs the chavs, was thick as….

    So, I cherish your posts and comments along with all I have read up and the highlights seen. It looks like we simply took lessons from the last game and applied more correct/appropriate actions for the same situations last time out and that’s a really good sign for the side and means we are on the up. I said it that what we need is that first win and we could go on a run of wins to climb up to top 6 very quickly and target even better placement, depending on rivals’ results.

    Happy for this win.

  • Yes, GN5. Saw that Ozil did run further than any other Arsenal player, (bar Torreira, was the report). Which just shows how nonsensical some aspects of the media can be with their “lazy Ozil” narrative. He always ran a lot covering spaces, where he couldn’t be too physical but, no. If he wasn’t running aimlessly like a raging bull, he had to be LAZY. I also read he had the most all retrievals or interceptions (one or the other) of every player on the pitch.

    Many will quickly attribute it to Arteta’s influence but the stats show he had run even more two years ago, under Wenger. What that means is that, as Big Sok put it, “the fun is back” to playing for Arsenal. Or, as David Luis stated, when you are happy, it reflects in the play and better to sleep happy than not (paraphrasing him there).

    Long may the good times continue.

  • Well written TA!

    What a match it was, it’s been a while since I’ve heard the Emirates that loud. Goosebumps throughout the night!

    Another fantastic team performance once again by the team, with decent finishing and decision making in the final third this time around. Still not quite there yet, in terms of sharpness and fitness (as Luiz said) but we’re well on the way. Our Arsenal is back.

    I’ve been that impressed by the past 2 matches that I decided to draft Leno into my FPL team this week, and I’ve been subsequently rewarded.

    Hats off to Mikel Arteta. Getting the team on board must not have been easy, especially Mesut, Torreira and Xhaka, when they seemed on the verge of leaving us. Only downside to this match was that Lacazette couldn’t reward his fine performance with a goal.

    There’s still a long way to go but I have absolute faith that we can push ourselves to the next level! COYG!!

  • Just a side note, what a backpass that was from Xhaka to Leno. Nearly shat myself.

    Never change Arsenal, never change HAHA

  • Thanks TA– Papa was as deserving of any of the players as MoTM.
    My choice is Lucas Torriera– being the key to the clean sheet.

    GN5– Those comments by David Luiz in the BBC piece– came from the post-match interview I’d seen. He and Papa had straight faces the whole five minutes or so– while talking about the ‘fun being back’. Had to assume both were spent physically after their sublime efforts. Smiling takes energy. 😑

    That’s the one aspect (as TA mentioned in point #7) the team have to overcome next– 90-minute fitness. With injuries and strategic changes– everyone has to be fit enough to go a full-90. Arteta knows this and made an astute change for Pepe with Reiss Nelson. Saka for Kola was a necessity– Sead staying on the pitch probably several minutes after he needed to come off. Laca and Lucas had to flip a coin to see who came off at the end– and Laca won the flip. Saw several times after– Where Torriera deferred to Guendouzi allowing him to take a loose ball from his feet– and run with it. LT– the Little Terrier– was also spent by the 82th minute.

    Now Mikel Arteta will have some available time to invest in training and teaching. After Leeds in the FA Cup on Monday (1/6)– it’s Sheffield (Wed 1/18) then a rematch at Stamford Bridge (Sat 1/21– a must-win to keep flickering top-4 hopes alive).

    Foggy, cool, then rainy later today here (in Houston). A right, fine day in Arsenal-land.😁


  • Cheers GN5, Eris, Lucas and JW1 🙂

    Ozil was purring, GN5, and he was v easy on eye (his football that is)

    Eris, you missed a big game, at least try and watch the first half again on Arsenal player!

    Bold move, Lucas, but Leno did you proud!

    JW1, happy you gave Torreira MOTM. He was awesome, but I cannot see why you would single him out for the clean sheet… BTW we also play Palace away before we play the Chavs again.

  • Weird TA– and I thought so at the time. Checked my online schedule as I always do. Actually checked to make sure there wasn’t some odd (int’l) break. Palace was not on the schedule– until I just refreshed. Mea culpa. 🙄

    As for MoTM for the Little Terrier? We’ve decried the lack of protection in front of the back-4 for many months (years?). Now that we get it– and it’s played to perfection– it should go less-noticed? Others may have been more noticeable (Pepe, Papa)– but yesterday– it was LT who was decisive in not allowing a scintilla of attack in the middle of the pitch. Lucas helped to hold perennial Arsenal nemesis Jesse Lingard– to 31 touches total. On the whole, a very good team effort. But reading between the lines of instances of great play by others? The Little Terrier was at the center of it.


  • ‘Arsenal Confirm Chambers’ ACL Rupture’ (Arseblog).
    Being an Arsenal defender means likely being seriously injured.

    (Does #20 place Voodoo hexes on all of the others? 🎎📌)


  • always the keen eye, ta
    maybe one word about our german wizard; he’s been with us seven years now, so much so that we have got used to regarding as trivial what should only be referred to as being otherwordly
    it’s so good to win again, and papa’s goal right before half-time wrapped up the game, as you so rightly put
    but … the image i’ll keep in mind will be mesut’s curled pass for ainsley after 41′. it didn”t even end up in a scoring opportunity, but to me, it summed up what mesut is: the ana stelline (“blade runner 2049”) of football; he designs the geometric transformations which are to become the memories we arsenal fans will cherish most
    i can’t thank mikel enough for giving him back to us

  • TA … good picture of how it went. The MoTM debate is destined to be inconclusive. These names have been mentioned by different opinions: Pepe, Sokratis, Torreira, Aubameyang and Luiz. Would any eyebrow be raised if AMN, Ozil, Kola, Leno are added to the list? That is the sound of a real team. And let’s not forget the Emirate crowd.

  • Legallos, agreed re Mesut, and I am sure you know I am a big fan of him too. Let’s hope he will soon be adding assists and goals on a regular basis again.

  • Yes guys.. we need to keep up the pace against Leeds. They were a force in the past, but nowadays they were lingering in the Championship.

    We need the youngsters like Saka and Martinelli to lead the line and beat Leeds.

  • Indeed, it’s good to agree with the post and the comments.
    The life looks brighter after a – well deserved – Arsenal win.

    If Bellerin will be available, Arteta can rotate all 11 players from the starting line-up against Manchester United, giving a deserved NYE break for many who have been playing 290 minutes in 7 days.
    Leeds is a good team, but they played on Wednesday with their best players too, so our rotated squad can get them on Monday.

  • If you have 7 minutes to spare, this is a great little video analyzing the tactics:

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