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The Work rate, effort and energy that epitomise Arteta’s Arsenal undone by Poor Finishing and Eddie’s Mad Moment

Arsenal out-Foxed for a draw

Arsenal 1-1 Leicester City – PL review

7th July 2020 

 

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With the game vs. our “friends” at the weekend, it was vital that we got in a good performance or win here. And also to keep on our recent good form and performances.

I must say – I was not disappointed here.

The blame at not winning was our own – we had ample chances and opportunity to kill the game, and we didn’t take it when we were on top. The backdrop clearly was to test and prove ourselves against a good Leicester team, and a manager in Rodgers who IMHO is unfairly maligned. He didn’t do well at Liverpool in the end, but he is arguably the best British manager in the game right now. Don’t forget he helped push Celtic’s title pushes, perhaps with a record 10 in a row to come next season.

The Wolves game showed that we can press, deny opposition space, and be resolute at back. Bar Vardy’s goal, we did that, and against a team that is doing better than Wolves.

We started well, pressed them well, and created numerous chances in the first half. Vardy and Ineacho had a chance apiece early on which Martinez saved well, but for the opening 45, we were sharp.

My impression of the starting line up was fine. I think the team – for now in terms of personnel and shape – is settled. Ozil and Guendouzi were dropped, and Soares was out. Laca, Auba, and Saka were up top and pressed well from the front – and this clearly is an emerging facet from Arteta.

 

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What struck me from this game were:

 

  • Workrate, effort, energy

These three words sum up what I see as an emerging trend with us.

Auba, Laca, and Saka were pressing Schmeichel on every goal kick, and looking to force their defenders and midfielders into mistakes.

Xhaka and Ceballos were getting their feet in and winning the ball, and Laca was dropping into midfield to press and track runners.

The defence was doggedly getting balls away and clearing,  and going forward both Bellerin and Tierney were working their full-backs hard and looking to supply crosses when needed.

In short, we’re workhouses.

It’s long been said – for nearly a decade or more – that we don’t work hard enough and that teams can isolate our spaces. It seems that we’re not allowing this as much, and it’s definitely making us harder to beat.

I’m not a coach nor have any licences, but as a fan, I know that a good football team must have its fundamentals right. This isn’t just passing or tackling, or shooting, or other rudimentary skills. It’s about shape, discipline, effort and structure, and it’s seen our form improve since Arteta came in.

We didn’t win, granted, but we are looking stronger, more structured, and more up for it mentally than in a while now.

 

  • Eddie

And I'm biased' - Gary Lineker's surprise take on Eddie Nketiah's ...

 

Nketiah has shown spark in his games this season but the sending off was warranted.

Whether he meant it or not was immaterial – it was a reckless challenge and the ref had no option.

It’s a shame, but he’ll learn and we all make mistakes. Even older and more seasoned players (LUIZ) make errors, the thing is to learn from them accordingly.

 

– Vardy’s goal

 

He seems to have a knack for scoring against us, but then it was unfortunate to concede at that point in the game.

However, was the defence at fault? Could they have tracked Vardy better? Possibly.

I’m not sure if the Leicester player touched the ball prior to Vardy scoring. Even if he did, it may have been a faint touch imperceptible to a camera from far away. Even still, Vardy is a top-level striker, and this is more incentive for Auba to win his second PL Golden Boot.

 

  • Saka

 

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This boy had a great game. He may be relatively small, but then he is strong and has great technique.

He was dribbling well in this game – and he has a really high ceiling.

What I don’t get is this – what’s his best position? He can play as a number 8, a 10, LB, and wide forward. He is only 19 but is a near-complete player, and he is proving vital for our new pressing style.

We’ve produced a number of top youngsters in our history, and hopefully, Saka is the latest in this line.

 

  • Defence

 

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Mustafi and Luiz did well again. As did Martinez. We may have to rename Shokdran “Tony” given his good recent form.

Whether it’s coaching, or better instruction, or just a better team structure, both are improving well.

In this game, they were denying Vardy space and ably dealt with many of Leicester’s crosses.

 

  • Tierney

 

I was very impressed with his game here.

His energy and positional sense were top-notch, and in fairness, I thought that his crossing was hit and miss. However, he was working their right-back and looks highly accomplished defensively and offensively.

In many ways, he’s a quintessential wing-back, due to his strong core, pace, crossing and reading of the game.

 

 

Player ratings

Martinez  7

Kolasinac 7

Mustafi 8

Luiz 7

Bellerin 7

Tierney 8

Xhaka 7

Ceballos 7

Saka 9

Auba 7

Laca 7

Nketiah 3 (for his red card, which whilst not intentional but then was needless and frankly silly)

Willock 5

Torreira 5

Maitland-Niles 5

Arteta – 9 – the line-up, tactics and team shape and attitude were all on point. So far so good for Mikel. I’m not saying he is the next big thing, but we are getting the fundamentals right now. It’s some good foundations to build on, for sure. 

 

 

Man of the match

 

Saka

 

 

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The boy is a star – whether he plays for England or Nigeria or not – he can be world-class at this rate.

 

 

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