Previous names: Dial Square, Royal Arsenal, Woolwich Arsenal

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.
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.
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. 


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.


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:


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.


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.


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:


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?