Arsenal Player Ratings: One 10, One 8 and Lots of 7/7.5s

Well that was exactly what the Gooner-doctor ordered: a strong team performance and a win. Four goals and twice hitting the woodwork as well, the boys were up for this alright!

Unfortunately, the boys conceded two good Leeds goals in the second half but overall this was a good performance by all. We will analyse the game in the next few days but for now here are the player ratings.

Pierre Emerick Aubameyang

Player Ratings

Leno: 7 – not at fault for the goals and had not much else to do.

Soares: 7.5 – really mature performance and gave his all. Snappy in the one to ones and some fine passing.

Gabriel: 7.5 – really lively and aggressive performance by Big Gab.

Luiz: 7 – steady performance, maybe could have done better positionally with the two goals conceded but he usually plays LCB not RCB. Some good defensive interceptions and calm leadership.

Bellerin: 7.5 – partly at fault for the second Leeds’ goal but an extra point for a fine goal. He may not be our best defender but his attitude is always exemplary.

Xhaka: 7.5 – a very mature and calm performance. Such good positioning and quick, simple passing. Half a point extra for his assist for Auba’s first goal.

Ceballos: 7 – great, clever assist for Hector’s goal and some good passes, but seemed to disappear during some spells in the game. Half a point extra for assist.

ESR: 7.5 – worked hard and positionally strong, fine assist for Auba’s third for which he gets an extra half point.

Odegaard: 7 – worked hard and brought good energy to the team. Some quick thinking and passing, a bit Ramseyesque at times.

Saka: 8 – Bukayo was again the Silk on the pitch. His movement is so graceful and yet powerful, his first touch is glued on and his passing quick and incisive. Half a point for getting us two penalties, even if only one of them was eventually given (for some reason). We have some player here!

Auba: 10 – MOTM – his first PL hat-trick and with a bit of luck he could have had another two. He really benefited from the space Leeds gave us and the hard work by the three attacking mids behind him: Saka, ESR and Ode. Always a threat and really enjoyed himself today.

Subs:

Willian: 5 – struggled to get into the rhythm of the game and did not add much.

Elneny: 6 – steadied the ship a bit.

Holding: – not long enough on the pitch to score him.

By TotalArsenal.

Arsenal v Leeds Preview/Lineup: Ødegaard Start, XhakaNeny in Midfield, Marti or Laca CF?

Bielsa’s Peacocks are coming to town and we desperately need to regain momentum with a win. Leeds are an adventurous team and good to watch. They have scored 11 more PL goals than Arsenal but also conceded 15 more goals than us. Bielsa has turned them into a fast running, energetic team and with Bamford – 12 PL goals already – they have a great, in-the-form-of-his-life attacker who can score all sorts of goals. The Whites are a point ahead of us and also have a game in hand and a win will lift us above them tomorrow. Eleven teams have scored more than Arsenal’s meager return of just 27 goals from 23 games, and it is about time that the boys start doing something about it.

Who will start tomorrow? Tierney and Partey are out but Leno and Luiz return after their one-match bans. Key questions therefore are:

  1. Who will replace Partey in midfield: Elneny or Ceballos?
  2. Who will play left back? Probably Soares.
  3. Who will help us get goals upfront? Auba, Laca, Martinelli, Pepe or Eddie?
  4. Who will partner with Holdingho? Luiz, Gabriel or Mari?
  5. Who will play in the hole? ESR or Ødegaard?

The boys have had a good rest but I still feel Arteta will have to do a couple of different things in order to re-energise the team and get back our momentum.

So I am going to suggest the following starting eleven for tomorrow (if two names are mentioned, the one on the left is most likely to play/ or preferred to start):

I think we need our stability back in midfield and Ceballos, although more adventurous in attack, will lose out to Mo. ESR has been fantastic but I feel it is time to give Ødegaard a start and bring on Emile after 60-70 minutes. Up-front Laca should start but we should also see Martinelli at some point at least. The boy is keen and needs a good game to regain his confidence. Finally, on the left it could be a start for the improving Pepe or Auba. The latter also needs to regain momentum after the difficult time he had recently. But of course Arteta is closest to the players and will know who is ready for this crucial game tomorrow.

COYRRGs!!!

By TotalArsenal.

Weird and Wonderful Arsenal Facts

Arsenal Mini Blasts from the Past

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  1. 1893-94 – in Arsenal’s third ever League game John Heath scored our very first hat trick in a 4-0 win over Walsall Town Swifts.
  • 1894-95 – following unsavoury incidents against the referee on January 26th, 1895

      Arsenal’s ground was closed for five weeks. The home games against Burton 

      Swifts and Leicester Fosse had to be played on neutral grounds.

  • 1895-96 – while the modern manager might complain of having a couple of fixtures in three days two fixtures in one day was not unheard of back in the 1800’s. That happened to Woolwich Arsenal on Saturday December12th 1896 when they were due to visit Loughborough in the League and also entertain Leyton in the Third Qualifying Round of the FA Cup. The first team travelled to Leicestershire for the League match and lost 8-0 while the reserves disposed of Leyton 5-0 in the FA Cup.
  •  1889-90 – On March12th 1890 Arsenal got their revenge on Loughborough for the 8-0 defeat by giving them a 12-0 thrashing.
  • 1889-90 – Arsenal played away in the second qualifying round of the FA Cup to Thorpe, the game ended in a 2-2 draw after extra time. Thorpe was unable to travel for the return game and Arsenal gained the victory by default.
  • 1900 – Samuel Hill-Wood, Arsenal’s chairman, playing in a county cricket match for Derbyshire against the MCC at Lords scored an incredible ten runs off of one ball which is still the highest recorded for a single delivery.
  • 1904 – On Christmas day Arsenal played against a Paris XI and defeated them   26-1 (our highest ever score) the lone goal scored by the Paris XI was by the only Englishman on their side – it’s reported that the Arsenal team stepped aside to allow him to score.
  • 1907 – on November 7th Arsenal played Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in the first ever London derby which Arsenal won 2-1 with a big assist going to the huge throng of Arsenal away supporters in the crowd of 65, 000. Royal Arsenal Works at Woolwich had closed for the day to allow its workers to celebrate King Edward VII’s birthday.
  • 1925 – In his first major purchase for Arsenal Herbert Chapman resigned Charlie Buchan from Sunderland, he had left previously over an expenses dispute.  Buchan was responsible, along with Herbert Chapman, for Arsenal’s adoption of the WM formation which eventually brought Arsenal significant success in the 1930s. After retiring from football Buchan became a football journalist with the Daily News (later renamed the News Chronicle), wrote one of the first coaching manuals, and also commentated for the BBC. In 1947, he co-founded the Football Writers’ Association, and from September 1951 until his death, he edited his own football magazine, Charles Buchan’s Football Monthly, which was published until June 1974.
  1. 1926 – Dan Lewis, our Welsh goalkeeper, was sent off in a game against Sunderland on April 10th 1926. He was the only Arsenal player to be sent off during the twenty seasons between the two world wars.
  1. 1928 – Arsenal manager Herbert Chapman sent his team out wearing the numbers 12-22 while his opponents Sheffield Wednesday wore number 1-11.
  1. 1930 – Arsenal wins their first FA Cup on April 26th1930 in front of a crowd of 92,488 at Wembley Stadium beating Huddersfield Town 2-0. With Alex James and Jack Lambert scoring the goals.
  1. 1931 – Arsenal wins their first League Division One Championship under new manager Herbert Chapman.
  1. 1932-1935 – Arsenal become only the second club to win three consecutive League Division One Championships, Huddersfield Town were the first club to do so from 1924 to 1926. Herbert Chapman was the manager for the 1932-33 and 1933-34 titles and unfortunately died of pneumonia in 1934. George Allison managed the team for the 1934-35 title.
  1. 1936 – Arsenal won their second FA Cup on April 25th 1936 in front of a crowd of 93,384 at Wembley Stadium beating Sheffield United 1-0. Ted Drake scored the only goal with sixteen minutes left in the game.
  1. 1938 – Arsenal won the First Division Championship for the fifth time in 1937-38 with 52 points which was only 16 points more than bottom club West Bromwich Albion. It was manager George Allison’s second League title.
  1.  1939-1945 – Arsenal lost 9 players during WW11, more than any other club.
  1. 1947-48 – Arsenal won the First Division Championship for the sixth time, it was the first title for manager Tom Whittaker.
  1. 1950 – Arsenal won their third FA Cup on April 29th1950 in front of a crowd of 100,000 at Wembley Stadium beating Liverpool 2-0. Reg Lewis scored both goals.
  • 1950 – Arsenal retained their entire professional staff of fifty nine at the end of the season, which is thought to be the largest recorded number in Football League History.
  • 1951-51 – Doug Lishman scored three consecutive hat tricks at Highbury against Fulham, West Bromwich Albion and Bolton Wanderers. Thierry Henry duplicated this feat during the 2002-03 season.
  • 1952-53 – Arsenal won their seventh First Division Championship, the second for Tom Whittaker.
  • 1953-54 to 1968-69 – this was a barren period for Arsenal as they went through sixteen seasons without winning any trophies.

GunnerN5

The Villa Defeat is a Setback but There Are Plenty of Positives for Arsenal

Eight afterthoughts from a disappointing and unnecessary loss against an average team.

  1. When there are three games to be played within a week it is inevitable that they will influence each other in terms of fitness, team selection and psychology. The team worked their socks off at home to MU to get a win and then to protect a draw; then they played a sublime first half at Molineux until the double jeopardy decision by the ref after which the game turned and we ended up just losing it; on Saturday the boys wanted to make amends once again but a miscommunication between two defenders, followed by a bad bounce of a ball/deflection, meant we conceded an early goal, and the boys just lacked the fitness and sharpness to overcome this early, major set-back. The result of all of this is just one point from three tightly fought matches and a melancholic fanbase – not that the latter takes a lot these days.
  2. I must admit to feeling a bit low myself after the latest result, but I have come to realise that I was falling for the same old mistake we humans tend to make: the (subconscious) expectation that progress, once it has commenced, will continue in a linear way. It seldom does. We had some setback but none of the teams we lost points to were better than us; in fact, we were better than the last two teams we played but ended up leaving all six points in the midlands. Bitter but that is football. I saw enough to believe that we are playing much better football now but that we need to focus better and avoid those individual mistakes that keep costing us.
  3. We have to raise the question whether Arteta used his squad effectively in the last week. Legs and minds were clearly tired during the last game and some fresh blood could have made a difference. I guess this is something Arteta will have considered but believed not to be the right thing to do. Hindsight proves him wrong to some extent, as of course we do not know how it all would have finished if Arteta had opted for more changes to his starting eleven, but I do understand why a new manager who is trying to build something up likes to stick to the same team at this stage of team-development. Still, Arteta could have used some of the likes of Elneny, Martinelli, Auba, Ceballos and Odegaard from the start and I don’t think that would have dropped our levels but could easily have given us a boost of energy and focus.
  4. One of the good things to come out of the last game is that Ryan looked more than decent in our goal. He made the saves we expected him to make, but he did those with conviction and no mistakes were made. I also felt Ryan had good presence in the box and was calm and collected during the entire game. Having a good backup keeper is of course very vital for a successful season.
  5. Another positive were Odegaards twenty or so minutes on the pitch. Martin made a difference and got himself in a good position to score but he was just a bit too eager, I reckon. Emile, Saka and Laca may have been overplayed a bit by Arteta and I believe he will have to use the likes of Odegaard, Eddie, Martinelli and Nelson a bit more going forward. Luckily, the team have an eight days break now so all can have a well deserved rest. But Emile just cannot keep pulling this team forward on his own and Mikel must give Odegaard some starts pretty soon.
  6. I believe that Partey is a better all-round footballer than Elneny but have also noticed that we have dropped a lot of points since Arteta dropped the latter for the former. The Xhaka-Partey partnership has huge potential and they will form our base in midfield for years to come. However, I am not sure whether Thomas is fit enough right now to play that all important box-to-box-like role. At times we can see his real qualities but the pace and the intensity of the games seem to force him into mistakes, and he often leaves a lot of space behind him. Elneny is less adventurous than Partey but Mo is so tidy and organised; he gave real balance to the team. Mo is great back up for either Xhaka or Thomas but at the moment he may actually be required to start games for us until Partey is fully fit.
  7. One more positive is the development of Nicolas Pepe. He can still frustrate with a bad first touch or decision he makes, but Nicolas is starting to have fire in his belly and getting more direct when he is in front of goal. Pepe still needs to improve further but he really is getting more effective now, and Arteta must try and play him on the left (or centrally) as much as possible.
  8. The good news is that other than Man City none of our Top Four/Top Six competitors have been able to really run away from us as yet. A good run for us could still do wonders. Let’s hope for a bit more luck with the bounce of the ball and refereeing decisions, more sharpness up-front and the avoidance of unforced errors etc. We have a strong defence, a midfield with huge potential and a dynamic attack… and a team with fighting spirit and believe in their manager. Upwards and Onwards.

By TotalArsenal.

Arsenal v Villa Preview/ Lineup: Just Two Changes from Tuesday’s Team

Arsenal v Aston Villa – February 6th, 2021

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If we’re talking about historical relevance, there are not many clubs in the world that can compete with Aston Villa. In addition to being one of the oldest football clubs in Britain, Villa are the originators of the Football League – the top flight in the country until the Premier League was formed in 1992. In its early history, Villa was one of the most consistent sides in English football, winning several First Division, FA Cup and League Cup titles. They are also one of only five English clubs to have won the European Cup/Champions League title.

Basic facts

Founded: 1874

Home grounds

Wilson Road (1875–1876)

Wellington Road (1876–1897)

Villa Park (1897–)

Main trophies

First Division: 7

FA Cup: 7

Football League Cup: 5

European Cup: 1

Prominent players

Archie Hunter, Billy Walker, Trevor Ford, Danny Blanchflower, Andy Gray, Brian Little, Peter McParland, Paul McGrath, David Platt, Paul McGrath, Dwight Yorke, Stiliyan Petrov

See the source image

Club records

Located in Birmingham the Aston Villa Fotball Club was founded in 1874, by four cricket players who were looking for something to do during the winter break. The club was therefore founded approximately one year before the city rival Birmingham City (named Small Heath Alliance until 1905).

In 1885, the club’s president, William McGregor, realized a need to keep the fans interested in the game; together with eleven other leading English clubs of that period, Villa founded the Football League in 1888. Led by George Ramsay they quickly proved to be the most dominant side of the Victorian era, claiming five First Division titles and three FA Cups before the turn of the century.

With the rise of football’s popularity in the country, however, many other clubs started to emerge as contenders for the throne. Still, Villa remained a powerhouse; after winning another FA Cup in 1905, they followed it up with their sixth First Division title in 1910. After another two FA Cup victory in 1913, the club’s golden era ended at the outbreak of the First World War.

While Villa had started off the post-war period by claiming another FA Cup in 1920, it soon became obvious that their best years were behind them. After a long period of decline, the club was relegated to the Second Division in 1936, for the first time in their history. They did not win another trophy until 1957 and a famous victory over the Busby Babes in the FA Cup final. In 1961, Villa added to their trophy room by winning the inaugural League Cup.

After a new low for the club – a relegation to the Third Division in 1970 – Villa turned a new leaf by appointing Ron Saunders as coach. They were back in the First Division by 1975, the same year that saw them win another League Cup. With Saunders’ ability to spot a good player and his famous “no-nonsense” approach to coaching, Villa’s streak of good results continued into the 80s. After a League Cup victory in 1977 and an unexpected First Division title in 1981, Villa won their first and only European Cup in 1982 by shocking the favoured Bayern Munich in the Final. One of the heroes was the reserve goalkeeper Nigel Spink who replaced Jimmy Rimmer early in the match and made some astonishing saves. The last triumph was however made without Ron Saunders as the coach. Some months earlier, after a dispute with the chairman Ron Bendall at a time the team had a negative trend in the league, Ron Saunders had decided to resign.The Premier League era has been filled with ups and downs for to Villa, they were placed second in 1993 and on the bottom of the table in 2016. They managed to claim two more League Cups in 1994 and 1996.

See the source image

The Aston Villa crest is distinguished by the lion drawing, “The Rampant Lion of Scotland”.  The lion has no obvious link to the club, instead it symbolizes the club’s values in form of bravery and strength. The small white star, left of the lion is there to honor the club’s European Cup title. Besides the “AVFC”, initials for Aston Villa Football Club, the lower part has also the word “Prepared” which has been a traditional motto (the motto has been removed in a new version with the initials and lion image slightly increased).

Arsenal’s season to date results

Opponent WDLGFGAGDPts
FulhamA1  3033
West HamH1  2113
LiverpoolA  113-20
Sheffield UH1  2113
Man CityA  101-10
Leicester CH  101-10
Man UnitedA1  1013
Aston VillaH  103-30
Leeds UA 1 0001
WolvesH  112-10
TottenhamA  102-20
BurnleyH  101-10
SouthamptonH 1 1101
EvertonA  112-10
ChelseaH1  3123
BrightonA1  1013
West BromA1  4043
Crystal PalaceH 1 0001
NewcastleH1  3033
SouthamptonA1  3123
Man UnitedH 1 0001
WolvesA  112-10
Arsenal v Aston Villa EPL Away Games 
  WDLGFGA 
128-Dec-92  101 
223-Apr-941  21 
317-Apr-951  40 
402-Dec-95 1 11 
507-Sep-96 1 22 
610-May-98  101 
713-Dec-98  123 
805-Mar-00 1 11 
918-Mar-01 1 00 
1017-Mar-021  21 
1105-Apr-03 1 11 
1218-Jan-041  20 
1305-Feb-051  31 
1431-Dec-05 1 00 
1514-Mar-071  10 
1601-Dec-071  21 
1726-Dec-08 1 22 
1827-Jan-10 1 00 
1927-Nov-101  42 
2021-Dec-111  21 
2124-Nov-12 1 00 
2213-Jan-141  21 
2320-Sep-141  30 
2413-Dec-151  20 
2521-Jul-20  110 
2606-Feb-21      
Total12943920 
Arsenal v Aston Villa All Away Games
 WDLGFGA
Division 115133587131
Premier12943920
Total272239126151

Our last game against Villa ended in a 0-3 home loss and started a run of seven games without a win and only gaining 2 points out of a possible 21. Since that poor run we have been on a run of W5, D2, L1, GF15, GA4. The only loss was against Wolves which was an aberation.

The results our last seven games at Villa Park have been:- W5, D1, L1, GF15, GA4.

I fully expect us to leave Villa Park with all three points.

GunnerN5

Preferred/Predicted Lineup (by TotalArsenal):

With Leno and Luiz suspended, Gabriel and Runarsson should come in (assuming that Ryan is not fit enough to play). Holdingho is like XhakA a given at the moment and Bells and Soares are likely to start as our FBs. Partey was a joy to watch during the first half and his partnership with Xhaka is getting better every game. Auba may be available but Pepe is in good form and should really get the nod again. ESR and Saka are currently first team choices as much as Rob and Granit are, and the same can be said about Laca. So not too many surprises in my preferred line up which should not be too far off the actual one. COYGs.

Arsenal Heroes: “He must have been some player to wear those white boots”

A Blast from the Past – Alan Ball
England footballer Alan Ball Jr. (1945 – 2007, right) with Arsenal manager Bertie Mee (1918 – 2001) after signing with Arsenal F.C. for a British cash record fee, UK, 22nd December 1971. (Photo by Les Lee/Daily Express/Getty Images)
Alan James Ball, MBE (12 May 1945 – 25 April 2007)
Born in Farnworth, Lancashire, he was the youngest member of England’s 1966 World Cup winning team and played for various clubs, scoring more than 180 league goals in a career spanning 22 years. His playing career also included a then national record £220,000 transfer from Everton to Arsenal at the end of 1971. After retiring as a player, he had a 15-year career as a manager which included spells in the top flight of English football.
Ball started his football career as a schoolboy, playing for Ashton United a team his father managed in the Lancashire Combination. While still at school (Farnworth Grammar School) he acquired a youth contract with Wolverhampton Wanderers. After he left school, Wolves decided not to take him on; and he started training with Bolton Wanderers but they also decided against signing him to a professional contract as manager Bill Ridding thought he was too small.
Blackpool signed him after Ball’s father called in a favour with the coach; Ball was given a trial in September 1961 and was signed up as an apprentice. He turned professional in May 1962, making his Football League debut on 18 August 1962 against Liverpool at Anfield in a 2–1 victory. At age 17 years and 98 days, he became Blackpool’s youngest League debutant. On 21 November 1964, Ball scored his first hat-trick as a professional, in a 3–3 draw with Fulham at Craven Cottage.
Despite being in a struggling Blackpool team, Ball’s industry, stamina and distribution were noticed by England manager Alf Ramsey, who gave him his international debut on 9 May 1965 in a 1–1 draw with Yugoslavia in Belgrade, three days before his twentieth birthday. Ramsey was preparing for the World Cup a year later, which England was to host. Ball’s performances in the 1966 World Cup winning England team attracted the attention of a number of clubs bigger than Blackpool, Ball eventually being sold to Everton for a fee of £112,000 in August 1966.
Everton reached the 1968 FA Cup Final, but lost to West Bromwich Albion and were knocked out by Manchester City in the semi-finals the following year. Ball was instrumental in the team which won his first and only major domestic honour in the game as Everton took the 1969–70 Football League Championship title.
On 22 December 1971, Arsenal paid a record fee of £220,000 to take Ball to Highbury.
“I remember thinking that he must have been some player to wear those white boots – and Alan Ball was some player.” It’s hard to disagree with the words of David O’Leary.
Ball’s arrival at Highbury in December 1971 was big news. Arsenal had just done the Double and Arsenal’s manager Bertie Mee worried about the player’s ability to keep motivated so he splashed out a British record transfer fee to land the World Cup-winning England star. He was 26 years of age and at his peak for both form and fitness when he joined Arsenal; he made his debut against Nottingham Forest on 27 December 1971. However, Arsenal could not defend their League title in 1971/72 and also lost FA Cup when Leeds United beat them 1–0 in the centenary final at Wembley.
Ball had continued to play for Arsenal through all this time, as a near-constant member of the first team at first, including 50 appearances in 1972–73. A natural leader, Ball took on the captaincy at the start of the 1973/74 campaign and became Arsenal’s most influential performer as the Double side of 1971 fragmented and a new generation of players – including Liam Brady – began to emerge. In April 1974 Ball broke his leg, resulting in his missing the start of the 1974/75 season, in which Arsenal finished 16th. Ball also missed the start of the 1975/76 season after an injury in the pre-season friendly at Crewe Alexandra, Arsenal subsequently finished in 17th place that season. Bertie Mee resigned as Arsenal manager in the summer of 1976 and new manager Terry Neill wanted to take the club in a new direction. Now aged 31, Ball continued to play for Arsenal until December 1976, when he was sold to Southampton for a fee of £60,000. In total he made 217 appearances for the Gunners, scoring 52 goals.

Ball was awarded an MBE in 2000 for his services to football’

Ball, aged 61, died in the early hours of 25 April 2007 at his home in Warsash, Hampshire, following a heart attack. He suffered the fatal heart attack while attempting to put out a blaze in his garden that had started when a bonfire – on which he had earlier been burning garden waste – re-ignited and spread to a nearby fence. His funeral was held in Winchester Cathedral on 3 May 2007. Many of Ball’s former football colleagues were in attendance and the flat cap that he became famous for wearing was placed on top of his coffin.

“In my opinion he was one of Arsenal’s greatest players of all time,” said Brady. “He helped me greatly and, with David O’Leary, Frank Stapleton and Graham Rix, I feel he contributed a great deal towards our careers, passing on his experience of the game”

GunnerN5

Arsenal v Wolves Afterthoughts and Player Ratings: Everybody gets a Nine, One Ten

I did not write anything about this game last night out of sheer despondency. The boys played such good football in the first half; they were purring on the pitch. A disallowed goal, hitting the woodwork twice… and then there was that sending off and subsequently converted penalty at the death of the first half. It almost changed everything in a flash. Still, it was 1-1 and we might have been able to win this game by sitting tight and trying to score one on the counter. But then Moutinho scored a nigh impossible screamer in Leno’s right top corner and we just knew this would be one of those cruel, horrible, freak games that are out of our control.

Bellerin

I don’t blame Luiz for the sending off. He tried to put off Jose by getting close to him but he never wanted to foul him. If there was contact it was minimal. A penalty was given and the sending off was a joke, but what’s done is done. I also don’t blame Leno for his sending off. It was an instinctive reaction to a bad, misjudged bounce of the ball. He came out to cover for his defenders, as he is instructed to do. It all happened in a flash and the rest is history. Arm chair goalkeepers will say he should have done this or that, but that is disrespecting the goalkeeper’s need to act in the there and then and the fact that everyone, even the best, make a bad judgement now and again. Leno is only human and the ball is round (and the pitch was soaked).

Most of us are rational Westerners and love to understand a football game by looking at cause and effect, who can we blame, etc, but as this game showed sometimes things just don’t go your way, the ball hits the woodwork rather than go in, a goal is narrowly ruled offsite (correctly), the ball bounces differently than expected, a referee judges a player on their past behaviour rather than the actual act, etc. This was just not to be for the Gunners; it looked more like a Greek battle between the gods high above Molineux, influencing the game with wind, rain and shrinking woodwork etc. And we lost out; it was out of our hands and feet.

I saw a fantastic first half and a heroic second half by the team. I saw a real team in both halves. 11, then 10 and then 9, heroes on the pitch and they all get a nine from me except for Pepe who gets a 10.

Let’s forget about this freak game and bring on the Claret and Blue army on Saturday: we are going to give them a game of football.

By TotalArsenal.

Arsenal v Wolves Preview/ Lineup: AES behind Laca, the DM Beasts and Return of Big Gab

After an energy sapping battle against the Mancs on Saturday, we now face the Wolves who have lost their bite a bit in recent months. They are desperate to regain momentum and will hope to do so against us at Molineux tomorrow, no doubt. But the Gunners are on a mission and will fight the Wolves tooth and nail to take back home three very valuable points.

See the source image

Nuno’s Wolves are a good team and their loss of form is unlikely to continue for the rest of the season. Arteta knows that some of his players may be in the infamous red zone after a large number of continuous games which culminated into that massive, existential battle against the odious Mancs. So how to play against them tomorrow? Wolves play a clean, well-drilled style of football with good passing and excellent positioning and we will need to not commit too many players forward as to avoid their very sharp counter-attacks. Still, we have to play our game through our now well established 4-2-3-1 formation and hope for both clinical finishing and the bounce of the ball going our way.

My preferred lineup:

The return of an eager Auba would be very welcome. The same goes for Saka who was missed last Saturday. It looks like Laca, the warhorse, is fine again, but Tierney is still not available unfortunately. Mari looks ready again so he may well start tomorrow. Rob Holding has played a lot recently and we have to ask ourselves whether he should get a rest. I am going for the partnership of Gabriel and Holding for this one with Soares and Bellerin our automatic FBs right now. Deep-midfield should be the DM Beasts, Xhaka and Partey, again, but Elneny could start for either of them.

Upfront is also a bit of a gamble. I am expecting Laca to start, and he would have my preference, but would also not be surprised if Eddie gets a start. The boy really needs another opportunity to shine. The question here is who is most suited to replace Laca, as in being able to play a similar role, and I reckon that would actually be Martinelli. We can only hope Silky Saka is fit to play again as he makes such a difference right now. So for me the three behind the CF should be AES: Auba, ESR and Saka; and I am hoping to see Odegaard get about 20-30 minutes to show us what he is capable of too.

Should be a good game to watch and remember the kick off is early at 1800 hours/ 6pm.

See the source image

By TotalArsenal.

Arsenal Player Ratings: Eleven Warriors, Two MOTM

Arsenal 0 – 0 Manchester United

Player Ratings

Leno: 8 – superb finger-tip stop at crucial moment, great presence.

Cedric: 7.5 – deputised well for Tierney once again.

Luiz: 8 – Shared MotM – super performance: wise, cool and he put his body on the line.

Holding: 8 – Shared MotM – just solid again. Great defensive shift.

Bellerin: 7.5 – a balanced performance by Hector.

Partey: 7.5 – getting more settled with every game.

Xhaka: 7.5 – solid and put in a shift as always.

Martinelli: 7 – some great defensive interventions and positioning but less effective in attack

ESR: 7 – less effective, especially in first half, but Emile worked his socks off. Much better in second half.

Pepe: 7.5 – really involved in the game for his doing. Should have scored from Willian’s pass.

Laca: 7.5 – tireless team performance. Missed his buddies Saka and Auba but battled so hard. What a warrior.

Subs:

Willian: 7 – worked hard and added impetus to our attacking play. Close to assist.

Eddie and Ødegaard: Not long enough on pitch to make a judgement.

By TotalArsenal.

Arsenal v MU Preview/ Lineup: Enter the Hungry Brazilian

the Red Mancs are coming to the Home of Football for an early Saturday night battle for momentum. They suffered a painful loss to the Blades and desperately need to bounce back as to avoid Citeh to run away from them in the table. The Gunners are on a great run and have the bit between their teeth; a win would catapult us forward and give us all belief that we can still go places this season. If the Mancs win the gap between us and them will be 13 points, but if we win it will be just seven, and that is a big, big difference. I expect Pool and Citeh to be out of our range once they get back into their strides again, but any other team in the league we can catch. Not that we should look too much at the table right now (hard not to, though). Let’s just focus on OGAAT, on tonight’s game and try and win it.

It will not be easy to get the double over the Mancs. They have hardly any injury issues right now, and as a settled team they are a bit further than us. Their midfield was over-classed by us in the return fixture but has improved a lot since then. Fernandes is a great player and Pogba and McTominay in deep(er) midfield have started to form a half-decent partnership. Yet this is where we should be able to overpower them again, and this midfield battle will once again be crucial. MU love to sit back a bit a spring a counter from possession regained in their own half, and with the likes of Rashford, Cavani and enfant terrible Greenwood they can hurt us. Yet if we sit back a bit more than we did against the Saints and play a more controlled game, the Mancs will struggle to create chances. They will have to come forward more and that will suit our intricate passes game more. Still, I also hope we will press them high at times and force errors as we did on Tuesday. It should be a great battle and the winner will feel galvanized afterwards.

Arsenal have some fitness doubts right now and it is still not clear whether Auba is available or not as I write this. Tierney and Partey seem ready to play and that would be great news. Let’s assume that Auba is not ready yet, which will leave us with the big question who shall replace him. ESR is a doubt and that could leave us with a choice between new boy Odegaard or the much maligned Willian. MO11 may not be match fit as yet, so I expect it to be either ESR, Willian or maybe Martinelli. At the back I expect a return of Gabriel as we will need his athleticism against Greenwood, Rashford etc. I sense this will be a game for Martinelli, the hungry Brazilian, especially if Emile is not fully fit to start. Together with Saka and Laca (and hopefully a confident Willian) they can destroy the Mancs’s defence tonight.

My preferred starting-11:

Come on You Rip Roaring Gunners!

By TotalArsenal.