8 Observations: Arteta’s Got an Extra Goal Scorer For Free, Bias to the Left, Super Odegaard

I finally managed to watch the entire game and what a joy it was. Here are my quick-fire 8 Observations:

  1. Arsenal are so fit. It was very hot but the team played as if they were half way into the season. Leicester were well set up but eventually they had to crack as Arsenal’s tempo and pressing were too much to handle for them.
  2. Gabriel Jesus, the terrible tornado, was mesmerising. Two goals and two assists and he could have had more. To work so hard and still be so clinical is the hardest thing to do in modern football, ask Laca! I feel sorry for those Foxes’ defenders: nobody should have to endure such recurring nightmares.
  3. The partnership between Jesus and Martinelli is such a fruitful one, and Martinelli is blossoming under the tutelage of his older brother. Arteta bought one but got two clinical goal scorers now. Early days of course, but Martinelli is bringing home the bacon now.
  4. As a team we veer to the left and this leaves Saka and to a lesser extent Ode a bit isolated. Xhaka, Martinelli, Jesus and Zinchenko form a very effective partnership on the left but on the right we are struggling to get enough numbers in the area to attack effectively. Partey sits naturally deeper and White is still finding his feet, and he is also less of a passer than Tomiyasu. So Bukayo, who clearly gets plenty of attention from the opposition, is struggling a bit to get involved in our attacks. The return of Tomiyasu may help with this but as a team they need to work on getting Bukayo better support. That way we will be even more effective in attack.
  5. Arsenal hardly gave anything away in ninety minutes, yet we conceded two. To be fair the OG was just unlucky and the Maddison goal was classy, with Ramsdale a little at fault with his positioning. But we did know before the game that Leicester have very good attackers and we gave them space by being so attack minded. Still, there is work to be done in defence.
  6. Xhaka was everywhere and with a goal and assist he showed another side of him. On another blogside, I recently cheekily predicted 12-15 PL goals/assists for Mr Versatile…… He may surprise even his hardest critics this season.
  7. A special mention goes to the Ode. Martin may not have had a goal or an assist but boy did he work hard yesterday. His closing down and link up play was fantastic. Thanks to him the machine kept purring and for that I salute him.
  8. The supporters were amazing, absolutely amazing. The support for Saliba was simply heart warming. Two wins in a row is just what we needed to get a good start to the season. Next up are Bournemouth away. Of course it is OGAAT all the way this season. Remain humble, work hard and fight for ninety minutes in every game.

By TotalArsenal

Arsenal v Foxes Preview: A Big Test for The New Arsenal

The second battle of the season is due to start in a few hours. Judging from the fellow BKers’ predictions expectations are high for a big win, but I am wary of these wily Foxes.

Leicester are a team that will favour to be the underdog and with Dewsbury-Hall, Tielemans, Maddison and that pesty Vardy they have the guys to hurt us. Their defence may be their weakness with Schmeichel gone, Fofana a doubt and Evans in the heart of their defence. Our attackers will have to go for them from the start. Let’s be clinical guys!

An early goal for us would be bliss of course, but we have to be wary of their counter attacks, so let’s not be too adventurous.

Brendan Rodgers is a fine manager who fits very well with the Foxes. It looks like they have to let go of a few players to settle the books and we may see Tielemans come our way soon. As per my previous post, Partey’s right midfield position is an area for improvement and I think that is why the club have been linked with the Belgian. But that’s for another day.

The lineup will be likely unchanged. Only the unfortunate Nelson is out of contention, so Mikel has the luxury to pick and choose. Consistency is big for him at this stage and he will want this core team to grow in confidence, so there will be no change if you ask me.

This will be a big test (especially if the Foxes score first) and I am looking forward to it.

Come On You Rip Roaring Gunners!

By TotalArsenal

The New Arsenal: Gritty in Pink

Ahhh we are playing meaningful football again and how good is that?! Having watched the game again, I just loved our focus and hunger to see the result over the line. Arsenal were Gritty in Pink! I love the ‘third kit’ even though it clashed with the ugly (imho) red and blue kit of the home team.

Do we still have the youngest squad in the PL? If so, it did not show as we had a lot of physicality, height and athleticism in the team at Selhurst Park. Saliba, White, Big Gab and Zinchenko in front of rocking Ramsdale gave us real maturity at the back. Nobody is going to mess with those five. In midfield, we have two established, strong midfielders who will not be bossed by anyone either. Even up-front we have the matured-again Martinelli, the tenacious Martinelli and Odegaard, and a surprisingly strong Gab Jesus.

Palace positioned well and had clear instructions to contain the creative players. They managed to subdue Odegaard and Saka for a while but Martinelli used the extra space on the left very well. He really should have scored from the Jesus pinball that came gloriously towards him. The same goes for the Ode who had a few decent opportunities for which the likes of Jesus and Saka worked hard only to be wasted. Luckily, Martinelli scored the all important first goals and the Ode at least found himself in promising positions, and it is of course only the start of the season. Still, Mikel wants to push on and these two guys will have to become more ruthless soon. The likes of Vieira, Nelson, Marquinos, Eddie, and a new wing player yet to be signed, will keep them on their toes.

Under pressure, a few of our players mis-directed their passes, especially White was at fault. But Ben is getting used to an slightly unfamiliar role and he really is trying hard. In this position he is much more exposed and his passing remains a work in progress. What cannot be denied is his physicality and good positioning and I just love that look on his face after a hard tackle, a yellow card or a foul he has committed: nothing does perturb him it seems.

Saliba is so beatifully zen-like. He oozes calm and focus and for such a young guy this is extraordinary. We know all about his key stats but how do you measure such great composure and positioning? Still, as a team we need to look why the two best chances for the Eagles fell in ‘his area’. I know for the second one White was out of position and there was too much space for the Ode to cover. Eze should have done better but Aaron positioned himself really well and put the young English midfielder off. The first one was a training ground exercise from a freekick, and we almost got, as the Dutch call it, ‘a cookie made of our own dough’. Andersen head-pumped the ball into an area of space and Saliba could not get to it, whilst White just about put off Edouard to give Ramsdale a chance to make a very smart safe. It was pretty similar to our first goal situation but luckily our goalkeeper was more alert than theirs. We were the better team, had more chances and deserved our win but the above also shows how small the margins can be.

The one player who seemed in and out of the game a lot is Partey. I did not notice this the first time I watched the game, but Thomas did seem lost in space and time occasionally. I am not clear what exactly his role is in our team. The deepest midfielder, shielding the defence? I did not see him do this very effectively? On a good day Thomas is just brilliant but all too often he seems to lack the dominance of midfield we think he is capable of. One to watch going forward. I predict if Tielemans joins us at last, he will become direct competition for TP5.

Watching GJ9 – Mr Emoji Face – again was pure joy. I still believe we need an extra attacker, but Jesus brings so much directness and energy to our team. Just bliss.

Well our first game is out of the way and three precious points are in the bag. Lessons will be learnt and I have heard the words ‘we have to remain humble’ by our players enough to trust that they will in no way believe the game against the Foxes will be a walk in the home of football.

Come on You Rip Roaring Gunners.

By TotalArsenal.

Palace 0-2 Arsenal 8 Observations: Super William, Mr Alacrity, One Big Area For Improvement

Eight Observations from a pulsating win:

  1. The new boys all did very well and totally seem to get how Mikel wants to play football. Jesus was a menace in attack, Zinchenko was full of good positioning and passing and Saliba was solid. They had to work their socks of and, as Kev pointed out so well in the last post’s comments, the MC boys looked totally done in as a result of securing the game only late on instead of in the first half as Pep’s team regularly do.
  2. It was a cup win for us, as least that’s how it felt. We started spritely and overwhelmed the Eagles with our creativity and tempo. We could have had a couple of goals but only managed one, which kept Palace in the game. We allowed them back in through sloppiness in our defence, giving away the ball unnecessarily and allowing the crowd to finally find their voice. Especially Ramsdale had a few iffy moments and also Partey lacked the calm and precision in his passing to keep us in control.
  3. The second half saw us sit back, perhaps too much. Palace were strong on the wings where we allowed them space, time and again. Zaha was excellent and we just about managed to keep him out. White, on a yellow card, just about managed to control the area, but it was Saliba who truly shone with his composure and timely interventions. Grand William was without much dispute our man of the match.
  4. Zinchenko pushed up a lot which made our left side pretty secure for Palace’s wing play in the first hals. But it also led to Xhaka getting crowded out as he had less space to move in. In the second half Arsenal sat deeper and that suited Granit better but not so much Zinchenko who now had to defend as a ‘classic’ left full back. This will need to be worked on for our next games.
  5. Martinelli scored the all important goal, and even though he missed a sitter before that, this really is very important for him and the team. It was a corner from the training ground and it was cleverly executed. Martinelli looked a bit more mature and he was a constant threat, one of his best performances.
  6. Bukayo struggled to get into the game early on, partly due to being carefully covered by Palace. Yet he had the preassist for the first goal and forced the mistske/own goal for the second. He was much better in the second half with some good defensive interventions and releasing of pressure by being a menace up front. The partnership with White is still a work in progress. I think we missed Tomiyasu quite a bit yesterday.
  7. The joy of Gab Jesus continues. He plays the Laca role really well but offers extra energy and alacrity. It’s like Laca on steroids, such enthusiasm and bite. GJ9, Mr Alacrity, will set the tone for the rest this season. What a signing!!!
  8. The main things to take from this game are our fighting spirit, the clean sheet and boost that three points from Selhurst Park will bring us. We need to analyse why we sat so/too deep in the second half and thus allowed so much pressure on us. Palace are of course a well drilled and physical team and Vieira was clever in not allowing our creative players much space or time. They were well positioned and made our flowing footie hard to execute. But still, we have the players to overcome this and should not have sat so deep, inviting all that pressure. We clearly feared their ball over the top and Palace’s wing play and were left with grinding out a result. The boys did this, and I am proud of them, but a better midfield domination and balance is our main priority for the next games.

By TotalArsenal

Six Remaining Squad Questions for Arsenal before the TW shuts

Six Pre-season Observations/Questions:

  1. Arsenal are much stronger in defence, with excellent back up and a great mix of skills. Saliba and Zinchenko are two great additions and we only had to pay for one of them. The question is what are we going to do with Holdingho? I love the guy but surely he needs regular league footie?!
  2. Our midfield is looking good but, if I am honest, we are a bit light on the right. Partey is injury prone and I feel we could improve on him anyway. Tielemans’ rumours do not seem to go away. Elneny, like Holding in defence, is great deep back up, but not a like for like replacement of Partey. Zinchenko will replace Granit regularly as he can play on all left sided positions, but the right side of midfield remains an area for potential improvement.
  3. Will Martinelli break through this season or do we need to bring in extra, experienced fire power on the left wing? You know my little theory of Cody Gakpo joining us soon. Martinelli has had some good assists in preseason and surely goals will follow soon. The partnership with GJ9 should help him to blossom. Still I think we will strengthen here before the TW shuts.
  4. Who covers for Saka? I am hoping it’s Reiss Nelson but he is featuring very little at the moment which makes me think/fear he is on his way. Will Marquinos get a chance as right Winger? Of course, there is Pepe but it just doesn’t seem to be working… So will we buy a more ready to rock option? Our five expected attackers are: Bukayo, Gabriel J, Gabriel M, Eddie, Nelson/Marquinos. Surely we need to add one or two more attackers to have real strength in depth?!
  5. The big mistery is how much and where Vieira will get to play. This could answer some of the questions above.
  6. The other big question is what will happen with our Nr1 ‘time between goals or assists maker’ of last season. ESR surely has to play regularly, but in which position?

For me these are just strength in depth issues, and we are ready to rock now. But they do need answering in the next few weeks.

By TotalArsenal

Great Pre-season: Movement, Creativity and Fine Finishing | Ooh to, Ooh to Be..

The movement and intricate passing of our attackers have simply been mesmerising during pre-season. We have scored all sorts of goals with assists from a variety of players.

With Odegaard and Xhaka we have two of the finest left feet in the PL. Odegaard’s pass to Saka that led to the penalty was inch perfect and played with so much feeling. The same can be said about Xhaka’s throughball for our sixth(!) goal v sorry Sevilla. With such fine left feet beautiful things will happen.

Saka is still only 20 but he plays like he is in his prime. Only Fabregas was able to shine to such level at that sort of age as far as I can remember. Bukayo has scored a number of goals during pre-season and this bodes well in terms of not becoming too dependent on super GJ who has been the absolute star of the show until now.

Martinelli has stepped it up too with some high quality assists and unselfish play. It must be a dream for him to play with Jesus.

It looks like Partey is now more in a deep, protective role and Xhaka in a more advanced one when we are attacking. This may suit Partey best and maybe keep him away from injuries a bit more.

It also looks like our full backs will be a bit more conservative this season, still pushing forward occasionally but not all the time. White on the right and Zinchenko on the left seem to give us a lot of defensive solidity and the pairing of Saliba and Big Gab is also looking promising.

But pre-season is just a practice period and no points are won. Crystal Palace will be a very tough nut to crack. The Friday night PL opener is one of the hardest outside top six games to play and Vieira will as always be keen to get one over Arteta. The buses will be parked and the counter traps will be set. We will need all our defensive discipline, movement and creativity to crack the Eagles’ defensive nests and take all three points to the Home of Football.

It will be a big test for the maturity of our young team. I have a feeling they are ready for it. Bring it on!

Ooh to, Ooh to Be, Ooh to Be a Gooner!!! 🤩 🤩 🤩

By TotalArsenal

A Dear God for Captain: Arteta Made a Great Choice

Martin Odegaard is our new captain and this is a great choice by Mikel. The well travelled young Viking seems to have found his home, and it is a true honour for him to be named Captain of The Arsenal.

The Vikings did terrible things on their travels over the centuries but once they found their home they did eventually settle, mix with the local population and even convert to Christianity. These days the Norwegians are a relatively easy going, wealthy and civilised people, but I think Odegaard represents something of the old and new ‘Viking’ characteristics.

MO8 is a fighter and he never stops; there is something of the old Norse Berserker in him. Martin is not nasty but tenacious. His hair may be perfectly maintained but their is grit in those teeth and nobody messes with him, as if they know better. There is also something of my childhood hero Wiki the Viking in him: Martin is a smart and creative player that focuses on solutions rather than brute force.

There is an old head on young Martin’s shoulders. In fact, an anagram of Odegaard is Aged Road. This old soul is born to be a leader and I reckon he will do a great job.

Martin has wise heads Partey and Xhaka behind him and he knows they will help to control the most important part of the pitch. He will be wise enough to take their counsel on team matters.

At the back we have a number of leaders and potential captains and they will need little controlling. They will sort themselves out.

At the front our new signing Jesus will lead by example and take the youngsters under his wings.

Odegaard’s main focus is to guard the shape and team discipline, to regulate the tempo and creatively choreographe the show.

Arteta will give him all sorts of infield instructions and it takes intelligence to execute these during frantic and demanding matches.

Martin will also need to be a diplomat with the referees: tactful and forceful at the same time. He isn’t a Brit which is likely to go against him a bit, but he will use his charm and quiet authority to get past this.

I think we will come to love him as a captain. Another anagram of Odegaard is A Dear God. May he possess a but of Thor and Odin, Iðunn and Freyr. We are well due a good, solid, Arsenal-Values-Embodying leader on the pitch, and I think Mikel has made a great choice.

By TotalArsenal

Finally a Dutchman again in Attack? What a Trio he would Make with Saka and Gab Jesus!

Now, I try and avoid gossip on the blog as much as possible, but this one is simply too juicy to ignore. Voetbal International is a renowned Dutch football magazine and they have been writing on a number of occasions about the likelihood of Cody Gakpo of PSV joining the mighty Red and White of North London. Only a few days ago they wrote about Arsenal offering the young Dutchman the best possible development opportunities of those clubs that are interested in him.

I believe that football clubs keep certain outlets informed on the proviso that they do not quote them directly. That way they keep good relations going and with that positive exposure of the club by the magazine. VI have been writing about Gakpo likely going to Arsenal with a level of certainty that makes me think that they know what they are talking about.

Gakpo is a Left Winger/CF with a lethal right foot, comparable to Arjen Robben’s left foot precision and power. See also video link below.

His left foot is not bad either, but his ability to score belters from the left and from outside the box with his, right howitzer would be very welcome at Arsenal. I don’t think heading of the ball is his speciality which makes me believe he is better suited as a Left (reversed) Winger than a CF. This would mean competition for Martinelli who’s right footed shooting power and accuracy remains a work in progress.

We know that Gab Jesus also likes to play from the left wing position but I have no doubt that both will be flexible enough to work things out between them during games.

Cody Gakpo is a very ambitious and hard working player and he would strengthen the team significantly. Yet I believe he would need time to settle and get used to the tempo and lack of space of the PL. The good news is that Arsenal are a developing team with a plan, and Gakpo will get time to ease himself in. One of the biggest Dutch talents in recent years, he would be just the Dutchman at Arsenal many of us have been wanting. An attacking line of Saka, Jesus and Gakpo would scare any team.

I think PSV will not let him go until they have qualified for the group stage of the CL, reading between the lines of the VI articles, so a bit of patience is still required. But I think there is a decent to strong chance he will be a Gunner soon.

By TotalArsenal

Rest In Peace Terry Neill 🕊️🕊️🕊️

Arteta already has a Second Beast in Midfield But Will he Finally Grasp His Opportunity?

Ainsley Maitland-Niles, is it the name of a city law firm, an MP of a leafy suburb or a writer of sophisticated crime novels?

No of course not, AMN is an almost 25 years old midfielder playing for the most fabulous club in the world. We all know him, we all believe in him and in a bizarre way we all love him, but when is Ainsley breaking through?

It feels like he is now well and truly in the last chance saloon. There’s an ideal spot for him: back up, or even better, competition for Thomas Partey.

His spell at Roma was uneventful and with well over 100 PL games under his belt now (albeit many as a sub) he should be having much more impact.

His strength seems also his weakness. Ainsley is calm on the outside which gives him maturity, but he also comes across as not bothered. It feels like AMN switches on and off during a game, something he cannot afford, especially not with duracell bunny Arteta on the sidelines.

Yet Ainsley has a good first touch, is a good passer and offers natural physicality to the game. He also reads the game well, is fast and has good stamina. So it is time to push through now, to make a claim for the right midfield spot, to show us all that the genie is finally out of the bottle! He should be our second beast in midfield… Should be..

Come on Ainsley, THIS IS YOUR MOMENT!!!

By TotalArsenal

Arsenal v Chelsea 8 Observations

Arsenal 4-0 Chelsea

Eight oobservations from a convincing win:

  1. Arteta seems to want to stick with 4-2-3-1 this season. However, Granit is pushed up to often play alongside the Ode instead of Partey. Xhaka’s speed of thinking and accurate passing seems to really help him to be effective just outside the opposition’s box.
  2. The movement of Saka, Martinelli, Gab Jesus and the Ode is a joy to watch. They totally bamboozled the sorry Chavs and two great goals in the first half were the direct consequence of this. Saka was just such a threat even when he wasn’t at his very best after being kicked on a number of occasions early on in the game. Martinelli was full of tricks and played a beautiful pass for the Ode’s goal. Jesus scored a Dennis goal. We are unpredictable in attack and that’s the best guarantee for goals this season.
  3. Zinchenko looked at home straight away, and with a clean sheet for his first game he can be very happy with his debut.
  4. Saliba is Class and we are lucky to have him back. The combo of Saliba and Gabriel looks assured. Now Arteta has options and playing White wide is one of them. I thought Ben had a good game defensively and his attacking play is of course a work in progress.
  5. One of my questions is whether White and Saliba can play centre defence if and when Big Gab is unavailable. If so our defence is sorted this season with good cover everywhere.
  6. Midfield is sorted too and I doubt whether we will get anybody else this summer. Let’s give Elneny and AMN the back up for Partey positions rather than spend tons on Tielemans. Furthermore, the Zench and Sambi can compete with Xhaka. The Ode, ESR and Vieira are good for the ‘nr10’ position.
  7. We are still a bit too light in attack. One or two injuries to the likes of Saka and Jesus and we will be in trouble. Martinelli still struggles with getting goals and Eddie is also a work in progress. If we can get one more quality 10-15 PL goals a season attacker, Arsenal will be going places. After the Chavs game who would not want to play for the Arsenal?! Time for a Dutchman in attack at Arsenal, and there is one at Barcelona who would fit the bill. 😉
  8. But the most exciting point of all is that we are on a journey to Artetaland and he has a travel plan. Hopefully more and more Gooners will realise this now. Victoria Concordia Crescit.

By TotalArsenal