Good morning to one and all.
Normally I like to do the review at the first opportunity, but because I had to watch on a stream, I had to wait until after midnight to watch it again. I like to watch games twice as it possible to be more observant ,when the fear and tension are removed.
So let me be clear, I think we were robbed, but we helped the burglars by leaving the back door open. By that I mean that had we been awarded the deserved penalty on Pepe, we would have won, but we didn’t do enough to score the additional goals that would have made the result safe. It’s possible to be robbed, unlucky and still be guilty of not making the game safe.
As ever, social media went to work and found the scapegoats, and then social media rode into the rescue of said scapegoats. Rather than me looking at the game, a game you will all have seen, I want to have a look at how I think some of the players actually performed within Arteta’s new improved structure and style.
I will start with Mesut, many claiming he had a poor game, the conclusion drawn because he slightly over hit two balls to Martinelli. Well he did slightly over hit one, the other was a good ball that young Gabriel was slow do see. Here are his stats
88% pass accuracy – highest on pitch
29 opp. half passes – most on pitch
18 final third passes – most on pitch
7 ball recoveries
4 chances created – most on pitch
4 duels won
3 crosses (2 acc.)
2 dribbles (2 succ.)
2 tackles 1 long ball (1 acc.)
Not the numbers of a man having a bad game.
Xhaka, he had a very good game, but he spent much of his time deep and to the left, I presume in an attempt to support Saka. He did though have a good game, as did Torreira. For anyone with a short memory, Xhaka was the one that got back on the line to block a shot on his chest and then clear it, he literally got us the point.
Mustafi , the unredeemable one, had an excellent game. he made no mistakes that I could see, was strong in defence and drove forward with the ball at most opportunities. People point to him losing the ball ,early in the game, on the edge of the box, while trying to shepherd it out. I think this view is most unfair, he was fouled when he got between the ball and the attacker. Luiz also had a decent game, but he made a lot more errors than Mustafi.
Saka did well, but this was facilitated by the good work that Xhaka and Luiz did, to cover for him in defence.
Now for Pepe, here is where it gets difficult. He excites, he dribbles and runs with the ball in a way that strikes fear into the opposition, he should have won a penalty and he did give Martinelli a couple of decent chances. When you look at what he did, and divorce that from his price tag, he did ok. Unfortunately his game seems best suited to counter attacks, and Arteta wants possession and control, that may prove an ongoing problem. He is definitely not a flop, some of his work is breathtaking.
This was a game we should have won, a game we deserved to win, but once again, a game we did not win. That is a repeating saga under Arteta and it must be driving him mad. We should perhaps have won every game under his stewardship, but we have won just one in the league. However, the improvement in our game is clear for all to see, and it’s now worth seeing. Eventually results will reflect performances, they always do, we will be fine.