Arsenal Player Reviews: Duo MOTM, A New Ozil, A Moving Wall and a Black Panther

Arsenal 1 – 1 Liverpool: Arsenal win 5-4 in Penalty Shootout.

After having had some great momentum towards the end of last season, it was important to not get embarrassed by Pool in this game for which they were the obvious favourites. In contrast, the Champions really needed a pick-us-up game as to get back in that winning mood and regain some energy.

Klopp’s Liverpool is all about suffocating the opponents in their own half, pass them dizzy and then dance the ball into the net. They bully opponents and are fully focused on not letting you out of their iron grip. But Arteta has found the antidote to these tactics and had his team fully prepared and instructed to get through Klopp’s Berlin wall, and then do some damage to them. In the first half we played almost faultless, our only weakness being our right flank where we gave away too much space for which we could/should have been punished: Robertson produced from there a number of peaches of crosses but with good defending, wasteful attackers and a bit of luck no goals came from them.

Funnily enough, our best attacking moves also came from our right flank, and so we should say that getting the balance right there remains a work in progress. Our first goal was a beautiful, well-rehearsed team effort: it started with Martinez playing it out to our right flank: Bellerin played in Saka and then Bukayo switched it with his left foot sumptuously to the left where Auba was waiting… Tierney and AMN made runs into the box, thus distracting the Pool defenders and allowing PEA to free up his right foot and then to place-shoot the ball from outside the box high into the right corner.

1-0 to the Arsenal.

Hoe Arteta Aubameyang nog gevaarlijker maakt dan hij al was

Pool tried to increase the tempo and hem us into our own half even more, but we kept controlling the ball well and finding a way out of the red maze regularly. Bukayo played at times Ozil-esque football: he has that ability to create a bit of time and space for himself and then he makes such mature decisions. There is so much feeling in his foot as well and he just found fellow players in tight space with relative ease. The hard working Eddie probably should have scored from one of those passes, but we forgive him.

In the second part of the second half we started to sit back too much, no longer able to release pressure by playing out the ball from the back. Legs and heads were tired and Arteta did not have much experience on the bench (Laca, Willian, Torreira, Pepe etc were all left at home for various reasons). They deservedly equalised but we were the stronger team again during the last ten minutes and Joe had a good chance to get us back in the lead again. Alas, it was not to be but then we scored all our five pens and earned the right to kiss and then lift the Community Shield for the 16th time in our history.

Player Ratings:

Martinez – Happinez: 9 – assured, large as a brown bear with eight legs and arms, some vital stops.

Tierney – Mini-Tornado: 9 – so at home at Arsenal. Such focus and presence and some peaches of crosses too.

Luiz – Leader of the Pack: 9 – Imagine being a Chav and watching their former CB play like that twice this month? Hahahaha

Holding – Man(e)ater: 8.5 – All pressure came from Pool’s left side but he handled it well time and again. Had Mane in his pockets for most of the game.

Bellerin – Nutmegger: 8 – Some great attacking contributions and defensive interventions but allowed too much space in front and next to Holding in the first half, which could have cost us (see also Saka).

AMN – Mobile WALL: 8 – Together with Tierney and Auba he bossed our left wing. Apparently some very good Egyptian attacker played there for the opponent, but he must have been in AMN’s and Tierney’s constant shadow, because I did not see him! Final attacking ball is still in need for improvement but that will come. Please keep him, Mikel.

Xhaka-Elneny: 9.5 – Men of the Match – the Alcatraz in midfield: The least sexy players on the pitch (together with Holding) but they denied the Pool midfield to ever get into their game, which is key in winning a game against them. Kept it simple but their positioning when defending and their passing out from the back was simply awesome. Just watching them play such disciplined football was a joy for me.

Auba: 9 – Black Panther – So efficient, just strikes when the iron is hot. Class Act.

Nketiah: 8 – the (almost) golden nuisance – Excellent in the ‘Laca-role’: never gave Van Dijk any time to control the game from the back and was always a danger when  we were attacking. Probably should have scored but Allison denied him with a first class stop low to the ground.

Saka: 8.5 – our ‘new’ Ozil – half a point deduction for leaving too much space in front of and next to Holding in the first half, which could have cost us (see also Bellerin), but he produced some first class key passes and crosses and was vital in us releasing the presure Pool liked to put us under.


Cedric: 7 – struggled to get into the game and looked lost at times, but good effort and peach of a cross for Willock to make it 2-1 to the good guys, but it was not to be.

Other subs: Joe, Kola and Reiss. No scores as not long enough on the pitch.

By TotalArsenal.


42 thoughts on “Arsenal Player Reviews: Duo MOTM, A New Ozil, A Moving Wall and a Black Panther

  • Elneny is a good defensive midfielder and he is often overlooked by a lot of people.

    He is one of 2 DM (another is AMN) that can slot easily into the centre back position to help out, and i hope that Mikel can keep him in the team.

  • Can’t argue with the ratings much, TA, but I thought AMN deserved more than just a score of 8 seeing as he ran that left side, both in offence and defence (not easy to keep Sallah quiet), plus scored the coolest penalty kick of them all. He was named the official man of the match which I found a bit too generous (as usual, to push that “Arsenal can’t keep their best players” narrative).

    Also, I’d rate the late subs as Willock (7.5), Reis and Kola (6).

    I am still buzzing from this win whose importance for the season must not be glossed over.

  • I havent seen the game yet, and i know he was T’s co- MOM, Sorry Nik, and TA. Elneny, again, nice guy, hard worker. Not quality. He passes sideways more than Denilson. Guendouzi for example, is always finding a way to pass forward, or squirt into a space to get a better pass off. It’s so easy to like a player, and not want to see the shortcomings. So he isn’t mistake prone like Mustafi, but he adds nothing to the midfield.
    As a dm he is not close to Coquelin, not on the same planet as Torreira, and he adds nothing in front of that position. I love players whose lungs make their stamina incredible, what I don’t like, is when that is their main, or only attribute.
    Xhaka, as example, (who is playing better than ever before), is strong that way, but never runs for the sake of running, never wastes a pass, is capable of everything when he has the ball, sublime passes, long goals, and free kicks, and is now defending the way he did before Arsene messed him up. What decent team in England would pay El Nenys salary and give him a spot in their starting 11?
    I can’t remember the last time AMN played cm or dm, and I’d like to see that, because there’s a lot more potential as an all around player with him.

    I love the way Mikel is managing and we are performing. I don’t know who is coming, going, or staying, but this midfield has me worried. If Elneny stays and turns into MOM frequently I’ll happily ask you to pull this from your files and repost it.

  • J, you must watch the game before you judge. The Pool midfield was nullified. That’s their nerves centre. Elneny was extremely tidy and so disciplined defensively. Guendouzi is nowhere near that level.

  • Cheers Eris. I thought he did his task well, and that is why he got an eight. I didn’t see why he was voted motm. Maybe I need to watch again to see what I missed out on.

  • Yes 84, he is overlooked and suffers from prejudice. Fact is that he fits best with XhakA of all our options, especially in games like these.

  • I like “happinez” a lot, ta
    I also agree with eris about the importance of the game.
    And as kev wrote yesterday, I hope some move rumours will prove to be …well, just rumours. Mick and his boys have found a delicate balance, a subtle alchemy which shouldn’t be tampered with too much. As for some of the youngsters (reiss, joe, maybe emil too), they can, and will, give us so much more in the months to come. It’s a shame really, that such a renirth should take place in front of empty stands …

  • But of course that is my opinion, and we all see things differently. We allowed just four Pool shots on target and I have rewarded the highest scores to those most responsible for this, whilst also allowing us to break out and don’t sit back too deep (until fatigue overcame them).

  • According to some rubbish headlines I read on News Now the agent of Torrieira has ‘warned’ Arteta that he has to make a decision over the future of Lucas Torrieira, warned eh,…

    I had to laugh, because although I know it’s just hyperbole by that click bait site to encourage Arsenal fans to click on it I thought what is the agent going to do if Arteta doesn’t make a decision on Torrieira? Is he going to throw his hands in the air and shout? Is he going to stamp him feet? Is he going to scream obscenities or will go and stand facing the wall and refuse to speak?

    Anyway I am still very very happy and every time I see Juergen Klopp flashing his impressive hampsteads I just chuckle?

  • I wonder, was yesterday the first time that two English clubs played at Wembley and each had an Egyptian in their line up?

    Nice post Total, agree regarding Xhaka and Elneny, did we miss Ceballos – well yes a little bit but the form of Elneny weakens the hand of Real Madrid in their negotiations with Arsenal.
    What could we achieve if we went into next season with this midfield?
    Probably not as much as if we had Partey and/or Ceballos in the hub of our team but Arteta is such a coaching genius that we probably wouldn’t even notice.

  • Hey J, yesterday’s Elneny wasn’t the Elneny we saw under previous regimes, he was calm under pressure, energetic, economical with his passes and had a sense of purpose, you know as if he’d some proper coaching. He may not be the long term answer in our engine room but for now he can do a very adequate job and given our finances adequate might have to suffice.

  • Beautiful write up for a beautiful result, TA – cheers!

    I agree with all the ratings. I was a bit surprised AMN received man of the match, but his defensive displays and runs forward generally put him in a good position – it was what he did after receiving the ball in those advanced positions that still needs work (maybe 8.5 was more appropriate?).

    For anyone criticizing Elneny and using the same, tired sideways passing comments, I urge you to watch the match. He played some very nice forward passes, especially one to Willock late in the match that almost led to a big chance. Additionally, he was very assured defensively and in playing out the back, which really helped our general build up play.

    It’s clear we need more CMs to compete at the highest level and with the continued absences of Ozil and Guendouzi, but Elneny is proving that he’s capable of being at least a rotation option for Arteta.

  • Ceballos still wearing the Arsenal shorts while training and his twitter video uploads of watching the entire match and celebrating hard after Auba’s free kick were incredible to see.

    I’ll say it now – I believe Dani is coming back!

  • I like it LG, ‘subtle alchemy’ really is descriptive of where we are, we have a fine balance of technical quality, a willingness to listen and learn, a great work ethic and maybe overlooked but very importantly we have a unity of purpose with a group of players who seem to really enjoy playing with their mates. I haven’t enjoyed watching Arsenal quite as much as I do now certainly not since we left Highbury, it reminds me of the 1986/88 Arsenal teams as they were evolving into the champions of 1989 and 1991, that same mix of young Turks and older well coached gnarled professionals.

  • Bloody hell, Kev, you are in fine fettle this morning!! A linguistic feast you are serving us. I especially loved ‘older well coached gnarled professionals’ and ‘flashing his impressive hampsteads’ hahaha.

  • Some money needs to roll in international FOOTBALL but clubs are waiting. The same 30-50million could go from club to club to club, with them losing unwanted players and gaining wanted one. We probably see a lot of movement in the last days of the transfer window… When I also expect EL Torro to leave.

  • I really like Elneny, although I must admit that on the pitch is not a maestro (but in my opinion still better than Coquelin).
    He has a superpower: while he rarely has a great game, he practically never has a poor one. He is very dependable in doing what is expected from him. On that department he never disappoints, but he rarely exceeds those expectations. Yesterday was such an occasion. And maybe there is more to come after he played an impressive and encouraging 3000+ minutes in a fairly competitive league last season.
    But on top of his footballing skills he is a genuinely nice guy. He is friendly, funny, overall likeable, and beyond that he is content with being a squad player. That is rare and a really nice-to-have trait of not undermining individual and team morale when not playing week-in week-out. Especially that Martinez is rumored to be breaking the healthy but delicate balance of the goalkeeping department, that was one of the few things that we were better than any other team in the PL.

  • That is a fine summary of Elneny, PB. Against top high pressing teams he is a great partner for XhakA. The perfect water carrier from the Nile delta 😉⚽

  • Yes, he doesn’t have to worry about his place in the national team, so he can play for fun. And to show the world, who is the Egyptian player in form. 🙂

  • Morning all,
    You are a fine scribe TA and that is an excellent summation of the game, ratings are always subjective but I must say that I saw Elneny and AMN as our main players yesterday.

    I wonder when Liverpool last lost two games on the trot to the same team?

    We need to take a step back and recognize that this is now Arteta’s team and the players cannot continue to be judged by what we have previously seen. It’s almost unbelievable that we have won two trophy’s in our last two (competitive) games.

    Looks like we have an exciting season ahead, the remainder of the transfer window and key re-signings will be vital to how well we can perform.

    What a huge difference Arteta has already made with a squad that bored us to death under the management of Emery.

  • Emi is set to sign a new Arsenal deal despite other prem clubs offering him a #1 role!

    Auba has teased his contract signing saying you will find out in a couple days and his brother is flying to London early this coming week but “he won’t tell us for what” 🙂

  • Hi Total, I don’t know where those words come from TA but I’m glad that they do present themselves into my cerebral cortex. 😆

    I had to check for the last bit… 😉

  • Yeah PB, Elneny is your classic dependable 6 or 7 and is a player who I’m sure Arteta could get a lot of mileage out of.

    You know I love the way our guys defend now as Arsenal bodies throw themselves in the way of opponents shooting. It wasn’t that long ago when we were conceding dozens of shots on goal with the same players!

  • That is really great news HH and a clear signal of how highly he is valued by Arteta and the club.

  • “This is now Arteta’s team and the players cannot continue to be judged by what we have previously seen.”

    That is perfectly said, GN5. Sounds like the tagline of the season.

  • Kev, T, I’m gonna try to watch today. Your know I’ll be keeping a critical eye and an open mind on Elneny. I’d love to be swayed or surprised. Still concerned about midfield quality and depth.

    ….By the way, I’ve always advocated for different personnel against high flying opponents, for example, more industrious, disruptor types starting, maybe overloading with a false 9 or something. Drove me crazy that Arsene didn’t think that way. Arteta seems more practical and likes to tinker tactically from opponent to opponent. I feel like that has to be the way in this day and age.

  • van de beek to utd for £37.5!!! – i’m a great admirer of the lad; i’m afraid it”ll prove their best signing/bargain in many, many years. I just can’t make sense of players’ price tags, I thought it’d be at least twice that amount, the boy’s a jewel.

  • Sokratis headed to Napoli for €4.5 million.

    I’m quite surprised we were able to sell him for anything given he only had one year left on his deal. One of the stranger signings that Sven recommended given the “diamond eye” reputation he had built at Dortmund.

  • I am also a fan of Donny van de Beek (and would be happy if we signed him), but I think this is a mistake from Manchester United, as he is the younger clone of Bruno Ferdandes. I can’t see them in the same team, and a huge waste to make them sit on a bench. But that is a signature MU move. They don’t have a quality DM, nor a world class RW, but they need 2 of the 5 best attacking midfielders of the world. (The already have 3 AMs [we have half, if Ozil qualifies], sharing 168 international caps among them, so this is the department least needing reinforcements.)

  • J, Elneny can play in both central midfield positions and for me he is ideal back-up, as my main worry remains an injury to Xhaka. Agreed re different approach to certain games and Wenger’s ‘stubbornness’ in so many games.

  • Vd Beek looks good on game highlights but in many games I have seen him he dips in and out of them. He was sold for 45m Euros by Ajax the shameless selling club that just loves its bank balance. He is a good prospect for MU, time will tell how he will do there.

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