Arsenal v MU: Disappointing Result But Reasons to Be Positive

MU 3-2 Arsenal

It is not easy to take positives from a beating at the Old Toilet but the big picture is still pretty good.

Arsenal lacked the experience and leadership to beat the Mancs last night but let there be no doubt that we were the better footballing team. The first goal may have been fortuitous but we started well and deserved the lead. After that we struggled to keep imposing ourselves on them and started to make mistakes. These were avoidable but very costly.

The young players played with gusto and tried to overcome their nerves but the experienced players – Auba and Partey – just did not lead by example. The big question is has Arteta got rid of too many experienced players too quickly? In a game like this it seems to show. The other question is are we expecting too much from Partey and also Elneny? I certainly thought we missed Granit yesterday. His experience may just have made the difference.

But if you think that we are a team in transition and were playing a team full of quality players, and still managed to play good football at times, then we can still take some real positives from the game.

Martinelli is back, ESR and Ode played good games, the defence played some good football positionally but were let down by a poor midfield on the day. Tavares and Tomiyasu were rocks and had no nerves.

Arteta and the boys need to find the confidence in their own abilities and superiority to win these sort of games. It will come but it needs time…. And a couple of well searched purchases.

We will end up above the Mancs come end of May.

By TotalArsenal

Arsenal V MU: Preview and Lineup – A Crucial Game in a Pivotal Month

Having watched the Oily Barcodes game a second time, I think it is fair to say that the team have made progress since the start of the season. There is still work to do, but Arteta’s signature football is starting to take shape. Against Eddie Howe’s sorry-11 we had to be patient by finding gaps in the walls and being careful enough to avoid a counter-attacking goal or two. The really good thing about last Saturday’s early kick-off game was that we always looked in control at the back. This is a great feeling to experience and a rare one at Arsenal in recent years.

Partey had an average game, especially with his passing, but he was disciplined with his positioning and offered great protection to the defence in general. It allowed Lokonga, who was a close MOTM for me, to connect with our four attackers and run the show in an understated way. Our full backs can support attack but also have the engine to get back in time, epitomized by Tavares’ late run into the box and effective shoulder charge to avoid a certain goal. Tomiyasu also has that ability to be at the right place and right time in the box and then clearing the ball very effectively. The partnership between White and Gabriel (and in a way also with Ramsdale) is at the heart of our solid defending these days, and long may it continue.

The attack remains a work in progress of course and, although still hopeful, I am starting to doubt that whichever four of Auba, Laca, Saka, ESR and Ode will find anytime soon the right chemistry to really move our attacking play to another level. All are talented and quality players, but can they actually really work together?! It certainly remains a work in progress and on Saturday they needed a helping hand by our fab full backs who each produced a peach of an assist. But it should also be said that Saka and Martinelli finished their chances superbly, something that cannot be said of Auba lately. The good thing is we almost always find the net and with a lean, mean defence-machine we have a good chance of winning most games.

Arsenal are currently shared fourth and only seven points away from the top. The next two away games in the North-West – MU and Toffees – will tell us a lot of where we really stand, I reckon. The Red Mancs on Thursday will be the pivotal game for us. They need to win and get their season back on track, but their new, interim manager will not be able to lead them from the dugout. Is that good news or bad news? I don’t know but if we can keep the crowd as quiet as we did against the Foxes then we have a good chance. Should we absorb pressure and play on the counter or take the game to them from the start? I feel the latter is the best way forward and we will need to take our chances when they come. Hopefully Auba and/or Laca have a very efficient game. Key is of course to win the battle in midfield and we need a top-notch performance from Partey tomorrow. If Partey and Auba have a really good game, we will be victorious tomorrow.

My preferred lineup is:

Saka may not be fit in time and then I would imagine Ode will play. Small chance Pepe will play but this game may pass him by, so here is hoping Bukayo is fit to play.

Come on You Rip Roaring Gunners, Make us Proud!!

By TotalArsenal.

Arsenal v Newcastle United Preview and Lineup: Enter the Tiger of Wishaw

The Oily Barcodes come to the Home of football full with frustration. The Tyne is inundated with oil tankers full of cash to spend but until January they will have to do with the current crop of players. Poor magpies!

Howe, who I really thought had more backbone, has become their manager and no doubt he will gradually improve his new team, even without splashing the oil cash soon.

We know this is a must win game for us. Whoever put the PL games roster together was no doubt a Spud. After the last international break, we are playing three times away, at Pool, red Mancs and Goodison and just this one home game. This round of games has the potential to create a big setback so today we really need that win before we go to Old Toilet on Thursday.

This is likely the team today. Only change: Tiger of Wishaw for Tavares.

Ramsdale, Tierney, Big Gab, Big Ben, Tomiyasu, Lokonga, Partey, Auba, Emile, Bukayo, Alex.

Come on You Rip Roaring Gunners 🌋 🌋 🌋 🌋 🌋

By TotalArsenal

Arsenal v Liverpool: A loss to Learn and Move on From.

As expected, Liverpool away straight after the last annual interlull was a mountain too high to climb. Playing away after one’s players have been all over the place is hard; only one away team won in the PL yesterday.

The boys started well drilled and they worked hard for each other. Gradually the Red Scousers got through our walls with more ease and only our last wall of defence, the indomitable Ramsdale, held firm then.

It’s a shame we were finally beaten by a well executed set piece, just a few minutes before the end of the first half.

Second half was a painful experience from the start. Our concentration let us down, mistakes were made and then we gave the all important second goal away. The implosion after that goal was to be expected and we have to learn from it.

Our attackers struggled but then the service and support in numbers were below par. I thought the boys played perhaps with too much tactical discipline in the first half and too little in the second half. It’s a fine balancing act v the top teams away, and also for Mikel an area for improvement. It will come.

For me Emile Smith Rowe stood out above the rest and this alone was worth enduring that game.

The good news is that we have now played Pool, Citeh and the Foxes away and are in fifth position in the PL table. With Leicester, Mancs and Hammers also losing no damage was done.

Let’s zap the oily Barcodes on Saturday and recontinue our climb upwards. It’s all about bouncebackability.

By TotalArsenal.

Arsenal Preview and Starting 11: Just One Change and Sambi to Score.

We are going to Pool to face The Teeth and his press-bullies, and what a test it will be!

Some have suggested that this game will tell us exactly where this Arteta team stands right now, but I don’t think that’s the case. Two weeks of interlull disruption makes it really hard for managers to prepare properly for a game. Fitness levels will be assessed late on and there is just little time for on-field tactical prepping. Arsenal are also at a significant disadvantage for having to travel. I think the game v the Red Mancs in a few weeks will tell us much more about the level of this excititing team.

Yet, the result will give the press and supporters renewed vigour in pursuing their favourite themes and agendas about us, no doubt. Ah well, let’s hope we go home with at least a point then! 😁

How are the team going approach this game: absorb and pounce, take the game to them, or something in between?

Key of course is the battle in midfield and let’s all hope that Partey is fully fit to start. Even though Thomas is prone to a few mistakes each game he will bring fight and presence to midfield, and we need this desperately.

The back four plus GK and four in attack pick themselves right now IMHO. My only question is who to play next to TP, AMN or Lokonga? I am going for Sambi as he has been threatening to score a goal for a while and I feel he will do so tomorrow.

You could argue for swapping Tierney for Tavares but the latter is in form and has been very impressive. Better to ease the wizard of Wishaw in gradually.

So my line up is as follows:

Starting 11 to finally beat Pool again

If they all work hard and stick to the plan, and are all fully fit of course, we can take the smile away around those German Hempstead Heaths. Oh what a Saturday night that would be!!

Come on You Rip Roaring Gunners: Make us proud!!

By TotalArsenal

Arteta’s Next Challenge

After a tough start for Arsenal in the league, we are truly back now and it’s good to be a Gooner again. The main reason for this incredible turnaround is our focus on keeping it tight at the back and taking our chances when they arrive. Arsenal remain a work in progress but a solid defence will always be the backbone of any successful team. The boys conceded an eye-watering ten goals in just three games at the start of the season but since then only four goals in eight games, which is great.

The team have also started to score goals but it is fair to say this remains an area for improvement. 13 goals in eight games, about 1.6 goals per game, is nothing to write home about of course. We had one 0-0 v Brighton and three 1-0 to the Arsenals, and two games in which we scored two goals (Leicester and Palace) and two games in which we scored three goals (Villa and Spuds).

I reckon we will start to see further improvement in the next ten games but there is quite a challenge for Arteta and co to get our attack to work better. The big issue is how to combine creation and finishing of chances optimally. In principle all players play a role in our attack, from keeper to CF, but the main players are taking up the four attacking positions in front of the deep laying ‘DMs’.

It is hard to get things right at the moment as there are five players who ideally all play but for whom there are only four positions if we want to stick to two deep-laying midfielders, which certainly has my preference. Auba and Laca ideally both play and the same goes for the Ode and ESR, but that would leave Saka out which is almost unthinkable right now. Something/somebody has to give and that seems to be the handsome viking. It has meant that we needed more creative support from the other players and this has not been bad at all. With Tierney returning soon we will get better passes and crosses from the left (even though Tavares has not been bad at this) and with Partey (and hopefully soon Xhaka too) we have an allround midfielder who can pick a creative pass now and again. Lokonga has also shown real promise in the last few games.

Still, Odegaard is the sort of player who has to play regularly and the same goes for Smith Rowe of course. Ideally, we can fit them both in. But whom to leave out? Saka, Auba or Laca? Saka’s wing play is a real weapon on the right; Laca has been awesome in connecting up with his fellow players and creating space for others; Auba has worked hard but all this hard labour has made him less predatory when it comes to taking his chances. Still, I love Auba for buying into the Arteta philosophy and working his socks off. Laca suffers a bit from the same and if and when they start combining the hard work with some cool finishing we will see a step improvement in our average goals per PL game going forward.

In our highest score games, when we scored three, we had either both of Auba and Laca or both of ESR and Ode on the pitch, so the jury is still out in terms of what works best. And maybe that is just what Arteta wants right now: either focus on more creativity or more finishing power depending on our opponent. The big question is still what is the optimum combination up-front and we will find out about this in the next couple of months, no doubt. It may well be that Arteta will need to buy one or two attackers who are more natural at combining hard work and cool finishing, and January’s TW will be interesting in that respect.

What is your ‘ideal four’ in attack and why?

By TotalArsenal.

Is Arteta-ball a Combination of the Best of the Wenger Years?

Were Arsenal ever really a soft touch? I don’t think so, but I have no doubt that referees allowed opposing teams to ‘give it to us’ without consequences and then dish out cards to our, Wenger-mostly-foreign players, left, right and centre. Wenger’s first teams were full of strong, hard, athletic players who were perfect at combining strength, speed, intelligence, touch and finesse. It was total bliss.

Then came the Fabregas years and we exchanged physicallity and speed for touch, quick passing and elaborate, beautifully crafted team goals; a trend I think continued till last summer. It was good to watch but it wasn’t enough.

Having watched the Watford game again yesterday, I was wondering whether Arteta is effectively combining the two big eras of the last 25 years into one: power, speed, touch and team-finesse at the highest level. Is this the real Arteta-ball, ready to make us competitive again?

The new signings all appear to have a good first touch, pass the ball round well AND are strong and fast.

Lokonga has Vieira physicality and engine. Tavares has the speed, power and menace of Ashley Cole.

We all know about Big Gab’s Soll Campbell like qualities and Ben White is bossed by nobody.

Tomiyasu is as keen and physical as Lauren.

Partey is pure power and physicallity, and all our attackers put themselves about and don’t shy away from a physical battle. Even Young Emile and Bukayo stand their ground and cannot be bullied. A powerful CF may well be next arriving at the Home of football, even though Laca is giving his all every time he is donning the famous shirt.

Yet all these players are comfortable with the ball in tight spaces, have a good touch and pass the ball round well. I have no doubt Arteta/Edu will get a few more players like this in the coming transfer windows, and only those of the squad will survive who are able to combine touch, intelligence and power to the max.

Arteta-ball remains a work in progress, but are we now able to see what it will look like? Nobody bullies us anymore, we give away few chances, work for each other all over the pitch, start to create more chances, keep clean sheets and more than occasionally play some good passing football.

What’s not to like at this stage?

By TotalArsenal

Arsenal v Watford Lineup – Can Arsenal Complete the Turnaround?

The Hornets are coming to the Home of Football and Arsenal have a great opportunity to get very close to the top four and just six points of the high flying Oilski Ruski team. What an incredible turn around that would be; but let’s not underestimate the task and be complacent at any time in the game. Ranieri is a wily fox and will prepare his team well. He showed at Goodison Park how he can develop a good plan to give a team a bloody nose. Those Hornets cary a nasty sting.

I cannot see Mikel making any changes as Tierney is still a doubt and Tavares is grabbing his chance to shine with all he has got.

Our settled Starting 11?

Can Mikel and Arsenal complete the very impressive turnaround?

Come on You Rip Roaring Gunners 🌋🌋🌋

By TotalArsenal

Will the ACON derail Arsenal’s Season in January/February?

Partey, Elneny, Aubameyang and Pepe will probably play their last game for Arsenal, if picked, on Boxing Day in December and then if they go the distance in the ACoN may not return to Arsenal until the second week of February and if Arsenal do progress on all fronts, as I believe they will, then that could possibly be a total of 10 games missed – if they return fit…?

That’s:

Dec 28th… Wolves (H)Jan 1st…… Man City (H)Jan 5th…….LCSFJan 8th…… FAC3Jan 12th…. LCSFJan 15th…. Spuds (A)Jan 22nd… Burnley (H)Feb 5th….. FAC4Feb 8th….. Wolves (A)Feb 12th… Chelsea (A)

Two qquestions for you:

How will missing these four African Gunners affect the team?

How should the club mitigate for this temporary loss mid season?

By Allezkev

Why Aaron is So Good, Set Piece Joy, the Wall of Loko-Partey: 8 Arsenal Observations.

Eight Observations from a pivotal away win:

  1. For the second PL game in a row, Arteta and his team almost totally out-stratrigised and out-worked their opponents in the first half. And for the second time the boys were up by two goals at the break. Villa and the Foxes are good, established teams but we were able to outplay them with our newly put together team. Arteta is awesome!
  2. I am so pleased that Lokonga and Partey are working so well in midfield and that we are not missing Granit as much as I thought we would. The pair are awesome and just need to work on their stamina to last the whole 90 minutes. In the second half it became a bit too easy for the Foxes to receive the ball in the box or run into the box and our CBs were left a bit too exposed as a result. But the FBs were also guilty here. Still the Loko-Partey wall is a joy to watch.
  3. Aaron clean-sheet Ramsdale! He is the embodiment of the force of willpower. He just doesn’t want to be beaten and his sheets must always be Persil clean. He gave away his shirt and boots after the game. This man lives football in the moment like nobody else and that’s why he is so good!
  4. Emile got the all important second goal because he was at the right place and took his chance like a professional midfielder. Arsenal through their movement and intensity force mistakes on their opponents, and sooner or later, often with a bit of luck, we score from these. Emile is really benefiting from this right now and it is vital that our midfielders keep scoring from just inside and outside the 18 y box area.
  5. Auba and Laca worked their socks off and through their hassling and pressing the Foxes’ defence and midfield just couldn’t settle. It also resulted in a lot of space for the great again Bukayo and Emile and Co to run into.
  6. In the second half we sat too deep as a team and relied too much on the wonders of Aaron. Mikel made the right call by subbing Laca for Ode but we must learn to dare to push up and reclaim the midfield more when we are defending a lead.
  7. Another goal from a set piece and what a joy it is to watch these at the moment. It has been years since we have carried this set piece threat and our new set piece coach is doing a great job it seems. So pleased as well for Big Gab with his brilliant goal. He is another player who plays with all he has in the moment, just like Ramsdale.
  8. The Away Supporters were brilliant and could so clearly be heard on TV. They really made it sound Arsenal were playing at home and what a difference this made. Ooh to, Ooh to be, Ooh to be A Gooner!

By TotalArsenal