Man City v Arsenal: A Few Silver Linings for Arteta to Build on

Football came home again but should it have stayed away for at least a few more months? it was all very low key, except for the showing of respect for the BLM movement and the ten thousands of C19 victims. It always rains in Manchester and so it did last night of course, and in more than one way: cats and dogs a plenty but no fans and no atmosphere. It all felt wrong.

Sorry to be so glum.

There is not too much to say about the game but there were some silver linings above the MC stadium:

  1. Leno was our best man and saved us from a total embarrassment with fine, decisive saves throughout the game;
  2. Bellerin and Tierney defended the flanks with energy and focus, even though the link-up play with the wide-attackers remains a work in progress;
  3. Guendouzi had a good start and Ceballos showed willingness to get stuck in, and he gave us some breathing space with dribbling and passing;
  4. Mustafi had an energetic and focussed game and he and Mari started strong;
  5. Saka had some quality moments but it looked a compromise by Arteta to play him on the right wing.

This was always going to be difficult game for so many reasons. To start with the journey to the wet North was a bizarre one; that is no way of preparing for a game of this magnitude. Man City are a class apart and the injuries to both Xhaka and Mari totally scuppered Arteta’s plans for the night. Initially, these plans looked promising and they gave me hope. Once Xhaka was taken off we missed a DM-minded player, and even though Guendo and Ceballos tried hard they were no match to the MC midfield. It was really game over after 20 minutes.

Leno did everything to avoid the inevitable, but, as it is a team sport, there is always somebody who can undo all your good work. Luiz, who had come on for Mari, singlehandedly made sure we would go home with nothing and leave the fans with a feeling somewhere between melancholy and despair.

I guess the good thing is that Arteta will use this game to finalise some conclusions he has been working on for the last few months. Next up, in just a couple of days, are the Seagulls. I am sure Mikel will now know who he will start and what his strongest-11, or there about, will look like for the next few months.


25 thoughts on “Man City v Arsenal: A Few Silver Linings for Arteta to Build on

  • Here are some comments from earlier that i think are appropriate to your post TA.

    GunnerN5 says:
    June 18, 2020 at 12:44
    Luiz stands up like a man and takes the blame.
    allezkev says:
    June 18, 2020 at 14:39
    Interesting what he said about his contract, hinting that he wanted to get it done sooner but that his agent told him to hang on…

    Maybe players need to develop a mind of their own and stop allowing agents to lead them by the nose?
    GunnerN5 says:
    June 18, 2020 at 15:39
    That’s so true allezkev, agents changed football, mainly to the benefit of the players (and themselves) but to the detriment of the clubs and the game in general – they are nothing more than leeches.

    I was happy to read the thoughts of both Luiz and Arteta – basically saying that Luiz had two bad moments that gave the game to Man C – but Atreta does not hold those “moments” against him in relation to a new contract.
    GunnerN5 says:
    June 18, 2020 at 15:42
    We can still hold out hope to get into the Europa League places – or go on to win the FA Cup. This team needs a lot of work and some new faces – it will take several years for this to happen.

  • Hi TA.
    If we can take away the two fups from Luiz I thought that we were holding our own against a far superior team. Of course I was disappointed with the outcome but I had low expectations going into the game so it was really no big surprise (other than the in manner in which it happened)

    The team seemed tight and together, although Auba did appear isolated and lonely – when he came on Lacazette seemed totally disinterested and I saw him just walking around several times.

  • hi, TA
    long time no see;
    the empty stands, the rain, the injuries, taylor being taylor, luiz’s howlers, emery’s spectre echoed in mikel’s “tactical reasons” for leaving mesut home …
    man, looks like the script were written by a deranged, faustian, tottenham fan who sold his miserable soul against the promise of our downfall
    as mikel said, we might as well forget all about that night, and just focus on BHA
    under those circumstances, there’s no use being harsh on any of our players; i just wish:
    a) mikel used joe in a BtoB role, he’s aaron’s, not mesut’s heir-apparent
    b) the club gave bukayo everything he and his folks have been asking for: arsenal board, just put the kid’s signature down a gold/platinum/vibranium contract, ffs!!!

  • Cheers GN5.

    I am not so sure whether we were tight as Leno did very well when our defence was sliced like smoked salmon, but I think I know what you mean.

    Auba on the wing was not working for me. I much prefer Saka and Nelson/Pepe on the wing and Auba, or Eddie, central.

  • Hey Legall,

    Good to hear from you, homme de beaucoup de merite! 🙂

    Willock in the hole works for me, but with Guendo, Ceballos and Willock we have three comparable players who are more focussed on moving forward with the ball then quick passes and keeping our (defensive) shape. Having said that, I can also see Willock as a good B2B player.

    How have you been coping with the virus? Are you teaching again?

  • Firstly, it’s good to read some positivity from GN5, yes it’s a long long process but the man we have in charge is the right man I believe. Once he gets ‘his team’ we can finally judge, but until then he’s having to utilise players who are almost certainly not his ideal picks.

  • My biggest disappointment, besides the obvious, was that we failed to test the City goalkeeper, not one effort worth writing home about, but Lady Luck was not on our side and we paid the price.

    All the same Total I was pleased to have football back, we’ve suffered a lot, lost a lot of people to the virus, seen certain individuals act questionably and there’s a lot more issues to come before we emerge from all this angst, so for me a bit of footie was a real tonic, despite the result.

    I pretty agree with your 5 points, but for me the burning question is who plays centre back alongside Mustafi at Brighton?

  • I am genuinely glad it worked for you, Kevski. I think it will get better the longer the boys are playing, so there is hope for me too.

    How bad is Mari’s injury? Maybe it is time for Holding?

  • That sucks, Kevski. The man does not seem to have much luck in his footie career, does he? Arteta may still take a risk with him, though.

  • yes, ta, i’ve been back to school for 2 weeks now, but very few kids turn up, actually, and rightly so, since we never stopped working, really: i’m a lucky guy, my students are well-behaved, hard-working kids, who did all the homework i sent them during the lockdown – even during the so-called “easter holidays”
    anyway, it’s good to be out again, and … to worry about the arsenal again
    what about you? hope yesterday’s defeat was the only bad news you’ve had to put up with lately

  • It must be your charm and great Gooner stories that make you so popular with the students” 😉

    I am okay. Very quiet with work and daughter is struggling with the lockdown etc but we are getting there. 🙂 Thanks for asking.

  • Listening to Mikel’s press conference, it sounds like Ozil is not ready to perform at the required level. I have a lot of time for Mesut but the patience has almost ran out now. You can also tell that the club are finding their feet at the moment and are unsure about how they will manage contracts of players and new signings. Arteta has a lot of pressure on him at the moment and in times like these I expect Ozil to stand right beside his manager. He isn’t and that is very disappointing.

  • Hi Total, there always seems to be something going on around Mesut, whether planned by his PR people or not. The Turkish President, issues with Muslims in China, the Arsenal pay cut, the infamous carjacking incident, his contract, his agent, the charity work that he does, the German national team, alleged anti Muslim sentiment in Germany, whether he fancies away games, it’s all very much a soap opera. I have my views about him as a footballer, the pros and cons of his time at the club, but I think he is a man of conviction, he has his views and by golly he sticks by them whether they are popular or not.

    I actually think that he will start in the team at Brighton.

  • Good morning allezkev, I guess we could all be “principled” if we had a weekly pay packet of 350, 000 quid.

    He is a total enigma and to mind, as good a footballer as he can be, he does not display the character to be a top flight Arsenal player – I’m afraid that he is a perfect example of a player who has become enamored with his own self importance and not what is best for the club – too much money can have an adverse effect on ones ego.

    The trouble is that no other club would buy him unless Arsenal continue to pay a large percentage of his salary, plus who else would put up with his nonsense – so we are stuck with him – he wins – we lose!

  • Well that is a fine summary of the Ozil enigma, Kev. If he plays tomorrow that would surprise me. We need him to focus on the team more than ever.

    GN5, if he were to go and play in Turkey next season it would not surprise me. Maybe even in Russia. I doubt he will be Gunner for much longer, reading between Mikel’s lines.

  • TA, I also agree with Kev.

    It would be a real coup on Arsenal’s part if that can offload him any where, his huge salary and his antics must have a very negative effect on the other players.

  • Good points GunnerN5, money does buy you freedom for sure, I’d like to try it for a week…

    Mesut Ozil could be viewed and is viewed by many as an obstacle to the club moving on because of it, but that’s a self inflicted wound and something we must roll with for one more year.

    It’ll be interesting to see GN5 how Ozil is viewed by most Arsenal fans a few years down the line once tempers have cooled. I will always be of the opinion that he could and should have done more in his latter years with the talent he has at his disposal.

  • The lure of the Turkish Superliga is a definite Total, China is completely off the agenda but there’s always the MLS, I’m sure that 17tino would be there like a flash in his Ozil shirt. 😄

    I’m not sure about Russia if I’m honest TA, if I was to have a bet it would be Turkey and maybe long term a career in politics?

  • We should also remember that his wife was extremely scared after the attempted robbery and wants to leave London – who could blame her – and that must have a deep affect on Ozil.

  • Hi folks…trying to catch up and get back into the football just a bit. I’ve got lots going on (there’s a graduation and birthdays happening in my family) and that was a loooong game the other day…esp. after the sending off–a couple of hours I won’t be getting back anytime soon…

    I too saw some green shoots but damn, when it rains it pours and now our defense is down to just about nothing. If J-Dub won’t let me talk about our new mainstay in central defense (Bhko-Down Mustafi) who else can we suggest might play ahead of Leno tomorrow? (Rob Holding didn’t even make the bench at ManCity…) And let’s not forget that Xhaka had been sliding into a near-CB role in very deep central midfield as I recall from the pre-Covid matches…

    So, maybe we just go for goals at Brighton. Ozil starting down there seems a long-shot, but what(TF) do I know? (I must also say that I’m not following the media–and social media–statements…) And will there be any rotation due to the matches coming so quickly now? I’m tempted to pick a first 11 but it seems just about impossible… If Pepe can’t get in the starting group, I’d have to wonder about his future at the club (as well). To me, we need a result (a win would be ideal) AND some players stepping up and making some statements about their belief in what Arteta is doing to turn things around at the club.

    ManCity was always going to be a tough place to go (all the weirdness of the re-start notwithstanding…) and it would be quite convenient if we could place all the troubles from Wednesday night onto the (very thin) shoulders of David Luiz. With the injuries to Mari and Xhaka (our two tallest players?) and the Ozil drama (and Pepe only picking splinters out of his arse) the (very) small positives, I think, are tougher to try and build upon.

    But–like Scarlett O’Hara says after Rhett Butler leaves her crying on the staircase–Tomorrow is Another Day…

  • TA, are you (or anybody else) thinking about doing a match preview? I can set the alarm and try and get up and do another live-blog when the line-ups come out… (6 am my time…)

    Like I say, picking a first 11 seems like something only Mikel will be able to do…

    Happy Friday…

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