Arsenal v Burnley 8 Observations: Nobody Bullies Us, 2 MOTM, Time for Laca?

Burnley – Arsenal: 0-1

Martin Odegaard, free-kick, Burnley, Arsenal
The Ode to Joy

Having had a chance now to watch the game, here are my observations:

  1. We may not have an oligarch owner (thank God) but we do have our own Oilygaard. Martin really lubricates the new yet faltering machine and what an important buy he is becoming for us. He topped it off with the only real moment of quality in the game; his freekick was simply unstoppable and how good is it to score one again?! An Ode to Joy. Actually when did we score our last freekick in the PL- Admir? Martin could be found all over the pitch and was especially strong during the first 60 minutes or so. My joint MOTM.
  2. Unfortunately, I cannot say the same of the other blonde in our squad. Emile wasn’t present(!) enough and I am still not sure what his role was on Saturday. Yet, when he picked up the ball in midfield he drove us forward with menace and speed, and it was clear that more involvement of ESR is key for the team going forward. In fact, making the triangle of Partey, ESR and Ode work much better is THE area to work on for Arteta. There was too much space between Partey and the Blondes and it made us slow and ponderous throughout the game.
  3. Part of the problem was that we were playing with the handbrake on and simply too deep. There was a lot of space between the back four + Partey and the rest of the team as a result, and Burnley found it easy to press us high without needing to be worried too much about the quality of Gunners they left behind them to potentially pounce on them.
  4. It was clear that Arteta really wanted to win this game on the principle of not giving them a lot of chances and expecting our quality in attack to sooner or later get it right. The formation was exciting and promising but the execution is a work in progress. It resulted in a second clean sheet and 1-0-to-The-Arsenal, and although it was nowhere near a game for the purists we need to appreciate Arteta’s need to get a few wins on the board. And this he did.
  5. The really important, big point to take from this game is that the boys were not out-Stoked. Nobody will bully us anymore. The defence worked sooo much better than they have in recent years when it comes to dealing with high balls and being roughed up in defence. Big Gab was a force, Tomiyasu added his height really well to the CB-pairing, Big Ben put in a real shift and Tierney was as tenacious and snappy as ever. There was still a bit of rustiness in White’s passing but as a unit they made up for it and Ben will only get better.
  6. And then there was our new goalkeeper, Aaron Ramsdale. A near faultless performance from our keeper was crucial for the clean sheet. What a great catcher of the ball, what a great communicator and team player and what a great redistributor of the ball. Together with Ode he was my man of the match.
  7. Auba up-front rather than Laca is still hard to digest for me. We needed a CF who is comfortable playing with their back to the goal and able to hold on to the ball under pressure, on Saturday. Auba is a tiger who loves running with the ball into the available space; then he is simply unstoppable. But Laca is much more comfortable in such a role but for some reason Arteta is not playing him as yet this season. In general, the passing between the attackers was under-par and with a bit more sharpness they could have scored a couple more goals which would have made things much easier for the defence. In the end, the defence and a moment of genius by the Ode gave us all the three points, but the attackers should be working their socks off all week to get much better connected. We definitely have more goals in us, and sooner or later (hopefully this Sunday when we are spuds-mashing duties) this will come to fruition.
  8. Arteta’s subs raised some eyebrows at the time but they really made sense and saw us through till the end. Partey had been very influential but he was fading and new blood was needed. Tierney also looked like he could not finish the game and ESR just wasn’t in the game. Lokonga, Tavares and AMN all played diligently and ensured a happy ending to a hard-fought game.

Arsenal Women

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By TotalArsenal.

Arsenal Preview/ Lineup: OSE behind Laca or Auba / Power Midfield

A quick preview for another game in which only a win will suffice to keep the fans from throwing eggs and verbal abuse at Arteta and the boys. It’s a shame we remain at this knife-edge stage, but hopefully we’ll get that second PL win and climb further up the table.

It will not be easy as Burnley, who play nowadays half decent football, will also try to put their foot in and disrupt us as much as possible. The home crowd will try and make things worse of course.

So we have to field a team of men with attitude and purpose and who play a high tempo game that leave the Clarets bamboozled from the start.

If we mean business we can get those precious three points, and I reckon something like these 11 fine Gunners will bag them:

I prefer two in deep midfield for this one and really would like to see Partey and Sambi play together. The attack combines Ode and ESR, and should have either Auba or Laca leading the line. I prefer Saka to Pepe as he is the better all round footballer, but the latter has been working hard to get into the team so he would be fine too.

The back five got a clean sheet last week so let’s not make any changes there.

Come on You Rip Roaring Gunnners!!!!!

By TotalArsenal

Is 4-1-2-3 with both ESR and Ode in the ‘2’ feasible?

** Discussion Post **

Mikel Arteta is revolutionising the team and we got a good taste of what is to come on Saturday. Arsenal looked fresh in all departments and we all appreciated it.

It remains of course a work in progress but Mikel is showing real courage with his team selection and the first signs are promising. The cynics will point out it was only Norwich and only just one nil, but the result and opponent matter much less than the courageous road the management now have actually taken: the multi-coloured elephant guiding us forward on our path is deserving of our attention.

The ultimate 4-1-2-3 team?

I can see that defence become a regular feature with perhaps Holding squeezing himself back in there. We have in fact good back up and competition in all positions.

The attack could also be more or less settled with two powerful wingers and Auba as a mobile CF. Laca should be able to push himself into the attack again and the youngsters will also get a chance to get into the team, but an attacking three of Pepe-Auba-Saka could well become a regular feature.

The midfield on Saturday was necessarily more makeshift and I can see Arteta making changes here. Not that the boys did a bad job and they certainly will push hard for first team time going forward.

The big questions for me are:

  1. Can we push up two attacking midfielders with just one DM type midfielder behind them, as per the formation above?
  2. How to incorporate both Emile and Martin otherwise? Playing just one of them seems to make Arsenal too one-dimensional.
  3. Is XhakA-Partey in a 4-2-3-1 our stronger option when both are fit?
  4. Who could cover for Thomas when injured, Sambi or Ainsley?
  5. Is the above formation too attack focused or will ESR and Ode manage to fill in the gaps surrounding the sole DM?

I would love us to play with the above formation, at least to see it tried out.

What are your views?

By TotalArsenal

Eight Observations from Arsenal v Norwich

Arsenal 1 – 0 Norwich

Eight short observations from a crucial win:

  1. Arteta made a number of changes and dared to start this vital, must-win game with a new GK, a new RB, a new central midfield pairing and a new CB pairing. There was occasionally a lack of comms between the players but the whole team did seem a team from the start.
  2. Odegaard had a free role and looked isolated in his efforts to make things happen at times. But his workrate was tremendous. Things changed when ESR joined the team in the second half, and Arteta must try to play them both as much as possible.
  3. Ramsdale was a joy to watch. Dynamic and dominant from the first moment, and yet so calm and in control. The CBs looked at ease with such a fine GK behind them. It’s only one game of course but first signs are promising.
  4. Pepe and Saka started off with a lack of composure, poor touches and misplaced passes, but they finished on a high, especially after ESR had joined the party. Once they have lost their summer rustiness they will torment a few defences, I reckon.
  5. Lokonga and AMN did relatively very well. They both had the all important presence in midfield and worked hard for the team. Their contributions to the attack is a work in progress but the hunger was there all the time.
  6. Auba was very involved and was a good captain for the new look team. He missed a few good chances but maybe this is the price to pay for more overall involvement from Auba. Others also missed (half) decent chances, and scoring goals is a team responsibility.
  7. The last ten minutes were very promising. Norwich managed to put some late pressure on us but the team stood strong. Big Gab and Soares made great blocks and Ødegaard intervened at the last moment.
  8. I was very impressed with the home crowd and the support for the team. Together we can take our team forward. CoyGs 🌋 🌋 🌋 🌋

By TotalArsenal

3-1-4-2: All Out Attack v Norwich yet Solid at the Back

This is a quick post and I am calling all Gooners to comment with your preferred line up for tomorrow and why.

I am not really interested in your predicted lineup but how and who you would like to play v the yellow and green Canaries.

This is my preferred lineup:

I think 3-1-4-2 or 3-5-2 would give us a solid defence and a multi-skilled midfield, with good runners and excellent passers.

Three at the back allows White to make forward runs and support Partey if required.

This formation also allows us two attackers upfront.

So that is my lineup to kick things off…

By TotalArsenal

The One Midfield Beast to Turn Fortunes Round for Arteta

In the last post we covered the potential of the three or four musketeers up-front, and what a wonderful prospects they are.

Assuming that Arteta will play with two central deeper midfielders again, either in a 4-2-3-1 or 3-4-3, the big question is once again who will play in those pivotal positions?

If all are fit the obvious answer is XhakA-Partey. I wonder how many games they both saw out together, though.

I have absolutely no doubt that if this twosome could play 30+ PL games in tandem, Arsenal will finish in the top four this season.

But this is unlikely. Thomas is too injury prone and has the Ramsey effect on us: it takes a while for him to get going and just when he becomes really, really good Thomas gets injured again. I so hope this will change this season.

Xhaka is unloved by most of the fans it seems, and although the man has a fabulous fitness record, averaging 40+ games per season, the lack of appreciation is likely to continue. Yet he works well with Tierney and Auba/Saka, and his left foot is very important for Arteta’s system. He also gives structure to our play which we really miss when he is out, whether you like it or not.

So Partey has a continuous fitness issue and Granit plays on a knife edge at Arsenal, despite Mikel’s unwavering support for him. Not ideaal.

The former Anderlecht captain Lokonga looks promising, and he may well hold the key to our success this season. I need to see more of him to make any judgement. Still, he will need time to adjust to the bluster of the PL and is unlikely to be instrumental this season.

Elneny is a solid squad player, who works really well when paired with Xhaka. He won’t put the world on fire but is as solid as Xhaka’s first name. No surprises, no nonsense but always committed and important to have in our squad.

So this seems to leave us with Ainsley. The man who wanted a loan but reconciled with Arteta and should now get a golden opportunity to shine. Granit is suspended, Partey will need time to get back into it, and the others are equal competition for him.

We all know about AMNs potential and we all would love him to succeed, and surely these next four months or so are THE opportunity to finally break through at Arsenal?? Will he be our constant Midfield Beast so desperately needed this season?

Ainsley this is your moment, this is your stage and we are all behind you.

I must say that I have doubts on whether the midfield will work out in the next few games or indeed this season. This is where Mikel, a former midfield maestro, will have to make the big difference now. It will make or break him.

Nobody is perfect but the perfect combo of midfielders now needs to be found.

By TotalArsenal.

Arsenal’s Three Musketeers

Here is what I am looking forward to: the development and PL conquering of our very own young Musketeers.

Musketeer Characters:

D’ARTAGNAN: Our hero; eighteen years old. Raised in French province of Gascony, leaves home to go to Paris. Brave, excellent swordsman, and enthusiastic to become a musketeer but also impulsive, hotheaded,  and inexperienced. Falls in love with Constance Bonacieux.

ATHOS: Leader of the three musketeers. Full of shadows, intelligent, courageous; precise in his sword fighting.

PORTHOS: One of the three musketeers. Humorous, vain, slave to fashion, good-hearted; comical and jaunty in his sword fighting.

ARAMIS: One of the three musketeers. Romantic, handsome, hot tempered, studying to be a priest; melodramatic in his swordfighting.

Emile (ARAMIS)

Of Latin origin and a variant spelling of the name Emil, which itself is derived from the Latin ‘Aemilius’ meaning ‘rival, trying to equal or excel, emulating‘.

Yes ESR is a competitor and is always looking for ways to get better, just like DB 10 used to do. The healthy competition with Odegaard (and Saka) will do him good. Together they will push each other to dizzying heights. We all have seen the great potential in Emile and this year I hope to see further development in getting a menacing cutting edge. More goals and assists would be bliss.

Bukayo (D’Artagnan)

Meaning of name: Adds to happiness

Yes Bukayo’s smile always adds to my happiness, but it’s his football that’s really Happiness-Plus. Saka is the epitome of the modern footballer: he can play everywhere and reads the game so well, is a great passer of the ball and has a sumptuous left foot. On top of all of this, Bukayo has perhaps the greatest quality in football: the ability to break the lines with the ball at his feet and thus to make things happen anywhere on the pitch. That’s what gets me off my seat and ask my daughter to please go and marry him. Also hoping that Saka will score and assist more this season.

Martin (Porthos)

The name comes from the Latin name Martinus, which is a late derived form of the name of the Roman god Mars, the protective godhead of the Latins, and therefore the god of war. The meaning is usually rendered in reference to the god as “of Mars”, or “of war/warlike” (“martial”).

Yes there is something warlike about Martin. It’s in the way he chases the ball and opponents, the way he always aims to move forward, find the killer ball and shoots on goal. Odegaard never lacks hunger or purpose; it’s simple, he want to win through beautiful yet efficient football. We also need more goals and assists grin the Ode.

Together they can work with Our Leaders in attack, Laca or Auba ‘Athos’ and gradually conquer the PL the Arsenal Way.

What a feast of an adventure to look forward to.

CoyrrGs 🌋 🌋 🌋 🌋 🌋

By TotalArsenal

All I Want From Mikel

The Great Reset.

Have you ever seen a team that needed a fresh start or reset more than this Arsenal? 
It’s not the same as other clubs on losing streaks or poor starts. We’re trying to forge a new team identity. I hope this includes a playing style, and some spirit. All that has been lacking for too long now.  

   When we always wanted more signings in the transfer window ( like all football fans), Arsene warned that it’s hard to incorporate more than one or two new starters at the same time. I’m sure we’ll have some pretty serious growing pains, with not only new players, but young ones also.

  This is all reason for patience with the manager. I worry that in asking for so many young players, he may have bitten off more than he can chew. In theory, all the signings make sense, defenders who are comfortable on the ball, and of course, Ødegaard who can give us a central option finally, and feed our strikers to their feet.

  I worry that we left ourselves light in central midfield.  I love Sambi, but I’m afraid that he is not going to be as positionally aware or quick to sense threats as a veteran midfielder would be, even though we love the youthful ability and potential. If Partey can’t stay fit for the next few games, things will continue to be difficult. I’m not saying we should have spent more, just that we needed more focus on cm.

 I want to have patience, as we all wish we can have in life, but rarely achieve the level we aspire to.

 I’d like to see some results of course, but since we’ve been so unpleasant to watch for the past year, I’ll be looking for signs of Arsenal quality play. Slick passing, domination of inferior clubs.  Less of a dependence on Tierney, because opponents can easily shut that down when it’s our main game plan. Tuchel literally used it against us. I also believe that Kieran, in his frustration at lack of scoring and winning, was trying to do too much himself, and got too far forward to get back in time. He never used to do that, and it’s a sign of frustration from one of our leaders. He should be a weapon we use occasionally to overload defenses that are looking everywhere  for threats.

I hope Mikel can inspire our guys to come out expecting to score and win in the first halves of games, not just scrambling in the second halves. With our attacking talent, we should be taking leads more often, and running up the score on teams who are trying to chase the game, instead of that happening to us. 

I’m looking for signs like Saka and Smith Rowe scoring and assisting more. There’s no doubt that there’s talent there. That Pepe is utilized much better, and Martinelli also, because he was invisible in our first two games. That can only be improved by game planning and coaching.

Basically that’s some pressure on Arteta, I know. Fair or not, Coronavirus or not, it’s where we find ourselves. I’m looking forward to watching this play out, so that must mean I’m optimistic, right?


Arsenal Best-11 and My Biggest Wish

Now that the TW business is finally over, we can all fantasise what our best formation/11 is, and I like to hear your thoughts about it.

Obviously, it does depend on Mikel’s footballing philosophy, which I am sure will become much clearer now that he has almost all his chess pieces on the board.

Here are my thoughts:

  1. I like both Holding and White to play. Without Luiz in the team, we need Rob’s leadership as well as his aerial qualities. Ben offers that quick thrust forward from defence which will give our play another dimension.
  2. Partey is THE man in midfield but unlike Xhaka he is injury prone and this makes it hard to build the team around him. Scapegoat Granit is still a key player but should become less pivotal this season, which I am pretty sure he and Arteta agreed will be his last.
  3. ESR and The Ode will both need to play so we have options for creating chances and play the superior passing game.
  4. Can Auba and Laca play together? We need the added goal threat but Auba lacks the footballing skills to play LF imo. We also need a super sub offering real impact.
  5. We need height in the team for dealing with set pieces on either end.
  6. We need real thrust from the wings but also great capability to hold on to the ball and pass it well in tight spaces. Saka and ESR are such players, Pepe struggles with this, especially in PTB games when there is little space to operate in. Pepe is super sub potential.
  7. The GK needs to be dynamic and assured, both in the air and with his feet. Ramsdale looks the better option but Leno is still the first choice.
  8. We need a regular starting 11 with the right personalities and character that gradually will ooze title winning aspirations and conviction.

So on the basis of this here is my Arsenal Best-11:

Leno (for now)

TBD* – Hold – Gab – KT

–White—-Partey – –



* I want to see our new signing from Bologna in action before deciding on the strongest RFB option.

I think this is quite close to the strongest eleven. Defensively very solid and a really dynamic and strong (with !Presence!) midfield with a great balance. Four dynamic, great passers of the ball in tight spaces in attack, and all able to take on a man. Saka becomes more our second attacker with Laca our main one. Ode and ESR and of course Partey to unlock defences from midfield and higher up.

Only issue I have is lack of regular goalscorers in this set up, and my biggest wish is to see Saka, Emile and Martin all get double figures this season.

Auba, Pepe and Balogun / Eddie should also start games but especially the first two could become great super subs this season.

What is your ideal starting eleven?

By TotalArsenal 🚀 ⚽

One Window Closes, Another One Opens: The Arteta-Era Starts Now

Now I have no doubt that in the deep dark seas of the Internet there will still be much moaning about Arsenal’s TW business, but this boy is very, very happy with our new toys.

The club has spent a hell of a lot of money and is obviously backing Arteta with their heads and wallet. If anything should be taken from this transfer window it is the change of direction. All players bought are promising talents in their early twenties. Big boys about to become men; perfect materials for development. This is now a long term project which sets us apart from most other top clubs, and I love it.

The defence will look very different once everybody is fit and settled in. Holding will have a big job on his hand to work the back line into a solid, well-clicking unit. The return of big Gab will also be very welcome. White, once settled in, will give us another dimension.

We desperately needed a quality RFB and let’s hope Tomiyasu is that man. We made place for him by letting our disputed Nr1, Hector, go out on loan. Now Chambers can be back up CB again, Soares back up RFB and all is well.

Midfield has been strengthened significantly with the additions of Anderlecht’s young captain, Lokonga, and Magic Martin. AMN provides further strength in depth which is important for covering the ACN departures of Partey and Elneny. I’d imagine Ainsley will make a move in late January, unless he manages to claim a position. The immininent return of Partey will be like a big new signing in itself. And this will be another great developmental season for wonder kid, Emile.

Upfront, just as in midfield, we have a fine balance of experience and youth and healthy competition. I am glad we held on to Auba and Laca, and Balogun, Eddie and Martinelli, Saka and Pepe will give us great options.

I guess Eddie was not in the plans but the move to CP fell through as these things sometimes go.

Willian’s early departure was a well worked move by all; Reiss will gain experience in a temple of football and in a competition that is on the up again, Azeez will develop further at Portsmouth, and other than possibly Kola and maybe Eddie, Arteta is now working with his chosen team. The club did well to reduce the squad through sales and season long loans.

New, carefully selected faces and plenty of space to breath in; maybe the Arteta-era only starts now.

I think we all know now that success will not come immediately, unless we have a good cup run which is in the club’s DNA of course.

I am not going to focus so much on a goal as in a top four or top six finish, even though I think we will do well. No, I will look mostly at how Arteta develops this team now, the lines he sets out and the quality and potential of our football. That will be the structural focus of for the foreseeable focus. So you know where I will be coming from. 🙂

Or as the inimitable Robert Pirsig put it:

“To live only for some future goal is shallow. It’s the sides of the mountain that sustain life, not the top.”

CoyrrGs 🌋 🌋 🌋 🌋

By TotalArsenal