Eight Observations from Arsenal v Saints

Saints 1 – 1 Gunners. Eight Observations:

  1. The first half was one of the best halves this season for Arsenal. We dominated, played crisp passing football and creates half a dozen of good chances. Arsenal took only one and we ultimately paid the price for this, but with a performance like that, I am not worried about the disappointing end result. I saw us dominate in all areas and play with great maturity.
  2. What not everyone seems to understand is that (by far) the best team does not always win. Football’s shadow is Lady Luck and nobody has total control of her ‘bounce of the ball’. Quality of the players and tactics, as well as attitude and fitness play strong roles, but luck is always a factor. Blocks can lead to fortunate or unfortunate deflections for example. This time round, Arsenal lacked a bit of sharpness and calm, and also a bit of luck. I guess you can say that we used up our luck v Leeds last week. This also happens to Citeh sometimes, hence their two draws and one loss in eleven games already.
  3. Gabriel Jesus seems a bit desperate to score and impress. He seems to want to force the issue and it would not surprise me if this linked to him wanting to be nxluded in the Brasil World Cup squad. Gabriel is a tornado on the pitch but I hope he can find his own eye of the storm again.
  4. It is a small crime that Odegaard did not leave the pitch with at least two assists yesterday. The man was awesome and Bergkampesque at times whilst also working his socks off. Martin, our fine captain, I salute you!
  5. The subs are not doing it as yet. We are lucky with a fit squad but when it comes to subs we miss a whole layer in midfield. Zinchenko, ESR and Mo are of a different calibre to Vieira, Sambi and Nelson. They would have a big and direct impact, and we are suffering from their absence at the moment.
  6. Eddie is another sub who needs to step it up. There is no lack in trying but coming on as a sub requires a certain mindset, and Emile is a good example of this. We need a good second CF. Eddie needs to step it up or we will need to buy this January.
  7. Granit is currently playing out of his skin for us. Two fabulous goals with his right foot within the box in the space of three days. Wow.
  8. If you are not going to win make sure you don’t lose. This is were this team has made such enormous progress. And that for such a young team.

By TotalArsenal

47 thoughts on “Eight Observations from Arsenal v Saints

  • You missed the part where we were denied the win by v.poor ref who failed,along with VAR to see an obvious penalty incident & two sendings off? That was @ major part of not winning yesterday.

  • Thanks Total. Insightful as always. Despite recent joy with refs/VAR, we didn’t get the rub of the green against the Saints. Jesus is an expert at backing into defenders but he was illegally manhandled at least on two occasions. Mikel’s comments after the game were respectful and humble, “no complains” and “part of a learning curve”, showed fine self possession in, what must have been a feeling of disappointment.

    Well done Kev. How about getting into your pimped up cab and travelling back to just before kick off on 17th May, 2006 to have a word with Jens about his timing.

    Thanks GN5.

    AFC Bournemouth v Tottenham Hotspur * 1-1
    Brentford v Wolverhampton Wanderers H
    Brighton & Hove Albion v Chelsea D
    Crystal Palace v Southampton * 1-0
    Fulham v Everton D
    Real Sociedad v Real Betis * 2-0

  • Yet another great post Total.

    While it was a tad disappointing that we dropped two points, I am not upset at either the team or the manager. Oops having said that Vieria was not up to par when he came on as a sub.

    We were roughed up and not allowed to play the way we needed to – which was really upsetting and was a direct cause of poor officiating. But as you say what goes around comes around (hopefully).

  • I don’t agree this time. Especially with 2, 5 and 6.
    But I seem to be alone in that regard, so I don’t even start arguing/explaining.

  • PB, I agree with the principle of rotation but we disagree about Arteta’s options when he needs a win, right now. But you are welcome to keep making your case.

  • Not much to add … I was not that disappointed at the end of the game, it had been a very good game of football and then again, I don’t find it shameful to “only” draw at the Dell.
    As for Mr. Jones’s tragically farcical refereeing, I had been expecting this kind of treatment for quite a while, so … that was the day and it was so ludicrous I couldn’t help but laugh at times (when the defenders used their arms as octopusses their tentacles to pin GJ9 down – even in handball, where defenders are allowed to do that, fouls would have been given).
    I find you harsh on Reiss and Eddie, TA, Reiss in particular who hasn’t been given any decent opportunity to prove anything since he got available again (remember the time it took to GabMart to get his form back? but he, at least was given plenty of playing time to achieve exactly that). In the context of our worst half of the season, I think he had a very decent cameo up there by the Arctic circle actually, and there is no way to convince me Fabio is better than him in any way.
    There are two aspects to living a backup life, physical and mental. I keep thinking Reiss (LW) and Eddie (CF, not LW) should have started against PSV. By not choosing to do so MA sent a terribly negative message imo: “as soon as the oppponent gets better than zürich or glimt, I don’t believe you can cut the grade; I’d rather risk exhausting the guys who are ahead of you, or getting them injured, than picking you”
    You have to be a strong, resilient boy to make it to Arsenal Premier League squad, but these lads are not robots, and under such circumstances it’s impossible for their confidence not to be dented, or so I think anyway. There’s not a snowball’s chance in hell we won’t get the point we need at the Grove against Zürich, so I wish they were given a start in Eindhoven thursday, precisely because our boat will be rocked over there …

  • Fair points Le Gall. I think you are doing Arteta short, though…. And you are not the only one.

    Mikel would love to play Reiss, Vieira, Marquinos and Eddie more but they are not convincing him they are ready to do it and deliver during the training sessions. I think I go with his judgement over yours.

    But I agree with you to give some, if not all of them, a start v PSV.

  • Thanks for the post Total, Odegaard missed probably ‘the’ chance to seal the game, it was classic Arsenal with our passing pulling Southampton apart and opening them up, Odegaard found himself in the perfect position to slide the ball into the net but put it inexplicably wide, the fact he missed the target from there was enough to make me wonder if it wasn’t going to be our day and so it transpired.

    The rest of his game was as good as you say Total but that missed chance really hurt.

  • As for Jesus and Martinelli despite their excellent approach play there’s an anxiety creeping into their finishing, everything is 100mph, the calmness in front of goal has temporarily deserted them, but it’ll return, as mentioned the World Cup is hanging heavily on their psyche.

  • Ha ha ha Stuart, I wish I could have a souped up De Lorean sherbert dab mate, there’s quite a few things I’d change, not just in football. 😉

  • LeG I have a certain sympathy with your view on our squad players not being trusted by the manager and the effectvit has on their psychology, last season Arteta admitted as much when he said he hadn’t been fair with Eddie which of course could have been some psycho babbling to get Nketiah on side again? Looking back many of us have wondereredcif things may have turned out differently if Eddie had got his chance earlier? Mind you wasn’t Eddie part of the teams that lost those late fixtures at WHL and St James’ so it’s all supposition.

  • I also sympathise with Mikel because he really cannot win can he?

    Drop points when using the squad players and ‘you don’t know what you’re doing’ etc.

  • Yes good point about that mis by the Ode, Kev. It’s the one thing that’s still missing in his game and a problem many creative footballers have. That’s why he also was so disappointed when his goal was correctly ruled out.

  • That’s one of the beauties of driving a sherbert, you can just decide to have a day off and so I can bore the pants off of you all day, enjoy? 😄

  • I missed the disallowed goal TA, I was in the kitchen in a huff as I could see the writing on the wall, it just wasn’t going to be our day.

  • I’ve got PG Tips, Yorkshire and Twinnings Chai atm but I shall look into that suggestion Total.

  • It was heartwarming to read your comment, Le Gall, as I was starting to feel that I’m alone with my sadness and dissatisfaction with the fringe players’ opportunities (not to mention academy starlets). Yes, we may come across as being harsh on Arteta, but TA and the noble opposition will be perceived as harsh on Eddie, Reiss, Sambi and the others. Maybe time will tell, but I don’t really think so, therefore I guess it’s up to your loyalty focus: is it the manager or the players/squad.

    TA has a seemingly good point by claiming that the B players must be unconvincing in trainings, otherwise Mikel must have given them more chance to prove themselves in competitive minutes. However I disagree and willing to support with practically unlimited pseudo-evidence that – apart from the LB role – there is no real competition in any positions. Not just now, never were. There are fix first team players, and that’s that: unless injuries or suspensions happen they will start every PL games, and most EL too. Which is not necessary the bad thing, but we should discard the bullshit arguments that buying a new ST in the winter would put pressure or competition on Jesus, because it is simply not true.

    But that’s not my point. My point is even simpler. The difference in perceived quality between the first team players and their fringe counterparts is not something given and should be accepted. That is both the cause and the effect of them not playing enough, as Arteta’s approach keep them in a perpetual catch-22. More in the next comment as it’s starting to become unbearably long.

  • In my admittedly limited experience in professional football, there are at least 6 arguments for rotating the squad. I’m not saying that they are equally important, but might make sense to consider them all.

    1. Rotation is a useful method to give some rest to the first choice players. It could prevent fatigue, injury and mental burnout. And you know what is the first sign of fatigue? Playing poor in the second half after a great or decent first 45 minutes. I honestly don’t know what kind of players need it more, but Alexis Sanchez was famous to play 5000+ minutes a season without any visible negative effects, while others are struggling around 3000. Anyway this first argument is a favor to the FIRST CHOICE players.

    2. It is obviously a favor to the ‘B’ SQUAD, because these lads just love playing. Who wouldn’t? I imagine playing against Zürich and Wycombe could give more satisfaction in terms of success, but playing against Benzema, de Bruyne or Kane is probably on the bucket list of most athletes. Anyway, playing more is important not only for the confidence and mental satisfaction of the squad players, but could affecting their income (when bonus is triggered by appearances), and also give them further visibility to be called up to their respective national team – see Sambi, Soares, Turner, Hein, etc.

    3. So far I said nothing new. But the next 2 points are maybe less common knowledge. Rotating the squad and giving 1500+ minutes to every first team players is also the prime source of development – technically, experience-wise and value-wise. Focusing and overplaying a skeleton crew will surely increase the market value of Saliba, Martinelli, Saka and Odegaard, but at the expense of the others. ESR is a great example, as even though he was second choice at both AM and LW his regular involvement last season increased his worth from 2.5M to 34M in a year. But what do you think, how much money will we likely get if/when trying to sell Nelson and Soares? Basically rotation is a favor to the CLUB as well, as it could improve future cash position or even prevent big-money signings if we can develop local talents outside our starting eleven (Lokonga, Nketiah, Vieira).

    4. Rotation is also a favor towards the MANAGER, or the whole team per se. If a manager is properly rotating the team even when he is not forced to do that, it will give the confidence and experience for the squad players, and ‘keep them warm’. When somebody is saying that starting Nelson, Vieira and Marquinhos against PSV is a liability they are probably right. But – and I can’t stress this enough – it is a liability now, because they weren’t properly introduced to competitive football. Feel free to dismiss my point on ‘what if … arguments make no sense as they can be neither proven or disproved’, but I think it is intuitively obvious that if Nelson (70) and Marquinhos (140) would already 450 minutes under their belt (300 in EL, 150 in PL) they weren’t be liabilities after all. Making the long story short: rotations in time saves dilemmas and panic rotations in the future, and really widens the manager’s options in later stages of the campaign.

    5. Yes, I’m aware of sounding like a broken record, but I haven’t brought it up for months now: rotation is a favor for the ACADEMY, too. When youngsters see that even ‘B’ players get the blues, they will become more loyal and motivated to fight even for the third choice place. Currently sitting on a bench at an EL game might give prestige for a U21 player, but zero chance for being substituted whatsoever. Many argue that what’s happening to Matt Smith is a disgrace, and former debutantes like Patino and Azeez are even farther from playing in the first team than 2 years ago. But my example are not them. I would call Omari Hutchinson to the witness stand, as albeit he was ridiculed and blamed for his shock move to Chelsea U21 in the summer, there are overwhelming evidence that he made the right decision for his own future.

    6. Finally – and probably least importantly – rotation is a favor for the SUPPORTERS. They might be interested in the skills of relatively unknown players, or they might (wrongly) worry about the fitness and mental state of overplayed youngsters. Or they just easy to sympathize with a club that provides opportunities to talents and competition to big stars. Even though these arguments are half-reasonable at best, I don’t think fan requests should be granted (if so, we should have sold Xhaka years ago). But for the 6th place on the list, they might qualify.

  • All good arguments and well reasoned, PB. Do you think Arteta is unaware of most of your points? I don’t think so, and I don’t think you think so.

    Arteta has tried players in tHe EL but had to bring on his first team options to rescue or safeguard results. Results are nice for us but key if you are the manager, ask Gérard.

    I have sympathy for your arguments, they make some sense. Arteta will also believe in them and would love to rotate more, but it’s his neck on the block, not yours or mine and we have to leave it to Mikel to make the right choices, especially in this year in which he has to make a big step forward.

    Man City already qualified for the next round but did you see the starting eleven? Why did Pep not play a lot of youngsters?

  • My memory goes back to pre-season and our friendly with Nuremberg, in the 1st half Arteta played all the ‘B’ players and some youngsters and we went in at half time losing 2-0, in the 2nd 45 all the big guns came on and Arsenal won the game 5-3.

  • Let’s be clear Patino will return and be a real contender for the senior squad, Matt probably won’t – but I hope I’m wrong.

    Hutchinson was offered a good deal by Arsenal but choose to move to Chelsea for a bigger offer and certainly more of a guarantee of 1st team football than he would have gotten at Arsenal, you can spin it whatever you like but those are the facts…

  • Very well reasoned arguments, PB. Thank you for them. The discussion highlights the huge challenge of management with all its contending expectations. The old adage that you can please some of the people some of the time but not all of the people all of the time applies. Mikel and his team cannot afford to walk a middle line if they hope to realize the ambition for Arsenal to be champions again. Clubs like Madrid, Barca, Bayern, PSG, City are ruthless with their player choice and squad use. If a player doesn’t cut the mustard he is gone. Second chances to impress are rare. Third chances don’t exist at these clubs.
    Take La Masia for example. Founded in 1979 they have had thousands of young players through their academy, up to 300 in any one year. Of those thousands only 21 players have gone on to play 100 or more first team games for Barcelona FC. Many have had a few games and then been sold off to other clubs, most never get near the first team. Cream rises.

    Big clubs outside of the EPL can afford a little lee way in many of their league games. Arsenal do not have this luxury. Drop your standard against a mid/low table club and you drop points.
    Mikel’s ultimate job is not to please players, please players parents, or fans. He will be judged by the powers that be on his ability to lead the club to winning trophies. He will need a ruthless streak to achieve this.

    Some interesting stats…

    Only 16 players featured for Arsenal over the course of the 64 game double winning season of ’70-’71.
    Only 17 played in our ’89 champions season. ( Of them Gus Caesar and Niall Quinn only played 2 games each).
    17 played more than 2 games in our ’91 champions season.
    19 played more than 4 games in our ’98 double winning season.
    19 played more than 5 games in our 2004 Invincible season.

  • Thanks for the many comments, guys. I’ll try to respond to them.

    First to TA: unfortunately I’m not a mind reader (I wish I were, though). I cannot say what’s in Mikel’s head. But you are right, I don’t think anybody working in that level of professional football won’t be aware of such aspects that a layman like me could list. Yet, we see Mikel not rotating last season, and minimally this season. So we can only lament if he doesn’t know, doesn’t care, or doesn’t consider, as he finds the possible disadvantages of the rotation exceeding its vast benefits. However if I may speculate a bit, it did cross my mind that out of the 6 aspects I listed yesterday #3 is not being appreciated by many top coaches, so it’s probably a management credo or ars poetica issue than actual knowledge. There are managers who see themselves as gardeners with the task of nurturing as many talents as realistically possible, and there are other types of managers who are so focusing on short-term results that they are willing to sacrifice long-term ‘team building’. This is by no means an Arteta-only issue, but I wouldn’t make a ‘top teams vs average teams’ dichotomy out of it. Especially as PSG, who have a bigger squad full of stars did gave 17y El Chadaille Bitshiabu a 7-minute L1 debut, and 16y DM/CM Warren Zaïre-Emery managed to play 4 times already (CL:1, L1:3) even though PSG has superstars in the same position like Perreira, Verratti, F. Ruiz, Vitinha, Renato Sanches and Carlos Soler.

    I think your comparison with Manchester City is indeed an apt parallel, TA. Not just because Mikel has his coaching ‘upbringing’ there or because we are sitting on the top of the PL together, but mostly because they equally have a 23-strong first team and a similar schedule to Arsenal’s. (Well they played 2 games more than us: the Community Shield and this week’s European game took place already.) So I’m all for the comparison.
    First, internal promotion. Besides City bought 2+1 22 years old, they still managed to promote 20y Cole Palmer to their first team, already made 10 (substitute) appearances, despite playing on the same position than de Bruyne. We didn’t promote anybody from the academy (I consider Saliba an external hire, especially as he didn’t play for the U21 in the last year and a half).
    Second, internal rotation. Since Mikel moved White to RB, we practically have 3 full-time CBs in the first team. Yet, it’s pretty clear who are the first choice players: Gabriel has 1260 minutes under his belt, Saliba 1100, Holding 370. Manchester City has 5 CBs (but Laporte had an injury limiting to only 280 minutes this season so far, that leaves 4). Dias played 1270, Stones 650, Akanji 770 and Aké 750, it is really hard to tell if there is a team A vs team B split, a proper rotation or real competition there. Same applies to wingers. At MC B. Silva played (mostly at RW) 1100 minutes, Grealish 750, Mahrez 700 and Foden (LW) 1000. At Arsenal we have Saka with 1200 minutes, Martinelli with 1000, Marquinhos 150 and Nelson rounded up to 100.
    Finally, academy players. For Arsenal, no academy players played a single minute in competitive game (Nwaneri had half a minute and didn’t receive a single pass). At City Josh Wilson-Esbrand (19) had his senior debut in the CL coming on at the 66. minute, while Rico Lewis (17) had already played 33 players in the CL – substituted in the 57. (!) minute – and 35 minutes in the PL in 3 short stints, yet still averaged more than 22y/35M Vieira in his 5 substitute appearances.

    You may – and probably will – say that it is easier for City as the difference in quality among Dias, Stones, Akanji and Aké, or Silva, Grealish, Mahrez and Foden are much smaller than the gap between Holding and Saliba/Gabriel or between Nelson/Marquinhos and Martinelli/Saka. (I would only half agree though as Holding was a top defender at a young age and he was mostly forgotten/neglected, yet I wouldn’t swap him for Stones or Akanji.) Yet, even if I admit that City’s squad has more even distribution of talent that would not explain why they could promote Palmer – who has nothing on Azeez, Patino or Hutchinson – or why they could involve the academy players any better.

  • Kev, thanks for your reply.
    Yet I disagree with both your points.

    The first is more of a subjective matter: I didn’t get the impression for our pre-season friendly against Nürnberg that we had the B team starting and the big guns in the second half.
    Turner was replaced by Okonkwo, Bellerin by Cedric, Smith-Rowe by Elneny, Pepe by Jesus, etc.
    We indeed scored 4 goals between the 47th and 63rd minutes, but Lokonga, Nelson and Nketiah were still on the pitch! They were replaced only in the 68th minute by Patino, Marquinhos and Balogun, so I can’t see the Nürnberg game a proper justification for Sambi, Reiss and Eddie below the Arsenal quality. (And be honest, if I were to bring a pre-season friendly showing when A & B were on the pitch we sucked, but after they were replaced by C & D we played much better, would you really accept this as a proof of C’s and D’s superiority over A & B?)

    On the Hutchinson topic I think everybody is entitled to their own opinion. But before you refer yours as facts, you need evidence on
    – what was Arsenal’s original salary offer to Omari?
    – what was Chelsea’s proposal? a.k.a how much Hutchinson makes now at Chelsea?
    – did Arsenal equal Chelsea’s offer when they were informed that Omari considers the move?
    – exactly what did Hutchinson request to sign the Arsenal contract? was it only monetary, or did he have other conditions, requests for guarantees? if so, did he get them from Chelsea?

    I hope you can prove me wrong, but I’m afraid you don’t have a single answer (preferably from official sources) for any of these questions. Without them the single fact that remains is that Hutchinson joined Chelsea U21 in the summer. And the ONLY reason you are convinced of the big money interpretation (for a 18y academy player) is because you prefer to blame Hutchinson – or the sinful greed of this shallow world – than to consider any responsibility within Arsenal.

    Lastly re Patino: I really hope you will be right. However if we sign a high profile CM in the winter (or in the summer) like SMS, Tielemans, Sangaré, McKennie or Neves, I honestly don’t see young Charly standing a chance against Partey, Xhaka, the new guy, Lokonga (unless he is involved in a swap deal), Elneny, especially knowing Arteta’s reluctance to rotate.

  • Stuart, thanks for your insights. But I don’t think we are on a vastly different opinion.
    I’m not saying that we should sacrifice our domestic ambitions. I am far from advocating to drop some points – especially as in the last few campaigns we we always 1 or 2 points shy from the European target.
    What I do believe is to take a bit more risk. And not because Matt Smith’s sake or mine, but because it will pay off.

    Yes, probably we shouldn’t start Marquinhos or Smith against Liverpool or bring them on against PSV at 0:0. Being cautious is a virtue, not an old-school trend. But I think Arsenal/Arteta is at the other extreme of the scale. When we are 3:0 up against Brentford we shouldn’t wait for the 92nd minute for a youth debut. When we are 2:0 up in the 27th minute against Bode, then I surely wouldn’t think of bringing Jesus, Odegaard and Saka on, and I would rather replace the not-fully-fit Tierney with Soares than bringing White on for another unnecessary 20 minutes.
    And when we won those games by a clear margin, nobody questions those decisions. Not because they were axiomatically good, but why challenging anything when we can celebrate. But those were lost opportunities, and lead to the drop of energy level in recent games. I have to reiterate my argument #4 above, that not the rotation itself, but the confidence and experience to players like Lokonga, Vieira, Nelson or others could have improved Arteta’s tactical and personnel flexibility. It’s really nice that we have 5 subs now, but only used 3 against Southamton, and the White-Tierny or the Odegaard-Vieira didn’t promise mush success to be honest. At least in my opinion our bench players are not up to speed yet, and they are not up to speed, because they didn’t get the opportunity when there was good chance to introduce them without the risk of dropping points. They couldn’t inject the team with much needed energy, because they weren’t charged in time.

    Regarding the different approach than big clubs I agree with you. Especially with Real Madrid and Bayern Munich. However I think PSG – who already have Kimpembe in their ranks – are making an important paradigm shift to rely more own their own academy, and Barcelona doesn’t belong to this group of big money clubs (Juventus does).
    Barcelona is the perfect example in my opinion of youth development. Even Wenger would be proud, and he was a real academy hero himself. The point there is “Many have had a few games and then been sold off to other clubs”. That is nothing more I could wish for. The goal – or at least my preference – is not to make a club consist fully or even mostly on academy players. But to treat them fairly, and establish a route how the very cream can become a viable alternative to big-money signings. They mastered it at Barcelona. And I’m not talking only about the ‘old guard’ like Guardiola, Xavi, Puyol or Iniesta. Or the recent pillars of Piqué, Alba, S. Roberto, Busquets and Messi. But also the current cream of the bunch: Fati, Gavi, Nico Gonzales and Pedri. They can find the best talents, nurture them, and manage to transit the top of them into the first team. And if the second tier makes a career at Celta (Mingueza), AS Roma (Perez), Getafe (Aleñá), Betis (Miranda), so be it, that’s just fine. We did the same. Some made a career at Arsenal like Fabregas, Wilshere, Bellerin, Saka. Others had their chances, but eventually moved to other (top tear) teams like the Ox, Iwobi, Willock, Macey, Akpom – and this will likely to happen to AMN and Nelson.

    That’s not disaster, that is the process. The problem is when the process fails, and we get rid of players who could have done so much more, because we didn’t realize it, or don’t give them enough chance to convince. That happened already with Gnabry, Martinez, Musah, the jury is still out with Hutchinson, and there is the threat that it could happen to any talent in the academy. But the same happened to Cucurella at La Masia, so it’s not an Arsenal-specific phenomenon.

  • Cheers PB, I think you just don’t value the risk enough of not playing your strongest team as much as possible at this stage for Arteta. 99 out of 100 would do the same, and so would you if you were in his shoes. Try to think from his shoes and you will see he cannot risk rotation at your proposed levels. The stats you used are not significant imo. Arsenal is on a journey, PSG and Man City are multiple champions recently. And yet they hardly rotate significantly either. Yes if the teams are 3-0 up with a quarter or less to play it is easy to bring young players on now and again…. But we are seldom in this position.

    I respect your views but I think you are missing the essence of what Arteta needs to do.

  • AFC Bournemouth v Tottenham Hotspur * H 2-1)
    Brentford v Wolverhampton Wanderers H
    Brighton & Hove Albion v Chelsea D
    Crystal Palace v Southampton * D (1-1)
    Fulham v Everton A
    Real Sociedad v Real Betis * D (2-2)

  • AFC Bournemouth v Tottenham Hotspur * D 2-2
    Brentford v Wolverhampton Wanderers H
    Brighton & Hove Albion v Chelsea A
    Crystal Palace v Southampton * H 1-0
    Fulham v Everton D
    Real Sociedad v Real Betis * H 2-1

  • AFC Bournemouth 0 Tottenham Hotspur 1
    Brentford Wolverhampton Wanderers D
    Brighton & Hove Albion Chelsea A
    Crystal Palace 1 Southampton 1
    Fulham Everton H
    Real Sociedad 2 Real Betis 2

    Wow, boys, none of you suffers from writer’s block, obviously
    Some catchin’ up ahead

  • Great stuff, PB. Love your writing with all its depth, mate.
    It is a joy to see Iwobi and Willock prospering (tho’ I hope they have stinkers against us). Iwobi’s game over the weekend was exceptional. He is at the height of his powers and Everton benefit greatly. We got a good fee for both him and for Joe, and if they were still with us, I think they would likely only be squad players, which would satisfy neither.
    I was interested to follow the tactics Pep uses to keep his first teamers fit, making sure they get regular minutes of game time rather than just training during the week. It does seem that Mikel concurs with this pattern, which does come at a cost to the wider squad.

  • “It is a joy to see Iwobi and Willock prospering (tho’ I hope they have stinkers against us).”
    My thoughts exactly, Stuart. 🙂 If they couldn’t bloom in Arsenal, it is just natural to find a team where they won’t get constantly criticized even when giving their most and wish them all the best. I am similarly happy for Leno, although I wish we sold him for a decent price, not the fifth of his fair value. Same apply to Lacazette and Bellerin – once a gunner, always a gunner – but unlike Iwobi and Willock they didn’t make the club any richer when left.

  • TA, you are probably right that I downplay the risks of not playing with the strongest line-up possible. However the goal is not to play the strongest team but to amass the most points, and it seems that these two are ends up in a slight conflict after 12-15 games. But let’s not get pessimistic yet, there are plenty of games left before the World Cup to prove either of us right. And the season start was magnificent, so let’s hope for a similar continuation.

    Maybe in Mikel’s shoes I would be more risk averse. That’s a possibility. I think I would make bolder line-up decisions, but it’s cheap and easy to play smart from an armchair, so let’s disregard my fantasies and assume that I – as Arsenal’s caretaker manager – would field the exact same starting IX as Arteta. However I hope will accept when I claim that I would make vastly different substitutions, especially when we lead by 2 goals. The game management in our home fixture against Bode/Glimt was nothing short of crazy. If players’ stamina is a scarce resource then bringing on first choice players into a practically won game against limited opposition (Bornemouth at 0:3, Brentford at 0:3, Bode at 2:0) is burning the candle at both ends. It can bite us in the @$$ (already did against Southampton), and we’ll se if we can bounce back in the next few days/weeks.

  • Good stuff, PB. We will never really know whether more rotation would have led to a win at St Mary’s or indeed more points lost in previous PL games.

    Let’s see how things develop. You are making a fine case anyway. 🙂

  • Fascinating conversations on subs guys. My two cents or points
    1. Regarding Iwobi and Willock, be that as it may that they are doing well for their respective teams, wouldn’t atleast Willock been useful to us last season and this? I believe that unless you give someone fair amount of chances and regularly you cannot asses them fairly. I believe Willock would have been an asset last season and this as well. He would.have been given fair minutes which would have eased pressure on our mid field. Mind you we are missing Zin who is always back but takes up auxiliary midfield positions.
    2. Once we start a season and finish some games we will very quickly know the priority of competitions. For instance being on top of PL with a 5 point gap this season should be an indication of what should be our.priority. if we are not seriously thinking about staying on top till atleast we meet Man C once then there is not point of playing professional football. Ambitions should drive professionals. Then we can look at Europa League games as second priority and rotate players so that they are fresh for the Pl challenges. We know the red zone and injury prone players. We are only looking at keeping them fresh for 15 games before they leave for WC, which is less than what would have been in a regular season before they get winter break.

  • PB, it’s been a really good debate and we agree on quite a lot. Giving opportunities to a large number of squad players is something to aspire too. It’s a delecate balancing act for those who in charge.

    Good to hear from you, Madhu.

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