Two MOTM, Hilarious Ainsley, Pepe’s Best Game: Arsenal Player Reviews

Maitland-Niles was beaming after his penalty

Leno : Man of the Match, that’s it really, but it was Bernd at his best, getting down low to push shots around the post, stretching to push a goal bound lob over the bar, his instinctive save that led to Minamino volleying the rebound against the bar a bit of luck that he earned. If I recall rightly, he made at least four saves that should have been almost certain goals among his repertoire of impressive saves; and then he made the two saves that won us the penalty shoot-out.

Soares : After another lay off with injury it was a tough call to drop him straight back into a difficult Cup tie, but that’s his job and he did ok given his rustiness; he also scored one of our penalties. We’ve not really seen enough of him due to a series of circumstances and opinions on him from the fan base are a bit mixed, but he didn’t make any major errors and got stuck in which is necessary against a Liverpool side who are always physical in the challenge.

Kolasinac : Very surprised to see him starting with his return to the Bundesliga pending, but to his credit he had a decent 90 minutes, maybe the German scouts were watching? Made a couple of poor passes but that’s par for the course, the rest of his play was tidy and he won most of his 50/50 duels. If this is to be his farewell performance in an Arsenal shirt then it was a decent one.

Holding : It seemed to me as if Arsenal were playing a back four and matching Liverpool in midfield so the pressure was on our centre backs and I think they gave a good account of themselves. Rob was central to most of our best defending I thought and really should have scored during a rare period of Arsenal pressure in the 2nd half.
Gave only one sloppy pass out of play and played some nice stuff under intense pressure.

Gabriel : A tough Cup tie baptism but not many players play their first game at Anfield for the opposition and come away with the win. A sturdy no nonsense performance and he dealt with the intense Liverpool press with a quiet composure. He really looks the  type of centre back we’ve wanted for years and he’ll only get better and better.

Willock : He put in a good shift, got forward a lot and put in some good challenges. Generally he coped well with the press but the unfamiliarity of the position and having Soares as his partner made it difficult, not least because of the pressure he was under, but he played the entire 90 minutes and scored the winning, albeit scruffy penalty.

Xhaka : Was under constant and intense pressure as Liverpool did their best to shut him down, but Granit didn’t hide even after a few misplaced passes and Arteta kept him on. Not one of his best games but possibly one of his bravest as the red shirts swarmed around him as he tried to keep calm whilst building our attacks, such as they were.

Ceballos : Not one of his best games but he grafted as he always does, not his evening  to be the hero but he also didn’t hide or fold under the pressure from the red horde.
I like Dani and he’s going to have many better days for us, but he did look miserable when he came off to be replaced.

Saka : Was my Man of the Match before the penalty shoot-out, yes I thought he was fantastic tonight he never stopped working in defence, grafting in midfield and running in the attack, he’s an absolute gem and he looked totally knackered when he came off late in the game with cramp. He was our most creative player and linked up really well with Pepe. Was the recipient of some really nasty fouls from the Scousers but he’s as tough as old boots, very much in the mould of Rocky Rocastle.

Pepe : Best game of the season from Old Nick and arguably one of his best for the club, played along the left flank and drifted into the middle in a similar fashion to Aubameyang, caused the Liverpool defenders all kinds of problems and got a load of kicks for his trouble. No protection from the referee but he just got on with it, was our most dangerous attacker and most likely scorer in normal time but fed on scraps.
Scored a very casual penalty in the shoot-out.

Nketiah : Eddie made a few really good runs but the service from the midfield was slow and lacked the vision to spot him as he worked very hard for very little reward, he’ll do half as much running and chasing in other games and score a hat trick. Liverpool play a very tight and well-disciplined off side which stifled many of our attacks so it wasn’t a game where strikers will flourish.

Elneny : Replaced Ceballos and immediately brought some calm to proceedings, Liverpool had taken off Van Dyke, Jota and Salah so Liverpool possibly lost some edge anyway but Mo recycled confidently and got forward to press as the game swung towards Arsenal for a spell. Took a terrible penalty in the shoot-out but it didn’t matter in the end.

Lacazette : Replaced Eddie late in the game and injected some energy into our attack and scored his penalty in the shoot-out.

Maitland Niles : Was the final change as the cramp finished off Saka’s nights work.
His energy on the left was very welcome as Liverpool looked for a late winner.
His penalty in the shoot-out was hilarious. He just ambled up to the penalty spot, took his stumbling run up and completely sent the goalkeeper the wrong way before firing Adrian a big beaming grin. I should have been on edge watching it, but I was laughing, I knew he’d score, nobody takes penalties like Ainsley, I’m surprised that he didn’t have a nap in the middle of his run up.

By Allezkev

43 thoughts on “Two MOTM, Hilarious Ainsley, Pepe’s Best Game: Arsenal Player Reviews

  • Great and tremendously accurate player reviews, Kevinski.

    It was a night for CBs and both Holding and Gabriel put in a very strong performance indeed. With Milner in the middle they had good presence there and that is why we needed Xhaka in this one. A great decision by Arteta, I reckon. Salah is an obvious threat and Jota seems to fit well into that team, but it was a masterful performance by Van Dijk that made the difference for them. He seemed to relish the battles with Pepe, Saka and Eddie, as he finally got a lot of work to do. I thought the game was well-balanced even though they had more and the better chances. I loved the way we got stuck in in midfield and we had a few opportunities to break out but were cynically fouled time and again (Pool had 15 fouls against Arsenal’s 10). I hate that about pressing teams – Citeh do the same – as soon as you threaten to get through the press they just foul the first player they can. You need a good referee to deal with this, and we did not have one unfortunately.

    I think you are spot on re Saka: he really played like a 29 year old last night. I love that boy! I was also impressed with Ceballos as he stuck to his task to keep it tight with Xhaka. Both had a great workout and I think Granit needed this game to get back to his personal best. He will need again on Sunday when we play the metal boys.

    Agreed fully re Pepe. He had a new lease of life last night. Great move by Arteta.

    I was also impressed with Soares who indeed started rusty but got into the game well eventually and gave our right wing some personality again.

    Leno….. We have a lion in goal again. Bernd never wanted that night to stop I reckon.

    Eddie and WIllock put in a shift and so did Kola.

    It was scruffy at times but we took the middle battle to them and played at a great tempo. Absolutely loved it.

    Can We Play you Every Week, Cannnn we Play YOU, Cannn we Play YOU, Cann we play you EVERY WEEK!

  • If that’s all he can offer then we better send him on loan with an option to buy to another club I really don’t understand how you guys use eyes while watching but to be sincere I he had a below average game infact Nelson would have been a better pick. I really don’t understand this guy he has the pace but can’t run behind defenders all he cares about is to slow the game with his funny and stupid moves, I rather a player who is direct gets the ball makes on two passes and makes a run behind the defense. Pepe really has very weak feet he should be taken to learn how to shoot and I mean how to make good shots.

  • Thanks Total, I always do the player ratings on Arseblog after games and was amazed at how different their views were to my own, but it’s just opinions it doesn’t really matter.

    We rode our luck of course but the referee favoured Liverpool so that balanced out and as you said the Scousers were quick to foul our guys when we broke the press, a couple more yellow cards from Mr Friend to the red horde was necessary but not forthcoming.

  • Wilfred I think you’re being a bit harsh on Pepe, but if that’s how you saw it then fair enough.

  • Not a bad blog, Kev. Just a bit one-sided without a comment section. It is all personal but you have worded it well and makes good sense to me.

  • .Kev, That’s a fine summation of the player performances – I really like the fact that you did not add numeric ratings as they always seem too judgmental for my liking.

    We certainly pushed our luck to new levels, but what goes around comes around and lady luck –
    and Leno had our backs. Three out of four against Liverpool looks pretty good to me.

  • Just a reminder of the choices for the Results Competition. Anybody can enter, it’s just for fun (and an Arsenal shirt for the season’s winner). For any new bloggers you get one point for each correct prediction and the weekly winner gets an additional bonus of four points – in the case of a tie (s) the bonus is shared equally.

    Njk84 – You need to make your predictions.
    LEGALL – You need to make a prediction for the RB Leipzig v FC Schalke 04 game.

    Leeds v Manchester City
    Chelsea v Crystal Palace
    Arsenal v Sheffield United
    Manchester United v Tottenham
    Southampton v W.B.A.
    RB Leipzig v FC Schalke 04

  • Europa League group-stage draw:
    Group A: Roma, Young Boys, Cluj, Sofia
    Group B: Arsenal, Rapid Wien, Molde, Dundalk
    Group C: Bayer Leverkusen, Slavia Prague, Hapoel, Nice
    Group D: Benfica, Standard Liege, Rangers, Lech Poznan
    Group E: PSV, PAOK, Granada, Omonoia
    Group F: Napoli, Real Sociedad, Alkmaar, Rijeka
    Group G: Braga, Leicester, AEK Athens, Zorya Luhansk
    Group H: Celtic, Sparta Prague, AC Milan, Lille
    Group I: Villarreal, Qarabag, Maccabi, Sivasspor
    Group J: Tottenham, Ludogorets, Lask, Antwerp
    Group K: CSKA Moscow, Dinamo Zagreb, Feyenoord, Wolfsberg
    Group L: Gent, Red Star Belgrade, Hoffenheim, Slovan Libere

  • Loved Arteta’s comment in the excerpt below– from James McNicolas at The Athletic:

    “When the shootout came around, Maitland-Niles duly stepped up to take Arsenal’s third spot kick. Most players run up to the ball — Maitland-Niles crept. It’s a trick he has repeated multiple times in training. He summoned the spirit of Lauren with a penalty so coldly struck that Liverpool goalkeeper Adrian is probably still wrapped shivering in a blanket.

    “I told him in the dressing room, ‘I’m going to have a heart attack’, because with his body language it was like ‘Jesus Christ!’,” said Arteta after the game. “And then he puts it in the net.”

    Maitland-Niles couldn’t help but laugh. When you don’t feel the pressure, football becomes a simple game. Having seemingly been headed for the exit, Maitland-Niles looks increasingly relaxed about his status at Arsenal.”

    Cool Hand Niles. 😎


  • RB Leipzig v FC Schalke 04 – H
    Thanks for the reminder, GN

    Ainsley’s nap … I had a good laugh, kev, the icing on the cake of a great review; what’s not to like about this kid, I wonder?

    Rumour has it Bill Saliba might be loaned out to Rennes.
    Of course there will be all sorts of rumours to deal with ’til Monday 23.00, but this one being actualized would look like the right call for all parts imo.
    Obviously the lad has not convinced keen-eyed Mikel in training yet, so moving back to Ligue 1 and build up confidence there would be good for him.
    But there’s something about Rennes which might be good for The Arsenal too.
    Their coach, Julien Stéphan – the son of Deschamps’s career-long assistant – has the weird look of a lad who might be given the part of one of the two undertaker brothers in a French remake of “Six Feet Under”, but he might actually be the closest thing to an Arsène Wenger clone French football has ever produced.
    I can be harsh on Ligue 1 sometimes, but there’s one thing you have to give to the coaches: they have to deal with squads who don’t give a farting f..k about their team/club; they are only obsessed with being spotted by any Italian/Spanish/English club, and get the f..k out of there asap, to fill up their pockets abroad.
    Under these very same circumstances, Stéphan has set up a coherent side, drilled into playing attacking football, according to the credo (ring a bell??) “you want results? start playing quality football”
    In such a context, William would be bound to improve, he wouldn’t be protected by an army of DMs, so that it would be up to him to make fast-right decisions, and on the attacking side he would be the first midfielder, the one whose first touch/pass puts the whole team back on track.
    Lastly, I’m thinking of Calum, who will soon be out of his injury woes; I’ve always liked the lad a lot, and his versatility (RB, CB, DM) might be a great asset for us throughout the rest of the season: Saliba back to France would be a great opportunity for him to get back, in an Arsenal shirt, to the level that was his prior to his injury. Also, he and Rob are best pals and such seemingly trivial things do matter in a squad.
    Anyway, I think we shouldn’t lose too much sleep over William going back to Brittany, he’ll come home to Britain later on a stronger defender imo, more ready for the PL battles.
    As for the last trick pulled by Aulas about Aouar … well, I have nothing but contempt for this crook, so I might not be cool-headed enough for my opinion to be worth listening to, but I wish we let him deal with an eager-to-move-lad in his squad, and turned to someone less flashy maybe, but top-quality nevertheless, like Southampton’s Ward-Prowse, who would bloom under Mikel’s rule … but that’s just me, I guess.

  • BTW Kev– that was a great piece in review. Enjoyed it.

    Dani is becoming a fave of mine. He fights for the ball, his mates, the shirt. Another creative type like Aouar, perhaps in tandem– could make the midfield hum a bit more progressively with our passing.


  • Charles Watts
    Lucas Torreira said his goodbyes at London Colney today. He is due to travel to Madrid in the next 24 hours to complete his medical and finalise his loan.

  • Thanks LEGALL I’ve updated your predictions.

    Gooneris – I just noticed that you have not made your predictions for this week – you are first right now and you should try to protect your lead. TA can you reach him privately to get his predictions?

  • Thanks for all the positive responses to my scribbling, as for EL that looks the kind of draw any fan would pick if they were able to influence things so no complaints there.

    If I was 20 years younger and we didn’t have a Europe wide lockdown I’d probably do all the away legs, I mean a trip to Vienna, culture, Hapsburg castles, good beer and sausages and 3 points for the Gunners. Molde, you can’t go wrong in Scandinavia even if the beer is overpriced and 3 points for Gunners and finally Ireland, that would have to a couple days, 3 points for the Gunners and a party….

  • Your imaginary travel plans are as good as your post Kev.
    I used to travel extensively but those days are now behind me but I have wonderful memories and literally thousands of pictures.

  • Well, my wife is going to kill me, but if the international travel restrictions will be lifted and the (EL) games will be open for (a few) supporters, I am also willing to visit the game against Rapid Vienna in November or December, so we may very well have a Bergkampesque-party there. 🙂

  • Apparently Saliba lost his mother in late May so we have no idea what kind of effect that could have had on a young man of 19..?

    Yes, Rennes looks a good pick LG/TA, a year in France close to his family and then a return to England as Sokratis, Mustafi and Leno depart, could be beneficial all round?

  • GN5 I used to love the away games probably more than the home games, it was a world of adventure usually in some northern town that looked like it was in a time warp, getting chased from the railway station to the ground and then getting chased again after the game, I real,y miss those days… 🙂

  • The height of luxury was a cup of Bovril and a packet of crisps in the ground, standing on the crumbling terraces and being pelted with coins usually on the uncovered terraces so if it rained you got soaked, Southampton was a trip, herded into pen like a caged animal, so many fond memories.

  • Great write-up Kev.
    I think the Saliba loan is a genius move, and the main reason is that we have defenders we can’t really move, who are less attractive loan candidates, but something else… some of these guys, because or really badly timed injuries, can’t really move anywhere before the deadline ends. Guys like Chambers, Mustafi, Mari. So Saliba getting another year of experience without pressure, while we still have Luiz, and Holding getting back to pre- injury form… well done, I think.

  • Good day, Kev (and all BKers on board). Been a while but, usually get to catch up on comments, albeit a bit too late to add mine.

    Must say I agree with your assessments of the players (you didn’t include a score for each though; deliberate?). Leno was immense and hey, we’ve got to understand the reason(s) we had to sell Martinez. Good keeper that he is, he was back up and we needed the money. I am happy with Leno but worried we don’t trust our back up keepers enough not to start him in the league cup.

    Saka is going to be a star, if he maintains his cool and remains humble. Pepe had a very good game; not sure about the comment by Wilfred; I would say he simply allowed old biases take control of his reading of the player. I have them too but warmed to the impact he was having, gradually. There is a £50m+ player in there, somewhere.

    CoolHandNiles, it is then, jw1. 😀. Yes, I feared for him, being too confident and all, but never doubted he would bury his kick, if he gets it right. There is a way he makes his run up that would unnerve any keeper, then he feints to go one way, but passes the ball the other way. His grin at Adrian had to do with something the keeper said to him. Nice banter on-field, with Pepe also doing same after his well taken kick. Gamesmanship during shootouts is normal and the best reaction is to retort “you were saying?”.

    Happy for the win, no matter how it came. I thought Klopp was starting to get weary of seeing Arteta’s face (hair?) himself.

  • Hear goes, GN5

    My predictions:

    Leeds v Manchester City: Draw
    Chelsea v Crystal Palace: Home
    Arsenal v Sheffield United: Home
    Manchester United v Tottenham: Away
    Southampton v W.B.A.: Draw
    RB Leipzig v FC Schalke 04: Home

  • Morning Eris,

    A new GK can be ruined by a poor first performance, so I think the risks were too high on Thursday. I am sure we will see him in action soon but a good induction will be key.

    Were there good celebrations in Nigeria re Independence Day?

  • Mikel Arteta quoted in a piece on Arseblog:
    Speaking ahead of the visit of Sheffield United to the Emirates on Sunday, Arteta made it clear he’s not blind to the possibilities the transfer window can bring.

    “I think it’s very exciting because in the end, they’re the tools that you have to be able to do your job in the best possible way,” he said of new signings.

    “And you can dream about players that you can bring in as well. You can dream how you can develop the ones or change certain positions to play, to fit in what you want to do.

    Masterful boilerplate transfer-speak read straight from an old AW script.
    Arteta is like– finding an old, comfy sweatshirt you just realized had gone missing– and it still fits like it used to…


  • allezkev, I rarely traveled to European but I really enjoyed the train rides and the various food and beer around England when I followed the team during FA Cups.

  • Thanks for the Independence day greetings you posted on a previous thread, TA. Oh, the celebrations went on, as expected, this being a part of the yearly budget the politicians put out, for what it’s worth. So, the celebrations did go on, even though the common man had (have?) little to celebrate. The Burj Khalifa was lit up in the colours of the Nigerian flag in commemoration of the day and possibly, as a diplomatic wink at the Nigerian Government which barred flights into Nigeria the UAE’s Emirates airlines in a retaliatory move; huge market for the airline, I hear.

    For me, no celebrations as I had to be at work on the day….thankfully, as I also feel there’s not much to celebrate about how things are being run, at the moment.

  • Best football day of the year GN5 the 3rd Round of the FACup, mingling at service stations with fans of clubs you never usually came across, they were great times, not as sanitised as today but we had some laughs at places like Wrexham, Notts County and Forest.

  • I think Arteta has to, next, develop ruthless streak and the killer instinct in our attackers, so we don’t stop at just getting the one goal when we should ruthlessly exploit weaker teams. Chelsea, City and Liverpool keep going, even when ahead. Goals for stat may become relevant.

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