Eddie More Than Poacher, Elneny is an Arteta System Player, Enigma Pepe: Arsenal v Foxes Player Reviews

We have managed to get another victory – two funny goals of Arsenal B against Leicester B. It wasn’t an easy game but we have prolonged our winning streak for a while.

Now, I may sound a bit picky in the next few paragraphs so inject yourself with patience before reading. 

Leno – he did great job again at preventing opponents to score an early opener. He made himself big and blocked Iheanacho. He looked a bit more assured at set-pieces than he was v West Ham. Still, there is an issue Martinez has mentioned once. Apparently, Arteta wants his goalkeepers to use either foot in order to make passing game quicker. Martinez was already into that game but Leno seems to be a bit slower than Emi. We are talking about incredibly small fractions of time but it might make a difference between a successful build-up play and a wasted attack.

Maitland-Niles – he did his job as a real utility man. However, Pepe was not effective enough while AMN was his wing-man. Bellerin is a natural WB with attacking instinct and that helps Pepe to find space for his magic.

Kolašinac – he wasn’t that bad but Tierney has set standards that are too high for my compatriot. Kolašinac would be better off Arsenal and his return to Germany with a possible decent fee on our account would be perfect for all sides involved. His technical and tactical limits make him inadequate for Arteta’s system and endanger the balance of the whole team.

Holding – much as I like the idea of RH16 succeeding at Arsenal, it will depend on Saliba’s adaptation more than anything else. If Saliba hits the ground running, RH16 won’t stay at Arsenal for too long. He has issues when dealing with rather poor opponents and he is supposed to take on arguably one of the best players in the world (Mane) in the last two years. Yes, we have conceded just once in the opening three games.

David Luiz – he was imperious last night. He has grown into a leader of the team. I’m not his biggest fan but he fits into Arteta’s system and right now that’s the most important thing!!! I can’t stress enough how it’s important to have players who fit Arteta’s system rather than high-quality individuals who would disrupt it.

Saka – wow. I can’t believe we have such a mature and talented player. He has every ingredient to become a world-class player. His decisions on the pitch are unreal given his age and there is a technical quality in his game to execute those decisions. He should have been given a penalty in the first half when he was brought down in front of the goal.

Elneny – he has quietly become an important player in the Arteta system. He moves the ball and never stops working. He is a perfect example of an Arteta system player (I’ll call it ASP from now on) – there are players that have more individual quality than him (starting with Ceballos) but are not ASP.

Willock – he had a great pass with a cut through the defensive line so visible you could hurt your finger by simply touching the screen. In general, however, I don’t know what is there that Willock offers rather than being 13th or 14th man in the squad.

Pepe – oh boy. He is really an enigma. He is there yet he is not fully there. There is something about him so exciting yet frustrating that you don’t know if he is some creature built out of strengths and flaws of all Hleb, Rosicky, Fabregas and Nasri. He is one-footed yet his foot is worth of gold. When it works, that is. And that is an issue – Arteta wants this team to have every day as a good day and not just sporadically. How Pepe fits there? I reckon AMN on his side didn’t help him – if Cedric hadn’t been injured, Pepe would have had a more natural wing-man to help him. His corners weren’t as good as they were last season.

Nketiah – he got a goal and was unlucky not to score earlier in the game. I wouldn’t reduce him to a poacher as he presses the back-line and doesn’t stop running until the game is over. Hence his ability to score late goals when we are usually on the receiving end of scoring.

Nelson – he started with a flyer but was unlucky to see his shot parried by Ward. Later on, he had two horrible misses for a player with his shooting technique. He has to take opportunities like the one from the last night with both hands or he’ll get loaned out ad infinitum before he eventually gets sold.

Bellerin – an effective cameo from Hector with a great run through the Leicester defence that put the game in bed.

Ceballos – I like him a lot but I still have a feeling he hasn’t become ASP yet. There is a natural desire in him to play with the ball, do nutmegs, back-heel passes and stuff like that while putting a shift. In theory, that’s perfect. In practice, his dwelling on the ball gives extra-time to the opponents to structure themselves during our attacks.

Willian – he is an experienced winner and his set-piece delivery should be an improvement. We have had a lot of left-footed corner and indirect free-kick takers (Mesut, Xhaka, Pepe) but since Cazorla nobody has done a proper delivery with the right foot.

By Admir

34 thoughts on “Eddie More Than Poacher, Elneny is an Arteta System Player, Enigma Pepe: Arsenal v Foxes Player Reviews

  • PB wrote at end of last post:
    “Great evaluation, Admir.
    Spot on with everything. I would defend Nelson though, as none of his misses seemed like genuine sitters. Sure, he could have scored (Auba probably would have), but I admire that he didn’t just try a huge kick to the ball towards the center of the goal after the corner, but aimed for the far bottom – and he almost managed to score. But that wasn’t a mis-kick, but rather a plan.”

  • Great stuff Admir. You must comment more as it makes me feel less confused (and alone) about my thoughts on some of our players. In particular, I like you description of Elneny as an ASP and Ceballos not being an ASP. This is spot on.

    Also agreed re Nelson. You can miss a few chances but in a game like this one has to go in. That is the difference with Saka (and also WIllock); they tend to take one of those chances whereas Nelson struggles to make them count. Having said that, I would play at some point v Pool as he is very close to scoring a goal… the milk has almost risen to the top.

    Also agree re Rob, even though I reckon he works best when we sit deep and are organised… A bit like BFG used to be. I see him as good back up for a few positions and expect Saliba to give him indeed a run for his money.

  • I see a good natural football player in WIllock but I think he struggles with the strong emphasis on tactical discipline to which he tries to stick. Under Wenger Willock would flourish but under Arteta it all depends whether he can turn into a….. ASP.

  • Also agreed re Saka. At times he is playing billiards when the rest is playing cricket. The two pre-assists where so wonderfully weighted that the assisters only needed one touch to produce them. There is so much feeling in his left foot, surreal! Cesc-esque or even Bergkampesque!! 🙂

  • Thanks for making a post out of my comment, TA. 🙂

    I have to admit I haven’t been this optimistic about a manager since Wenger’s 2007-08. I would personally like to see Özil and Torreira on the pitch (Guendouzi has never been my cup of tea), if nothing so that ASPs get a day off in this hectic CoViD-inflicted schedule, but I guess Arteta knows best. 🙂

    @PB – Nelson has a delicate right-foot. Some of his goals for Hoffenheim were…wow. I expected a few of those magical moments at Arsenal. He came close last night. What I don’t get is how a player who has a right foot of Hleb/Rosicky can make two shots like he’s Coquelin in disguise. Maybe it was due bad weather.

  • Unfortunately Arteta hasn’t been playing Reiss Nelson in the right position, that’s on the LW channel. By now he would have improved his technic imensely. He is a Sancho type of player, dribbling while getting on his right foot to curl it in the far corner.

  • Good stuff Admir– thanks!

    I’ve had this recurring thought lately. That Pepe is enigmatic in the sense that you can’t tell if or when he’s going deliver a bolt off his left boot. He’s a bit lackadaisical in pressing on defense. He is, in essence a latter-day Lukas Podolski. He’s only there for one reason. A dozen times every season he’ll score. Usually in dramatic fashion. Pepe does offer the corner and FK opportunities too. And far greater athleticism than Lukas ever possessed. But maybe? We just have to live with what we’re getting– until the switch-flips ‘on’– for this still-young man. Further? Lefties– are just different sorts of people (being one myself). They just don’t see things the same way (until we grow or are made to be ambidextrous physically or in thought).

    Nikolas has a great coach. Good mentors as examples. Perhaps– we ought accept the Podolski-ish results we have now– and hope Mikel can grow him into the player he can be.


  • JW, I doubt whether Arteta regards Pepe as an ASP, as per your comment. Maybe a 60/30 arrangement with William is the best way forward.

    I would to see him play more cental though. WILLIAN in the hole and Auba and Pepe as the two CFs.

  • Agree with your analysis Admir.

    Maitland-Niles was too casual and gave away way too many passes in our own half that match, which gives credence to the fact that he’s not ready to start over say Bellerin.

    I think with Pepe it’s a mentality and understanding of the nuances of the game. Mentality in that he needs to commit more to whatever he’s doing and stop hesitating (tackling, taking on his man 1v1, holding onto the ball etc.). With the nuances, he doesn’t understand how to use his movement and pace to lull others into a false sense of security and then turn it on to blow past them (he just has a one track mind and one speed right no, which is predictable).

    Eddie was a mixed bag yesterday with some nice moments and some very invisible ones (sort of like Nelson). With Eddie though, he threw his arms and head up in the air too many times for a young player and gave up on quite a few plays – I don’t like to see that on the pitch.

    I was quite impressed with Saka, Elneny and Luiz yesterday. Everyone else just felt a bit off the mark, but that’s to be expected when you haven’t been playing much and don’t have familiarity with one another. Aside from Saka, it sort of seemed like no one knew what to do with the ball after crossing the halfway line following some lovely build-up in our own end.

  • Admir, your description of Ceballos is exactly why I always say he looks to me like Ramsey in midfield. Around the opponents box, Ceballos is more creator where Ramsey wad a big time scorer. Ramsey’s time around the 6 yard box made him much less likely to work the way Arteta wants- to stay back in shape with discipline. So I think Ceballos is a good fit for our team now.

  • I still like Total’s suggestion about Pepe.. I could see him being dangerous in a less wide role. We need to find a way to get more of our money’s worth out of him, and bring out more of the talent we see he possesses.

  • I can’t find any confirmation yet but if Liverpool vs Arsenal is on Monday 28th and Arsenal vs Sheffield United and Aston Villa vs Liverpool are both on Sunday 4th October, I’d imagine that Liverpool vs Arsenal in the 4th round of the League Cup has to be on a Thursday?

    Or maybe not?

    Nice post Admir, I didn’t see the full game so I can’t really comment on your observations, but I like the ASP theory, it was very good…

    Yes I prefer Nelson on the left flank where he can cut in, not sure who mentioned that, I think he’s a very talented footballer but he needs games, all our youngsters need games, it takes a few of them before they hit their straps but time and games are commodities in short supply and that worries me with our youngsters because we’ve haemorrhaged too many of them who’ve then gone onto being very competent players elsewhere in recent times.

  • Today is the final day to be able to participate in the weekly competition, simply cut and paste the six games shown below and make your choice by indicating beside each game either- H = Home win, A = Away win, D=Draw.. Every reader can participate.

    Week 3 of results predictions.
    Lets see your choices.
    Liverpool v Arsenal
    Man City v Leicester
    Crystal Palace v Everton
    W.B.A. v Chelsea
    Spurs v Newcastle
    Inter Milan v Florentina

  • We play Liverpool away in the fourth round of the Caribou Cup on Oct 1st – so we play them twice in a week.

  • None of us, well not many of us I’d imagine, among the Arsenal fan base have any doubts about Gabriel Martinelli and Bakayo Saka becoming Arsenal stars, they’re both well on their way up the escalator towards that achievement.

    Eddie Nketiah has taken a bit longer but he’s shown that he isn’t far behind and his last two performances have elevated him up the greasy pole of success and those ‘doubters’ out there have maybe modified their opinions about ‘Our Eddie’ somewhat and possibly only a few more goals in key games could well banish those doubts altogether – for now.

    These young guys have been on the scene for what, one or two full seasons give or take the odd taster under previous regimes. But we often forget their age and the fact that they’re still developing and finding out what kind of players they actually are.

    For example Mr Ainsley Maitland Niles is now 23 and if we’d been told a year ago that we were going to sell him then I’d have to say that I would take a bit of a sure guess that almost all of us would have just shrugged our shoulders and thought ‘that’s the way it goes’ although LG would have probably thought ‘c’est la vie’…

    Not now of course, because in little over a year he’s become an integral part of our squad and everyone’s favourite utility player and this in part due to the coaching he now gets, but also it’s partly due to experience, age and maturity because Niles believes in himself now as he maybe didn’t a few months ago.

    Arsenal fans in days of yore were well known for their patience with young players and how they would enthusiastically encourage our own boys and revel in their success. They were Arsenal men, imbued with the values of the club and a love of the shirt, it’s why Rocky Rocastle still has his name chanted by the Arsenal faithful.

    Now I’m a bit of an old cynic but I can’t help feeling that we’ve lost some of that traditional patience with the kids, maybe it’s the media hype that tells us that every game is life or death – and it really isn’t you know. Maybe it’s a symptom of the on line age which we all share and enjoy but that can also be a tad thoughtless and dismissive. It’s certainly that, just have a look on Twitter after Arsenal have lost.

    So I’m going to give Reiss Nelson, Joe Willock and Emile Smith Rowe plenty of latitude because we may not know yet what we have on our hands with them for another year, 18 months and possibly longer. I don’t want to sell any of them and I don’t really want to loan them out either because you never know what they can do given the right circumstances as Emi Martinez proved to us very recently.

    We have a hell of a lot of matches to negotiate over this season and in a constricted time scale, we’re going to get injuries and we’re going to have to deal with suspensions and we’re going to need everyone, well everyone who buys into the Arteta Way…

  • I agree with almost everything, Kev, but I believe this is still a too big squad.
    Imagine if Martinelli is fit, and he has to share the cup minutes with Saka, as Aubameyang is the clear starter at LW. Same applies to Nelson and Pepe, assuming Willian is the clear PL starter.
    No matter if Arteta plays A team vs. back-ups or rotates, there are simply not enough minutes there for 6 super-talented wingers.
    And Auba, Martinelli and Pepe being able to play up front won’t help us a bit either, as we have Laca and Eddie there, who will share those minutes between them, but 2 for the same position is healthy.
    The same applies to Chelsea, where they have Werner, Giroud and Abraham as strikers, as well as Mount, Havertz, Pulisic, Hudson-Odoi and Ziyech as wingers. Some will have to sit on the bench in the Carabao Cup as well. The only difference there is that we don’t give a shit. 🙂

    If we manage to get both Partey and Aouar (which I seriously doubt) then we will be happy as they clearly improve our squad, but even with 2 games a week 4 of them are more than enough. Even if we sell Torreira to fund the transfers, what should happen to Elneny? And Guendouzi – who could theoretically get back to the team as Arteta promised a clean slate? And Willock? Should they play 500 minutes a season if they luck enough?

    Sending a couple of them on loan – to a PL team or a top tier German/Spanish club is not a punishment. It is a necessity; as they would stop improving and stop competing if there are not enough minutes to play.

  • Fair point PB, we do need to move players on, but if we do loan out our youngsters we’ve gotta be so careful as we don’t want to see them sitting on someone else’s bench as that’s just a waste.
    First I want to see Sokratis, Torrieira and Guendouzi moved on as we need to open up space in the squad. Martinelli is out until the New Year and probably won’t be up to speed until next season, Chambers theoretically could be loaned out if Mustafi stays and then return next year when Luiz leaves. Mustafi could still leave anyway depending on fitness and if any offer for him is tempting enough although personally I’d like to see him stay.

    If we do that kind of business then I think it opens up some opportunities PB, there’s also Kolasinac and if those enquiring for him awhile ago might possibly return nearer the deadline?

  • “c’est la vie” – I like that phrase a lot, Kev, but would never, ever, have used it about Ainsley being shown the door.
    “chapeau” I like too, but it would be regarded as quaint by my unforgiving students – “kev, c’est trop d’la balle”, or “kev, j’le kiffe” they wouldn’t frown upon
    Anyway, I simply say amen to your post, kev
    Talking of youngsters; I’ve just come home from a family dinner at my son’s place. I turned the TV on and for “L’équipe du soir” (on “L’équipe” TV channel) the move of 22-y-o Aouar to arsenal is as good as a done deal, for €35m, which – should it actually take place – looks like a real bargain to me.
    The kid’s the real thing (most of you must’ve seen him against juve/city/bayern lately, so you know what I’m talking about)

  • Admir, you are on the money with your post. Kudos, man. Love the painstaking assessments and the concept of ASP, because it holds true, especially for Elneny who was the butt of most jokes about “Wenger’s poor signings”. If he doesn’t get sold/loaned at the close of the window and gets some good game time for us, it will be the ultimate “come-back kid” story.

    Kev, agree with much of your penultimate contribution, re the kids. But, like PB, I also think being loaned out is part of the learning process and can only augur well for the kids and the club. Take the case of Alex Song, Coquelin, Nketiah and even Wilshere, who all returned from their loan deals as better/ready players. We even had to cut short Coquelin’s owing to injuries I the team; he came in and became a fan favourite beside Cazorla.

    Nice come back, Le Gall. Lol.

  • Well, jw1, looks like I am in now on that mini league thingy. Some clarifications required, though:

    Where am I supposed to enter the code (2xkb78)? There was no requirement for it. However, I saw I was admitted and already top of the table. 😜😜

    Secondly, I am not sure what next to do, in order to play. Just pick a team and wait? Since I haven’t done this before, I’d need to know, please. Otherwise, I can get off with the excuse I wasn’t properly guided. 😂

  • Nothing wrong with being a bit quaint to the youngsters, LeG… Let them guess who you really are!! 🙂

    Aouar how those this name sound in French: Aaaoooooarrrr? It does not really fit into ‘We love you Aouar, we do, we love you Aouar, we do, ohhhhhh Aouar we love you’ or does it?

  • £, not €, I think (celebrating my grandson’s birth had left me in a – very pleasant – haze) – but bargain anyway.
    Tiptop ratings, admir
    Like you, Pépé often leaves me nonplussed – as though Mick spent the week rehearsing a symphony at Colney, but come matchday, and this stunningly brilliant lad turns the whole thing into a Captain Beefheart number, sometimes so good it’s just jaw-dropping, and sometimes … well, very hard to listen to. Anyway, I like him a lot, and I definitely think Mikel is the coach he needs.
    As for Joe, and to amplify kev’s comment; he’s definitely the one we need to be patient with. Of course, his was not a breathtaking performance, but:
    How long had it been since he was given a start? I don’t even remember.
    I think Unai scorched his wings, at a time when the kid should have been made to soar, when gudebening gave all the playing time to Matteo, and none to Joe
    I also think we shouldn’t expect him to be as accurate a passer as … well, Thiago Alcantara for instance. He has other qualities, and one of them in particular which our other midfielders don’t, he’s a goal-scorer – his screamer in last season’s carabao tie at Anfield is the image we should keep in mind, in order to be patient with him.
    Lastly, I think there something aaronesque about him, and I agree with TA when he says that coming of age would have been much easier for him, under “just do it” Arsène, than it will be under “system-minded” mick …
    wouldn’t hurt my ears

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