Arsenal Player Ratings:Two Clear MOTM. Soares impressive. Left side Below Par.

Player Ratings:

Ramsdale: 7. A few risky distributions from the back but plenty of presence and decisive when needed.

Soares: 8. Great support in attack and lovely continuous engine. A couple of tired passes at the end but will not be replaced by Tomiyasu anytime soon.

Ben White: 6.5. Mostly calm and composed, should have been stronger for Watford’s second goal.

Gabriel: 7. Committed game with plenty of presence. Long range passing remains a work in progress.

KT: 6. Did not want understand his positioning defensively but this may be due to a lack of understanding with Martinelli. Our left side was below par.

Xhaka: 6.5. Looked not 100% fit and less involved than usually. Great discipline.

Partey: 7.5. Solid and good all round performance. Quietly making a big difference.

The Ode: 9. Sumptuous performance in all areas. Great goal and always looking to add quality to our game. First touch and passing of De Bruine’s quality. What a joy to watch! MotM.

Saka: 9. Great goal and assist. Constant threat and danger from him. What a giant. At times Messi-esque. MotM.

Laca: 7.5. Two assists and great nuisance to the sorry Watford defence. Sign him up.

Martinelli: 7. Great goal and hard work in attack. Defensive contributions and positioning below par, but this may also be due to a lack of understanding with KT.

By TotalArsenal

Battle 4/17: Lineup and Preview. Arteta to Follow Paddy’s Lead

Hornets can be found all over Europe but those north of the English capital are the most annoying ones. They love stinging us for fun, get under our shirts and causing an upset. Luckily, these days the up to 5.5cm beasties have lost their Deeney-like sting upfront and they need a bit of a miracle this season to stay up.

But with Roy Hodgson they have a wily manager, and as the Red Mancs have found out last week, he knows how to make it hard for a so called top team. This will not be easy.

Vieira showed recently how it should be done, with an impressive 1-4 away win, and I think we will need to be equally ruthless.

Everyone is fit but Tomiyasu remains a doubt, so I reckon we will see a practically unchanged team from our victory v Wolves. We missed ESR in that game and he may get the nod ahead of Martinelli.

Here is the predicted lineup:

Ramsdale

Soares-Ben-Gab-KT

Xhak-Part

Bukayo-Ode-Emile

Laca

Come On You Rip Roaring Gunners!!

By TotalArsenal

THE Heavenly Goal by The Greatest PL Artist is 20 Years Old Today

I remember vividly looking out of the window of one of the tired looking railway offices in Derby twenty years ago. My big boss Brian – the chairman – was standing next to me and we were admiring the velvet blues and greens of a few magpies below us. I said jokingly to my Sunderland supporting superior that I knew he was supposed to hate magpies but wasn’t it a magnificent bird?! He agreed smilingly and then out of the blue asked me: “Did he mean it, Frank?”.

I knew instantly what he was referring to. I said yes he did mean it alright. Bergkamp is a dancer and that was football ballet. Brian smiled and agreed and said he enjoyed that goal in multiple ways. I have always respected him for his knowledge and warmth, his great anecdotes and love of operas; and in particular for his decision to retire early and then study the horrors of the holocaust afterwards. A true inspiration, he was.

Today is the exact 20 year anniversary of that goal: the quick readjustment to a slightly misplaced pass by Robert, the tennis-volley-like first touch and resulting spin on the ball, the pirouette around sorry Dabizas, the readjustment after a dizzying spin, and that cool and calculated finish passed the frozen goalkeeper. It was indeed as the commentator said ‘magnificent’.

Nobody after Dennis in the Premier League has reached that level of artistry and efficiency that the Iceman brought to the game. That ability to find or make space through a sumptuous first, second or even third touch, that turning around his own axis, those lofty balls over stranded goalkeepers and those mesmerising deceptions of defenders. I could go on and on but would love to hear your thoughts on what DB10 brought to the game and did for you.

Here’s the goal again. 🙂

TotalArsenal

Arsenal v Wolves Eight Observations: Two MotM, Small is Best, Love Soares

Eight observations from a pulsating, bolero -esque game of football in which we out-chased the defiant Wolves once again.

  1. Martin and Alex battered Wolves for 96 minutes. The Ode kept finding gaps in the wall, Laca kept bashing into it. Together they led the attack with full conviction and they never gave up. Both are my MotM.
  2. Granit and Thomas played very mature in a difficult game. We had to push up and leave space behind us, so both had to play with tons of concentration. They did so well in keeping our pressure on and both kept passing through the Wolves’ lines. Their experience made a real difference last night.
  3. The subs finished the job off. Our opponents defended with discipline and always carried a threat. They had the better chances, and Arsenal missed a clinical finisher. It’s hard to constantly batter a wall and then also find the inner calm to be composed. This is what the fresh as a daisy Pepe and Nketiah brought when they joined the onslaught. They played with the sort of clarity and technical composure that was required and both were simply too much for the thoroughly harrased Wolves.
  4. Saka and Martinelli put in a shift too. The former is more at ease with the ball in tight spaces but both were given little space and time, which was clearly part of the orange and black opponents’ strategy. Marti has to improve on his first touch and passing if he wants to succeed on the wing. I believe more and more that he should be played mainly as a CF going forward.
  5. The Gabriel mistake was painful but it reminded me again how rare these mistakes are now and how good we have become at playing the ball out from the back. White, Gab and Rams really have got a great triangular partnership between them.
  6. This squad is clearly too small for a season that includes European football, but for the remaining 17 battles it’s pretty ideal. The smallness leads to closeness and camaraderie that can lift a team higher than the sum of its part would suggest. Everyone will play a part in our quest for a finish in the top four and we are a solid unit that’s near-unbreakable.
  7. Further to the above I am loving the contributions of Soares, who never complains about the lack of starts and hits the ground running pretty soon if and when he gets his opportunities. Same goes for Holding, Elneny and Tavares and one or two others. Tierney was also once again a rock in defence.
  8. The work rate is just so great in this team. Nine points from the last three games would never have been achieved without it. Bring on the Hornets.

By TotalArsenal.

Battle 3/17: Arsenal v Wolves Take 2. Tomi back, 40 mins for Martinelli

Saddened by Putin’s unprovoked war on the lovely country of Ukraine, I will keep this short. 💙💛💙💛

Arsenal face the high-flying Wolves again and once more we will need to bring them down. It’s another six-pointer, making it a twelve-pointer this month. We know that Wolves play compact, good passing football and we continuously have to be wary of turnarounds and counter attacks. So, once again, Granit and Thomas will play a key role and will be under considerable pressure. My Xhaka red card bet with the saintly Stuart will be tested tonight.

We need to play compact and with patience. I don’t expect many goals, and this may well become a 1-0 to the Arsenal once again. Let’s hope so. Odegaard to score the winner.

Lineup:

Ramsdale

Tomi-Ben-Gab-Kier

Wall of Part & Granit

Buka-Ode-Emile

Laca(60m)/Marti(40m)

Come On You Rip Roaring Gunners!!

By TotalArsenal

Battle 2/17: Let’s Smoke Out Those Ferocious Bees and Feast on Their Honey

Ah Arsenal are back at the Home of Football and the season opener spoilers from Brentford are the visitors. They need three points, we need three points, so game on!

That defeat at the Brentford Community Stadium is still fresh in our minds. What a cauldron it was with baying, ecstatic fans feeling a sensation was in the air.

Let’s give that back to them, let the cannons roar and let’s smoke those bees out of their hives.

Arsenal are on a 17-game mission and this is our second battle. Let’s get those bees on their knees and fight them for every ball, pummel their defence from all angles and fist-pump the air when the final whistle goes and the golden nectar is ours. Victoria Concordia Crescit!

Who is going to do that for us?

Tomiyasu is not a certainty, Martinelli is sitting out a game and Leno has recovered from C19. The only real question is Pepe or ESR, and as there will be little space to run into for the Pepster, I am going for the silky Emile the Pirate (He surely was one in a previous life! 😁).

Ramsdale

Soares, Ben, Gab, Tier

Partey-Granit

Buka, Ode, Emile

Laca The Honey Badger

No TV coverage in the UK, so an old fashioned radio job for me.

Come On You Rip Roaring Gunners!!!

By TotalArsenal.

How Arsenal Will Return to The Top: Strategy, Strategy, STRATEGY!

The beautiful game keeps developing and Arsenal find themselves in a tough battle for returning to the Apex of the PL.

When the club decided to build The Arsene Wenger Stadium – well that’s what it should have been called by now – it was meant to make us compete with the much richer Mancs. Then the Oilers came and TV money diluted the importance of the box office income, and on top of it all Arsene gradually lost his way tactically and in terms of finding world class gems. As a result Arsenal lost its duopoly with the Mancs, and so did they; and both clubs are desperately seeking their way back to dominance.

Big, carefree oil money has played a huge part in this but it’s not the only factor. The London and Manchester Oilers also out-strategised us (and the Red Mancs) and so did Pool.

Mourinho’s football was awful to watch but it established the Chavs at the top of the PL, and they then built further on their initial success, obviously helped by the spineless Oil baron’s easy money.

Citeh have built up something solid and possibly lasting and made one of the two biggest moves of the last decade: luring Guardiola to the rainy city and making him settle there. That’s really no mean feat. As much as I dislike the MC ownership, I have to admit that they have made some great strategic moves. Yes they spent a lot of money too but unlike many other established top clubs in Europe they did not go for big, expensive and established players who subsequently flopped (Bale, Coutinho, Hazard, etc). Well Grealish may turn out to be an exception to this.

Pool were also strategically much more shrewd than Arsenal, both by attracting Klopp – the second biggest move in the PL in the last decade and who would improve on Rodgers’ fine base – AND by finding the sort of Gems Arsene and Dein used to surprise everyone with a decade earlier.

It became gradually clear that Arsenal’s strategy of seldom selling our top players, building on our youth academy and buying one or two expensive, established players (Ozil, Ssnchez, Partey, Auba, Laca, Pepe) was just not working. Klopp, Guardiola and Abramovich were continuously out-smarting Arsenal (and the rest). The club had to go a different route. And they did.

Nobody should underestimate the boldness and risk-taking of the BoD’s new strategic course. They put their trust in untested Arteta and spent a hell of a lot of money on young players with huge potential, but nothing more than that.

It is a big work in progress and can only over time be judged. Yet, we can already see the progress and were this vision could lead us. No doubt, a few more players will leave and join us this summer, and next season should be a level better once more.

It remains to be seen whether we can challenge Citeh and Pool with this strategy, but we are certainly ahead of the Red Mancs and the knuckle-draggers of North-London who are both in free-fall and in perpetual search for the right fit manager.

There is more to come and Arteta has it all to do, but we are heading in the right direction again and doesn’t it feel good?! 🤩

By TTotalArsenal

Arsenal outhungered Wolves: The First Pay Back from the Dubai Break

After a refreshing break during which team building took place and everybody was able to refocus on the remaining quest of the seventeen battles, this was a hell of a difficult game to perform a positive restart.

Wolves were up for this and knew that with the home advantage it was a great six pointer of a game that would do us a lof of damage if they could beat us. It was certainly a must not lose game for us, and I thought the boys simply outgunned those hungry Wolves.

The start was ours. From a solid structure and organisation we attacked with more flair and menace than our opponent. Wolves, like almost any team ever managed by a Portuguese coach, were set up to sit back, absorb pressure and play on the counter.

Our centeral midfielders had their work cut out and it came at the cost of early yellow cards. But luckily by then we had our precious lead in the game, and these days we know how to defend as well as, anybody.

The goal was ‘bundled’ but who cares. It was the result of the greater hunger, which was started in Dubai and put that of the seemingly always ravenous Wolves to shame. White jumped and headed with energy, Laca pounced and Big Gab finished it off. Who were the real pack of Wolves here, hey? 😅

The game was even after that until the controversial sending off. Wolves pummelled our defence with high balls but with the addition of Rocking Rob we jumped the highest and kept a fabulous clean sheet to take all three points.

This was nothing for those who support Arsenal solely for the renowned ‘beautiful’ football, even though there were a few gems to be enjoyed. No, this was about grit and focus, about our mission and promises made to each other, about playing as eleven and becoming unbeatable through attitude and workrate; this was about values.

I am proud of our boys and bring on those foes from Brentford: we outhungered the wolves and now we will outsting the Bees.

Come on You Rip Roaring Gunners.

By TotalArsenal

Battle 1/17: The Dirty-Orange Wall of Wolves: Arsenal Lineup and Preview

Ahhh, it’s been a long wait since we played meaningful football, but it’s over now! The mighty Red and White go to goal shy Molineux where a wall of dirty-orange will await us. Bruno Lage has build further on Nuno’s Portuguese bulwark and they are currently the PLs second meanest defensive performers. I enjoy watching Wolves for its great and well drilled passing football and have a lot of respect for their BoDs adherence to their values and style of play. They, like us, are going places!

So how are we going to crack that wall without a beast of a CF upfront? Auba once was that beast but he will not be missed. He clearly was ‘the problem’ and struggled with motivation and concentration over the last two years. Give me Laca any day. He works hard, links up well, can actually pass a ball, and will always go to sleep knowing he did his epistemic best in the last game he played.

But a Beast of a CF Laca is not, and we have to ask ourselves whether we actually need one. Man City let Aguero and young and promising Torres go but keep scoring goals for fun. I reckon Arteta also wants goals to come from a large number of players, as we are much more unpredictable that way. Fly like a butterfly sting with multiple bees.

And how better to try and crack Wolves’ orange wall than by pummeling it left, right and centre?!

So here is to the ‘new’ Auba-less but fully in harmony, Arsenal – a team with a 17 battles mission.

The team. There are question marks re Tomiyasu: will he be fit enough to play? Xhaka and Partey are back and I think everyone else is available.

The question is which two will start from Laca, ESR and Martinelli? Laca, our captain, is likely to start, so I think it is between Martinelli and ESR. I would like Laca to play 65 minutes and then Martinelli to take over as CF……

Ramsdale

Tomi-Ben-Gab-Kieran

Partey-Xhaka

Bukayo-Martin-ESR

Laca

Enjoy the game.

Come On You Rip Roaring Gunners!!

By TotalArsenal 🚀 ⚽ ⚽

Arteta’s New Lean Mean Football Machine Has Only One Weakness

So the TW is closed and we bought nobody. The squad has thinned out and especially the departure of Auba feels right for all involved. I wish him well at Barcelona, and I hope he will cope with his lack of passing skills.

The question is, has Arteta stripped down too much and will the failure to buy a CF or midfielder come to bite us in the proverbial?

With just seventeen games to go, on average one game per week, I don’t think so.

Getting the recruitment right is important, as the risks are high. We don’t need another Auba or Pepe like mega investment going all wrong. A player has to fit the style of play, the group culture and have the willingness and intelligence to play Arteta’s way. There was no need to rush a purchase; we are just fine for the rest of the season.

We have direct double cover in almost all positions. The CBs are White, Big Gab and Holding, so you could say we are one short, but either Xhaka or Elneny could provide cover. Surely also Tierney or Tomiyasu can provide cover.

In midfield we have four deep midfield players, and yes they are prone to receiving suspensions but they are now well rested and will refocus on the simple task of winning as many games as possible of the seventeen remaining PL games. I will even say that Xhaka and Partey will be the main factor in us finishing in the top five or better. We, are lucky to have them and they will deliver.

Up front I thought we would be vulnerable. I don’t rate Eddie in Arteta’s system and if Laca gets injured or suspended, we will be exposed. Or do we?

Arteta has learnt at MC that we don’t need great CFs to score a lot of goals. Laca hardly scores, yet we know he is an important player for us. After a tough start, we are now scoring a decent average of goals per game. I also think that we will see Martinelli be the number two to Laca rather than Eddie. He may even become the number one now. I think it is time for Martinelli to get some starts in the centre and playing Saka, ESR and the Ode behind him. Pepe, Eddie and Laca give us options from the bench and Arteta may promote a few young attackers too. We should be fine in attack for those seventeen games.

The only worry I have is an injury to Saka, as we don’t have a similar player with the ability to take on defences and create space and chances like he does. But finding a suitable nr2 to Bukayo is no mean feat and let’s hope one of the youngsters will come through soon.

All in all I am optimistic about the remainder of the season and cannot wait to get going again.

Come on You Rip Roaring Gunners!!

By TotalArsenal