Eight Arsenal Observations: Arteta The Career-Salvager, Fab Use of Subs, But Not Creating Enough

Arteta is a career-salvager genius – 8 observations from Molineux Stadium (Wolverhampton Wanderers vs. Arsenal).

Arteta July

  1. We are so lucky with Emiliano Martinez. Not just because he is a capable keeper with quick reflexes and fine distribution, but also because he is patient, doesn’t mind playing second fiddle behind Leno, and yet doesn’t disappoint when he is given a chance. I don’t know how many teams have a back-up (cup) goalkeeper with 6 clean sheets out of 8 league starts. He was humble in his years with the club, and I’m happy he is making up for lost time. He made a long journey from his blunder against Reading in that unforgettable 5-7 game to having back-to-back clean sheets in away games.
  2. Kolasinac has been reinvented big time! He was signed with high expectations, as he was the LB of the Bundesliga team of the season just before his (free) transfer. And after a few decent performances we had the understanding that his best position is LWB as he is a beast in attack (’the Bosnian Hulk’), but largely unimpressive – if not untalented – when it comes to defence. Well, yesterday he was WhoScored’s MOTM, and while we know that this is a statistics-fetishist bunch, hats off to Sead for his 4 tackles (field high together with Xhaka and AMN), 5 interceptions (field high), 2 clearances, 1 block and 1 dribble. And I didn’t notice Wolves were deliberately targeting him.
  3. TA sometimes has demonic prognostication skills. He didn’t only foresee all 11 starting players (and 2 substitutions) in his lineup-prediction below GN5’s fine preview post, he also foretold this being young Saka’s evening. And Buyako – who has recently signed a new 4+1 year contract, committing his future to the club – did deliver, scoring his first Premier League goal. Thus becoming the youngest Arsenal goal scorer in a PL game since the Ox in 2012, the youngest British Arsenal goal scorer in an away PL game since Robson in 1981 and the youngest Academy graduate ever scoring in the Premier League (assuming Fabregas is a La Masia graduate).
  4. As LeGall pointed out perfectly, Lacazette showed not only his greatness as a striker but as a team-mate as well by not complaining about the internal competition with Nketiah, but playing full steam when coming in, pressing and harassing the defence. He has the skills and experience to use the occasional technical or mental slip as the opponent’s CBs grew tired, and he finished with aplomb. That was surely good for his confidence, but was good to Arteta’s and the team’s self-esteem as well. Him competing and mentoring Eddie is a great promise for the upcoming seasons (unless he ends up swapped for Thomas Partey).
  5. Arteta is gambling with substitutions, but so far it seems to work. To be frank I didn’t expect to substitute AMN for Tierney. If I would have to replace the tired Scotsman I would either have substituted him with Holding and have swapped Rob with Sead, moving Kolasinac into LWB/LM, or have substituted Kieran with Nelson, moving him to RW and reposition Saka to LM. Anyway, bringing in Ainsley was a genius move that AMN acknowledged with a solid performance – his best of the season. The Saka-Willock move was also unexpected – especially as he had a genuine RW on the bench – but was similarly successful.
  6. Let’s keep Joe Willock. If you followed my comments, I wasn’t the biggest fan of young Joseph. I saw him as a diligent, hard-working, muscular athlete, but I wasn’t fond of a midfielder with such limited passing skills. I never doubted his dribbling and shooting abilities, but he didn’t feel Arsenal quality for me. And while I still wouldn’t prefer him a starter the last few games showed me how valuable his pace and aggression as a late sub are. He can make up for his lack of technical savvy with his speed and energy in the final phase of the games, he is driven, can bully midfielders and defenders alike. Well, I still don’t know if Willock is an AM, B2B CM or a winger, but if he can maintain this intensity for the last 20 minutes, pressing high and creating chances, then who cares?
  7. Despite the obvious and important improvement at the back, this is not Wengerball, not even Emeryball. Probably it will never be. But putting this clearly fine performance into perspective, we painfully didn’t create enough chances from open play in the middle. Yes, Arteta changed our luck with VAR, hitting the post or forced errors – peace be upon him – and greatly improved our wing-play, but without Sanchez, Ozil and Ramsey we don’t have a squad capable of playing attractively and scoring the eye-candy goals like we did against Leicester and Everton Last season. I’m obviously old school but I would swap 2 dangerous crosses from the byline to a through ball from the middle by our CM/AM any day of the week and twice on Sunday.
  8. Arsenal has developed game management skills. This might be even stranger than beating a team above us on the table in an away game. We played focused – especially in closing minutes of both halves, without the trademark lapses of concentration. We responded to the changes made by the opponent. We played a disciplined way – even though I didn’t particularly like the time wasting in the end. We pressed as a team when trying to dominate the game and we defended united when the opponent put their pressing in the 5th gear protecting our lead. We committed some tactical fouls to release some pressure. I’m not saying I would prefer to see this in every game, but it is good to know that the boys are capable of this side of the game, too.

By PBarany

18 thoughts on “Eight Arsenal Observations: Arteta The Career-Salvager, Fab Use of Subs, But Not Creating Enough

  • Excellent analysis, PB, and thank you for doing these eight observations for us.

    Nr.1 – All agreed. The question is whether Emilio is able to play himself into the team for good. At the moment he is forming a very good unit with his defenders and he has that extra bit of physicality if you ask me. I like Leno a lot but have yet to feel in full safe hands with him. Martinez has been very convincing until now.

  • Nr.2 – very interesting stats. He is actually quite like Mustafi in terms of playing style, personality etc. They are both slightly-frantic work horses who need a cool head next to them to play to their full potential. That’s why it makes sense that Luiz has been signed for another year, as he offers this MOST of the time. As I said in the previous post, Kola is growing on me.

  • Nr.3 – signing Bukayo was the best thing to happen to us. He is some player and is already delivering on the bread and butter stats of goals and assists… and then there was that finely taken goal.

  • Nr.4 – If there is one player I think we could cash in on it is Laca, with both Eddie and Martinelli chomping at the bit. But I do like him and he COULD make the difference next season IF he started to score regularly.

  • Nr.5 – the subs were well timed and they all made a difference. Joe and AMN helped us turn the momentum again, and that was vital.

  • Joe has time to grow but, like Saka, he delivers at the business end already with goals and assists. He is ahead of Ceballos and Guendouzi in that respect. Laca took his goal well but he could do it because Joe played him in with a low, precise cross. And then there is that ability to carry the ball for a few seconds and from defence through to midfield through to attack. A big prospect.

  • Nr.7 – Agreed, but against a team like Nuno’s Wolves there is not much else to do. We all love a quality throughball and Ceballos delivered these against a much weaker Norwich side in abundance, but against Wolves he struggled in this regards. That part of our football is a work in progress and it will become easier once we dare to push up and hem teams into their own half.

  • the kieran-ainsley substitution was baffling indeed.
    saturday, the canal+ pundit was jean-luc arribart, a former no-bullshit cb who has turned into a kind, laid-back, quite funny observer of modern football. he spent five minutes trying to figure out why mikel had taken out the young scottish lad he had been raving over since the getgo, and just couldn’t get any reason through his (not so) thick head.
    the only explanation i can put my head around is that – call me blind arteta-worshipper if you like – mikel had done one hell of a homework, anticipated nuno’s changes (jota in, three upfont, …) and told kieran and aisnley the substitution would take place at this very moment.
    whatever the rationale behind the move, it turned out a master stroke, didn’t?
    and before picking on me, just wait and see the arteta shrine, i’m building.

  • A well thought out piece PB…

    1. Wouldn’t it be fitting if Martinez was able to take us the the final and be a major part in us lifting the FACup?
    2. Yes, Kola has well bought into the Arteta project and if anything else has increased his value.
    3. Our kilted Dutchman is very insightful.
    4. Lacazette has been very grown up, he’s bought into the project and that’s what we need, our players putting the good of the team before themselves.
    5. It’s gone under the radar a bit at how well Arteta has handled his squad, kept them ticking over and has avoided soft tissue injuries, his rotation has been very impressive.
    6. I like Willock but have also wondered if he had all the necessary tools to be a regular in the team but Arteta likes him and uses him, so for me that’s good enough.
    7. Early days, the team we have is not the finished article yet but Arteta has taken it in a very short space of time – a squad bequeathed to him by Wenger and Emery, which couldn’t defend for toffee and had a non existent midfield – and made this dysfunctional group look organised and in many examples he’s got them playing to a level we never thought possible, kudos to Mikel.
    8. Game management, it’s getting better but I do not like to see us taking the ball into the corner to waste time, the best game management in my view is to score another goal, as Man City do…

  • From an Arsenal perspective this season is promising a very satisfying conclusion after a very troubled beginning and middle, it’s a season like no other in my memory except big freeze of 1962/63 which probably comes closest in disruption terms as I’m sure Gunner N5 could recall better than me.

    We still have some pretty tough fixtures to negotiate with no certainty that we’re gonna come out the other side smiling, but we’re not alone. A quick check of the fixtures and how they affect the teams around us and above us show some fairly tasty 6 pointers.
    Sheffield Utd vs Wolves
    Sheffield Utd vs Chelsea
    Leicester vs Sheffield Utd
    Tottenham vs Leicester
    Liverpool vs Chelsea
    Chelsea vs Wolves
    Leicester vs Man Utd.

    It’s warming up nicely…

  • It is warming up nicely indeedo, Kev. I have been looking at the fixture list too but then I realised it is all about OGAAT. We need not to be distracted and focus just on the game in hand, whilst using the squad wisely. We’ll see how it all ends! 🙂

  • I’m an Arteta-worshipper just like LeGall, but – I have to admint – I was fond of Emery in the early months (his meticulous ‘inaugural’ presentation, the promising pre-season results, the convincing EL-performance, and the attractive football we played against top 8 clubs like Leicester or Everton). I started to doubt him when he played Xhaka with Guendouzi together for several weeks without noticing the negative synergies of their styles, and the rest is history.
    I think all remaining PL fixtures are possible to win, but to get 15 points seems like a miracle to me. Thanks, TA, for the OGAAT research challenge. 🙂

  • Fine game summation PB.

    I must say that all of the players appear to be buying into Arteta’s new Arsenal “ethos”

    I’ve wanted to see a balanced mixture of our young players inter mixed with the more experienced, we are a ways off of the top two but with a few additions in the critical areas of CB and CMF we can start to make a few waves.

    After the welcome demise of Emery I was leaning towards either Nuno Espírito Santo or Mikel Arteta, my prefererence was Nunes because of his experience and work at Wolves – but I’m happy with the clubs choice of Arteta. In a short six months (most without football) he has made a remarkable impact and is stamping his authority on the players and his style and methodology is having a positive effect on our results.

    It’s too early to expect major results but for the first time in a long time we can look forward to watching winning football.

  • Had Mikel Arteta etched in stone– in December of 2017.
    Before anyone thought Arsene might leave that next May.
    Took much flak for that stance too.

    Consider for a moment? Where Arsenal might be now– had we hired Mikel on the first go.


  • You just cannot tell, JW1. We could have been worse off or better off. From experienced Wenger to (even more) inexperienced Arteta could have been much too big a step and potentially disastrous. Arteta took over from Emery at a low point for the club and I think that suited him much better.

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