Arsenal Player Ratings And A Big Question

Arsenal 0 – 1 Vardy City

Player ratings:

Leno 6 – did well to stop Vardy’s chance to make it two but offered a good chance with a poor kicking at the very opening of the game.

Bellerin 5 – lucky to stay on the pitch as it was a clear second yellow. The referees don’t like Arsenal but for some reason they like Bellerin – that was third time I can recall he was allowed to get away with a second bookable offence (Manchester United FA Cup 2015, Spuds 2015-16). He is worse player at 25 than he was at 20.

Tierney 6,5 – unlucky not to get an assist to his name.

Luiz 6 – one of rare players with a passing ability in the team. Was unlucky to get injured.

Gabriel 6,5 – another strong performance from the Brazilian. He has been surprisingly good for us.

Partey 6 – was isolated by his own men.

Xhaka 5,5 – what the hell was he supposed to play? A LB? A LCB? He was supposed to play in the middle, not wide.

Ceballos 4 – awful performance. Created nothing worth of a note. Games like this make me say: “Thanks God he is only on loan with us.”

Saka 6,5 – our only creative player wasn’t himself after Fofana’s foul. He was withdrawn due to injury. Poor touch on the ball in few occasions when things could have been better for us.

Lacazette 5 – he did score a goal that was disallowed for some reason but made another expensive miss. One of those players who has been burying Arsenal managers, one after another, because no other big club in the world is ready to buy him.

Aubameyang 4 – invisible. He was supposed to be our a) captain, b) top scorer and c) top earner among the registered players. He doesn’t play like he has accepted any of his roles. Playing him on the right was always a mistake.


Mustafi 0 – the worst Wenger’s purchase of all times. In universe. If Arteta is indeed a righteous leader who punishes players for their lack of commitment, he should fire Mustafi to the Moon after watching the video of Leicester’s goal and the one when Leno had to make a save. Another gravedigger among the players.

Pepe 2 – offered nothing after introduction but at least he wasn’t at fault with their goal.

Nketiah 6 – tried something but never got a chance or a decent ball from his team-mates.

Manager: Arteta 4 – poor in-game management and inability to keep the same level of quality from the first half for umpteenth time. His gamble with Özil looks more and more pointless as every game passes by. He still has my support but let’s not fool ourselves – we looked so poor that we might celebrate finishing 10th this season (Liverpool, Man C, Leicester, Man U, Chelsea, Spuds, Wolves, Everton, Aston Villa, Leeds, Southampton and even West Ham look better than we do).

By Admir

The Big question:

I’ve been worried about chance creation for some time and it’s simply not by adding a creative player that will help. The quality of our chances being created right now is dreadful, aside from the occasional moment or two of brilliance we’ve only seen in glimpses.

We really need to either try playing Willian, Saka, Ceballos or ESR through the middle in a more advanced role to generate some more through the middle. A plan B of sorts would be beneficial in keeping things fresh, but I understand the attacking patterns will take time to learn. There’s quite frankly too much talent in this side to be as impotent in attack as the underlying attacking numbers are suggesting.

I’m still incredibly deflated, more so because the second half of the Leicester game was a carbon copy of the Villa/Spurs/City games where teams essentially backed off the press and forced us to break down their low block and we still have no answers.

Anyone have some ideas for solving the low block (or just some general positivity)? I feel we are too stationary and are ball watching, do not move the ball quickly enough and most players have not been brave enough to make the incisive forward passes when the opportunity presents itself.

By Highbury Harmony

100 thoughts on “Arsenal Player Ratings And A Big Question

  • I like your ratings a lot. Giving Mustafi a 0 has made my day. That guy is a liability to us and the earlier MA stop using him, the better for us , and for him too if he loves his job. The signs are not looking too good for us this season. But there is still time for MA to change things.Afterall, he is the Coach, so he should know what to do. He has been clamoring for the Arsenal job for so long.

  • I’m being slightly harsh on Arteta, but only slightly.
    This wasn’t an unlucky, uninspired game (that would deserve the whole amount of criticism below), but was rather a – sometimes lucky, often unlucky – uninspired 2 months.

    Agreeing with Jnyc as I also loved the line-up, but disagreeing with him as Arteta should be also responsible for the tactics. We didn’t play bad, nobody went against the strategy. Not Mustafi, but the strategy/tactics failed us yesterday, as they often did before, but some individual brilliance or our overwhelming superiority bailed us out.

    Agreeing with JW1 that we just didn’t put enough efforts in there (through balls, 1-2s, only 2 dribbles the entire game!), but disagreeing with him that it was Emeryball. We demolished teams like Everton twice a season with beautiful attacking play and remarkable team goals 2 years ago. We won by 3:0 against Frankfurt (a far superior team than RV) in the away leg in the first round of the group stages in the EL, and scored 12-14 goals in 6 games. Emeryball was similar to Wengerball, a creative possession play with a lot of chances on both sides, allowing strong opponents to exploit our defensive weaknesses. Arteta cured the majority of our defensive woes, but traded our creativity for the discipline in the process.

    Agreeing with TA, that Arteta has a difficult job integrating players, who weren’t in Arsenal 2 years ago. They need chemistry as well as time to adapt to the new tactics and stlye. But I disagreeing with him that it could properly explain our shortcomings, as Lampard (in my opinion an inferior coach to Mikel) had the same task with Chelsea, where Havertz, Pulisic and Werner weren’t Chelsea players 2 months ago. And still managed to score 10 goals against West Brom, Crystal Palace and Southampton, while we scored 9 goals in our last 8 games combined (including the 2:0 win over Leicester, where they played with their B team, and we did with our A*).

    Yesterday’s loss is not only deflating as we discontinued our unbeaten streak at home, but because we were beaten by a team that didn’t have a proper attacker for 70 minutes. And yes, there are games where nothing turns out our way – there was our 1:3 against Manchester United in December 2017 where we had 24 key passes, 16 shots on goal, but de Gea managed to save 15 breaking some record in the process – but our game against Leicester wasn’t like that. They didn’t defend heroically, their keeper didn’t demoralize us with a monster performance – they just played at level 7.

    I’m obviously not advocating ArtetaOUT, being way far from even considering that. The man deserves the time and support to accomplish his vision. Al I’m saying is that while our squad is better every window, we keep playing boring, uninspiring. And my other point is that even though many of us – myself included – believed that Mikel is an improvement on Emery in EVERY front, that is obviously false. Arteta is a genius in many things but has clear shortcomings, and addressing that is far from mutiny.

    1 game is way too few to evaluate the effect of Thomas Partey on our midfield creativity, but it wasn’t a convincing premiere on that. (And Aubameyang doesn’t react to his crazy new deal as I – or any of us – expected.) But those are not my main concerns. HH already mentioned the lack of chances, somebody above argued that we played as if we were aiming for a 0:0 or a fairy-tale late penalty, and didn’t bother to change. I would add that when you have your most expensive player, this summers marquee (free) signing, and one of England’s most promising young starlet all operating at the right wing, it doesn’t seem smart to play our ST + makeshift LW captain playing there. And it didn’t prove to be smart either…

  • Auba au centre-avant Saliba avec Gabriel et Tiernay en défense.Lacazette hors de l”équipe. et apprendre à jouer plus direct vers le goal adverse. Malheureusement les attaquants ne sont pas capable de dribler leur opposant.

  • Thank you guys for the ratings and the question.

    I have now watched the first half and was pretty impressed with our game plan. We had chances from the left through the excellent Tierney and hard working (to create something) Saka, and Bellerin got a few times into dangerous positions on the right too. Little went through the middle and our attackers were too passive in getting the ball in front of the D…. and then when they were presented with chances they just were not sharp enough. The game cried out for Giroud (like player). It could have been 4-0 and it should have been 2-0 to the Arsenal by the end of the first half.

    The biggest problem I saw, and Arteta needs to sort this out within the team in no time, is the lack of involving of Partey. Barnes was instructed to stay close to Partey (and maybe vice versa) and our new signing should perhaps be a bit more mobile and run into space a bit more, but the team did not involve him enough and that was not good. Xhaka playing deeper to allow Tierney to work with Saka to create something was a good tactics in my opinion. Ceballos did something similar on the right I think but it was hard to decipher what he was supposed to do in the first half. Nevertheless, we played some good football in the first half and had we scored at least one goal (and I think we did but it was not given) it would have been a very different game. We gave nothing away in that first half and that goes a long way too.

  • My response to HH’s will have to wait till I have endured the second half. For this I will need to wait till tonight when I can drink a bit of Scotland’s finest.

  • Morning all – feels like the morning after – how sad!

    Admir – well done for your ratings – the only thing that surprises me is that anybody rated above five, although the 5 players you chose were considerably better that the rest.

    HH- I feel your pain – it was a miserable effort with the team seemingly going back to Emeryball.

  • The winner of this weeks competition was GN5 with a paltry 2/6 for 6 points.
    In second place we find – Kev, PB, LEGALL,& JWL all with 1/6
    Gooneris and Total drew a blank.

    Overall we have :-
    1st = Gooneris with 22 points
    2nd = Kev with 18 points
    3rd = Total & GN5 with 15 points
    4th = PB with 14.33 points
    5th = LEGALL with 12.33 points
    6th = JWL with 11.33 points

  • Jacques’ comment translates as follows:

    Auba at centre-forward Saliba with Gabriel and Tiernay in defence. Lacazette out of the team. and learn to play more direct towards the opposing goal. Unfortunately the attackers are not able to dribble their opponent.

    I think the biggest problem we have is linked to Jacques’ last sentence… our attackers struggle with playing football other than trying to finish off a chance, whether it is dribbling, holding on the ball and pass accurately or coming to get the ball away from the box… and then both of them are bad headers of the ball for attackers. So leaving one of Auba and Laca out is not a bad shout.

  • It was not Emeryball, GN5. Unless losing a game is automatically Emeryball. For a start we gave very little away, jsut six shots of which two were on target.

  • Total,

    I don’t entirely disagree with your assessment of the first half where the star player was Luiz who swung long passes out the the wings with great accuracy, but we were very feeble converting the opportunities that he created. Frankly Leicester were completely satisfied to allow us to pass the ball around in our own half or their upper third – it seemed obvious to me that their plan was to keep us contained until they brought on their hit man – and it worked.

  • West Ham v Man City
    Possession: 30/70
    Shots: 6/14
    On target: 2/7

    Manu v Chelsea
    Possession: 50/50
    Shots: 14/6
    On target: 4/1

    Liv v SU
    Possession: 62/38
    Shots: 17/13
    On target: 5/2

    Arse v LC
    Possession: 56/44
    Shots: 12/6
    On target: 4/2

    On the basis of the stats we should have won, but it does come down to taking your chances and of course dollops of luck. Man City will be wondering why they did not win the game with 7 shots on target and just one going in. Pool will know that they have very effective attackers right now, taking two goals from five shots on target. West Ham and Leicester both scored a goal from just two attempts on target and got something from the game.

    Auba is going through a difficult period whether he plays on the left or not. Arteta did right to try something different. Laca is just Laca – one day it works and the other day it does not, but if they both have bad days then it is going to be hard to get something from the game. At least Saka tried hard to offer additional attacking options and I praise the 19 year old for that. Form and luck will return and I liked the way we played in that first half.

  • Yes it did work, GN5, but not because they kept us from creating opportunities, and as my stats show above it is not easy to create chances that lead to shots on goal, but we have to take them and we didn’t. There is a rule in football that if you do not take your chances… 🙂

  • PB, The Chavs are below us and Lampardball was well… quite changed last Saturday when they faced Manure. See stats above. Wengerball was outdated, Emeryball was the poorest Arsenal football I have watched in 25 years and Arteta is working on a system that is fit for the 2020ies. So are Lampard, OGS and Spuds. Pool and Citeh may well have to look at their systems sooner or later too. Arteta cannot be judged just on the here and now; the journey will not always be beautiful but I can see great progress and have every trust in him delivering for us eventually. Keep the faith.

  • TA, the Atheltic completely agrees with you that we need to use Thomas more. He was too isolated in the second half and became less and less involved as the match when on (basically our defenders and Xhaka completely by passed him). He’s one of our best creators from deep and is one of the few players that will run between the lines to get open to either drag the defense out of position or to receive a pass back in an advanced position.

  • Jacques Le Brize, I completely agree with your point about one of Laca/Auba needing to sit for the time being and for us to play with wingers who can dribble past the opponent. I would love to see one of Saka or Willian central and the other with Nelson on the wing. I think that would balance our attack more and provide us with the talent (or the threat) of taking opposing players on.

  • Here are my competition selections for the weekend of October 31st.

    Sheffield U v Manchester C
    Aston Villa v Southampton
    Manchester U v Arsenal
    Newcastle v Everton
    Burnley v Chelsea
    Torino v Lazio

  • Cheers HH, looking at the first half, Partey was asked to sit deep and protect the midfield and defence. I am still not sure what Ceballos was asked to do, but I would have like to see him slightly advanced of Partey and fill the gap between Thomas and the relatively touch/pass poor attackers. But I just want to reiterate that we had 11 shots in the first half and three on target and had we scored we would feel quite different about the game.
    The second half I still need to watch but it sounds that Leicester out-foxed us in the end. I will have a good look at how the midfield functioned in that half and get back to you.

  • It’s easy to make allowances for players being off form but in the case of Laca, it’s been a long time and he needs to be left out for a while and Nketiah needs to be given a run.

    Pepe has shown the occasional glimpses of brilliance but most of the time it’s hard to know that he’s even on the pitch – he runs into blind alley’s and gets lost just like Theo did.

  • The Arsenal team on play Sunday nite was too static and very predictable in their movement on the field of play. This lack of movement by Arsenal players is the real reason they don’t create much scoring chances and don’t score much. When last did Arsenal convincingly won a game with good goal score line. Arteta should train his players to be more fluid and move well in games. Their attack should be spontaneous with every body moving well. They play with the handbrakes on. Even if you bring the best creators in modern soccer, they will still be restricted with the static and easily predictable movement of the players. That’s why it’s easy to defend against them. Most Arsene Wenger’s team moved quite well, and that’s why they scored goals aplenty. Arsenal have good players now and a decent manager, but the team should work to be more mobile on the pitch and less predictable. They should also work on making spontaneous attacks.

  • I need to add that Arteta will have been concerned about Leicester, much more than most of us were before the game. As the former MC management assistant, he will have seen how the Foxes outfoxed MC a few weeks ago, and I think he prepared for this by setting us up very well and more defensively than many of us wanted. Unfortunately, we still lost but I reckon Arteta deserves much more than a four for his tactical approach, even though the second half I still have to watch.

  • Acho, the static nature of our play dates back to the latter Wenger years too. The difference being we had plenty of creative players that could break teams down under Wenger and don’t have enough of those types of players right now.

    In order to create more movement through the middle, I believe one of two things will need to happen:

    1) We play Saka/Ceballos/Willian at CAM to be a link between the defense to offense and can both play the incisive passes to free our front three, score from around the top of the box or make runs into the box and combine with our attackers.

    2) We add runners like Liverpool did and have them more as individuals that simply get the ball to the front three and drag players out of position with work rate, positioning and quick passes to the channels (Willock, AMN, ESR and Thomas can all play this type of role)

  • What Ceballos is being rated for not doing– is just what he was instructed to do– by the looks of it. ‘Dani, go stand by the sideline. Receive an occasional pass, then backpass to a CB.’ Ceballos was a spare part in an area that Aubameyang could have manned when Bellerin wasn’t. Dani needed to be occupying shared spaces with Laca at times in an advanced position between the lines. There was nothing pulling attention away from the flanks. Doubt that Dani was going against orders.

    The early shot count can be attributed to Leicester not yet adjusting to our singular focus on every ball either moving up the left flank– or Luiz passing over the top to the left flank. All that said? Had Saka not flubbed almost every touch or pass near the box– It’s possible we might have had a different result.

    Yeah, this one is on Mikel. It’s fine to go in with a concept. And yes, early it looked like it was working. Rodgers made an adjustment. Which Arteta refused to do for the remainder of the match.

    Instead of a 4-3-3 with Xhaka and Ceballos acting as stand-in fullbacks? A 4-2-1-3 with Dani in the advanced spot– loosens the defense, likely meaning more, higher quality shots.


  • Here are my predictions for this weekend’s games:-

    Sheffield U v Manchester C = A
    Aston Villa v Southampton = H
    Manchester U v Arsenal = D
    Newcastle v Everton = A
    Burnley v Chelsea = A
    Torino v Lazio = H

  • Thanks for this GN5!

    Sheffield U v Manchester C Away
    Aston Villa v Southampton Draw
    Manchester U v Arsenal Away
    Newcastle v Everton Away
    Burnley v Chelsea Away
    Torino v Lazio Home


  • Sheffield U v Manchester C: draw
    Aston Villa v Southampton: draw
    Manchester U v Arsenal: Of course an Away Win Would not want to jinx it! 😉
    Newcastle v Everton: draw
    Burnley v Chelsea: draw
    Torino v Lazio: draw

  • I agree with Acho; if the right word of our mental/emotional state is deflated, then the best description of yesterdays game is static and predictable. This reluctance of dribbling is alarming.

    TA, I’m doing my best to keep the faith – especially as we have a home game against Dundalk FC (squad value of 2M) coming up this Thursday, so we are likely to score.

    But to be fair with Unai, we defeated clubs back-to-back like Napoli (with 2 clean sheets) or Valencia (scoring 7 in 2 legs, including 4 away from home). That were miles better than or performance against Rapid Wien – a team of Brentford’s calibre.
    Probably we have different definitions and understanding on good and poor football, but I can list at least a dozen of games under Emery which were joy to watch (Fulham 2x, Leicester, Tottenham, Bournemouth, Chelsea, EL games, etc.) and I can list a similar number of games under Arteta where I am proud of the result, but when I found Arsenal’s play enjoying and entertaining that is limited to our 4:0 win over Newcatle, our 5:0 against Nottingham Forest and our 4:0 win against Standard Liége.

    Unai screwed up his second year with us big time, no question about that. But his first year was a lot more fan-friendly and watchable than the last 20 (!) games of Arteta, except from the FA Cup final and our away win against Fulham.

  • Sheffield U. v Manchester C. Away
    Aston Villa v Southampton Away
    Manchester U v Arsenal Draw
    Newcastle v Everton Away
    Burnley v Chelsea Away
    Torino v Lazio Away

  • Mobility is key for this Arsenal team. Movement with or without the ball can work wonders for the team, especially when they are playing against teams that love to defend deep. People commented down on Lacazette as having played poor in the Leicester game, but apart from a couple of missed chances he should have taken , I think he was one of the best performers of the night. He was the one that showed most movement around the pitch than any other Arsenal player. This lack of movement is really hindering Arsenal. The players should move more with or without the ball, both in midfield and in the final third. People didn’t like Guendozi, but he is one of our best fluid players. I still believe the boy should have been managed better rather than shipping him out on loan. Nelson and AMN are two others that move well. Good movement ensures unpredictability and will confuse the opponents to abandon any pre-determined plans to stop our attack. I believe Arteta can work on this to cap this excellent group of players. I believe that is what is missing in the team now, because he has done wonderful work already. The team will get there, but spark and energy needs to be added to what we have now. No wonder Arteta said it was tiredness that robbed them of victory. Perhaps he is right, as more movement and energy would have broken Leicester.

  • I admire your unrelenting positivity Total.

    Although I’m in somewhat of a negative mood today I still believe in Arteta as our long term manager/coach. The players he has brought into the Arsenal are among the highlights of the squad especially Gilberto and Partey,

    You may well be right about Laca and Pepe being out of place in Arteta’s system – both appear to be seriously under par currently but we have seen so much better from both of them. I just read that Auba has not scored since he signed his new contract – interesting – we’ve seen that before in other players with both Sanchez and Ozil’s performances declining – just saying?.

  • PB, a beautiful wife doesn’t necessarily make a good wife. Or if you were female, a beautiful husband doesn’t necessarily make a good husband. I get that you want beautiful football and so do I, but maybe I am more patient, or more appreciative of the challenge Arteta is facing in 2020.

    In my view Emery was a chancer. Hoping to finish on red rather than black at the end of the game with making as many chances as giving them away, but hoping to score one more than the opponent. To me that wasn’t beautiful football and certainly not winning football in the long term. But I get it that you were entertained at times.

  • Acho, Laca has indeed good movement but unfortunately it’s what he does with the ball that is well below par at the moment. Liked your comment though.

  • You are definitely more patient, my friend. 🙂
    But I do my best to keep the faith nevertheless.

    Just to point out: we “divorced” Wenger, as she (as our wife) put too much focus on the appearance, but was slowly deteriorating from being a good wife to fair and eventually a mediocre wife. And even though accepting that “handsome is as handsome does” I am not complaining here about winning ugly, but rather about losing ugly. And not against Liverpool or Man city away from home, but… whatever; you know exactly why we are feeling blue.
    Not to mention they keep letting Bould have the U23 team relegated – this was a sad weekend for an Arsenal supporter.

    To wrap up the metaphor: focusing on being ugly isn’t a foolproof way of becoming a good wife or husband either. 🙂

  • Sheffield Utd vs Man City…… A
    Aston Villa vs Southampton.. H
    Mancs Utd vs Dial Square…. D
    Newcastle vs Everton………. A
    Burnley vs Chelsea…………. D
    Torino vs Lazio Roma……… H

  • Cheers JW, playing Saka on the left worked for me and Auba was hardly firing on all cylinders from the left in recent games. But you have a point.

  • Ahh we never marry a manager, PB, we hire them. 😉 Wenger was a great servant to the club.

    Maybe there are four stages of football: ugly losing football –> pretty losing football –> ugly winning football –> pretty winning football. Let’s hope we are somewhere between stage 3 and 4. 🙂

  • Mustafi has apparently turned down the offer of a new contract – I’ll let that sink in, Mustafi turned down Arsenal…

  • He’s told the club he wants to leave in the summer, so he’ll be negotiating with interested clubs from January and good luck to him.

    He’s in general been an average defender who has violent mood swings because he can actually play very very well, but he also can do a great imitation of the classic pub footballer over the Hackney Marshes on a Sunday morning after being on the booze all Saturday night.

    I will always remember the God almighty cock ups he’s made despite some great performances in our FA Cup run, funnily enough I was chatting with a mate and we was chuckling about Iwobi and how he’s just as average for Everton now as he was for Arsenal for many seasons. We do as a club have this habit of keeping quite ordinary players far too long and then wonder why when we see them playing the same for their new clubs. Mustafi will be one of them.

  • Musty can indeed be brilliant or total pants, Kev. A very instinctive player and a chancer lacking overview and calm but with a very impressive jump and good passing ability.

    Re Iwobi. I am surprised at his form at Everton. Thought he would be better than that.

    I was thinking the other day who would buy a player from Arsenal these days, we sold on so many duds.. 🤩🤩

  • Look at West Brom, Kyle Bartley, Luke Ayling and Kieran Gibbs, it’s like an Arsenal U23’s reunion party.

  • Sheffield Utd vs Man City A
    Aston Villa vs Southampton H
    Mancs Utd vs Dial Square A
    Newcastle vs Everton H
    Burnley vs Chelsea A
    Torino vs Lazio Roma D

  • I’ll be sadder if the kids don’t get a run out this Thursday vs Dundalk. If they don’t start getting a run out, they’ll never be able to push the regular starters to be better. Sometimes all you need is one young gun to play with passion and determination and it becomes infectious for everyone else (see Saka last year).

    I’m looking at you Mr. Willock, Mr. Nelson and Mr. Smith-Rowe. Now is the time!

  • “Maybe there are four stages of football: ugly losing football –> pretty losing football –> ugly winning football –> pretty winning football. Let’s hope we are somewhere between stage 3 and 4.”

    Amen to that.
    Just one question: did you always though in that sequence, or did it just suit the argument at hand? 🙂

  • A lot of good ideas mentioned, too many to note who said what.

    I’ll just do single points….
    I was in favor of the line up, I liked having the brilliant Tierney advanced.

    Ceballos from the beginning was the worst he’s ever been, giving balls away so many times that I lost count. He did seem to be on a leash as far as positioning.

    You know how I feel about Mustafi. Great guy, hard worker, but…….

    Partey just couldn’t get involved and the coaches need to analyze why that happened.

    I don’t expect Arteta to be tinkering too much, but my preference, as others mentioned here, is Auba up front, Laca starting on the bench and in other competitions for a bit. This gets more creative and quicker players on to support him, and they can score themselves too. Even if we have 3 good strikers, others need to get in the goals, Wenger style.

    I liked what HH and Acho had to say, especially Acho’s point about Guendouzi being very fluid. I know he doesn’t have many fans here, but the way he broke down defenses by running and passing is something we’ve been missing badly. Even though Partey is a totally different player, I’ve been hoping he can provide some of that. It’s too early to know.

    Leno’s nervous moment early was only because he saved us from a ball over the top that would have been a likely goal against us with another keeper who is not as proactive.

    I’m sick of Pepe trying to dribble through 2 – 3 players then throwing up his hands. He should be more like Alexis when he lost the ball. Was a man on a mission and wouldn’t stop till he got it back.

    Saka needs some rest, he’s looking run down to me. A couple of us mentioned before this game that we should be careful about overplaying him. Especially as he’s so valuable to us.

    Best point made yesterday was by Kev. Thank God for Bergkampesque, especially after games like this.

  • TA, on calling out Arteta for his tactics? I’m still 100% behind him to succeed. This is 10 months into his managerial career. I think he’s been great to this point all things considered. My comments were on one match. Expecting he’ll see on video what we saw live. Same with Saka. He’ll be a star most likely. But there’s no way you tinker pulling Auba from the position where he’s been the #1 goal scorer in the PL since his arrival. He’ll start scoring. Don’t play mindgames with it or him– is all I’m saying. And TBF– Auba likely would have bagged one or more yesterday in the 1stH. That Mikel Arteta has reinvigorated the club and its traditions– means he’s got a lot of room for error before I’d ever think otherwise.

    Kev– Luke Ayling is over at Leeds– and has been one I’ve enjoyed watching this season. Better than his ability. The Anti-Mustafi.

    Once again (and finally), the planets align on Shkodran Mustafi. Or rather, another opinion of mine dismissed here for years. He seems to try hard. I’ve never questioned his efforts. It’s just that his level of effort has cleverly disguised a massive cost to this club. In terms of goals shipped, equaling points shipped– the sum of which are equivalent to have missed a CL spot in Wenger’s next-to-last season and Emery’s first season. Each by one point. Unlike any player I’ve watched. In that– even when he plays well– unsettles those around him. Koscielny was rock solid until. Luiz has been very good since. Just an unlucky talisman. A bad penny.

    Wish him well when he goes. Four years late.


  • On the Pepe piece, I think it’s difficult to judge him so far. I can’t say that we’ve put him in a position to succeed. Pepe, like Auba, both like to operate with a lot space in front of them and be the finishers.

    It’s true that world class players should be able to adapt to any system, but Pepe is not world class and still clearly not the finished article. He only began training as an outfield player at the age of 14 (he was a goalkeeper before that).

    I believe in the right system that both Pepe and Auba can co-exist on the wings – it just means that we have to play more direct and move the ball quicker to the channels. However, if we’re going to persist with the slower, tepid build up and try to mimic what City does, neither player are ideal long-terms fits on the wing. Therein lies the problem with Pepe; I’m not yet convinced that he’ll be the right type of player for Arteta’s long-term vision of the club.

  • I want to make a little input to what may improve our beloved team, though not taking anything away from Arteta who has done great since he came on. I also believe no one is perfect, so a peep at a little advice here might actually help, you never can tell.
    Firstly, football is a team game and hence the primary responsibility of any player on that field of play , is to win possession of the ball from the opponent, even the keeper should be adept at this. This should come first before anything, because you cannot play if you don’t have the ball. So efforts should be made to make sure that all players master the art of dispossession from the opponent.
    Second, retention of the ball at all cost must be the next priority. Not giving the ball away must be a task that must be mastered by all. You play when you or your team mates have the ball. So, whatever it takes to keep that ball within the team is a must, and it’s an art that must be perfected.
    Third, all efforts, play, thoughts, schemes, guile, actions must be geared towards scoring a goal. All ideas must be channelled towards scoring a goal. Players must have an idea of what to do with the ball before ever it gets to them. Concentration and focus is key here, Every player on that field must know that the ball can get to him any instant, and so must be ready for it knowing already what to do with the ball as it gets to him. No second guessing. He must have made his mind up before receiving the ball. It doesn’t matter if what he plans works out or not. And all his ideas, thoughts should be geared towards scoring a goal. Concentration must be prime.
    Success does not come easy, but I just feel that if these basic fundamentals are practiced often and rehearsed to perfection, we may have a team to beat. Arteta and the boys are doing wonderful work, but if they can inculcate these three basics in their play and master it, I have no doubt there will be massive improvement.
    Remember, everyone must work to retrieve that ball from the opponent. It’s a must-do, non-negotiable, if I must use Arteta’s term. Then retention of the ball at all cost must follow. Then all actions , play and thoughts must be directed towards scoring a goal and nothing else. I don’t know if this will help, but it’s my little contribution to the success of the team I love.

  • HH, all agreed re Pepe. He is being denied a lot of space in the PL and by the way we play. But he also seems to have limitations and one of them is his incredible one-footed-ness. It looks like Willian was recruited for the real Arteta-ball to come. What this means for Pepe remains to be seen.

  • Acho thanks. Another good comment and I think Arteta is fully aware of this and is working with the team to get there. I am moving away from the idea that possession of the ball is key and am getting getting bored of teams who imprison their opponents in their own half and keep passing the ball round until a gap is found. Football can be very good to watch if it all goes very well but often these games turn into a bore. I like turnovers and counters too and for that the opposition should have the ball for a bit. It is okay with me.

  • Yeah JW, you are right about Ayling – hmm, who was I thinking about?

    Semi Ajayi, that’s the fella, I kinda knew they had three ex Gunners.

    Ayling has looked really impressive for Leeds, he played alongside Bartley as a centre back in our youth team back in the day. It’s always good to see players who’ve come through our academy go on to have good careers when they leave Arsenal.

  • Interesting point Total, I recall an Uncle of mine often referring to Spain in their heyday as boring to watch, he of course came from a different generation, but that didn’t make him wrong just because his view went against the narrative at the time.

    The beauty of football is it’s variety and this came home to me when I watched some football league highlights on the TV over the weekend because I noticed that everyone, even those in the lower divisions were playing out from the back.

    Now some might say that this is wonderful and that even at the lower level teams are trying to be technical, but if everyone plays the pressing game will it become tedious, I’m not saying it will just putting it out there?

  • I mean, football is cyclical and tactics come and go, so I wonder when a manager will reinvent the long ball game? With all this pressing in midfield and building from the back I wonder when a manager will say ‘sod that, I’m going to upset the applecart’ and stick two big physical players up front to upset all the playing out from the back and launch a few long balls or long passes into the mix?

  • There is indeed a risk of the footie becoming samy, Kevski. And slow and predictable. Even the likes of de Bruine may struggle to add the extra dimension as it pays off more often than not to set up defensively for teams. Games need early goals to come to life it seems.

    I reckon we made a big mistake by letting Giroud go as he gave us thsay extra outlet, and he would have made a perfect partnership with Auba and possibly with Pepe or Willian.

  • Well Total, the summer when we signed Lacazette, as I believe it, Wenger had the option of signing either Laca or Aubameyang and he went for Lacazette, which led to Giroud leaving as Deschamps was in his ear about his place in the national team.

    As Wenger’s control diminished we did actually sign Aubameyang in the following January but Giroud joined Chelsea and the rest we know.

    How different things may have been if Arsene had listened to Mislintat as we would have had the combo of Giroud and Aubameyang leading our attack and the £46m we spent of Laca could have been invested elsewhere?

  • I know that the squad has gone through many different guises since we signed Lacazette but if we look back over his career at Arsenal and ask the question, then has he been an upgrade on Giroud?

    Yeah, he was younger and more mobile, but maybe not as mobile as we (or I for sure) thought he would be, so his pace wasn’t much of an upgrade. Who is better in the air, who retains possession better, who is a better asset when we’re defending? Deschamps maybe knew better than Wenger?
    And who has been the more clinical finisher?

    I’m not trying to be a revisionist as I was broadly in favour of replacing Giroud at the time because he, I thought, made us ponderous on transition or on the break in old money.

    You alternately Total always flew the flag for Giroud and in retrospect you have probably been proved right.

  • I quite like Antonio of West Ham he’s big, strong and no he isn’t some sexy striker from La Liga or Serie A but he’s quick and has a good eye for goal and, he would break up the bus parking teams as he’d offer us a different option, would get in among them and knock them out of their comfort zone.

    Maybe the signing of Moller is a nod in that direction, but he’s obviously too young for now!

  • Thanks Kev, I think Ollie would never win a football beauty parade and his slowness made him an easy target when we lost, but he was so effective in offering options and space for others and he carried a real goal threat himself.

    I don’t want to upset LeG too much as he loves Laca and he is about to retire and you should never mess with a man who has served the youth of Rouen so well, but I think I agree with you re Alex. Despite his goals and assists, and his formidable attitude, he never really looked at home in the team. Sorry LeGski. 🙄

  • Mon Dieu, have I offended Le Professieur du la Rouen (please excuse my rudimentary and awful French) 😄

  • TA, yes precisely re: Pepe. The problem is that we’re using him to try and break down a team that has parked the bus, but unfortunately this is not his skill set. He has all the attributes that would lead you to believe he could, but that’s not what he’s ever been successful at.

    If we can create more “chaotic” situations with our attack with lots of space for our wingers to run into, that’s where you’ll see Pepe thrive. He’s a talented footballer, albeit still too one dimensional. I stand by my assessment that he needs to understand the nuances of the game a bit more and watch more film on Sterling/Mahrez if he wants to evolve. They are able to run fast with the ball, change speeds and still be moving with the ball (not full stop) when a defender hones in on them, uses a quick trick then turns on the accelerators to blow past them.

    If Pepe can figure out how to do the above, he’ll become a more dangerous winger. Of course, the awareness of when to take a man on and when not to is a totally separate learning curve.

  • TA, I completely agree with you that I get bored by possession based football unless it has serious attacking intent. Leeds and many of the Bundesliga sides are the most entertaining to watch, as they are always attacking and the players understand the system and patterns of play very well.

    I think there’s a danger in wanting to copy City too much – they often have loads of possession but their chance creation has continually dwindled each season. I’d much prefer if we became the Bayern or Leipzig of the premier league, but that would involve a pretty significant overhaul of the squad in terms of athleticism and players that understand how to execute that type of system.

    I don’t know where Artetaball ultimately will end up, but I definitely hope it won’t be a carbon copy of Cityball when we reach our peak (just a personal preference).

  • When it comes to Laca and Auba, the main problem with two of them is that we live in an era where you can’t field two strikers without losing control of the games. The next problem is, they have quality of a world-class striker but only combined. Laca can trap the ball, pass it and is technically stronger than Auba. Auba is all about goals – if he scores, he’s good; if he doesn’t, he’s usually the worst player on the pitch. Fortunately, he scores a lot.

    Now, about Auba not scoring… I wouldn’t put his lack of goals to the new contract because no gold-digger in the world is that stupid to stop doing his job properly just because he has already secured himself a big pay-check. I reckon that sort of conclusion is inspired by a simplistic approach to Mesut Özil’s case.

    In my book, Auba’s lack of energetic performances is more due to his injury against Sheffield U. He hasn’t been the same player since that Berge’s awful tackle. Whether he is playing through injury or not – I can’t say it 100% sure but it looks to me that way.

    As for Laca, when we signed him, I wasn’t happy. I watched his videos from the French league and what I saw back then was a player who scores a lot of goals from penalties or due to the fact most Ligue 1 goalkeepers are crap. Just hit the ball on target and the goalkeeper will find the way to let it in. His pace wasn’t blistering either and his size never made him an Oliver Bierhoff (or that guy Olivier) among the French strikers. In general, his biggest virtue was that he wasn’t Giroud.

    Alexis Sanchez was the last complete striker we had even if he was the most comfortable on the left wing.

  • Oh, I forgot to make the point:

    I watched Laca and I saw his Ligue 1-nurtured flaws.

    Now, I watched Pepe’s videos before he signed and saw a one-footed player with an odd technique who scores most of his goals from penalties and due to the fact Ligue 1 goalkeepers are crap.

    Then I realized we live in a

    …Twilight Zone. (Play “TZ” music.)

  • Good description of Pepe, HH. He was a total Emery player who preferred us to sit back and that would create space for him to burst into. I thought he really had a powerful run and burst forward and that would suit us, but I miss this with him. Sometimes it is there and you know the tiger is running him and then it goes again. Nelson seems much more an Arteta, Stirlingesque, kind of player. And the arrival of Willian also tells a story.

  • HH, I don’t know where Arteta-ball will end up either but like a good film I cannot wait how it will end, and then develop further. It is really hard to make PL players into system players. Van Gaal struggled with it and Pep and Klopp got there through a lot of sweat and tears, their reputations, and money, money, money. Arteta has his work cut out. Role discipline within a well defined system of play is hard enough, but then it needs to become natural and effective and we are suffering with the letter a lot at the moment. Let’s get through this stage and we may be on our way to the Valhalla of football…. beautiful and winning.

  • Good comment, Admir. I find Auba a better field player than you do, and I especially like his defensive contributions but I agree that he is not the best player at ‘field football’ and that he is the typical killer in and around the box. That is why we need him to be surrounded by good field-footballers. Willian is one, Xhaka and Partey are two and now we need a better CF and ideally somebody in the hole area who can play attacking football.

    I would like to see something like this tried sooner or later:
    Defence x4
    ——- Partey——Xhaka———-

  • HH, key for me is to play Partey and Xhaka in line, the moveable wall, and either can go forward and cut the passes sharp and crisp so we dont lose momentum. Saka and or Nelson can really help with both the defence – especially Saka – and the momentum forward. Eddie is just so keen and mobile and WIllian and Auba can add the class and experience to take the chances. I dont think we are far off from a quality attacking AND defending team. In Arteta we trust and soon we lust. 🙂

  • Doing the ratings a few hours such a loss may (or may not) help deliver blunt scorings of the players’ performances; but I go with the overall ratings too, save a couple, given what I heard and highlights gleaned.

    Considering we beat them away, albeit their cup team with a sprinkling of first team stars, I fully expected us to win ….and well. Another factor which gave me confidence was the selection/formation and the prospects of seeing the side play with more freedom, secure in the defensive abilities of Partey and Gabriel. As expected, we started well (Audio commentaries suggested it was our best 1st half performance in a while) but faded badly in the second half. All the pressing and aggression of the first half could not be sustained (we need to improve on stamina building, perhaps) which gave the away side impetus to come forward. With Vardy coming on and a tactical adjustment by Rodgers and we were on a wing and a Prayer. It was only a matter of time before Vardy would score, made easier because Luis had to go off for Mustafi who had to be rusty for such a job.

    We have to look forward in hope now (no, TA, I cannot be as optimistic and positive as you are, but admire you for it), believing the players will only improve (as if our rivals won’t do same) as we make progress.

  • TA, I don’t think people realize how critical Willian is to our creativity and last match really showed it as soon as Saka was subbed off. If Willian is placed into more central and better positions (i.e. not isolated as a forward), he will be able to create more chances.

    In the current configuration, I think Nelson is a better fit as a winger than say Pepe or Auba too. Arteta is probably struggling with the fact that he’s inherited an expensive front three that don’t quite work together and don’t fit what he wants to accomplish from an attacking standpoint. It’s difficult to bench Lacazette and Pepe in favour of Nelson, especially if it doesn’t work out. You’ll never know if you don’t try though and I’d love to see Auba up top if one of Saka or Willian move centrally into the CAM role.

  • Hi Gooneris.

    Don’t forget forget your predictions for this weekend’s game’s,

    Sheffield U v Manchester C
    Aston Villa v Southampton
    Manchester U v Arsenal
    Newcastle v Everton
    Burnley v Chelsea
    Torino v Lazio

  • I shall also submit a view on some individual performers, following from some of the fine commentaries (and we have had some brilliant takes on this thread) above. Starting with Leno, I feared we may start to see some uncharacteristic errors from him without a proper back up to push him (like the near-blooper last Thursday) but he looked fairly stable and it is huge credit to him that he has not dropped his standards much, since Martinez left.
    David Luis was outstanding for the period he was on. I posit he would have found a way for us to win it had he been able to play on. Gabriel was brilliant as always.

    It was inexplicable, at times, how Partey was by-passed by our defenders and midfielders. I do hope it was coincidence; in Nigeria, fans will read all manner of conspiracies to that one, being our latest star and all. Ceballos was surprisingly poor, but I tend to agree he must have been playing to some instruction issued by the gaffer.
    Auba is our main player/scorer and it will serve Arteta well to get the whole team to play to his strengths while also featuring players who complement his skill set. He used to be a pacey winger with dribbling skills but appears to have lost that ability to go past defenders often, since becoming one of Europe’s most feared strikers. What he lost, he has gained in becoming a goal machine and needs support to perform at optimal levels. From every indication, he thrives with players like Tierney, Saka, Laca and Pepe. Ozil too, but that is a matter for another day. I think he would like Partey’s long ball abilities. Arteta will need the team to have a structure which frequently puts Auba in a position to receive the ball with some space in front of him or to be at the end of some good crosses. I still have some faith in Laca simply on the other attributes he brings to the side. He works hard and for a long time, played less as a striker and more as the top of a midfield trio, in our 3-4-3 formation. He wins the ball back like no other forward we have and is able to sneak behind unwary defenders to steal the ball for a good turnover.

    Pepe is an enigma. I saw a few clips of him in Ligue1 and was excited we went for him. I didn’t like the size of the fee, mind, but I thought he would come here and take the league by storm but he plays as if he needs a confidence boost or some new partnership. Arteta has to make it easy for him by issuing basic instructions to him and ensure he has outlets every time he is on the ball. Simple instructions like “cut back and whip in a cross, every time”. Soon enough, we will have our forwards in position, instinctively, when Pepe is on the ball. He could also be taught to cut back and play the ball square to a midfielder, etc. sooner than later, he will start to keep things simple.

    Overall, I think the team plays too rigidly and it may be time to sacrifice some of the defensive discipline for a bit more focus on attacking play, especially when playing against sides we obviously best in the quality department. We need to play with more freedom and allowed some spontaneity so as not to be too predictable. If there is a man who can be trusted to turn it around, Arteta is the one. But that is only if he was well embarrassed by that result as we all were.

  • Here are my predictions for the weekend’s games:

    Sheffield U v Manchester C D
    Aston Villa v Southampton D
    Manchester U v Arsenal A
    Newcastle v Everton H
    Burnley v Chelsea D
    Torino v Lazio A

  • I also think it is time we started to see a bit more of Nelson, Ainsley Maitland-Niles and ESR, alongside Nketiah and Saka. I don’t think Nelson could have done any worse than what we put out on Sunday. His confidence must be shot by now, seeing as he was touted as a great prospect two seasons ago. I like him and know he is a good player.

    As for Willian, he does need to up his game because, so far, I have not been impressed with his effort and contributions, save for the first game of the season against Fulham. Truth be told, he has been poor, having been tried in every position across the front. Some of the lack lustre play we see from most teams/players must have to do with the absence of a proper Summer break, owing to the pandemic (while it could be argued they rested during lockdown, but it is not the same thing).

    The disruption to the normal routine may have affected the preparation for the season and you find some players are simply going through the motions.

  • Goonereris, if you look at how isolated Willian has been on a dysfunctional right handed side, it’s no wonder he hasn’t been able to perform. Our entire front three barely touches the ball in some games!

    This is not a Willian problem – this is an Arteta problem with his tactics and one we are all highlighting that he needs to work on. You don’t go from being the 7th and 5th most creative player in the league the past two seasons to being completely useless from a creative standpoint!

  • Arteta should bring ozil back though he z lazy but c an help in the time being..also to play saliba instead of mustafi

    On Mon, Oct 26, 2020, 12:58 PM B E R G K A M P e s q u e wrote:

    > TotalArsenal posted: ” Arsenal 0 – 1 Vardy City Player ratings: Leno 6 – > did well to stop Vardy’s chance to make it two but offered a good chance > with a poor kicking at the very opening of the game. Bellerin 5 – lucky to > stay on the pitch as it was a clear second ” >

  • JW I was with you always on Mustafi. So many errors and poor decisions, and even in his best stretches, he kept doing making dangerous mistakes, but because he was fortunate for them not to result in goals every time, people chose to overlook it.

    I still want to defend Arteta on one aspect of the game plan…. the way Tierney was involved was the best thing going for us and I’d like to see more. We missed a couple of his created chances, and losing the 2nd best thing, Luiz as Pirlo, didn’t help.

  • Eris at 17.56 yesterday… hope is eternal and I was really not expecting us to beat a Foxes team that had recently embarrassed Pep’s Citeh so emphatically. There is a general impatience among the fanbase and it worries me. It will take time.

  • HH, all agreed with your views re Willian and Saka (and Pepe, Laca etc). In the current game, every attacking player needs to be able to hold on to the ball and pass it well too as to keep the pressure on and collectively find the opening against the ‘parked bus’ approaches. Willian, Saka and Nelson are all good at this but the Brazilian is the most experienced. Laca and Auba are not bad at this but not great and that is a dilemma for Mikel.

  • Eris at 18.34 that is a great comment. Re Partey we have to give it some time. I felt he was instructed to sit deep and deal with any balls we lose/turnovers quickly. It allowed Luiz to come forward and deliver his Beckenbauer balls. All agreed re Auba and Laca but the question remains whether we can play them both in a game/ whether there is enough connection between the two tos still surprise and beat defences.

  • Eris, I don’t agree with you re Willian. Yes we want him to be more effective but that goes for all attackers at the moment. It will take time to fit him into a team that is being revolutionized by Arteta, but he always puts in a shift imo.

  • Admir, re your player ratings I have to say that it tastes a bit bitter to me. A zero for Mustafi, who had been injured for months and is likely to be rusty and thus make mistakes, is harsh. We have to be careful not to use player ratings to kick those players we don’t like anyway, which so often happens after defeats. Pepe a two is another example. We all have players we love and those we struggle with or even despise, but they all wear the shirt and depend on our support to gain confidence and perform to their best abilities.

    You do make some very good observations though and thanks again for the ratings.

  • J, we all could see that Mustafi had failure in him but some of us were a bit more generous in recongnising the good things he offered to the team at times. Some days he was awesome and others he was dreadful, and ultimately that is not good enough for Arsenal.

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