Ozil Loves Ceballos, Saka Great but NOT MOTM, Happy Laca: 8 Observations

Arsenal 4 – 0 Newcastle United: It is 16 February and hurrah we have a positive goal difference!

Peperdure Pepe staat eindelijk op bij Arsenal

8 observations/positives:

1. We were passing slowly in the first half, and the barcodes were making use of their manhandling and speed to try and break us.
2. Leno. Saved us from a first half implosion, and Mustafi and Luiz saved us from conceding.
3. Xhaka. Some iffy passes in the first half, when they were tighter at the back. When the game opened up the whole team exploited the gaps in midfield and defence.
4. Ceballos. Took his starting spot with both hands. And feet. His quicker passes allowed the team to find spaces quickly and enabled us to breach their defence better. My motm.
5. Auba. Could not find the rhythm in the first half. Not much improvement in the second but due to the team pressing high in the second half he got involved more.
6. Nketiah. Not a good day individually for him. His tactical awareness was lacking and his age showed his lack of plan B after he could not get past the defence in the first half. Missed a sitter in the second.
7. Ozil. Ceballos and Ozil need to be on the same pitch more regularly. Ozil thrives with more spaces, and feeds the forwards constantly when he had ample space. Ceballos creates space by moving the ball quickly and efficiently.
8. Laca. I wanted to say the summary with the last point, but something I want to say about Laca. He is holding up play better than Nketiah, and if Nketiah learns more from Laca the way that he plays will also be better too, given that he is pacier and has a better eye for the goal.

The team changed after the first goal. Right before that we were managing their attackers well, but we were sitting in the middle of the pitch. After that we were higher up the pitch and the barcodes were absolutely torn up by us, caught between putting players up front or defending. They chose putting players up front, thus causing the back to be exposed horribly.

Saka played ok defensively yesterday, and he was not that comfortable with the ball in the first half and during the start of the second, missing a few passes. He turned up the heat at the same time as Ceballos, and everyone got involved in the 4 goals. It came when we passed faster and found spaces better. That was our trick and it came in a crushing fashion. Maybe they read my previous post about how to play better? Using the 4:2:2:2 formation with 2 wide strikers?

The players that tried hard to create was Ozil and Pepe. Pepe is now finding his foot in the team, with more precise crosses. In the first half his crosses all found the head of barcodes. Ozil was mostly ok last night, and tried hard to create chances for the team.

Thus, it seemed harsh to give the MoTM to Saka. Ceballos, Ozil and Pepe deserved it more.


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31 thoughts on “Ozil Loves Ceballos, Saka Great but NOT MOTM, Happy Laca: 8 Observations

  • Thanks for some good observations, 84.

    I loved the way we controlled that game. Yes we were rusty and ineffective in the first half but there were lines in our play and we did not give away much. Second half the boys upped the tempo and finally our quality shone through (we really have a good squad of players). That was the best Ozil game in a while. If Dubai can do that to a player then let’s go there every month! Ceballos had a big role to play in this as NU now had to focus on both players rather than just make sure Ozil gets no time on the ball.

    Pepe was much more effective today and that was great to see. Still, Saka had that extra bit of refined quality and his work to get us our second goal was priceless in every sense. The way that 18 year old picks a final pass is truly amazing. Ceballos was good going forward but defensively he is iffy: we were lucky to escape when they hit the post as that would have boosted NU’s morale to go for an equaliser. Danny also gives away too many fouls but his attacking contributions made up for it and I liked him overall. Xhaka also had a very good game. He controlled proceedings and protected our defence all game long.

    Eddie worked hard and created space for others, so a good shift in my opinion.

    Cheers 84! 🙂

  • Think your a little hard on Nketiah the ball was behind him and that made it made it difficult. I felt he kept the ball well and worked for the team. Yes Ceballos was good but I’m not sure that was the right way to play with him in squad we didn’t look as compact with him alongside Xhaka. Overall I thought Newcastle dominated first 35 minutes after that we looked to find our rhythm a bit and then after the break we got over our holiday blues and looked decent.

  • Cheers TA. Agreed on Ceballos being iffy in defense. In the first half he did ok helping Bellerin and when he bombed forward he could not come back quickly enough. Reminded me of Rambo.

  • Onthe Laca vs. Nketiah dilemma:
    I think Lacazette is superior to Eddie in technical skills, aerial abilities, shooting strength and – most of all – holdup play.
    The (possibly) only part of the striker’s game where Nketiah is superior – but I honestly think he might be better than everybody else on the planet – is his positioning skills. Eddie is practically never offside, he instinctively knows where the pass will come from, and scores plenty of mundane, almost boring goals. He is a natural, a successor of a long line of poachers including – but not limited to – Inzaghi, van Nistelrooy, Klose. He doesn’t have the extravagant skills of Ibrahimovic, the size of Peter Crouch or the the muscle power of Lukaku, but he is dependable when it comes to delivering goals. It doesn’t mean he should be favored on Lacazette’s expense, but it is a legitimate decision if the final tap is more important than holding the ball or chance creation.

    On Ceballos:
    I was surprised on his inclusion, especially given that the formation didn’t change. He played really well, no doubt about that, but he is not a real substitute to Torreira. His defensive uncertainties could ave hurt Arsenal against a team with a stronger midfield, but yesterday he could bring more to the table. But in the long run I see him in a 4-men midfield (Xhaka-Torreira-Ceballos-Ozil) better than in 4-2-3-1. Of course it would mean we should have only 2 attackers, but an Aubameyang-Martinelli partnership could be lethal, as both can appear on the flanks, in the box, can switch sides and wreak havoc on the defenders.

  • Dan Critchlow
    15 Feb
    Goals from Khayon Edwards, Mauro Bandeira, Omari Hutchinson and Marcelo Flores, the former trio all got assists as well.

    Back in the final at u16 level for the second year running, hopefully they can win it this time! #AFC

  • That’s good news Kev. All of it.
    Extra pleased to hear Pablo Mari is getting minutes tonight.


  • XI: Hein, Swanson (C), Mari, Holding, Omole, Smith, McEneff, Cottrell, Greenwood, Balogun, Coyle

    Substitutes: Clarke, Hillson, Medley, Ogungbo, Azeez

  • Holding and Mari off at half time.
    Replaced by Clarke and Medley, could be tactical or preplanned.

    Greenwood goes close a few time in 2nd 45 but Chelsea hold on for the win.

  • Gn5, thank you for sharing Keown’s piece. The team played 2 different halves and they have issues that they need to improve.

    Thegreatwrighthopeofgoonerland, I agree with you on Nketiah. Pb agreed with me that Laca is better, but there are somethings that Eddie had which is better than Laca. Both can learn from each other as both their pros and cons cancel each other out.

  • 84, weii done with the observations.

    Ist time we are scoring 4 goals in the PL this season. Could ìt all be becausd Ozil had a technical player (Ceballos) around him? I think so. It gave us more fluidity building play which improved the participation of our front 3 plus Saka. In this match only Nketiah had a passing success rate of less than 80% which is unusual for our attacking 4.

    So the inclusion of Ceballos had a positive effect on our offence but it was also clear that defensively it was a subtraction playing him over Torreira.

    Is it possible to play them together? But bringing in Torreira would mean somebody has to depart.

    From the team that started against Newcastle, Torreira comes in, Nketiah departs, and Auba moves to the centre. Saka becomes more of a full fledged winger. So in terms of average positions we have this team:


    Of course it could be say Laca for Auba, Marti for Saka, Nelson for Pepe, Willock for Ceballos and so on. …… just how I see it for better balance.

  • PE, I have to disagree with you on one player. Ceballos started beside Xhaka as Arteta sees him is the Rambo type of player. Him and Ozil cannot play as attacking midfield. That is why I support Arteta on this one. Either Tor plays with Xhaka or Tor plays with Ceballos.

  • 84, I don’t see any clash. Maybe you are interpreting the paper formation too rigidly. Basic thing is Ozil plays as a sort of 10 while Ceb plays as a sort of 8.

    My use of “sort of” is to give allowances for prejudices in the interpretations of nos 8 and 10.

    Maybe what you’re saying is that the extra central midfielder is not needed but you have to note that with Saka playing clearly as a winger, Xhaka is tasked with covering his vacated position. So Xhaka has become like a false central midfielder or if you like a tucked in left back.

    Chech the average positions of the team against Ncastle (say in Whoscored) and you’d get whst am saying.

  • 84, I can rearrange the above formation this way:

    OR in the more formal paper configuration as:


    One thing in common is an extra midfielder.

    Actually the average position of the players from WhoScored had Nketiah deeper than Ozil.

  • I understand where you are coming from, PE. There is a chance where your formation might work, and with our players constantly switching positions in the attacking positions, this might work out just right.

    We need more of the team dynamics to win, and normally we did well when Ozil is running the show. Ceballos is starting to gel with him and the outcome is 4 goals. Apparently it seemed like we did not deserve to score 4 against a good team like the barcodes, but I feel that they really fell apart in the final 10 mins.

  • Apparently Bukayo Saka shares the same agent as Jaydon Sancho! 😐

    Now whilst that info shouldn’t have us reaching for a bottle of Valium, yet, it tells me that we’re going to have to be very convincing about where we’re going as a club, because Sancho was moved on from Man City despite Pep etc and has blossomed at Dortmund into a £100m player, so his agent did the right thing for his career, because the big money will now come rolling in this summer.

    Liverpool are a massive draw, at the moment, but if Saka decided not to extend his contract he could have a whole group of major suitors seeking his signature in just over a years time.
    Hopefully the attraction of sharing a dressing room with a successful team full of fellow Hale End graduates will sway him?

    84, according to Jeorge Bird, James Olayinka should be fit very soon and heading back to Northampton Town to complete his loan.

  • Agree with you 84 about James Olayinka.
    84 he’s one of the less know youngsters but I like him, he’s hard working, puts in the hard yards and doesn’t mind a physical challenge, that’s probably why he got crocked, but as with Martinelli he’s very technical with an eye for goal. He’s the type who goes under the radar, just gets on with his game and works on it, he reminds me a little of Ray Parlour and he didn’t do too badly.

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