Arteta Finally Has his Beast of an Attacker

Has there been a better striker signing than this summer’s Jesus?

When we have a drought on Arsenal stories (apart from the perpetual gossips on signing Mudryk, Tielemans and Danilo) let me use the opportunity to revisit some of the key summer signings. I would like to compare our choice with those players who were signed by other clubs for the same position, if they were rumored with Arsenal.

Let me start with the strikers. I aim to compare the performance of Gabriel Jesus with 12 of his peers: Richarlison, Vlahovic, Isak, Toney, Scamacca, Abraham, Osimhen, Jonathan David, Calvert-Lewin, Nunez, Gouiri and Lacazette. It might be a bit strange list as Haaland is not there – I left him out as he was never an alternative to Jesus, even if we could afford the money City got ahold of Haaland. Vlahovic is a story from January (but still was a viable alternative at that time), and Lacazette is a reverse transfer, nevertheless we had the option to offer him a new contract.

For the sake of comparison I had to use a few simplifying assumptions.

  • The basis are the last 4 months only, as I don’t care how good or bad they were playing the previous years.
  • The players’ performance is independent from their current club, meaning they could have delivered similar results with similar outputs if they were playing for Arsenal. The type of competition (league, Europe, domestic cup) is also irrelevant.
  • Their current market value is not the effect of their transfer money, but the other way around. Market values mostly reflect present and predicted future performance. (However, I’m not entirely sure about that.)
  • While WhoScored and TransferMarkt are reliable sources when it comes to minutes, appearances, shots, passes etc. they are also unbiased and dependable when estimating performance ratings and market values.

When comparing the strikers I had to come up with a mathematical-statistical model. I considered many factors, and eventually combined them together. Let me start with listing those aspects, and immediately list who were the best players in those individual regards:

  1. Goal contribution per game (a.k.a. average of goals and assists per 90 minutes played in all competitions and league only) – Osimhen (with 13 total and 12 in the league) and Nunez (11/7) are the leaders here. Toney (14/12), Jesus (12/10), David (12/12) and Lacazette (12/12) made similar outputs, but they used a lot more games and minutes, hence is their disadvantage. The worst players here are DCL (1/1), Scamacca (6/2) and Abraham (6/5).
  2. Relative market value increase (their current worth in percentage of their value before the transfer) – the best players here are Isak (167%) and Jesus (150%), but I’m sure that the main reason behind Alexander’s jump from 30M to 50M is the 70M Newcastle has spent on him. The list concludes with Lacazette (80%) who is on the decline because of his age, and DCL who was probably simply overrated when was rumored to Arsenal in the first place.
  3. Revised player rating (league ratings corrected with MotM awards) – lead by David (who had the most league MotM awards with 3), followed by Jesus and Lacazette. The players trailing the most are Abraham, Scamacca and DCL, but in their defense, I have to say they often played only fractions of games, which has a detrimental effect on the ratings and thus the – lack of – MotM awards.
  4. Conversion rate (calculated by the shots per game stat, league minutes and goals scored) – the 2 top players are Gouiri (28%) and Isak (27%) here, but the latter suffered a long-term injury, so his record is based on a small sample. The worst striker is Richarlison in that regard, as he didn’t score a single league goal.
  5. Key passes and tackles (per 90 minutes; as pressing and chance creation should be within the strikers’ focus nowadays) – lead by Lacazette (1,7+1,5) and Jesus (1,6+1,4), while Nunez (0,7+0,3) and DCL (0,2+0,2) are trailing at the other end of the list.
  6. Age modifier (+2 if U21, +1 if 21-23, 0 when 24-26, -1 if 27-29, and -2 if 30+) – many of the players here received 1 extra point (Vlahovic, Isak, Scamacca, Osimhen, David, Nunez, Gouiri), and only Lacazette got -2.
  7. Quality of chance utilization (xG-goals + xA-assists; indicating the execution of shots and delivery of final balls; even though the latter depends more on the abilities of the finisher than the actual creator) – mastered by Gouiri (+1,1), Osimhen (+0,8) and Vlahovic (+0,5), with Nunez (-2,3) Jesus (-2,6: by far the best xA-A stats, but the second worst xG-G) and Abraham (-5,1) at the end of the line.

Based on the combination of these aspects – with the emphasis on the revised player rating, and the goal contributions – as they could have been the sole factors in a less elaborated model, here are the final results without any consideration on the final transfer price:

The clear winner of the 13 is Gabriel Jesus. I might have been a slightly biased when weighing the factors, but the margin is convincing. He scored high on market value increase, had the highest league rating to begin with, and his 2 MotM ratings didn’t hurt his case either. His hard work is not an easily quantifiable, but the high key passes per game statistic also indicates his commanding presence and the energy he injects to the entire team.

The top tier are Toney, Nunez and Isak. Ivan had good scores in all aspects, albeit – somewhat surprisingly – never in the top 2 or 3. He scored the most goals in all competition from the strikers on the list, but the few assist and the lots of playing minutes prevented him from standing out. Isak scored high on value growth, which was a bit unfair, but his conversion rate justifies his presence in the top 3 (behind the winner). Nunez had produced great output for the limited minutes he played behind Jota and Firmino, but is a classic striker with minimal different contribution like key passes or tackles. Based on Undestat’s analysis, he actually should have scored and assisted a few more from his attempts.

The next 3 are Osimhen, David and Vlahovic – surprisingly 3 players outside the PL. Osimhen also had impressive scoring statistics, but his tackles are the joint lowest; basically, he is the Nunez of the Serie A.  Jonathan David scored the highest revised player rating, however his 3 MotM rewards could be the result of being the clear standout player of an otherwise average team. Vlahovic seems like the ‘child’ of Nunez and Toney here (apologies for the blasphemy) as he had good scores on all aspects (apart from other contribution), but he excelled in neither of them.

I think these were the strong picks. The next 3 are clearly below the middle line. Lacazette leads the bottom half. He had the third highest corrected player ratings and the best score in other contributions, but the constant loss of market value and his age disqualified him from the most desirable strikers. Gouiri follows him closely; his conversion rate, chance quality and goal contribution alone would make him a top target, but even those figures were a slight step back from his crazy performance last season, and the lack of international call-up also had its mark on his market value, thus eventually in my striker comparison model. Finally, Richarlison concludes this trio, who might be a high flyer in the World Cup, but his domestic performance was less than impressive. In his defense, he was often used as a substitute – resulting in a big dent in his ratings – and was predominantly deployed as a winger, so the comparison in his case is indeed a bit flawed.

Finally we have the last 3, where ‘dodging the bullet’ might not be an overstatement. Abraham couldn’t live up to the expectations from last year, missing easy chances, and the inevitable correction of his inflated value didn’t help either.  Scamacca started as a backup forward to deputize Antonio, furthermore West Ham is yet to exploit the aerial threat Gianluca poses. Finally, the unmitigated disaster was Dominic Calvert-Lewin, who started the year with a nasty injury, but couldn’t Salvage Everton’s catastrophic season when started to play regularly. He simply doesn’t belong to the top.

I didn’t take the transfer fees into account, as with the CL and silverware ambitions Arsenal doesn’t need a ‘good enough for the price’ type of striker, but a true world class – as long as we could actually afford the price and salary. However, taking the price into consideration would only make Jesus the undisputed winner here, as Nunez and Isak went for a considerably higher fee (not mentioning Vlahovic, or Napoli’s expected fee for Osimhen), and I doubt Toney would have changed club for less than 50M. Apart from Haaland, Gabi is the clear winner of the striker signing category.

Do you agree? Please don’t hesitate to challenge my method of comparison, and share your thought in comments. If you are interested, I can add players to the list (whom I might have forgotten).

Finally, do you think such data-driven comparison for other positions would add value? If so, I can do similar analysis on LBs and CBs to see how did Zinchenko and Saliba performed against other defenders. Or even apply the same approach to DM/CMs and wingers to see who are the most promising candidates in the rumor mill for our next wave of reinforcements.

By Peter Barany (PB)

52 thoughts on “Arteta Finally Has his Beast of an Attacker

  • Excellent analytical research, PB. WOW, you put some thought into this post.

    I also cannot believe we got GJ9 for such a good price, and what a difference he has made. Football can look really strategic and static these days and this can lead to one-dimensional and predictable football. We have such a fluid attack now and Jesus is just superb in creating chaos, motion, restlessness in defence and deadlines in front of goal. I think he was so desperate to get to the world cup – the bloody folly in the sandpit – that he got a little bit overly keen in the last few games. But nevertheless, he was a whirlwind in attack for us and as such made us dynamic and unpredictable. He fits well with Martinelli, who seems to play much, much better with his big Brazilian brother playing next to him. Saka is just such a superb weapon on the right, and I can only imagine that these three will get better and better. Let’s hope GJ9’s injury is not too bad and that he will be able to play for most of the remainder of the season. We need him. As your analysis clearly indicates, there are very few who can do what he does.

  • Thanks PB. A forensic and interesting piece, which represents a fair bit of work to research and write. Jesus is a gem of a signing for the so many reasons you have noted. Other things less definable by stats are his experience which has offered leadership and stability to our young squad, he seems very much a team man, and is less ego driven than some other big ticket strikers.
    Like Total, I hope he responds to treatment and is leading our line again very soon.
    If his absence extends, we could see young Gabriel take a role up the middle as an option for Eddie. A returning ESR can slot back in on the left.

  • Thanks for the response on Terrier, LeG. I’d like to join you and Kev in that pub. You shout my plane fare and I’ll shout the beers…

  • That looks like a sensible solution, Stuart. Let’s hope Martinelli stays fit. Other than ESR, Nelson can play on the wing. But Bukayo will also need a break..

  • LeG I’d much prefer that we watched an Arsenal game but a pint or three with you would be a great pleasure indeed mon Ami…

  • Maybe one day Stuart and I could join you in a bar somewhere close to Rouen cathedral as I’d love to walk around that famous Norman icon….

  • Yes Peter I’d have to agree with your assessment on the overall influence that Jesus has had on the team and squad, he has set the tone and I can’t think of any other forward from those you mentioned who could have had such a positive effect on the team even if I do admire the edginess that Ivan Toney brings to any team he plays for.

    Great work

  • I wonder if recalling Balogun is an option as back-up to Eddie if Jesus does miss a chunk of the remaining season, failing that I guess that Smith Rowe would be an option centrally, he is after all one of the best finishers at the club and Barcelona used to do ok without an out and out striker/centre-forward as did Spain?

  • Strong post there PB. Such detail and great points you make. The pressing and workrate really separate Jesus from the rest. Eddie may even score more goals, but we’ll be missing that feeling of having an extra man on the pitch. Hopefully we’ll compensate. Eddie will do his best.

  • Thanks for your kind words, guys.

    TA, that’s a superb picture on Jesus. I assume he recreated the Christ the Redeemer pose on purpose, but nevertheless it is an perfect photo.

    Re: Balogun, you probably know my stance already. One may think that “the circle is now complete. When Flo left Eddie he was but the learner, but now he is the master”, but I wouldn’t go that far. Let’s say for the sake of simplification that Balogun is exactly as good as Nketiah, meaning his loan spell in made up for his disadvantage in age and experience. Still I don’t see him a clear improvement over Eddie. And even if Jesus has to sit out December (2), January (4) and February (5), we are talking about 11 games in 10 weeks, which is not a crazy schedule. (Probably there will be a 12th game – FA Cup 4th round – in the last week of January, but the 5th round and the Europa league only continue in March.)
    So even if we recall Folarin in early January, they can realistically split 4-4 games among themselves. Thus we would be arresting Balogun’s development – who played 15 games and scored 8 goals (and assisted 2) – for a mere 4 games run in England. Which would not be significantly stronger than the league in France. So I’m against recalling Flo, and give the opportunity to Eddie, with the option to play Martinelli up front if needed, or even playing without a proper striker and utilize Odegaard or Smith-Rowe in a false #9 position.

  • Really impressive work, P., thanks a lot. With you, Comparison Is Reason, definitely.
    Our 2 MCity buys are terrific pieces of business, actually, which is why I’d be tempted to give credit to the rumour according to which Pep will veto such deals from now on.
    No other CF will be as generous, sacrificial almost, as Gab – it’s very hard not to get back to childhood’s nail-biting when figuring out what our games without him will look like.
    Not taking the League into account amounted to making a big favour to Jonathan David imo; I’ve watched more of Ligue 1 this season, in order to watch Folarin play as often as I could, and the level is appalling, shameful almost (our kid has really been terrific so far, under those circumstances). As a matter of fact, David was virtually non-existent in a generous Canadian team, which certainly could have done with a more helpful CF.
    Ever since we’ve been out of the Champions’ League, I’ve tried to watch the games of one team whose football I really enjoy watching. ten Hag’s Ajax had been the one for several seasons in a row, but without him at the helm, and because they’ve sold so many brilliant young players in so little time, this season’s team has paled in comparison to its predecessors.
    Which is why I’ve turned my attention to Napoli, and I think without his injury at the start of the season Osimhen would have ended up higher up in your final assessment. He’s a real “beast of a CF”, fast, strong, lethal in the box, and only 23! They also have Raspadori, who must be the most talented Italian player in ages …
    What to do if GJ were to be unavailable for 3-4 months?
    There’s a (relatively)encouraging post about Folarin here:
    https://dailycannon.com/2022/12/balogun-arsenal-recall/
    Otherwise, I agree with Kev about Emil, I’d love Mick to give him a real chance in that position – but I believe in Eddie, too, he’s a very strong lad and won’t shy away from his brand new responsabilities, he has what it takes to rise up to the occasion. Marti central I have doubts about, but the lad has never stopped astonishing us since he signed up, so why not?

  • There’s a very nice restaurant at the foot of the cathedral, Kev. They have one of the best “andouilette” (don’t know the English word for it) around.
    https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Association_amicale_des_amateurs_d%27andouillette_authentique
    Some years, in summer nights, there is a nice – free – “sound and light” show consisting in projecting Monet’s paintings (either his “water liles” or his … “Rouen cathedrals”) on the front of the building. I read that TA’s daughter’s music was classified as ‘impressionistic”, and actually it would be the perfect “sound” for the show.
    Anyway, you’re all welcome; I don’t have a big house but two couples for a (prolonged) week-end I can put up …

  • Sounds idyllic LeG, definitely something to think on, Ive always enjoyed my brief visits to France.

    Regarding Balogun, it all depends on how long we lose Jesus, obviously if it’s a matter of weeks then it would be unwise to recall Flo, of course if we’re talking months (I hope not) then all options are on the table…

  • I’d love to visit you some day, Le Gall. We have driven past (and once through) Rouen a few times on our way south and if we do this again, I will take you up on your offer. This will also give me an opportunity to pay my respect to one of my heroines, the Maid of Orleans, who was so cruelly murdered there.

    The term impressionist is valid, I think. It started off as a belittling insult to Monet and Co but then they conquered the artworld and they never looked back.

    Here is a link to a recent article in the Skinny. Their EP Fishboy is out now. First headline gig on 15 December at Sneaky Pete.
    https://www.theskinny.co.uk/music/interviews/spotlight-on-no-windows

    https://www.sneakypetes.co.uk/2022/12/15/no-windows/

  • Had a butchers on Google earlier yesterday and a train from London to Rouen with one change takes about 4.5/5 hours and if quite reasonably priced if you book it well in advance so I can see me possibly on a train next year all being well…

  • I read a story on the Beeb recently of three gamers who were from different parts of the world, had never met but played together regularly on line. One was getting married and invited the other two to be his best men, an invitation which they took up. The wedding was the first time they had met in the flesh.
    Love to join you fella’s. I understand Underdogs or Delirium are the places to get a decent beer. Maybe not next year, but one never knows…

  • Also wouldn’t mind joining you at Sneaky Pete’s, Total. Spit (Blue song) has a touch of Velvet Underground about it.

  • Lucas Moura and Ivan Toney can assist Arsenal in trying to achieve at least the top four especially in the absence of Gabriel Jesus

  • Deal
    From June 8th to June 18th, 2023, the 8th edition of Rouen’s “Armada” will take place. It’s a gathering of tall ships which remain alongside the quays of the Seine for 10 days, before sailing back down the river to Le Havre – and the open sea – on their “Grand Parade” day.
    If you feel like it, you can be shown around some of the most famous tall ships from the list below:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tall_ship
    (don’t know which ones will be here this time, though – usually such ships as the “Amerigo Vespucci”, the “Cuauhtémoc” are … the “Spirit of New Zealand” just might!!)
    It’s free – but you may have to queue up for quite a while; even if you have no interest in ships at all, there’s a joyful atmosphere in town, with free concerts at night …
    On the other hand, if you’d rather see Rouen for the quiet little town it is most of the time, you’ll want to chalk off these ten days …

  • Bukayo Saka and his unlikely pen pal – Teddy, aged 8
    Amy Lawrence
    When Bukayo Saka scored for England at the World Cup in Doha, one little boy on the Isle of Wight might just have felt more euphoric than anyone else.

    Teddy, eight years old, is Saka’s pen pal. He had sent him a message ahead of the World Cup, telling him: “Just think of victory and it will come to you.” At the sight of Saka’s goal, Teddy exploded, leaping around the living room, jumping on his grandad who had just had a knee replacement. There were some tears – and not about the knee. These were happy tears.

    Teddy was one of the many thousands who felt moved to write to Saka in the aftermath of the Euros held in the summer of 2021. That saved penalty kick in the final, and the racism which scarred the aftermath, inspired a lot of people to contact Saka offering support and understanding to a teenager trying to process an awful lot of deep emotion. Arsenal received so much mail they decided to make them into an exhibition to show their boy how much people cared.

    A wall of letters from fans to Bukayo Saka, at Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium (Photo: Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)
    Teddy’s letter went straight to the heart: “I hope you are not sad anymore. If you was here with me I would buy you an ice cream from the ice cream van with my pocket money and then we would play football in the park and I would let you win.” Teddy put his pocket money into the envelope for Saka to treat himself.

    Saka was blown away. It was the start of an unlikely friendship.

    Teddy never imagined in his craziest dreams that there would be any follow-up when he came home from school one day, disappointed with the letter that he had produced in class as part of a writing task. It was bothering him that he felt what he penned was, in his own words, “rubbish”. He wanted to try to put that right because he idolised Saka. His mother, Lizzie, was astounded when Teddy walked through the door and asked to do some writing. This was a first.

    “Teddy hates school work,” confesses Lizzie. “He wants to be outside all the time. He’s a typical boy. The whole island knows he is mad about football. It was weird. I nearly died when he said: ‘Can I write another letter?’ I said, ‘Go on mate, you know where the paper is.’ He went ahead and wrote it. I told him to go on the iPad and get the address up. I posted it and thought nothing of it. That was that.”

    Italy celebrate after Bukayo Saka’s penalty miss in the Euro 2020 final (Photo: Eddie Keogh – The FA/The FA via Getty Images)
    Except that wasn’t that.

    Saka loved the letter and decided to invite Teddy to the Emirates to thank him personally. “Here was a kid who sent me his pocket money,” he says. “He was just talking about how sad he was for me and how he would love to play football with me in the park and have an ice cream with me. I never expected anything like that, especially for a young kid to give me his pocket money. That must mean a lot because I know when I was a kid that money means everything.”

    He asked Lynne Chaney, who looks after players’ mail, to set the wheels in motion for a meeting. Lizzie was disbelieving. “I thought it was my sister winding me up. I thought it was a prank call. I think I told the voice down the line to shut up. Then it dawned on me that it was real.”

    A plan was hatched. Teddy and his family headed to the Emirates for a tour of the stadium. While he was sitting in the dressing room for photos, Saka walked slowly into view for the big surprise. “Want an ice cream, Teddy? Chocolate or strawberry?”

    “Strawberry,” replied Teddy, before he even had a moment to work out what was going on. “When I saw him, I thought it was someone who looked like him. I couldn’t believe it was actually him,” he recalls.

    That day went like a dream. They had a good chat and then Saka went off in search of a ball for a kickabout on the Emirates pitch with his new little mate. Teddy is a fourth-generation Arsenal supporter. His family’s roots are in Islington, and his mum remembers how she would sit on the steps of her uncle’s house on Highbury Hill and watch the crowds go by on match days. Watching Teddy play football with Saka was too much for his grandad. “He never cried like that in his entire life!” Teddy giggles.

    That was only the start of it, though. Teddy effectively became Saka’s modern-day pen pal. Instead of letters, he has moved on to video messages.

    “We make videos to send to our fairy godmother Lynne to pass on,” says Lizzie. “The first one was to say thank you for Teddy’s special day and it just progressed. I didn’t want to overstep the mark, though, and drive him mad, to put pressure on Bukayo that he thinks he has to look at it or reply. He is a very busy person. But he does. He is such a genuine person. He is so gentle and humble. Lynne said he loves getting the messages.”

    Bukayo Saka with Teddy, in the Emirates home dressing room (Photo: Stuart MacFarlane, Arsenal)
    Teddy’s videos are sometimes to congratulate Saka for a goal or great performance, to wish him good luck or happy birthday, or to share how he is doing in his football and show him a medal or trophy. They often include a lot of laughs and always end with a big double thumbs-up. Saka always replies via Lynne. It is telling that when Teddy contemplates what his favourite thing is about his favourite player, he doesn’t come up with anything specific to football, instead saying, “He is kind.”

    Teddy symbolises the goodwill of the many that helped Saka to draw a line under the experience of his missed penalty at the Euros. The capacity to continue his footballing excellence, with club and country, after suffering such a setback at a young age, is extraordinary.

    To this day, a selection of the letters is displayed on Saka’s wall on the concourse at the Emirates Stadium. One small boy, with a big personality certainly, wrote a letter of note. In modern society, it is no bad thing to be reminded that kind words and deeds have the power to outweigh cruel ones.

    (Top photo: Stuart MacFarlane / Arsenal)

  • All the Dutch ships in the list (Eendracht, Europa, Morgenster, Oosterschelde, Stad Amsterdam) have already paid us at least one visit, some of them will come back next year no doubt … there’s always some restored Viking ships, too, since this is Rollo’s town after all
    Amazing story, Kev. Bukayo’s both blessed and a blessing and he deserves all the love this kid has for him. I remembered the letter, there had been a clip on arsenal.com about it, but I had no idea the two boys had been in touch since.
    Anyone who reads this and is not moved should be frowned at in suspicion!

  • Le Gall, I have spoken to la boss and she wants to come to Rouen…. So if you are serious about meeting up in June then we will start planning accordingly. If Kev could make it then too it would even be better. 🙂 🔆

  • We’d travel on to Bordeaux or Perpignan after a couple of days and bring with us a bottle of the finest water of life of course. 😉🙂

  • Funny enough TA I was actually thinking of June myself, I need to sort myself out a passport first but I can do that online, then some research viz a viz train timetables etc, but it’s looking like Eurostar to Paris and then a choo choo to Rouen station that I’ve sussed out isn’t a million kilometres away from the cathedral…

  • As Tim used to say:

    And as I said, I don’t have a big house but there are three bedrooms, so it’s up to you and Kev now – at this time of year we should be able not to spend too much time inside anyway.
    My advice to you would be try and be here on “Parade” day; thousands of people crowd the banks of the “Seine” from Rouen to Le Havre, waving good-byes to the sailors who have aped their way up the masts. These ships are made for sailing after all and on a sunny day they really look majestic. Thanks to my wife’s former job, we can access a priviliged spot to enjoy the show, just a few miles down the river from Flaubert’s place in Croisset/Canteleu …
    (I’ve not been mentioning what early June 2023 might mean for Arsenal fans, I’m aware of that – but it’s just out of superstition)

  • Legall, not just my feet are itching now. Parade day sounds fabulous. Will that be the 18th of June? If you have already visitors then we will be more than happy to stay in a hotel, Legall. I am sure your house will feel like a Palace to us. 🙂

    Yes Kev, via Paris seems the way to do it. Would be great to see you there too.

  • Arsenal 1-0 Lyon
    Before and after Nelson rattled the post in the 11th minute nothing really happened for quite a few minutes. In the 17th Odegaard passed the ball to Vieira who was slightly offside, but it wasn’t discovered. The French goalkeeper saved with his balls (!) but after a short nursing Arsenal proceeded with an unjust corner (due to Vieira being offside), and Gabriel headed home Martin Odegaard’s excellent delivery.

  • Slight correction: the “French goalkeeper” is actually the 14-capped Portugal national Anthony Lopes, who plays for the French team.

    Odegaard is really sharp today.
    He just gave a good ball to Tierney a couple of minutes ago (Kieran’s cross was deflected to a corner), and made an eye-catching dummy to Vieira just now, who botched the chance, but it was a proper counterattack nevertheless.

  • Arsenal 2-0 Lyon

    The guys are practicing playing from the back under significant pressure from Lyon. Out of nowhere Tierney play a long diagonal ball to Vieira on the right wing who happens to be a much better provider and finisher and assists Nketiah on the other wing. Eddie had a hard task to finish with a single touch even though only facing the goalkeeper, but instead of a powerful strike he decides to go with a tender yet well placed shot to the bottom far corner, and the result is just exquisite.

    While I’m typing these words Vieira decided to make a fool out of me and my previous comment on his finishing abilities and finds the top corner from a long shot from about 19 meters. Nketiah’s goal was cool, but this is the best so far.

    So basically in the 40th minute it is Arsenal 3-0 Lyon already.

  • Half time: Arsenal 3-0 Lyon
    Admitting this is being a training game the 2 teams are not in the same league – both literally and metaphorically.

    Lyon is playing with it’s best XI – only Tagliafico and Ekambi are in Qatar from the squad: Caqueret, Aouar, Lukeba, Dembélé, Gusto, Tolisso, Faivre and Lacazette all starting, Tete, Cherki, and Reine-Adélaïde on the bench; yet Arsenal’s B+ team (‘+’ referring to Gabriel and Odegaard) are tearing them apart with ease. The 3-goal lead is properly representing the difference between the sides. I expect many youngsters – maybe even 10 – introducing in the second half, even though Lyon only has 2 academy players in their squad. But you know me, I always expect crazy things…

  • A single substitution at half time: Marquinhos is coming to replace Vieira, who had a productive first half with a goal and an assist.
    No change at Lyon.

  • 55th minute: Marquinhos tries his luck from outside the box, the goalkeeper stretches himself to push the ball onto the crossbar. Fine shot from the Brazilian.
    In the next attack Nelson makes crazy dribbles on the left wing, and even when surrounded by 3 defenders played a cheeky backheel pass, but unfortunately it was not only surprising to the Lyon players but also to Nketiah, who realized it just too late.

  • Lyon made a quintuple change, the 5 players worth 72M together according to WhoScored.
    The Arsenal (U21) bench worth around 2M just for comparison.

    After a Nelson cross Lopes left his line to collect the ball but miscalculated it and stumbled. The ball ended up at Marquinhos who had to face 2 Lyon outfield players standing on the goal line, but hit the side netting from about 9-10 meters and an angle.

  • 67th minute, Arteta makes no less than 9 changes:
    Walters for Cedric
    Foran for Holding
    Sousa for Gabriel
    Nwaneri for Tierney (?)
    Smith for Elneny
    Lewis-Skelly for Lokonga
    Cozier-Duberry for Nelson
    Cirjan for Odegaard
    Butler-Oyedeji for Nketiah

    So apart from Hein, everybody has been replaced.

  • Inthe 76th minute Lyon replaced the rest of their team.

    It’s either Nwaneri playing in a defensive position, or Arsenal switching formation into 3-3-3-1
    ———–Hein———
    -Walters–Foran–Sousa-
    Smith-LewisSkelly-Cirjan
    Marq’–Nwaneri–CozierD
    —–Butler-Oyedeji—–

    Hard to say.

  • It turns out we are playing some kind of cup with 4 teams, but each is playing only 2 opponents.
    Liverpool is the last team, they are playing Milan and Lyon, we play Lyon and Milan, Lyon plays us and Liverpool, Milan plays Pool and us. Weird, but fine.

    Hein didn’t have to make big saves, but he is confident, makes good distribution (albeit more of mid-range shots than really long balls), and is a commanding presence in the air. A big improvement from his performance in the Carabao Cup.

  • Full time: Arsenal 3-0 Lyon
    It was indeed a good work out for the squad.

    We started a strong line-up from the traveling squad, but it is hard to emphasize a single player. All played reliably, and the result was a convincing victory. Sambi was active (he set Vieira free with his long ball, not Tierney), Martin creative and precise, and Eddie was trying to make a Jesus impersonation, as often dropped deep, linked up with the second wave and harassed the defenders. If he didn’t score we could have confused him with Jesus. 🙂 Maybe the defenders had less chance to shine, but kept a strong Lyon attack (Dembele, Lacazette, Faivre) quiet beyond a mere clean sheet. The youngsters didn’t disappoint either.

    The only surprise for me was the difference between how Vieira and Marquinhos played in the right wing. The both did good, yet their style was vastly different. Fabio was clinical outside the box, but missed a couple of easy(er) chances.

  • Just got home, couldn’t watch the game; thanks a lot, P.
    I like what you wrote about Eddie’s “exquisite” finish – looks like the lad’s bent on proving that as long as GJ’s out, he’ll take it from here …
    Nearly a half-hour for the kids is great news, too, my guess would be that it was Lewis-Skelly for Tierney, actually, wasn’t it?
    TA, don’t even consider booking a hotel room. The ships, music and fireworks will be free, but accomodation won’t. These guys will “cut out your heart, throw your liver to the dogs”
    https://getyarn.io/yarn-clip/c508d09f-287f-4319-b466-540131faecd8
    If I were you, I’d save my money to make your way back home from Rouen via Roscoff and a Brittany Ferries boat trip from Roscoff to Plymouth. Spend a few days in a guest house (there are plenty of them around, either in Roscoff, or in Saint-Pol-de-Léon, Santec, or Plougoulm), drive around these few square miles to enjoy some of the gorgeous beaches, and most of all spend a whole day on the “Île de Batz” – no better way to clean up one’s mind. Should you choose to do so, I’ll tell you more about it when I see you.
    Thanks again, P.!!
    COYG

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