Eight Arsenal Observations: The Northern Lights Bringer, Two Roles So Important, Four Goals But Just One Assist

BHA 2 – 4 Arsenal

Eight short observations:

  1. Marten Odegaard is in the form of his life. He had to miss out on the world cup; oh boy is he making up for lost time. Hard work, super talent and an eye for beauty, just like the saint in boots this blog is named after used to offer. The Ode covers our game with the magic of the Northern Lights.
  2. Eddie, Marti and Bukayo all scored which is great. Yet from our four goals only Odegaard got an assist. Martinelli has a strong eye for goal but not so much for his fellow attackers. This time we got away with it. I am all for directness now and again but picking the best option is key to long term success. Saka does this constantly; Martinelli needs to incorporate it into his game.
  3. Eddie delivers again. Is he as mobile and involved as Jesus is for 90 minutes? No, but he works hard and delivers when it matters. Eddie is doing great.
  4. Granit is a bit too quiet for my liking. I understand that he had a busy world cup and is easing himself back into club football, but we will need more from him in the next couple of PL games. Partey seems to have adjusted a bit better and was a rock last night.
  5. Subs are such a balancing act. We looked like we wanted to ease out the game as soon as Ben White left the pitch, and it got worse when Partey was also subbed. The loss of cohesion and focus was palpable, but luckily we got away with it this time.
  6. I love the roles of White and Zinchenko in Arteta’s system. Super mobile, multi-skilled and with strong personalities, they support all three areas constantly. They are where the action is and are the extra man where and when it matters, and they make a huge difference.
  7. Saliba, like Xhaka, does not seem to be firing from all cylinders since his return from the Folly in the Sandpit. I am not concerned, though. This tequila will be slamming and fizzing soon enough.
  8. I am so proud of our boys. With Citeh and the Oily Magpies dropping two points in not-hard home games (on paper), there was an extra incentive – but also pressure – to get three points from the high-flying Seagulls. They managed to do so and I salute them for it.

By TotalArsenal

35 thoughts on “Eight Arsenal Observations: The Northern Lights Bringer, Two Roles So Important, Four Goals But Just One Assist

  • Happy New Year again!

    Fair observations, as usual. I have nothing to challenge here, just expand a bit on Xhaka and the surprising 68% : 32% ball possession.

    I also had the impression that Granit was a bit too quiet – or even invisible – to my liking, so I went to WhoScored for the match statistics. And shockingly he was our highest rated non-attacking player. OK, even though that is just 4+1 lads, as I consider our fullback as attacking options, I was genuinely surprised that Xhaka had a higher score than Partey, who seemed to be our most important player (bar Odegaard) yesterday as well as in our current winning streak. Than I had to check where did Granit outperform Thomas; was it offensive or defensive contribution. Spoiler alert: it was neither: Partey was either on par or slightly better than Xhaka in both areas. So I moved on passing, and encountered the secret – or at least WhoScored’s justification.

    First, Xhaka was our best passer of the game, with all positions taken into account. This is particularly strange, as traditionally this award almost always go to central defenders, who usually revert to short passes to each other, full backs and CM/DMs. But yesterday White, Gabriel and Saliba made 77-79% passing accuracy, while Xhaka was Mr. Reliable with 90%. Which was far from the games best, as Brighton had 5 players (3 defenders, and 2 DMCs) above him. But the biggest gap was between the goalkeepers: Ramsdale had 32.4% accuracy with 5 out of 28 long balls ended up with his teammate, while Sanchez made 74.2% with 10/2 long ball statistics.

    So it also explains the surprisingly low ball possession. Even though on paper both teams were playing in 4-2-3-1, but in reality it was more 4-1-4-1 for us, and our passing was way off target. Yet, we won the game, increased the gap between us and the followers and even improved in the goals scored and goal difference department, but as Arteta (and TA) keeps saying, there is still a lot more opportunities to play even better.

    Finally on the VAR-cancelled goal. I think it was unfair. But not unjust. The game has some inherent unfair elements, including – but not limited to – penalties for minor faults at the edge of the box where there isn’t a goal scoring opportunity within a mile, or the goal line technology determining if the ball is in or out of play, or even in the net. With that said the goal was correctly and justly chalked off, even though Brighton would have indeed deserved a third.

  • Nice post Total, I’m not sure that anyone can criticise Arteta for bringing on Tierney and Tomiyasu, arguably two of our best, reliable and favourite players in recent seasons, Tierney did ok but Tomiyasu was rusty and you cure that by playing, it’s a double edged sword but I really don’t see why Arteta gets criticised in some quarters for his subs, whether he makes them or not.

    Bringing on Holding and Elneny made sense, on the face of it, as it adds some defensive solidity and protects Odegaard and Partey, what else can Arteta do, damned if he does damned if he doesn’t…

    It would be nice if we could have an addition in situ before the NLD.

  • Great comment, PB.

    Xhaka perhaps had to play easier, safer passes, and I think this could be so because Zinch plays a lot closer to Granit than Tierney or Tomiyasu does. I see the Ukrainian more like a LM player than a LB and this may not be great for Granit in terms of his space to move in being reduced. I need to look at this when I watch the game again.

  • Good point, Kev. I certainly will not criticise Mikel for having made the changes. It is required but it just shows how they can disturb the team’s balance and focus.

  • All fair points TA. As Jync said, it may be no bad thing that we let the Seagulls back into the game as Mikel can use this when coaching for the stern tests ahead. It wasn’t Ramsdale’s best game and PB’s stats for him are no surprise. I would like to think that it was the conditions but we need him back to his normal self for the upcoming matches. Yes, Martinelli can be a bit too selfish. I think he was getting frustrated because, other than for his goal, Lamptey kept him relatively quiet.

  • Solid point, TA.
    It seems that when attacking we play 2-3-4-1 or even 2-3-5 (!) as Nketiah used to drop back to divide the attention of the defenders. But that applies mainly for Zinchenko and White, as Tierney and Tomiyasu play mostly as classical full backs.

  • Good points TA and PB. I felt we didn’t retain possession and didn’t use playing from the back much. Ramsdale launched 95% if the times he touched the ball. Only couple if times he played to our central defenders. Wonder what was the reason for moving away from our pattern of playing from the back
    Saliba by far had the worst two matches in arsenal shirt, still we won. He can only get better. Gabriel needs to be careful and seems to get into needless confrontations. Steady boys , clam heads pls.

  • OX10, yes Aaron also seems to play a bit under par.

    Martinelli has just two assists in 16 PL games. That’s not great for a Winger. It’s one of the reasons I would like to ke to see him played as a CF in the GJ9 mold.

  • A good question, Madhu. Maybe Arteta expected us to suffer v BHA if we were to play out from the back. Could it be that the Seagulls are very good at profiting from disturbing such approach?

  • TA, looks like specific instruction from Arteta as the first kick that Rams took was a long ball to Nketiah. Good to adapt but when required in the second half we should have played from back and kept possession.

  • Looks like the spuds are getting a pasting at home vs Unai Emery’s Villa. 0-2!

  • All in all we can’t complain about the results in the las5 three days, a very happy new year to all of us and Arsenal…

    Rumours that Mudryk has signed a 5 year deal and that the clubs are almost agreedcon a fee, I know you don’t like speculation on transfers TA but this one seems to be pretty much signed and sealed. Good work by Edu.

  • Not only Manchester City and Newcastle, but Chelse have dropped 2 point and Tottenham even lost. All against bottom-half teams, while we won against a top-half opponent on the road. We were lucky at times, but I think everybody agrees that the team deserved the victory, even though Brighton missed their 2 best player. If Mac Allister and Caicedo were playing the outcome would have been different. But they didn’t, so it wasn’t.

  • Thanks Total.
    What a great round of results for the Arsenal. Give Unai a seat in the stands alongside Arsene.

    Missed commenting on the last post, but wanted to thank LeG for the most excellent vid of Pele’s innovations. Our French friend also contributed to my answer to the questions you posed us, Total. For me beauty is the most longed for quality in football. LeG mentioned his favourite Pele moment as the dummy on the Uruguayan keeper which didn’t result in a goal but is better remembered for not doing so.
    Success can be measured in results and silverware, but it is breath-takingly beautiful football which above all football related things is what I long for. Arsene’s “lean” years at the helm contained some of my favourite memories, mostly trophyless years but with the utter magic of Rosicky, Hleb, Fabregas, Wilshere, Santi… Like Holland in the ’70’s: two World Cup final losses but what otherworldly football.

    I had some mates around on new years day for a five a side football match in honour of Pele. The only football shirt I have in my wardrobe that isn’t an Arsenal one is a Brazil number 10. I wore it to church in the morning and then in the afternoon game with a heavy but happy heart and played out of my 62 year old skin.

  • Great points as always guys I will try to re-watch this game and for once I will also be looking to enjoy the opposition’s play what a great job Brighton does of recruiting players but also managers. I believe this manager is more attacking than Potter was and to have no fear to play on the front foot against big teams is so admirable I wish them all the success except against us offcourse. I read somewhere that Brighton is also somewhat of a bogey team for us so yes they were missing to of their best players but we were without Gabriel Jesus as well and did it on the road very impressive.

    As for the Ode I remember after his loan some on here were not so enthused with a permanent deal but I have to say I was very happy to get him back and surprised at the price. He is now reaching De Bruyne and Frankie De Jong levels of excellence and consistency and that is saying something. There is still so much to come from our Cap who is yet to turn 25 yet.

  • Stu, that’s a beautiful comment about the importance of beauty in the game.
    The past has its gems but it’s the here and now that really excites me. And boy do we have some gems in Mikel’s Arsenal.

  • ok I am in the 4th minute of the game and Marti did an excellent reverse pass to Zinch that would have resulted in a goal so there TA. Just joking he could do with looking up more often and picking up a teammate in a better position but he does bring that element of the unexpected and chaos and he balances us out a bit with shooting sometimes a bit too selfish but those attempts often result in goals like Bukayo’s so its a sort of an assist in itself. I sometimes say just shoot and good things can happen so I am just glad that you are right he can will improve under Mikel’s tutelage as have many wingers like Sterling, Foden etc.

  • 2 assists to go with 7 goals very nice production for a player under 22 or any player for that matter. A couple of those goals have come at very crucial moments to get us over the line as well.

  • Amen to that, Total. Gems aplenty in our present team, both in players, management and in moments on the pitch and in the stands, and on this marvellous blog.
    Arsene pursued beauty and that’s why I referred to him and his teams. He once said; “A football team is like a beautiful woman. When you do not tell her, she forgets she is beautiful.” A lesson for all us husbands…

    I also love Arsene’s response to Mourinho’s “voyeur” taunt: “He’s out of order, disconnected with reality and disrespectful. When you give success to stupid people, it makes them more stupid sometimes and not more intelligent.” 😁

  • Just watched the two vid’s you put up, Total. Northern and Southern lights. Wow! As good as he is, I think Martin had some help with that show.
    “The heavens declare the glory of God”.

  • Makayah, we’re mostly violently agreeing. Martinelli is a great player to have, his directness is a strength and he needs to play with his head up more.

  • Arsene and you are right, Stu. To hear it is to believe it (more). Arsene had a great love for beautiful football.

    Glad you liked the videos. Martin is a vessel through which beauty flows, Stu. 🙂

  • Anyone who loves beautiful football should avoid watching the Spuds at the moment. They were abject yesterday with not a single shot on target in the second half. Long may it continue!

  • OX10, I hope we don’t give the Spuds space to counter us in when we go the proverbial hole. That’s the only way to make them look good this season.

  • Oh I don’t know about that OX10, I had a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon watching Tottenham yesterday, it’s very rare that I do but I may begin to take in a few more of their games on the evidence of New Years Day. 😉

  • Here are the results from last weekend for our competition-

    For the week-

    1st Madhu with 5/6 plus one correct score and a share of most correct predictions = 9 points
    2nd GN5 with 5/6 plus a share of most correct predictions = 7 points
    3rd OX10 with 4/6 plus one correct score = 6 points
    4th Total, Eris, Kev & Le Gall with 4/6 = 4 points
    8th Stuart with 3/6 = 3 points
    Season to date-

    1st Kev & OX10 with 64.80
    3rd Madhu with 55.80
    4th Eris with 53.13
    5th Total with 49.33
    6th Stuart with 49.00
    7th GN5 with 42.33
    8th Le Gall with 38.18


  • These are next weekend choices – FA Cup games-

    Crystal Palace v Southampton
    Boreham Wood v Accrington Stanley *
    Brentford v West Ham United
    Norwich City v Blackburn Rovers
    Manchester City v Chelsea *
    Villarreal v Real Madrid *

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