Arsenal Have Steel and Saka And That Goes a Long Way

When reviewing an Arsenal game I take the wider picture, as I see it, into consideration: Arteta took over the team in very difficult circumstances, made much worse by the C19 crisis. After the football lockdown he worked with what he had and achieved three massive things: we won the FA Cup, we qualified for Europe AND we beat big teams over the summer months. I will never forget how Arteta gave us so much pleasure during these dark times. Now Mikel is working on building the team up from scratch and this will take time. I don’t expect anything this season but just hope to see gradual progress towards a team and way of playing that will conquer all. There will be bumps in the road and that is okay.

I think Allezkev summed it up the game excellently last night:

See the source image

Argentinian manager, therefore Leeds are very adept at all those irritating snide elements that Argentinians are very good at especially at our corners where it was a wrestling match, but again we aren’t cynical enough, you need to go down when you’re being obstructed at corners, make the referee make a decision, he pretty much gave us sweet f a all afternoon anyway.

Some of the Leeds challenges were borderline reds especially the two footed lunge on Gabriel that left him hobbling, poor poor performance by referee Taylor but not for the first time with him.

And the hand ball in the box off of the Aubameyang shot, is it ‘only’ Man U who get those and the late tackle on Saka, again ignored. Leeds walk a thin line between aggressive tackles and recklessness, I though we were lucky none of our guys were seriously injured.

As for Tierney it’s a shame a few more of our players didn’t gang up on the cheat who got Pepe sent off, as a team we’re just too passive, we really need an injection of Vieira/Lauren/Keown into this mob of nice guys.

Great performance from the 10 men, they showed some bloody mindedness and that was welcome. Pleased to see Willock start but gutted he was subbed off, no choice really. I thought Nelson did ok, he was certainly an upgrade on the useless Willian, I’m really beginning to dislike that lazy ex Chav layabout.

Leno put in a great performance and he seemed to be releasing the ball quicker, which was encouraging, shame that Aubameyang didn’t get a break, sometimes you just need a bit of luck to end a goal drought but he can’t buy a goal at this time.

Yeah, Pepe was being wound up but what he did was just dumb and now we lose him for 3 League and League Cup games, so it’s the Europa for him and Nelson taking his place.

We really need to do some serious and I mean serious, no larking about, serious work on corners, free kicks and throw ins because we are just so so poor in that discipline.

As games go after international breaks it was pretty standard fare and I’m not surprised that we looked a bit disjointed, Leeds pretty much had their entire squad together during the break and it showed. All the shame I’m a bit concerned by the negativity I’m seeing elsewhere, it’s both irritating and surprising at how quickly Arsenal fans turn these days, I do hope that the ownership show some resolve because never mind the Wolves game, if we get a tanking by Tottnum then it’s going to really get toxic.

It was a strange game from the start; it felt like a cup game in which both teams needed to win. We sat deep but also tried to push up, with Granit protecting the defence and Ceballos and Willock trying to connect with the attack. Neither of them shone last night with both lacking the overview and nous to dominate the midfield. Xhaka sat too deep for my liking but it was necessary as the opponent really loves to get in front of our ‘D’ and shoot from there or make deadly passing combinations. Leeds did well to keep us from establishing our formation and dominate the game; they had us rattled and only strong defending in the box kept us from conceding.

Our attackers were too isolated and the chemistry between them was once again missing. In fact, all over the pitch we were lacking that much needed connectivity between the players AND between the lines. It felt like the first game away from home after an….. interlull. There were so many bad passes and we had little flow throughout the game. I also fully agree with Kev that the standard set-pieces stuff needs much improvement. We played poor for big parts of the game and were seldom in control, and I don’t think that would have happened with either (or both) of Partey or Elneny on the pitch.

Pepe’s sending off was a painful and avoidable set-back but very much out of character, so one he hopefully will learn from. He needs to speak out on how he was provoked by the Leeds’ casualty of grievous bodily harm as to make contact with his head.

The introduction of Saka made a big difference and he was involved in our two best chances to go home with all three points, but both Auba and he fluffed their opportunities. Of course we were lucky not to concede at least one goal last night with the woodwork favouring the boys from the home of football all night long.

Leno was in his element, Gabriel was a rock, the full backs did their bit with verve – that measured billiard-ball pass by Bellerin to Saka late on has totally restored his credit for me – Holding and Xhaka put in a shift, Auba is getting close to scoring again and Nelson and Willock put themselves about. Saka is class.

Of course there is much to improve on, but once you have accepted that this is inevitable – that we are watching a restoration progamme – it is a lot easier to enjoy the game more and take the positives from it. The boys did us proud and fought for that point and more – there is steel in this team.

Bring on Molde and Wolves in just a few days time!

By TotalArsenal and Allezkev

19 thoughts on “Arsenal Have Steel and Saka And That Goes a Long Way

  • Morning all,
    Here are the competition results.
    For the week:-
    1st Kev & JWL 5/6 plus 2 bonus points.
    2nd GN5 4/6
    3rd Gooneris 3/6
    4th Total & PB 1/6
    Season to date:-
    1st Kev – 38
    2nd Gooneris -31
    3rd JWL – 30.33
    4th GN5 – 30
    5th PB – 28.33
    6th Total – 22

  • Morning all, don’t be surprised if this update appears twice as the first attempt must be in the ether.

    Here’s the weeks update for our competition:-
    1st Kev & JWL with 5/6 plus 2 bonus points
    2nd GN5 with 4.6
    3rd Gooneris with 3/6
    4th Total & PB with 1/6
    Season to date:-
    1st Kev with 38
    2nd Gooneris with 31
    3rd JWL with 30.33
    4th GN5 with 30
    5th PB with 28.33
    6th Total with 22

  • The bright side of the game was that our defense looked very solid and keeping a clean sheet with 10 men for almost half of the game was a huge achievement – even given the help of the woodwork. With Partey, Luiz and Kola missing was quite remarkable.

    To me there were a couple of deficient areas – the first being the obvious lack of creating and scoring goals – Saka made a big difference, the second was the amount of opportunities that Leeds created down our right side – Bellerin was missing in action far too many times and Pepe does not give enough coverage – it needs to be sorted.

  • Here are the choices for this weekend,s games, there will be two extra points for the correct score between Chelsea v Tottenham.
    Everton v Leeds
    W.B.A. v Sheffield United
    Chelsea v Tottenham
    Arsenal v Wolves
    Southampton v Manchester U.
    Real Sociedad v Villarreal

  • Honestly they could have scored 1 or 2 in the 1st half. Leno had a great game with some quick reactions. With Aubameyang, no more tinkering…. leave him central, he will get back to scoring from there. He has been wasted wide left and tracking all the way back, and it’s a shame for him and his personal stats, but it’s not too late for the team.

    Regardless of the table position, we’re not too far off top 4 in points and it’s important to have belief.

    I said this yesterday, though Pepe wasn’t tracking back well enough, I saw him getting more freedom to try and score. Not so pinned to the touchline. He will score and assist if he’s allowed to do this. Now I fear he’ll be set back by the ban and angry Arteta. Mikel should at least use him in Europa games to rest our other players for the league, and keep him fresh as well.

  • Give Kev solid marks for his comments. And– while I was at first furious with Pepe for his ignorance– I was less so after the match. NBCSports showed at least three instances of him tangling arms with Alioski, shoving and pushing the other. While Pepe’s actions are never acceptable? There’s an outcome from all of this which may be used to fuel the team. How Arteta chooses to act on this can be to his and the team’s benefit.

    I had never seen Mikel Arteta so curt and annoyed to be interviewed as he was yesterday. Giving brief answers through pursed lips and gritted teeth. Positive this was his outward reaction to Pepe’s dismissal.

    But– mein Gott! What an amazing display of determination from a 10-man Arsenal Band of Brothers for nearly 53-minutes. Covered my eyes at times. By all rights at least one of those three late frame-bangers ought to have been back-of-net.

    Had we smashed and grabbed all three points? That might have been a joyous moment. An emotion that may have lasted through the week. But would have allowed the collective team to exhale– pleased with the result. Pepe, off to an EL exile. Where now? This match is a monument. To playing with a sense of desperation. This is mettle forged from experience. Mikel can use this to bind his team in a way that escaping with all the points might never have achieved.

    If I’m right? Mikel Arteta has had enough distance by today to see this as well. Enough space to recalibrate his response from his initial near-seething interview yesterday. It’s not always in victory that you form chemistry and build character in your team. Sometimes, hunger and desire is fed by a sense of discovery in desperation to survive.

    Arteta needs to channel this as a positive.


  • Nice comments guys and TA I am so grateful for this blog and the work you put into it provides a nice sanctuary from the negativity of not just football, but the world in general!! Jeorge bird’s youth site is the only other Arsenal one I can manage as some so called ‘fans` go mental at Arteta and the team in this most difficult of seasons.

    Leno had one of his best games and deserved that clean sheet for his efforts. At the start of the game I was going to jokingly post that Willian was M.o.M for the first 10 minutes I thought he started quite well offensively and defensively but it all just fell apart for the entire team. As mentioned above the right side of the back four was particularly vulnerable as it was against Villa. However seeing how Bellerin has stepped up going forward I have wondered if at times he could be pushed ahead of say AMN as we used to do with Clichy and Cole back in the day, just a crazy idea on my part I guess.

    I can only hope that Pepe uses this setback to become the main man for the europa squad. I would say he is very fortunate that there aren’t any fans at the games because the fanbase is about to turn on him as Xhaka experienced before. On a positive note I like what I saw from Leno, Gabriel and Tierney (future captain) as the spine of the team ably supported by Holding. We just need Partey, Elneny and Saka back asap and we can have another go.

  • Hi Makayah

    Not sure why your comment ended up in spam, but it did. Released now.

    Thank you for your compliment and additional insights, The thought of AMN and as full back and Bells in front of him could work well in games against the top teams. Hector is not the best defender or wing player but he is confident with the ball and a decent passer. Who knows, maybe Arteta can turn him into a Freddie Ljunberg?! 🙂

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