Arsenal 20-21: Artetenal and/or Kia Joorabchian Futebol Clube

mikeford

woolwich!
SoSH Member
Aug 6, 2006
26,087
Toronto, ON
There's just no creativity in the midfield and I'm not sure Thomas Partey's tutelage under Diego Simeone is exactly the kind of new blood we needed in that department.

This is gonna have to be a George Graham Arsenal team for better or worse. 1-0 to the Arsenal is back as the defacto hope.
 

Section30

Member
SoSH Member
Aug 2, 2010
881
Portland OR
So both players are off the team but still getting paid. It sure seems like a poor job handling the players from the management side.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 2, 2006
18,364
Philadelphia
I honestly have no clue what Arteta is doing with this lineup.

I hate the fact that we’re using Saka in a match like this. He is such a key player for us and we do not want to run him into the ground.

We are also going to need more depth this season at the wing/attacking mid positions. Arteta needs to try to integrate players like Nelson and Smith-Rowe into the setup in some fashion or else we’re going to quickly be in a spot where Saka is totally jaded, Pepe has a niggle, and we’re starting a three CF front line or some dumb shit.

Also, when is AMN actually going to play if not in the league and not in matches like this?
 

Section30

Member
SoSH Member
Aug 2, 2010
881
Portland OR
Ozil's agent hitting back at Arteta and club, hinting it is reprisal for Ozil speaking out about China and the detention camps for the Uighur's. Claims five players have told him Ozil is "training great"and they don't know why he isn't playing. Contrasts how Arteta as a player was treated over his last two years at the club vs. Ozil's freeze out.

 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 2, 2006
18,364
Philadelphia
Ozil's agent hitting back at Arteta and club, hinting it is reprisal for Ozil speaking out about China and the detention camps for the Uighur's. Claims five players have told him Ozil is "training great"and they don't know why he isn't playing. Contrasts how Arteta as a player was treated over his last two years at the club vs. Ozil's freeze out.

This dude is just salty because he fucked up and looks terrible for insisting that Ozil will remain at the club and essentially run his career into the ground.

I don't think anybody knows the real story of why Ozil isn't playing but the club clearly told them that this would happen over the summer and Ozil/Sogut decided to call their bluff and keep cashing checks rather than move elsewhere. Now he is crying because they weren't bluffing.
 
Jul 15, 2005
2,058
Chicago
Ozil's agent hitting back at Arteta and club, hinting it is reprisal for Ozil speaking out about China and the detention camps for the Uighur's. Claims five players have told him Ozil is "training great"and they don't know why he isn't playing. Contrasts how Arteta as a player was treated over his last two years at the club vs. Ozil's freeze out.

it seemed like Wenger had a classy approach as vets like Rosicky, Mertersacker and others reached their sunset of the careers. Don't think any of them clashed their way out
 

wonderland

lurker
Jul 20, 2005
333
There’s a big difference. Those were Wenger’s guys that he brought in and had a vested interest. Ozul is a mess Arteta inherited. It’s not like Ozul’s playing time dropped under Emery.

Ozul is a player who doesn’t fit into what Arteta wants to do, I think it’s as simple as that.
 

shaggydog2000

Member
SoSH Member
Apr 5, 2007
7,713
This dude is just salty because he fucked up and looks terrible for insisting that Ozil will remain at the club and essentially run his career into the ground.

I don't think anybody knows the real story of why Ozil isn't playing but the club clearly told them that this would happen over the summer and Ozil/Sogut decided to call their bluff and keep cashing checks rather than move elsewhere. Now he is crying because they weren't bluffing.
Part of it may have been the loyalty bonus for 8 mil that was in Ozil's contract. He wouldn't get that if he was traded. The real story is that nobody has played Ozil much for years, even in his last season under Wenger. He's probably a combination of his decline as a player, changing styles in the game, and his bad relationships with his coaches.
 

SocrManiac

Member
SoSH Member
Apr 15, 2006
3,702
Somers, CT
Yuck.

This team is still pretty bad!
I have a hard time seeing that take.

Entirely too much was made about the overwhelming history of Leicester not winning away to Arsenal in however many years. These are all exhibition matches and home/away records should reflect that.

I see an Arsenal side that looks better than it has in years. If Lacazette’s red hot streak continued or the luck had been a bit different they’d have been up 2-0 at halftime. They were forced to make a defensive sub early in the second half and a moment of really good play by good opponents did them in.

Leicester are a good side. They have some injuries (who doesn’t right now) but are in the top 4 fight. Arsenal are, too.
 

mikeford

woolwich!
SoSH Member
Aug 6, 2006
26,087
Toronto, ON
I have a hard time seeing that take.

Entirely too much was made about the overwhelming history of Leicester not winning away to Arsenal in however many years. These are all exhibition matches and home/away records should reflect that.

I see an Arsenal side that looks better than it has in years. If Lacazette’s red hot streak continued or the luck had been a bit different they’d have been up 2-0 at halftime. They were forced to make a defensive sub early in the second half and a moment of really good play by good opponents did them in.

Leicester are a good side. They have some injuries (who doesn’t right now) but are in the top 4 fight. Arsenal are, too.
They did nothing but pass around the midfield for 90 minutes. They have absolutely no creativity in the final 3rd. I do not know how you can come away feeling good about that performance.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 2, 2006
18,364
Philadelphia
I think Arteta has a promising plan, its just not clear whether he can pull it off.

He wants to play a shape that is sort of 5-2-3 when defending and a shape that is basically 2-3-5 when in possession. Its a plan that makes sense to me in the abstract, an interesting way to balance attack and defense.

The tricky part is putting a team of players on the field that can transition between the two shapes and which can play both roles well.

I actually really liked the decision today to use Xhaka as the LCB out of possession rather than Tierney, as it allowed Saka to play as a pure attacker and Tierney to play more like a fullback or wing back. And the first half was really one of our better halves of football this year - we didn’t create a ton of great chances but we had at least one golden chance (when Tierney fizzed that cross across and Laca inexplicably couldn’t make a connection with his head about a yard from goal), we had a bunch of other promising situations, and we gave them absolutely nothing.

The second half was really crap. Its hard to say how much losing Luiz hurt us but we stopped being able to apply consistent pressure and we always were going to be vulnerable with a backline of Xhaka and Mustafi flanking Gabriel.

What was concerning is that Arteta didn’t really try to change things up when our plans stopped working or react to the danger that the Vardy and Under substitutions posed.

First, there was no plan B at all in the second half once we started looking toothless, which coincided to some degree with Saka getting kicked and limping all over the pitch. Take out our one creative and unpredictable player and we’ve got nothing.

Second, it should have been clear to Arteta that Leicester was now putting on a pair of fresh legged forwards skilled at running behind, which was going to be a very bad matchup for the already glacially slow Xhaka playing on tired legs. And that’s exactly what happened. Xhaka looked like he was running in quicksand on that ball over the top, Gabriel had to cover, Mustafi was asleep, and that’s all she wrote.

Arteta has a difficult hand to play in some ways because we just don’t have the players to solve some of these problems. We need more creative and skillful attacking players and we just don’t have them. We need a better option at RCB than Mustafi (or Luiz). But even with the players he has on hand, I think he is often too wedded to his own plans or just not quick enough to change things when something stops working. His overall master plan seems reasonable and promising to me. But the execution on a game-to-game level in terms of tactical adjustments and player selection seems problematic and so I think there are reasonable questions to be asked about whether he is capable of executing that master plan.

In the end, I want to give him at least until the end of this season and probably next season too. He seems like a good football mind, he has changed the culture of the club, and so I want to see what happens if he is given time, even knowing there will be a lot of growing pains in the process.
 

mikeford

woolwich!
SoSH Member
Aug 6, 2006
26,087
Toronto, ON
Well we beat Dundalk so at least theres that.

We havent won at Old Trafford in the league for 14 years so I'm not really too confident about Sunday.
 

shaggydog2000

Member
SoSH Member
Apr 5, 2007
7,713
Elneny did work his ass off. Gabriel and Partey were both huge in this game. The good Holding showed up. Saka is making a great case to play every important game. They pressured very well in the first half and had so many near chances, but that little bit of finish in the box is still missing. Great game to watch and a big hard fought win.
 

mikeford

woolwich!
SoSH Member
Aug 6, 2006
26,087
Toronto, ON
At least they created chances you know? Other times this season they've just kinda had the ball and not really done anything. A more in-form group of attackers and we'd have netted a goal from open play.

Very discouraged by the Leicester match but very encouraged by the performance here today.
 

The Gray Eagle

Member
SoSH Member
Aug 1, 2001
14,120
Look at Elneny in the 91st minute, what an engine, what effort.
View: https://twitter.com/Arsenal/status/1323022003109023750
Arteta postgame on Elneny:
“Obviously I played with him so I know his qualities and who he is as a person, and what he brings to the squad. I like players that have zero ego, who play for the team, who want to contribute regardless of what it is, whether that’s one minute or 96 minutes or just by being there and giving positive feedback all the time.

“He contributes to our culture and is a person who admired by everyone at the football club. And now I think his qualities he’s showing as a footballer, I always believed he had them.”
 
Last edited:

mikeford

woolwich!
SoSH Member
Aug 6, 2006
26,087
Toronto, ON
Cant keep rolling out the same lineup week after week and expecting something different to happen. At some point you have to try someone other than Willian and Lacazette up top. 2 absolute zeros today.
 

Tuff Ghost

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 15, 2005
316
Yeah, Lacazette is not playing like a Premier League quality No. 9, never mind a top-six club No. 9. It's time to try Aubameyang as the striker, I think. His hold-up play is not great, but he is a talented goal scorer in need of service and Lacazette is playing like the worst player on the pitch.

Willian is also really disappointing after a somewhat bright start to the year. He may be more consistent than Pepe, but I want Pepe out there. Pepe has the ability to do things that the more vanilla, steady players of Arsenal cannot. I think Arteta values selflessness, consistency, and work rate over all things, but the team is too predictable and Pepe could help with that. I also would not mind seeing some Premier League time for Willock, who has shown his creativity in Europa League.

I have enjoyed watching Thomas Partey so far. His thigh injury has me worried (he is set to get a scan on it, apparently). It would be disappointing to lose him for a stretch just as he is settling into the team nicely. Hopefully it is minor and he is back after the international break ready to go.
 

Tuff Ghost

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 15, 2005
316
Following up on Partey, he has been ruled out of international play over the break. Hopefully it is just a short-term thing and this break actually comes at a good time for him to rest/rehab, but the fact that he is already ruled out and is getting a scan today is making me a little concerned.
According to Goal.com’s Arsenal correspondent Charles Watts, Thomas Partey will miss Ghana’s African Cup of Nations qualification double-header with Sudan due to injury.

The Arsenal signing was due to feature home and away for the Black Stars on Thursday and the following Tuesday, but after picking up a thigh problem in the first half of last night’s 3-0 defeat to Aston Villa he will now stay in London to focus on his rehab.
 

Tuff Ghost

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 15, 2005
316
The Athletic has an excellent dive into the numbers behind Arsenal's current uninspiring play, featuring this line to summarize it: "Currently, Arteta is attempting to rob the bank by picking the lock, but trying to do so with a bunch of getaway drivers."

Essentially, Arsenal are very slow in possession, do not often get into the final third, let their opponents hold the ball for a long time (to keep a safe shape), and probably have the wrong players (players who are better in transition) to play Arteta's current favored system.

A few interesting facts:
  • Shot Taking & Perfectionism
    • 9 shots/game (15th best in Premier League)
    • 0.12 xG / shot (3rd in Premier League)
    • 1.1 xG / game (9th in Premier League)
The shots they are taking are generally of a high quality, but they are taking too few for it to make up for the low total. It also adds more variability to what can happen. If you only are getting a few shot attempts per game and you end up missing a high quality attempt, that is going to really hurt. Less shots also means you have less chances to get some unexpected positive luck variance (i.e. a random deflection, unexpected goal).
  • Slow Build-Ups and Safe Defending
    • 82 possessions / game (20th in Premier League)
    • 28 seconds is their average possession (2nd in Premier League)
    • 26 seconds is their opponents average possession (15th in Premier League)
    • 18th in Premier League in attempted dribbles
  • Final Third: So far away
    • 29 possessions end in final third / game (19th in Premier League)
    • 35% of possessions reach final third (14th in Premier League)
    • 381 total passes in final third (14th in Premier League)

How is Arteta going to return from the break? I think Pepe replacing Willian is a starting point. My preferred lineup at this point is probably something along these lines:

Leno
Bellerin-Luiz-Gabriel-Tierney
Partey-Ceballos
Pepe-Willock-Saka
Aubameyang
 

Tuff Ghost

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 15, 2005
316
Scheduling international play during a global pandemic is going about as well as expected. Both Elneny and Kolasinac have so far tested positive for COVID-19, and are expected to self-isolate for 14 days (missing matches against Leeds, Molde, and Wolves, presumably). Also mentioned in the Kolasinac Arseblog story is that Willian made a trip to Dubai during the break and he will have to test negative for COVID-19 before returning to training. I wish him well, but hope that this delays his training enough that we see Pepe in there against Leeds instead of Willian.

My big fear is that Kieran Tierney picks up an injury. He's already played 210 minutes for Scotland so far this break (120 minutes vs. Serbia, 90 minutes vs. Slovakia), and likely will get another 90 today vs. Israel. Picking up 300 international minutes in a single week is not ideal from an Arsenal perspective (he played Thursday, 11/12, Sunday, 11/15, and today, 11/18). Kolasinac certainly won't be able to fill in at left-back if Tierney is not ready for Leeds on Sunday.
 

Tuff Ghost

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 15, 2005
316
I love the Athletic, but their feature on the Kroenkes today was the exemplar of all things terrible and hilarious about sports, the billionaires towards whom we have to look as the goodly benefactors for our preferred tribe of athletes, and the journalism that exalts all involved.
KSE is a family business, and the Kroenkes have sought to welcome Arsenal staff into their wider family. During the 2012 Olympics, they entertained Arsenal executives and other business associates on their yacht which they had moored in Canary Wharf. The Athletic has learned of a tasteful, understated boat with beautiful Italian decor — one dwarfed in size and opulence by ones owned by the likes of Roman Abramovich. The Kroenkes also made arrangements to take the staff to one of the swimming events, in which Denver native Missy Franklin was competing.
That paragraph, and the bolded line in particular, swiftly broke the suspension of disbelief I normally maintain while ignoring the outer world and enjoying the domain of Arsenal for bursts of time. These fucking guys and their "tasteful, understated boat" want goodwill after laying off so many regular people during a pandemic. This article is bordering on Kroenke propaganda and it made me lose a few ounces of respect for David Ornstein, James McNicholas, and Amy Lawrence, all of whom I normally enjoy. We should love the Kroenkes because they do not have opulent boats like Abramovich; their boats are simply tasteful and understated.

It may have just hit me at the wrong time, but Jesus, "The Athletic has learned of a tasteful, understated boat with beautiful Italian decor" is going to be running through my head while watching Arsenal play for a while.

 

Tuff Ghost

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 15, 2005
316
A quick roll call as the international break mercifully concludes:
  • Elneny and Kolasinac tested positive for COVID-19, so will miss Sunday's match with Leeds.
  • Willian upset the club by going to Dubai during the break, but he tested negative for COVID-19 on return and will be eligible for Leeds. It is unclear if he will actually play, not just based on this transgression, but his current form in which he looks much more like a shipwreck than a "tasteful, understated boat with beautiful Italian decor" to borrow a phrase from the Athletic.
  • Partey has been ruled out for Leeds due to the thigh strain he picked up against Aston Villa. (He obviously did not play with Ghana over the break as had been planned.) This means Arteta's most recent go-to midfield is not available (Partey/Elneny).
  • Aubameyang spent a night sleeping on an airport floor in Gambia with his Gabon teammates before an Africa Cup of Nations match. I wish Eric Van were still here and able to speculate on how this sleep disruption is going to affect Auba in upcoming matches.
  • Callum Chambers played 76 minutes for the U23s today, taking him one step closer to return from his ACL injury.
  • Oh, and, David Luiz punched Dani Ceballos in the nose after a dust-up in training sparked by a hard Ceballos challenge. (Ceballos earlier this year had a skirmish with Nketiah in training.)
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 2, 2006
18,364
Philadelphia
Pepe is a moron but I'm mainly worried about that Saka injury. He is basically our only attacking player that hasn't been shit-to-mediocre this season and losing him to a long term injury would be a massive blow.

The real bright spot on a crap afternoon was that Arteta at least had the balls to play a real 4-3-3. Take that setup, but slot in Partey in central midfield and Saka (if he didn't just do his ACL) and Martinelli (once he is back) on the wings and I think we could have something interesting.
 

mikeford

woolwich!
SoSH Member
Aug 6, 2006
26,087
Toronto, ON
Arteta is rapidly losing the support of the fans with this boring play AND not winning. Maybe it doesn't matter cuz no one can go to matches but watching him flail around with no answers certainly sucks!
 

The Gray Eagle

Member
SoSH Member
Aug 1, 2001
14,120
Last 5 Premier League matches:
1 goal scored, on a penalty. Zero from open play.

The last goal Arsenal scored from open play was on October 4 against Sheffield United. They're closing in on 500 minutes without an open play goal in the league, over 200 and counting in the league without scoring.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin has more goals scored this season than Arsenal.
Ollie Watkins has scored 2 more goals than the Arsenal squad in the past 2 games-- both against Arsenal.
Danny Ings got injured on November 1 but he still has as many goals in the league this month as the Arsenal team.
 

Tuff Ghost

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 15, 2005
316
I am terrified about the Saka injury. I am no medical expert, but there did not seem to be a ton of contact before he winced in pain. Him playing in three international games over the past week certainly did not help.

Pepe made a dumb mistake, but he is still so much more creative and dangerous than the current iterations of Willian and Lacazette that I still would like to see him get more run out there. The Athletic's melodramatic speculation that Pepe's entire Arsenal career is now at risk is too reactionary for me, but it is getting increasingly frustrating to see him not perform. Leeds man-to-man defending should have made for a great opportunity for him to shine.

The transformation from the Emery to Arteta era has been pretty staggering. The fact that the team is getting one goal a game and is on pace for 55 points in the league is pretty bleak. I've kept a spreadsheet of Premier League performances by Arsenal since Emery took over and the numbers are pretty distinct between the two managers. (Emery was in charge for 51 EPL matches and Arteta 29 so far.) The defense has truly been transformed, but the offense has been neutered by an even greater extent.

Shots / Game have dropped 2.8 / gm:
Emery = 12.3 (on target = 4.5)
Arteta = 9.5 (on target = 3.6)

Shots Allowed / Game have dropped 1 / gm:
Emery = 14.1 (on target = 5.1)
Arteta = 13.1 (on target = 4.5)

A graph showing the running 5 game average shows the increased scarcity of shots since Arteta took charge. Arsenal under Arteta are pretty consistently under the 10 shots/game average, in direct contrast to the Emery time.

36585


Goals are way down for Arsenal and their opponents. Arsenal are most certainly not playing with the handbrake off, as Arsene Wenger might say.

Goals / game:
Emery = 1.78 (xG = 1.62)
Arteta = 1.41 (xG = 1.53)
2020-21 only = 1.00 (xG = 1.25)

Goals allowed / game:
Emery = 1.37 (xGA = 1.54)
Arteta = 1.07 (xGA = 1.22)
2020-21 only = 1.11 (xGA = 1.15)

Below is a graph of the running 5 game average of xG and xGA for Arsenal (Premier League only):

36586

It seems like another mid-table finish is inevitable, but it should be interesting to see how Arteta handles the attack the rest of the way. He certainly has put his stamp on the defense, so I hope he can find a way to improve their current attacking form, but the players on the pitch may just not be good enough to really challenge for a top-4 finish yet again. Hopefully, this is the nadir of the season and the gloom proves to be unwarranted.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 2, 2006
18,364
Philadelphia
Saka's injury appears not to be serious, some sort of dead leg muscular issue rather than a ligament injury or anything structural. Best news we've had for a while.

Maybe fucknuts Gareth Southgate will think twice next time before deciding to play a 19-year-old big minutes in all three matches over an international break.
 

mikeford

woolwich!
SoSH Member
Aug 6, 2006
26,087
Toronto, ON
Nelson, Willock and Balogun looked legit against a fake Norwegian football club, I'll say that much.

Maybe we could try these guys in a game against a real team instead of Willian and Lacazette for once.
 

Tuff Ghost

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 15, 2005
316
As Andrew Allen said on today's Arsecast, I think Arsenal would have a legit shot to win the Norwegian football league this year, heh.

First off, it was great to see that Pepe took the game seriously and played a brilliant match. I know it is not high praise, but he looked like a player at a different level from the competition and that Molde could not do much to stop him. I really hope he works hard to get back into Arteta's favor and returns from his 3-game ban ready to contribute in the Premier League again. He can do things that no one else on Arsenal can. Maybe it won't ever translate to the higher level of competition, but I want to give him every opportunity to find out.

Willock is becoming a Europa League world-beater and I keep hoping at some point it will translate to the Premier League. He played a pretty conservative first-half, playing further back and paired with Xhaka. In the second half when he started making runs in the final third, he looked great. His second assist, in particular, was a beautiful ball. He and Nelson were definitely on the same page for that goal. He is more comfortable in the final third than the rest of our midfield.

Balogun is intriguing. It sounds like Arteta really wants to sign him to a new contract, so I hope he gets some extended play in the next couple of Europa League games. He was well composed on his goal (nice work from Smith-Rowe, also) and had a better first touch on the pass than Lacazette has had on one in months. (Speaking of which, Lacazette looked absolutely terrible- slow, stone-footed, and about ready to play full-time in the Norwegian league. He got off that one decent shot when a ball rolled perfectly in front of him, but he does not look good enough to even play Europa games in his current form.)

Nketiah was not great, but was decent enough. He has not taken that next step forward that I have been hoping for, but I still like his talent and would gladly play him over Lacazette. I do wonder if Balogun could quickly overtake him, though. That should be interesting to watch over the coming months, not to mention the return of Martinelli, which should shake things up even more.

Arsenal may be struggling to compete in the Premier League currently, but at least there has been some entertainment to be had in Europa. I tend to like watching the young, academy graduate type of players because it allows you to daydream about their potential. The logical side of my brain knows few will actually make it and become effective starting XI regulars, but on these bleak fall nights, I can pretend Arsenal will soon return to glory led by an aesthetic and potent attack featuring Saka, Balogun, Nelson, Willock, and Smith-Rowe.