Battle 14/17: Lineup and Preview – A Vital Home Game to Keep the Pressure on the Spuds

Regardless of what happens in the Pool-Spuds game tonight, Arsenal can keep ahead of our bitter rivals, and with that keep the pressure on them, with a home victory v Leeds. I think this will be vital for the NLD on Thursday. We need them to have to get a win rather than the other way round. But this is going against my OGAAT principle. The only thing we can really influence right now is tomorrow’s game against the precariously positioned Peacocks, who will be fighting for league survival.

So this is a big game that needs total focus. Leeds are a strange team, at times magnificent and at times naive and more porous than pumice.

I have enjoyed watching them this season, a breath of fresh air with their adventurous and entertaining style of football and fearlessness, and I hope they will survive by beating the Chavs midweek.

They will play at a high tempo and try to disrupt our passing game. The Peacocks will press high and everywhere and they will create decent chances. So we need to play at our best and get those vital three points at our penultimate home game.

Who is going to start for us tomorrow?

It will depend on fitness levels but I expect White to be back and Saka and Tomi to be fit too. So here is my predicted….

Lineup:

The Ram

Defence: Shinkansen, Big Ben, The Beast, Alfa Pendular

Midfield: The Hoover, The General

Attack: The Force, The Magician, The Goal Thief, The Pouncer (CF).

So an Elneny/Granit midfield, Saka and ESR on each side of Martin, and another start for Eddie the Eagle. Oh and Tavares to start again too.

Come on You Rip Roaring Gunners!!!! 🤩 🤩 🤩 🤩 🤩 🤩

By TotalArsenal

No More Worries about a Back Up for Saka: Arteta Has One Now

I have watched both Feyenoord games v Marseille over the last week with a special eye on our three Gunners playing for one of these teams.

Saliba was solid without being spectectular. Guendouzi made a few fine passes but I still cannot see what he really would add to Arsenal. He is neither a Xhaka, nor a Partey, nor an Odegaard, but he has a bit of all three of them. He could be a good squad player but I doubt he would want to settle for this. Saliba really is not of the Ben White calibre either but he could also be a good squad player. We are more desperate for a left sided CB, though, as Holding is the perfect stand in (and competition for) Big Ben.

The one who truly stood out was Reiss Nelson. He has struggled to get into the Feyenoord team, with under a thousand minutes of football played for the Rotterdam team until now, but in recent weeks he has broken through in this vibrant city. And Reiss is making a real difference. He was brilliant in both games v Marseille, with an assist in the first leg. But more importantly, he is now playing in the Saka role at Feyenoord, offering Arne Slot, the new and promising manager, a real attacking alternative. He has been class.

In both games, Nelsoni has been ball-tight and comfortable to receive it in tight spaces. He can hold on to it allowing others to join in attack, such an important skill in Arteta-ball. Reiss also takes on players to create momentum and space for others from these right positions; something Pepe for example really struggles with. He has been passing mostly accurately and his first touch has also improved.

Reiss is a confidence player and he really needed more exposure in a different league. Rotterdam is world city; Feyenoord is a proud club. The place and club rely on hard labour and comradeship. The people are honest and direct but oh so supportive if you give your all. Nelson has done so well to play himself into the team and is making a real difference now. He has two goals and four assist in 862 league minutes, a good return. He was also part of the Eredivisie team of the week:

He will return no longer a boy but as a man. Ready to compete with Saka for that right wing position; ready to be an Arteta player.

By TotalArsenal

Battle 13/17: Can Arsenal give the Hammer(s) Blow to another competitor? Predicted Lineup

Amazingly, after three unexpected losses and two only hoped for wins against top four competitors, we are still in a good position to claim a CL spot. This would of course be good financially and in terms of attracting established quality players this summer, but whether it would be good for the development of this young team remains to be seen.

Still we have to aim high and a win today against our East London rivals would surely provide the Hammer blow to them for a top four finish. West Ham have a huge game on Thursday as a place in a European final beckons. They have it all to do after losing on Thursday but surely that game will be their priority.

The Hammers have squad issues especially at the back. They will also be fatigued from the Eintracht Frankfurt game and if we play with a high tempo, concentration and take our chances, Arsenal should be able to get something from this away fixture. A win would be bliss but, despite all their issues, let’s not underestimate the home team today. We really need to be 100% focused.

The lineup will not be very different from the MU game. Our weakness is likely to be at left back with our promising Portuguese prince not stable enough to keep the impressive Bowen and Co quiet. So I am hoping for Tomiyasu to start on the right and Soares to do the honours on the left. Saka has recovered which is great news. Our young super star is making a big difference this season in every aspect and we need him again today.

Predicted lineup

Ramsdale

Tomi-Ben-Gab-Soar

Elneny-Xhaka

Saka-Ode-ESR

Eddie/Laca

I would be happy to see Martinelli and Laca start today but I think Arteta will not tweak it much.

Come on You Rip Roaring Gunners

By TotalArsenal

11 End of Season Arsenal Questions For You

Now, as you all know I am all about OGAAT – One Game At A Time – but I realise that many are looking at the table, our remaining games and those of our competitors for European places, so, just for a bit of fun, I have a few questions for you:

  1. How many points will Arsenal get from the remaining five games?
  2. Who will finish Arsenal top scorer/assist producer (as a total of goals and assist)?
  3. How many more goals will Arsenal concede in those five games?
  4. What will be the top eight in the PL after 38 games?
  5. Who will get relegated?
  6. Who will be the PL top three top scorers?
  7. Who will win the CL?
  8. Who will win the Europa League?
  9. Who will win the Europa Conference League?
  10. Who will win the FA Cup?
  11. Which manager will get sacked first day after season’s end?

Winner to be announced soon after season’s end. Prize: Gooner Immortality.

By TotalArsenal.

Arsenal 3 – 1 MU: The Four Shots That Were Key

Arsenal 3-1 Manchester United

Eight Observations:

  1. We scored so very early and that was of course a bonus. What was really good is that Arsenal did not put the foot off the gas after Tavares’ tap in. Yet being a goal up in a tense fixture can take a toll on our concentration levels and we gave Manchester United just too much space between the lines. This gave them a chance to get into the game. Elneny and Xhaka played well again but the connection between midfield and defence was missing, allowing the Mancs to get the ball around our box far too easily and leading to too many half decent chances for them.
  2. Yet Arsenal produced the better football and chances with Eddie being in the right place twice in short succession. The Ode produced his magic between a sea of Manc defenders and he and Saka were the real difference between the two teams. Saka’s pen was convincing and one of the four shots that made the difference on the day.
  3. Our left side in attack was almost none existent. You could tell that Xhaka was reluctant to play the ball to the left with both ESR and especially Tavares lacking the confidence and ball tightness so needed to be effective. Bruno is such a raw Eboue-esque talent. His running is beautiful to watch and his desire is a joy too, but Tavares has a lot too learn in all aspects of the game. His fellow players are still getting used to him and they lack confidence in him, so for now a different left back solution seems necessary (Soares?). Yet we’ll done Arteta for not sacrificing him to the crowd.
  4. Understandbly, after the game at the Bridge we lacked the energy to close our opponent down and from such a situation we allowed Ronaldo to score. It was poor play by us all round and it allowed the Mancs to regain their belief that they could get something from this game. On our left side we gave away too much space for shots and runs into the box and only by luck did we not concede more goals from that area.
  5. The start of the second half was for the Mancs. They had us in a spell it seemed. It was only a matter of time for them to get equal and they had the greatest opportunity to do so when we conceded a very poor penalty. The second key shot of the game was Fernandes’ frivolous attempt to convert the penalty. The jester hit the outside of the post and the home of football erupted with relief and collective schadenfreude. Saka’s pen was so much better and this was one of the difference makers in the game.
  6. Yet the Mancs kept coming and we just couldn’t control the game. Although Elneny played a tidy game, we were now missing Partey’s ability to enforce our midfield badly. Arteta put on Martinelli for ESR but that did not help much. Then comes the third key shot of the game, one that I did not understand straight away. Soares conceded a foul and Granit kicks the ball high into the stands. “Stupid!” the reporter said and I agreed. Xhaka gets carded and we all say typical Granit. Yet after I watched the game again I noticed how this was the moment from which the game changed for Arsenal again. We started to keep and pass the ball much better and for the first time in a while started to create chances again. Xhaka’s crazy kick seemed to have signalled something to the team; his card seemed to have taken a bit of pressure out of the game. Maybe it wasn’t such a stupid thing to do after all?! Maybe it even was done deliberately: one for the team so to speak?
  7. Five minutes after his yellow card, Xhaka produced the fourth key shot of the game. It was a howitzer reminiscent of Arteta’s screamer many years ago v Man City. It was just what the team and supporters needed: nothing is more enjoyable than a long distance, decisive goal late on in the game in a pivotal match. Granit delivered and the crowd showed him their love. For once he was our undisputed hero (how he was not picked as MotM by that airhead McManaman is beyond me).
  8. Arteta used his insurance policy to see out the game by bringing on Holding, who is just perfect for the role of shoring up our defence late on. All, in, all, we rode our luck and it could have finished differently but there is no doubt the team gave their all. And what more could you wish for? We need to remain focused on OGAAT. Don’t look back or around us, don’t predict how many points we and others will win or drop: the only goal is getting three points from the Hammers this weekend. The rest is out of our hands and distracting. Focus, focus, focus; OGAAT, OGAAT, OGAAT!!!!

By TotalArsenal

Battle 12/17 – Arsenal v Man United: A big test of our metal and maturity

After a cracking win in West London another formidable test awaits. Imagine having played at one of your bitterest rivals and get humiliated in all aspects of the game by them. MUs game at Anfield was a 90 minutes nightmare from start to finish. They were outsmarted and outplayed. They were battling with swords whilst the Scousers had machine guns, granates and drones. Rangnick said after the game his team were six years behind. Six years!!

Like us they have tried to breach the gap between Klopp and Guardiola with spending money on top players. They also kept changing managers since the loss of Red Nose and the gap got bigger and bigger. Like us they need to modernise and change the culture, the style of play and the sort of players they need to succeed: players who work hard and with discipline and respect; players who are natural passers and are comfortable with the ball in tight spaces; players who are intelligent enough to understand complicated game structures and instructions; team players.

I think that Arsenal are two years ahead of Man United at least. Ten Hag has a much bigger job to do than Arteta. Except for the totally and rightly sidelined Greenwood and just one or two others, they don’t have natural passers of the ball who are comfortable with it in tight spaces. They’d struggle enormously to play the Klopp-Peppy sort of football and it looks like there’s no other sort of football that will overcome these two masters, whether they or we like it or not.

I believe Arteta has the vision and leadership to get us back to the top but it will take at least another 2-4 years to get there. The board are backing him and there is a long term plan. The way we played against Citeh, Pool and Chavs in recent months shows that we, unlike our opponent, are on the right track. Yet there is still a lot of ground to be made up.

Although I believe we are well ahead of MU today, I am still wary of the individual quality they will put on the pitch. We were the better playing team at Old Toilet but still lost. Something similar could happen today. They have great attackers and if we give them lots of space to run into they can hurt us. This time we need to take our chances and be much more ruthless. MU will be hurting from the Pool game criticism and will also be lifted by the new manager announcement. They had a bit more rest than us and the deeply saddened Ronaldo is back. This is not going to be easy and only our A Game will do.

The starting eleven is likely the same as v the Chavs. We need two in deep midfield again and allow our attackers and full backs to move and pass freely and do the damage.

This will ultimately be a big test for the team’s metal and maturity.

Come On You Rip Roaring Gunners!!

By TotalArsenal

Chelsea 2 – 4 Arsenal: a shot of natural doping in the Gunners legs, hearts and souls.

Eight oobservations from a pulsating, wonderful win at the Bridge:

  1. The first minute: we kick off and then put relentless pressure on the Chavs with six players in their half. They are like possessed wolves chasing down pray. The tone is set. We are going to attack you, we are going to make you sweat, we are going to force you into mistakes, we are going for the win.
  2. The next five minutes we are under pressure after some poor passing by nervous players. Two corners are defended with pure determination. Xhaka blocks, Big Gab comes to the rescue after Ramsdale misjudged the flight of the ball. We hang in there but don’t sit back. We want to attack, take the game to them. No fear, just a bit nervy.
  3. Six minutes later. We continue to pass badly from the back leading to dangerous situations, but our central mids are focused and calm now. Then Xhaka and ESR take the ball from Loftus the Cheek and Tavares kicks the ball hopefully towards Eddie. Christensen has it covered but the ball has some curve and spin on it and he mistimes his kick back to the goalie. Eddie is on to it and in a one on one with the keeper, who is making himself big near the penalty spot, he slots home like a seasoned professional. Cool as a Siberian cucumber. Have that and please call me! 😁
  4. Four minutes after that moment of much needed luck and skill, we are pecked back again. A deflection from a Werner shot and a Xhaka block sees Ramsdale, whose vision was probably blocked and who was expecting a shot to his left corner, misjudging the flight of the ball. Painfully, we need to do it all again.
  5. After that we hold out for a bit as Chelsea get in their groove. Then from deep in our defence comes the second goal. Our defence is jittery but Xhaka takes on three Chavs from our own box to get the ball to eager bunny, Ode; the man with the perfect hair passes quickly to Bukayo, Eddie makes a run and Emile has to make up ground; Saka passes to the Norwegian conductor who has three quick touches and passes the ball to Emile who has timed his run to perfection and billiards the ball in as cool as a deep frozen cucumber. A truly brilliant goal, one from the training ground. 2-1 to the Gunners.
  6. Then we let it slip again. The Chavs were constantly targeting our right side and also this time they found a way through by overloading their players there. White may have been fouled in the process but it was still a good goal by the home side. Another set back but yet it felt like that would be it from Chelsea. We could win this in the second half if we avoided any more mistakes. And ESR got very close just before the end of the half to finish it in front.
  7. The second half was ours. Gradually we started to dominate and the home side went through the motions. We had more energy and purpose in our play. We played with belief and after Eddie’s brilliant pounce in the box never looked back, except for a couple of hairy moments in the box. Saka’s pen was so sweet too.
  8. Well played the manager and team. What a timely win. What a shot of natural doping in the legs, hearts and souls. CoyrrGs!

By TotalArsenal

Battle 11/17 – Chelsea Away: Time for White in Midfield and a Different CF

We are in a dip and the sooner we get out of it the better. But Chavs away is a difficult fixture, and the European champions have a formidable team. Yet I feel we can get something from this game if we play it right and have a bit of luck along the way.

Tuchel’s Chelsea is all about high energy pressing and running and I expect them to be tired tonight. The games against Real Madrid and Vieira’s Palace were intense, and if we can avoid an early goal we will have a chance to tire them out and pounce later in the game.

Our big hope is that Arsenal find their shooting boots in this game again, and then we can get something from it.

We need to be solid in midfield and this is a big challenge for Arteta. This is made even harder by the injury of Tierney and the lack of progress his first replacement has made since arriving at the Home of football.

Surely Xhaka needs to start in midfield again, but who should partner him? Who can make us forget Partey’s all round performances in that crucial area?

I am tempted to move White up next to Granit. We need a player with presence and ability to burst forward and Big Ben can do it. Holding is a good replacement in defence. If not White then it should be Elneny in a 4-2-3-1.

I would also play ESR and Ode with Martinelli to lead the line.

This would be my starting eleven tonight:

Ramsdale

Soares, Hold, Gab, Tava

White, Xhaka

Saka, Ode, ESR

Martinelli

Come On You Rip Roaring Gunners!!

By TotalArsenal

Now is the time to show faith in Arteta’s Arsenal – We need just one thing.

Well it’s all not going to plan at the moment for Arsenal and Arteta: should we worry?!

Palace, Brighton and Southampton should have returned at least four to five points but we have got none in the bag. This is certainly worrying and with Chavs away and Ron United at home coming up next, we may well face five losses on the trot.

The good news is that Arsenal had gained a lot of table fat in recent months and as a result we are still hanging in there, with a game in hand as well.

I remember my parents building a house for us, with no experience at all. My mum became the finance and logistics wizard and my dad created the right atmosphere for the mainly evening building activities, and their friend let on the technical aspects. There was a good plan, energy and leadership. All went well after a slow start but then the friend/builder went awol and the whole thing came to a grinding halt. What to do next? This was a huge setback.

Well a friend of a friend came to the rescue unexpectedly and the project was finished within budget and time. It turned out that the ‘best friend’ was the weakest link and once he was replaced things started to improve again, albeit slowly.

The friend who let Arteta down is the ship-jumper, former captain Aubameyang. He had to go as his heart wasn’t in it and he really couldn’t care less. We are suffering from it now, only now, and Arteta needs just one thing: a lucky break, like my parents did.

The goals have to come again and who will stand up and deliver?! Where will this break come from?

If your values are good and work hard, luck will always come. Arteta will have his hopefully soon.

Every major project seems to suffer this mid-term period of the ‘grinding halt’, of despair and lack of trust in a positive outcome. It seems inevitable with the daring ‘leaps of faith’ projects, and let there be no doubt that Arteta is working on a Sagrada Familia sort of project for our team and club.

His captain had to go because he went awol and wanted away. We lack leadership and delivery up front, but the long term vision and plan are great and will get a new injection of quality this summer. The lucky break will soon come as well, maybe even this Wednesday, and Arsenal will roar on after that.

By TotalArsenal