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

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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Ask, and ye shall receive. Five points out of the top four right now - albeit with most of the other clubs having one or more games in hand - and a chance to control their own destiny for a while.

What do we think about Arteta's decision to prioritize the league over the cup? I'm happy about it, to be honest - between Europe and the Premiership, that's plenty of football to be played, and having won the FA Cup last year, I'd rather see the club look to get in the habit of performing consistently rather than getting up for one-off cup matches. (Hopefully they have another round or two in Europe before they really need to play their strongest side in every match there as well.)
I agree about the cup vs the league. Arteta is trying to build and train a team and you do that by learning to play consistently week in and week out in the league. Even if our first half puts CL qualification out of reach, I think its best to focus on our league form and, of course, the Europa League.

Benfica is a pretty tough R32 draw for that competition so I expect us to play our strongest side in those matches. Its a pretty tough Europa league group overall this year in general. You've got United, Leicester, and Spurs from England. But Milan is leading Serie A, Lille is actually tied at the top of the Ligue 1 table, and clubs like Roma, Napoli, Villarreal, Real Sociedad, and Bayern Leverkusen are all good sides. So I'm hopeful but think we'll need to be playing our best team pretty consistently and get our fair share of luck as well.
 

lars10

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So, no love in here for the Odegaard move? Being of Norwegian descent, I’m excited to see what he can do. I think Auba is about to get a lot more dangerous since we’ll have a mid who can pass again.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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So, no love in here for the Odegaard move? Being of Norwegian descent, I’m excited to see what he can do. I think Auba is about to get a lot more dangerous since we’ll have a mid who can pass again.
I think its a great move. He seems to have been used mainly as a playmaker shaded to the right side of the pitch, so I think he'll rotate with both ESR at the CAM spot and Saka (who really needs a rest) at RW. We are going to be playing twice a week more often than not if we go deep into Europe, so we really need better quality (ie, non Willian) depth at those spots which are supposed to provide the creativity in the setup. Twice a week means 360 minutes total at those positions so if each of the three players could get around 110-120 minutes a week, with Willian picking up a little garbage time as well, I think that would be ideal. We also might see Odegaard in the center and ESR on the left at times.

This is all assuming that he settles quickly into the team and the league, which I don't think is a lock. The good thing is that he has a lot of experience going on loan and adapting to new clubs quickly.

If he likes it at Arsenal, I think there is a decent chance we sign him this summer, especially if Zidane stays in Madrid (which itself is pretty uncertain). But even if Zidane leaves, Florentino Perez will want to make a splash in the transfer market and they are hard up for cash. If they need to sell Odegaard to help fund a player like Mbappe, they're going to do it.
 

shaggydog2000

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I'm very optimistic about the Odegaard move, and the business that they've done during this window. Like I've seen everyone say, he can give Smith-Rowe a rest at times and play together with him at times. It will be interesting to see how Arteta uses him. He's a very high ceiling player from what I've seen, and that is exciting. But he hasn't been playing all the time and there were some injury concerns earlier in the season, so we'll see where that all goes.

But the team desperately needed a competent backup goalie and another playmaker in the middle. They went out and got what seem like very good versions of those players. It looked like they needed cover at left back as well, but Cedric looked pretty good over there in the last game, and has had a good couple of games in the last few weeks, so maybe that isn't as big of an issue as it looked a month ago? And they've moved out some dead wood and look like they might move out Mustafi as well. It's been the sort of month that gives you confidence that Edu might know what he's doing.
 

mikeford

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I'm intrigued by the Odegaard move but I very much hope this doesn't stunt ESR's growth here. Allegedly MO can play 10 or on the right (plays there for Norway), where Saka is presently thriving so like... he sorta seems like a luxury player?

We'll see how it pans out. Never bad to have another creative player in a squad seriously lacking that creative, technical ability.
 

lars10

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I'm intrigued by the Odegaard move but I very much hope this doesn't stunt ESR's growth here. Allegedly MO can play 10 or on the right (plays there for Norway), where Saka is presently thriving so like... he sorta seems like a luxury player?

We'll see how it pans out. Never bad to have another creative player in a squad seriously lacking that creative, technical ability.
Watching his highlight reel I think he’ll be perfect for what they need in terms of through balls.. I don’t think they’ve had anyone with his creative passing since Özil has been benched... and they have a couple forwards that have been obviously frustrated by the lack of service. If Odegaard is playing on the right and Auba is coming in from the left there’s going to be a lot of potential there. Lots of passes to the back post or balls that can get Auba in on goal with his speed behind defenders.
 

Tuff Ghost

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There are some rumblings of a few more transfer moves (outbound) today, including Mustafi to Schalke, Willock to Newcastle, and Maitland-Niles to West Brom (or Southampton). It will be interesting to see how it plays out; they've certainly done a nice job trimming down some of the squad-bloat. I'd love to see Willock get some regular playing time at Newcastle.

Now 21 matches into their season, there is an interesting split of 7 match stretches:
  • First 7 matches: 12 points (1.71 points/game)
  • Middle 7 matches: 2 points (0.29 points/game)
  • Recent 7 matches: 17 points (2.43 points/game)
They certainly have looked better recently and they probably were not really as bad as they looked in the middle 7 game stretch when the fevered nightmares of a Leno injury and a Runarsson-led relegation battle were bubbling up. Their xG vs actual goals scored in that stretch were noticeably on the unlucky side of the ledger:
38441

Over the course of the season, their underlying metrics have improved, as can be seen in their xGoals scored versus xGoals Allowed:
38442
(I use Understat data to compile my charts.)

All of a sudden, European football next year is not out of the question. Opta/Stats Perform have them predicted to finish 7th currently, with the following percentage outcomes:
  • 4th place or better: 7.8% chance (6% of that is 4th)
  • 5th place: 10.9% chance
  • 6th place: 14.2% chance
  • 7th place: 16.4% chance
  • 8th place: 14.8% chance
I'd love to see them keep playing well and go on a run for at least a top-6 finish, but they certainly dug themselves a big enough hole that 7th or 8th seem like the most likely outcomes, especially if Tierney and Saka continue to have fitness issues. Regardless, they are a team that I have enjoyed watching again lately and I am happy to have Arteta steering the ship. Things got pretty dicey there during matchweeks 8-14 and I'm glad ownership/management did not act rash and abandon ship prematurely.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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Great post TG.

Another contextual point for those graphs is that we somehow managed to get men sent off three times in a span of five matches during the nightmare run. Our Xg numbers (and G numbers as well) probably look a bit better during that stretch if we actually finish the Leeds, Burnley, and Southampton matches with 11 men. Its incredibly frustrating because even with all the other problems we had (many of them self-created), if we just finish those matches with 11 men we probably end up with at least 3-5 more points (in particular, we were well on top versus Burnely and looked likely to score and win that game before Xhaka's braindead red card so that was quite plausibly a three point swing), which would have us in 5th-6th place right now and well positioned for a run at Top 4. Fine margins.
 

shaggydog2000

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Mustafi has officially moved on to Schalke: https://www.arsenal.com/news/mustafi-joins-schalke

And now it looks like Willock to Newcastle and AMN to West Brom on loan are both finalized.
https://www.arsenal.com/news/joe-willock-joins-newcastle-united-loanhttps://www.arsenal.com/news/maitland-niles-joins-west-bromwich-albion-loan
So they did a pretty good job of right-sizing the squad during the window. I have a suspicion Willock will be back next year as a squad player but that they might move AMN on.
 
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Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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For the first time in quite a while it feels like we have a manageable squad that is largely comprised of players the manager actually wants, or at least has actively decided to keep around for the time being.

Front four: Auba, Laca, Nketiah, Saka, ESR, Pepe, Martinelli, Odegaard, Nelson, Willian.
Central midfield: Partey, Xhaka, Ceballos, Elneny.
Defense: Holding, Gabriel, Luiz, Mari, Chambers, Tierney, Bellerin, Cedric.
Keepers: Leno, Ryan.

I think this summer is going to see a lot more turnover. We have a very large number of players on loan at this point (Guendouzi, Torreira, Willock, AMN, Saliba, Kolasinac, Mavropanos) and I think we'll be very proactive in trying to shift or reloan most of them, with perhaps only Saliba coming back (hopefully Arteta hasn't pissed him off too badly). And then even among the players still on our active roster we also have a high number who seem like potential candidates to move on (in bold font above), either because they're going back after loans unless something is arranged (Odegaard, Ceballos, Ryan), they're out of contract (Luiz), they're entering the last year of their contract so the club will likely have to make a decision to sell or resign them (Lacazette, Nketiah, Elneny, Chambers), or they just might not be good long term fits with Arteta (Pepe, Bellerin, Nelson). Obviously not all of them will leave but I think enough will go that it'll be a very active and important summer, with the squad Arteta truly envisions (assuming he is still here) only really taking shape at the end of this summer window.
 
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seemed like karma that Luiz would get a red after the Raul Martinez injury at the Emirates, but Leno catching that red was just disastrous...fluky? Guess we get Mat Ryan for the next 3 matches...
 
seemed like karma that Luiz would get a red after the Raul Martinez injury at the Emirates, but Leno catching that red was just disastrous...fluky? Guess we get Mat Ryan for the next 3 matches...
It'll only be a one-match ban if it's not for violent conduct.

I'm doing tennis commentary prep for tonight right now, and earlier I went into the living room to do my work while watching part of the match. I sat down about 15 seconds before Luiz got his red card and Wolves equalized, at which point I said "screw this" and went back to my desk. Sounds like I made the right decision...
 
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It'll only be a one-match ban if it's not for violent conduct.

I'm doing tennis commentary prep for tonight right now, and earlier I went into the living room to do my work while watching part of the match. I sat down about 15 seconds before Luiz got his red card and Wolves equalized, at which point I said "screw this" and went back to my desk. Sounds like I made the right decision...
at least we didn't lose 9-0
 

mikeford

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I wish it was a lifetime ban because I'm sick of this Chelsea spy fucking around and fucking up for Arsenal. Please stop playing this player.
 
Jul 15, 2005
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I wish it was a lifetime ban because I'm sick of this Chelsea spy fucking around and fucking up for Arsenal. Please stop playing this player.
it was a pretty terrible call....i have no clue how VAR didn't overturn it...there didn't seem to be enough contact for red
did others have a different view of it?
 

swiftaw

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Since December 26 2019, Arsenal have had 9 read cards in the premier league, no other team has more than 3 (although that data was before the Southampton - United match).
 
I definitely concur with MMS's analysis in the game thread - the "double jeopardy" punishment of red card and penalty can't possibly apply to that decision for the recent rule change to have any meaning at all. That said, the 10-second passage of play leading up to the penalty was absolutely like watching a slow-motion car crash: you looked at the clock and saw there was just enough time for the attack at the end of the half, and then you saw Luiz out of position and the gap in front of him for Wolves to exploit, and you knew the pass was coming, and you knew a goal (or a great save, or as it turns out the red/penalty combo) was probably coming., and then it happened, and there was nothing you could do about it as a fan. Just horrible.
 

lars10

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Since December 26 2019, Arsenal have had 9 read cards in the premier league, no other team has more than 3 (although that data was before the Southampton - United match).
Given the amount of violent contact I see going unpunished week to week.. often not called a foul let alone carded.. I can’t help but feel that Arsenal are getting treated unfairly for whatever reason.. and maybe that reason is Arteta playing Luiz and Xhaka together all the time
 

Tuff Ghost

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Arsenal's 5 red cards in the Premier League so far this season certainly have not helped their situation. (For what it's worth, that's now 9 red cards under Arteta, with Southampton in second place at 4 in the same time period, a fact which I saw in this Orbinho tweet.)

The red cards have resulted in approximately 150 minutes played down a man:
  • Pepe, 51st minute, Leeds (0-0 draw)
  • Xhaka, 56th minute, Burnley (0-1 loss)
  • Gabriel, 62nd minute, Southampton (1-1 draw)
  • Luiz, 45+3rd minute, and Leno 72nd minute, Wolves (1-2 loss)
The combined score of the 4 matches:
  • Before red cards: 2-1 Arsenal
  • After red cards: 0-3 opponents
Points taken if match ended moment before red, versus actual points taken:
  • End before red card: 6 points
  • Actual Arsenal points: 2 points
Arsenal xG to xGA before and after red card (*excluding Leeds because I cannot find a running xG for that match):
  • Before red card*: 2.5 to 1.6 (+0.9)
  • After red card*: 0.8 to 2.6 (-1.8)
At a minimum, they've probably cost themselves 4 points via these costly mistakes. The Burnley and Wolves matches, in particular, looked very winnable. They had an xG to xGA of 1.3 to 0.4 against Burnley before the red and eventual loss. If they were currently sitting on ~37 points, this season would feel a bit different, but that's not reality and things are not always fair, so it's back to clawing their way up from mid-table and continuing to grow into a stronger club. Maybe we'll see a nice run in Europa. The first half against Wolves was beautiful stuff until the red card. They've been an enjoyable watch, overall, for the past several weeks now.

In unfortunate news, the Tierney injury situation has not improved- he apparently has a new injury (Arseblog link). I am not in love with the fact that he played 120 minutes against Newcastle in the FA Cup. Scotland has played him exhaustively during the international breaks, also. I think they need to be careful with him.
Asked for an update on the Scot, the boss said: “It’s a different injury in this case. Kieran is a player that really pushes himself and he has to be able to perform physically at his best because he cannot help himself. Even in training he can’t help himself.

“We are trying to manage him in the best possible way and find every possibility to give him the best chance to be fit as soon as possible, and we are here to support him as much as we can.”
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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Bednarek had his red card rescinded, but Luiz did not, despite the two incidents being almost completely identical in all relevant aspects (minimal unintentional contact from behind, no attempt to play the ball).

The FA makes Roger Goodell's NFL look like a sterling example of principled and unbiased justice.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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That was piss poor. I think Arteta managed this match really badly.

I'm not one to spend too much time blaming referees but this was another match where every marginal call went against us. Arsenal aren't a very good football club, somewhere between the 5th and 10th best team in the league. To consistently win games when the other side gets the 2-3 biggest calls of the match is pretty hard unless you're really dominant and we're nowhere close.

Calling this a foul on Lacazette is the laziest possible refereeing. Its a pure takedown by Emi Martinez. Laca is trying to go the other way to get the ball, and Martinez not only grabs his jersey to yank him back but then flops and drags the player on top of himself. Martinez is a huge guy, the only way he falls there is of his own volition. Its basically, "Throw the rules out, forget what actually happened on the pitch, anytime a field player and keeper go down its automatically a foul on the field player, and make sure you don't look at it on VAR because then you might be in the uncomfortable position of having to reverse yourself."

I don't mind getting the call wrong in the moment because refereeing is hard. Its the refusal to actually do a VAR review and use the technology to actually make the correct decision that is completely infuriating.

View: https://twitter.com/NepentheZ/status/1358052030435229699
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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That was a dull match against City but I won't take too much from it as they have completely stifled everybody since November and Arteta clearly was also hedging his bets with a fair amount of squad rotation ahead of Benfica.

I think Arteta is (or perhaps should be) managing for his job this Thursday. He has done a lot of good things for the club in his year at the helm and I would really like to see him succeed at Arsenal. The squad and club is in a better place now than it was a year ago. And I'm not all that keen on chopping and changing managers regularly without good reason. But results still have to matter in football. You need to set standards for acceptable performance. Two R32 exits in the Europa League plus two 8-10th place finishes in the Premier League just isn't anywhere good enough (acknowledging that our league position last year was not fully in his control). There is just no way to shine up that level of shit. I'm loathe to set any kind of very specific benchmark (ie, he needs to win the Europa League or he should be sacked) because football involves so much luck and variance. But he definitely needs to show some kind of sustained improvement in terms of results. We've begun to do that in the league overall since Christmas, but it needs to continue, its not enough.

This is the team I really want to see against Benfica and just in general going forward:

-----------------------Auba-------------------
------ESR-------------Ø-------------Saka---
--------------Partey------Ceballos-------
Tierney--Gabriel--Holding--Cedric
------------------Leno-------------------------
 
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Time to Mo Vaughn

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That was a dull match against City but I won't take too much from it as they have completely stifled everybody since November and Arteta clearly was also hedging his bets with a with a fair amount of squad rotation ahead of Benfica.

I think Arteta is (or perhaps should be) managing for his job this Thursday. I think he has done a lot of good things for the club in his year at the helm and would really like to see him succeed at Arsenal. The squad and club is in a better place now than it was a year ago. And I'm not all that keen on chopping and changing managers regularly without good reason. But results still have to matter in football. You need to set standards for acceptable performance. Two R32 exits in the Europa League plus two 8-10th place finishes in the Premier League just isn't anywhere good enough (acknowledging that our league position last year was not fully in his control). There is just no way to shine up that level of shit. I'm loathe to set any kind of very specific benchmark (ie, he needs to win the Europa League or he should be sacked) because football involves so much luck and variance. But he definitely needs to show some kind of sustained improvement in terms of results. We've begun to do that in the league overall since Christmas, but it needs to continue, its not enough.
I had low expectations and was prepared for a rout after the first 5 minutes, but for the most part I thought they held their own vs City which was generally positive. I think that barring a further collapse in the league that drops then down to 14 or below that Arteta is safe for the rest of the year and will get one more offseason to build his team. Emery had two full summer transfer windows, and I think they'll give Arteta at least that much time especially given the roster he's had to clear out since taking over and the first season and summer transfer window disrupted with Covid. I'd be shocked if he's not the manager to start this fall.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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I had low expectations and was prepared for a rout after the first 5 minutes, but for the most part I thought they held their own vs City which was generally positive. I think that barring a further collapse in the league that drops then down to 14 or below that Arteta is safe for the rest of the year and will get one more offseason to build his team. Emery had two full summer transfer windows, and I think they'll give Arteta at least that much time especially given the roster he's had to clear out since taking over and the first season and summer transfer window disrupted with Covid. I'd be shocked if he's not the manager to start this fall.
I think you may be right that this is likely to happen (which is why I included that "or perhaps should be" caveat) but I think it might say more about the state of the club than about what he deserves if he keeps the job after getting bounced this Thursday. Arteta might survive in that instance largely because there really isn't anybody to make the tough decision to sack him, since Edu's own qualifications are a bit questionable and he has hitched his own fortunes to Arteta, the Kroenkes are absentee owners, and Venkatesham is a businessman who doesn't seem to have power over the football side anyway. This is a little bit like what happened with Wenger in the later stages of his career: He probably should have been pushed out much earlier but there was nobody actually empowered to do the pushing.

Hopefully results continue to improve, we finish the season strongly, and Arteta fully earns another year, so none of this matters.
 

Tuff Ghost

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I think Arteta is safe another year regardless of Benfica, but it would be nice to make a run in Europa considering their state in the Premier League.

I think they can take some pride in improving their defense in a short time under Arteta. Just looking against City specifically, the shots on target totals in matches in the recent history were about +8 in favor of City (never mind last summer where it was +12!). This season, they were +2 each match. Yeah, they were impotent on the attack, but they are not being embarrassed by the better club and give themselves a chance to sneak a result with a little luck.
39052

There is a definite pattern emerging under Arteta. First priority was the defense and he has markedly improved shots against and expected goals against already. The next phase is to improve the attack. They've gone from net -0.8 shots/gm (compared to their opponents) and -0.4 shots on target/gm in 2018 to +0.1 shots and +0.3 shots on target this year. Their xGA has gone from 1.51 to 1.13. The net xGDiff is not much changed (+0.2 to +0.24) due to the attack becoming less prolific, but they are a more stable team at least.
39053

I'm still behind Arteta and hope we see a more competitive and balanced team next season.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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I'm glad we are through but that honestly was not a good performance. They created nothing and were very lucky to score two but we created very little as well and were also quite lucky to score three. They played us tough but this isn't a good Benfica team at all by their standards.

Our attacking play has improved a lot since Christmas but we are still very rigid because there is no final third threat at all from either of our CMs. That combined with playing a striker liker Auba who is very one dimensional puts all the burden on the three behind the striker to provide creativity and spark, and to find solutions when we get stalled in possession, and that's a lot of responsibility to give players who are 19, 20, and 22. Saka is just an incredible player whose age doesn't really seem to matter. But its a lot to ask of Smith-Rowe and Odegaard to constantly be the straws that stir the drink, especially since the former is probably not physically quite ready for the rigors of a whole season and the latter has been with us all of four weeks.

We need to rotate anyway so I'd like to see a start given to Martinelli on the left as I think he could be a bit more of an X-factor providing something different for defenses to worry about.
 

Tuff Ghost

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I love Saka, but I am getting a little worried about his minutes. I have this feeling of dread that they are going to run him into the ground. (My other recurring nightmare is watching him join City or United in two years when he gets too big for the club.)

In other news, they get a chance for redemption against last season's Europa nemesis: Olympiacos. (Round of 16 draw results)
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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I worry about Saka’s minutes too but am less worried about him leaving us so soon. He has been in our academy since the age of seven and has never given the indication that he would force his way out so early. He is also only on about 30k per week so there should be a good opportunity to sign him to a new deal in the next 6-12 months that lets him lock in some real money but keeps him with us through 2026.

If we keep floundering then I’m sure he’ll consider leaving eventually but I think that would happen more around age 25 than age 21.
 

fletcherpost

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I worry about Saka’s minutes too but am less worried about him leaving us so soon. He has been in our academy since the age of seven and has never given the indication that he would force his way out so early. He is also only on about 30k per week so there should be a good opportunity to sign him to a new deal in the next 6-12 months that lets him lock in some real money but keeps him with us through 2026.

If we keep floundering then I’m sure he’ll consider leaving eventually but I think that would happen more around age 25 than age 21.
They need to lock him up ASAP. He loves Arsenal, obviously...but if the really big teams come in for him in a year or so and he's still on Derby County wages his scone could get turned.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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They need to lock him up ASAP. He loves Arsenal, obviously...but if the really big teams come in for him in a year or so and he's still on Derby County wages his scone could get turned.
I agree. I would be talking to him already and really trying to get something done no later than this summer. Give him the chance to lock in 100k per week on a five year deal or something like that, essentially "you and your family are set for life" kind of money, and I think he will do it.
 

The Gray Eagle

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They need to find a way to rest Saka before he gets hurt. He's not big, he's still a teenager, and he gets kicked a lot by grown men.

This is from before he played almost the full 90 minutes yesterday:
https://theathletic.co.uk/2402940/
After playing the 90 minutes in Rome on February 18, rescuing a Europa League first leg draw with Benfica in the process, the teenager was called upon again just three days later against Manchester City.

Enduring another full game, Saka remains Arsenal’s most-used outfield player in the Premier League and Europa League combined this season. A pillar of the squad, he has played 2,066 minutes across the two competitions, with Bernd Leno (2,682), Hector Bellerin (2,033) and Granit Xhaka (2,019) the only others to top 2,000 minutes.
Marooned at 10th in the Premier League and with Saka still in the infancy of his career, care must be taken with his development. Although the game plan for Sunday was centred around him, Arsenal have players who should be ready to step up, even if the qualities they have may lead to different approaches.
Of course if Saka doesn't start against Leicester on Sunday then Arteta will get roasted for it. But hard decisions need to be made.

Saka's been the best and most important player on the team, but he needs to be protected and locked up long term. He did just sign a 4-year deal in July, but he's earned a big raise.
 
Jul 15, 2005
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I love Saka, but I am getting a little worried about his minutes. I have this feeling of dread that they are going to run him into the ground. (My other recurring nightmare is watching him join City or United in two years when he gets too big for the club.)

In other news, they get a chance for redemption against last season's Europa nemesis: Olympiacos. (Round of 16 draw results)
feels like Olympiacos has always been a thorn to the side of Arsenal
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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Well that sucked. Our second best XG of the season, the second highest XG Burnley has conceded all season, even without counting the penalty we somehow didn't get...and yeah. On one level, its more indication of us playing well and improving. We've now had an XG>2 and XG differential >1.4 in three of our last four matches, with the only exception City. But I think Arteta really needs the results to start matching the performance more regularly or his job is going to be in jeopardy.

We just haven't really had better options this season but Xhaka simply needs to not be the starter next year, especially if Arteta (or another manager) wants to keep playing out from the back. He very nearly gave away a killer goal against Benfica with that awful floated cross-box pass, he was responsible for the turnover that led to the Tielemans goal against Leicester, and now today's creative exploration in scoring own goals by banging the ball off opponents.

The number of times I've seen Pepe completely whiff when looking to hit a pullback into the box first time is just mindboggling. Its always on his preferred left foot too. I guess maybe he is taking his eye off the ball in order to sneak a peak at defenders and see where to hit it. But its just ridiculous, I'm sure I've seen this happen > 5 times now.. This one wasn't even rolling that fast. At that range you just need to bang it on target and there is a decent chance it goes into the net.

http://arsenalist.com/f/2018-19/pepe-misses-easy-chance-my-god-2021-03-06.html
I don't even know what to say about the handball. He was fairly close to Pepe, and that is supposed to be a consideration now, but I don't see any plausible interpretation that his arm wasn't in an unnatural position and gaining an advantage from that. His arm was basically straight out at a 90 degree angle from his body. I have no idea why he was doing that but nobody normally defends like that in those situations.

In the end, I have no idea what is supposed to be a penalty in these situations and I'm not sure anybody else does either. The current interpretation of the rules is a total disaster as the referee is supposed to take into consideration like 3-4 different things but there is no guidance or expectation about exactly how those factors are supposed to combine (ie, if the arm is in enough of an unnatural position, you would think it should make the proximity issue meaningless, because otherwise that mean if you were close enough to your man you could raise your arms anywhere you want).
 
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lars10

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 31, 2007
7,396
Well that sucked. Our second best XG of the season, the second highest XG Burnley has conceded all season, even without counting the penalty we somehow didn't get...and yeah. On one level, its more indication of us playing well and improving. We've now had an XG>2 and XG differential >1.4 in three of our last four matches, with the only exception City. But I think Arteta really needs the results to start matching the performance more regularly or his job is going to be in jeopardy.

We just haven't really had better options this season but Xhaka simply needs to not be the starter next year, especially if Arteta (or another manager) wants to keep playing out from the back. He very nearly gave away a killer goal against Benfica with that awful floated cross-box pass, he was responsible for the turnover that led to the Tielemans goal against Leicester, and now today's creative exploration in scoring own goals by banging the ball off opponents.

The number of times I've seen Pepe completely whiff when looking to hit a pullback into the box first time is just mindboggling. Its always on his preferred left foot too. I guess maybe he is taking his eye off the ball in order to sneak a peak at defenders and see where to hit it. But its just ridiculous, I'm sure I've seen this happen > 5 times now.. This one wasn't even rolling that fast. At that range you just need to bang it on target and there is a decent chance it goes into the net.

http://arsenalist.com/f/2018-19/pepe-misses-easy-chance-my-god-2021-03-06.html
I don't even know what to say about the handball. He was fairly close to Pepe, and that is supposed to be a consideration now, but I don't see any plausible interpretation that his arm wasn't in an unnatural position and gaining an advantage from that. His arm was basically straight out at a 90 degree angle from his body. I have no idea why he was doing that but nobody normally defends like that in those situations.

In the end, I have no idea what is supposed to be a penalty in these situations and I'm not sure anybody else does either. The current interpretation of the rules is a total disaster as the referee is supposed to take into consideration like 3-4 different things but there is no guidance or expectation about exactly how those factors are supposed to combine (ie, if the arm is in enough of an unnatural position, you would think it should make the proximity issue meaningless, because otherwise that mean if you were close enough to your man you could raise your arms anywhere you want).
There’s no world in which that wasn’t a penalty. The ball wasn’t moving that fast and the defender gained a huge advantage by having his arms that wide.
 
Arsenal with a really nice 3-1 away win at Olympiakos which should - should - see them through to the Europa League quarterfinals...and yet they conceded another goal directly from sloppy passing at the back, and they probably should have conceded a second as well. I thought they kept Leno insead of Martinez in goal because he was supposed to be better with the ball with his feet, but that's three hospital passes he's dished out in the past week, two of which have led to opposition goals. (Needless to say, I continue to hate this tactic.)
 

mikeford

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Aug 6, 2006
26,253
Toronto, ON
They definitely kept Leno because he was gonna be harder to move than Martinez. Martinez is a much better ball handler and distributor than Leno.

I cant believe a team let Mohammed Elneny bang in a heater from like 40 yards out against them.
 

shaggydog2000

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SoSH Member
Apr 5, 2007
8,139
They definitely kept Leno because he was gonna be harder to move than Martinez. Martinez is a much better ball handler and distributor than Leno.

I cant believe a team let Mohammed Elneny bang in a heater from like 40 yards out against them.
They kept Leno because he had a much longer track record. Supposedly Leno was the better shot-stopper and Martinez the better ball handler, but I'm not an expert goalie scout so I can't really say. Leno is not supposed to be bad as a ball handler, but these last two gaffes have been all him.

The goals from Mo and Odegaard were both out of nowhere beauties.
 

mikeford

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Aug 6, 2006
26,253
Toronto, ON
On Leno, he had the longer track record but he was also older, coming off injury and more expensive so I think that also played a big factor in moving Emi instead of Leno. I don't think either Villa nor Arsenal can really complain about how this has all turned out because gaffes aside, Leno has been one of Arsenal's best players this season. Maybe their best not named Bukayo Saka.



All 3 Arsenal goals today were like... not repeatable occurrences, haha. Even Gabriel's header was pretty insane.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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Jul 2, 2006
18,878
Philadelphia
Great result, but thought our play wasn't all that impressive. Despite the 18 shots we created very few clear cut chances and were just fortunate to score three wondergoals as Mike said. On the other side, we gave them nearly nothing the whole match...except for three great chances off dumb turnovers playing out from the back. I'm a proponent of taking the bitter medicine and learning to play out from the back but the fact that this keeps happening - in fact, seems to be happening more now than earlier in the season - is definitely worrying. Opponents are going to keep pressing us high until we show that we can reduce mistakes and hurt them more in transitions.

I think the bright side for this match and our play in general is that our defense has actually been very stingy from more settled situations. Our structure is really good, we don't get caught out on the break, we're not getting beat over the top, or making dumb mistakes in marking. So if we can get the turnovers close to our goal cleaned up - which might require more repetition but also might require different players - then we'll look really solid.
 

lars10

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Jul 31, 2007
7,396
Great result, but thought our play wasn't all that impressive. Despite the 18 shots we created very few clear cut chances and were just fortunate to score three wondergoals as Mike said. On the other side, we gave them nearly nothing the whole match...except for three great chances off dumb turnovers playing out from the back. I'm a proponent of taking the bitter medicine and learning to play out from the back but the fact that this keeps happening - in fact, seems to be happening more now than earlier in the season - is definitely worrying. Opponents are going to keep pressing us high until we show that we can reduce mistakes and hurt them more in transitions.

I think the bright side for this match and our play in general is that our defense has actually been very stingy from more settled situations. Our structure is really good, we don't get caught out on the break, we're not getting beat over the top, or making dumb mistakes in marking. So if we can get the turnovers close to our goal cleaned up - which might require more repetition but also might require different players - then we'll look really solid.
I think the playing around the back strategy has at least three flaws:
- possible turnovers way too close to goal
- the players in the back are a little too casual for my liking and not our best passers
- it keeps the ball away from our best player for the majority of the game.

I do think arteta has done a good job with the D.. and hopefully moves to start finding players to help transition into offense. Odegaard is a good first step.. if they can find another player in mid with similar skills they could be very dangerous.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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Jul 2, 2006
18,878
Philadelphia
I think the playing around the back strategy has at least three flaws:
- possible turnovers way too close to goal
- the players in the back are a little too casual for my liking and not our best passers
- it keeps the ball away from our best player for the majority of the game.

I do think arteta has done a good job with the D.. and hopefully moves to start finding players to help transition into offense. Odegaard is a good first step.. if they can find another player in mid with similar skills they could be very dangerous.
I think the first one is an obvious downside and the second is definitely arguable, in that we may not have the personnel for Arteta's preferred tactic (this has been a recurring theme with him IMO), but I'm not convinced about the last. The alternative to playing out from the back is just booting the ball upfield and losing possession more often than not. So I don't think that actually is going to get Auba more involved (beyond repetitively losing headers to bigger, more physical center backs).