Eight Arsenal Observations: Lukaku does a Drogba, Sambi Impresses, Need CF backup.

Eight quick observations from Arsenal v chelsea:

  1. How did we give them so much space on the left? In the modern game space is everything and when we give so much away it is going to cost us. Tierney was out of position and Saka did not provide enough cover. It seemed a real tactical omission by Arteta.
  2. Upfront we were toothless. Martinelli is not ready for this level, Bukayo was rusty, Pepe was painfully limited on the ball. They did not get great service it should be said, but they also lacked togetherness and Lukaku-like presence. We really missed our experienced attackers today.
  3. ESR was good but that is relative to his age. There is every chance Emile will become a great Arsenal player but a team carrier he is not as yet, and that is why we needed Odegaard to join us, and maybe even one more creative midfielder needs to join this season. I would always play two of them.
  4. Lokonga had a great start and we can see his potential. He faded a bit after that but there is great hope that with him and Elneny we now have good cover for Xhaka and Partey.
  5. Mari and Holding worked hard but clearly struggled with the awesome Lukaku, who had the Drogba effect on our team. I thought we dealt with him much better in the second half – a real team effort at that – but then it was already too late.
  6. Leno was much better and he made a fab safe from Lukaku’s bullet header.
  7. We really have an issue with strength in depth for the CF position. Balogun, Martinelli and Eddie will have moments but, like ESR, they are not as yet team carriers. We need a second/third CF who competes with Laca (and Auba) for the most important position in the game. Hopefully this is on the shopping list.
  8. The boys clearly lacked confidence and there was not enough cohesion in the team, but we also lacked that vital bit of luck when we play a team on top of the wave’s crest and obviously further boosted by the arrival of the giant Belgian. Saka should have had a penalty, Rob almost scored, Saka had a poor touch in a promising position, and when these things don’t go your way, it’s just not going to happen. Let’s not read too much into this game. We will do much better when our best players are about all fit and the boys have settled down a bit.

By TotalArsenal.

46 thoughts on “Eight Arsenal Observations: Lukaku does a Drogba, Sambi Impresses, Need CF backup.

  • Thanks for your balanced review. Agree we need a team carrier at CM, and I wish I was hopeful about getting a Martinez or Isak upfront but i’m not. Shit hot RB is mandatory, but gonna take some wheeler dealing

  • Cheers WW, there is more to come and let’s hope it is in those positions. Let’s get the Man City game out of the way, and then, with more players available and fit, properly kick start the season.

  • Yep Total, our season really starts on 11th September when Norwich come to town.

    No luck with the fixtures, no luck with the referees or VAR, Leno fouled last week, Saka fouled this week, it almost seems deliberate doesn’t it?
    Hmmm.

    No luck with injuries and no luck with WuFlu, maybe other teams will cop it later in the season especially during european weeks? Then we can laugh at them…

    We currently have room in our 25 man squad for one more English player and have one too many foreign players, so at least two have to be moved on to make another foreign signing.
    But we could sign Trippier and solve our right back issue.

    Really impressed with Lokonga again and Tavares looked lively when he came on.

    Watching Arteta in the post match interviews I was struck by how upbeat he came across, I hope that’s because he knows he has the backing from those above?

    Encouraging to hear him talk about Aubameyang and how keen he was to be involved after being laid up in bed this week, that’s positive. Such a shame for Eddie and typical of our luck, what a chance for him to show his quality lost in another damned training injury…

  • Great comment in addition to the post, Kev. Indeed many things going wrong right now but Arteta is a calm and positive force.

    As Winston used to say: if you are going through hell, keep going.

    Enjoy your cuppas tonight.

    And thanks for the fine email. Will respond soon. 🤗

  • Your observations sum up the match, fairly well. Danny Ings is one CF we could have gone for to give Auba and Laca good competition. He’s got it all; good hold up play, strength in possession, shooting, heading, …even a bit of ball skills. He would have loved to come here and enjoy himself. Well, Aston Villa got him and he’s scored twice already.

    I can’t wait for the window to close. It should settle the team and everyone else.

  • ……Maybe we can get some joy out of the Carabao cup versus WBA, midweek…..

  • Glad to see people in this blog not being too panicked when it comes to the Arteta out movement. The fixtures are tough yet people expect easy wins over Chelsea and City.

    I do have doubts regarding the process now though. The intensity and coordination of our pressing and overall fitness levels of the players seems to have regressed from last season. The anonymity/ineffectiveness of our wingers in open play is also concerning. I will trust the process as long as there is progression in the team, will fully judge our progress after 1/3 of the season (which should roughly show where we stand).

  • Fair assessment TA. You had most of my observations during and right after the game, so I may repeat a bit.

    You never normally hear me complain about penalties. At that point in a big match, with that scoreline, that’s an easy penalty to give, and they always do, especially to the home team. It was not even a close call, a definite pen. I would say they same for any neutral game if I was watching.

    I know Õdegaard will be super important to our play, even White, but it’s been disturbing me for a year that we aren’t creating or finishing nearly enough chances. With these players, we should be doing better.

    I think that it’s a shallow reading to just blame strikers when a team doesn’t score enough. Occasionally there will be games with missed chances, and those will be obvious. In a squad with our attacking talent, the manager needs to be looked at.

    I’m not just talking about these two games, but all of last year. Our goal differential sucks compared to Arsenal standards.

    Here’s a fact. The only games last year that looked like the old Arsenal attack were in the Europa group stages.

    I’m still with Mikel but I have to be honest, I can’t pretend it’s not a concern.

    I really respect Xhaka too, but he’s one who has been ever present through this offensive malaise. I hope when Partey is back, and we have a chance, we try some different midfield looks and give the iron Man a rest here and there. It’s one reason I was looking forward to a change when we thought he was going to Italy. I don’t fault his effort at all, I love how hard he plays. He is a tough dude. I’d want him on my side in a bar fight.

    But let’s be honest, a midfield of Xhaka, Partey, el neny, Sambi, is not top 4 quality. The only addition to a terrible midfield from last season is a kid, albeit a talented kid. That’s why I want to see Smith Rowe tried there to get some energy.

    I see why people are excited about Tavares. Could be a huge talent.

    Another positive… It will be great to have Ø and our 2 strikers available. ESR is very important now..Growing in stature and desire so we need to play up to his level.

    We did get beat on the left badly, and other teams will have noticed that, so maybe we’ll have to pull back on the Tierney dependence a little.

    You’re also right about Martinelli. Very disappointing games, even if others didn’t perform, it was a great opportunity for him to shine. He was totally ineffectual, and again, a guy who looked like Wonder boy under Emery, and the invisible man under Arteta. Instead of just writing off this talent, Mikel needs to figure out ways to get more out of him.

    I don’t feel like Leno has the managers trust anymore. It seemed we were afraid to play the ball out and went long much more than usual. That’s mid table stuff. I know it’s Chelsea, be we’re supposed to have the talent to do that. We had more than a week to work on that in training after last week’s mess.

    I’m not sure what we worked on, but I didn’t see many results.

  • TA, fair observation and iam not as upbeat as you, but I will remain true to my words. If we are not in the region of 30-35 points by end of Dec after 18 matches, iam calling for Arteta out. No it’s not.just about 2 games and with the third one write off as well. Let me put my points as coherently as possible.
    Where was our defence organization? We looked so porous there is no point talking about Lukaku because with this defence if you remember we were poor aginst Brentford as well. The tactics of pass it to Tierney is found out and now a liability. The space give to rece James was obscene. He got an assist and a goal taht explains everything.
    Midfield was passed by , how many times there were balls through the midfield to the leg of Lukaku. Sambi looks good but iam not sure how long before he gets sucked into Artetas coaching. I agree with you that we need one more there. If this is how porous we are going tk be in midfield it’s better we play ESr with Partey/Xhaka and ode as 10. Atleast we can get more creativity.
    Forward line – it’s ok to balme Martenelli and say he is not ready. He might well not be but he scored 10 goals in his first season coming from second tier of Brazil. I will leave it at that. I hope Arteta sells him nest season he will have a great career somewhere else. How many times did he get a ball to his feat from the center, none in the first half and may be couple in second. If we are playing from the flanks and our crosses either don’t beat the first defender or a cross to no one then if it’s Auba nothing will come.of it. Iam hoping that ode brings in some creativity centrally. ESR was a bright spot but I guess he is asked to overload on the flanks and it’s sucking out all creativity from him.
    I will lay off Arteta lest I am accused of being a negative person or worse not a fan, but we are not at 30-35 points by end of 18 games I rest my case.

  • Good assessment on most of your points. I disagree on Xhaka though. With Partey back the coach must partner him with Sambi not Xhaka. Xhaka will not take us anywhere. He has been at the club for years and he has never dominated a big game. Odegaard is a good prospect but like the Ceballos return I feel he didn’t do enough to come back. Hope he makes it at the club as we have already signed him. Is he better than Smith Rowe? Doesn’t look so. He is the same age bracket with Smith Rowe and I thought the coach would get someone around the 27 to 29 age group like Coutinho on a 2 to 4 year contract to compete with ESR whilst he is eased into the team.

    Numbers don’t lie. The owners have supported the manager but the question is has he and Edu improved the team? I don’t believe so.

    Yes we really need Laca and Auba back to help the kids.

    Arteta is very positive but we need results. Performances are not encouraging at all.

  • Good to see you here, Shrillex,

    Yes I would also like to see what the Arteta plan is now that he has got these new players and maybe more to come (and go).

    It’s going to take some time but he will need good results in the meantime.

  • JNYC, fine supportive and additional observations, compadre. It takes two to tango in attack, and I agree our creativity could improve. But I looked also at the movement of our attackers and the ability to hold onto the ball and it was not great. We looked so young and out of place in attack yesterday.

  • Cheers Simba,

    Performances will come. We didn’t start with Big Gab, White, Partey, Auba and Laca. That is a hell of a lot of players against a high flying Chavs team.

    I thought Xhaka was our best player once again but there you go.

  • I want to make a point on the covid infections. We are into the second year and I think we as common people have understood how to keep ourselves protected with vaccination, masks and not being in crowded place and completely giving up parties and celebrations. You would think that the professional athletes would get adequate support to keep themselves well.
    I also heard that Arteta made comments in post match that vacinnation is a personal choice. I am sorry but tahts bollocks and lacks scientific basis. So we have anti-vax proponents in the team putting others and the whole club in jeopardy. Sometimes we make our own luck and create our own pitfalls.
    Not sure what you guys have heard.

  • It’s not bollocks Madhu. You cannot enforce vaccination in this country.

    Also remember that even double vaccinated people can still get the virus and must then isolate.

  • I agree TA you cannot force but as a professional athlete you should atke care of yourself and ensure you don’t put others in jeopardy. If we cannot do taht then there is no point crying taht we are losing people to covid.
    Guess they are not like common people cause they would loose thier wages of they don’t turn up for work.

  • Great write-up, TA. Mostly spot on.

    -How did we give them so much space on the left? In the modern game space is everything and when we give so much away it is going to cost us. Tierney was out of position and Saka did not provide enough cover. It seemed a real tactical omission by Arteta.

    Well, in theory, it was a good decision by Arteta but the execution was awful. My guess is, Arteta wanted to protect that left side with Saka who works harder than Pepe and release Pepe on their make-shift LWB. Also, we were destroyed down the right side in the friendly game against the same opponents and that could be another reason why Arteta focused on solving that flank of our defence.

    -Upfront we were toothless. Martinelli is not ready for this level, Bukayo was rusty, Pepe was painfully limited on the ball. They did not get great service it should be said, but they also lacked togetherness and Lukaku-like presence. We really missed our experienced attackers today.

    Yes, we missed all that. In defence of youngsters, Martinelli was still exhausted from the Olympics and Bukayo’s head is still at Wembley. What he has been going through since that penalty against Italy, we’ll never know. Pepe had very little to work with but that’s why he should have imposed himself as a big-game winner by now. That’s how you justify enormous price tag.

    -ESR was good but that is relative to his age. There is every chance Emile will become a great Arsenal player but a team carrier he is not as yet, and that is why we needed Odegaard to join us, and maybe even one more creative midfielder needs to join this season. I would always play two of them.

    Smith Rowe is a rare Top 4 player in our ranks but even he would struggle to enter any of Top 4 Best XI. That’s where Arsenal are right now and we have to accept it’s where we belong. Odegaard and another No. 8 (Aouar anyone?) would relieve the burden off Smith Rowe’s back.
    We are generally a mess of a club and it’s difficult to find a single decision our club has made since Wenger’s departure that I would welcome. In fact, sacking Wenger was the last good one and even that one came at least two years too late.

    -Lokonga had a great start and we can see his potential. He faded a bit after that but there is great hope that with him and Elneny we now have good cover for Xhaka and Partey.

    Lokonga has a better starting position comparing to Guendouzi as there is a general idea what position Lokonga is supposed to play. The problem is, his technique is below the required level. He adds physicality to our midfield right now and is not a problem which is a plus, I guess. The main problem, however, is that our transition is still monotonous and boring. Our defensive record last season was built on the fact opponents didn’t need to attack after scoring first because they knew we couldn’t create a reply even if our lives would depend on it (rare exception was that scintillating second half at West Ham when Odegaard played like Özil in his prime).

    -Mari and Holding worked hard but clearly struggled with the awesome Lukaku, who had the Drogba effect on our team. I thought we dealt with him much better in the second half – a real team effort at that – but then it was already too late.
    Leno was much better and he made a fab safe from Lukaku’s bullet header.

    As I said in the previous passage, Chelsea didn’t need to attack after the first half. James’ goal effectively killed us off and that’s why Mari got easier ride in the second half. Mari is not a player Arsenal should have signed and that’s why I can’t wait the explanation behind that and many other transfers Edu’s Brazilian connections were used to bring a player aboard. Unfortunately for Holding, long-term injuries have hampered his development and I reckon he will be a Crystal Palace-sque defender in a few years. Same goes for Chambers and that’s a shame. I didn’t like too many of Wenger’s transfer decisions in his latter years but those two blokes had been my biggest hopes for the future, a bit of Keown and Adams pairing.

    -We really have an issue with strength in depth for the CF position. Balogun, Martinelli and Eddie will have moments but, like ESR, they are not as yet team carriers. We need a second/third CF who competes with Laca (and Auba) for the most important position in the game. Hopefully this is on the shopping list.

    How many strikers do we need? I understand the general idea and I believe we don’t have enough quality there even with our big guns available. The problem is, we already have five players that can play there (Martinelli, Balogun, Nketiah, Laca and Auba). I reckon they don’t occupy five places in the 25-men squad but still, we are strong in numbers on that position but, whatever Stalin told us, quantity does not have quality all its own (if TA can quote a Yalta big boy, so can I. 🙂 Now we need the Roosevelt one.) I’d like us to sell either Lacazette or Auba and get someone like Dušan Vlahović from Fiorentina or Bruno Petković from Dinamo Zagreb.

    -The boys clearly lacked confidence and there was not enough cohesion in the team, but we also lacked that vital bit of luck when we play a team on top of the wave’s crest and obviously further boosted by the arrival of the giant Belgian. Saka should have had a penalty, Rob almost scored, Saka had a poor touch in a promising position, and when these things don’t go your way, it’s just not going to happen. Let’s not read too much into this game. We will do much better when our best players are about all fit and the boys have settled down a bit.

    I’d generally accept this part if we looked half-decent during preseason. When I say half-decent, I mean like a team with an idea what we want to be – a woman or a fish. Sadly, I don’t think Mikel is quite certain whether he wants to be a Pep or a Jose. Do you recall of a certain lad named Willian Borges? You might have heard of him, he is still an Arsenal player and earns six-digit pay-check every week. Arteta was taking bullets for Willian last season only to lock him up in a dark room somewhere. When you have so many senior players unavailable, players like Willian should step up in the same way, say, Tomas Rosicky did in the latter stage of his career.

    My point is, players no longer believe their manager and it seems that Mikel no longer believes in himself either.

    I’d say: “Bring Conte in!” but he has left one messy club, no less the champions, and I don’t know why he would jump into the driving seat at the club that should celebrate another 8th-place finish with fireworks.

  • Lokonga was our best player in the first half. The second half was so much better but we failed to take our limited chances.

    Our passing clearly needs more work and more training to get them used to the massive pressures and closing-down play.

    Sad to say, but we are in the midfield fight to stay up this season.

  • Fabulous responses to my eight observations, Admir(erable).

    Two counter responses:

    Yes five CFs on paper but Martinelli and Balogun need to go out on loan ASAP to gain experience and PL body strengths. Auba is more of a hybrid between winger and CF. I am crying out for a Giroud type with a bit more speed.

    I am more assured about Artetas game plan and style of footie than you are, but he needs to make sa step improvement in the coming months.

    “The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today.” FDR 😉

  • Hi All – Thanks TA for trying to lift spirits! 👍
    Am consoling myself with points made by many of you that (i) it is a long season, (ii) given the number of new additions and temporary loss of the experienced ones more time is needed for team to settle down and (iii) catching Chelsea on top form followed by City is going to dent confidence. I guess a lot will depend on whether we’ll have at least 2-3 players end up having a really good breakout season. But the team knowing that we have their backs and will pick them up when times are tough will be important.

    The puzzling part for me is simply that I didn’t think that the team when Arsene left was bad talent-wise. And there have been some good additions since then and we have spent more money than when Arsene was manager. At times yesterday though it felt like the talent gap was much wider. What are your thoughts?

  • Thanks StH,

    It’s a very impressive, far reaching refurb our Mikel is undertaking. Play out from the back, high pressing, strong focus on roles and responsibilities, passing in tight triangles etc. I so hope that once it all clicks together it will be awesome.

  • TA the Giroud type with more pace is Lewandowski or Haaland haha. Let’s rally to get top 4 and then drop next summers whole budget on the prodigy. Imagine the shirt sales worldwide!?

    Thanks for reminding me that we were playing without our first two choices at cb and no Partey or strikers. The dishonest media conveniently leaves that out while they stir up problems for us.

    I can’t stop thinking that Saka and Pepe need to switch flanks and keep Pepe far from the touch line. Arteta seems to forget when they played their best last season, but we don’t.

    The fact that they have done nothing these two games makes it more frustrating. Saka, Martinelli, Pepe need some coaching. If Wenger were the manager, we’d be blaming the players only.

    As Arteta is, we may never see Martinelli again. He’ll end up in Marseilles then PSG.

  • Jync, I agree with you. I don’t ser Martenelli staying for too long. If Arteta is there he will be sold next year or loaned. Pepe should not have time on the ball as his brain gets frozen and does to his usual trick of back and forth and losing the ball. He should be central with no time.on ball and all he has to do is hit the target. You see his strike against Brentford it was sweetly hit first time. He just cannot be trusted to hold on to the ball and do something against a good defence.

  • Cheers J, good point about flank positioning of Saka and Pepe.

    I am hoping Martinelli will come good at Arsenal. Since the return of his injury he has struggled to reach the required level to make it Arsenal but he is a fighter, so there is hope.

  • Martinelli has had a meteoritic rise and got us so excited about his potential that its easy to forget he’s still only 20 years old, he’s actually about two weeks older than Flo Balogun, so I personally doubt that we’ll see the best of him for another year 18 months, not only because of his youth but because it takes a long long time to fully recover from an ACL. Some never really recover completely, just ask Hector…

  • There’s some encouraging rumours about certain Arsenal players leaving during the next few days, namely Willian, Kolasinac and Torrieira, although I’m sceptical about how much we can save in salaries and in these contracts. I mean Willian isn’t going to walk away from a two year contract is he, he’s going to want to be paid up, or most of it and of course the appalling Kia Joorabchien will want an agency fee for all his invaluable agency work on easing the deal – that’s if it even happens?

    Kolasinac leaving might be less problematic as he and his family want away from the UK but he’s going to want some dough to leave as is his agent, so even if we get a fee from Fenerbahce for Sead, it’s probably going to be gobbled up.

    Torrieira looks likes he’s off on loan somewhere as his value steadily decreases even further and we probably still have to pick up a percentage of his wages again. I’ve been encouraged by some of our transfer business this summer but the smell of some of our recent transfer business still hangs heavily around the club.

  • Kev, good point re Martinelli’s age. A good run in the League Cup and then a loan in January should do him good. Steve The Bruce may need someone then 😉⚽

  • I’m glad to see Admir back. Great comment there.

    Brings up a point that vexes me too, and I’d love to hear your take on it TA… The whole Willian – Arteta situation.

    Not only did Mikel sanction the signing.. three years ! But defended him all last season.
    Then all of a sudden, things are so different, it’s almost like … Actually, it has to be one or the other of these:
    Either Edu and Arteta have decided they didn’t get the player they thought they were and of course they can’t say it publicly, or… Willian is a huge ingrate! They put faith and money into a three year deal and defended him in a lousy season. Then he asks out, but of course will refuse a pay cut. To request a Brazilian team, he’d know it’s a huge financial loss for the club.

    I hated the signing even when it was rumoured, but I hoped after his weak start, that he’d become a great player off the bench, to give 20 – 30 minutes of high energy quality, hard work on and off the ball, and set a good example in training for nketiah, Nelson, and Martinelli especially.

    Simba, I strongly disagree about Ødegaard. I have never seen a team more in need of a player than this Arsenal and him. There’s no one I would have wanted more, including Maddison who I rate even if they were equal cost. He’s a maestro in an attack that is all over the place. He’s a young Ozil with more aggression, energy, and unlike Ozil, he has a big point to prove.

    A word about how we got him. He was one of the best players at Sociedad on loan because Madrid is full of established highly paid stars around his position, and he was 19-20. So good, that they recalled him from the second year of his loan, and as usual wasted his young talent in the bench again.
    I read a la liga expert who pointed out that Madrid had never appreciated this type of player.
    They sold Özil in his prime, to replace him with Bale. So stupid that Ronaldo was furious and said so publicly. Very rare. That’s all you need to know about their decision. We’re lucky that they need cash again.

    I hope we get Trippier somehow, because he’s an even better player than most gooners realize. He was great at Spurs. On free kicks and corners he’s the equivalent of Ward Prowse. Crosser as good as Alexander Arnold. Him doing that from the right, and Ø from the left, we’d have the best combination in the world, no exaggeration.

  • J, Willian seemed a great signing, just like Mkhi seemed when we swapped him for Sanchez with the Red Mancs.

    Arteta tried everything to get him going but he was a disappointment on the pitch. If he leaves now it will probably be for the best.

  • Here are the competition results for week two:-

    1st – PB with 4/6 plus two correct scores & share of most correct predictions = 10 points
    2nd – 0X10 with 4/6 plus one correct score & share of most correct predictions = 8 points
    3rd – Madhu with 2/6 plus one correct score = 4 points
    4th – GN5 with 2/6 = 2 points
    5th – NJK and Kev with 1/6 = 1 point
    7th – Total and Eris with 0/6 = 0 points
    ”””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””
    Season to date:-
    1st 0X10 with 13.33
    2nd PB with 13.00
    3rd Madhu with 9.33
    4th Eris with 5.33
    5th GN5 with 5.00
    6th Kev with 4.00
    7th Total & NLK with 1.00
    “”””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””

  • Here are my choices for week three:-

    Manchester City v Arsenal
    Brighton v Everton
    Newcastle v Southampton
    Liverpool v Chelsea *
    Burnley v Leeds
    Rangers v Celtic *

  • Manchester City v Arsenal: Away

    Brighton v Everton: home
    Newcastle v Southampton: draw
    Liverpool v Chelsea * 3-2
    Burnley v Leeds: Away
    Rangers v Celtic * 1-1

  • Manchester City v Arsenal: Home
    Brighton v Everton: Away
    Newcastle v Southampton: Away
    Liverpool v Chelsea * 1-2
    Burnley v Leeds: Away
    Rangers v Celtic * 1-1

  • Man City v Arsenal…. Home. (3-0)
    Brighton v Everton…. Home
    Newcastle v Soton…. Home
    Liverpool v Chelsea.. Home. (3-2)
    Burnley v Leeds……. Away
    Rangers v Celtic…… Home. (3-1)

  • Yeah Total, did you notice how cleverly I’m lulling everyone into a false sense of security before I go on a brilliant winning run, just like Arsenal… 🙄😁

  • Oh, with September 11th in mind and the start of our season it might be wise to bear in mind that Norwich beat Bournemouth 6-0 this evening…

    Don’t have nightmares… 😉

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