Arsenal Regress to EmeryBall but Ozil and Saka Pull Us Through

Our win on Saturday was a very hard one and sprinkled with luck, but the best team won and I am glad that Moyes’ tactics did not undo Arteta’s. 

It looks like we are gliding back to Emeryball, and that’s not good. It is inevitable to happen now and again, but key is now for Arteta to get the team to listen to him and change their ways. I only watched our second half which I believe was our best one. The team was too stretched: our midfielders were isolated, our attackers were not connecting with midfield and our defence sat back too much: it really looked like we were being managed by Unai again.

I don’t know why we are not pushing up more from the back. Moyes had set up the team to beat us on the counter and we were scared of them, can be the only conclusion. Still, our tactics of sitting deep(er than usual) and leaving our midfield isolated let to a lot of chances for the Hammers and only poor finishing and decent saves by Leno prevented a loss for us on Saturday.

Up-front the Hammers’ defenders outnumbered our attackers and especially their central defenders had a good game. They anticipated Ozil’s cleverness and were too fast for our ‘runners’ Eddie and Auba. It needed something special or a dollop of luck, and the latter came our way thirteen minutes from the end. Auba’s shot was blocked and reached the head of Ozil;  the German cushioned the ball for Laca and he took his chance without any hesitation.

I guess our defence are less sure as per the changes Arteta’s has made. Mustafi’s connecting skills were missed, even though Mari did his best to make up for it. Big Sok as FB has its plusses and minuses, but that is two changes to the back four and I can well imagine that pushing up and hemming in the opponent was a scary prospect for them.

Luckily, Ceballos had a decent game and tried hard to connect with the attack when he could. Same goes for Xhaka even though his passing lacked its usual sharpness. The MOTM for me was Mesut Ozil, who was together with Saka the only one with the vision and ability to add quality to our attack. Mesut had the assist so MOTM seems right.

It was not a beautiful or a good game, but the team spirit was high and that pulled us over the line. Next up is Citeh, Arteta’s management learning ground, and that will of course be a different kind of challenge.

By TotalArsenal.


47 thoughts on “Arsenal Regress to EmeryBall but Ozil and Saka Pull Us Through

  • OMG ! You are obviously an OZIL fan , not Arsenal’s !
    Ozil was rubbish throughout the game, the assist does not undo his laziness . Leno was MOM and Saka close second. Ozil and Xhaka Make our midfield so slow and predictable . We’re going nowhere With those 2 On the Field.

  • “I only watched our second half which I believe was our best one.”
    Good read TA. Both your post above– and watching only that portion of the match.

    Rewatched last night. Just the second half. I’ll recommend against watching the first.
    Late-1st-half on Saturday– Mrs jw1 just waking– walks into the living room, and asks:
    “Are you OK?” Answered with a terse “Yes” and “Why?”.
    She sez: “Your body language. Either you are cold and not feeling well– or pretty pissed-off.”
    (Another good read…)
    “Pissed-off that Arsenal are playing like they are.” Sez me. And so it went.
    Fortunately, it was the end of the half at that point.

    Arteta did have all of the bigger/slower defenders on the pitch– to help with the physicality of West Ham’s forwards. And didn’t push up high– to mitigate their pace. Seems he picked his poison in that regard.

    Hoping to see Bellerin, Martinelli, along with Laca in the XI on Wednesday. A bit of pace seems essential.


  • Hey yeah JW, I can well imagine how you felt… it was not pretty.

    But getting the balance right is hard and in the end it some how worked out for us.

    Bellerin, Laca and Martinelli as starters v Citeh seems a good plan.

  • Arsenal are playing Sheffield United for the FA Cup on Sunday 22 March, 1.30 kick-off. Live on BT Sport. I prefer the earlier kick-off when we play up-north.

  • very thorough analysis, as always, TA
    about wednesday’s game, rumour has it that hec has been suffering from a groin problem, ever since newcastle warm-up … which would be reassuring in a way, or at least accounting for the difficulties he has getting back to his top form (will we get to see soares’s debut??)
    those first halves of ours puzzle me, annoy me, enrage me; all our – talented!!, i keep believing in them – lads deliver is a kind of depressing passing drill, sometimes forgetting there are opponents all too willing to punish them
    as always, i like your analysis of what’s going on in our engine room – as for me, i might be oversimplifying things, but i feel we’ve never been fit enough this season, so that we lack the runs (number, intensity) required to deliver a proper PL top-tier performance
    hope i’ll be proven wrong, of course, but Wednesday’s game against a wounded city side, scares the s..t out of me

  • Fair assessment, TA. If you didn’t see the first half, maybe you should be careful about naming the MoTM. Ceballos was imperious; but for Leno, we wouldn’t be talking about 3 points; Saka was brilliant, as always and Ozil was smooth and did his thing. For me, I’d look towards Ceballos and Leno for the MoTM; for his cool Assist though, I agree Ozil wasn’t too far off those two.

    I have seen teams have a drab game when the players’ minds are on a bigger game. Let’s hope we would see all the fight and pressing/forward play we did not see on Saturday when we go to the Etihad.

  • Hey Legallos, good comment. Those below par first halves (and sometimes second halves) do worry me too. Could it really be lack of fitness? That would be something we should see gradually improve, so there is hope. Or maybe it is something else. Tactics that work much better in training than in the actual games….

  • That is fair enough, Eris. Based on the second half, I feel justified with my choice but yes the first half should also be taken into account.

    I like the idea of the team focusing partly on the midweek game and maybe saving themselves a bit. Let’s hope the boys will go out with real conviction in Manchester.

  • Agree with Eris– on Leno as MoTM. Certainly brilliant when it counted. If Ozil can find a assist on a day when nothing looked right for any of the outfield X? I’ll take that. Ceballos numbers were great. And we don’t win if he doesn’t produce those numbers. But he was one of the ones pissing-me-off 1st-half (Pepe another). A lot of diddling around with the ball in space. He needed a dose of Jack Wilshere at times to drive into the final third and feed the attackers. He’s got the tools– but he left them on his belt unused.


  • You have a good point re Ceballos, jw1. He does look like he can do better than what he produces.

    I would like to see Cedric Soares, if passed fit to play; this game may be too soon and not ideal for a debut, though. Otherwise, it may be Sok at right back then.

  • i think ceballos is a very good player, i really do.
    but … i’d give half of his accurate touches/passes for just one of aaron’s darting runs into the opponents’ box.

  • You know the problem with Ramsey, LeGall. He was so often injured and we could not build a team around him…. and he did not want to sign a new contract but go abroad. I agree though that Ceballos is not that sort of player. It can come though as he is still young and tactically inexperienced, and in very good hands with Arteta and Freddie.

  • I don’t want to chip in the MotM tpic as Leno, Ceballos and Ozil all have strong cases to be nominated.

    I think we are on the right track though. I admit, not everything clicks at the moment, but we played with clear superiority, a ball possession game reminding the early-medium Wenger era. Of course, we have a lot to improve – first and foremost chance creation by playing less predictable – but we have the players capable of doing so. And we have the supply of next generation talents (defense: Holding, Saliba, Mavropanos, maybe even Ballard and Medley; midfield: Guendouzi, ESR, Willock, possibly Smith, Cottrell and Azeez; and attackers: Martinelli, Nelson, Nketiah, with Balogun, John-Jules and Greenwood). The question on the defense is – for the first time in years – not “who might stay with the club from this incompetent bunch?” but “is an expensive marquee signing really necessary when almost everybody is capable of a – not so rare – MotM performance?”.

  • Absolutely, PB. Arteta has fine players to work with, young, middle-aged and older. A top class central midfielder would be top of my wish-list, but I am also happy to wait and see how Arteta works with the current bunch.

  • OK. Watched the 2ndH — again — last night.
    Feel really good about those last 20 minutes.

    Wish to point out– that from the 76th minute when Arsenal scored through to the 95th minute of extra time– Arsenal was nearly spotless. And– it struck me. When was the last time Arsenal closed out a match from a winning position– with no troubling moments? Yeah. Been a very long time.

    A bit of white-light shining on Arsenal.
    That’s the takeaway from this match.


  • I predict a Mourinho meltdown in the very near future…

    It’s gonna be very entertaining.
    They were made for each other.

  • Hehehehe! It was a joy to watch Mourinho make the excuse he wouldn’t care to get from others: best players all injured.

  • BTW BKers?
    In light of the COVID-19 cancellation of City vs Arsenal– I wanted to offer a source of information I’ve been using to track the outbreaks globally and locally.

    Johns Hopkins University has a statistical and visual dashboard I’ve found useful–
    ‘Coronavirus COVID-19 Global Cases by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University (JHU)’

    Hope it helps with any questions it might answer.


  • Citeh vs us is postponed again.
    Yes it will help to reduce the crowd to coronavirus, and to reduce large scale events is a good idea.

  • Cheers JW and wise words from 84. We all have to start realizing this is a serious threat to us and it needs be business as unusual for a while at least.

  • I am amazed how poor the Spuddies have become under Moanrinho. They will be hoping for a better second-JM season, as so often was the case, but you have got to wonder whether the players will just not work for him (and quietly sabbotage results in the process).

  • Mourinho doesn’t care Total, if they sack him he’ll cop a big wedge of cash as per usual.
    And some other saps out there will offer him another lucrative job.
    Football = more money than sense!

    There has to be some serious doubts over the Euros?

  • Agreed, Kevski. He will go down in history as the football manager with the most double incomes. He is a specialist in contract breaks caused by others.

    Euros…. long way to go and I reckon there will be a bit more control over proceedings by then. Public health is key though and a year without sport is not the end of the world. Just buy enough toilet paper and, especially in your case, tea, milk and biscuits! 😀

  • Total, as someone who was in the Boy Scouts I always live up to their motto of Be Prepared, so I have plenty in my cupboards, always do, but especially tea, if the Bostonians want to dress up as Indians and chuck it over the side then so be it, I’m well stocked with Gods own drink. 😉

  • Hahaha, and I know you are not joking either!! 😀

    Thinking about it, how do you feel about being a cab driver with the virus coming closer and closer? Are you able to make your part of the cab airtight? Do you wear a face mask/ use gel every time you have exchanged cash?

  • champions league night
    outrageous refereeing at Anfield; Atletico are given the arsenal-pgmo-treatment: arrogant thug Henderson should have been sent out after 20 minutes, he was not and now it’s 1-0 to the refs’ darlings
    at times atleti literally outplayed the reds, pressing harder and higher than klopp’s minions – can’t help thinking that 2 years ago at the emirates we outplayed a stronger atleti side (with Godin, Griezmann, …) in the EL semis, proof; if needed, that arsène was far from being finished imo … well it’s high time I let bygones be bygones, I guess …

  • On a serious note Total, as working conditions go I’m quite isolated to start with.
    I don’t have to commute on a bus or train and I’m not in an office or factory surrounded by people, so I feel relatively safe. I keep my windows closed and keep contact to the bare minimum. Most people pay by card so I don’t even have to handle money.
    I carry a spray and regularly spray the handles and seats in the back of the cab.
    So I do all I can to minimise all contact.
    Washing hands etc.

    What about you Total, can work from home?

  • That all sounds very sensible, Kev. Keep safe.

    Yes I can work from home but am in between projects so home any way. Now the fabulous Tom Hanks and his wife have got the virus…. it is spreading rapidly it seems.

  • I hope that Scotland doesn’t go into full lockdown. And not just for your sake, TA. 🙂

    Did you read, that Mikel Arteta was also tested positive for COVID-19?

    I don’t know how the leagues will proceed, but if they limit the postponed games to the minimum, then those teams will prevail that have the longest bench full of capable squad players. I think we are among the top.

  • It is not looking good, PB. Health is key right now and I hope the government will start to act decisively now. This may or may not impact on your family trip… only time will tell.
    I expect the season to be cancelled in the next two weeks or so and Liverpool will have to wait another year to be crowned champions 😉

  • Football-less weekend is taking the life out of me…

    Anyway, lets do this collectively and though the risk is for the spectators, footballers and us who play football regularly must also ensure good hygiene.

    Hope the league will not be null and void, like what was said by the West Ham director. Lets get together and hope everyone stays well and healthy

  • i don’t know about nullifying the season, njk …
    life must go on, we shouldn’t accept defeat imo
    how shall i put it? our identity as humans is also made of rites, of our capacity to organise group/mass events in dignity.
    football is part of that of course, and for all the gibe battles – which will resume, when the time comes – we have to admit we are much closer to spurs or ‘pool fans, than to most other categories of population.
    last week, believe me, i watched without displeasure atleti knock the “reds” out of the CL … but on the other hand, i’d feel very bitter, should they be robbed of a title they’ve been expecting so long, and they’ve done so much to deserve
    so: what now? as many of you, i guess, i’ve been considering the possibilities, and as it turns out i’ve come up with something which doesn’t look too foolish … to me
    first, let’s call everything off for now, i agree with on that point, njk
    obviously, this covid thing’s a bitch, and in my country (france) we’re bracing ourselves for sustaining the shock of the bound-to-be-very-painful weeks ahead (because we – our “ruling” body – thought we were so much more clever than others, the italians in particular , but that’s another story of course).
    then, let a statement be issued warning the clubs that the 2019-2020 national leagues which had to be stopped will resume in summer starting on saturday july, 4th- meaning the players would have gone back to training around monday, may, 25th (and would benefit from a proper pre-season without one of those f…..g asian tours, which account for the number of injuries later on in seasons imo, but that’s another another story)
    so much so that the 2019-2020 national leagues would be able to crown their champions on Saturday, august 1st (by playing Saturdays/Wednesdays); the ‘pool fans would have a party in a sunbathed anfield, and then, only then, it’ll be time to curse, malign, libel them again.
    then, let two weeks be given to the whole summer mercato madness, until Friday august, 14th, midnight, so that the 2020-2021 season might start Saturday, august 15th (a week later than it was originally scheduled);
    of course, some dead weight would have to be taken off that season – which would be great too, injury-wise, I’m sure about that
    by that, I mean:
    – cancelling the league/carabao cups
    – throwing away/binning (once and for good would be great, imo, but that’s another another another story) the group stages of the European cups.
    specifically, my suggestion would be to get back to good ol’ knock out stages all along.
    – a first round of 128, common to both European cups (6 teams for england/italy/spain/germany; 5 for france netherlands portugal russia ukraine; 4 for greece belgium turkey switzerland; etc etc – hope I’m not upsetting anyone); actually, i’d be in favour of team seeding, and of an equivalent of tennis tournament draws – but that’s not what matters most
    – second round of 64
    – third round of 32: the 16 winners qualify for a champions league round of 16; the 16 losers “qualify” for a europa league round of 16 – isn’t that cup the losers’ cup anyway??)
    rounds of 16 (football-cup-draw, no seeding, and no protection, two teams from the same country may face each other from that stage on)
    it’d free dates for the 2019-2020 national cups to come to an end – and for mikel to win his first arsenal title …
    and yes, an actual winter break’d be great too …
    anyway, doesn’t look too bad to me, what do you think?
    it’s done me good, thinking of the “days after”, when joyful fans fill the stands again

  • Le Gall, I hope that the “fill-in-the-blanks” part is farflung Asia.
    I have heard news that due to the Coronavirus gives westerners the Asianophobia, which is very much the work of the media. We need less of that and more of the togetherness to fight this.

    The rest of your lengthy but brilliant post is agreed on. But I am not sure about the mega tournament of 128 teams in the first round. It will be a planning hell for the organisers, especially in this period, which is ever-evolving.

  • so much for “not upsetting anyone”
    we should always re-read before posting
    i’m old school, njk, and i wish we’d still favour arsène’s austrian mountains pre-seasons
    nothing against asia there, of course – it’s our pre-season asia tours i complaint about – i wish i had the honest opinions of docs and fitness coaches about them, but i have a hint of what they’d say
    if i had my say, we’d have proper post-season tours over there to thank the fans …
    arsenally yours

  • Sorry for speaking my mind Le Gall. Yes I prefer the lads to do some old school pre-seasons, which we might see it this year due to the virus. And no worries Monsieur, I get what you meant.. was just trying to tease you.

    Apparently I agree that the fitness might vary from player to player at a place where you get jet-lag and the weather to acclimatise to, and even the best might suffer from it a little more. However, lately there had been warm weather training that was said to help the players, but I am not sure myself.

  • Nice one Legallos 🙂 It is good to think practically and yes there will be ways of restarting the season but I guess those in charge need time to think through the risks and opportunities and then come with a plan that gets accepted by all stakeholders…. and that will be the hardest part.

  • Le Gall. I agree with you. We used to start the season much better when we had the simple pre-season without any pressure.

    Since we started the far East trips the start to the season has been patchy with injured players.

  • These are the most abnormal of times; who would have thought we could have a “No footie” break at the business end of the season? I don’t envy those in charge who have to come up with a decision as to how to have a fair end to the season, assuming it came to that.
    It would seem obvious Liverpool was definitely on the way to the title but, can it be as easy as just handing it to them when there are teams that could argue they needed the points off them in order to rise on the table? What about the relegation battlers, who need the games to stay out of the zone? I also worry about player contracts and the small matter of players on loan who need games to make the case for outright purchase or a grand return to their parent teams? So many things to consider in reaching an amicable model for ending the season.

    But, I guess all of that pales in importance compared to the health of the players, fans and officials.

  • It is hard, and it might be equally hard for the footballers as well, as they have their home to stay in, which is huge, without football, and i had to resort to watching old matches to stay sane.

    I hope everyone else is business as usual in their countries, and the pumps and the supermarkets are stocking up well.

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