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Monday, June 17, 2024

Can Mikel Arteta forego a superstar forward signing?

By Danong

Let's be honest: with King Kai Havertz's form we shouldn't be keen to add a striker.

Benjamin Sesko, who many believed to be our top target, revealed the other day that he will not be joining; he has committed his future to RB Leipzig.

Prior to Sesko, Alexander Isak expressed his desire to stay at Newcastle following a successful season last year.

There are other striking options to consider but Arsenal's striker search is becoming more difficult than some of us anticipated.

Currently, teams may perceive Arsenal as desperate to sign a striker and attempt to exploit the situation.

In addition, strikers might be apprehensive about joining Arsenal, observing Havertz's comeback and questioning whether their move to the Emirates would ensure a starting position.

As difficult as it is for Arsenal to sign a striker, do they really need one given Havertz's form?

In 17 games for club and nation since last season, the German striker has scored or assisted 19 goals (11 goals and 8 assists).

Interestingly, in Arsenal's final nine games of the season, he had 8 goals and 7 assists. By the end of the season, most Gooners were content with Havertz directing the offensive.

After initially playing Havertz as a left back, German head coach Julias Nagelsman was eager to capitalise on Havertz's revival at striking. A week before the Euros, the German boss made it obvious he trusted the Arsenal player to lead his forward line.

Well, clearly, it was the best decision he ever made, as Havertz validated his selection in Germany's Euros opening against Scotland.


Havertz shined as the lone striker, getting a high 8/10 Sofascore rating with a spectacular performance that demonstrated his skill and authority on the pitch.

He contributed one assist for Jamal Musiala's goal in the 19th minute and he converted a penalty with composure and perfection to make it 3-0 for Germany.

He had a 100% success in duels (3/3), demonstrating his dominance on the pitch and his ten passes in the final third demonstrated his vision and ability to pierce Scotland's defence.

Niclas Fullkrug replaced him in the 63rd minute, and the spectators showered him with a well-deserved standing ovation as he exited the pitch.

Kai Havertz has transformed his circumstances in just over half a season, going from the least popular player to one who is always well-supported by both Arsenal and the German national team.


Looking at the ex-Blues' performance in the last few months, I can't help but believe that even if we don't sign a striker, we have one we can rely on.

I don't know about you, but with Gabriel Jesus and Havertz covering the number 9 (or 9 1/2) position and us signing a superstar winger who can play both wings and has an eye for goal, Arsenal's attack should be fired next season to go and win the league. 



Sunday, June 16, 2024

£34m French wonderkid the X-factor Arsenal attack needs

By Danong

Arsenal seems to heavily rely on Bukayo Saka as its go-to player. He only missed three league games in the last three seasons, which might not seem like a big deal to some. But he's playing way more than he should. And burn out is what we should avoid.

But out of all the potential transfers to the Emirates Stadium, I would be genuinely surprised if Arsenal didn't view a £34 million move for Desire Doue as an opportunity.

This 18-year-old Rennes winger has been making waves in the French football scene since his debut in the 2022–23 season.

On the pitch, he's known for his versatility, playing on either side of the wing as well as in the attacking and central midfield positions. 

He's known for his stylish dribbling, quick feet and entertaining football, which creates plenty of chances for the team. 


He's pretty young, but he's already got the freedom to call the shots when he's got the ball at his feet. He's got some serious skills when it comes to controlling the tempo of the game with his dribbling and passing abilities. 

Stats, as per fbref, he's a pretty solid ball carrier:

Progressive carries: 4.38 (ranking 99 percentile)

Carries into Penalty Area: 1.55 (ranking 99 percentile)

Carries into the Final Third: 4.20 (ranking 99 percentile).

If he signs, the young Frenchman could be a fantastic backup for Saka. His versatility allows him to play in various attacking positions, although he may not be the best option for a striker. 

With him at Arsenal, our offensive game would definitely improve, so I wouldn't mind spending £34 million to secure his deal.



Saturday, June 08, 2024

What this 'tried and tested' PL star brings to Arsenal as the club returns for him 6 months after initiating talks

By Danong

Arsenal were at their peak last season, scoring their most goals ever (91), being at their best not to allow the opposition to score (conceded just 29), having a goal difference of 62 and raising their best points tally in years (89).

For sure, Arsenal must be at their best next season to stand a chance of league glory and no doubt they can only do so by bringing in more quality players. The engine room is one position that will undoubtedly require bolstering.

Martin Odegaard and Declan Rice have established their worth in Arteta's engine room, but many believe the club needs to sign another talented player to complement them and give Arsenal a strong midfield trio.

It is considered that Partey is likely to depart in the summer window coming up given his atrocious injury record raising strong doubts as to his availability for next season. He has also one season left in his contract and Arsenal are unlikely to offer an extension.

Below are the midfielders who seem to fulufil Arteta's criteria:

Bruno Guimaraes: The Athletic reports that Arsenal is interested in him, but it is believed his £100 million release clause may prove too expensive.

Douglas Luiz: The Villa midfielder is one who some Arsenal fans would like to see at the Emirates Stadium, but he, too, may be available for a high price and Arsenal have made enquiries last season.

It is unclear however whether he is willing to leave the Birmingham club, which will compete in the Champions League next season or indeed go to Juventous who seem interested.

Martin Zubimendi: According to Sport.es, Artera has made enquiries before and now is willing to pay his £51 million release clause but the player is reluctant once again.

Joao Neves: The Benfica star is one of the most exciting prospects in European football. He could be the perfect midfield addition but signing him for his £100 million or more asking price is unlikely.

What is apparent from the above options is that Arteta seems to have decided that an additional defensive midfielder brought in to sit at the base will release Rice to play at the left side of midfield.

That being said, which midfielder should Arsenal consider signing? I'd suggest we go for Amadou Onana. Notably, according to Fabrizio Romano, as reported by Give Me Sport, they have already made contact over the swoop.




These recent links aren't new; the Everton star is a midfielder. Sacha Tavolieri, the Belgian journalist, said Arsenal held talks for the move during the winter transfer window, with the player back then interested in the move, but the deal never materialised.  

Arsenal was confident he was the ideal addition to their project at the time, so why shouldn't he continue to be so today?

Despite reports that he is available for £50 million, he could go for less given that Everton are in a difficult financial situation and require sales this summer; an enticing offer could persuade them to let the Belgian international leave.

If Onana signed, what would he bring to Arsenal?

People often perceive Onana as a 'destroyer', adept at regaining possession of the ball and facilitating the creation of opportunities for others. 

With his 6'4 size, the former Lille star dominates his zone and has the ability to physically overpower the rival midfielders. 

His elastic, long legs allow him to be a good tackler, which is becoming increasingly important as the Premier League shifts to a more centre-progression-focused approach.

His ball-carrying style is reminiscent of Yaya Toure's—powerful ball carriers with lengthy strides and muscle, but also comfortable when closed down. 



If paired with Declan Rice, Onana may take turns going on marauding runs with the ball while the other sits and marshals the defence.

Though he is mostly a 6, the 22-year-old hybrid midfielder can play as both a 6 and an 8, so if he joins, Arteta will pick where he plays. He can continuously trade positions with Rice, depending on the opponent.

For sure, teaming Rice and Onana would be devastating for opponents since it would go a long way in establishing domination in central midfield while also providing Arsenal with the option of carrying the ball centrally themselves.

This is what i think. What do you think?



Wednesday, June 05, 2024

Arsenal crave for something special to unlock defences; if it's not this playmaker, I don't know

 

By Danong

In an analysis of the transfer business Arsenal may intend to conduct this summer, the Athletic have revealed what could define Arsenal's recruitment strategy. 

They allege that following Arsenal's defeat to Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarterfinals, the decision-makers at the club felt the team lacked a specific X-factor in attack—something special to unlock defences on the greatest stages.

At first glance the fact that Arsenal at the initially stages of the season lacked a clinical striker suggest that signing one could be the solution. 

However, is this truly the case? I don't think so, given that Arsenal were at their best in attack by the time they played Bayern Munich. 

The clash with the German giants came at a time when Havertz was having a good run that saw him score eight goals and provide seven assists in nine league games.

I believe that "to unlock defences" Arsenal definitely needs another elite playmaker to improve the left side of central midfield. The departure of Xhaka last summer left a void that Arsenal has yet to fill.

So, who should Arsenal consider signing for LCM?

Arsenal needs someone like PSG's Xavi Simons. According to Fabrizio Romano, the Dutch playmaker come winger may be available to go out on loan this summer but he is still uncertain where to go. 

Arsenal must make it their mission to ensure that he selects them as his next destination because he could be the X-factor the team desperately needs.


To break down defences, Arsenal needs a player who is exceptional at dribbling, playing through balls and critical passes, having an eye for a shot, finishing and being nearly faultless.

Footystats reports that last season in the Bundesliga (for RB Leipzig on loan), he made 2.72 critical passes per game which led to major scoring opportunities. 

As the numbers will reveal below, Simons has made a splash in the Dutch league and the Bundesliga over the last two seasons and I believe he will be a success at the Emirates.

2022–23: 34 games, 19 goals, 8 assists.

2023–24: 32 games, 8 goals, 11 assists

Simons will add another very reliable option which will give Arteta plenty of room to maneuver within the available midfielders depending on the type of opposition and the tactics he wants to use 


He is of course well adept at playing on either wing utilising his pace and in this sense Arsenal will be gaining an additional very viable option for him to play as a winger. 

And if his switch to Arsenal proves a success (like say how Odegaard's loan proved to be) he could make the move permanent (Darren Dein is his agent).

Yes, a top striker ought to be signed, but I believe Arsenal should consider bringing Simons on loan; who knows, he could the X-factor this Arsenal team needs to succeed.



Monday, June 03, 2024

Sesko said yes and here's an idea of what Arsenal will get

 By Danong and 1970s Gooner

Arsenal are believed to be interested in signing a striker. One may argue that they already have a capable option in Kai Havertz, but the German clearly needs competition, which Gabriel Jesus and Eddie Nketiah cannot provide. And next season, Mikel Arteta needs another striking option to share Havertz's workload.

Notably, these last few days, we have been led to believe that RB Leipzig's Benjamin Sesko is the striker to join this Arsenal team. Mirror’s John Cross is claiming that Sesko has agreed to move to North London with the Gunners looking to part ways with £45 million.

But what is Arteta expecting he will bring to the Emirates Stadium?



Sesko's versatility, speed and ability to quickly change direction confuses defenders. And he's one of the most clinical strikers with precise and powerful shots. 

Off the ball, he continues to work hard, persistently pressing opponents, making him a nuisance for teams that try to play out from the back. It's an attribute Mikel strongly values in a pressing from the front tactic that we saw Havertz and Odegaard carry it to perfection last season.

As tall as he is (6 feet 5in – 1.95m), he is strong in the air, winning headers and scoring from crosses and set pieces, something in which Arsenal excelled last season. But he also drifts deep to link up the play and provide opportunities for counterattacks.

Lastly his age will appeal to Mikel. He is only 21 and can therefore be coached and developed to fit in to the way Arteta’s Arsenal play their football providing a viable option for the number 9 position. 

And he can be part of the model of a young squad which can develop and mature, something that Arteta embraced from the beginning of his tenure thus not only preserving but increasing the player's value during his time at Arsenal.

Sesco’s league stats compared to Gunner strikers Kai Havertz, Gabriel Jesus, and Eddie Nketiah over the last two seasons show he could be an upgrade to Arteta's attacking options.

2022-23

Sesko: 30 games, 16 goals, 3 assists 

Jesus: 26 games, 12 goals, 6 assists

Nketiah: 30 games, 4 goals, 1 assist 

Havertz: 35 games, 7 goals, 1 assist 


2023-24

Sesko: 31 games, 14 goals, 2 assists 

Jesus: 27 games, 4 goals, 5 assists 

Nketiah: 27 games, 5 goals, 2 assists 

Havertz: 37 games, 13 goals, 7 assists



Sesco appears have a better ratio of goals to games but one has to take into account that last season was Havertz’s first and the constant changing of positions from left midfield to false 9 (or 9 ½) has negatively impacted his effectiveness. It is logical to assume that Havertz will be far more influential next season.

And Sesco’s competition and freshness can propel both players to provide the impetus that we need up front to maintain the team’s efficiency at a high level both in the Premier League and in the Champions League.

 

Sunday, May 26, 2024

Is this the midfielder this Arsenal team needs to shake off one glaring weakness next season? 

 By Danong

Arsenal had an impressive 2023–24 season, finishing second in the Premier League with 89 points, just 2 points behind the league champions, Manchester City. Almost every stat this Arsenal team set was impressive; in fact, they broke record after record.

They set a club record-breaking 28 wins in a 38-game league campaign. They set a club record goal difference of +62, conceding the fewest goals (29) in 20 years. They also equaled the record for most goals from corners (16). 

Most of Arsenal's records were quite heartwarming, but there is one surprising statistic that has emerged, indicating the need for improvement in the upcoming season.

Arsenal scored a whopping 91 goals, but it's a bit of a letdown that only six of them were from outside the penalty area. The Gunners could use some more firepower from a distance. 

This discovery has exposed Arsenal's heavy reliance on close-range finishes and their limited ability to make impactful shots from a distance. 

While some Gooners may not view this stat as significant, given the continued success in scoring goals, it should be, as Arsenal strives for excellence in all areas. The fact that Manchester City scored 15 goals from outside the penalty area only highlights this weakness.

Being able to find the target from a distance and score from a long range, if not setting up the forwards for tap-ins, could have been really useful for the Gunners. 

It would have been handy in the first half of the season, especially considering the losses they experienced due to them struggling in front of goal. During the first half of the season, the team's attack lacked bite.

In the matches against Aston Villa (1-0 loss in December) and Newcastle (1-0 loss in November), having the option of long-range shots could have been useful. If Arsenal had won either of these matches, or even if they had ended in draws, they would have become the league champions. 

Arsenal appear to have mastered scoring from set pieces, and scoring from long range could be the key to their success next season.

With the transfer window upon us, Arsenal is looking to strengthen their midfield in addition to their attack. Maybe the Arsenal scouts should think about bringing in a top midfielder who has an eye for a shot. 

Even though he might be a bit expensive, Douglas Luiz is that player. The Brazilian definitely brings a much-needed long-range threat to a team. 

His shot-power rating in the FC 24 game was 83. In the 2023–24 Premier League season, Douglas Luiz, though a deep-lying midfielder, proved to be a consistent threat in front of goal. 

With 28 shots taken in 34 matches, he has shown his willingness to pull the trigger when the opportunity arises. His shooting accuracy of 60.71% is an impressive stat, with 17 of his shots finding the target. This accuracy has resulted in a goal for every 3.11 shots he takes, showcasing his efficiency in front of goal.

On average, he takes 0.87 shots per 90 minutes, highlighting his active involvement in the attacking phase of the game. 

Douglas Luiz's shooting stats speak volumes about his proficiency in front of goal and his ability to make a significant impact for his team.

We'll have to wait and see what happens this summer—if Luiz, who can't stop being linked with a move to the Emirates since Arsenal had three bids rejected for him, is finally captured.

Ultimately, Arsenal must step up their game in terms of scoring from distance. It could provide them with the extra boost they need to outwit Manchester City for the league title.


Sunday, May 19, 2024

Timber the answer to Arsenal's summer transfer straregy

By 1970s Gooner

Jurrien Timber had a most impressive 25 minutes against Everton at the Emirates today, the last game of the campaign. It was his second appearance since he suffered that horrible injury in the season's opener.

But he was immense. Strong and determined he inverted towards the midfield as if he was playing all season there.

He will most definitely be Arteta's first choice left back for next season. No doubt about it. 

And in addition to saving all that money to buy a left back Arteta won't have to go for an additional centre back to cover for the fabulous duo of Gabriel and Saliba. Timber remember is a centre back as well as a full back. 

Tomi will be a cover for all positions at the back and the same goes for Timber! This is in addition to Quior and Zinchenko providing additional cover.

The transfer strategy and the financial resources will therefore switch towards getting another centre forward and a central midfielder if Partey goes.

The center forward will be selected to have the versatility to also play on the wing.

Add to all the above the large room for improvement that is within this young squad and the experience gained in the last two seasons.

It's a sure recipe for surpassing City and lifting the premier league trophy next May. 










On the Brink of Glory: Arsenal’s Progressive March Under Mikel Arteta

By Danong

Mikel Arteta has done an impressive job at the Emirates Stadium. Take a look at this trend:

2019-2020: 56 points and finished 8th
2020-2021: 61 points, finished 8th
2021-2022: 69 points, finished 5th
2022-2023: 84 points, finished 2nd
2023-24: ??

It is apparent that Arsenal under Mikel are on the rise; each season they improve. Since the Spaniard took over halfway through the 2019–20 season, Arsenal's points have increased significantly each season in an upward trend. 

Compared to the past seasons prior to the Arteta era, the Gunners have never remained still or exhibited signs of deterioration.

The 2023–24 season concludes today. An Arsenal victory over Everton will see the Gunners finish with a maximum of 89 points. Unfortunately, these points may not help them win the title (though they may win if Manchester City, who have 88 points, drop points against West Ham on Sunday).

Even so, reaching 89 points is commendable given Arsenal's growing momentum, but it is insufficient to meet coach Mikel Arteta's target of 90 points if his side is to win the Premier League.

"The demands, you might have to win every game. I don’t know. I have no clue. There are a lot of games and we are all going to have crazy schedules and this league might be different to last season," said Arteta back in March of the title race as quoted by 90MIN.

"Anything under 90 points I think would be very difficult."

Anyway, given the trend, there's every reason to expect Arsenal to gather more points next season than they did this season. So, if not this season, Arsenal will return with an even better version next season, aiming to win the Premier League title with 90 or more points. 

Whatever happens on Sunday, whether Arsenal win the league or not, the most beautiful days for the Gooners are ahead.




Monday, April 15, 2024

Arsenal player ratings in the Villa defeat: Very few players stood out

By Danong and 1970s Gooner

Arsenal needed to bag all three points against visiting Aston Villa to return to the top of the league, especially since Liverpool dropped all 3 points prior to Arsenal's game. 

One would have thought that this alone would be enough to motivate the players, but it wasn't to be so. Rather, in the first half they seemed a little bit more anxious than usual and coupled with going in at half time drawing culminated in the insipid display that we witnessed afterwards. Unfortunately, they suffered a disappointing defeat thanks to two late Villa goals scored by Leon Bailey and Ollie Watkins.
 
Nevertheless they could have won it in the first 45 minutes had they been clinical. In the second half, Villa were re-energised; they showed passion and resolve to get something out of the game and it paid off.
 
David Raya (5/10)

He was lucky not to concede from the two attempts by Watkins and Tielemans that hit the post and bar respectively but they were fantastic shots. It's debatable if he was at fault for their first goal as Gabriel and the Villa player were both very near the goal post which must have put him off.

He can be blamed partially for their second goal as he didn't need to come out since Smith Row was very close to Watkins. By coming out he encouraged Watkins to chip it over him. He did come out of his area against Bayern and he conceded on that occasion too. Raya must learn to choose well when to rush from his goal. 
 
Gabriel Magalhaes (4/10)

He wasn't as dominant as we've known him to be. Almost conceded a goal in the first half by finding the back of Zinchenko's head which resulted in Watkins shot on the post. He made a very similar mistake for Bayern's first goal where he rushed a pass to an unsuspecting Kiwior. 

He also allowed Villa's forward to get ahead of him in the near post which resulted in the first goal we conceded. 

William Saliba (5/10)

He made some key interventions throughout the game. However, I'm not sure where he was when Bailey scored.
 
 Ben White (7/10)

Had an excellent game. He rarely puts one foot wrong. He was the best player for Arsenal yet again, but sadly, he was subbed off.
 
Oleksandr Zinchenko (4/10)
 
Was dreadful; his defensive troubles were obvious. It seemed like he was doing everything he could to win the league for Manchester City.
 
Declan Rice (6/10)
 
He had to play the No. 6 role, which requires him to be more cautious and reserved. He produced a good performance although he failed to spot Baily was behind him in the box who as a result had a free shot at goal. Rice has been a little underwhelming recently but would have been more effective in a free role—a box-to-box midfield role.
 
Martin Odegaard (7/10)
 
In the first half, Villa was unable to contain him, rendering him unplayable. His impact decreased in the second half. He was later subbed off with Arteta claiming he had felt something.
 
Kai Havertz (6/10)

His timed runs caused problems for the Villa defenders but he wasn't clinical, though.
 
Leandro Trossard (5/10)

Showed flashes of brilliance. He pressed with determination and, several times, demonstrated quick feet. It was disappointing that he did not score from two yards when all he had to do was hit the three quarters of the goal that were not being guarded by Martinez. He failed to show that he is more than just a supersub.

Gabriel Jesus (5/10)

His work with the ball was excellent, but he continues to demonstrate that he is not the Arsenal team's clinical striker. He just can't accomplish the easy stuff, which is frustrating. Arteta will have to sign a real goal scorer if we are to get anywhere.

Bukayo Saka (6/10) 

Had an excellent game in the first half and an average game in the second. His direct runs and intricate dribbling caused problems for the Villa defense. He had a few chances to score but didn't.
 
Substitutes:
 
Takehiro Tomiyasu (6/10)
 
Was solid. His impact was palpable. Should've started at left back.
 
Gabriel Martinelli (5/10)

Had an uneventful game. He was not impactful. 
 
Jorginho (4/10)

He gave the ball away cheaply for Ollie Watkins' goal.
 
Emile Smith Rowe (4/10)

He wasn't as game-changing as Arteta had hoped. 
 
Eddie Nketiah (N/A)

He came on late and did not contribute significantly.
 
 
Manager:
 
Mikel Arteta (4/10)
 
His team selection raised numerous questions. Why drop Havertz from his number 9 role where he's been at his best?

Jorginho and Rice in midfield excelled together; why change it?

He is partly to blame for the loss.


Where did Arteta go so wrong to be stunned by compatriot Unai Emery?

 

By Danong

With a win, Arsenal intended to maintain their strategic position in the Premier League title chase this weekend, but suffered a major setback by loosing 2-0 to a motivated Aston Villa. While Villa's tactical plan under Unai Emery was superb, Mikel Arteta made two key tactical blunders that contributed to that loss.
 

1. Overreliance on the inverted fullback
 
Since last season, Mikel Arteta's utilisation of the inverted fullback has been a major component of Arsenal's game plan. However, against Aston Villa, this strategy failed miserably. Oleksandr Zinchenko frequently overstayed in midfield, leaving Arsenal's left wing vulnerable for Villa wingers Diaby and Bailey to exploit. He also gave the ball away more often than not and we were lucky to avoid going one down much earlier than we actually did.
 
It's astonishing Mikel Arteta didn't realise Unai Emery's game plan was to capitalise on Zinchenko's shift to midfield, leaving space on the wings. Earlier in the second half, introducing Jorginho and either Jakub Kiwior or Takehiro Tomiyasu would have been the correct move. Jorginho would have eliminated the need for an inverted fullback role, allowing the fullbacks to play as typical fullbacks, giving the Gunners a chance in that game.
 
2. Ineffective midfield setup
 
I'm not sure why Arteta abandoned the Jorginho, Declan Rice, and Martin Odegaard midfield—it delivered week in and week out. Playing Kai Havertz in midfield just doesn't work. Rice has been effective when not playing as the No. 6; he's flourished when allowed a licence to roam and contribute to the attack. If Arteta hadn't started Jorginho, he should've started Thomas Partey to play the No. 6 role.
 
A Havertz, Rice, and Odegaard midfield provides more control than creativity and it also lacks the dynamism and penetration required to disrupt a well-organised defence like Aston Villa's.
 
Villa's midfielders routinely outmuscled Arsenal, restricting their build-up play. Arsenal not having someone play as the box-to-box midfielder allowed Villa to easily dominate the midfield duel, significantly restricting their establishing control, especially in the second half. 
 
This defeat to Aston Villa may have a significant impact on Arsenal's title aspirations. Arteta will need to reflect on these tactical mistakes, learn from them, and do better to lead this Arsenal squad to victory.





Tuesday, April 09, 2024

Rotate or not? Arsenal can put one foot in the UCL semi-finals with this lineup

 By Danong

Tuesday night sees Arsenal facing Bayern Munich in the highly anticipated Champions League quarterfinals at the Emirates Stadium. This game is a must-watch, as it would be the perfect litmus test if this Arsenal team truly has rediscovered its competitive edge. 

Bayern find themselves in a challenging situation as they grapple with the issue of inconsistency. Arsenal, on the other hand, have been in exceptional form, securing one victory after another. They have only suffered a single defeat (a 1-0 loss to FC Porto) since the winter break, triumphing in 11 out of their 13 matches during this impressive run.

Is it wise for Mikel Arteta to consider rotating his squad against this Bayern Munich side so that he has a fresh looking side for the game against Villa?

Despite Bayern Munich's recent inconsistencies, Arsenal should view them as their toughest challenge yet.

Last week, the Arsenal boss took a calculated risk by rotating his lineup against Luton. The outcome was a resounding success, with his side securing a 2-0 victory. Even if there's a big clash with Aston Villa coming up (with PL glory at stake), Arteta can't rest his best players in a must-win match like Bayern.

Reports suggest that all the Gunners, including Jurrien Timber, participated in full first-team training on Monday. Therefore, Arteta has an abundance of options when it comes to selecting who to play and who not to play.
 
Which raises the question: what is the most formidable Arsenal lineup the Spaniard can field Tuesday night? 

The lineup Arteta fielded against Brighton is strong enough for the task at hand, but there are just two changes I'd make if I were Arteta. I would drop Oleksander Zinchenko and Gabriel Jesus for Jakub Kiwior and Gabriel Martinelli.
 
Oleksandr Zinchenko's defensive vulnerabilities were on display against the Seagulls, as Simon Adingra had no trouble in 1v1 situations with the Ukrainian international. It was evident that Brighton had identified him as a weak link in the Gunners defence, so they targeted him. 

Jakub Kiwior's performance as Arsenal's left back after the mid-season break was truly impressive. With Kiwior as a typical leftback, we witnessed Ben White embracing the inverted right-back role, which unlocked him to dazzle and may end up winning the player of the season award. 

Arsenal can trust they'll have a solid defence with Kiwior at left back and White at right back, especially with the reassuring presence of William Saliba and Gabriel in central defence.
 
Now that Havertz is the preferred striker, Gabriel Jesus is finding game time on the wings. Despite doing everything well, he continues to struggle with efficiency. 

Arteta needs an efficient attack versus Bayern. Martinelli, who's been making cameo appearances since returning from injury, ought to return to the starting lineup. The presence of the Brazilians, Kai Havertz, and Bukayo Saka in attack could spell trouble for Thomas Tuchel's defenders.
 
With this line-up below, Arteta could field a starting 11 that is more than capable of overpowering Bayern and put one foot in the semifinal of the Champions League. 

Raya 

White, Saliba, Gabriel, Kiwior

Rice, Jorginho, Odegaard

Saka, Havertz, and Martineli
 

Sunday, April 07, 2024

This Arsenal player wasn’t at his best. Arsenal player ratings vs Brighton

 

By Danong

Arsenal defeated Brighton 3-0. The Seagulls hadn't lost a league match at the Amex Stadium since August 26th when West Ham defeated them 3-1 but then Arsenal showed up.

This highly impressive victory showcased very clearly Arsenal’s fantastic balance in its structure between defence, midfield and attacking play. It has sent an ominous message to its rivals for the Premier League crown especially to Liverpool who are next to play.

How it happened: Tariq Lamptey hauled down Gabriel Jesus in the 31st minute resulting in a penalty kick which Bukayo Saka converted to break the deadlock. Arsenal led 1-0 at the break. Kai Havertz and Leandro Trossard scored in the second half for the 3-0 final score.

Mikel Arteta fielded close to his best lineup after resting a number of his key players in the 2-0 victory last Wednesday over Luton. As expected the Gunners, as a team, showed up alright but how did they perform individually?

David Raya (8/10).

Calm as always. He didn't have much to do. The only remarkable aspect of his play on Saturday evening was an impressive first-half save to deny Enciso. Except for a few errant passes early in the game (which he needs to eradicate from his play) he played well. Notably, he recorded his 12th Premier League clean sheet. 

Ben White (7/10).

Following his recent brilliance as an inverted fullback he returned to playing as a typical right back. He was a high-flying right-back on the right wing and his link-up play with Saka occasionally tormented Estupinian. However, Enciso gave him a difficult time. 

William Saliba (8/10).

He had a relatively quiet performance; he wasn't tested much and Gabriel performed all the dirty work. Though, as usual, he provided serenity to Arsenal's defence especially when bringing the ball out of the defence like a seasoned midfielder. With him and Gabriel playing as a pair, Arsenal have now gone 7 hours without conceding an away goal.

Gabriel Magalhães (8/10)

Saliba injected serenity, but Gabriel was hands-on, defending high and attempting to get on the receiving end of corner kicks. Should have scored with at least one header. He gave Danny Welbeck a hard time. Late in the game he made a key block in the penalty area and helped the Gunners record their 14th clean sheet. Had an injury scare towards the end of the first half but looked fine in the second half.

Oleksandr Zinchenko (6/10).

He wasn't at his best, mislaying a few passes. He didn't have the same impact on the game as we've come to expect as he neither helped the team defend nor assisted us to have more control in midfield. We can however forgive him because he's only recently recovered from injury and still trying to find his consistency. But he occasionally had a great link up with Gabriel Jesus. 

Jorginho (7/10).

Initially, Brighton found a way to isolate him. However, he tapped into his experience to still influence the game. His passing was impeccable and he played some fantastic through balls. His major contribution was of course the excellent assist for Havertz's crucial goal.

Declan Rice (8/10).

He covered a lot of distance as per usual. Had to chase back a lot, especially when Brighton broke Arsenal's press which was more than it should have been. Towards the end of the game he had the opportunity to put his name on the score sheet but didn't. He really should have passed the ball to someone who was better placed to score. But overall he had a great game and competed hard.

Martin Odegaard (8/10).

Leader. Continues to excel despite not scoring or assisting in the game. Is crucial to Arsenal's game plan especially when leading the press from the front. He's a joy to watch. He played an excellent pass to Jorginho who set up Havertz for Arsenal's second goal of the game. He was superb as usual—a captain's performance.

Bukayo Saka (6/10).

Coming off an "alleged injury," he was decent, not at his best. He missed a great opportunity to open the scoring when he managed to cut inside the area but his shot went out when everyone expected the net to bulge. He did score the opener a little later on however when he calmly slotted in the penalty. Linked up play beautifully with White on the right wing to trouble Estupinian..

Kai Havertz (9/10).

Clinical. Was the man of the match. Can we finally agree that Arsenal signed him to bolster their attack not to replace Granit Xhaka? The German's revival continued as he led Arsenal's attack against Brighton. He scored Arsenal's second goal of the game before assisting Trossard for the third. Kai Havertz is the Premier League player with the most direct goal contributions (8) since February 17th. What a player!

Gabriel Jesus (7/10).

Had a decent performance. Won the penalty. Forced a save from the Brighton custodian, missed a couple of headers, but was okay on the left wing.

Substitutes

Leandro Trossard (7/10).

He was fantastic and re-energised Arsenal's attack when he came on. Forced a save from the Brighton goalkeeper before scoring Arsenal's game-winning goal.

Gabriel Martinelli (5/10).

His impact was not felt. Had an uneventful game.

Takehiro Tomiyasu (5/10).

He was brought on to see out the game, which he did.

Fabio Vieira and Eddie Nketiah (n/a)

They came on late, with the Seagulls already taken care off.                    

 

Mikel Arteta (8/10).

Resting players vs. Luton paid off. He fielded a powerful lineup which ensured they left Amex Stadium with all three points. Every decision he made in that game, including the lineup and substitutions, was bang on. The Spaniard has convinced everyone that Arsenal can beat anyone they play.

 

 

Wednesday, April 03, 2024

Here's how Arteta should rotate Vs Luton

By Danong  

After a 0-0 stalemate with Manchester City the Gunners have a chance to return to winning ways when they face Luton Town at the Emirates.

On paper, given Arsenal squad's higher quality, experience and exceptional performance levels especially since the new year, the Gunners should easily win this game. 

However, everyone who has watched the Premier League knows that at this period of the season, this is a tough game. Luton, a relegation-threatened side, will go above and beyond to avoid dropping points.

That being said with the Premier League title race looking like it is—dropping points could well be catastrophical for the Gunners' title pursuit.

At the same time however Mikel has to consider rotating players that are suffering from slight injuries and fatigue so that he maintains a certain level of freshness in the squad. This is especially important when taking into account the really heavy schedule, of a fixture every 3 days, looming in the horizon when you factor in the Champions League.

So taking the above into consideration here's the best lineup Arteta can field to collect all 3 points:

Defence

David Raya starts in goal. Ben White and William Saliba should retain their spots. However, resting Gabriel Magalhaes and Jakub Kiwior is essential. Due to an inflamed Achilles tendon during the international break, Magalhaes was doubtful to face Manchester City. He, however, played 90 minutes versus the Cityzens, and despite his impressive performance he deserves a rest to avoid his injury recurring.

Kiwior, on the other hand, has been very good, but he has recently played so much for both club and country. A rest would allow him to recharge and be better prepared when called upon again. Takehiro Tomiyasu can start with Saliba in central defense, while Oleksander Zinchenko could return to left back.

Midfield

Martin Odegaard and Declan Rice should start as expected. But for who begins alongside them, Arteta should go with Thomas Partey. Partey looked crisp in his cameo versus Manchester City, reminding us of his excellent ball-passing abilities. He will be a big asset in this run in. Jorginho has been in terrific form in recent games, but after his lackluster performance against City, there's no chance he should start against Luton.

Attack

Gabriel Jesus should start on the right wing, Kai Havertz should continue to lead the attack and Gabriel Martinelli should start on the left wing (his first start since the 6-0 victory over Sheffield when he sustained an injury).

Yes, it's odd to bench the dependable Bukayo Saka. However, the winger deserves a rest; he was subbed off against City owing to exhaustion and a game against Luton is an excellent opportunity for that.

That stated, here is the lineup:

Raya,

White, Saliba, Tomiyasu, Zinchenko;

Odegaard, Partey, Rice;

Jesus, Havertz, Martinelli.



This Arsenal player should be left out of the starting 11 Vs Luton

 

By Danong

Bukayo Saka, Arsenal's star boy, should not play against Luton on Wednesday night. 

The Hale End graduate has been dealing with a minor issue for a while now; he missed England's friendlies in March owing to muscle tightness. He was able to start against Manchester City but wasn't influential as he had to perform defensive duties as well as contribute what he could in attack. He was eventually subbed off. 

Mikel Arteta admitted to the media after that game that his winger has been dealing with fatigue. ‘Well, as you know, he has been out for a few weeks now with a little problem and he was feeling that fatigue. Right now he hasn’t trained. He trained one day before the match; he had a big contribution but 90 minutes were too much for him today.”

The Arsenal manager's statement describes Saka's current physical condition and, for sure, reveals, why he should be rested against Luton.

To avoid dropping points in the Premier League final stretch, Arteta must field his top players for these last nine games to pick up maximum points. But, given the talent gap between Luton and Arsenal, the Gunners can still avoid naming Saka in their starting lineup Wednesday night but still field a capable line-up to defeat the PL newcomers. 

Gabriel Jesus, or even Fabio Vieira, may easily fill in for Saka against Luton. With the Brazilian attacker (or Vieira) on the right wing, Kai Havertz in the middle and Gabriel Martinelli making his first start on the left wing since the Sheffield Utd game early in March, the Gunners should have a strong line-up versus a tenacious Luton Town.

With the title schedule ahead, a full week's rest would be great for Saka to regain freshness and be fit enough to contribute massively in this captivating PL run-in. 

Seeing him in the starting lineup will be shocking!

 




Monday, April 01, 2024

These players stood out more than others Vs Man City

 By Danong

The top-of-the-table clash between Manchester City and Arsenal at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday ended in a 0-0 draw. With the two dropping points, Liverpool, who in the early kick-off on Sunday beat Brighton 2-1, had the opportunity to seize control of the Premier League title race. The Reds, on top of the Premier League, now lead second-place Arsenal by two points and Manchester City by three points.

There has been a lot of discussion about the Manchester City vs. Arsenal match, but can we discuss which Gunners impressed? Here are my three Gunners who put in a remarkable shift on Sunday afternoon.

Gabrielle Magalhaes and William Saliba:

I know you're wondering, "These are two players, and yes, they are." But we must acknowledge their partnership and avoid overlooking one for the other. Manchester City failed to score at the Etihad Stadium for the first time in two and a half years today, and the reason is Arsenal's brick-wall defense. Haaland had no chance of scoring, and if it wasn't Gabriel, Saliba was on his heels.

The Arsenal CB pairing has become the first to limit Erling Haaland to zero shots on target both at home and away in a single season.

Declan Rice:

Rice has never lost a game against Manchester City while playing for Arsenal. Watching the £105 million 2023 signing halt two potential KDB transitions in a span of six minutes made me understand why Manchester City has struggled against Arsenal this season (failing to beat us three times). The question is, does Declan Rice himself realise how much he has influenced this Arsenal team?

Martin Odegaard

He worked relentlessly and regularly showed quality while on the ball. He helped Arsenal move forward on the counter in the first half and was critical to their growing dominance early in the second half. At the Etihad, he set an example on the pitch by relentlessly pressing, chasing down lost causes and organising the defensive structure from the front in tandem with Havertz. His effort on Sunday was a captain's display in a big game, even if the outcome was disappointing.



 

 

 

 

Is there any team capable of handling this Arsenal team now?

 

By Danong

Despite all of the hype about how important this game was in the title race, Arsenal's match against Manchester City ended 0-0. Gooners may be disappointed that they did not win, but a point is still better than none.

Looking back at that game, it was clear that the Gunners were wasteful up front, but William Saliba and Gabriel Magalhaes were one of the main reasons Man City didn't win. The Arsenal defensive duo expertly marked Haaland out of the game; their performance was exceptional as was the organisation, solidity and defensive robustness of all the players in the team.

Having said that, William Saliba has identified what they did well against the Cityzens. Speaking after the game, the 23-year-old admitted a draw versus Manchester City wasn't satisfactory. However, their goal was to avoid losing, even if they did not win. And that's just what they did.

“We cannot be satisfied when we draw, but it’s OK,” Saliba told Sky Sports.“We learn from some games. When we cannot win, we must not lose. That is what we did well. So, we leave with one point but we are not satisfied….“I think it’s more in our heads because we know they are the best team in the world.”

Arsenal now has nine more games to bring its Premier League title chase to a successful conclusion. These games are:

Luton (H)

Brighton (A)

Aston Villa (H)

Wolves (A)

Chelsea (H)

Tottenham (A)

Bournemouth (H)

Manchester United (A)

Everton (H)

If Arteta and his team maintain the defensive mindset so abundantly shown against Man City and continue supplementing it with their scintillating high scoring football exhibited in their previous eight games, I don't see why this season won't conclude in glory.

Having drawn with the best, as Saliba labels Man City, is there any team capable of handling this Arsenal team now?