Arsenal Player Ratings: Sumptuous Saka, Unsung Hero MOTM, AMN/Joe/Laca Superb-Subs


A battling, fine win at Molineux that all of a sudden offers a way into the top five. We will analyse the game over the coming days, but here are BK’s player ratings.

Player Ratings

Martinez: 8 – Did he make a mistake yet since replacing Bernd? Great interceptions and anticipation of danger. Offers real presence from set-pieces and on one-to-ones with attackers. Love him.

Mustafi: 7.5 – MOTM according to BBC football. Offered real presence and showed again his ability to outleap his opponents time and again. His distribution and passing out of defence was below par but he did well defensively and has become one of Arteta’s first choices.

David Luiz: 7.5 – Had a fine game and lead his defence effectively. There were a few moments when Wolves threatened to overwhelm us in the second half but Luiz’s presence and decisive interventions redressed the balance straightaway. This was vital.

Kolasinac: 7 – Slowly improving game by game. Closed a lot of gaps and did not allow his opponents any time on the ball.

Soares: 7 – Tenacious and energetic. Just looks like he has been playing for us for ages. Great pass to Auba for our first goal. We needed that quick thinking and accurate pass to break open the stubborn, well-organised Wolves’ defence.

Ceballos: 7.5 – Disciplined and tenacious. This time he had to sit deeper to protect the defence with Xhaka. So no sexy throughballs on this occasion but graft and discipline instead. He nevertheless produced some lovely touches and passes. Is growing on me.

Xhaka: 8 and MOTM – Another great shift by the Swiss maestro against a very strong Wolves midfield. A good DM is often at the place of danger at the right time – it is a sense Granit has in abundance; Xhaka did that time and again. His passing was crisp, he interceptions forceful and his positioning spot on all night. Einfach Wonderbra.

Tierney: 7 – Getting better every game. There is more than a bit of an Ashley Cole about him.

Saka: 7.5 – Sumptuous goal that made all the difference. In my overenthusiasm I called it Messi-esque but there really are only a few who can ‘pass-volley’ the ball in like that from such a high bouncing ball at speed. Would like him to play a bit more central than he did but another good game.

Nketiah: 7 – Put in a shift and was unlucky not to score with a fearless attempt before Saka scored. Linked up well with the other attackers and plays with great energy and confidence. Really gives Laca a run for his money now.

Aubameyang: 8 – Put in a great shift and had such desire to do well for the team and set an example, which of course is super important in games like these.

The Subs:

Bellerin: 6 – Took over well from Soares. Couple of a good interceptions.

Torreira: – Not long enough on the pitch to rate him.

AMN: 7.5 – Loved his presence on the pitch straightaway. A couple of great tackles and he helped us to re-boss the Wolves again. Great tactical sub by Arteta.

Willock: 7 – Similar to AMN, he added presence and a good passing outlet. Joe topped it off with a fine assist for Laca’s goal.

Laca: 7.5 – Superbly taken goal with a smooth first touch and a wicked diagonal shot into the far corner. Alex needed that goal badly and so did we, the supporters, too.

By TotalArsenal.


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Arsenal Have History with Wolves: Preview/ Line-up| This is Saka’s Game

Arsenal v Wolverhampton Wanderers – July 4th, 2020

Wolves molineux stadium 

Wolverhampton Wanderers Football Club, commonly known as Wolves, is based in Wolverhampton, West Midlands, England. Formed as St. Luke’s FC in 1877, the club has played at Molineux Stadium since 1889 and competes in the Premier League, the top division of English football, after winning the 2017–18 EFL Championship. Wolves also compete in the 2019–20 UEFA Europa League: this is the first time the club has qualified for a European tournament for 39 years, by virtue of finishing in seventh place in the 2018–19 Premier League, their first season in the top tier since the 2011–12 season.

Wolves was one of the founding members of the Football League in 1888. The club in 2019–20 is enjoying its 65th season of top flight football; Wolves’ longest continuous period in the top tier was 26 consecutive seasons in the 33 years between 1932 and 1965. In the 1950s, Wolves were English League champions three times (1953–54, 1957–58 and 1958–59), under the management of Stan Cullis. Wolves have also finished League runners-up on five occasions, most recently in 1959–60.

Wolves have won the FA Cup four times, most recently in 1960, and finished runners-up on a further four occasions. The club has also won the Football League Cup twice, in 1974 and 1980.

In 1953, Wolves was one of the first British clubs to install floodlights, taking part in televised “floodlit friendlies” against leading overseas club sides between 1953 and 1956 in the run-up to the creation of the European Cup in 1955 and the first participation of an English club side in that competition in 1956. Wolves reached the quarter-finals of the 1959–60 European Cup and the semi-finals of the 1960–61 European Cup Winners’ Cup, and were runners-up to Tottenham Hotspur in the inaugural UEFA Cup Final in 1972.

Wolves’ traditional kit consists of old gold shirts and socks and black shorts. Since 1979 the kit has also featured the club’s “wolf’s head” badge. Wolves have long-standing rivalries with other West Midlands clubs, the main one being with West Bromwich Albion, against whom they contest the Black Country derby, although the two clubs have not met since 2011–12, the last time they competed in the same division.


On September 24, 1904 Arsenal played their first Division 1 game it was a home game against Wolverhampton Wanderers and was also the day we scored our first ever top flight goal.

Charlie Satterthwaite holds the honour of scoring Arsenal’s first ever goal in the First Division. The striker had a keen eye for goal during his six-year spell with the Club and scored 48 times in 141 appearances. Satterthwaite made history on September 24, 1904 with the opening strike in a 2-0 victory over Wolves – Arsenal’s first goal and victory of their maiden campaign in the top flight of English football. He had joined five months earlier from West Ham and made his debut on the opening day of the 1904/05 campaign in a 3-0 loss to Newcastle. Satterthwaite finished as the team’s top goal scorer that year and also in 1906/07 (with 19 goals) before retiring in 1910 at the age of 33. His younger brother Joe also played for Arsenal, which made them the first siblings to achieve the feat. 

So we managed to beat Wolves in our second game in League Division 1 – 116 years ago, the big question is – can we beat the 2020 version of Wolves at a crowd-less Molineux Stadium?

They are an extremely well managed and disciplined team under the tutelage of  manager Nuno Espírito Santo and are currently one place above us in the Premier League and six points ahead of us.

This is the first of four very tough games against Wolves, Leicester, Spurs and Liverpool, only an extreme optimist can see us coming out of these games with more than 50% of the points – so being more of a realist my forecast will be D, W, D, L. 

We have an excellent away record against Wolves losing only once in our last visit. 

Arsenal v Wolves – EPL Away Games
    W D L GF GA GD
1 07-Feb-04 1     3 1 2
2 07-Nov-09 1     4 1 3
3 10-Nov-10 1     2 0 2
4 11-Apr-12 1     3 0 3
5 24-Apr-19     1 1 3 -2
6 04-Jul-20            
Total : 4 0 1 13 5 8

Overall our historic away record against Wolves is very even with Arsenal ahead by just one victory. 

Arsenal v Wolves – All Away Games
Div. 2 1 0 1 2 2 0
Div 1 15 11 17 65 79 -14
EPL 4 0 1 13 5 8
Total : 20 11 19 80 86 -6


TA’s team to make the Wolves howl with fear:

Arsenal v Wolves1 July 20

Wolves are excellent in midfield so we need to man up in that area. I would add Saka to it and so play with five there. Saka to play mainly in the hole and Ceballos to stay with Xhaka as much as required. Playing both Auba and Eddie upfront, with a license to roam and confuse the Wolves’ defence as much as possible, would give our midfielders plenty of options. Big day for Bellerin. Big day for Kola. This could be THE DAY for Saka!


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What a VARce! Is VAR Leading to Fairer Referee Treatment of Arsenal?

Spurs had a goal disallowed and later on Man City had a goal which would have been their 5th disallowed, both after the ball inadvertently brushed the arm of a player from the side that scored in the build up. Technically it was hand ball, but whatever happened to the term ‘deliberate’ – has that now disappeared along with ‘common sense’ and ‘spirit of the law or game’ in this modern era of robotic refereeing?

Of course when it happened to the mob from Middlesex I just chuckled, especially when I saw the not so special one having a meltdown on the sidelines, that’s always good and I thoroughly enjoyed it, but I was a bit miffed later on when what would have looked a total walk over at 5-0 was reduced back to 4-0 in the City vs Scouser game, which whilst still emphatic, at the the same time isn’t quite as complete at a good old 5-0…

See the source image

Now so far the Glorious Gunners have avoided those kinds of disappointments. We’ve had three referees in our last three games who we usually don’t have and I think in general we’ve been treated fairly, but we all know that we’ll get Mike Dean again and the hopeless Atkinson, probably when we play Spurs and Man City in the Cup. It’s almost as if the PGMOL are setting us up, giving us a fair crack of the whip before engineering another major stitch up in a game that matters.

I had hoped that VAR would be beneficial to Arsenal as we seem to suffer more injustices than most, but I’m not sure that it has with Riley still at the helm and the usual suspects sitting in judgement in Stockley Park.

What do you think?

By Allezkev

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Arsenal Player Ratings: Two MOTM, Tierney Powers On, Xhaka Indispensable

Arsenal 4 – 0 Norwich: Arteta’s plan is starting to bear fruit and Ceballos is starting to blossom.

Krul doet Aubameyang record cadeau, Leicester moet vrezen voor CL-ticket

Norwich had impressed against the Red Mancs at the weekend, but other than 15 minutes in the second half, after a tactical adjustment by the manager at half time, they offered little opposition to Arteta’s well-drilled and motivated boys.

Mikel seems to have moved to a 3-4-3 formation with Xhaka and Ceballos/Willock in the centre of midfield and two wing-backs in quite forward-orientated positions. The latter positions were taken by the tenacious Tierney and the willing but somehow not very confident/effective Bellerin, and they were able to really stretch the Norwich defence by staying wide and making constant runs behind them.

But the big star, at least in the first half, was Ceballos. The Zidane (seasonal?) cast-off played with energy and panache and he sliced the Canaries’ defence open at will. That goal in Sheffield clearly has given him wings and today he played with them for the best part of an hour. It was a Fabregas-esque performance, a joy to watch.

The defence did not have too much to do other than between the 45-60th minutes; our attack was lively rather than efficient it forced the Canaries into a number of mistakes for which they paid the ultimate price.

Player Ratings:

Martinez: 8 – made a very important low to the ground save at the start of the second half and just oozed confidence and presence for 90 minutes. This is his moment.

Mustafi: 6 – the game was too easy for him in the first half and as a result he lost his concentration towards the end. Probably subbed because of injury (Arteta is a Y-Manager and does not substitute players at half time to ‘teach them a lesson’).

Holding (Mustafi’s replacement): 6.5 – took over well from Mustafi.

Luiz: 7 – similar to Mustafi dropped in concentration levels towards the end of the first half. Still, Davide is a leader on the pitch with presence and positivity.

Kolasinac: 6 – looks out of place in the left-CB position but he put in a shift.

Tierney: 7.5 – great wing-back play throughout the game and quickly becoming one of Arteta’s automatic picks. Combines tenacity and fight with calm and high-quality crosses. Fecking love him.

Xhaka: 8 – take him out of the team and we are missing our foundation/ our conductor. There are still people who want Xhaka gone/ don’t believe he is ‘Arsenal’ quality… Ah well… Took his goal very well.

Ceballos: 8.5 MOTM – see also above for my praise for him. Dani danced us to victory today.

Bellerin: 6 – tried hard but the final ball is too slow and lacks conviction. Something is missing and I wonder whether Bellerin’s time may be up….

Soares: 7 – impressed straightaway and scored the sort of goal Hector currently isn’t able to score.

Nelson: 6.5 – tried to add attacking intent where and when possible. A skillful and intelligent player who needs a number of games to play himself into the team.

Willock: 7 – Norwich overpowered the midfield at the start of the second half and Arteta had to bring Joe on to readdress the balance; and the boy of only 20 Springs did very well. Willock added presence and helped us push Norwich back towards their goal with his smart runs and passes.

Laca: 7 – a seven for effort and impact on our overall attacking play. He gets himself in good scoring positions too but really has to focus harder on converting the more than decent chances that come his way in every game.

Auba: 8.5 – MOTM – two goals – ‘one of them and Eddie’ – and an assist, but there is much more to his game: hard work, making other player more effective and help out in defence, to name a few.

Eddie/ Pepe: – not seen enough of them to give a score.

By TotalArsenal.


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Arsenal v Norwich Preview/ Line-up: Auba, Nelson, Saka to Feed Eddie.

Arsenal v Norwich City – July 1st, 2020

norwich city cathedral 

During 1992–93, the inaugural season of the Premier League, Norwich City quickly emerged as surprise title contenders, before faltering in the final weeks to finish third behind the champions, Manchester United, and runners-up Aston Villa. Their top scorer that season was Mark Robins, who had been signed from Manchester United the previous summer.

The following season Norwich participated in the UEFA Cup for the first (and only) time, losing in the third round to Inter Milan, but defeating Bayern Munich. Winning 2–1, Norwich were the first British team to beat Bayern Munich in the Olympic Stadium. Mike Walker quit as Norwich City manager in January 1994, to take charge of Everton and was replaced by first team coach John Deehan who led the club to 12th place in the 1993–94 season in the Premier League. Norwich began the 1994–95 season well, despite the pre-season loss of top scorer Chris Sutton to Blackburn Rovers for a national record £5 million, and by Christmas they were seventh in the league. Norwich then won only one of their final 20 league games and slumped to 20th place and relegation, ending a nine-season run in the top flight.

After bouncing around the leagues Norwich finished the 2017–18 Championship season in 14th place. Despite a slow start, the following season was far more successful and the team spent most of the season at the top of the table – helped on by top scorer Teemu Pukki. Following a 2–1 win over Blackburn Rovers, the club was promoted back to the Premier League after a three-year absence as champions of the Championship.

Norwich Elm Hill

Our Premier League home record against Norwich has been excellent having lost only one game – back in August 1992, since then we have drawn two and won five. Although they are at the bottom of the league and destined to once again be demoted they showed in the FA Cup quarter final loss against Manchester United that they can play sharp disciplined football.

I would think that the loss to Man U must have been very demoralising and will not put them in a good head space for Wednesday’s game, whereas our win against Sheffield U must have raised our team spirit.

Arsenal v Norwich EPL Home Results
1 15-Aug-92     1 2 3
2 30-Oct-93   1   0 0
3 01-Apr-95 1     5 1
4 02-Apr-05 1     4 1
5 05-May-12   1   3 3
6 13-Apr-13 1     3 1
7 19-Oct-13 1     4 1
8 30-Apr-16 1     1 0
9 02-Jul-20          
Total : 5 2 1 22 10

Here are the latest standings at the bottom of the Premier League – it will need a remarkable turnaround by Norwich and a complete collapse by two of the four teams immediately above them in order for them to retain a position in the Premier League and I cannot see that happening.

Pos Team GP GD Pts
15 Brighton 31 -7 33
16 Watford 32 -20 28
17 West Ham 31 -19 27
18 Bournemouth 31 -21 27
19 Aston Villa 32 -24 27
20 Norwich 31 -31 21

 I fail to see how they can beat us on Wednesday but our defensive frailties against set pieces are well known and could once again be our Achilles heel.

Arsenal v Norwich All Home Results
Division 1 11 5 1 32 10
Premier 5 2 1 22 10
Total : 16 7 2 54 20

Even given our defensive shortcomings they have only beaten us at home twice in football league history so I forecast a 2-0 victory at a crowd less Emirates Stadium, in our first home game since March 7th.


TA’s Team:

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Arsenal Player Ratings: Pepe Improving, Xhaka Vital, Tierney a Wee Beastie, One MOTM

Sheffield United 1 – 2 Arsenal

The FA Cup fighters did it again! A priceless win takes us to the semi-finals at Wembley. A very good first half in terms of structure and discipline finished with 1-0 to the Arsenal. But then an under par second half followed, in which we gave away the initiative, invited the Stoke, ooh sorry the Sheffield United, high balls into the box and then almost paid the price for it. A late equaliser was finally conceded and the prospect of a knackering extra 30 minutes, and possibly penalties, threatened; but then came Ceballos with a superbly taken goal to keep us in the competition. More on the game later but here are my player ratings.


Player Ratings

Martinez-Happinez: Very impressive. Plays like he has been in goal for years and was nearly faultless. MotM 9

Tierney: What a battler and complete wingback this wee Scottish Beastie is Is getting better and better and some great crosses into the box: 8

Mustafi: Nothing pretty or masterful but sheer hard work for 90 minutes help to see us through: 7

Luiz: Redeemed himself with good blocks and energetic defending: 7

Kola: Similar style to Mustafi: frantic, energetic but also partly to blame for the goal against us and iffy with keeping the shape in defence: 5

Saka: Worked hard but struggled to get into the game. Was fouled a lot and still had one or two moments of quality: 6.5

Xhaka: A lot of what he means to the team is invisible to many but today he was just so influential in his quiet and intelligent way: 8

Joe: Very good first half with one or two fine key passes and good support for Xhaka in midfield. Dealt very well with the Stoke United physicality. Wilted in the second half and that made us weaker. You can see all his potential and he is getting better every game. 7

AMN: very strong first half and good second half too. Wasn’t to be bullied and worked well with Pepe on the right. 7

Pepe: was a few times in the right place at the right time and was our most effective attacker. Loved his improving work rate as well and he took his penalty very well: 8

Laca: worked his socks of for the team and thus created space for others. He is not as effective as we would like such an attacker to be but he still made a big difference: 7.5

Holding: did okay but was not able to settle down our defence when he came on: 7

Ceballos: scored a priceless winner and worked hard to help us regain the midfield in the second half: 7.5

Eddie: took over well from Laca: 7

Big Sok: Not long enough on the pitch to rate him.





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King of the FA Cup v Blades Preview/ Line-up: 3-4-3 with Big Sok, Nelson, Joe & Laca

Arsenal v Sheffield United –  June 28th.


Will the FA Cup, once again, be the salvation of a poor League campaign for Arsenal?

 We have a glorious history in the FA starting in 1927 when we lost to Cardiff- 0-1 when the ball slipped under our Welsh goalkeeper Dan Lewis’ body with only 15 minutes left in the game. Community singing was first introduced in the 1927 final, there was doubt about what the response would be – but it was so enthusiastically received that it created one of the biggest organised choirs of all time as the crowd of 91,206 joined in – it has since become an annual FA Cup Final ritual.

Our first win came in 1930 (a 2-0 victory over Huddersfield) it was known as “Chapman’s Final” as it was a meeting of the two clubs that he had fashioned and inspired to greatness. He had won the League championship three years in a row with Huddersfield in the 1920’s and went on to achieve the same extraordinary feat with Arsenal in the 1930’s. 

The final was interrupted by the roaring engines of Germany’s pride – the giant silver airship the Graf Zeppelin when it flew over Wembley and dipped its nose in a salute to King George V – this was immediately greeted by loud boo’s from the crowd.

We played in two more Finals in the 1930’s – losing 2-1 to Newcastle in 1932 and beating Sunday’s opponents, Sheffield United, 1-0 in 1936, the winning goal was scored through the left foot of Ted Drake who had recently returned to the team after a cartilage operation.

FA Cup Final 2 001

It was Arsenal’s sixth success in League or Cup in seven seasons, but their triumphs did not get the coverage they deserved due to a dispute between Wembley and the newsreel companies – which led to a ban on film cameramen inside the stadium. The companies therefore took to the air in air-gyros but they were scrupulous in remaining on the outside of the stadium.

I will stop right there but I will continue with our FA Cup History if we progress to the semi final.


And so the Story Goes….

Preston North End confidently asked to be photographed with the Cup before the 1888 final but Major Francis Marindin, the president of the FA, replied, “Hadn’t you better win it first?”  Preston lost 2-1.

Aston Villa and Everton each booked into a “secret” hotel for the 1897 final, only to discover they were staying in the same place – Villa won 3.2.

With the score tied 0-0 at half time Derby County began the second round tie at Lincoln in 1902 by surrounding the ball. They prevented their opponents getting near it, steered the ball into Lincoln’s area, scored and went on to win 3-1.

Portsmouth received 20 pounds a man and shared a bonus of 550 pounds for beating Wolverhampton 4-1 in the 1939 final. They then discovered that the massed bands at Wembley were paid more, Ted (later Lord) Carter wrote in an article in the Tribune entitled “They would have been better off playing the cornet”.

Referee E.D.Smith of Sunderland said on BBC radio before the 1946 final (Derby County beat Charlton Athletic won 4-1) that the odds of the ball bursting were a million to one. The ball burst then and again the following year when Charlton beat Burnley 1-0.

Derby County had not won the Cup before 1946 because, it was said, gypsies had put a curse on then long before for training on their encampment. A Fleet Street reporter, however, had a bright idea. He persuaded the Derby captain to visit a gypsy camp near London, during the week before the final. The curse was lifted in return for silver and Derby duly won the Cup for the first time.

Manchester United had a flap before leaving their dressing room to face Leicester City in the 1963 final. Pat Crerand, their Scottish international wing-half, was missing. He was discovered in the tunnel, wearing only a jock-strap, Singing “abide with me”.

Our current team have a lot of history to live up to – we own the record of most FA Cup wins with thirteen, closely followed my Manchester United with twelve. Three wins and we could increase our record – is it possible with our current squad?

Arsenal FA Cup Final History
# Year Opponent GF GA W L
1 1927 Cardiff City 0 1   1
2 1930 Huddersfield 2 0 1  
3 1932 Newcastle 1 2   1
4 1936 Sheffield United 1 0 1  
5 1950 Liverpool 2 0 1  
6 1952 Newcastle 0 1   1
7 1971 Liverpool 2 1 1  
8 1972 Leeds United 0 1   1
9 1978 Ipswich 0 1   1
10 1979 Manchester United 3 2 1  
11 1980 West Ham 0 1   1
12 1993 Sheffield Wednesday 2 1 1  
13 1998 Newcastle 2 0 1  
14 2001 Liverpool 1 2   1
15 2002 Chelsea 2 0 1  
16 2003 Southampton 1 0 1  
17 2005 Manchester United 0 0 1  
18 2014 Hull 3 2 1  
19 2015 Aston Villa 4 0 1  
20 2017 Chelsea 2 1 1  
    Totals: 28 16 13 7


TA’s Team to smash the Blades

arsenal v SU fa cup

A rest for Mustafi and Bellerin, Ceballos and Pepe would make sense. Big Sok and AMN, Willock and Nelson to start instead. Maybe Kola could start instead of Tierney but the sturdy Scot is the better defender and he is enjoying this run of games. Oh and Eddie to come off the bench this time and score the winner. 🙂 Also happy for Luiz to return but Holding deserves another game after THAT performance against the Saints. Maybe Luiz will start instead of Tierney… But the above would be my preferred team.

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Signings Indicate Arteta to go 3-4-3: His Best Team Plus One More Signing?

Arteta probably needs one more quality signing to complete the Revolution…

arteta in black

Well the club have announced the signings of a number of defenders this week, and this will not go down well with everybody, no doubt. The criticism of Mari is that he does not appear to be fast, and Soares is a ‘cast-off’ apparently…. And then there is David Luiz’s one more year at Arsenal announcement that will have a large part of the fans fuming.

I cannot say to be overexcited but we have to trust Arteta here. He works with the players, is a man with a plan and really does know more about football than you and me together x 10.

The Lego-Man is building something and with Mari and Luiz he has strong characters who can guide our younger CBs whilst doing a job for us on the field too. With the highly promising but still young Saliba finally joining us next season, Arteta will have options to shape his defence; and with so many CBs at his disposal – Mustafi, Chambers, Holding, Mari, Luiz, Big Sok and Saliba – he may well be thinking to go to three at the back.

That is six good players for three CB positions if you ask me. One or two may leave but then Arteta may well promote some youngsters in that case.

With Soares, Bellerin, Tierney and Kolasinac we have double cover on the wingback positions, which is another indication that we are going for a 3-4-3 formation. Saka and possibly Nelson could also play on the outsides of the ‘4’ in the middle of the pitch. Arteta will have options to spare once everybody is fully fit.

Key with a 3-4-3 is to dare to push up most of the game and not sit too deep. If the latter is the case it is very hard for the central midfielders to connect with the three attackers, leaving too much space between the two lines (as we could see yesterday v Southampton). This can partly be resolved with a hybrid nr10/b2b midfielder in the middle of the three up-front but that is asking a hell of a lot from such a player… it would have to be one beast of a player.

The heart of our midfield is of course the key area for Arteta to get right. I expect a signing here as to freshen things up. Or will Arteta promote one of the youngsters? BKers keep telling me Matt Smith may be the ONE…

If it is going to be 3-4-3 then we need a complimentary mix of defensive and attacking skills in midfield. Both players must know how to defend and how to support the attack, and they have to become a machine-like, automatic duo.

Torreira and Xhaka together is somehow not working as well as you (well I) would expect. For me Granit Xhaka is a keeper and I hope he will stay. I really like Torreira too but he somehow has not settled at Arsenal and it would not surprise me if he were to move on. Guendouzi we discussed in a previous post, and I would like him to be the understudy for Xhaka (and not play next to Granit if Arteta can help it).

The one player who should revel in a 3-4-3 formation is Super Joey Willock. Joe has that all-round skills-base to be the complete midfielder. But he is still young and we need experience in that position to really make this formation work. Willock should be the understudy and Arteta may have to buy the final piece in the jigsaw…

I am not worried about our attack at all. Plenty of options there and once they start getting it right, the goals will keep coming.

Joe Willock: The young midfielder thriving for Arsenal and ...

Any thoughts or suggestions fine fellow BKers (non-regulars are also welcome to comment!!)?

By TotalArsenal.

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Arsenal Player Ratings: Three MOTMs

Southampton 0 – 2 The Arsenal

That was anything but sexy football but a clean sheet and two goals to the good guys cannot be poo-poohed! Arteta had a clear plan today, but the heat prevented the team to really be at their best. We were solid and sat back but were also quick with the turnovers/breaks and dangerous in front of goal. There was a lot of space in midfield at times and we struggled to make use of it, but Arteta just wanted us to be solid at the back and not give space away for the Saints’ eager runners… and it helped us to a result. More on the game later this week, but here are my player ratings.

Player Ratings

Mature Martinez: enthusiastic, focussed and ready to make a top-notch safe when it most mattered: 8 M  O  T  M

Tenacious Tierney: instructed to stay close to Holding as to cover for his un-left-footedness. Energetic and focussed and fought for the shirt: 7

Heavenly Holding: Did Rob need a game like this!! Solid in the air, energetic and really wanted that clean sheet: 8 M  O  T  M

Sensible Shkodran: Benefited from playing next to a good playing Holding and seldom let the team down: 7

Balance-seeking Bellerin: If you wear a mustache you have to play like a man and I missed Hector’s presence on the pitch today. His link up play and passing were below par and he made a few too many unforced errors: 6

Super-disciplined Ceballos: Clearly instructed to stay in line with Xhaka and back and he worked hard to have an impact. Offered little going forward but I was impressed with his discipline: 7

Xuper-Xhaka: A bit rusty with his passing but then now and again he produced a beauty. Gave us shape in midfield which was an improvement on recent games: 7

Sensational Saka: Is there anywhere this young man cannot play? He adds that bit of class to our team at the moment and was a good support to Tierney (and Holding) on the left. Good link up play with Auba too: 8 M  O  T  M

Awesome Auba: Worked hard and was a continuous threat to the Saints’ defence. Unlucky to not be on the scoresheet once again: 7.5

Peripheral Pepe: At times he went missing but still think he did his part… just about: 6.5

Energetic Eddiex3: Got the all important first goal as a reward for his attitude and energetic field play (in hot conditions). Had a goal ruled out too. It just feels like he and Auba could become a golden duo going forward: 7.5

The Subs

Kola: Cannot remember him being on the pitch: ?

Joe: Came on and added energy and drive. Took his goal coolie after once again being at the right place at the right time in the box: 7

Ainsley MN: added energy but not long enough on the pitch to score him: ?

Laca: involved in Joe’s goal and he added a bit of thrust to our tired attack. Should have done better from Saka’s late good cross into the box… but headers are not his thing really: 6.5

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Saints v Arsenal History/ Preview/ Line-Up: Xhaka and Joe in Midfield, Eddie up-top?

Southampton v Arsenal – June 25th 2020

Southampton was originally founded at St. Mary’s Church, on 21 November 1885 by members of the St. Mary’s Church of England Young Men’s Association.

St. Mary’s Y.M.A., as they were usually referred to in the local press, played most of their early games on The Common where games were frequently interrupted by pedestrians insistent on exercising their right to roam. More important matches, such as cup games, were played either at the County Cricket Ground in Northlands Road or the Antelope Cricket Ground in St Mary’s Road.

The club was originally known as St. Mary’s Young Men’s Association F.C. (usually abbreviated to “St. Mary’s Y.M.A.”) and then became simply St. Mary’s F.C. in 1887–88, before adopting the name Southampton St. Mary’s when the club joined the Southern League in 1894.

For the start of their League career, Saints signed several new players on professional contracts, including Charles Baker, Alf Littlehales and Lachie Thomson from Stoke and Fred Hollands from Millwall. After winning the Southern League title in 1896–97, the club became a limited company and was renamed Southampton F.C.

Southampton was among the founding members of the Premier League in 1992–93, but spent most of the next ten seasons struggling against relegation. In 1995–96, Southampton finished 17th with 38 league points, avoiding relegation on goal difference.

Mark Hughes was fired as the Saints manger after a poor start to the 2018/19 season and in December 2018 he was replaced by Ralph Hasenhuettl who has a record of (W22, D13, L26, Win % 36.1). He signed a new contract until 2024 during the Covid -19 pandemic.

Hasenhuettl recorded his first win as Southampton manger against Arsenal a 3-2 victory on December 16, 2018.

Here is a brief accounting of the game.

Ralph Hasenhüttl bounces on to the pitch. That’s lift-off! The new era is very much under way at Southampton. Arsenal’s 22-match unbeaten comes to a grinding halt on the south coast. Charlie Austin’s late winner lifts Southampton out of the bottom three, while Arsenal stay fifth, three points behind Chelsea, who have just wrapped up victory over Brighton in Sussex. It was a game teeming with great goals – and two wicked deflections – but when it mattered most, Austin had a cool head to apply a fine finish, heading in Shane Long’s lofted cross.

We have only won once in our last eight visits to St. Mary’s (W1, D4, L3, GF9, GA14) so we can expect another tough encounter. Playing in a crowd-less stadium should have a neutralizing effect, although that has not been apparent so far this season.

Arsenal v Saints EPL Away Results
1 05-Dec-92 1 0 2
2 19-Mar-94 1 4 0
3 19-Nov-94 1 0 1
4 09-Dec-95 1 0 0
5 15-Mar-97 1 2 0
6 23-Aug-97 1 3 1
7 03-Apr-99 1 0 0
8 18-Sep-99 1 1 0
9 19-May-01 1 2 3
10 13-Oct-01 1 2 0
11 23-Nov-02 1 2 3
12 29-Dec-03 1 1 0
13 26-Feb-05 1 1 1
14 01-Jan-13 1 1 1
15 28-Jan-14 1 2 2
16 01-Jan-15 1 0 2
17 26-Dec-15 1 0 4
18 10-May-17 1 2 0
19 10-Dec-17 1 1 1
20 16-Dec-18 1 2 3
21 16-Jun-20
Total : 7 6 7 26 24

This will not be an easy game and we need to show up as a unified, supportive team. Injuries and red cards have put us in a difficult position defensively and our mid- field has not created enough opportunities for our strikers.

After a difficult re-start to the season Mikel Arteta has his work cut out to bring the team together, but I have confidence that, in the long term, he is the right person for the task ahead.

Arsenal v Saints  All time Away Results
Division 1 8 4 10 30 29
Premier 7 6 7 26 24
Total : 15 10 17 56 53

Overall Southampton has had our number at St Mary’s – we need to change that situation.


TA’s Preferred Line-Up….

*Xhaka is in full training so I hope he will start… If not it will surely be Guendo

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