Arsenal v Leeds: Time for a Front Line of Gabi, Reiss and Gabi

(A) Gabi is nobody’s fool (01/04/23) – Leeds game preview 

I was ‘accused’ to be overoptimistic with my take on the Palace game. And perhaps I was, but not on a general notice. I happen to be quite pessimistic on our visit on Anfield and the Etihad, but at the moment I’m not worried about hosting Leeds later today. 

I’m expecting a comfortable win of 3:0. And no, it has nothing to do with today being All Fool’s Day. We have a really strong team, the motivation is excellent and the team morale is flying high. Furthermore we have defeated them at Elland Road in mid-October, even though I have to admit that we didn’t necessary deserve those 3 points, being one of those few games that we used to lose in the past seasons. Yet, Arteta managed to turn that around somehow staking our claim for the title after a hiatus of more than a decade. 

But we will be playing in front of a home crowd this time, and even though Leeds has collected 7 points from their last 4 games we are on a 6 victory streak already; and if we win today the 7 in a row will be a PL record for Arteta – however we would be still halfway from our 2002 run of 14 consecutive victories. Anyway, we are in good form, but to be fair only Fulham was in the top half of the table (hence my limited enthusiasm before the Liverpool game).  

However, there are a few more reasons to be not to be worried. Saliba’s injury didn’t come at a good time (they never do), but Holding deputized him quite aptly. We avoided further injuries in the break, but that’s something Leeds couldn’t say about their players. They lost Tyler Adams, their best DM, and Leeds will miss Wilfried Gnonto from attacking midfield, too. Liam Cooper is back in action, and he has formed a decent partnership with Robin Koch, but they are far from invincible.  

Their highest valued player is the Austrian AM Aronson, but his transfer price made a bigger impact on his (TransferMarkt) market value than his 3 goal contributions this season. Their have 3 in-form players at the moment in my opinion. Pascal Struijk is an underrated left back, a big fella with proper skills. He could and will make our RW life difficult, I’m afraid. Rodrigo is past 32, yet scored as many goals this season as the next 4 combined. He doesn’t have a strong presence in the penalty box, but his hold up play is decent, and the former Valencia hitman has a deadly left foot. His 11 goals against a 7.32 xG shows a clinical, efficient striker (+3.62) making him #6 behind Maddison, Phoden, Martinelli, Haaland and Almiron. But I expect our CBs to defend properly, as he has made only a single assist the entire PL campaign, so they should expect a shot rather than a through ball. That leaves us with former Liverpool, Manchester United and City rambler Harrison, who made 13 goal contributions this year, including 6 assist in the PL and further 3 in the FA Cup. If our boys can eliminate Jack, the game will be much easier. I expected to write more on their best player, but apparently the summer signing Sinisterra didn’t hit the ground running, and the Columbian is having an underwhelming debut season even with his injuries taken into consideration. 

Leeds is dangerous at corners – scoring 7 (20%) of their 35 goals – but equally vulnerable there (conceding 6). They play in the same 4-2-3-1 formation Arsenal do, I think that will suit us. They really enjoy taking long shots. I expect a few today, but I think Ramsdale will be up to the challenge.  Our boys will have to kill the game by scoring the third goal. Not only for the sake of entertainment, but Leeds has a strong track record of coming back from losing positions.  

I will say something provocative, but I would give Saka the day off. He is in great form, but the Liverpool game is coming, and visiting West Ham isn’t a walk in the park either. He played 175 minutes in the interlull, I wouldn’t risk an injury in a game that we are favourite to win without him. Moreover, even if he plays, I don’t expect him to continue his current form. It is not easy to maintain anyway, and not many wingers have filed days against Strujk. So I would give the opportunity to Nelson. But whatever decision Mikel will made I take my chances and forecast our Gabis dominating the game, scoring at least a couple between/among them. Expecting Martinelli becoming MotM is the safer bet, but Jesus scoring would be a welcome surprise and a confidence booster nonetheless. 

History is at our side. In the last 3 years, Leeds made a single point out of 7 games, and even that 0:0 draw took place on the road; and the last home defeat was 19 years ago. We have a great momentum (6 straight wins against inferior opponents), but the boys are yet to prove if the international break didn’t impair their concentration. Leeds won by 2:4 against 9-men Wolverhampton last round, but to be fair they have already scored 3 when the first Wolf – Jonny – was sent off. However this was their second away win this season, and I don’t expect today being the third.  

Leeds is not facing a relegation battle just yet – with 26 points they are 2 above the relegation trio. Maybe they are yet to fight for their lives. However, I don’t expect them to stay up in the first tier. I know this is not about my PL predictions, but I see more reserve and provision in West Ham, Leicester, Nottingham or Everton.  

Finally, let’s talk about the referee. Darren England hasn’t officiated a single game for us this season, but he was in charge of our season defining defeat against Newcastle last May. However, I think we played pretty bad on our own accord, at least I don’t remember major mistakes from his side. England is not a card bully – issuing only 2 reds in 19 games – but the 6 penalties are slightly alarming.  

All in all I expect an entertaining April Fool’s Day afternoon, ending on a positive note, featuring a Holding-Gabriel partnership, 3+ goals, a clean sheet, miracles from Jesus, and a cameo from Smith-Rowe. I would really like to see Nelson play (and start), but I don’t expect it. 

Let’s go and collect the last low hanging 3 point before the going gets tough! 


By Peter Barany

Now and Back Then Arsenal are Special

I heard an interesting comment on an Arsenal podcast recently and one of the contributors opined that he felt that the current Emirates has a younger feel about it, that there seems, since lockdown, more young people in the stadium which could explain the more intense and exciting atmosphere the fans have generated this season, although it’s been a slow burner since Arteta arrived.

I felt right from the beginning of his tenure, unlike a few of his predecessors, that Mikel Arteta recognised the value of the fans, of course he did he’d been a part the febrile atmosphere of a Merseyside derby where the Scousers create an intense whirl of emotions probably only matched by an Old Firm game. So he brought into it straight away, saying all the right things in his interviews regarding how important the fans were and this remember was before lockdown and the rest of football were reminded why they play the game they do. This generation of players and coaches have been kind of re-educated once more of what the fans bring to the table of how the ordinary folk are as much of the occasion as those on the field of play – but Arteta was ahead of the curve and he’s worked on this narrative with his players from the start, they’ve bought into it and they include the fans, refer to the fans in interviews and it’s engendered a kind of family feel that I’ve not really experienced before even in a successful season, the collective will of everyone at the club is quite amazing and it’s continuing to develop, the support is constant even after we’ve conceded a goal and if at times it dips then Martin Odegaard, Alex Zinchenko et al will wave their arms at the fans to remind them of their part in this evolving scenario, all for one and one for all.

I’ve been very lucky, probably luckier than many of those young supporters who are now driving the club on because I’ve seen Arsenal lift six league championships, all of them magical in different ways, Anfield 89, The Invincibles, The Double team of 2002, the Almost Invincibles of 1991, my favourite the 1997/98 season, Wenger’s first double, Dennis Bergkamp’s finest season in an Arsenal shirt, a hoped for but unexpected success and I think the unexpected successes are the best.

I was a youngster when Arsenal won the league and cup double in 1971, it was again unexpected. 

Back then, Arsenal were an uncompromising team of tough homegrown players like Peter Simpson, Peter Storey, Jon Sammels, George Armstrong and John Radford supplemented by experienced signings like George Graham from Chelsea, Bob McNab from Huddersfield Town who we fought off Liverpool to sign, Bob Wilson from Wolves who had signed as an amateur, Frank McLintock who had been a midfielder at Leicester but was now our centre half and inspiring captain and fringe squad players like centre-half John Roberts and one time club record signing Peter Marinello from Hibernian the Pepe of his day.

Into this mix manager Bertie Mee had included a group of young homegrown players who together had come through the apprentice scheme at Highbury, as the academy players were termed back then, the likes of Scotsman Eddie Kelly, Cockney Irishman Pat Rice, Northern Irishman Sammy Nelson, Geordie born Ray Kennedy and my hero and Holloway born and bred Charlie George. These young guys added that spark of magic to the resilience of the experienced guys and they wouldn’t allow firm favourites and Don Revie coached Leeds United to shake them off. Arsenal kept nibbling away, despite all the pundits expecting Leeds to win the title no doubt because Arsenal had finished 12th the previous season.

But Frank drove the team on, he was magnificent, inspiring, a giant of a man just like Tony Adams, he lived and breathed Arsenal, George Graham ‘stroller’ brought his laconic laid-back style to the table scoring 11 critical goals in 38 league games, Pat Rice was the epitome of hard graft, working on your skills, making the absolute maximum of your talent, a kind of Ray Parlour character but Pat could play and would go on to become an Arsenal captain and coach – and then there was Bob Wilson, nobody charged out of his goal and went head first into the flailing boots like Bob, how many goals he saved that season with his unfussy, almost gentlemanly style befitting the university graduate that he was. All four were key components of that enduring  championship winning team, a team that had ended 17 long, barren years without the league title in the Highbury trophy cabinet. 

That 1970/71 team is legendary, every Arsenal championship team is legendary, it stays with you for the rest of your life and if you’re lucky enough you end up with a statue outside of the Emirates.

By Allezkev

Forget Haaland, Arsenal have the best Weapon, and it Fires from all Cylinders

Gabriel Jesus 5 goals, 5 assists

Leandro Trossard 8 goals, 8 assists

Granit Xhaka 4 goals, 5 assists

The Øde 10 goals, 6 assists

Bukayo 12 goals, 10 assists

These are the current player stats for PL games only. It’s remarkable. No other team comes even close to having such a fine balance between goal scorers and assist makers (all in one person) in the PL.

Only 🌗 half moon face Kane (23) and Berserker Haaland (33) have more combined goals and assists than Saka. But they score many more goals than they produce assists. They are typically selfish CFs. Goal machines of whom their teams depend, and a bad day of the office can cost them dearly. Yet Saka delivers in almost evet game, and for me he is the Best Player in the PL.

I think it’s revolutionary how Arteta has changed the team into a goals-from-anywhere/anybody team.

Arsenal have become almost totally unpredictable and robust. And when our main CF, Jesus, became seriously injured the team absorbed the loss instantly. His replacements, firstly Eddie and then Trossard, did a great job, but it was the collective sense of responsibility and ability of the team which really kept us going, and that’s why we are still within distance of Man City’s incredible, Haaland-power-fed goal difference.

Goals and assists are every midfielder and attacker, and even defender’s, responsibility. And that’s a main driver behind our current success.

Ooh to be a Gooner.

By TotalArsenal

Arsenal v Palace Preview: Three Months Wait is Over, Our Strongest Attack is Back

A bullsh*t final (19/03/23) – Crystal Palace game preview

The purpose of these post is a pre-game analysis, so I’m not supposed to say (much) about our recent elimination from the Europa League. So I will be brief – albeit many of you know that is mission impossible for me.

We lost games this season. Fortunately not too many – 6 altogether – and we did that with the A+ team (Saka, Martinelli, Ode – against Manchester United or Everton), the A- team (with Trossard, Nketiah, Jorginho – against Man City 2x and Sporting), and with our B team (Hein, Soares, Elneny, Lokonga, Vieira, Marquinhos, Holding, Tomi) against Brighton and PSV. So it happens. Not particularly big deals. It’s unpleasant, but we have to move on.

What we shouldn’t do is to create false explanations to justify those. And there are 2 untrue excuses going around in Arsenal communities. First, that our squad is too thin to fight in 2 competitions. Firstly it’s not. We have capable backup-guys (maybe apart from Kiwior and Vieira, who still have to prove themselves) in every position. We shouldn’t confuse Tierney, Jorginho, Tomiyasu, Trossard or Smith-Rowe with our earlier generation of squad players like Sokratis, Coquelin, Kolasinac or Willock. And we did quite alright until this Thursday – albeit there is not much to be proud of in our domestic cup runs – plus we’ll practically have the same squad (+ Rice/Caiceido/SMS/Neves) to stand strong in the PL, the CL and the cups next season. It is deep enough – if we can keep the majority fit. Secondly, don’t fool ourselves that Arteta didn’t want to win the tie. If he wouldn’t, then Turner, Tierney, ESR, Holding and Kiwior would have started, and the first 4 penalties wouldn’t have been taken by our best attacking players. We tried and we failed, fair and square.

With that said, let’s forget the narrative that we have 11 finals left to play. We have negligible chance to win them all, and apart from our sure loss in the Etihad we will likely lose points against Liverpool, Chelsea and Newcastle. We have to do our very best – and hope that City will lose points in the same fashion – but the boys are doing their best on a constant basis anyway, regardless of the league position or our exposure in other competitions.

So I wouldn’t talk about finals – at least before 29/04. And definitely not on hosting Crystal Palace. We defeated them on the road in the first round, and we became better while they are sinking at the moment (they are sitting at the bottom of the form-table based on the last 12 games). This and the home support should result in a comfortable win: my prediction Arsenal 4 – 0 Crystal Palace.

Obviously, that doesn’t mean that we should take this game lightly. That would be unsportsmanlike, and probably counter-intuitive, as the boys have to demonstrate that the Sporting-fiasco was merely a glitch, and they are in full control again. Joachim Andersen is their best player this season, but despite his height and passing confidence, he is no real threat to Ramsdale, as he scored only a single goal in the last 1.6 season. And this is their Achilles-tendon: they seem to struggle creating dangerous situation in the opponent’s box. Zaha is Palace’s top scorer with 6, while Olise and Eze are capable of creating some chances. But if we manage to neutralize the trio, then we are in for another clean sheet, even though Arsenal is famous for individual errors; one of the few weaknesses Arteta couldn’t get rid of our portfolio yet. Which happened in almost all our defeats this season, but this should be a topic of a different post.

Supporting their impotent attack they have a quite capable defensive line. In their last 10 games they conceded a mere 9 goals, and only Manchester United managed to hit them twice. Andersen’s merits were already mentioned, however I think Guehi is a perfectly average defender. Doucouré is a hardcore DM, but the Malian is a card magnet, and will likely get booked today, too. But their major concern should be the goalkeeper, as Johnstone is out on a long-term injury, and Guaita is doubtful; so there is some chance that 19-year-old Joe Whitworth will stand between the sticks again – hence is my prediction of such a confident victory. And the lack of Patrick Vieira.

Because I almost forget to mention, that after the winless streak of 11 games – their last victory happened in 2022 the longest such run in the PL – the club fired Arsenal’s former legend from the bridge. It may have seemed more logical to make a call on the manager’s position after this game during the upcoming international break, but Palace are potentially sparing Vieira further embarrassment in this incredibly difficult fixture. Anyway, as far as I know they didn’t appoint a successor yet, so hopefully the Sean Dyche effect will not apply today. That should give the boys some confidence, but we have won our last 5 PL games, so the odds are on our side big time.

That’s undisputed, even though our last 3 meetings with CP in the Emirates all ended draws. But it is history, and in the current season Arsenal have picked up 32 points in the Emirates, only City (34) have picked up more on home soil in the league this PL campaign. Crystal Palace have only scored nine goals away from home in the league this season, only three teams have scored fewer – I expect to see little to no pressure on the Holding-Gabriel partnership.

By the way, line-up. The team had some unfortunate injuries, so I expect White going back to RB and Holding retaining his role from Thursday. Party and Xhaka should be our main engine today, and I predict the return of the lethal quartet of Odegaard, Saka, Martinelli and Jesus after a 3 months break. So apart from Saliba we will play with our strongest XI, hence my optimism to continue scoring 3+ goals as happened in 8 games from our last 13 PL matches.

Currently we played the same number of games as reigning champions Manchester City. But since they have played in the FA Cup yesterday (winning impressively by 6:0) we will go into the interlull with a game more, so it would be intimidating to extend the lead at the top of the Premier League to 8 points. Which has limited relevance to be honest as after the inevitable loss in the Etihad and completing their game in hand it’s still only 2 points, but maybe it can inflict some psychological damage, who knows…

We will be playing against a mirror formation of 4-2-3-1 / 4-3-3 with Stuart Atwell officiating, who was the referee when we defeated Wolves at the Molineux Stadium by 2:0 with Odegaard’s double. Palace have conceded 34 goals in the PL this season, with 17 (50%) in the last 30 minutes. Despite our Thursday game might still be in the legs, with proper substitutions and game management we have a good chance to exploit their seemingly short stamina.

Let’s go and see the boys erasing the bitter memory of Thursday’s loss on penalties in the first-ever senior competitive shoot-out to be held at Emirates Stadium. I hope I’m not being too optimistic, and definitely not jinxing it, but if we manage to break the dam early in the first half and the goals keep raining, the margin could be even bigger than my prediction above.

By Peter Barany

Arsenal v Sporting Afterthoughts

Well that was a good game of football. A typical European night against an unexpectedly very strong Sporting side. It turned out that only our strongest team would have been able to overcome the Portuguese warriors, and if we were indeed serious about progressing in this competition then this was a tactical mistake by Arteta. I know we have the PL title to fight for and I respect Arteta’s choices, and I still enjoyed this European night tremendously.

The teams were equally strong over the two legs and it was decided on the dreaded, cruel penalties. As a Dutchman I have come to despise penalty shootouts, and I still feel that it would be better for the referee to flip a coin at the end of the 120 minutes.

I think we can pull some conclusions on a few individuals who were given the chance to impress us over both legs.

Reiss Nelson: I think his biggest problem is a lack of presence and ability to make the game his. Yes the service could have been better but there is a strong feeling that he will go the same route as Iwobi and Willock. Good PL worthy player but, unless he really shows us a different side to his game, I think he will move on this summer. This is a personal judgement and I respect that others will see it differently.

Vieira: everything is there but just like Nelson he lacks presence and natural dominance. Yes he needs bulking up but it is also important to see pictures quicker and act on them in a flash. This is where Odegaard is so impressive and Vieira is a level below this currently. I think it will come but a loan to Marseille or Stade de Reims next season may be necessary.

Rob Holding: that was a phenomenal performance by Rob. He never made me think I wish Tequila had not gone off.

Tomiyasu: a great cover for Ben White but I think he is finding it hard to not play automatically every week. He is not having much luck either this season if and when he is on.

Zinchenko: as others have pointed out, the Zinch can be a bit hit and miss at times. Sometimes he is phenomenal but he can also be erratic and undisciplined. His strong points are his presence and motivational skills and that is clearly why he is in the team, but yesterday’s game was a great example of how his misplaced passes can get the whole team frezzled.

Ramsdale: no complaints from me. That was a once in a lifetime goal and Aaron is not to blame at all. The penalty saving attempts could have been better but this is probably not one of his strengths (as yet). He has plenty of strengths though, and he clearly is our nr1 goalkeeper. The save with his face was unbelievable.

Jesus: it was great to see him back and for the first 30 minutes he was simply awesome. It will take a few weeks before he will be fully up to speed.

ESR: the fact that he did not come on in this game is telling a lot. I love the guy but it looks like he is not going to contribute much this season.

A loss always hurts even when we clearly did not give the game enough priority, and our opponents enough respect imho. But what is done is done and now we will move on to the League for 11 beautiful battles.

Come on You Rip Roaring Gunners.

By TotalArsenal.

Time for Reiss Lightning and a Cameo by Jesus: Arsenal v Sporting Lineup

Having watched a bit of CL football this week I must say again how much more I enjoy the Thursday Europa games these days. Napoli are a brilliant team to watch and certainly the surprise of the season, but other than that it is boring, predictable, groundhog day football. Which teams have made it to the last eight? Man City, Chelsea, Bayern Munich, AC Milan, Inter Milan, Benfica, Napoli and defending champions Real Madrid. The only shift is the dominance of the Italian teams, with just one Spanish team – the gazillion time winners of the competition – and one German team in this season’s last eight. What’s the chance that the last four will be close to Man City, Bayern Munich, Real Madrid and one ‘surprise’?! Last year’s eight were: Chelsea, Real Madrid, Atletico, Man City, Villareal, Bayern, Benfica and Liverpool. Clubs from almost the same four nations as this year. Bah, boring as hell.

The big money is of course in the CL competition but for a Romantic like me it is much more fun to watch the battles between the Europa League teams. It is so refreshing and the footie is often really watchable. I look forward to Feyenoord v Shakhtar but would also happily watch the two teams starting with Union, Real Sociedad v Roma promises should be a fine battle, as does Freiburg v Juventus. These games are so fresh and exciting; they are full of potential surprises. All European football, including the EC1, used to be like this. Yes, sometimes a team would dominate because they assembled a great set of players and had a world class manager at the helm, but also they would be usurped by new teams and then would disappear from the top for a while. Football was full of surprises and in principle anyone could win the EC1 for most of the history of European club competition.

I want once more the wonders of Nottingham Forest and Villa, Feyenoord, Red Star Belgrade and Celtic to happen, but I know that battle has been lost a long time ago. So let’s all wonder whether Real will win the cup with the big ears, as Leo Beenhakker once called it, for a sixth time in the last ten years….

Predicted line up v Sporting


Tomiyasu, White, Gab, Tierney

Jorginho, Xhaka


Nelson, Leandro, Martinelli

Hopefully Gabriel Jesus will get the last 30 minutes to play, maybe even more. Partey, Tequila and Saka to help close the game at the end.

Now that is a team and a game to look forward to!

Come on You Rip Roaring Gunners!!!!!

By TotalArsenal.

Fulham 0-3 Arsenal: a Masterclass by Arteta

Imagine having to pick Arsenal’s best 45 minutes of the season at the end of May! Many games have been decided in just one half of them, just as the boys did on Sunday v Fulham.

This is no coincidence. The management team study opponents and they produce bespoke game plans. Often they work in the first half and now and again they need tweaking during the break, but what is often the case is that one half is much better, and also more decisive, than the other. Arsenal played some awesome halves this season.

I was listening to a Dutch football podcast this week, and the experts made an interesting statement about Arteta. It was something like this: this guy works not 24 but 48 hours per day and teams will be copying Arsenal’s tactics, style of play etc for years to come. They also believed that if Arsenal were to win the league this season it would be a bigger achievement than Leicester’s few seasons ago.

I have written before that we should count ourselves very lucky to be Gooners, AND that we have Arteta and a sensible and supportive BoD and owner.

Just watch, if you can, the first half at Craven Cottage again for the sheer dominance and effectiveness of the plan. Everyone knows that Saka is our most dangerous attacker. Teams prepare well to stop him, but they will need to commit a few chess pieces to do so. He will always remain dangerous, though, and his threat-level alone is a big factor in all our games.

As a result there was a lot of space on the left and the lesser known Arsenal attacker, Trossard, had space, time, vision and trickery to win us the game with a superb triple-assist show.

The boys clearly targeted a couple of areas where they believe Fulham were vulnerable with devastating effect. The Fulham manager tried to deal with our threat from the left but that meant leaving space elsewhere, and he clearly had no answer to Arteta’s tactics.

The second half was a silent truce: you get the points, we safe face. Arteta could rest and introduce new players, we kept a clean sheet and closed the goal difference gap by three goals. With a big game on Thursday this made sense. Fulham away after a Thursday evening game in Lisbon was on paper a big test, but Arteta and the boys made light work of it.

Ooh to, Ooh to be, Ooh to be A Gooner.

By TotalArsenal

Sporting Portugal v Arsenal Preview and Alternative Lineup

To rest or not to rest? As always on EL night, that is the question.

Tierney will be unavailable tomorrow, this boy has no luck at all. That makes 6 (Hein, Tierney, Elneny, Jesus, Nketiah, Trossard) MA can’t pick, including 3 forwards.
Kick-off time at Craven Cottage is 67 hours after final whistle in Lisbon. They’re a (very) good team, Fulham, so I don’t see how we can expect a win if our usual starters are not given a rest tomorrow (except in midfield where there is no choice but playing the big boys – not to mention the experience in “game management” they’ll provide us with).

Which might leave us with (4-4-2 with “diamond” midfield):
(12 subs are allowed: Ramsdale-White-Saliba-Walters-Zinchenko-Smith-LewisSkelly-Saka-Odegaard-CozierDuberry-Martinelli-Hillson ???).

I, for one, think such a side could get a draw at least. Marseilles have beaten them twice in the CL, with Kola-Tavares-Guendouzi-Sanchez, all of whom would be 3rd choice in our current squad.
What I’ve seen of them in those 2 games might be misleading, but they looked terribly undisciplined (they ended up their two games against Marseilles a 10-man team). Don’t know if this is a terrible downside in the way their players are “educated” but they looked like a whole bunch of BrunoFernandeses in full brat mode …

They have 2 excellent players upfront though, Trincao and “Pote” Gonçalves – typical Portuguese forwards, fast, unafraid, lethal with both feet, the kind of players who can hurt any team, especially on the break.
Is that enough to risk adding one of our first-choice players to our injury list? I don’t think so …

I like the EL a lot, I’d love the trophy to end up in our cabinet, but our place in the 2023-2024 CL is secure now, so winning it is not as vital as it would have been if we weren’t 18, 20, or 21 points clear of the 5th, with only 12 games ahead of us.
Now, if things turned really sour, the 5-change rule will come handy, and there’s always the 2nd leg in our brand new, vociferous London fortress …
So, let’s put our trust in them and the 11 lads above will do us proud!

By Le Gall

Finally Arsenal’s Reserve Beast in Attack Gets his Chance

My NYC gooner buddies along with Total and Kev know, that Reiss is my boy this season… kind of the same way as Nketiah had been last year.. and I’m not an automatic lover of all our academy players… for example I’ve been pretty tough on Emile.  

I have been saying that we should re-sign Nelson on a an inexpensive deal as a spare winger this summer for next few seasons, as cover for 4 competitions.

This is the perfect time to explain why.

The raw talent has always been there and I saw signs early this season that he’s giving exactly what Arteta expects of his players.  Basically like the Nketiah transformation from poacher to all around classic striker who works his tail off.

On talent, he was one of the  highest rated forward prospects of all young English players in the country. He and Eddie were killing it at youth level assisting each other and scoring for fun. Back then I think the hype may have gone to his head and made him a less hard worker, and he’s actually admitted as much in interviews this season. He only started to impress in last years loan from what I hear. Of course there have been many frustrating injuries as well. 

Now, this season coming back to us, from preseason, he’s looked aggressive working off the ball, has kept a great attitude even in small opportunities. He now plays more direct, with force, less cuteness and has clearly bulked up in muscle, as Eddie did. He’s followed the blueprint to impress Arteta. 

I was so sad when he pulled up with the hamstring most recently, because he was about to get a lot more playing chances with Jesus out and before Trossard came. You could see in his face that he was dejected. Nketiah hugged him as he was limping off in that game. They both knew what it was doing to his chances to make a case for himself to stay. 

It’s taken a couple years for me to read Arteta through his small comments. As I knew he’d start Vieira against Bournemouth from recent quotes. 

I sensed Mikel really wants to give opportunities to Nelson to reward his hard work, even early in the season.

To me, even aside from his heroics when he scored 2 replacing injured Saka, and against Bournemouth, I think he’s looked dangerous and very active on and off the ball when he’s had game time.

 I don’t think the manager is paying lip service when he talks about his players, and I think he really is a supporter of Reiss. If we don’t end up keeping him, I know the boss will feel bad about it.

I hope he’ll get a few more chances to play soon, with Jesus needing to be reintroduced gradually, and whatever is the story with Eddie and Trossard’s fitness.

This might make a great academy gunner story.


Arsenal v Everton Eight Observations: Do we Really Know How Lucky we Are?

Well that proved to be less easy than, and then as easy as, expected. For almost all of the first half the Toffees kept the Gunners at bay, and they were even dangerous when going forward. We expected them to sit very deep all the time, but they mixed it up a bit.

And then there was guitar as the famous ACDC song has it. Bukayo received the ball, spins and then thundered the ball in the right top corner with his ‘weaker’ right foot. Boom, 1-0 to the Arsenal.

A couple of minutes later, Saka is cheeky and most alert to steal the ball and feed the hungry Martinelli. The Brazilian is in the same space that Bukayo was in just minutes ago. Will he do the same as the young Englishman or will he go low? It is the latter and Pickford gets beaten again. 2-0 to the good guys.

The second half is no contest other than that of beautiful football: it is totally one sided. The ball glides across the pitch like a steam iron over a cotton shirt, and everything has a glorious smoothness to it. The Toffees want to go home. The Gooners just want to sing and watch this exhibition forever and ever.

For a while there is no end product but then no nonsense Trossy feeds dynamo Ødegaard and with a little luck the ball finds the net. And late on Eddie finds Marti for his well deserved brace. 4-0 to the Arsenal and it could have been more.

Eight very short observations:

  1. Trossard is so mobile and has already doubled his season long assist count. A shot in this team’s arm.
  2. The Øde is such a pressing machine. He beats the drum for our team.
  3. Saka is so special. He looks after himself and his energy levels incredibly well. He is almost even with PL goals and assist this season: 10 goals, 9 assists. Such a balance between being selfish and a team player. Wow, WOW!
  4. Jorginho, what a vision and what a team fit-in by Arteta!
  5. Tequila produced some very fine mid-long passes. I have not noticed this before as much, but this man can pass a ball.
  6. So good to have Partey back and what a second half exhibition of midfield play he offered us.
  7. Ramsdale had little to do but he made a strong and vital safe in the second half. To be focused for ninety minutes is not easy but Aaron does it every game. And that’s why he is our Nr1.
  8. How good is the Zinch?! He was everywhere on the pitch and he can do simply everything possible on it. Wowowwow.

By TotalArsenal