Arsenal v Burnley 8 Observations: Nobody Bullies Us, 2 MOTM, Time for Laca?

Burnley – Arsenal: 0-1

Martin Odegaard, free-kick, Burnley, Arsenal
The Ode to Joy

Having had a chance now to watch the game, here are my observations:

  1. We may not have an oligarch owner (thank God) but we do have our own Oilygaard. Martin really lubricates the new yet faltering machine and what an important buy he is becoming for us. He topped it off with the only real moment of quality in the game; his freekick was simply unstoppable and how good is it to score one again?! An Ode to Joy. Actually when did we score our last freekick in the PL- Admir? Martin could be found all over the pitch and was especially strong during the first 60 minutes or so. My joint MOTM.
  2. Unfortunately, I cannot say the same of the other blonde in our squad. Emile wasn’t present(!) enough and I am still not sure what his role was on Saturday. Yet, when he picked up the ball in midfield he drove us forward with menace and speed, and it was clear that more involvement of ESR is key for the team going forward. In fact, making the triangle of Partey, ESR and Ode work much better is THE area to work on for Arteta. There was too much space between Partey and the Blondes and it made us slow and ponderous throughout the game.
  3. Part of the problem was that we were playing with the handbrake on and simply too deep. There was a lot of space between the back four + Partey and the rest of the team as a result, and Burnley found it easy to press us high without needing to be worried too much about the quality of Gunners they left behind them to potentially pounce on them.
  4. It was clear that Arteta really wanted to win this game on the principle of not giving them a lot of chances and expecting our quality in attack to sooner or later get it right. The formation was exciting and promising but the execution is a work in progress. It resulted in a second clean sheet and 1-0-to-The-Arsenal, and although it was nowhere near a game for the purists we need to appreciate Arteta’s need to get a few wins on the board. And this he did.
  5. The really important, big point to take from this game is that the boys were not out-Stoked. Nobody will bully us anymore. The defence worked sooo much better than they have in recent years when it comes to dealing with high balls and being roughed up in defence. Big Gab was a force, Tomiyasu added his height really well to the CB-pairing, Big Ben put in a real shift and Tierney was as tenacious and snappy as ever. There was still a bit of rustiness in White’s passing but as a unit they made up for it and Ben will only get better.
  6. And then there was our new goalkeeper, Aaron Ramsdale. A near faultless performance from our keeper was crucial for the clean sheet. What a great catcher of the ball, what a great communicator and team player and what a great redistributor of the ball. Together with Ode he was my man of the match.
  7. Auba up-front rather than Laca is still hard to digest for me. We needed a CF who is comfortable playing with their back to the goal and able to hold on to the ball under pressure, on Saturday. Auba is a tiger who loves running with the ball into the available space; then he is simply unstoppable. But Laca is much more comfortable in such a role but for some reason Arteta is not playing him as yet this season. In general, the passing between the attackers was under-par and with a bit more sharpness they could have scored a couple more goals which would have made things much easier for the defence. In the end, the defence and a moment of genius by the Ode gave us all the three points, but the attackers should be working their socks off all week to get much better connected. We definitely have more goals in us, and sooner or later (hopefully this Sunday when we are spuds-mashing duties) this will come to fruition.
  8. Arteta’s subs raised some eyebrows at the time but they really made sense and saw us through till the end. Partey had been very influential but he was fading and new blood was needed. Tierney also looked like he could not finish the game and ESR just wasn’t in the game. Lokonga, Tavares and AMN all played diligently and ensured a happy ending to a hard-fought game.

Arsenal Women

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By TotalArsenal.

21 thoughts on “Arsenal v Burnley 8 Observations: Nobody Bullies Us, 2 MOTM, Time for Laca?

  • Well written, Total. Our Olligard, indeed. 🤣
    We were two overhit passes short of giving the Burnley bully boys a spanking. ESR and Bukayu (other than earning the freekick for our winner) were both a bit rusty, and I can see your argument for Laca’s inclusion. Otherwise, tho’ we have only beaten the bottom two teams of the league, it has been a ship steadying fortnight.
    When our blonde Viking lined up the freekick, the “Now we will see if J knows what he is on about” thought crossed my mind. Kudos to you J.

  • 😊Stuart.

    T, not much escapes you, and you show it again by your point…
    . the personnel looked aggressive with EsR and Øde with Partey, but the tactics didn’t fit the players. You used a similar description for Emile as I did.. I thought he was invisible in the first half, especially in the center…. which bears out a point our own Madhu made last week… that he generally drifts wide… . In the first half almost nothing happened through the middle unless Ødegaard moved into the 10 spot a little on the left.
    Was a good ball from Martin that freed Saka to run diagonally through their middle towards the box and drew the foul. To me that’s an assist from Saka and a key pass and goal from Øde, all in the same sequence,, lol.

    I’m still not sold on Ødegaard playing deeper.. he’s quick and nimble and with his Ozil moves he releases pressure and squirts away. He is our best presser. (Why can’t he oversee the drills in training?)…. but he doesn’t carry the ball to break down midfields, and is best around the box.

    I had preferred Smith Rowe tried in cm, but now as I think about it, I don’t think he has the range of passing, as we know his specialty is quick one touch passing, better around the box also.

    I lot of people I read thought that both Ainsley and Sambi added something, being different types of players in midfield. More physical, stronger. Even with AMN rough edges, he’s pacey and strong in winning balls with his long legs, and Lokonga is great at escaping pressure and finding a forward pass.. that’s a real skill.

    This leads to us using players out of their best positions because we didn’t address midfield properly, but I’m hoping it’s temporary and we’ll have Azeez, or Patino sometime not too far off. I know Xhaka returns for Spurs, but as solid as he is, I think we’ll need a more athletic player there now, and for the near future. It could even be Sambi.

  • TA and J, one thing that I noticed in both games is that Pepe and Saka didn’t switch thier positions at all. Last season we saw that in abundance which it difficult to track them, this season they haven’t done it at all. May be under instructions or may be with a new Right back the partnerships are not there yet. But something to watch out. Saka needs rest and if not for forced subs for Partey and Tierney , we should have made way for Martenneli.
    I love Tomi, what a beauty. Understated yet reliable and I think he just loves defending. He was robust and good in air. What a signing.
    Ramsdale, i am just so happy that we have a GK who catches all high balls that are in his zone, relives so much pressure. His passion and communication with backline celebrating every clearance is a good sign.
    Regarding ESR, to be fair he got into good position couple of times and should have really tested the GK. I like the middle three of Partey, Ode and ESR but for that to work ESR has to stay central. If that doesn’t work it’s worth a try for Saka and ESR to interchange.
    I just hope AMN and Sambi gets better and better. We surely need to move from Xhaka and Elneny. These two offer so much of athleticism, power, passing and running. Next season add one more young powerhouse and shift both Xhaka and Elneny then we have a good Center mid.
    TA, good shout on Arsenal Women. Unfortunately these games are not available to watch and can only see highlights. But iam making a habit to follow them regularly. Tim stillman covers them regularly. Thye are to play Barca in CL this season which would be a treat but not sure where to watch them. But good initiative to blog about Arsenal Women.

  • Arsenal v Tottenham….. Home
    Chelsea v Man City……. Home (2-0)
    Southamptn v Wolves… Draw
    Leeds v West Ham……. Draw (2-2)
    Brentford v Liverpool…. Away
    Real Mad v Villarreal…. Draw (1-1)

  • J, your comments are getting better and better. It’s a balancing act in midfield and Arteta’s instructions do not seem to work yet. Those beastly blondes have plenty of potential for growth and they will come good.

    Unlike you though, I am very happy Xhaka is back on Sunday.

  • Another fine comment, Madhu. Good shout about the lack of interchange between Saka and Pepe on the flanks.

    Also agreed re Tomiyasu, a really good start at Arsenal.

  • I enjoyed the observations as ever, but especially one sentence summed up our current play – and my main concern – these months.
    “Arteta really wanted to win this game on the principle of not giving them a lot of chances and expecting our quality in attack to sooner or later get it right.”
    I couldn’t agree more. This is a fine perception, and is applicable not to this game only, but almost every game played recently. I might be biased towards our players positively (and so are many on this blog), so I honestly think that we have the quality in every department. Nevertheless the results are missing and the display is also struggling.

    As if we were training a boxer to be World Champion, and we spend every time with the fitness machines of the gym. OK, our guy is becoming a brute, he takes the punch the best in the division and he is also the strongest. But it is probably not enough to expect that eventually a (few) punch will hit the opponent, a world class boxer needs to be fluid in technique, read the opponent, manage his stamina, etc.
    It’s the same with the Arsenal players – especially in the attacking department. They have the energy, they have the technical skills, they know how to dribble. The quality is not missing. But I don’t fully agree with J (which is rare): I don’t think it was the wrong tactics, it seems more of the lack of tactics to me. As if Mikel sent out the boys like ‘go, defend well and score some goals’. I can’t help to escape the though that only the conscious chance creation (the 3C) is missing. Which is less of an instinct, thus more of awareness and routine.

    I enjoy watching training videos on the club’s website, and while I obviously admit and accept that a 5 minute clip is not the entirety of the training, I sorely miss chance creation exercises. They play with and without the ball, practice one-touch passing and finishing, have fun playing against each other, but they should focus more on the conscious chance creation, because on the pitch this is painfully ad hoc. I see a significant ball possession where a lot of creative talent making predictable runs and predictable crosses, with minimal 1v1 duels, defense splitting passes or free-flowing team moves signature of the Wenger- and Emery-ball

    But maybe it’s not Arteta. At least it is probably not the manager’s task to teach them how to attack, but a quality attacking coach is missing from the backroom staff. So I don’t agree with TA’s conclusion either: “The formation was exciting and promising but the execution is a work in progress”. The formation was indeed exciting, however as I see the execution lacked conscious awareness. Which is similar, but not identical to be a work in progress. Nevertheless make no mistake, this squad is capable of so much more…

  • Cheers PB, I respect your take on things and I am sure it will change sooner or later. 😉🌈

    Arteta is refixing the foundations but we almost all can see the great things in store. Step by step we are improving and that is what matters.

  • Madhu noticing correctly again.

    Not only is Arteta playing Saka and Pepe on the wrong sides in my opinion, now he is obviously restricting them from switching to mix it up.

    Southgate sitting there watching in the stadium, plays Saka on the right a lot.
    Where does Saka produce assists, goals, and all around better play? The National team, or Arsenal? It’s not even close.

    Arteta needs to open his mind just a little bit on the restrictions. Watching us try to score feels like constipation sometimes. It isn’t pleasant, or fun. Imagine how the players feel.

    I know this Sunday and some big games may be battles of attrition, but not Norwich, Brentford, or even Burnley. We’re better than that.

  • J, we will be better than we displayed in the last two games but, don’t forget that some of those who played against Norwich and Burnley have only joined or, like AMN rejoined us. Add to that a lack of confidence after 3 defeats and I always expected these games to be tight even if my heart hoped otherwise. I’m really impressed with how quickly Arteta has integrated these players into the team and with the added grit and steel that the new signings have added and I’m confident that we will start to become quicker and more accurate with our passing in the final third. I called for Saka and Pepe to switch positions in games, in a recent post, as I’m sure that this will help to open up defences by giving the LB and RB something different to think about.

  • Fair enough OX10.
    Sometimes I read TA, or a post from you, and I wonder if I’m being impatient or harsh.

    But then I remember that we have had this problem since all of last season, we have basically the same midfield, with only Sambi added, and definitely the same forwards. Even øde was here for part of this history.

    I see what Arteta is trying by playing our two 10s at the same time with Partey. It is interesting, and many of us asked for that ourselves.

    I won’t say this Sunday will make or break us either way.. spuds are desperate for a win and a good showing, and they’ll probably be inspired by the derby.

    I can see a war, and even a draw likely. I don’t think we’ll get too fancy this week.

    I’m on record for years saying, Son is more important to Spurs than Kane. Shut them all down I hope.

  • From the previous thread, I join Jnyc to enquire about 17Highbury terrace (17ht). I note TA’s response about his frustration at Wenger’s departure and must say there were lots who had similar sentiments about the great man but, we still here! I hope he comes back out soon.

    Anyone else think there is a coincidence in the upturn in performances (results-wise) of the team and Wenger’s expression of confidence in the quality of the team to do well this season? Like United use Sir Alex to stir up the team, Arsenal may have benefited from occasional visits to the stadium and training ground by Wenger. Imagine what it would do to our offensive play just to see the exponent of quick passing and entertaining football reminding the current crop how good they are. I, personally, think we missed out on that luxury with the way we let him go on anything but his own terms.

  • Would make a good theme for a post, Eris. It looks like the club have fully ousted Arsene Wenger, as in no legacy allowed. We know very little about what really happened during his last few days at the club, but I don’t think it finished amicably.

  • Fine observations, TA and mostly agree. For instance, I think we have 3 MOTMs, including Gabriel to your choices of Ode and Ramsdale. Gabriel was immense in keeping Ashely Barnes (with Woods) quiet. He went off the boil after a good start last season so, if this is him getting back to form, I am happy to identify with him as our main man in defence.

    I also feel we can only improve as we gain confidence from the back to back (and hopefully, to back, this weekend) wins. In football, it is not unusual to start building from the back and then get the front right. We feel we now have a solid alternative to Leno in goal and a preferred back 4 combo; if Partey stays fit, we should stabilize the midfield with a combination of Xhaka -Partey, AMN-Sambi and Partey-Sambi, etc. We know Saka is below par while Pepe can improve, so with ESR and Ode purring, Auba should soon start to get the service he thrives on. You see, as soon as clean sheets become a habit, the whole team will feel confident to go forward to make the chances and goals.

    While PB’s world champion boxer analogy is apt, even if really funny, it works differently in team sports, where the objective is to have each unit of the team doing all to work in consonance with the rest of the units, as one with same goal.
    Still, thanks for the brilliant comparison, PB. Really enjoyed reading it.

  • I remain incredulous at AW’s exclusion from the club’s activities. I can only think that it is at his own choice because he lived and breathed everything Arsenal for 22 long and mostly successful years – therefore it would be extremely difficult emotionally for him to make even a token appearance.

    He was driven out by a few thousand disgruntled fans and an ownership who had no understanding of what he had created and they did not support him and back him financially to rebuild the club – instead they embarrassed him by turfing him out.

    I still miss him and what he created at our club, he stunned the fans and the football world – he went from “Arsene Who” to Mr. Arsene Wenger M.B.E.

    .

  • Cheers Eris,

    Like you I thought Big Gab (and Big Ben) did very well but there were one or two too many free headers for my liking. Now I am not saying Gab was to blame for them but he is part of the back four so I could not give him MOTM status, I am afraid.

  • Thanks, for your kind words, Eris.
    I fully share your appreciation for Gabriel. He was a great addition to the team recently, and he has 2 big performance under his belt already. But I also have to admit, that him, Tomi and Ramsdale are on the top of the accumulated in-house PL ratings chart because they only played the last 2 games, which we managed to win.

    I honesty think that it was merely a coincidence between the upturn in performances (results-wise) and Wenger’s expression of confidence in the quality of the team. Or better put: there is a more appropriate explanation in my opinion. And I swear to god that I don’t enjoy being the arrogant asshole, but the last 2 opponents were really very poor, I may even say inferior teams, who will both likely to be relegated at the end of the season. Such weak teams should be defeated by almost everybody, not only TOP4 clubs. In fact, a tight 1:0 victory against them might bear positive aspects, but generally nothing to be particularly proud of. Obviously it is great if it elevates the confidence before a tough game, but the NLD will be a better test on Arsenal’s – and Arteta’s – capabilities than those must-win matches against future relegates. Ad the same applies to our mid-week must-win game against Wimbledon.

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